* Posts by Archtech

938 posts • joined 9 Jul 2016

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And lo! Tim Cook becometh tech Jesus. But with more awards

Archtech
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Not very Christ-like

"Apple CEO decries the sins and moral turpitude of all tech companies but his own".

Actually, didn't Jesus come out quite strongly AGAINST hypocrisy? Motes, beams, etc.?

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

Archtech
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Re: Really?

"In order to pass the FAA's longitudinal stability requirement, Boeing came up with MCAS..."

Great. In other words, to satisfy some legal requirement they stuck a bag on the side of the airplane's control systems.

Archtech
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Lack of systems thinking

I appreciate the many helpful and informative comments in this thread. But one thing strikes me rather forcibly: a strong tendency to place the blame here or there - on the software, no on design decisions, etc.

Surely the underlying issue is a lack of whole systems thinking. It's never enough to design an automatic subsystem to correct apparent stalling risks, or to write correct software implementing such a subsystem.

It's necessary to consider the aircraft and its human crew - and possibly even its passengers - as a single system, whose subsystems can interact in complex and sometimes unexpected ways.

One salient example that has emerged from these comments is that, even if the avionics are virtually perfect in themselves, that very fact exerts strong influence on the pilots. They may become over-confident in the automatic systems, and unsure of their own manual flying skills. They may even forget, in the heat of a sudden emergency, how to do certain vital things.

Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget

Archtech
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Re: Home security problem

"All it'll take is a cash-strapped sysadmin..."

Tautology alert!

Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?

Archtech
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"Popular" as in...?

The most popular in the sense of "widely used"?

Or in the sense of "well liked"?

There must be a huge difference.

OK Google, why was your web traffic hijacked and routed through China, Russia today?

Archtech
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Long on indignation, shortish on facts

The fine article does not - as far as I could see - mention a couple of rather important facts.

1. Were users actually prevented from connecting to Google, etc.? Or did they manage to connect and use the sites normally - just by a circuitous route?

2. The article speaks of "theft" and suggests that packets were "stolen". Again, that implies that the packets were never delivered to the intended destinations. True or false?

Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

Archtech
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Re: A humble suggestion

Finsterliebe?

Grumbling about wobbly Windows 10? Microsoft can't hear you over the clanging cash register

Archtech
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This takes me back

In 1999 I remember giving the same talk to a few audiences. I warned them of the boiling frog syndrome, and pointed out that if, year after year, they went on taking the cheapest and easiest short-term decisions, in a few years they would find themselves with no choices or decisions left. In effect, they would find they had outsourced all their IT to Microsoft.

That happened some time ago.

Archtech
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Re: !!!!!

"macOS is simply Not An Option due to the ludicrously expensive hardware requirements - nobody sane shells out £1000+ for everyone in the company when a £150 PC is more than good enough for the majority of staff".

Thanks for providing such a perfect example of the broken thinking that has put today's corporate computer users into such a bind.

You assert that "nobody sane" pays over £1,000 for a computer when PCs can be bought for £150. I rather doubt that you can buy an adequate PC for £150 - unless it's a diskless one - but that's not important right now.

The point is this: how on earth can you say what is "too much" to pay for hardware when you haven't even mentioned the costs of software, training, maintenance, etc.?

For 30 years and more I have been astonished at the way decision-makers pay no heed to total long-term system costs, preferring to obsess about the sticker price of some plastic box.

But then that's what happens when the PHBs don't lsten to the Alices and Dilberts.

Archtech
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Re: !!!!!

"The pain of moving to an entirely different operating system is greater than the pain of sticking with Windows".

Yeah, just as its easier and nicer to go on smoking than it is to quit - in the short run. In the long run you may encounter pain such as you could never imagine, when your lifelong habit gives you cancer.

The predicament of the Windows user is exactly that of the boiling frog.

41% of Brit biz: Setting up a price-rigging cartel is all good... isn't it?

Archtech
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Purely decorative laws

Laws forbidding cartels and price-fixing (or agreeing levels of service, quality, etc.) are essentially dead letters. The laws were passed so that politicians could be seen to be "doing something". They are not enforced partly because it would be well-nigh impossible to do so, and partly because the main beneficiaries of cartels are precisely the big corporations who contribute most to campaign funds.

