* Posts by steelpillow

557 posts • joined 16 Jun 2016


Who wants dynamic dancing animations and code in their emails? Everyone! says Google

steelpillow Silver badge
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Oh dear, M'Lud

"So the plaintiff claims the abused sent her a lewd video with her face edited into a sex act, along with a blackmail demand for sex or $10,000 to delete the file?"

"Yes, m'Lud."

"But when you, the plaintiff's attorney, opened the AMP email, the video showed only a dancing cat?"

"Yes, m'Lud"

"May I?" [His Lordship reaches for the smartphone]

>tap< >swipe< >tappity<

"Ah, here we are... Now it's trying to sell me a cheap holiday. Is this all the evidence you have?"

" . "

Yorkshire cops have begun using on-the-spot fingerprint scanners

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: The usual suspects complaining

"Only criminals need fear this sensible measure."

Thank goodness we don't have sarcasm in these comment threads. For a moment there....

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Am I missing something?

"with a portable scanner, they will take prints on a whim"

They are supposed to have good reason before doing so. But yes, it does make abuse of the system that much easier. Thanks.

Still, I can't see such obviously timesaving technology being withdrawn. Maybe we should be demanding greater accountability, an audit trail accessible to the citizen, and such like. You can't put the scanner back on the desktop any more than you can put the phone tap back on the telegraph pole.

steelpillow Silver badge

Am I missing something?

There are two issues here:

1. Digital fingerprint scanning against a national database.

2. Going mobile.

How is the first worse than the old ink-and-filing-cabinets method?

How is the second worse than wasting time down the nick?

I'm not trolling, just genuinely ignorant.

Talk down to Siri like it's a mere servant – your safety demands it

steelpillow Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: Put on a Scots accent.

Several of our relatives are Scots and I don't want them mixed up with a scambot when my wife's phone rings in the middle of the night. So I am busy practising something along the lines of Bluebottle or Mr. Wisty, When she hears, "Help me or I will be deaded. Yeheu!"....

The Planet Gemini PDA I have on order (yay!) will have a press-to-speak button to stop Google/Trump/Putin/Uncle-Tom-Cobbleigh-and-all slurping my normal off-line voice, so this is actually a genuine way forward.

Are you an open-sorcerer or free software warrior? Let us do battle

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: What's in it for the user?

"why should the user care about the freedom to modify?

"Can you explain that to your CEO?"


Yes. The code forces its business model on you (Active Directories? Insecure mail client? Bwa-ha-ha-harr!) If it's a bad fit, you need to change it to the way you want to do your business. That is only possible if YOU have control of the code.

steelpillow Silver badge

Before the suits show up

I have said it before and I will say it again.

Open/Free/Libre licensing is about the business model, it is not a software thing. Go find the suits who are not in the software business and sell them the idea of taking back possession of their own business model, that proprietary licensing stole from them.

Until that is done, this whole issue is just geek-vs-geek irrelevance to the rest of the world.

The Register Lecture: AI turning on us? Let's talk existential risk

steelpillow Silver badge


I'm not sure you can have a "science" of existential risk. Every scientific hypothesis is at least in principle testable. Who is going to put an existential risk to the ultimate test under controlled laboratory conditions?

You can resurrect any deleted GitHub account name. And this is why we have trust issues

steelpillow Silver badge

Design flaw?

Seems to me a better design would be to freeze an account rather than delete it, and archive its code assets so they can still be accessed via the old path but not updated or deleted. That buys time to create a new fork.

(armchair idea, I'm not a GitHub user myself).

BOFH: We want you to know you have our full support

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Simon will look back on this

"'Course, Simon will also zap PFY when he's not expecting it (any more), because you don't get away with that kind of s**t without consequences."

ISTR this is not the first PFY to try his luck against the Bastard. At this point I recall the Star Wars cycles-of-repetition theory of old plot lines history. But I'd better resist mentioning what might just be a spoiler for next episode.

steelpillow Silver badge

Choices, choices...

You are in a long comments thread where all the best jokes have already been taken. Press:

1 to crack a bad joke

2 to comment on an existing joke

3 to tell a workplace anecdote

4 to purchase a BOFH-branded (sic) cattle prod. (Please have your PayPal credentials ready).

steelpillow Silver badge

"Maybe the PFY realized the BOFH was behind the convoluted virtual agent website thing all along..."

Certainly. The value being that a certain percentage of visitors will be desperate and foolhardy enough to click the pay-for option, which takes you to the second level of exactly the same game. This time the pay-for option is a phone number, which when called of course offers only spoken menus and haphazard voice recognition sending you round in an even harder circle....

