* Posts by Gonzo wizard

39 posts • joined 26 Jul 2018

Prez Trump orders Uncle Sam to step up AI efforts – we all know the White House knows a lot about artificial intelligence

Gonzo wizard

"Europe, with GDPR, will be far behind"

All I can say is "lucky them" (the citizens of the EU, that is). The usefulness of any given AI is closely related to the quality of its training data, the degree to which hidden bias in that training data is removed/corrected, and the quality of the actual data being supplied to the trained system. If your AI/ML system has an extremely narrow focus with high quality training data and high quality input data it can be useful and probably fairly reliable.

In systems that are being fed data collected en masse (both voluntarily supplied and involuntarily mined) the spectrum of data quality is going to be so wide that training an AI that never produces a 'junk' result from real data is nigh on impossible.

You can't use AI to make decisions about people's lives on the basis of this kind of data. You can never be certain that the system you regard as well trained will not produce a stupid answer. Even if you catch the stupid answer you won't know how to prevent the same thing happening again. Statistical likelihood is not enough dealing with tens, and hundreds, of millions of people, each with thousands of data points, every day.

I think we've reached peak folly here. Coat, because much like gambling and financial instrument trading, AI/ML is something I'll never work on.

London's Met police confess: We made just one successful collar in latest facial recog trial

Gonzo wizard

Re: *just* one successful arrest?

Even a low percentage of false positives - at scale - make any system like this unusable; too much manual effort is required to verify and reject them. And you're going to piss off a whole lot of people.

Also: imagine being stopped by the police without having a 'good' piece of ID like a driving licence in your possession. How long will it take for you to prove to them who you are? All because a computer thinks that you look like a wanted criminal. Feels a lot like guilty until proven innocent to me. A lot.

Gonzo wizard

Facts - we've heard of them...

"the Met's Ivan Balhatchet said in a statement that the 'use of the equipment at Romford Town Centre resulted in several arrests for violent offences'.

There's a man with an eye on political office - he'll be right at home with misrepresentation like that. Add into the mix the poorly signposted trial in central London and they're not exactly covering themselves in glory. Starting to feel to me like they are going through the motions before announcing that the trial is a "huge success" and the tech is to be rolled out forthwith. What could possibly go wrong?

Incidentally if I walk around for four months of the year with a scarf covering most of my face, does this leave me open to being fined if I wander through a trial? Was this person simply provoked into a reaction that permitted a barely credible arrest as a 'message'. No scratch that second question, I think I know the answer.

Apple yoinks enterprise certs from Facebook, Google, killing internal apps, to show its power

Gonzo wizard

I don't entirely agree. Apple has clearly demonstrated to both Facebook and Google that there are consequences to be faced when caught in such a flagrant breach of the terms of use of these internal certificates. You can be sure that neither will be quick to do it again.

Equally, I'm sure Apple are also conscious that if they'd left both companies high and dry despite any apologies and assurances about behaviour going forward, legal action would probably have followed.

I spent several years in the Android phone camp (after a year with an iPhone 3G) while also running an iPad, I am now all Apple user and I can see the value in both approaches. Right now as a consumer I value the relative privacy that Apple provide.

Gonzo wizard

Re: Seems to me that FB and Google got caught with their hands in the cookie jar

Two words: "Informed consent". Facebook happily recruiting minors who at 13 are insufficiently mature and experienced to give it.

Plusnet vows to shove a sword in members area 'White Screen Of Death'

Gonzo wizard

"no one should infer that Plusnet are doing anything illegal"

You're no fun.

Gripe to UK, Ireland, Poland: Ad tech industry inhales, then 'leaks' sensitive info on our health, politics, religion

Gonzo wizard

Re: "prohibit advertisers [...] from targeting individuals on the basis of sensitive categories"

I can hear the defence lawyer now: "My client targeted a group. It is unreasonable to prosecute him because the group happened to only have one member."

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

Gonzo wizard

And it went so well for Google...

...that Facebook decided they had to follow suit.

Surprised, however, I am not. Telegram FTW.

