* Posts by revenant

67 posts • joined 1 Apr 2018


Why does that website take forever to load? Clues: Three syllables, starts with a J, rhymes with crock of sh...


"By making this information available, Hulce hopes to help encourage efficient coding."

I doubt that the culprits will give a toss. More likely, this information will enlighten more people about what is going on and lead to greater use of script-blocking tools like NoScript.

I think the only thing that will really cause a change in developer behaviour will be a significant increase in people using such tools to avoid the mess that the developers have created.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1: Sumptuous pro PC that gets a tad warm


Nice, but ...

From the article - Even Outlook didn't seem to groan and stagger when beckoned - and this in relation to the 32GB model at £2,387.80.

I can't help but wonder at the con-job that Microsoft and the OEMs have pulled if that's the cost of being able to get decent performance for something like Outlook.

No fax given: Blighty's health service bods told to ban snail mail, too

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"A letter lost in the post could be the difference between life and death"

Indeed, Mr Hancock. But have you never experienced the problems of e-mail communication, which opens up possibilities for a whole lot more ways for communications to be lost, mis-directed, spied on etc.?

Reliable and (reasonably) confidential delivery of information via e-mail requires NHS staff and their clients to be totally clued-in on best-practice. I just can't see that happening for quite a few years, if ever.

By all means have e-mail communication as an opt-in service, but for the sake of those who can't grasp the technology well-enough, keep the old methods as well.

Uncle Sam to its friends around the world: You can buy technology the easy way, or the Huawei


Friends like these?

They could say 'If you involve Huawei, then we can't be involved', or they could say ''If you involve Huawei then we will punish you'.

The former are the words of a concerned friend, but the latter are the words of a bully.

I'm sure there are better and more diplomatic ways of countering rising Chinese dominance than that.

WeWork restructuring bites El Reg hacks where it hurts as afternoon brew delayed


"..as a friendly reminder, please reuse your mugs.."

In my experience, the sort of person who leaves their mess in communal areas for others to clean up does not respond at all to wimpy pleas to be decent. I suggest firmer language involving, say, kneecaps.

It's 2019, and a PNG file can pwn your Android smartphone or tablet: Patch me if you can


Re: Errrrr.

I wonder what proportion of phones out there are in this position (mine is on 5.0.1 as well), and are being used for purposes such as mobile banking and two-factor authentication? Stating the obvious, I suppose, but I bet there is a significant number of people who are wide-open to abuse and don't realise it.

Coincidentally, I note that Signal are rolling out an update that allows previewing of URLs in a message. I think I'll make sure that's turned off and carry on copying the URLs to view elsewhere.

Sure, you can keep Grandpa Windows 7 snug in the old code home – for a price


Re: Updating to Windows 10

Ah, so we're still in danger, then.

Civil liberties groups take another swing at Brit snooping regime in Euro human rights court


Re: Well ...

Good thing or not, I believe the ECHR is distinct from the EU, so it would take a totally new effort to get out from under it - I doubt that would happen.

Amid polar vortex... Honeywell gets frosty reception after remote smart thermostat tech freezes up for a week


".. users openly discussing shifting to competing products .."

What? Why on earth do they expect to not have the same experience with another service provider?

Oh cool, the Bluetooth 5.1 specification is out. Nice. *control-F* master-slave... 2,000 results


What about the 'Orphans'? They need to be cared for too.

Furious Apple revokes Facebook's enty app cert after Zuck's crew abused it to slurp private data


Another angle

I wonder how many such devices were part of a BYOD scheme and thereby used (maybe inadvertently) for Corporate Espionage to Facebook's benefit?

Whats(goes)App must come down... World in shock as Zuck decides to intertwine Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp


"...end-to-end encryption will be carried over from WhatsApp to all three apps"

Oh? My very first thought when I heard of it was that the encryption capability would be quietly reduced to fit the most open of the three, thus maybe taking a bit of the law-enforcement heat off Facebook.

En garde! 'Cyber-war has begun' – and France will hack first, its defence sec declares


Britain's " muted line about its offensive cyber capabilites"

I'm quite happy with that approach - what benefit is there in boasting/threatening like the French do? As long as we do have the capabilities, of course.

Stalk my pals on social media and you'll know that the next words out of my mouth will be banana hammock


... didn't see that one coming

Nope, but then you are an Anonymous Coward and therefore have no known friends to analyze.

Tens to be disappointed as Windows 10 Mobile death date set: Doomed phone OS won't see 2020


@ProbablyUnknown - ...crowd misleading...