Winter is coming for AI. Fortunately, non-sci-fi definitions are actually doing worthwhile stuff

steelpillow Silver badge

Intelligence is a graded thing

Intelligence is not a binary thing. Any creature with a complex body plan has sufficient "intelligence" to know its own spatial posture and to base decisions on that. Even a 1980s computer chess game had that level of intelligence. By the time animals get eyes and stuff, like say an insect, their level of "intelligence" grows to match the Big Data pouring in from their senses. Frogs, mice, crows, dogs, humans all represent an evolutionary chain of incremental advances in intelligence. Machines are no different. Currently they are probably around the frog level - once they level with the crow we can start crying "AGI".

Accused Brit hacker Lauri Love will NOT be extradited to America

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Appeal to the Lords

The million-dollar question - will there be one?

Open source turns 20 years old, looks to attract normal people

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Re: Open Source AI Programming

AI that advanced will make up its own mind about its licensing model among other AIs. It won't care diddly squat about what we wetware are whingeing on about.

steelpillow Silver badge

Business benefits

Whatever you call it, it's embodied in the license. Free/libre/open licensing is steadily making its way out of the coding room and into other areas of human life. For example I have published a fair amount of words and images under Creative Commons licenses and I there are a fair few open hardware specifications around. But they are still nice areas in the "normal" world. I don't think we will get that "normal" feelgood factor that Bruce was talking about until such licensing rises to prominence in these other walks of life. IMHO open/libre/free advocates should really be talking up the wider business benefits for the licensee - control of your own business model, etc - and ignoring where the idea came from.

Morrisons launches bizarre Yorkshire Pudding pizza thing

steelpillow Silver badge


Serve wi' a jar o' winkles, fresh off t' beach at Bridlington.

Ye need tellin'?!!! By 'eck, wha' do these southerners ever think to eat, eh? It's a wonder they doesn't die o' t' colic.

The blockchain era is here but big biz, like most folk, hasn't a clue what to do with it

steelpillow Silver badge


Who actually needs their transaction records to be distributed?

$14bn tax hit, Surface Pro screens keep dying – but it's not all good news at Microsoft

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: But...

I'm sure that MS Mobile is just lying in its coffin waiting for the next full blue blood supermoon.

F-35 flight tests are being delayed by onboard software snafus

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: can’t talk to its guided air-to-ground bombs properly?

@Mage: But it was a good try, it made the bomb stop and think. Kids today don't even know what phenomenology is.

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Hindsight is the view after you have used your arse to look at something, not eyes and brain

Yes indeed. Forget Mach 2+, super-agile aerodynamics and total systems integration, settle for a lightweight Mach 1.4-5, physically flyable airframe, full-speed VIFF and proven systems - at least for the Mk.I. That would have gone soo far beyond any Sea Harrier or AV8/B and met 95% of the realistic RN scenarios the F-35 is aimed at, ten years earlier and at a tenth of the cost.

Sadly, as Meatloaf almost sang, "Objects in the rear view mirror can look closer than they arse."

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: @Steelpillow: Still, one day...

You would indeed be wrong. But I have long experience both in the defence sector and in mindbogglingly complex bleeding-edge software/system rollouts (not necessarily on the same project). I merely share a simple fact of life which most of you will never have had the experience to discover for yourselves. I'm afraid it will take more than a few script kiddies downvoting me to get this tricksy little piece of hardware flying the carefree hands-on way she is meant to. Without knowing the "features" in question, I'd expect another year or so of squishing and tidying, as long as nobody is dumb enough to change the requirements mid-flight. Longer if they don't coordinate the various releases rolled out to different customers. But come that day....

steelpillow Silver badge

Still, one day...

A plane isn't like a social networking site, you can't just throw up some fashionable bling and spend the next three years getting it to work properly. The F-35 has a highly-integrated flight software suite of unique complexity. What did they expect with the first couple of year's cuts, communications grade or something?

Ever wondered why tech products fail so frequently? No, me neither

steelpillow Silver badge

Time to market

It's because consumers demand tomorrow's fashion yesterday. Creators are forced to bring stuff to the market before it is ready or miss the boat.

RIP Ursula K Le Guin: The wizard of Earthsea

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: A good read?!

"You are correct. Le Guin was no feminist. She treated men and women equally but knew just how different we are."