Wow, fancy that. Web ad giant Google to block ad-blockers in Chrome. For safety, apparently

Gonzo wizard

Re: There is a trivial solution for this

On MacOS, Little Snitch is the perfect implementation of this. Outgoing firewall, good for all network comms by all apps.

Gonzo wizard

Bye bye, Chrome

Already use Chrome pretty much only for work related activities, preferring other browsers for personal use to minimise the data slurp.

Who's watching you from an unmarked van while you shop in London? Cops with facial recog tech

Gonzo wizard

Re: ...following on

Except that it isn't a crime, there's no criminal record, no points, no need to declare even when renewing car insurance. It's a civil penalty, or, in layman's terms, a stealth tax.

In four years I've paid up once for doing a U-turn where one wasn't permitted (I thought I'd left the no U turn zone) and once for straying into the last few feet of a bus lane. My bad.

Thanks to UK peers, coming to a laptop near you in 2019: Age checks for online smut

Gonzo wizard

Re: Doh....

"If the VPN use does explode in the UK I wonder how much that's going to screw up GCHQ's work."

I suspect that depends on where the VPN terminates. If it terminates at an IP address in the UK - or any other five eyes country (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) I'd expect GCHQ to be able to access the traffic.

Gonzo wizard

TL;DR - a complete and utter waste of time

Not comprehensive, doesn't apply to foreign providers... and disabled entirely by using a VPN. About par for the course for anything tech related that the government gets involved in.

I mean. How hard can it be :-)

IBM is trying to throttle my age-discrimination lawsuit – axed ace cloud salesman

Gonzo wizard

Re: Nope

Urban dictionary dares to disagree with you I'm afraid. It even mentions that it is a meaning specifically applicable in an IT environment. See it here.

- From your friendly greybeard (both definitions apply).

Identity stolen because of the Marriott breach? Come and claim your new passport

Gonzo wizard

Replacing the passport is the least of it...

I've two visas in my potentially leaked passport (I got the Starwood email). If I'm to replace my passport then I'd also expect the cost - both direct and indirect - of applying for two fresh visas to be covered. Of course Starwood have not provided any way for me to view all the information they regard as having been (potentially) stolen...

Google: I don't know why you say Allo, I say goodbye

Gonzo wizard

When is a Google product no longer a beta?

The answer being... when it can contribute to Google's knowledge of us and/or support adverts.

I'm super-cautious about adopting anything Google. I used to use Google Fit until they recently broke both the UI and the activity tracking and third party integration all at the same time. I'm one of many who are really annoyed that Inbox, the thing that makes Gmail look like a reasonably modern product, is being turned off early next year. I was at Google I/O when they announced both Allo and Duo and wondered how long yet more messaging services would last, and why they weren't improving and building on the existing products instead.

I have no intention of adopting any new Google products and I'm actively reviewing which of those that I'm still using I can move off to a good quality third party (paid for if necessary) service. Search, Mail/contacts/calendar, maps, YouTube, Android. That's the core set of products you can probably rely on Google not to shut down. At least not in the next 18 months.

Do not adjust your set: Hats off to Apple, you struggle to shift iPhones 'cos you're oddly ethical

Gonzo wizard

Re: Ethical behaviour

The reason I have owned Apple laptops for ten years (and am now back on iPhones) is that they are built well, last far longer than a plastic laptop and have a good resale value when I replace them. If the quality of the hardware slips, that whole model falls apart. Independently of my own reasoning, the brand cachet simply isn't there if the devices look like they've been to hell and back after six months. Like, say, the iPhone 5 does.

The moment Apple blinks on this they will lose so much. They just won't realise it until 18-24 months later (my personal verdict on the latest laptops is still not in, my daughter is the guinea pig on that one, plus must have the ability to install any OS of my choosing).

Naked women cleaning biz smashes patriarchy by introducing naked bloke gardening service

Gonzo wizard

A thorny subject

Stay away from the roses!