It's like insider trading. Let any ordinary person take advantage of a tip heard from an acquaintance to buy a few thousand pounds worth of shares and make a profit of a few hundred - off they go to prison. (Martha Stewart was a classic example).

Meanwhile whole financial industries revolve around the systematic exploitation of insider information; they, however, are off-limits to prosecutors.

GitHub.com freezes up as techies race to fix dead data storage gear

Archtech
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Re: The Microsoft Curse?

"Seems everything MS touches or wants to touch goes to shit".

That is axiomatic. But wise people have been debating for decades whether it's intentional or the results of incompetence.

Unless someone intentionally puts someone incompetent in charge...

Archtech
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Re: Cloud based services

Yes, it's a "share your code" service - in the cloud.

Core-blimey! Riddle of Earth's mysterious center finally 'solved' by smarty seismologists

Archtech
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Genuine?

One hopes these very tiny waves do not turn out to be like Schiaparelli's canals on Mars.

The fur is not gonna fly: Uncle Sam charges seven Russians with Fancy Bear hack sprees

Archtech
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Re: Same guys?

They have grotesquely overdone it. But experience has shown them that Western citizens will believe absolutely anything, no matter how obviously untrue.

The basic thesis itself is self-evidently absurd: that the Russians are wicked, powerful and adept, but also sloppy, stupid and incompetent.

Then there are the specifics.

1. That GRU officers (not agents - they are equivalent to officers in, say, British military intelligence) would undertake operations in the field at all. Intelligence officers don't do that - they hire locals or foreign criminals, precisely so that the operations remain plausibly deniable. (Now, what country's leaders coined that familiar phrase?)

2. That anyone carrying out such an operation would travel under their own identities and papers, or any identities and papers traceable to themselves or their organization.

3. That they would go around together in a hire car loaded with exactly the kind of equipment that a TV script writer would give glamorous international spies.

4. That their computers and phones would contain masses of detailed information about contacts, operations, dates, times, places - and, most ridiculous of all, about previous operations in different countries.

I blush for my compatriots when I realise that they did not all roll around on the floor laughing when they first saw those allegations. I also fear for them - and myself - when I remember that all this is being done in order to justify attacks (of whatever kind) on Russia, whose leaders can render the UK totally uninhabitable within half an hour if they wish.

Archtech
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Re: Same guys?

"I think they call it 'policework'. It's what everyone on here tells the police to do instead of spying on everyone's phone calls and e-mails. Why are you not happy when they actually do it?"

Police work is fine. What worries some of us is when politicians - including the PM - stand up in Parliament and say who is guilty before the police work has got under way.

After that, the chances of the police contradicting the PM are non-existent.

Archtech
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Re: Correction here -- Who's Commenting?

" Vote me down if your Russian".

That remark demonstrates either an utter ignorance of basic Aristotelian logic, or - much worse - deep cynicism. As well as ignorance of basic English grammar.

I have voted you down, and I am 100% British (Scottish actually).

On the seventh anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, we give you 7 times he served humanity and acted as an example to others

Archtech
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Re: Classic Reg, keeping it classy

Vitriol... it makes you hollow inside if you drink any of it.

FTFY.

How do some of the best AI algorithms perform on real robots? Not well, it turns out

Archtech
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Computing is an extreme abstraction of the human mind-body

Exactly so. If you try to understand the human mind, you find you have to study the brain and its constituents - neurons, synapses, neurotransmitters, etc. But the brain is not an isolated system; it is just the biggest and most obvious part of the nervous system, without which it would have no function at all. And the nervous system is linked tightly to the rest of the body.

What computers can do is a subset of what the brain can do, abstracted away into a machine. The brain can count and do logic, and computers can do those things much faster and more reliably. But in the absence of the reasons why brains count and do logic, so what?

The internet – not as great as we all thought it was going to be, eh?

Archtech
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Confusion

Far too many people confuse the Internet with the Web, and the Web with social media, and social media with Twitter and Facebook.

Everything that has ever been possible with the Internet is still possible. Likewise for the Web. People are lazy and take the path of least resistance, so instead of setting up their own Web sites they do everything through Facebook. Then they complain that Facebook has too much control over their lives. Duh.

