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Comment: Nope. (Score 1) 164

by ledow (#47432365) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

Every second you save automating the task, will be taken out of your backside when it goes wrong (see the recent article where a university SCCM server formatted itself and EVERY OTHER MACHINE on campus) and you're not around to stop it or fix it.

Honestly? It's not worth it.

Work out of normal hours, or schedule downtime windows in the middle of the day.

Comment: Re:Titanfall (Score 1) 434

And if your CPU can't decode an MP3, something that my old 90MHz Pentium could do in realtime in the background, then you really need to cut out other crap first rather than go buy a soundcard.

That was to an ISA soundcard, without specialist acceleration, in the days when 90MHz was EVERYTHING and still you could decode MP3 in the background.

Today, with multimedia instructions, motherboard sound cards (and/or PCI/PCI-Express), quad-core, hyper-threaded multitasking, etc.... sound decoding is the LAST thing on Earth to worry about in terms of performance.

Comment: Re:Involuntary inability to comply (Score 1) 331

by ledow (#47418669) Attached to: UK Computing Student Jailed After Failing To Hand Over Crypto Keys

And then it comes down to "beyond reasonable doubt".

He provided 50 "passwords" off the top of his head. None worked. The chances that he "forgot" just the one for the court-ordered file that the court believe may have evidence - enought to generate a court order - but none others? Quite slim.

There's forgetfulness. There's reasonable doubt. There's being a dick in front of a court.

What you have to remember is that the law is written in stone, but it's interpreted by humans.

Comment: Re:Now is the time fire the experts. (Score 1) 159

by ledow (#47408399) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

1) If you think a job is a right, you're wrong.

2) If you think any one company has to create jobs, you're wrong. In fact, they are legally bound to provide shareholder value in most cases, which usually trumps any kind of inefficient workforce.

3) I, certainly, am not obliged to create a job for you either.

Thus, translating that to "poverty isn't my problem" is a bit facetious and misleading.

And the guys throwing rocks, they'll be wondering why no employer will touch them in a year's time. The Luddites may have had cause to be upset, but they were pretty much gone shortly after - because there's only so long you can protest about not having a job before you have to go find another, or before the law steps on you.

Nobody is claiming that this solves world poverty - what we're saying is that automation is an inevitable, and fairly logical, consequence of simple economics. Nobody hand-makes clothes any more, nobody fires their own bricks or builds their own stone-walling, nobody bakes their own bread, or keeps their own animals - not on anything but a hobbyist scale. There's a reason for that, and to deny that is to not see simple logic.

If you work in any kind of production industry currently reliant on human input which isn't specialised, but where you can easily imagine a robot doing the same job, then you will lose your job eventually. Anything else is actually quite stupid to conceive.

The trick is to not be restricted to jobs that are unskilled. Go to school, learn a trade, work your arse off, or be prepared to be obsoleted repeatedly over time. Robot plumbers and robot electricians are a long way off. Robot box-packers? Already here. Hell, robot pizza deliveries aren't a massive leap of the imagination (especially if these automated cars ever come to fruition).

And in a year's time after your obsoletion from a particular job, nobody will remember anyone whining about it, except the whiners. If your grandfather was a gas lamp-lighter, he knew there was no way that was going to last forever, even before electric light came along. And then there was plenty of warning. But to suggest that we shouldn't move on just because someone might fall into poverty along the way? That keeps us all poor - financially and intellectually.

Comment: Re:Many of the comparisons to other systems are bo (Score 1) 159

by ledow (#47400911) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

Not my problem, I just want to get to work on time.

The maintenance stuff? Maybe if you closed after the rush-hour evenings (instead of daytime at weekends when MILLIONS of people travel on the Tube), you might get closer to fixing it.

But, to be honest, I'm 35, and the same arguments were being spouted by politicians and unions even before I was born. Fact is, in that time, we've added whole new lines covering vast swathes of London that were never covered before and are now spending billions to connect Birmingham/Manchester by a slightly faster line. The money we've spent pissing about over the last 50 years could have rebuilt the Tube system twice over.

And why are we running trains from the 70's still? Because no fucker will replace them, it's always "cheaper" to just keep patching them and reupholstering them every few years. It's excuses all the way.

And still, my personal "uptime" with the London Underground / Overground is actually closer to 80% than anything else. And that's being generous.

For 20+ years all I've heard is "We're shutting this down / spending this money" in order to make things work better in the long-run and cope with increased demand that we expect. And yet the trains are more crowded than ever, the platforms are too small for the amount of people waiting on them in rush hour, and still we get atrocious amounts of delays and cancellations (and, worse, can't even be bothered to announce such delays/cancellations until about 30 minutes after the train didn't arrive anyway - very useful).

Sorry, the system is old - that means we should know it inside out. It's underground, that means it shouldn't change at all over the years. And yet it gets more expensive every year to have a less reliable system. Remember when "the Circle Line" was actually a circle that you could go all the way around in both directions? Remember when you could change at the large interchanges etc. without having to wait YEARS for them to change an escalator?