Huawei MateBook Pro X: PC makers look out, the phone guys are here

Gonzo wizard

So close

1. Linux support?

2. 32Gb RAM?

I was once one of you, F1 star Lewis Hamilton tells delighted IT bods

Gonzo wizard

Re: What a knob

Oh Dapprman please have an awareness of what you are talking about. Nobody gets into top-line motorsport for PC reasons, it is way too expensive to put somebody in a car on on a bike. They buy their way in with hard cash or they have sufficient talent to get a place on merit. And that includes test drivers.

Oh I forgot, clearly it is political correctness that gave Susie Wolff the ability to lap a Formula One car in a representative time at Hockenheim in 2014.


Gonzo wizard

Re: What a knob

See also: Monisha Kaltenborn (formerly the Sauber team principal).

Euro consumer groups: We think Android tracking is illegal

Gonzo wizard

Re: Spyware ecosystem

You've obviously not used this kind of firewall.

What's being talked about here is an outgoing firewall where the user is typically asked to permit or block each individual network connection as it is requested (by the operating system, or an app, or JavaScript inside a web page). So loading a page in a browser could result in several prompts requesting connections to different domains - ad servers, tracking servers etc. and you can choose which succeed and which are blocked.

Now that's a bit chatty so you can usually set up permanent rules to allow or block. Really effective for removing adverts and usurping tracking attempts.

Gonzo wizard

If only this were restricted to Google and Facebook...

Signing up with Polar to get the full functionality of one of their fitness devices is exactly the same - you must agree to everything before you can do anything, nothing is optional. If you want to use their fitness trackers in total isolation then you're good. But you can't connect to anything without first installing a mobile or desktop app. And agreeing to:

- Handing over all your personal details (lots of mandatory data collected)

- Your data being exported outside the EU for processing

- Your data being used to verify your identity, investigate fraud and 'misuse'

- Your data being used for activities not directly related to fitness tracking

- Your data being made available to subcontractors

Some of this you can subsequently revoke but only by contacting customer services...

AI snaps business titan jaywalking

Gonzo wizard

Re: Jaywalking

After I'd used a zebra crossing a while ago a van driver (who hadn't been planning to stop) remarked that I was "supposed to wait for the traffic to stop". "If I did that I'd be here all day" was the reply.

The Highway Code states that drivers are to look for people approaching or waiting at zebra crossings - and stop to let them cross. Pedestrians have the right of way - theoretically - even though they're not yet crossing the road. You learn something new every day!

Gonzo wizard
Big Brother

Re: lucky escape

They've probably already trained their model to 'blank' the president and all his senior ministers.

Recently spent three weeks in China with no idea that jaywalking could be an issue. Mind you the way they drive it's a brave person who crosses on red

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

Gonzo wizard

Re: Home security problem

"I dont answer the phone or doorbell unless I feel like it" - I know somebody who used to do this. Until one night, a couple of minutes after the doorbell went, the front door was kicked in in an attempt to steal keys for the car parked outside. About 11:30 at night when all the lights were off.

He always answers the door now. Or at least turns a light on and sticks his head out of the window.

Peers to HMRC: Digital tax reforms 3 days after Brexit? Hold your horses, how 'bout 3 years...

Gonzo wizard

Re: what a mess...

I've heard nothing from HMRC. Silence. Nada. Not a thing. Are they even ready?

Technical foul: Amazon suffers data snafu days before Black Friday, emails world+dog

Gonzo wizard


I got one of these. No idea how easy it was to find my details. No indication of how long they were exposed for. And yes nothing about informing the ICO.

If I was Amazon I'd be analyzing my logs to to at least work out if this data has been mined systematically or not. Potentially somebody has my home address and a list of all the products I've reviewed. Fantastic. Time to stop doing product reviews altogether...

US government charges two Chinese spies over jet engine blueprint theft

Gonzo wizard

See also the TU-144 which was allegedly based on designs stolen from BAC/Aerospatiale. In any event the simplifications made and short-cuts taken meant that it was fundamentally unable to be operated safely.

