461 posts • joined 14 Jun 2016
The funny thing about buying Oracle ...
The funny thing about buying Oracle products or services is that, from the moment the ink is dry, Oracle will try every single dirty trick it knows—and there are so many—in order to own you.
Submarine palaces for marine fauna
No idea why Potemkine's remark—
... because aircraft carriers can be used against low-tech countries only anyway, or else they would end like submarine palaces for marine fauna
—received downvotes, because he stated a simple truth. Perhaps there are more ignoramuses around here than I thought?
Against a weak adversary who cannot project power against you (think of every country the US has waged "war" against since 1980) the aircraft carrier is useful and will usually remain unsunk.
On the other hand, if western carriers go up against Russian, or conceivably Chinese anti-shipping missiles, submarines and even airstrikes, the life expectancy of a carrier in unrestricted warfare is about the same now as was the case with Cold War predictions: perhaps a week for US supercarriers with large battegroups, and about 48 hours max for the pitiful UK ones with their vastly depleted escorts.
The simple fact is that even a sizeable escort defence cannot knock down every see-skimming missile that's fired at you: some will get through, more and more of them as the conflict wears on, as escorts suffer attrition, and your limited supply of AA ordnance dwindles. You will not prevent every single enemy submarine from sneaking into range (or just lurking till you sail over the top of it), nor will you dodge or decoy every torpedo they launch. Your CAP will not be able (especially if you're handicapped by having only F-35s, with their short range, poor ordnance loadout and lack of a rear view making dogfighting a losing game) to intercept every enemy aircraft before it gets within missile range. Bear in mind that neutralising the carriers is the priority task for your enemy.
Contrary to ludicrously optimistic and untested predictions by the US Navy, even a super-carrier can be knocked out with a single well-placed torpedo under the keel, and a antiship missile does not have to explode directly in CIC to cripple the ship: a big enough bang to shake loose a lot of plumbing is quite sufficient to badly impede a carrier's operations; and how long will it before one of those big bangs severs a few fuel lines? Or knocks out the reactor cooling system? If anything qualifies for a sacred 250-year-old rule of naval warfare, it is surely "More incoming fire will do more damage of more consequence than you imagined in your worst nightmares".
In the Pacific Theatre of WW2, without any missiles being available, carriers went to the bottom with great frequency on both sides—until the Empire of Japan couldn't shoot back, in fact.
The only really fundamental thing that's changed since then is that the US hasn't fought a war against a foe who could threaten its carriers and has therefore become hubristically overconfident.
As to the UK, we ought to know better after the Falklands (where we had to keep the carriers out of range of pretty much any and every threat, or lose the war) but politicial stupidity and short-sighted penny-pinching will always have their way ... our two "supercarriers", if we have to fight against a real opponent, really are just big, fat, dumb floating targets.
Cringe with shame
Cringe with shame, for—
"Space, the final blunt-tier"
—weak, clumsy and beyond pathetic ... even by El Reg's determinedly, deliberately adolescent standards. Not clever. Not funny. Not challenging. Not worth so much as a wry smile. Simply witless.
I wonder, not for the first time, how your otherwise excellent organ might perform if it employed even a single adult editor?
For the last time, I ask: do you really think that even one solitary visitor comes here for what you fondly, and utterly misguidedly, believe is "clever" punning?
It really isn't.
Re: Wait, what?
"Sir! We've had over 50,000 returns."
"Well, uh, we only sold 30,000 in the first place. And, um, we only made 40,000..."
(cue Twilight Zone music)
You may be on to something. Lawyers can get fixated on details, ignoring the big picture. Perhaps when we look beneath the "rate of return", as you mention, we will be staggered to find that more handsets were returned than had been sold to a given date.
Why does this matter? Because although the great Stephen Hawking has passed, we had—until now—no proof that parallel universes existed ...
... it was a Blackberry black hole.
Future in-car computers
"... future in-car computers know when to starve the entertainment system of resources in order to ensure drivers’ or riders’ safety"
I wasn't the only one to be brought up short by that sentence, then. The idea that one computer shares the tasks of critical driving safety with in-car entertainment sounds impressively stupid. I'm not even convinced they should be allowed to share a network.
I submit that as cars become ever more automated and computerised, and as driver-assist gradually morphs into autopilot over the course of time—which then becomes full automated journey management and driving as the cars become integrated with each other and city computer/traffic management systems—the level of required safety and reliability shoudn't be much less than you'd expect in an aircraft.
Now you'd be right to say that planes are special insofar as (a) a total failure doesn't simply mean drifting to an embarrassed stop at the side of the road, and (b) the consequences of a crash are potentially two orders of magnitude worse than for a car ... BUT from a public perception point of view, it's basically the same: every time a car kills people because of a software failure there will be absolute hell to pay.
The safety and security requirements for an entertainment system are so completely different from systems to control steering and brakes that there is no meaningful comparison. You can let lardy, careless Android wheeze and waddle its way round a movie or a website and no one dies, even if the OS is now 10 years old. But that really won't do for systems that will have to distinguish a child from a tumbleweed and decide within a hundredth of a second whether to risk the occupants' lives by deliberately swerving into the opposite ditch.
There's no real reason to be confident that the anti-malware arms race is going to be conclusively won by the white hats any time soon, especially given that with virtualisation, hypervisors, containerisation and the general obsession with loading a multiplicity of OSs and applications on a single piece of tin, we're opening ever more chinks for super-stealthy hyper-powered ultra-sneaky sequestration attacks.
So FWIW my vote is for never mixing business with pleasure. Take a leaf from the airliner handbook: build a bullet-proof OS for car management, keeping people alive, use multiple voting computers to decide critical issues, and keep the fluffy stuff completely and utterly separate.
CPUs just don't cost enough to justify VM-ing a car and taking risks ... not even for an industry as soullessly greedy and dishonest as automotive.
Still in business ... why?
I was surprised when Comet went under, some years back, rather than DSG: we had both in our local retail park, and Comet's prices were often cheaper and its staff vastly better for information and sheer courtesy. There was much less of the witless insistence on selling you worthless five year warranties and other overpriced "services" that Currys/PCW/DSG worked so hard to scam us with.
If ever a high street brand seems to deserve oblivion, it's DSG, with its tricksy pricing manipulation, expense and the atrocious staff and sales practices: why won't it just die?
And if they refuse to die, perhaps they could at least adopt an honest-labelling policy, so that naive customers will, on the way in, see that there is an entire team of spotty oafs called—
Ex-Spurts Bar Devoted To Lightening Your Wallet (Plus *FREE* Bad Advice).