There is also Gartner's famous "Trough of Disillusionment" (everyone is right occasionally - even Gartner). In today's superficial, fast-moving, "I want it now" society, it's all about the latest and greatest thrill. Naturally, once the high wears off, the inevitable reaction sets in. The new Ferrari doesn't have a built-in winemaker and doesn't butter your toast properly. Nor does it tie your shoelaces (if you are wrinkly enough to have such things).

I have been following the Internet, and sometimes writing about it, since 1994. Had I not become hardened to stupidity and crassness, by now I might have died of the sickness caused by seeing rich people complain that the Web was not designed specifically enough to make them even richer without any effort.

The Internet provides us with a magnificent set of tools - not necessarily with cut and dried solutions. Of course, as Ted Nelson and others have pointed out, they could have been better - far better - if more imaginative designs had been adopted. Never mind - the best is always the enemy of the good, and we have the good now. If anyone wants to create something still better, perhaps along the lines suggested by Nelson, they are free to try.

It's September 2018, and Windows VMs can pwn their host servers by launching an evil app

Archtech
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Re: CVE-2018-8475

True as far as it goes. The more important aspect is that security should NEVER be sacrificed to performance - especially performance on relatively trivial tasks such as displaying images.

Unless, of course, the buyer specifically asks for a "fast insecure system".

Roskosmos admits that Soyuz 'meteorite' hole had more earthly origins

Archtech
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Smoking area

Maybe it's for sticking your cigarette out of, since there's no smoking inside.

Won’t patch systems? Never run malware scans? Welcome to the US State Department!

Archtech
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Re: Who's In Charge Of Computer Competence Inside #MyStupidGovernment ?

"We can't tax the cra* out of our country just for you to get your new shiny kit".

"The F-35 Is a $1.4 Trillion Dollar National Disaster"

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-f-35-14-trillion-dollar-national-disaster-19985

(but maybe the F-35 isn't shiny...)

Archtech
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Re: What?

Obviously, the sweet spot is to work for the government as a lawyer.

No need to code your webpage yourself, says Microsoft – draw it and our AI will do the rest

Archtech
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Re: Who to believe?

"I don't think you have to worry since there is no such thing as a real AI just wishful hope by marketing droids".

I think that has been the main underlying joke in most of the comments so far.

Archtech
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Re: Hilarious

"Is the joke not that HTML is not coding, it's markup?"

Oh grandpa, that is *SO* 20th century...

Archtech
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Re: Hilarious

"There's a lot more to web development than just arranging the visuals".

Cue the old joke about the drunk searching for his car keys under the street light. "Is this where you dropped them?" "No, but it's much easier to see here".

One of the classic principles of software design: "do the easy bits first, and forget about the rest".

Winner, Winner, prison dinner: Five years in the clink for NSA leaker

Archtech
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Re: Non Jury Crime???

In other words, the USA, UK and Australia have undergone coups d'etat that removed the most fundamental and essential human rights.

And hardly anyone even noticed.

Now that's artistic.

Archtech
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Re: This is serious business

As some Americans have taken to saying, she did what she did to help America (the American people) - but she fell foul of USA (the government).

It's fundamental that the US government does not represent the American people, and does not act on their behalf or in their interests. Instead it represents those who own it - the rich and powerful who contribute money.

Microsoft: We busted Russian Fancy Bear disinfo websites

Archtech
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Silly if you ask me

Is Russia posting disinformation and propaganda trying to create dissent within America? Of course not.

Why on earth would the Russians go to the trouble and expense of trying to turn Americans against each other, when they are all at one other's throats already?

It's like alleging that some big corporation has launched an expensive multi-year research project to see if it can make potassium react with water.

Nearly half of IBM's $1bn Aussie framework deal comes from mainframes

Archtech
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Re: An honest question

Mainframes today are still very fast indeed - especially when it comes to handling many, many simultaneous users and performing database operations and transaction processing.

They are not "big" any more, though, in a physical sense. A low-end modern IBM mainframe could be mistaken for a PC.

Archtech
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Re: final solution

Admittedly the behaviour of US corporations during WW2 is completely off-topic. However, just to clarify for anyone who is interested...

The book does not blame IBM for the Holocaust. It merely brings to public attention that the managers of IBM - like many other leading American businessmen including, for instance, the infamous Dulles brothers - went on having profitable business relationships with Nazi Germany right up to late 1941. (And in some cases after).