If you have inner peace, it's probably 'cos your broadband works: Zen Internet least whinged-about Brit ISP – survey

Gonzo wizard

Re: Another happy Zen customer here

With Virgin you can reconfigure their router to act as a modem only, reducing it to the role of an RJ45 socket through which internet is available. I've always used it that way and do everything else on my own Vigor equipment.

That said, that's with the two routers I've had from them so far. When I eventually manage to get them to upgrade my current router to get the 200Mbos I'm currently paying for (sigh) I don't know if that'll still be the case...

So, about that Google tax on Android makers in the EU – report pegs it at up to $40 per phone

Gonzo wizard

Re: Locked out forever?

That's right, it won't be available to you from Google - they only distribute apps, and updates, through the app store. Which you don't have. Sideloading a copy grabbed from another device might work, but seeing as the phone you are installing it on won't have been developed with compatibility with the app store (and the essential Play Services) in mind, I'm guessing that your experience will not be a happy one.

If you a re really unlucky the Play Store might even check your phone's model number and block it on the basis that the manufacturer hasn't paid the necessary.

Gonzo wizard

Re: That's my phone nearly doubled in price then

Those 'your device is incompatible' notices are configured by the developer specifying the range of supported Android versions, among other things. They have nothing to do with Google themselves, unless of course it is a Google app.

Pixel 3, 3XL, Slate tab launch: Google emits swanky iPad botherer while tarting up mobes

Gonzo wizard

This seals the deal for me. The Apple deal, that is. Google have looked at the prices of the latest Apple phones and thought "we'll have some of that". I've been buying Nexus and Pixel devices off-contract for ten years (Nexus one - two, Galaxy Nexus - three, Nexus 6, 7, 8 and 9). I've bought my last Pixel. Glitchy hardware and OS issues that are never truly resolved...

My most recent business phone - an iPhone 8 bought in September for £750 with 256Gb storage. Eyeing up an 8+ for personal use at £850 with 256Gb. Why would I buy a Pixel 3XL with half the storage for £970? Or a Pixel 2XL with half the storage for £700 (down from £900)?

The keynote was amusing - especially during the Home Hub video demo - the 'requested' video was announced by the home hub before the presenter was halfway through his request!

Intel's commitment to making its stuff secure is called into question

Gonzo wizard

Securing your products is a way to make money - if your competitors take the view that they don't need to. The choice as to who gets my money is mine. Your choice to not secure your product would automatically exclude you from my shortlist.

Not securing your products is also a sure fire way to turn an insecure product into one or more business-ending expensive legal cases.

A story of M, a failed retailer: We'll give you a clue – it rhymes with Charlie Chaplin

Gonzo wizard

Re: Profitability

For a long time I regarded them as a modern-day Tandy. Full of overpriced junk, most of the staff unable to help beyond a "if it's not on the shelf...". And the web site was just woeful.

Oz government rushes its anti-crypto legislation into parliament

Gonzo wizard

Re: They know not what they do

"The pin-drop I'm waiting for is all the 5EYES adopting this as well." - Thin end of an intentional wedge, anyone?

5G can help us spy on West Midlands with AI CCTV, giggles UK.gov

Gonzo wizard

Re: A possibly explosive question.

"It won't work anywhere, regardless of clothing" - ah but just think of all the false positives it'll throw up!

Trainer regrets giving straight answer to staffer's odd question

Gonzo wizard

Re: has anyone else

Orange juice is guaranteed to ruin an Apple magic keyboard, as I found out to my cost. It didn't stop working - as such - just had a few keys that were hard to depress and took their time to return. Sufficiently harming my productivity that it was binned, but not before I'd tried several cycles of spraying Isopropyl Alcohol to shift the gunk.

Facebook's React Native web tech not loved by native mobile devs

Gonzo wizard

Over the air updates

"It's designed to provide benefits like... ...over-the-air updates (rather than through the App Store or Google Play)". So you won't be able to put your app in either store if you want to offer direct OTA updates, since both forbid that.

It's probably quite easy to automatically spot apps compiled from react native too...

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