I'm not xenophobic and I tend usually to believe the Cockup rather than the Conspiracy theories of human history. It's all too easy to become afraid of what you don't fully understand, and is different, and China, with its imbecilic language, positively insane writing system and exceedingly peculiar culture, certainly qualifies as being about as alien as most of us have seen. None of those things in themselves should frighten us. Nor, indeed, should economic growth, though personally I'd like to see it accompanied by some physical growth off-planet as well, lest we end up cooking to death in our "growth" of waste down here. But that's another story.
The Chinese economy doesn't frighten me. The Chinese people don't frighten me. The Chinese military doesn't even particularly frighten me.
What frightens me is the Chinese government.
It's all fine for hypocrites like George Osborne to fawn over the Chinese with his sweaty little hand held out, and you couldn't expect anything better from western companies enslaved by mindless greed.
But as a remotely decent human being, perhaps one with children—do you really want to see ever more power in the hands of a vile, murderous, dishonest, undemocratic, repressive, authoritarian regime?
That's my problem. China might be fine, its citzens good people ... but its leaders remain, as they have been for 40 years, simply wicked, limitlessly corrupt, murderous filth.
China's increasingly expansionist military posture and economic growth, coupled with IP theft on a colossal scale and ever-better infiltration of western technology, tell me (to my aghast surprise) that there is one thing I agree with the loathsome Steve Bannon about: almost certainly, the world either loses to China without a shot fired, or there'll be a war.
I'm no warmonger. I know how appallingly nasty and tragic war is, even tiny ones. War is nightmare made flesh. If there is a bloodless way to turn China toward democracy and individual freedom, it would be far better than the alternative. But when all's said and done I want my children and grandchildren to grow up in a free, democractic, creative, fearless, progressive world: and if we have to slaughter the so-called Communist Party to do it ... well, I'm afraid that's the choice they made by steadfastly and opportunistically turning away from democracy and decency. The bill is due.
To let slip the freedoms purchased in blood during WW2 would be utterly pathetic. Tyranny shoud die. Literally.
Feelgood news of the second best type
Not being snarky: in a world of increasingly bad news thanks largely to the criminals and imbeciles who seem to get to run things (even in the "democracies" these days) I am personally heartened to know that a tremendously worthwhile scientific endeavour exceeded expectation in every way and has added considerably to human knowledge. Yeah, the money could have been spent on other things, like a couple of Trident missiles—but thank goodness it wasn't. We need to know stuff if we are to survive as a species.
(If anyone cares, my definition of "Feelgood news of the (first) best type" is reading the occasional story where a person has done something selfless, decent and brave.)
The Drake Equation was never remotely useful, and IMHO not even a valid starting point for discussion.
The reason is simple: we had then and have now, absolutely no idea the probability of life arising on a planet, even one like Earth, nor the chances of its survival, nor the odds that it will develop into a radio civilisation. The odds could be 50:50. They could be 1 in 10^100. We have only a sample of one (here) which is statistically meaningless.
Until and unless we observe some life Out There, the Drake Equation don't mean squat.
Secession by San Andreas
In a perfect alternate universe, a benign and somewhat improbable fracturing of a major faultline will cleanly split California from the rest of CONUS and allow it to float off a few hundred miles into the Pacific, thereafter to secede from the union and become the unrestricted model of progressive civilisation in contrast to the east, which is currently suffering Death By Trump. California isn't perfect but it stands as a grown-up rebuke to much of the rest of the USA right now.
And if that idiot fantasy is too much to ask, can I lower my sights and request that yes, please, El Reg drop the juvenile "Super Cali" nonsense? Like most of its adolescent punning, it stopped being funny after about 15 minutes, years ago.
I tend to agree with those who point out that "flaws" which can only exploited if the machine is already compromised at root level are much less significant than those which can burrow in under the radar and obtain that kind of access.
It's a bit like worrying about mission protocols when the captain of the aircraft carrier is already a foreign agent: you lost the game long before having to worry about how many planes to keep on CAP. Your job is to employ good, loyal captains. Your job is also to worry about important threats, like (say) a new sea-skimming missile that your radar can't detect, which makes the question of mission protocols important if the captain hasn't been compromised.
And yes, this whole thing stinks like a week-old haddock, and per my title, I suggest it is clumsily obvious, to the point of witlessness. I won't trouble to detail the points made so well by others, regarding timing, attempted anonymity, suspicious abruptness with which this latest crew apparated: it all simply stinks of an unsubtle, heavy-cack-handed and slimy attempt to smear AMD.
As to who is really behind it, well, the same folks who are always responsible when corporations do dishonest, dishonourable things which strangely benefit it to the tune of billions: "A small group of junior employees gone rogue who acted beyond their authority and completely without the knowledge of senior management."
They do get around, those guys.
Keeping the powder dry
What Hannigan has been a little coy about is the single most important reason for not launching a cyber assault on Russia: it's in the nature of cyber weapons that they age very rapidly. Whereas a 1000lb bomb, a cruise missile or even a 300kT nuke is generally just as effective on its tenth use as on its first, a cyber weapon tends to be rapidly identified and blocked.
So yes, we could cause a few weeks' havoc, at best, in Russia. A series of power outages, mysterious telecoms glitches, utility failures, wiped bank records would cause them serious diffculties and cost them a few billion rubles. But it wouldn't get rid of Vlad the Emailer; it almost certainly wouldn't change the minds of the Russian population, who have spent about 400 years as serfs of one kind or another; and it would mean that a bunch of one-off tools that we might really, badly need one day in a shooting war, are no longer available.
This is the reason why the two most phenomenally dangerous cyberwar outfits on the planet (NSA and GCHQ) generally do not retaliate with cyber weapons, even against a cyber attack: because they are keeping the gunpowder dry against a time when it might really make the difference.
As to what HMG can do about this latest unpleasantness, I do wonder whether Putin would have calculated this particular atrocity if the UK were not busy Brexiting: we are much weaker; other countries already take us much less seriously; our clout is declining rapidly; the response we can make as a Brexiting nation is not even close to the one we could have mobilised as a fully paid-up component of the EU. If Putin's policy is to pick off the enemy gang one at a time, targeting weakness, he has been masterfully clever.
And our government, it goes without saying, continues to be mindlessly stupid.
Just another symptom
With respect to the many excellent comments here, I think Maplin's death is being over-analysed: at risk of now over-simplifying, isn't it really the case that Maplin has followed many predecessor retailers into oblivion for basically similar reasons? Viz: fast delivering and significantly cheaper internet.
If we exclude grocery, and high street clothing stores—where, understandably, people still like to try stuff on—there isn't much left in bricks'n'mortar retail that internet suppliers cannot do more cheaply: simply because at scale, internet sellers can keep their overheads and costs lower. It's very hard to argue with the math of (a) no eyewateringly expensive high street rental and rates, (b) economies of scale through centralisation, and (c) industrial-grade tax avoidance.
Indeed, I'd go a little further and wonder why retailers like Boots and WHSmith are still infesting the high street. They are not good value, by and large, and do not, IMHO, have some specialised/USP offering that the 'net cannot compete with. (Why does anyone go into a WHS these days? I'm genuinely curious.)