That's when you get past the strikes of whatever-group isn't happy earning more than I do for pushing a lever forward or having a computer print a ticket. Which, honestly, add up to WEEKS over the last few years? And at the moment, the Tour de France has brought some stations to a grinding halt already.

There's no point in a mass transit system that isn't transiting people en masse. And that's the one thing we don't actually have happening. If it's that bad, throw it out and start again, and you'll find that - actually - a new system would probably cost you a LOT more than 100-year-old pre-dug tunnels that everyone knows where they are, where they go, and how to get to every one of the entrances.

Comment: Re:Now is the time fire the experts. (Score 1) 159

by ledow (#47400749) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

And the problem is?

What you're suggesting is that we should choose the inefficient methods because it's more expensive but involves unnecessary humans. Quite where the logic of that lies, I can't tell.

If they'd hired some smarty who did the same for their company, and gave 99.9% up-time by their work, surely the same would still happen - except maybe they'd pay that guy a lot as well?

The case for "sabotaging" (look up the origin of the word) technology really died out hundreds of years ago - when we proved that actually it meant that everyone else in the world did better, got cheaper shoes, or - in this case - got to work on time. They've found a way to get the city to work on time, reliably, without the previous reliance on expensive humans to make the wrong (and maybe even politically-motivated in the case of worker's unions) decisions. The city probably makes more money as a result than the transport system COSTS, even if it's not in direct $ figures on some spreadsheet somewhere.

The only consistent, ongoing factor in automation is that it does more, faster, more reliably, cheaper at the expense of staff who did less, slower and less reliably but cost more. Sure, people need jobs - but nobody but the government is obligated to create them.

And, to be honest, if the guy who commissioned and oversaw the system gets a raise as part of that? Good on him. He did a fucking good job by the looks of it.

Anyone want to have these people come do the same to the London Underground so we can sack all the striking drivers that earn more than I do, the useless ticket-office issuers who never know what to do even when the machine TELLS them, and actually get to work on time? I do!

Comment: Nothing unusual (Score 5, Insightful) 39

by ledow (#47397801) Attached to: Free Wi-Fi Supplier, Gowex, Files For Bankruptcy

This isn't at all unusual. However, what really gets my goat is how were they allowed to do what they did for four years?

That's four years of some accountant falsifying accounts. Four years of tax not paid or properly checked (if they were earning what they claim, a lot of tax would be due - if they were lying about it, they'd not want to pay that tax). Four years of operating without anyone questioning.

And, most importantly I feel, what's happened to the directors and accountants of the company now ( I highly doubt just one person was in knowledge of this)? My guess is that they've already fled with a nice bundle somewhere.

Happened like mad to the software houses in the 80's, still going on. Why is it compulsory that I have to be sat down like a child when I want to take out a £1000 loan but nobody questions businesses or enforces them to give enhanced accounts or audits in their first few years of operation. It would stop an awful lot of such outright fraud as this if someone from government was poking through their accounts, and they wouldn't even be able to set up a "new" company, transfer the assets and then declare bankruptcy as is also common.

Comment: What? 2045? (Score 1) 551

Okay, dial it back. 30 years ago instead of 30 years in the future. 1985.

Sure there are large changes since then, but nothing approaching the kinds of things he's talking about. And AI / machine learning / human-machine interfaces? Not that different. Computers have come on leaps and bounds in speed, size and ubiquity. In base capability? Not so much. The pacemakers, hearing aids, etc. we use now aren't even really any different to those 30 years ago. Better, sure, undoubtedly, but quantum leaps of usefulness? Not really.

If you're going to make crazy predictions, do it for 100 years or more. 30 is just not worth the embarrassment. In the 60's they were saying we were going to have robot servants and flying cars and meal-in-a-pill. That was nonsense even then, but this sounds just as insane And that's nearly TWO lots of 30 years behind us. And all the technology in between that has been hugely drastic and "changed the way we live", hasn't actually changed that much overall - we still work, pay taxes, die of cancer, have starving people in the world, and blow each other to pieces on a regular basis.

And, sorry, but AI hit a stumbling block many years ago. In terms of how it scales, it hasn't changed much in decades. And it won't scale forever, as the computers just aren't scaling at unstoppable rates either (and probably won't for a long time).

The pinnacle of AI that we have is being able to beat a human on a quiz show, and making a robot walk if it can think about it for a few seconds and nothing too drastic happens.

Self-conscious machines? Fuck off. We'll be lucky if we're even closer to making them work things out on their own. At the moment, anything worked out by computer is pretty much a massive human input exercise with massive human verification. We can't even trust them to do simple calculations without checking them. Them "evolving" into some kind of intelligence that we can't even define? Not a chance.

And to be honest, the MOST DANGEROUS machine is one that's dumb and reliable. See this door? You detect it open, you shoot. No matter what. Infinitely more dangerous than some run-away intelligence.

Comment: Personally (Score 3, Interesting) 280

by ledow (#47389197) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

I'd be suspicious of anything under a year. That doesn't mean I wouldn't hire, but I'd want to hear why you left so fast. Hell, I'd even accept "My last employer was bad and made me do X, Y, Z, and thus I left".