Back in the day, that was enough to brand her a fairly radical feminist. The prevailing view was that difference = male superiority. The world still has a long way to go, but it has also come a long way - and she was a part of making that happen.

steelpillow Silver badge

Sad loss of a great literary figure

Ursula K. Le Guin was far more than just a successful F&SF writer, she was one of America's great literary figures. Her writings address complex, personal and at the same time universal issues of what it is to be human in a world full of superstition, mistrust and ignorance. From her feminism to her children's books to her Central European and Californian stories to, yes, her Wizard of Earthsea and her ansible F-T-L communicator, her literary powers set the standard for others to follow. And she was indeed a good read, too. She will be missed.

Mass limit proposed so boffins can tell when they've fingered a brown dwarf or a fat planet

steelpillow Silver badge

Firing up

Unh. So if a star blows off its outer layers and the remnant is smaller than ten Jupiters, then it becomes a planet?

Seems to me that the critical distinction should be whether the core is, or has ever been, capable of starting nuclear reactions, i.e. of actually creating more heat than its collapse did. Stars can shine, planets only cool. Simple.

Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

steelpillow Silver badge

self-fulfilling prophecy

As the reputation of Moore's law climbed, people began to measure past growth more accurately and to base future investment plans on that past growth rate, spending (or saving) whatever it took to maintain the predicted straight line. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I wonder now, if you strip all that pre-process pipeline hardware out of a CPU core, how many extra cores could you fit on a single chip? If you could up a given die size from say 8 cores to 10, then there need be no overall hit. Quick, the moon is rising. Open the coffin lid!

Is the writing on the wall for on-premises IT? This survey seems to say so

steelpillow Silver badge


F***ing Everything As A Service

F-35 'incomparable' to Harrier jump jet, top test pilot tells El Reg

steelpillow Silver badge


Oh, look, I got my B and C the wrong way round. Sorry about that. However, somebody else getting their A and B (or is that C) readings of my comment the wrong way round doesn't help either. May I suggest an honourable, er - solution?

steelpillow Silver badge


"If you can get a 20 tonne fighter to fly at 35 knots just using slats and flaps you crack on."

Easy. Just make the wings a bit bigger. The induced drag saving from abandoning the weight of all that lifting-fan gubbins will more than compensate for the higher form drag, not to mention maintenance downtime - compare notes with any F-35A operator.

But don't change the subject. You can't update the principles of aeronautical engineering just by changing what you call it, and slagging off people with long memories. The F-35C is still a ridiculously expensive way to deliver the same STOL capability available from the F-35B.

steelpillow Silver badge
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Back in the day, this was known as STOL - Short Take Off and Landing. You don't need vectored thrust, just leading-edge slats and trailing-edge flaps.

The F-35 may be unjustifiably expensive and our Reg hacks lack historical knowledge, but it is undeniably a cool piece of kit.

Don't panic... but our fragile world is drifting away from the Sun

steelpillow Silver badge

The long view

James Lovelock, famous for his Gaia hypothesis, has pointed out how life evolved to cope with the slow heating-up of the Sun as it ages. Basically, Gaia juggles the CO2 content to maintain room temperature, and last time round that was achieved by evolving grass (no, not that kind of grass). But the game is approaching its end as CO2 levels have been driven down and down over geological time.

It is vital that we reverse our man-made CO2 excesses well below prehistoric levels, before the Sun heats up so much that even grass cannot push it back down far enough. Even borrowing genes from bacteria that live in boiling water, or improving the heatsinks on the CPUs that maintain us as cyber minds, can only buy us a little time. After that, the only way to stay cool will be to nudge our orbit further from the Sun, apparently rather faster than is happening naturally. Always assuming an advanced civilization is still left to do so. And after that, the problem will be how to stay warm after the Sun has collapsed back down again.

Space colonies, anyone?

NHS: Thanks for the free work, Linux nerds, now face our trademark cops

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So familiar

Administrators and managers simply cannot grasp that open software is about open licensing is about their business model.

Linux geeks simply cannot grasp that to introduce open software you have to be a business/management change person and change the business model first. Then you have to re-educate staff and introduce draconian penalties for failing to adopt the new business model.

UK Cabinet are (or at least used to be) aware of this but have just not pushed hard enough to break Whitehall's mindless inertia.

Causes of software development woes

steelpillow Silver badge


1. managers

2. standard practices

3. managers

4. corporate resources

5. managers

6. email

7. managers

8. telephones

9. managers

10. the BOFH and PFY

Airbus warns it could quit A380 production

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Spaceplane carrier

"And WHY exactly do you wish to carry a spaceplane?"