I mostly agree with you, but I think it was more a case that Microsoft had a chance to differentiate their phone from the others by making it clear that theirs was going to respect users' privacy. Unfortunately they took the opposite approach and decided to slip in as much privacy-invasion as they could get away with. As a consequence, they really needed a decent app store to compete, and that didn't materialise either. So its demise isn't surprising.

China's really cotton'd on to this whole Moon exploration thing: First seed sprouts in lunar lander biosphere

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It's a start

Nothing too ground-breaking there, but the fact that they have created a self-contained biosphere (albeit a small one) is a clear indication of China's future plans for the moon. It may already have been done on the ISS, but then I don't think anyone has intentions of setting up a colony there.

One point - unless I missed something the soil used was brought from Earth. It would be interesting to see how far they get with Moon soil (I'm sure it's not just a case of 'Add water...').

Forget your deepest, darkest secrets, smart speakers will soon listen for sniffles and farts too


'A presentation made for Google can be found here.'

Oh dear. I do hope they've got the technology sewn up tight in the patent.

Facebook insists it has 'no plans' to exploit your personal banking info for ads – just as we have 'no plans' to trust it


Re: Nope

I doubt that Facebook itself could derive my identity, given that I only ever log into my bank in a fresh browser instance, which is expunged afterwards - no lurking facebook cookies, for instance.

Of course, the bank could be giving up my info directly - but that would surely be wrong (cerainly not approved by me).

Perhaps I'm being naive on that last point. However, Facebook knows a number of people with my name and they couldn't know for certain which of us I am (though they might be able to guess which is the most likely).

I guess I'll know when I start to see adverts for my bank's services ...

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I wouldn't even tell facebook the name of my bank, let alone allow it to enter into a data-sharing arrangement with it.

Finances are too important to let such a profligate data-leaker anywhere near them.

Mamma Mia! UK film fans forced to Q as Vue's website craps itself

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...we put in place a queuing system during peak hours to help customers have a more seamless experience

Seamless is when the system gives the impression that it is totally devoted to servicing requests for the venue you are interested in. My daughter found at one point that she was in a queue of 1700 - giving the distinct impression that requests for all venues were going through the same single thread of code.

What a BS explanation.

You can take off the shades, squinting Outlook.com users. It has gone dark. Very dark


Re: Not unwelcome

@ a_yank_lurker

One of my pet peeves is when the hipsters forget to ask a few gray hairs to look at the UI.

Good point, but the way things are these days, I imagine the hipsters wouldn't be able to even find a grey-hair in the building, let alone think they might have something worthwhile to say.

Nostalgic social network 'Timehop' loses data from 21 million users


I'd give them another 100 points for having a prominent black bar at the top of their home page announcing the breach.

Still leaves them at -20,999,900 points though.

So woke: Microsoft's face-recog can now ID more people who aren't pasty white blokes


It's another example of poor expression which renders a statistical statement meaningless (or deniable).

It could mean error rates are down to 5% (assuming previous error rate was 100%) or lower.

But 'up to' just confuses it.

I started typing this thinking I knew how to express what they meant but I give up. Too many semantic errors in the sentence.

Just assume the facial recognition tech is better. But don't assume how much by or how much in relation to particular genders/ skin tones.

Smyte users not smitten with Twitter: APIs killed minutes after biz gobble


“We could have done better and are learning from this experience.”

'Should have done better', surely. The fact that they are 'learning from this experience' admits that they put inexperienced management and engineers in charge of the transition.

It's funny, though, that the victims of this cock-up seem to have easily coped: perhaps the product isn't actually as important as it's cracked up to be.

Now Microsoft ports Windows 10, Linux to homegrown CPU design


Interesting stuff

Good article and, just for a change, I'm now interested in something that Microsoft are working on. Something to keep an eye on.

As an aside, I can see one additional reason for that page to have been taken down : it lists two 'People' and 15 'Interns'. Interns are people too, you know.

Drones Bill said to be ready for world+dog's crayons 'this summer'


Re: "...personal guardian drones "

To protect us from harm? Or to guard against non-conformity?

I'd like to think the former, but I'm sure it would be the latter.


£42 Billion worth of business?

That last bit in the article - PwC's Elaine Whyte said that the £42bn

'... is not necessarily limited to the drones themselves but how you analyse the data that comes out, the data analytics, AI.'

So are they seeing a future where drones are freely able to gather data for analytics purposes, and indeed that this would be the primary purpose of much of the use of drones?

Can't they just settle for spying on us on-line and leave is to fuck alone in real life?

Or have I misunderstood?

AI is cool and all – but doctors and patients don't really need it



From the article - If it makes incorrect diagnoses who’s to blame?

This is what bugs me about developments so far. The question shouldn't need to be asked.