I am one of those "mourning dads" that an early poster joked about, being of the speccy teen 70s generation that rescued old 405-line TVs off the pile behind the repair shop to take home and nurture back to life, and even now I still occasionally knock up a gadget (our house boiler was never meant to be connected to the Internet of Shyte) but, the arithmetic became very easy: Maplin couldn't be trusted to concentrate on what I really wanted, and if Amazon couldn't provide, Rapid could—thus the reasons even for walking in the door at Maplin simply evaporated over the years. (And that doesn't include avoiding the persistently eager staff, for I am, in my old age, of somewhat forbidding mien.)
Whether I am right or not about Boots and WHS, I claim no perspicacity for saying that Maplin won't be the last. If you are to survive in high street retail these days, you need to give customers an irresistibe reason to (a) walk in, and (b) walk out with something.
And the patentable new idea is ...
And the patentable new idea is ... nowhere to be seen: amazing!
For at least 147 years inventors have solved the "ingress of unwanted shyte" problem by putting gaskets, rubbers, membranes, boots, skirts and whatever other flexible enclosures come to mind, around delicate things that work best when not impeded by Straying Crappe. This has included parts of steam engines, printing presses, guns, pacemakers, sewing machines, almost every part of an automobile, submarines, dildoes, computers, vacuum cleaners, battlefield radios, blurping vats, headphones, centrifuges, children's toys, calculators, greenhouse instrumentation, turbines, cameras, televisions, window frames, lighthouses, ruggedised thises and thats, spaceships, jumbo jets, racing yachts, wristwatches, lawn sprinklers and pressure cookers ... and a list far too long for anyone here to want to read.
Now some chancer at Apple has applied the notion to a keyboard, adding zero value in terms of thinking, innovation, function or implementation, and some supreme, astounding fathead of a patent examiner has actually said "Yeah, that's new"? Did the incredibly clever, Einstein-level invention of the Rounded Corner™ give someone ideas?
I keep hearing that the US is fixing its ludicrously error-prone, frankly laughably inept and unfit-for-purpose patent system ... and seeing zero evidence that this is in any way true.
Oh no it's not
Apologies if I repeat something already pointed out but I haven't time to read nearly 100 comments.
I say "Oh not it's not" because I personally believe that smartphone sales are running out of steam because the damn things all look alike and are now showing only incremental, and arguably peripheral and unnecessary, improvements. Manufacturers followed Apple like perfectly cretinous lemmings with the candy-bar design and it is about to become a dead end. There's only so much tweaking of cameras and bezels you can do before folks ask themselves why on earth they should pay £1k for a phone that's hard to distinguish from the previous two models, which did everything that was needed already? Where's the innovation? Where's the dramatic new functionality/display tech/battery life?
Samsung made a couple of rather feeble attempts to break loose of this lamebrain follow-the-fashion design with smart flip phones (one was "Hennessy" I think?) but they were half hearted.
The screen is (a) the most important part of a smartphone and (b) the most vulnerable and (c) frequently most expensive to fix. We've had 10 years of sheer stupidity putting the screen all over the outside of the phone ... and millions of expensively shattered screens. And phones whose physical size was driven exclusively by the desired screen size; resulting in some offensively oversized models.
Considering we already had the example of highly successful flip-dumb-phones it is staggering that manufacturers and consumers were dumb enough not to see the obvious—hypnotised, I supposed, by Apple?
Therefore I suggest that we are about to see a new (old) paradigm: flip/clam powerful smartphones with two internal screens taking advantage of tiny bezels to perform as two screens; or one bigger one; or a screen plus (decent sized) soft keyboard; or whatever the software will allow. Externally a supplementary, well-protected screen does routine work for caller ID, app warnings, brief messages, notifications etc: perhaps an e-ink type of display, lasting ages and always on. At last we'll have bigger screens, yet in the same 4—6 inch size range for the unit. At last the expensive, nice display tech is protected from coins, keys, scratches and drops. At last you can choose to answer by flipping open, or not; to end a call by flipping closed, if you like.
The new possibilities opened up by combining smartphone power and display tech with the clamshell form factor will, I respectfully submit, rejuvenate an ailing marketplace.
We may not quite reach Westworld super-expandy-screens just yet, but hi-res almost-bezel-less tech can now do some remarkable things—and it's time for those with deep pockets and imagination to get cracking.
Re: I actually am surprised
Really, I have no idea why you are surprised. Perhaps you're just an exceptionally honest person who finds it hard to imagine that some others, when you come right down to it, have the souls of rodents.
Bear in mind that those inflicting ransomware are (allegedly) members of our species who knowingly and deliberately destroy the contents of innocent civilians' computing devices. They know perfectly well that your baby photos and rare video clips of the kids growing up and vital documentation—perhaps lifetimes' worth of treasured stuff—wil be lost. That they are causing distress, worry, wasted time, lost work and even heartbreak. Victims will include singles and couples, parents and grandparents, teenagers and kids.
They do this to steal money. Not even for some twisted ideology of politics, or culture, or even nationalism. Not because of a personal belief. Just for money. Like pigs jostling at a trough, heedless and animal. Just. For. Money.
El Reg frequently uses the phrase "ransomware scum", which seems mild, really, for the witless, greedy cruelty of such people. They are morally equivalent to the kind of soulless filth who lurk in dark alleyways to club a granny for her pension money. It amazes me that such people can bear to see themselves in a mirror. Let's be honest: if they do not feel crushing shame for what they do, they are mentally broken vermin.
I suspect "honour among thieves" is just an empty phrase. A bit like the Sicilian Mafia calling themselves "men of honour" for their ability to conduct murderous feuds against other men's children. When someone claims "honour" it's time to count the spoons.
And as is often noted in politics, which often attracts troublingly similar characters: rats aren't always easily identified. Some rats talk nicely. Many rats wear nice suits. Some can write code. They're all still rats, though. Best not to expect anything except rat behaviour.
US only I presume?
The article speaks of permissions to orbit satellites but this surely applies only to American companies/agencies within its national jurisdiction?
I wonder how much other tiny junk is up there right now, launched by other nations? And what it's doing? Fiendish Orientals, for example, could pack much mischief into a one-litre box, if they chose.
I also wonder how much science has gone into assessing upper limits on satellite density? With forthcoming constellations of Internet-of-Shyte due, this seems ... Interesting.
PS Why not unspool a small piece of foil, to act as attached chaff, so that even a tinysat can be tracked?
My vote is for S=Shackled. This has (duh: of course) absolutely nothing to do with what benefits users: it's yet another sneaky boil-the-frog-slowly step toward snaring users as tightly as possible, taking away options that don't benefit Microsoft, restricting their choices to use any non-MS stuff, stealing their personal data and gradually manouevering the relatively clueless majority into a position where they are merely wallets to be mined, consumers to be told what to buy, faceless, powerless victims whose lives can be sold at 10¢/lb to government without so much as a warrant.