There is also this:

"There is no doubt, however, that the company [ITT] owned 28 per cent of Focke-Wulf Aircraft, whose planes bombed American ships... In 1967 the American government paid ITT $5 million for damage to [Focke-Wulf] plants inflicted during the war by American bombers. The plants were, after all, American property".

https://www.thecrimson.com/article/1973/9/1/the-itt-affair-pbrbemember-milo-minderbinder/

Archtech
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Re: An honest question

One of the first newspaper articles I ever wrote was about a mainframe system in Bournemouth with clients in the USA and Australia. Due to the 10,000-plus-mile distance to Australia, the normal maximum response time of one second was relaxed to 3-4 seconds. Users in New York consistently got sub-second response.

When did you last see a server other than a mainframe that could provide hundreds of simultaneous users with sub-second response times?

I have owned more than a dozen fairly fast PCs running versions of Windows from 3.1 to 7, and even with a single user they don't always respond in one second - or even five. That's largely because it has never been a design goal of Windows to give the user immediate response.

Almost 1 in 3 Brits think they lack computer skills to do their jobs well

Archtech
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Re: Just wait until all the old people die off

70- and 80-year-olds invented computers - along with those who were even older (the immortal Alan Turing is nearly 100 today).

UK spies broke law for 15 years, but what can you do? shrugs judge

Archtech
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Re: So, as suspected the IPT is basically a blind, toothless watchdog

"OMFG William Hague was possibly the first Home Secretary to actually look at the stuff he was signing".

Either because he was so smart, or because he was so dumb.

Sir Humphrey would certainly advise his minister NOT to read some of the instruments he routinely signs. Some people are uncomfortable about lying, and do it badly. So it's better that they actually believe it when they say, "I never saw that in my life before".

Archtech
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Re: So that's the big deal

Nice example of sloppy, woolly thinking and sloppy, woolly ethics, sloppily and woollily expressed.

The most important fact that your post ignores and obfuscates is that there is a huge difference between a private citizen, perhaps unconsciously, committing a marginal breach of a law that many other citizens (and government employees) often break - and a key government department quite deliberately breaking the law in order to spy on citizens.

As for the subsidiary question of whom to hold responsible (and prosecute, and punish to the full extent of the law), that's obfuscation too. Someone is certainly responsible when a government breaks its own laws, and it seems most unlikely that no one knew that. If you don't wish to blame "the spooks" for breaking the law, then blame their bosses. If necessary, indict the Prime Minister of the time. (Although isn't there a legal maxim about ignorance of the law being no excuse?)

If you are in any way uncertain about the difference between a government and its citizens, here are a couple of important things to remember.

1. The government works for the citizens - not vice versa.

2. The government and all its employees are paid by the citizens.

3. The government is accountable to the citizens.

Lastly,

"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty".

- Thomas Jefferson

The butterfly defect: MacBook keys wrecked by single grain of sand

Archtech
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Insanely wrong "definition"

Here is a correct definition of insanity (Concise Oxford English Dictionary):

insane

n adjective

1 in or relating to an unsound state of mind; seriously mentally ill.

2 extremely foolish; irrational.

DERIVATIVES

insanely adverb

insanity noun (plural insanities).

ORIGIN

C16: from Latin insanus, from in- 'not' + sanus 'healthy'.

US gov quizzes AI experts about when the machines will take over

Archtech
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Already here for 180 years

As many have already observed, we have been entrusting our fate to artificial intelligences for nearly two centuries now - with results that are shaping up to be catastrophic. As boiling frogs, however, most of us are quite oblivious to this trend.

The AIs in question, of course, are corporations. It's very naive and superficial to believe that an AI must necessarily embody lots of clever software running on huge industrial computers. The AIs to which we have submitted - our corporate overlords in very truth - run very efficiently on Homo Sapiens V1.0, in spite of its many serious bugs. Actually, come to think of it, because of its many serious bugs. Otherwise we would never have done anything quite so suicidal.

Consider, if you will, the corporation originally known as Monsanto - now cleverly folded into the relatively innocuous-sounding Bayer, which most people identify with aspirin although it was actually the developer of the first poison gases.

Bayer-Monsanto (BM for short) is a vast, wealthy and powerful organization that works tirelessly in pursuit of its prime directive: profit. One gets the strong impression that it would continue maximizing profit even if it had to exterminate the last surviving human being to do so. How ironic that Skynet had already been up and running for decades before "The Terminator" was ever conceived!