No idea, why don't you ask Richard Branson why the f**k he commissioned White Knights One and Two? It obviously wasn't to launch SpaceShips One and Two.

steelpillow Silver badge

Spaceplane carrier

If you top-sliced the A380 fuselage and gave it a twin-tail, it would make a cheap and practical carrier mothership for a spaceplane. Remember the Shuttle piggybacking off the 747?

Wave Tata, Capita: You've lost mega-contract to rival outsourcer

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...and thanks for the fish

they didn't even bother to say to the 3,000 staff they had originally herded off onto Crapita, before cutting the raft adrift.

New Mirai botnet species 'Okiru' hunts for ARC-based kit

steelpillow Silver badge

"Wait, you mean they have remote code execution capabilities on a specialist embedded os that isn't windows or linux? Next you'll be telling me my synology NAS didn't appear on a vulnerability mailing list the other day, or Huawei Oceanstore disk array's don't have a remote ssh shell. I mean, they're just disk drives right."

No. Linux is one of the main OS options available to run on ARC. "The analysis of the code after decompilation shows the herders were preparing ARC binary specifically to target one particular Linux environment."

220 heads to roll as Steria hacks away at UK.gov back-office IT biz

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: How does your country become the leader in IT

Because any staff who are any good grab the redundancy package and go do something useful instead.

Shhh! DropBox 'quietly files' for IPO

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: @Charlie Clark

Of course, if it's a brown lager then the "two fingers" deep head is expected of it.

Personally I find that neither real ale nor real lager travel well. When in Rome, drink as the Romans drink!

steelpillow Silver badge

Go Dropbox

Have to say their customer help desk and follow-up service is the best I can recall. They deserve success.

Up, up and a-weigh! Boeing flies cargo drone with 225kg payload

steelpillow Silver badge


So basically it is a helicopter capable of carrying the weight of two people plus a bit of luggage.

Why is it such a massively different shape from every existing helicopter in its class? Swapping the pilot for a pox box doesn't change the laws of aerodynamics.

Cortana. Whatever happened to world domination?

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Should have seen this coming

To be fair, Cortana incorporates some great technologies. But without a market to want it, it is dead in the water. Microsoft never found that market, because Apple and Google beat it to Mobile space (as noted), Amazon beat it to home appliance space, Microsoft couldn't think of a killer app in desktop space and of course who needs it in server space. IMHO it is desperately needed for automated supermarket checkout, but where's the glamour in that?

Smartphones' security enhancements just make them more dangerous

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My old Nokia

This piece is a great advertisement for keeping my old Nokia another couple of decades.

Or at least, until I can get a strap-down device (smartwatch?) with strongly encrypted cloud connectivity.

The healing hands of customer support get an acronym: Do YOU have 'tallah-toe-big'?

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Opposite effect

I am one such opposite guy. My dark talent first appeared around 1970 while I was still at school, when a paper tape puncher inserted a character that did not exist on my keyboard and did not appear on the printout. It crashed the mainframe repeatedly until I was banned. The professionals blamed me and refused to investigate the bug, I had to develop my own methodology and prove the cause to them.

I have always been popular among the cognoscenti at work, as a UI tester: If I can't crash it, nobody can. But the arrogant and ambitious always hated me and kept away because my talent routinely showed them up at the most tactless moment possible. Nice.

Qualcomm joins Intel, Apple, Arm, AMD in confirming its CPUs suffer hack bugs, too

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: The same bug.

"Looked at in that light, it would actually be surprising if processor designs were radically different."

Not really. Convergent evolution happens. Insects, pterosaurs, birds, two kinds of bat and even the odd fish all learned to fly separately. Human and octopus eyes evolved wholly separately (though the octopus did a better job). We have RNA and DNA and mixed-genome viruses. Then, there is the marketing desire for product differentiation. It would be astonishing if all CPUs were the same at heart. Yet they can all fly with predictive pre-processing, because that became a necessary survival characteristic.

Jocks in shock as Irn-Bru set to slash sugar and girder content

steelpillow Silver badge

Lite Ally Bru

A new low-sugar "light" recipe would obviously have to be brewed from light alloy...

UK drone collision study didn't show airliner window penetration

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Crap science, right direction

Technically, the study is near-worthless. But ii is obvious enough that we don't want to wait for a disaster before acting and the measures being introduced are sensible enough.

Ask a scientist what it will take to establish the risks to say five sigmas of probability and they will say something like "twenty years and a lot of money". We can't wait for the good science, we just have to use our common sense and apply political gilding to whatever turd that bad science has ejected to date.


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