AI shouldn't be making diagnoses at this stage. When AI has verifiable capabilities equivalent to those of a fully qualified doctor, then maybe it can be trusted.

In the meantime, AI can be useful as an aid to the clinician in making a diagnosis, but the clinician must take full responsibility for any resulting decisions.

Microsoft says Windows 10 April update is fit for business rollout


Re: least complaint-generating Windows ever

It is false logic to equate lack of complaints with lack of flaws.

Perhaps people are so used to crap and Microsoft ignoring complaints, that they don't bother complaining any more?

I haven't come across any flaws yet on my little W10 tablet. But then I don't trust it to do anything other than playing children's TV, so I'm unlikely to come across the sort of things that would make businesses despair.

Microsoft tries cutting the Ribbon in Office UI upgrade


Zero query search

Seems like excessive hand-holding to me.

In order to 'bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph as soon as you place a cursor in a search bar' I presume it will have to monitor everything you do in order to make the recommendations.

Reminds me of a well-known song:

"Tell me the thoughts that surround you, I want to look inside your head"


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


@Archtech - Re: Still a bit of uncertainty

No, that story passed me by. Either that or I read it so long ago (~50 years) that I forgot it.

Perhaps people who develop AI for safety-critical uses should spend some time reading SF back to the 50s, to get an idea of the fuck-ups that they should be watching out for.


Still a bit of uncertainty

The report gives a lot of detail, but there are still unanswered questions, particularly about what the driver did or didn't do.

This leaves a bit of wriggle-room for those who would rather blame the driver than consider that the vehicle was primarily at fault. For my part I think that in effect the 'autopilot' committed suicide for reasons unknown.

Why it did so requires a detailed technical investigation, but in the meantime I think it is a gross mis-representation, leading to a false sense of security, to call the driver-assist function an 'Autopilot'.

The end result is a system that can fail catastrophically, and that should be sorted out before the public are allowed to drive these things on public roads.

The hits keep coming for Facebook: Web giant made 14m people's private posts public

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Dear Facebook

Just a suggestion or two, but I think things will go a lot better for you in future if you slow down a bit on your constant updgrades and

1. Think carefully about the privacy implactions of new features,

2. Seriously cut back on the extent of your sharing data with third parties, and

3. For God's sake test your bloody changes properly before release.

NASA finds more stuff suggesting Mars could have hosted life, maybe


Suggestive, but nothing more

Still, it is encouraging. Nicely summed up at the end of the article -

We are therefore still alone, but our imaginary bacterial buddies are less far-fetched.

Stern Vint Cerf blasts techies for lackluster worldwide IPv6 adoption


Frustrating for him

It must be frustrating for Vint Cerf to have fathered the internet yet be unabled to really influence what people are doing with it. I think Tim Berners-Lee must be feeling the same with respect to the WWW.

Respect to both for their visionary ideas and what they've given us, but I don't think even they could have seriously imagined that in such a short time we would be in a world where people can own and use multiple independent and separately- addressable devices.

This world has grown from people running with what they invented and isn't (was never) controllable by them.

As with real fathers, they ought to be listened to with respect, but they shouldn't expect to have too much influence - they have to let go of their children eventually.

Facebook's Trending news box follows fired freelancers out the door


They ought to just give up

The long saga ends with them apparently deciding that providing an unbiased news feed is just too difficult (duh!). Could have told them that.

The solutions These new ways include a Breaking News label in the News Feed section for select publishers, etc. seem a whole lot worse (at least the 'Trending' section was fairly unobtrusive).

If I want curated news I go to proper news sites, with all their biases, and attempt to sort out the truth by comparing them. Otherwise, I really prefer not to have news any less important than imminent war thrust in front of me.

Fake NIPS slip site scandalizes AI world


Name change?

Assuming I'm looking at the right one, the real site says they're discussing a name change. Can't think why.

Un-bee-lievable: Two million Swedish bugs stolen in huge sting


Re: "...start following the honey"

Hmmm, hadn't thought of the honey being mixed. Ah well, it was just a thought.


"...start following the honey"

Mightn't be a bad idea. Would the honey already collected from a particular stolen hive be distinctive enough to test against honey being sold cheap in the local market?

FBI fingers North Korea for two malware strains


Re: Credibility

I don't much care about the credibility of the FBI's attribution. It wouldn't surprise me if they were wrong or lying, but it's the accuracy of the analysis that is the really important thing.

They can blame who they like as long as they correctly tell us how to identify the malware and deal with it. Attribution is more important for those charged with dealing retribution, I think.

Beardy Branson: Wacky hyperloop tube maglev cheaper than railways


Who needs it?

For the vast majority of us, getting from A to B in comfort at an average of say 100mph would be just fine.