MS are no more evil than Google, but no less, either: they are driven by blind greed, which is how the modern liberal globalised capitalist corporation is more or less compelled to work in the absence of government regulation enforcing healthy social balance. If your first duty is to shareholders, and your first instinct is to fill your pockets, no other course would be logical. This is the perfectly predictable (and widely predicted) outcome of a "democratic" system which has slowly but steadily been metabolised by corporate avarice. taking advantage of the greed, cowardice and hypocrisy of politicians. It will continue all the while your "elected/gerrymandered representatives" are bought and paid for, right down to their shoeleather, by business.
So I'm not sure there's much point debating here about Windows' merits, because the mental lardasses, aka victims, who will continue to use it (a) are not listening, (b) wouldn't understand the importance of the issues even if they were.
Sad as the prospect is ... just save yourselves. Value your privacy and dignity and human rights, and thank your brains for your rare ability to preserve these from the Forces of Darkness. You won't be installing surveillance microphones in your house; you won't be moving to W10 when W7 support expires; you'll continue to block/ignore the unspeakably crummy ads hurled at you by websites; you do know enough to install and use *ix, and/or deploy some Apple if you can afford it; you won't be clicking foolishly on dangerous websites; you know what encryption is and how to use it; and you probably can tell the difference between Fake and News. Welcome to a new elite: sadder, wiser. Enjoy the feeling before they come for you next.
We're doomed, because if there is a cloaked Death Star out there, whose ET high command have been debating whether or not to exterminate the human species ... well, the title for this story has decided matters.
Such excruciatingly lame drivel requires just one answer. We are about to be vaporised.
Unless El Reg can strap the headline writer to a Delta launcher and send him up there as a (perfectly justified) sacrifice. They may do an unpleasant dissection—but in this case it would obviously be deserved.
Even if Wray got what he wanted, and all mainstream messaging was compromised, LE would have access only to content of users who used those systems.
Everyone who was tech savvy, privacy minded or, yes, wickedly planning atrocities, would encrypt messages separately and, possibly, steganograph them too.
The very people they claim to want to spy on will be the first to decline to be spied upon and there's not a damn thing they can do about it.
The genie left the bottle a long time ago.
Re: It's the future given the eagerness of TLA's to spy on people.
In principle this may be true but there are good reasons to think that in practice HE queries will remain many orders of magnitude slower than using plaintext. Getting HE to execute meaningful, useful queries only a million times slower than plain ones would be an improbable and amazing breakthrough.
And since most serious businesses can afford the kit to keep data and do analysis in-house - whatever the beancounters and cloudy marketurds say - I would respectfully suggest that the only way to work on confidential data securely is not to let it off the premises.
Look on the bright side ...
... it isn't a microwave-energised reactionless perpetual motion thruster powered by a comical failure to understand vector math.
Kevin McMurtrie wrote: "... It lived through the "abstract the abstractions" darks days so it has factories for factories and objects so completely abstracted that they must claim to do nothing at all ..."
—and provided a ghastly reminder of some horrifying modern coding habits. I know of people—who were never particularly good coders, but always imagined that they were brilliant—who, if poorly managed (i.e. working for an English-speaking Anglo-Saxon company), would choose to find work they liked rather than what the business really neded to be done. That work would ofttimes be trivial cosmetic stuff that had neither importance nor urgency. Sometimes it would be trivial exercises like writing reports for the business users—which the latter were supposed to be doing themselves already.
But, when denied these opportunities to squander their (often quite generous) salaries on needless tasks, they would turn to the wealth of make-work offered by Abstraction. A piece of code, an API, a service, some kind of interface, anything at all really, would be targeted for "improvement" and, before you know it, something that had worked perfectly well for months or years would abruptly vanish behind another layer of calls, wrappers, settings, interface addresses, logins, authentications and wotnot. Pompous emails would arrive informing us that such-and-such had been "deprecated" and that a "refactored"¹ or even "new" version must be used (causing 27 other systems to require changes to preserve interoperability), citing mysterious enhancements and improvements which, even if no immediate advantage could be discerned, would make the business ready for whatever IT-BS-phrases would be fashionable next year.
No useful additional functionality would appear; sometimes it would disappear; new bugs would emerge; everything would now take a little longer, dramatically so if a cluster of witlessly recurring and poorly tested "checks" were included; here and there would be plastered long and important-sounding new names and labels for things; release notes—lacking important, pertinent information—would nonetheless feature the author's name and assorted samples of the current buzzword drivel thus "cloud-enabled", "AI-compatible" with "high-volume messaging potential" and "enhanced security".
You end up with endless layers of utterly valueless complexity, as abstractions of wrappers conceal layers of indirection of wrappers in thickets hiding jungles of abstractions of code wrapped in wrapstractolayers. Sometimes the only bit that was well-written, after you'd churned through 39,231 lines of wrapping, was the original 207 lines of core code.
Observing this behaviour (in other people's teams, I promise you) I went through various stages of disbelief, disgust and even anger, but eventually came to understand this by a simple analogy.
Bad coders, under-tasked, under-trained and under-managed, gravitate to pissing on things ... just like dogs. "Look how important and clever I am: I just peed here!" It really does seem to be that simple. (And explains some other habits of mediocre male coders.)
¹ My term for this process, now cautiously adopted by those unfortunate enough to have worked with me, is "refucktoring". As in, "Chris refucktored the code for SystemTwo and now it keeps barfing".
Hmm ... no
I have a pair of UHD (3840x2160) Samsung 28-in monitors, which cost around £300 each. They wouldn't do for top-line photo work, and maybe would be a touch draggy for gamers—but for office productivity, large image editing, watching a movie (on the DP-connected; other is HMDI, thus only 30Hz) and really, as many windows as you could possibly want, it seems an excellent setup. And surely good value.*¹
For work-and-preview mode it is an absolute boon. Code here, preview there. Article here, research there. Bunch of CSS in this window, watch the rainbow in that one. Etc etc, you all know the routine. We all have to make do, and some of us remember working satisfactorily with 21-in SVGA CRTs, but for sheer seamless, smooth productivity—o boy, it is good to have this amount of elbow room.
As an experiment I opened a spreadsheet across the two and got BN col-width and 82 rows (allowing the "ribbon" (Libre, not MS) to coexist) while still being able to read the contents without squinting. The latter is important because the resolution is high enough to avoid any graininess or fuzz. (I note with interest that the diagonal width of the two is about 49 inches.)
So once again, I wonder what is the point of very large monitors—curved or otherwise—for serious office work, if they are let down by poor resolution? Screen real estate is lovely, but a lot less so if you can see the pixels.
