* Posts by jmch

32 posts • joined 6 Mar 2017

Facebook and Google gobble '99 per cent of new digital ad cash'

jmch
Facepalm

Value for money??

I wonder when companies buying the ad space will cotton on to (a) just how ineffective / counterproductive / hated their online ads are and (b) that the advertisers are billing them based on statistics that are devised , collected and processed by the advertisers themselves in a totally non-transparent way, so they have no idea what thy are actually paying for

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Waiter? There's a mouse in my motherboard and this server is greasy!

jmch

Re: I'm not surprised in the slightest

I used to work at BK (does anyone ever work there when they are not "young and needed the money"?), and one tip I picked up is to always order a non-standard item (ie order extra pickles, or no cheese or whatever) so that it has to be made freshly for you.

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Q. Why is Baidu sharing its secret self-driving sauce? A. To help China corner the market

jmch

Re: "exploiting cloud services as much as possible"

"Cloud: Central point of failure"

Why do you think so? This isn't an old client-server environment where the server fails and everything goes down. "Cloud" done properly means data and processing are both shared across multiple data centres, and replicated on 'disaster recovery' data centres. So it would continue to work if a whole data center goes down never mind just a single server.

The internet itself is designed to work around failures using multiple potential paths from data to flow, so network isn't a single point of failure (granted, if you need guaranteed low latency, that would be affected by network problems). And with regard to the endpoint connectivity, can be done by mobile data, initially in highly populated areas where 4G (eventually 5G?) coverage is dense, but once the technology got going that mobile internet infrastructure would quickly be deployed along all major roads. Again, if you lose one (or a few) masts/antennas, there will still be others that can pick up the slack.

What's more important is that the cars have a high enough degree of autonomy that they can anyway operate safely without needing to be cloud-connected, and the cloud connection just helps improve performance and optimise traffic.

It goes without saying, of course, that the security has got to be LOTS better than that on current cars

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Please don't call them Facebook chatbots, says Facebook's bot boss

jmch
Happy

Re: Hmm...

Maybe they need to read up on the latest literature in the field

I recommend "How to get ahead with chatbots"

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Will the MOAB (Mother Of all AdBlockers) finally kill advertising?

jmch

Re: Minority of 1?

Amen to the comments on highly objectionable "Payday loan" companies aka loan sharks. I would also include all the betting, particularly sports betting ads. They pay lip service to the idea of "responsible" gambling, but their business model, just like that of tobacco companies, is to target young people and get them addicted. Just as with the loan sharks, their primary demographic is lower-income people, they are simply preying on the most vulnerable.

With regards to charities, I absolutely hate the type of guilt-trips they try to foist on people, with all the high-definition close ups of people suffering. They only just stop short of outright saying "if you don't donate, you are personally responsible for all this suffering and death, you bastard", but the subtext is exactly that. Trying to guilt-trip me usually has the exact opposite effect, which is a pity because some of these charities ARE really for deserving causes.

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Intelligent robots can walk the walk – but if they can't talk the talk, we can't get along

jmch

Not truly intelligent

"People rely on “intuition, cultural norms, emotions and signals, and common sense” – abstract properties that are tricky to encode into truly intelligent software."

Truly intelligent software could learn “intuition, cultural norms, emotions and signals, and common sense” by itself. If it has to be encoded into it, it's not truly intelligent is it?

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Payday lender Wonga admits to data breach

jmch

Re: Utter scum

Why does anyone use the euphemism "payday lenders" instead of saying what they really are: loan sharks?

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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

jmch
Happy

Re: "coffee please"

" a pleasant variety of fried-meat-with-eggs options" puts me in mind of...

Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam, spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam, or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam

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Boeing-backed US upstart reckons it'll be building electric airliners

jmch

Re: 10-50 seat commercial passenger aircraft are a thing.

I think screening rules differ for smaller and/or private aircraft. Also, any screening would much quicker if (a) there's 20 passengers rather than 200 and (b) there's a few dozen flights per day out of a small airfield rather than a few dozen flights per hour from a major airport

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jmch

Re: Reality check time?

"that doesn't work when you realise that 40% of takeoff weight even with avtur is fuel."

For Solar Impulse solar-powered electric plane, batteries are approx 25% of weight. So I guess a larger hybrid plane that includes passengers and luggage could take off and cruise with for example 30% of weight that is batteries and 10% fuel for takeoff and emergencies.

I'm far from having technical aviation knowledge, but from the comments on a Boeing/Airbus article earlier in the week, I believe the biggest energy requirement following takeoff is highly dependent on speed, not so much on weight. So carrying battery weight for the entire flight even when discharged, while being an obstacle might not be a dealbreaker.

