* Posts by Richard Tobin

201 posts • joined 13 Aug 2007


National Enquirer's big Pecker tried to shaft me – but I wouldn't give him an inch, says Jeff Bezos after dick pic leak threat

Richard Tobin

Re: I have some questions

Freedom of the press would be a defence against publishing, but I don't see how it's a defence against blackmail.

Influential cypherpunk and crypto-anarchist Tim May dies aged 67

Richard Tobin

Surely you could have come up with a more ambiguous headline reporting the death of T. May?

Vitamin Water gets massive publicity for new flavor: Utter BS

Richard Tobin

Free advertising

And I would never have heard of it if you hadn't reported it.

Baroness Trumpington, former Bletchley Park clerk, dies aged 96

Richard Tobin

A BBC headline describes her as a "Nazi code-breaker".

Mourning Apple's war against sockets? The 2018 Mac mini should be your first port of call

Richard Tobin


"The mini can take up to 64GB of RAM or 2GB of storage." Shome mishtake shurely.

Anon man suing Google wants crim conviction to be forgotten

Richard Tobin

Let me get this straight...

A man who wants to set up an investment business wants to prevent potential clients from knowing that he has a criminal conviction? How can anyone think this is reasonable?

PETA calls for fish friendly Swedish street signage

Richard Tobin

Free advertising

You fall for it every time.

New UK drone laws are on the way – but actual Drones Bill still in limbo

Richard Tobin

Re: Online safety tests!

This is a real question from the UK driving theory test:

You have been involved in an argument before starting your journey. This has made you feel angry. You should

a) start to drive, but open a window

b) drive slower than normal and turn your radio on

c) have an alcoholic drink to help you relax before driving

d) calm down before you start to drive

US websites block netizens in Europe: Why are they ghosting EU? It's not you, it's GDPR

Richard Tobin

Re: Overreach

If US sites want to do business here - and that includes selling advertising - then they have to comply with our laws.

If it's the end of the advertising-based world wide web, then so much the better.

Cambridge Analytica dismantled for good? Nope: It just changed its name to Emerdata

Richard Tobin

Re: Obama

Obama is not a Liberal, or even a liberal. He's just a less extreme conservative.

How much do AI gurus really get paid? And is NIPS such a great name for a conference?

Richard Tobin


In the 1980s Edinburgh University had a Prolog system called NIP. It stood for New Implementation of Prolog. It was a pun on NIL, the New Implementation of Lisp, but in the light of the Japanese Fifth Generation project it was often interpreted as a reference to Japan.

There is no perceived IT generation gap: Young people really are thick

Richard Tobin

"Yesterday a neighbour's kid asked me for an example of a plant that survives salty environments."

The modern answer would be "samphire".

Virgin spaceplane makes maiden rocket-powered flight

Richard Tobin


"Virgin Galactic’s previously said it expects to fly paid missions in 2018, but it’s unclear if that remains a feasible deadline."

Or as the BBC reported in 2008:

"The Virgin system ... has been increased in size to take eight people at a time on a sub-orbital trip, starting in 2010."


Wanna work for El Reg? Developers needed for headline-writing AI bots

Richard Tobin

AI Prof? LOL!


The Register Opera Company presents: The Pirates of Penzance, Sysadmin edition

Richard Tobin

For the biblical philologists among you


Fermi famously asked: 'Where is everybody?' Probably dead, says renewed Drake equation

Richard Tobin

Re: Assumptions

The better compressed a radio transmission is, the harder it is to distinguish it from random noise. A DVB transmission looks more like noise than an analogue one, for example.

We will only be able to detect transmissions from civilizations that have not yet developed efficient compression algorithms.

Richard Tobin

Where is everybody?

... as a native American said in 1491.

It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?

Richard Tobin

Re: Dates

22/7 is actually closer to pi than 3.14 is.

HP is turning off 'Always On' data deals but won't say why

Richard Tobin

"No contracts, no commitments"


Chrome adblockalypse will 'accelerate Google-Facebook duopoly'

Richard Tobin

"Unwritten agreement"

"Ad blockers endanger this unwritten agreement between user and publisher". Nonsense. There isn't any agreement, just an attempt to impose advertising, and it's because we don't agree that we use ad blockers.

From July, Chrome will name and shame insecure HTTP websites

Richard Tobin

"In compliance"

Not doing what Google wants doesn't mean you're not in compliance.

Whizzes' lithium-iron-oxide battery 'octuples' capacity on the cheap

Richard Tobin

Re: Oh look, another one.

So how are you supposed to get funding to develop a prototype if you can't publish until after you've already got one?

And why do *you* get to decide what's published?

The Quantum of Firefox: Why is this one unlike any other Firefox?

Richard Tobin

Something wrong here

"With ESPN we were spending time rendering the navigation bar when what people wanted was the content".

How can it possibly be that rendering the navigation bar makes any perceptible difference to anything?

Harry Potter to get the Pokémon GO treatment

Richard Tobin


patroni, second declension


Official Secrets Act alert went off after embassy hired local tech support

Richard Tobin

Re: Many Years Ago

We had a PDP 11/40 with 32k (words) of core and 96k of semiconductor memory. On one occasion decorators pushed the Big Red Button by mistake, shutting off the power. When we turned it back on, the system resumed (because the OS was all in core), but the programs in higher memory all crashed immediately.