Maybe some people are massively offended by the bezel, but in truth the eye soon disapparates it. Spreadsheets and project managers—and even maps with latitudes—have an abundance of horizontal lines and other cues that easily defeat any disorientation incurred by the bezel.
My perfect monitor, probably unaffordable this decade, will be maybe 60 inches wide, 15-16 inches high, deeply curved to preserve unchanging viewing distance at 24-inches-to-eyeball, with at least 9600 pixels horizontally. I'm not a gamer or photo professional so for affordability I'd happily settle for 60Hz and merely adequate colour representation. It will have a Magic Angle control or similar so that, without much tiltabilty, I can optimise it for my particular desk height/seat/head combo.
Yeah, I know: it'll still cost a fortune.
*¹ I confess: I reused the 23-in HD Sammie displaced by Monitor#2 and it is also connected up, via DVI, and shows me the clutter I don't want on my main screens: CCTV around the house, desktop utils, couple of Internet-of-Shyte device interfaces, music player etc. That's about as much abuse of my cervical spine as I feel ok with ...
Nuts *and* no imagination
Seems to fit in the same sort of crazy category with the perfect cretins who shine lasers at cockpits.
And the lack of imagination is ... feeble. If you really want to mark your grievance against Apple buses, wouldn't you knock up a home-made EMP generator? It's a far more interesting way of expressing your hostility: a highly educational, industriously character-building project, including a productive training and learning experience, and it will give you math, design, engineering and electronic assembly skills that can only come in very handy during the next phase of your life as a long-term guest of the local correctional institution.
PS The granny in the photo is going to get a wicked black eye from that 1911 if she pulls the trigger.
The Internet Of Horse is neigh
Resistance is futile. There is no part of life, no matter how exotic, specialist, minority or obscure, that cannot be consumed by the Internet of Shyte. If the thought of an internet kettle had you steaming at the sheer pointlessness of all these supposed solutions looking for problems, soon enough you'll have wi-fi toothbrushes; web-enabled pillows in your bed; an internet electric blanket; an off-road-capable auto-dog-walking wheelodrone complete with cameras and satnav and—the pièce de résistance for owners of smaller pets—a Bluetooth Wheel for your rodent cage, so that you can set his or her exercise regime while switching into optional Charge-Grid Mode so that you can earn a few extra pennies selling electricity while Spunky the Hamster toils dutifully on her dynamo.
Just give up. Join the collective.
For it appears the days of wearily curling up in the hayloft on a cold midnight, one ear cocked for warning noises from mightily gravid Rona The Roan, with only a thermos of chocolate, pack of Marigold gloves and a long night of shuffling, farting beasts for company, to be followed by a spectacularly messy awakening at sparrowfart ... that'll all be history—
—as instead Retardis, my house AI, boils coffee at a civilised 07:30 with the calmly delivered news that: "Roan delivered a healthy foal at three-twenty, sir, with the aid of my Drone Special Arm Attachment. A video of the birth already has 471 Likes with 29 click-thrus to affiliate advertising. The automated global Name-A-Foal competition was concluded online just a few minutes ago. ... A photo has been uploaded to your phone, sir: you'll find it under Foaly McFoalface."
Innovation = Brightly coloured plastic
And I'll probably be the 10,000th person to avow lukewarm interest in electric cars that are launched with vast marketing hype for their amazingly new, innovative, radical, smashingly imaginative and incredibly clever new idea ... that had only been around for 30 years before Dyson re-invented it in lumpen, garish primary coloured chunks of plastic, thereby providing something objectively no better than its rivals but costing three times as much. Talk about an Idiot Tax.
Then again, perhaps that analogy is more apt than I thought. Maybe people buy Dysons for the same reason they buy Apple stuff: so they can make sure people know they have one.
I'm begininng to think I'll make my first billion manufacturing and selling SAMEs¹. Marketing will emphasise only one feature: a SAME is really expensive. When you hand over £1000 you can be sure you'll get something that cost us much, much less to make.
¹ Shiny And Most Expensive. It's a piece of beautifully curved, shiny—veeery shiny—material with an eyewatering price engraved into its surface. It comes in white, black or pink. Designed to fit comfortingly into the hand or be left ostentatiously (price side up) on the desk.
(For an extra, huge fee you can have your name engraved below the price. And be sure to upgrade every Autumn, because the radiusing of the corners will change, and you don't want to be ostracised because you're using last year's SAME.)
Re: Strange that Pai (the GOP/NRA/USSR stooge) was in favor(?)
"Oh, and over here we call it rounders, not baseball."
Indeed. It is a game enjoyed by young children, I believe.
You get a criminal record! And you get a criminal record! Peach state goes bananas with expanded anti-hack law
Dumb As Stumps
I know this is a sensitive topic and rapidly degenerates into name-calling ("intellectual snob!" "eugenicist scum!" etc etc) but once again I wearily raise the question of whether, for the good of all humanity, we should introduce IQ testing for all candidates for public office. I accept IQ ain't perfect but, done properly, it's the least bad method we have now, if tests are sanitised for cultural bias and education, and cover the full cognitive gamut across verbal, math and visuospatial aptitude.
In the UK we have a bunch of howling cretins in the Tory Party, people like IDS ("Stupid, even for a Guards officer"), Owen Paterson, Liam Fox, Angela Leadsom and the brain donor David Davis, busy turning into shyte every single thing they touch. (And May has been hiding her brain cell rather effectively too.)
In the US, the presidency is currently infested by someone who was dropped on his head at the age of ten and has not matured a day since. Trump may be the most astoundingly ignorant human being ever to step into the Oval Office and is doing Vlad the Emailer's work in dragging America through the muck.
If Man-Made Climate Change is the most serious threat faced by humanity, Number Two must surely be Imbecilic Fools In Office.
Given the evidence of damage done by these hopeless morons, I don't think it would be unreasonable to set 110/115 (a little above average, but not implausibly 'gifted' level) as the required IQ cutoff point, averaged across all aptitudes.
Further, by running a retroactive qualification process, we get the advantage of kicking out maybe a third of sitting MPs and congresscritters (the "encumbrances" rather than "incumbents") thereby immediately cleansing the stables of some of the worst dross.
The Defenestrated Ones need not fear that their noble, sefless calling to public service will be wasted, however: we urgently need information on how refugees cope with new environments, so I propose that any wealth they may have accumulated/inherited/stolen is given to refugees' charities, and they themselves are sent to war-torn countries, whose language they do not speak, to experience life as benighted rejects, fleeing from one hostile environment to another. Any who survive can send reports to inform policy which (they can take great comfort in knowing) will be made by people smarter and better qualified than they are.
Who advises these people??
Once again we're hearing a securocrat confidently uttering some portentous, fine-sounding stuff with an authoritative and knowledgeable demeanour ... only to discover that he's talking shyte, because the evidence, facts, rationale and logic make no sense whatever.