One other thing, again I'm not sure of the fine details but there could be other weight savings from using electric motors vs jet engines, both directly (engine itself weighing less) and indirectly (higher efficiency leading to less fuel requirements)

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jmch

Re: Reality check time?

Solar-powered plane not only already exists, but is already advanced enough to circumnavigate earth, including a single stint across the Atlantic and one China-Hawaii ( https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/26/solar-impulse-plane-makes-history-completing-round-the-world-trip ). Solar panel / battery combo is so good that the limit of staying airborne is dependent on pilot stamina, not technical reasons.

Of course that does not include any passengers, but what these guys are proposing is not a pure battery/solar plane but a hybrid, and targeting much shorter flights (approx 1 hr flight time based on the examples given). So why there are plenty of challenges and it's far from given that this would eventually work (technically AND commercially), it's not that outrageous. Certainly it's a set of technologies that should at least be explored, so good luck to them.

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jmch

Re: Just a matter of timing

"Modern batteries do have good power-to-weight ratios. However, the energy-to-weight ratios are still complete shite compared to liquid hydrocarbons. Sure, you could build a battery powered airliner that has enough power to fly _for_a_few_minutes_ before you run out of energy."

I guess that's where the hybrid concept fits in - maybe its possible to use turbine energy for takeoff and battery power for the rest of the way. If you look at hybrid cars like Prius, for high power and/or long distance they are using petrol, with batteries only for low speed driving or cruising.

Fuel makes up a huge part of airplane operating costs, so if a hybrid can improve consumption by even 10-20% that's a big win.

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Manchester pulls £750 public crucifixion offer

jmch
Trollface

Re: No nails required

"The bible very specifically mentions ...."

I'm sure that makes it true, then!

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jmch
Unhappy

Re: No nails required

"Nails through the hand were invented for the pictures. They're not really much use for bearing the weight of the body"

In fact the Romans didn't drive the nails through the hands, they did it through the wrists.

Ugh!

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Huawei mystery memo (and phone strategy) confirmed

jmch

Re: Last two paragraphs lost in translation?

"If it's broken I can't what? Return it? I'd bloody hope I could. Statutory consumer rights and all that."

I suppose what is meant is that you can't return it if YOU broke it (eg dropping from a height, or into water).

Statutory rights vary by country, but typically include a 1- or 2-year repair/replacement guarantee. What I understand here is if anything goes wrong in the first 3 months, you can return the phone for a full refund, which is over and above the statutory guarantee.

Can any Huawei owner confirm or correct?

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WWW daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee stands up for end-to-end crypto

jmch

Re: a technical solution surely exists

"Re: a technical solution surely exists "

Putting aside the technical solution for now, what is the actual justification? So the Westminter bridge nutter (I refuse to use the "t"-word, that's NOT what he was) "checked What's App" moments before he drove into the crowd? So what? What would the police / security services have done even if they DID have unfettered access to everyone's data?

Definitely, as computer experts, we have a duty to proclaim the reality that backdoors "only for those with legitimate access" simply cannot exist. However when talking to / trying to convince non-technical people, I wouldn't go for a technical explanation. Rather, I would challenge the possibility of getting any useful INFORMATION from unfettered access to DATA (which is not just needle-in-a-haystack but something-I'm-not-quite-sure-of-in-a-million-stacks-of-random-junk). After all, it turns out pretty much every time that perps are "known to the police", and the police already have plenty of data (eg 9-11 attackers). When police already have enough data available, and the problem is getting useful information from the available data, then getting more data is simply going to make the problem bigger.

The solution is to have more police / security officers trained to make connections, and working "in the field" and undercover. But politicians who will happily blow a few billions on a fancy IT system (that will be 5 years late, 5 times over budget and unfit for purpose), refuse to spend a few hundred million on hiring, training and retaining skilled officers.

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Governments could introduce 'made by humans' tags - legal report

jmch

Re: Illogical conclusion

"The motivation for companies is to make money - if that is more effective with robots/AI they will. What they never consider is who is paying customers, it is just assumed that if they lay off some staff, or out-source to some cheaper country, is has negligible impact on their profits as most customers are unaffected."

Or in other words, many companies nowadays see that the easiest way to increase profits is not to increase revenue but cut costs, not realising that cutting costs now will lead to lost revenue further down the line. But it's all OK because cost-cutting has effect now and lost revenue will be 5-10 years down the line so who cares, and most employees in the companies taking the decisions have vested interest in now, not 5-10 years in the future.

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'No deal better than bad deal' approach to Brexit 'unsubstantiated'

jmch

Is there that much to negotiate really? A lot of EU laws are set by EU and implemented individually by the individual states. A Brexited UK is not obliged to repeal any of those laws, but can repeal / amend them on a case by case basis depending on what they want, without this being impacted by the 2-year Brexit deadline.