This thing sounds more suited to rapid transport of goods, which would have the added bonus of taking much of the existing freight off the motorways.

You know that silly fear about Alexa recording everything and leaking it online? It just happened


Re: How naughty have Amazon been?

Thanks for the info. So no hidden mechanisms, then. But certainly a misdirection of a recording.

It still begs the question - What was the 'rare occurrence' that Amazon referred to? The absence of any explanation doesn't instill confidence that it can't happen again.


How naughty have Amazon been?

It goes without saying that the mere fact that this occurred is a very bad failure on Amazon's part, but the absence of essential detail in the original reports doesn't help us put any flesh on Amazon's less then helpful explanations, which leaves open the possible argument that they had somehow triggered it themselves

What I'd like to know is:

- How did the employee receive the recording? Voice mail? Direct call? E-mail attachment?

- Why did the employee think they had been hacked, as opposed to assuming they had butt-dialed?

- Is it normally possible for a user to command Alexa to send a recording to one of their contacts? If not, then it implies the presence of an undocumented (and therefore disturbing) feature.

In the absence of information like this it is hard to know whether to sharpen my pitchfork or not.

Microsoft gives users options for Office data slurpage – Basic or Full


@Herring`- "is there a chance of any document data being sent to MS?"

Yes. Under "Full", there is:

Enhanced error reporting, including the memory state of the device when program crash occurs (which may unintentionally contain parts of a file you were using when the problem occurred)

So at the very least, "Full" reporting must not be enabled (and I would say must be blockable administratively) in any environment where confidentiality is important.

If it isn' t possible to block users from selecting "Full" then I suggest that Microsoft Office is not suitable for use in Business and Government environments.

Doc 'Cluetrain' Searls' privacy engine project is just the ticket for IEEE


Machine-readable Privacy Terms

Nice idea, but first you have to persuade the monoliths to accept that the user has the right to dare to negotiate.

That aside, I reckon the objectives can substantially be met with a list (exhaustive, of course) of privacy-related proposals written in clear language, each accompanied with a check-box to signify approval. That's both Human- and Machine-readable.

Brit Attorney General: Nation state cyber attack is an act of war


A question of attribution

Assuming that a cyber attack could be considered serious enough for Article 51 to come into play (and assuming you can get around the awkward fact that it refers specifically to 'armed attack'), there is still the issue of whodunnit.

It's not like cyber attackers wear uniforms or leave debris that is clearly marked 'made in <xxx>', so we must be very careful in actually following through on what the Attorney General is stating, else we could turn out to be the instigators of an act of war, having been suckered by an enemy (or bad friend) into attacking an innocent party.

It might boil down to cyber investigators having the balls to say to the Government/MoD that, actually, we can't be certain. We need certainty, not 'high probability'.

Microsoft's latest Windows 10 update downs Chrome, Cortana


Re: Not a problem here.

Unfortunately the article on resolving "0xc1900101" errors didn't help as I didn't have a matching secondary code.

So I had a look at "https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4089834/windows-10-troubleshoot-problems-updating". Tried everything suggested and no luck.

I thought I'd have a go at using the 'Microsoft Virtual Agent'. I told her I was having trouble upgrading to 1803: she pondered for a minute then crashed and told me I'd better talk to a real person.

So, after the 14th failure, I gave up and downloaded the "Media Creation Tool" and ran the upgrade from the media.

Upgrade was smooth, and only took an hour or two.

Subsequently I've had problems.

Perhaps next time I should just cut the crap and go straight for a clean upgrade rather than relying on what seems to be an increasingly broken Windows Update.

Mining apps? We're cool so long as they admit to it, says Canonical


Not even a slap on the wrist, then?

It seems he will get away with a "Naughty, naughty. Don't do it again." from Canonical, having claimed he didn't realise it was wrong.

It was malware, and I wonder if Canonical are bending over backwards to resolve this without acknowledging that serious fact.

Microsoft programming chief to devs: Tell us where Windows hurt you


Re: No

"Most developers can't ... find their own arse... What should they do with AI?"

Let it help them, teach them, and at the same time - learn from them...

Eventually they will find that although they need it, it won't need them.

Game over for such developers then.

Zombie Cambridge Analytica told 'death' can't save it from the law



A couple of "Wow!"s there:

- From the enforcement notice, the extent of the behavioural and political profiling that they'd done on the bloke is pretty shocking.

- The breath-taking arrogance in their first response to the ICO:

The data controller stated that the complainant was no more entitled to make a subject access request under the DPA “.. than a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in the remotest corner of Afghanistan”.

What would be nice would be for them to be hauled in front of the courts and then obliged to feed complete data to every single person on their list, free of charge.


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