Now, ok: we long since stopped expecting much in the way of coherent, informed, detail-level statements from *-crats of any kind, and we know that the silly little empire builders in the security services have as their primary goal the constant addition of staff and budget, so this sort of self-important, manipulative tosh makes a bit of sense—especially if you assume that the speaker doesn't realise how daft s/he sounds. (And of course it's become axiomatic that all modern politicians talk 100% ignorant drivel 100% of the time, so we won't even go there.)
But who tells them to blether this crap? When you hear the voice of yet another senior jackass mumbling through his trousers about "backdoors", you know that s/he has a cadre of knowledgeable advisers, back at the office, who do understand the details and who cannot possibly believe the pure garbage which The Boss is spouting live on TV. Does no one ever check speeches and review interview topics with them? Does The Boss never say "Read this and strike out anything that sounds illogical or wrong so I don't sound like an idiot in my interview tomorrow on Good Morning Bumville"?*¹
Pace the real crypto experts who recently invited the securo-empire to name and shame who was giving them (apparently terrible) advice, I ask of the Dept of Home Affairs: Which among your experts consented to making these statements? Why? Have you fired them yet? Have you considered a radical option, to wit: employing people who (a) know what they're talking about and (b) aren't afraid of speaking truth to power? Do you really not grasp that you undermine your authority, and public trust, every time you say something untrue and stupid?
*¹ "Whaddaya mean you deleted the whole speech? You're fired!"
It can also be used to refer to someone / a group as "sometime" commenters
No, it cannot. "Erstwhile" means "previously", "formerly", etc; it has no usage which includes "sometime" or "occasionally".
Paul Eagles: "Speaking as an Interoute customer that came along as part of the Easynet acquisition it'll be interesting to see how the integration goes. The last few, including MDNX have been an utter disaster for the customer base.
My first thought for GTT was also something like "Ouch! Good luck with that".
I probably shouldn't say too much, but in my sometime role a few years back as a consultant in the Smoke I had the remarkable misfortune to witness one of the worst management teams I'd ever come across, or even heard of ....
For perspective, I was used to British airlines, and yes, these guys were even worse than that ... howling stupidity matched only by supremely oblivious arrogance. Heaven knows what the poor bloody customers thought. Well, lucky them: things really could not get any worse.
Re: Call me a cynic..
"Advantage of cloud is flexibility. If I opened an online shop, I'd want it to be on a cloud server just in case there was a sudden increase in sales."
Absolutely true. It's also arguable, though, that that is just about the only clearly defined and unmistakable advantage that "cloud" (yes indeed, SES: Someone Else's Server) confers. Many of the other supposed benefits are either illusory, like cash savings, especially in the long term, or highly questionable, like security (which is great, until there's yet another of the monthly massive breaches).
I'd suggest that if corporate due diligence really takes security, privacy and reliability into consideration—i.e. in the unlikely event that everything else does not come second to making sure the Board gets a bonus for short-term cost savings—"cloud" is in many respects a dubious proposition.
For a startup wanting lots of quick metal-and-software scaleability, effectively purchasing some insurance against the dangers of massive success, "cloud" is truly useful ... but of course you need to time your departure carefully, lest you wake up one morning to find that your provider, whom you so foolishly trusted, became your competitor overnight and has eaten your wonderful idea; your superb processes; your customers; and You.
As for Oracle. Once upon a time it had two things: a robust and reasonably decent database suitable for industrial-strength business data; and a huge number of corporate customers whose procurement types had discovered that buying Oracle never got you sacked, no matter how lousy the value for money. Oracle exploited these strengths by adding bells, whistles, frills and, heavens!, even furbelows, too many to number, usually playing catch-up whether in ERP, CRM or other TLAs—not once being the best, but always stitching on some badly-integrated, expensive, third-rate offering to squat like another carbuncle upon its ever more bloated database. After a while it became obvious that neither Oracle the database, nor Oracle the dizzily flashing Christmas tree of poorly-executed appendages, was Best of Breed any more. There was an abundance of competitors, a great many of whom were better or cheaper or even, and not infrequently, both. But for a while it didn't matter, because ...
One thing Oracle could do, was sell. The hubris and arrogance of its saleslizards could capture many a boardroom and gullible executive, and, anyway, it still had its trump card: removing the parasite would, by this stage, likely kill the host. Even those who could see that their company would save eyewatering sums in the long run by ditching Oracle's by-now-third-rate disk fodder, hesitated to do so because they were daunted by the risk of surgery. (Remember: although integration has always been a corporate IT department's single most important role, it's also the thing that an industry infested by cowboys has been historically rotten at actually doing.)
So Oracle has a long, slow decline ahead of it. It isn't going to magically invent something brilliant that cannot be done (and isn't already being done) by others, and it lacks the humility and flexibility to truly reinvent itself. It has parasitised many hosts and will last a long time leeching upon them, even as it circles inexorably closer to the drain, and probably long after Oracle the company has been sold, bought, re-sold and re-bought, broken up and parcelled out until all that's left, like the Cheshire Cat's smile, is a faded red logo that makes older folks' noses wrinkle.
Re: a recovery vessel, dubbed Mr Steven
"Surely a missed marketing opportunity there ? Either get it sponsored, or have a $1 a pop naming competition ?"
Maybe they did, and 97% of the first 1,000 responses was "Netty McNetface" ...
... at which point, the boss, emitting a long-suffering sigh, pulled up a random-name-listing-site from the 'net and said "That one" without looking at the screen.
I'm almost surprised the business isn't called Corporation 9592.
(The press release shoud have said)
"BTW, none of the forthcoming deluge of outages, downtime, incorrect transactions, failed payments, missing salaries, lost logins, stolen credentials, identity thefts, lost business, emptied accounts, incorrectly addressed letters, compromised financial details, bankruptcies and suicides will have anything at all, whatsoever, to do with the fact that we are shedding good, experienced, well-paid staff who understand our systems and outsourcing everything not nailed down to whichever bunch of clowns was the lowest bidder and placing our secret, confidential, mission-critical data on some cloud, somewhere. Our executives will richly deserve the eyewatering 'cost savings' bonuses they will receive just before they skip off to commence planning their next disaster."
Call me a Colonialist Curmudgeon
Call me an Auld (Colonialist) Curmudgeon, but I am also heartily sick of the bogglingly vast array of libraries and auxiliary tripe that infest modern systems, often doing little except pumping out logfiles no one will ever read, frequently providing just one ot two percent of the functionality of the core spec, inflating what could otherwise be cool, slim, well-written code by orders of magnitude of pointless and often quite shitty bloat.
Note to bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and undoubtedly intelligent young-, hip- and, who knows, perhaps on the dark side even gang-sters: constantly virtualising and wrapping and abstracting what went before and then slapping a shiny new label on it is not necessarily the route to error-free, elegant efficiency.