Open source, says me: Alibaba chucks MariaDB a $27m funding round

Richard Tobin

Open, says me

That joke is 80 years old:


at around 14:55

Customers cheesed off after card details nicked in Pizza Hut data breach

Richard Tobin


What country is this in?

Other reports present it as if it were a US website problem.

El Reg was invited to the House of Lords to burst the AI-pocalypse bubble

Richard Tobin

Dustbin of history

Trotsky, not Lenin.

Equifax: About those 400,000 UK records we lost? It's now 15.2M. Yes, M for MEELLLION

Richard Tobin

Records != accounts

As the "stop press" says, the number of accounts is nothing like that.

Dot-Amazon spat latest: Brazil tells ICANN to go fsck itself, only 'govts control the internet'

Richard Tobin

The whole thing's stupid

We don't need any new top-level domains, let alone ones controlled by companies.

As Hurricane Irma grows, Earth now lashed by SOLAR storms

Richard Tobin


Richard Tobin


"For reference, an X2 is twice as powerful as an X1, and half as powerful as an X3."

No, an X2 flare is two-thirds as powerful as an X3 flare. Within a class (A/B/C/M/X) the scale is linear.

Dangle a DVR online and it'll be cracked in two minutes

Richard Tobin


Since when did "DVR" come to mean "ip camera"?

One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass

Richard Tobin

Confused units

"It was believed that the proton was about 0.877 femtometres, less than a trillionth of a millimetre. But now scientists have found the subatomic particle is 30 billionths of a per cent lighter than that estimate."

0.877 femtometres is a length. You can't be 30 billionths of a percent lighter than a length.

Oracle crushed in defeat as Java world votes 'No' to modular overhaul

Richard Tobin

Re: Rules of thumb

"every malloc and free maps on to an OS call" - not true. No version of unix has ever done that. It would be unusably slow.

Intel redesigns flawed Atom CPUs to stave off premature chip death

Richard Tobin

Clock Bus Clock

You seem uncertain as to whether it's the LPC Clock Bus or the LPC Bus Clock. Presumably the latter, since the idea of a low-pin-count clock doesn't make much sense.

Huawei faces UK sales ban if it doesn't cough up 4G patent tithes

Richard Tobin

Somthing wrong with those numbers

"Huawei originally offered to stump up 0.34 per cent of revenues on 4G equipment [...] the court decided to award Unwired 0.051 per cent on 4G equipment and 0.052 per cent on handsets"

Surely the award is not six times smaller than what Huawei offered?

Our Sun's been using facial scrub: No spots for two weeks

Richard Tobin

Re: Predictions?

Here's the page it comes from:


Richard Tobin

A bit late

A sunspot rotated round on the 22nd.

PDP-10 enthusiasts resurrect ancient MIT operating system

Richard Tobin

Re: DECs funny numbering sytem

The DEC 10 was also known for its Prolog system, much the fastest implementation at that time, which was developed in the AI department at Edinburgh University.


It ran under TOPS-10 rather than ITS, however.

Richard Tobin


In 1992, Unix System Laboratories (USL) sued Berkeley Software Design Inc for, among other things, violating USL's alleged trademark on the word "UNIX" in their phone number, 1-800-ITS-UNIX. Disappointingly, MIT didn't sue them for using "ITS".

Apple eats itself as iPhone fatigue spreads

Richard Tobin

Re: The timing of this 'release'

Yes, just before it split 7-for-1.

Mozillans call for new moz://a logo to actually work in browsers

Richard Tobin

Re: Searching for "moz://a"

Define "validaddress()". moz://a has the form of a URI; there's no way for browsers to know that "moz" isn't a new or experimental URI scheme that they haven't implemented.

Fake History Alert: Sorry BBC, but Apple really did invent the iPhone

Richard Tobin

Thank Jobs for digital music?

I've been buying digital music since the 1980s, on CDs.

‘Artificial Intelligence’ was 2016's fake news

Richard Tobin

Helpful suggestions

My electricity meter is in a dark inaccessible corner, so to read it I take a photo of it with my phone. Recently, every time I do this the phone suggests that I might prefer a photo of it that I took several months ago instead.

Oracle finally targets Java non-payers – six years after plucking Sun

Richard Tobin


"Java SE is free for what Oracle defines as “general purpose computing” – devices that in the words of its licence cover desktops, notebooks, smartphones and tablets. It is not free for what Oracle’s licence defines as “specialized embedded computers used in intelligent systems”, which Oracle further defines as - among other things - mobile phones, hand-held devices, networking switches and Blu-Ray players."

So Java is free for smartphones and tablets but not free for mobile phones and hand-held devices. Surely some mistake?

Fallout from Euro Patent Office meltdown reaches Dutch parliament

Richard Tobin


If the article is correct, he should be imprisoned.

Oh joy. You can now buy a gold plated quadcopter drone

Richard Tobin

"more than four times the legally permitted height"

"more than four times the legally permitted height" and "heights of up to 2,000m (6,500ft) ... the maximum legally permitted altitude is 400ft."

I suppose 6,500 *is* more than four times 400, but it's probably not what you meant...

NASA tried turning lost spacecraft STEREO-B off and on again... but it didn't work. True story

Richard Tobin


This is most impressive.

Funny story, this. UK.gov's 'open banking app revolution'. Security experts not a fan of it

Richard Tobin


API does not stand for "application protocol interface".


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