With regards to cross-border stuff - ie movement of goods, services and people, the UK has already committed to close it's borders, and EU is already committed to close down free trade if free movement of people is blocked, so negotiation on the main points is limited, it will be down to the fine details. If no trade deal can be negotiated by the end of the two years, UK will just be out of EU and legally within the EU have the same status as Somalia* or South Sudan* . That would be bad for EU, but absolutely terrible for UK.

Any deal that the UK can put together is far far better than no deal at all

* Just examples. I have no idea if these countries actually do have any trade deals with EU that would make their legal situation vis-a-vis the EU actually better than a post-Brexit UK

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TRAPPIST-1's planets are quiet. Quiet as the grave, in fact

jmch

Re: More Magic than Goldilocks orbit distance...

"Earth has a one in a million combination of life supporting conditions."

It could be a billion trillion to one, but the number of planets out there is still much greater than that. It is almost certain that, somewhere around the universe, there are thousands if not millions of planets that have magnetosphere with liquid iron core, rocky surface, liquid water, oxygen atmosphere, large moon and approximate earth size, density, orbit and spin.

The real problem is that the very vast number of planets that make this almost certain makes it extremely unlikely that we can ever find these planets. It's looking for a needle in a million haystacks. Of course if we relax the requirements a bit from 'quasi-earth' to 'just about habitable', there could be many planets that we manage to find fitting the bill. Even then, we simply do not have the capability to get anywhere near any of these planets. Currently we don't even have a theoretical way of interstellar travel in a human lifetime.

So, not wanting to be overly pessimistic, of course it's important to discover as much as we can about alternative boltholes. But for the moment, space colonies with artificial gravity or caves and tunnels dug on the moon, andgetting resources from asteroids and other moons, seems to be the best next step.

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Road accident nuisance callers fined £270,000 for being absolute sh*tbags

jmch
Headmaster

Re: Was about to say the same thing

Off topic for a moment, but the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" has always struck me as rather odd. The "until" sort of implies that it's just a matter of time until proof of guilt emerges, and the state of innocence is simply a temporary inconvenience for whoever is investigating.

I far rather prefer the usage "innocent UNLESS proven guilty"

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Look! Up in the sky! Is it a drone? Is it a car? It's both, crossed with Uber

jmch

Re: "The internal combustion engine" [...] is designed to use fossil fuels

Correct.

If solar panels, wind farms etc instead of feeding electricity to the grid, were powering some apparatus to convert CO2 and water into hydrocarbons, you could burn the fuel thus produced with an almost net zero emissions. (almost due to process inefficiencies).

Hydrocarbons have a far higher energy density than even the best batteries, AND their weight is removed from the vehicle once they are used, as opposed to batteries that weigh the same charged or empty. MUCH more suited to aviation

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Self-employed bear the brunt of Spring Budget with additional National Insurance contributions

jmch

Re: Here's a thought

"Big earners don't get tax breaks - quite the opposite!" - clarification required:

Big SALARY earners don't get tax breaks. But most of the REALLY rich (ie 7-figures+) aren't salaried employees, they get their income from capital gains, dividend income, royalties etc. All of these can and are structured in companies or trusts and in other ways that allow the effective tax rates paid to be much lower.

"the top 1% account for more than a quarter of the total receipts"

Well, the top 1% actually own about half of all the wealth:

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35339475

So really they are only paying about half of their fair dues.

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee refuses to be King Canute, approves DRM as Web standard

jmch

Re: The stupid thing is....

"4K BluRays can't be copied. They're encrypted end-to-end, including the player and the display."

And yet the modern 4k displays and video cameras are so good that one could just set up a high-res video camera in front of the display and record it. It wouldn't be too expensive to set up 'studio' conditions that allow the playback to be recorded at almost Blu-ray quality on both audio and video. Also, the increasing quality from DVD to Bluray to 4k Bluray gives diminishing returns - you arrive at a point where most people can't tell the difference in quality (eg anything above "retina" display quality all looks the same)

So there literally is no way that copying can be prevented

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jmch

Re: All the whining in the world...

"What would help piracy is to make buying it legitimately actually be more convenient than pirating."

I would like that to be the case, and I believe for some people that is true. But there are still many people worldwide who would pirate rather than buy, whatever the price / convenience, because gratis is always gratis.

If I'm a small producer whose film has a potential market of 20-30,000, then even 10-15% of them pirating it is a big loss. 30-50% start doing that, I'm working at a loss. I'm not saying DRM is the solution to piracy (it isn't), but let's not kid ourselves that piracy is something that happens BECAUSE of DRM. Some piracy is people not wanting restrictions on the stuff they buy, but most piracy is because people don't want to pay for the content they want to see.