Some of us crankly old bastards cut our teeth on C, C++, and in my case too much Ada once upon a time, happen to think that much modern practice is the absolute antithesis of good coding (most of which is now found only in life-and-death systems like airliners), and never really cottoned to second-rate lingos like Java.
Even when it was still called Batavia.
Suez gets mentioned a lot these days because it was the last occasion the British government did something breathtakingly, suicidally stupid and which resulted in national disaster. It's the only comparison available from the last hundred years that comes close to Brexit; which makes it a handy reference point.
But I am not convinced it needs to be trotted out for every cockup in every walk of life, especially when repeated by journos whose words give rise to the teensy suspicion that they have no idea what the Suez Crisis actually comprised—beyond that fact that it involved a waterway.
In short, you could swim in it: but that was not and never will be the point.
PS: Yes, Microsoft betrays, as it always has, obsessively impatient greed and short term thinking. Some things are most unlikely to change.
And the moral difference between that parasite of a Charter executive and the scumbag with a cosh in the alley?
Both are sick examples of the human species we could so easily do without.
One wears a suit.
Stand up and speak
As the article repeats, well-known real security/crypto experts have thrown their hat in the ring already and asked the obvious question: who are the people telling gullible, stupid politicians and security service empire-builders that π can be legislated as 3.00? Because 'Good-Guys-Only Backdoors' in modern encryption are as mathematically bonkers as that. A solid proportion of Reg readers and other technologists also know this. And any purported GGOB, quite apart from breaking the security of the encryption, will leak. This always happens. Even NSA couldn't keep its own secrets.
So, who are they? Who are you, posing as knowledgeable or expert in encryption, telling fools a bunch magical BS that they want to hear? Why are you doing it? Are you actually just ignorant? Or dishonest? Telling lies to power because you think you'll get a bigger budget? A promotion to Chief Cretin?
There's a facililty on this site to post anonymously. If you want to hide behind anonymity so you can't be named and shamed, fine: post your Brilliant Wheeze here, anon. Explain how a GGOB can be made to work while protecting trillions of currently secure transactions in banking, medicine, commerce, government, military, personal and wherever else legitimate privacy needs exist. (Don't even think of bringing up security-thru-obscurity.)
Go on: explain how you can legislate π = 3.00.
For 10 bonus points, explain how you'll prevent the world's top million coders from implementing any of the dozens of available excellent encryption algorithms in whatever language they please in whatever app/lication they please on whatever devices they please distributed by whatever means they please to as many billions of people as they please: every single one of whom would then be able to encrypt anything they like, communicating with whomever they like, with nary a backdoor in sight.
For another 10 points (c'mon, you're on a roll), explain how, even if you could prevent the exchange of suspected encrypted data (e.g. by identifying and blocking selected randomised data streams), you will prevent the use of steganography in one, or two, or a mere 10 million of the 2,000,000,000 photos uploaded via the internet every single day. Two billion photos.*¹ At a modest 10k per photo that would be at least 20Tb. Noisy, dirty, resized, distorted, recoloured, filtered, animated, processed to a fare-thee-well. Even if only 1:10,000 photos contained a steg'd message, at an incredibly subtle 1;10,000 hidden data rate, that's still 200k of (let's say) terrorist atrocity planning you will never, ever even know where to look for much less decrypt.
So, I say again, c'mon, step up. We think you're either stupid, or a liar, or both. Prove it. Prove π = 3.00.
*¹ Two billion photos. Then there's several million videos, even more deliciously rich for steganography, and crummy animojis, millions of soundtracks, songs, snippets, voicemails ... are you starting to understand? At all? The genie has left the bottle. It ain't going back in, not for anyone.
A small mischievous bet
What about Chinese-made shutters incorporating a polarised plastic window: always looks dark, but can be set to an "undetectable transparent" mode with a signal from malware aboard the device?
My mischievous mind says you could set off a convincing-sounding meme about that and cause chaos...
The (unprepossessing) naked emperor
No one in their right mind expected Google, of all companies, to take serious, meaningful actions against adverts. This is a company ("Don't Be Evil"—and stop guffawing) whose bread and butter is those selfsame adverts. It's also a company that's been getting increasingly twitchy about the fact that it is very hard to prove that its advertising system, even the supposedly tailored stuff, is anywhere near remotely as effective as Google saleslizards would have you believe.
Even with confirmed web sales it's hard to say definitively that an advert worked. If I finally buy Item-A by clicking through on the ad, what does that mean, if the only reason I saw the ad was because I'd frequently visited Website-A during the last couple of weeks while delaying the purchase? i.e. I'd been intending to buy anyway, and the ad made no difference beyond, just possibly, reminding me to do it today instead of tomorrow.
Almost every other scenario is even more debatable. Don't forget, we're in an era now where Google would like to track your spending and purchases offline so that it can make grandiose and extremely dubious claims that you bought Item-B in Woolworths this morning solely because you might not have ignored an advert shown on your browser for two seconds the previous week.
In short: Google is desperately trying to persuade ad-spenders that advertising works, with very little hard evidence ... while the rest of us are pointing out that ads are shyte, irrelevant, obsolete, annoying, repetitive, misleading, pointless, ugly, and that, pace adblockers, we now sometimes simply avoid websites with intrusive ads and have in any case developed: firstly, supremely efficient hand to eye coordination and reflexes which can brush an ad aside in less than half a second; and secondly, have grown protocols in our meatware that filter out the content of adverts before we're even aware that they are present. Otherwise desirable websites with excessive noisy ads are the first to be entered into the "No sound ever permitted" list—yet another example of how dreadful advertising has shot itself clean through the head, never mind foot.
I understand that Google's tinkering with Chrome—so weak and fearful that it's barely noticeable—is a tentative attempt to change the balance of ad quality, so that if we see less garbage we might pay more attention to what's left.
But even I were not personally convinced that that horse is long gone, no longer even a dot on the horizon, and that Google's fiddling with the stable door is absurdly too late, I do not see how this feeble approach will change the fact that—
* We now automatically, reflexively ignore most adverts
* When we do notice them, they are: irrelevant, meaningless, boring/irritating, related to something we already bought ages ago, or (frequently) so poorly executed, so utterly lacking in innovation, humour, beauty, informativeness, imagination or the slightest attempt at creativity that they are literally a complete waste of space.
I'm minded of the difference betwen TV ads now and those of 40/50 years ago. Once upon a time, TV had millions of eyeballs and so few hours of airtime that ad space was excruciatingly expensive. (It was also possible to measure sales against advertising slots, so that companies would have confidence that today's uptick in sales of Omo powder was indeed related to the £250k campaign on ITV last week.)