UK Foreign Office offers Assange a doctor if he leaves Ecuador embassy

Archtech
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Recent changes

Apparently you haven't noticed that Australia has become a US dependency, and is ruled directly from Washington.

Computer Misuse Act charge against British judge thrown out

Archtech
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Interesting precedent

Anyone notice the interesting precedent being set here?

Apparently, rather than an actual trial by jury it is sufficient to have a judge decide what a jury would have decided - if they had been asked.

Can anyone see a wider application of this principle?

Maybe the judge's role might even be assumed by some promising AI...

US tech companies sucked into Russian sanctions row

Archtech
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Re: Muppets.

"If push came to shove, most would grudgingly accept that the US is a bit more benign..."

They would be seriously wrong, in that case.

The USA is, and always has been, a huge force for harm in the world. That is simply because, right from the start, it was run by the super-rich in their own interests.

A nation in which everything is for sale is a nation that can have no concept of virtue, no morality, no decency and, to a close approximation, no real culture. All those things have been replaced by money and its pursuit.

Incidentally, this also explains why the US government always behaves like Israel's pet poodle. Israelis and other Jews tend to be extremely rich, and extremely uninterested in ethics when it comes to the fate of goyim. Hence they buy what they want in the Washington bazaar - including US foreign policy. Hardly anyone who matters in the USA has any objection to this, because when Israel and its supporters get what they want, the wheels of commerce and finance are oiled and run smoothly - in other words, treble bonuses all round, yippee.

Russia - as distinct from the USSR - is actually quite benign considering its vast size and considerable power. Its government, led by Mr Putin, is always insisting on legality and morality, and mostly does what it says it will.

Archtech
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Re: When did the United States go totally insane?

No - that's just when you (very belatedly) noticed.

Archtech
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Re: Other way round ?

Irony Alert.

Archtech
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Re: When did the United States go totally insane?

In the sense you mean it, the USA has always been totally insane. Thomas Jefferson, President 1801-1809, is the only US government official I have ever heard of who absolutely refused to accept any gifts or "inducements" while in office. He took this so far that he sent back birthday presents from close friends. The logic, which seems watertight to me, is that only by refusing all gifts can an official remain honest. Relax that rule, and next thing you are going to luxurious dinners, weddings, parties, sporting events, etc.; and then you are taking money from foreign countries to fly (at their expense) on luxury holidays, and being paid vast amounts by banks for boring, content-free lectures.

Ever since Jefferson left office, if not before, literally everything in the US government (and those of its constituent states) has been up for auction. Arch swindlers like the Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Morgans, the Rockefellers, etc. have always spent a king's ransom buying up legislators, executive officials, prosecutors, judges, juries, and everyone who could "help" them with their "enterprises".

For the past century (at least) this massive corruption has spread from the USA to cover the whole world. That, for instance, is why the USA can often get support in the UN. The nations whose representatives vote for US motions do not stand to gain - quite the reverse - but the representatives themselves may have enjoyed a little "sweetener" or two.

Oddly enough, when a Tesla accelerates at a barrier, someone dies: Autopilot report lands

Archtech
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Re: Still a bit of uncertainty

"For my part I think that in effect the 'autopilot' committed suicide for reasons unknown".

Ever read Frank Herbert's "Destination: Void"?

Archtech
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Re: Nothing is right first time

They are only following the illustrious example of Microsoft, which has been treating its users as unpaid beta (and sometimes alpha) testers for decades now.

But at least Windows doesn't usually kill you.

Archtech
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Re: My 2 cents

In what sense could this guy be described as an "engineer"?

Archtech
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Re: These are all valid questions

Some people find Darwin stories funny. Others don't. Diversity - it's a cultural imperative.

Archtech
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Why???

Why would an engineer - of all people - do such a thing? Riding at the front of a 2-ton lump of metal and plastic travelling at high speed towards other such lumps approaching at equally high speeds, with a head-on crash averted only by some buggy software?

Even seen as a method of committing suicide, it is excessively complicated.

Britain's new F-35s arrive in UK as US.gov auditor sounds reliability warning klaxon

Archtech
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Re: I thought economy class was bad

Luckily you don't have to land it. You just get it to the right county and press a button.

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