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jmch

Re: DRM means you don't own your content

"That includes PHOTOCOPYING it."

Depends. For as long as the copyright is valid, you cannot photocopy the whole book and sell / distribute the copies. You are free to photocopy the whole book for your own use or limited non-commercial distribution (ie give to your spouse or lend to a friend).

You are also free to photocopy or otherwise use excerpts of the book as illustrations, as part of a parody or critique. In these cases, it's also OK if you are commercially distributing your parody / critique that includes the excerpts. That's specifically allowed by copyright law

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jmch

"But it is MY money and MY eyeballs"

How much do you pay for your browser? Zero, zilch, nada. You might be paying for an ad-blocker extension, though. Similairly, if enough people are willing to pay for a browser that doesn't include DRM standards, I'm sure it will be built. Heck, given the uproar this has created I'm pretty sure some friendly fold will provide an open-source DRM-free browser for free. So, if you want to continue to use the web without seeing other people's copyrighted content, you are still at complete liberty to do so, and this won't affect you one jot.

If you want to watch Netflix or whatever online, you need to use a browser that works with that (and it's not like it's an issue to have multiple browsers installed on the same computer is it? I've had at least 3 different browsers on every PC I've owned in the last 10 years)

What worries me with DRM isn't the technology itself (as many people have said above, it's bound to be broken eventually). It's people like Google taking stuff that isn't theirs (like they did with orphan works with their Books) and using DRM on that. It's Youtube DRM-ing videos that users have uploaded and therefore where the copyright lies with the users (if I upload a video to youtube I grant them non-exclusive use but I am still the copyright owner). It's content providers creating their own DRM systems so that only big studios can protect their content, while small independent artists (for whom this is a livelihood, not another zero in a 15-zero bottom line) cannot afford to protect their content.

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COP BLOCKED: Uber app thwarted arrests of its drivers by fooling police with 'ghost cars'

jmch

Re: Cleared?

"thwarts attempts by police to arrest..Uber drivers...wherever the...service is restricted or banned."

Surely if the police have strong enough evidence that Uber is operating, even though the service is restricted or banned in the district, they can (a) go directly after Uber rather than the individual drivers and/or (b) get a warrant/subpaena to force Uber to give them a list of drivers operating in the district in question.

Clearly Uber are the drivers' de facto employers and therefore responsible for said drivers offering unlicensed taxi service. Even if Uber can get away through some legal loophole as "not a taxi company" / "not the drivers' employers", they are at the very least guilty of inciting their suppliers to break the law.

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Ex penetrated us almost 700 times through secret backdoor, biz alleges

jmch

Proper audit of accounts should include all accounts... I would say ESPECIALLY of those accounts with high priviliges eg auditors themselves, superusers and senior execs

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America halts fast processing of H-1B skilled worker visas

jmch

Re: That Sucks

"please don't make the generalization that every H-1B holder is a blood sucker taking jobs away from poor yankees"

I don't think that that is the point being made. Rather, it is the evil yankee companies who are abusing the system, effectively clogging the works with thousands of applications of dubious merit, in which the genuinely deserving applicants are lost

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jmch

Re: why was this called 'discrimination'

"The nature of a Nation State is that it has Citizens, and Visitors"

Nope. It has citizens, residents and visitors. Visitors aka tourists come and go, and stay for days or weeks rather than months or years. Residents, while not citizens, could live there their whole lives. Typically in civilised countries residents are not eligible to vote or run for office, but otherwise have broadly the same obligations (eg pay taxes and Social security contributions) and rights (access to healthcare, benefits*) as citizens. Also in most civilised countries, long-term residents are eligible for citizenship.

*Note that residents aren't freeloading because they are paying into the system. Typically 'residents' are people who have migrated for work, so are of working age and contribute more into the system than they get out of it.

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jmch

"“By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to... Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions"

How about hiring enough people to process the applications in the first place??

That aside, the programme IS being abused to get lower-wage earners with not-so-exceptional skills to replace locals with equivalent skills. If it REALLY is for highly skilled people that are unavailable in the US, visa holders should be being paid a much higher minimum (eg $200k as someone above suggests)

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Q: How many IBMers need to volunteer for corporate guillotine?

jmch

No incentive to leave voluntarily?

"A voluntary redundancy scheme was more recently opened giving anyone that wants to leave the organisation with a statutory minimum pay-off the option to do so."

If "statutory minimum" means what I think it does, ie anyone getting fired also gets that same payoff, what's the incentive to leave voluntarily??

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