Now, five decades later, there are hundreds of channels, most devoted to dross, with the cheapest, shabbiest imaginable content. Many TV ad slots are vastly cheaper than would have been the case four decades ago. There are also so many advertising routes, not to mention the effects of social media, that it is on the whole much harder to ascribe a given TV campaign to increases in sales.
The result? Most TV advertising is now appallingly rotten. Leave the screen on so that the dog has some shoddy reality-animal-rescue series to watch while I'm out (not kidding) and be horrified at the miserable quality of advertising for squalid ambulance-chasing lawyer firms. It's atrocious.
Internet advertising is likewise spread everywhere, likewise cheap, and likewise almost entirely trash. (And don't get me started on radio, that pit of execrable standards lower than which none are conceivable, which is presumably where all Luvvies Dropped On Their Heads As Babies end up.)
All in all, Google may want to improve ads, and may pretend to care about customers, but they're wasting their time: there's simply too much shyte. And unfortunately for them, they hitched their star to a wagon of it.
Is there a solitary human with an IQ greater than 85 on the face of this planet that would click on anything bearing the Outbrain monicker?
Put another way: who are the mouthbreathers who make it worthwhile for Outbrain/Nobrain to function?
Which remotely literate humans click on any of the cretinous trash shat in steaming piles onto websites by Outbrain?
And ... why??
Actually read the article?
I find Reg comments generally better than other news sites, but I'm surprised today, to see so many by people who seem to be frothing while having read only the headline: the article describes what data would be collected, explains it is anonymised and even points out that Location is based on whatever the user selected at install time.
Yes, it should be opt-in not -out, but apart from that: why all the fuss?
I have to use Skype with some relatives in the Far East who insist upon it, but if course it's been an insecure horrible POS since even before MS got their grubby mitts on it. The "upgrade" last year, which further ruined the UI (taking a leaf from the Mozilla playbook?) made me go to the trouble of downloading and reinstalling an older version, and switching off auto updates on Android.
Notwithstanding that Skype is crappy anyway, what's going on with the constant obsession with "improving" UIs that were working perfectly well, familiar to the user, behaving in a predictable fashion - replacing them with new and fashionably nasty ones?
It's not so hard
1. If you have lite "work" and enjoy posing with your shiny look-how-much-I-paid-for-it toy, buy Apple: use an iOS tablet. Pose by the pool.
2. If you have real work but are otherwise a bit clueless, use Windows on a proper computer.
3. If you have real, and important work, use a Linux system set up by a beard who knows what he's doing.
2 + 2 = 5
I suspect that even conspicuously ignorant politicians like Theresa May would hesitate before saying in public: "The government needs two plus two to equal five and will legislate accordingly". Even she—hell, even outright morons like IDS, Leadsom and that staggering intellectual turnip Owen Paterson—would surely not be dumb enough to say such a thing.*¹
Yet of course it is because they do not understand math or technology that jackasses keep saying fundamentally the same thing: "We want a backdoor only we can use" ... no matter how often the experts patiently say "It is mathematically impossible".
*¹ Don't worry about Donald Trump: he smirks distractedly whenever he hears the word "pair" and wouldn't finish the sentence.
Are they *all* drinking the same Kool-Aid?
Apologies if someone's already brought this up, don't have time to scan every comment ...
... but isn't Neal Stephenson one of Magic Leap's supporters? 'Chief Futurist' or some such?
I ask because he is an exceedingly intelligent guy (not quite as brilliant as he thinks, perhaps, but still very smart) and judging by his writing he is (a) realistic about the BS spouted by marketurds and their less-evolved sub-phylum, politicians, and (b) devoid of patience for the sort of corporate shytespeak uttered by execubeciles*¹, of which Rony Abovitz would appear to be one: for what other species utters drivelling crud like this—?
"We're trying to understand what is going on there: what's the physics? What the neuro-technology? What's the neuro-anatomy happening? How do we gently slipstream into that and not disrupt things? We want to talk to your neuro-cortex in a biologically friendly way."
It's difficult to balance what I know of Stephenson, from his largely superb and clever opus of writing, with the impression of smoke'n'mirrors and corporate bullcrap created by the article.
In short: if El Reg is broadly correct that Magic Leap is vapourware-cum-propaganda bollocks, what is a guy like Stephenson still doing on the letterhead?
And if ML does have a real and compelling story to tell, there is surely no better person than him to step up and say "Hang on, you're being unfair, here's the lowdown ...", given that the CEO apparently can't open his mouth without projectile vomiting buzzword-infested semi-grammatical tripe.
*¹ Execubecile :: Portmanteau of "executive" and "imbecile" referring to a type of (alleged) human which reflexively emits streams of meaningless corporate buzzword jargon in the belief that this is equivalent to "working", "thinking" or "communicating". The jargon is confected nonsense intended to emulate the specialist language and terminology used by real professionals (like doctors, scientists, engineers et al), in the hope that it will bestow an aura of precise, intelligent professionalism and intellectualism upon what is in fact a banal commercial endeavour whereby largely mediocre people try to sell goods or services of dubious usefulness.
Blackbird and its ilk are cynical pond-scum moneygrubbers, agreed, and it's encouraging that Cloudflare is going after these lice.
But the underlying problem is surely the patent system, which seems to have floundered hopelessly in the software era. I am not an expert or lawyer: but I do get the impression that the distinction between "copyrightable" and "patentable" has not been adequately and precisely analysed and implemented in law; and that what is considered patentable is simply way too broad. There are just too many patents out there for things which are not inventions, not particularly clever, imaginative, innovative or unique and which, even if they do represent something concrete enough to argue for patentability, are preceded by so many relevant, prior solutions that real originality is highly debatable. (Was the addition of a diode here a stroke of improbable, insightful genius? Or a mundane next step which at best improves, but certainly does not invent, a concept?)
The granting of so many unearned, invalid patents strongly suggests that the patent examiners are not doing their jobs very well. I take it as given that examiners are recruited from a reservoir of extremely knowledgeable subject-matter experts, given vast investigative resourcers and access to researchers and fact-checkers, and that any decision is automatically reviewed. This would seem to me a cast-iron case for government to invest heavily and intelligently, since a well-functioning and trusted patent system is surely one of the critical requirements of an economy which channels money to innovators and producers—instead of having it siphoned off by avarcious ambulance-chasers.
Offshoring, outsourcing—whose head is high, and why?
Given that IBM's reputation is good only by comparison with Oracle (which seems a lot like claiming I am honest—compared to Donald Trump), and given that offshoring and outsourcing leads to a relentless decline in standards and the proliferation of embarassing, expensive project failures (we've all seen this so often by now that it's just boringly predictable) will it be IBM's saleslizards holding their heads up high? Or will the elevated skulls be those of Asian and Eastern European providers, staring dully from spikes outside IBM Towers, as sacrifical offerings or excuses for poor performance?