The longest job I ever had - 5 years... and I left because they changed overnight and culled all the decent staff - fulfilled my promises, got screwed over, left the next day. Before that, I don't think there was anything under a year but I was working freelance for a while and there not having a client with under a year of service means you're doing well. They just kept buying me back.

What worries me is not serial job-hoppers, it's people with unexplained gaps. It's also people who stay where they are forever (it's easy to know when you're onto too good a thing and just coast... and I've met plenty of coasters who never want to progress and, when they move on, they only have their way of doing things). Sure, again, if you can explain yourself and you come across as so passionate for that job that's probably the reason you stayed, but anything out of the average range needs an explanation.

For yourself? Always look at jobs. How else do you expect to know what the going rate is, what the growing trends are, where the industry is moving, what your competitors are up to, etc.? And every now and then one of those jobs you're casually browsing will seem so much more your kind of thing, and there's NO harm in just applying and seeing what happens. If and when you get the job, that's the time to weigh things up.

I work in independent schools (I'm not a teacher, I do the IT). Once in, as a teacher, your job is pretty much guaranteed for decades so long as you don't screw up. Would you like to know how many jobsites I pick up in my web filtering logs? People keep on top of what's happening, what the competitor schools are doing, where's not a good place to work (you could tell my old workplace was going downhill by the fact that they advertised for an Assistant Bursar, then another Bursar, then another Bursar three months later, etc.), how much you should be earning, what else is about.

Keep your ear to the ground. It helps if you need to leave. It helps with comparisons should be need to go and ask for pay-rises. It helps with knowing what's out there. And it doesn't take any time at all to do.

But time-limits? You leave when you have a reason to leave, and not before. Someone who leaves EVERY year? That's bound to make me wonder why.

Comment: Cabs (Score 4, Interesting) 105

by ledow (#47382073) Attached to: London Regulator Says Uber Is Operating Legally

I avoid using cabs, despite the fact that two of my family members drive them for a living.

Sorry, they are expensive, inflexible and provide little advantage in somewhere like London. When you do need them (Tube strikes, etc.,) they are impossible to use.

I've spent an evening walking home from the theatre with a lady with severe knee problems trying to hail a cab. We'd had to help them them to the underground station before we found one that would stop (even when they were showing as available). We were sober, well-dressed, just stepped out of the Royal Albert Hall, had a lady in obvious pain on our shoulders, had waited 20 mins to avoid walking / crowds and in the end made it to our destination before we could hail one.

The last time a train of mine was cancelled, I was on my way to a filming of a TV show in the afternoon. I came out of the train station 30 mins after I should have been on a train further into London, and there were four cabs waiting. All refused to take two people deeper into London because "they'd have to drive back" - it was the middle of the afternoon, so it wasn't like they wanted to get home. In the end, we ran home, got in our car, drove to the place and got there just in the nick of time.

I just don't see the cab in the future of a city like London. We're famously rude as a nation, and cabbies are probably among the worst. They are only there for gullible tourists, from what I see. Sure, there will be exceptions, but the fact is that I've avoided cabs for 15 years and when forced to use them, haven't been able to.

Last time I used one was when my boss was paying for me to come to a meeting with him and we went about 800 yards in one. I'm just glad I wasn't the one paying, and if I remember, we walked back.

There is a distinction between "Hackney Carriage" and just a private mini-cab in terms of service - the mini-cab will generally turn up when you book them and will know where they are going to and not refuse it. But London taxis? Forget it. All this is is confirmation that some guy who wants the job tries harder to help you than someone who has a protected living and specialist privileges.

Comment: The headline should really read: (Score 2) 115

by ledow (#47379557) Attached to: Use of Encryption Foiled the Cops a Record 9 Times In 2013

"UK Government / celebrated top-notch British mathematicians create encryption that's still fit for purpose decades after their death."

An encryption scheme that can be cracked by teenagers, camels, mathematicians, governments, police, military or the guy down the road? Not an encryption scheme. Certainly not one for large-scale deployment in public security projects.

Works as intended. The fact that it may, unfortunately, be a tool used by miscreants as well as law-abiding citizens is an unfortunate side-effect, like hammers being useful for smashing windows AND doing carpentry.

Comment: Re:Who cooks at 800C ? (Score 1) 228

by ledow (#47363837) Attached to: Nathan Myhrvold's Recipe For a Better Oven

Don't think I've ever cooked anything in an oven at over 220C. Even less if it's fan-assisted.

To be honest, ovens are one of the few things that just work and shouldn't be messed with. I don't want an oven as complex as some microwaves can be... as soon as you move from a thermostat to microprocessor control, there's something too complex about heating up your dinner.

Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 1) 157

by ledow (#47341897) Attached to: YouTube Introduces 60fps Video Support

We're no longer bound to PAL standards like we were - the MPEG decoders in whatever you're using nowadays can handle any framerate you would find, but yes, a lot of content is still in legacy formats and used without changes.

But there's no REASON to any more. Any display device you find will do 50 or 60, whichever you throw at it.

Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 1) 157

by ledow (#47339353) Attached to: YouTube Introduces 60fps Video Support

That just proves (poorly) that the boundary lies somewhere between 24 and 60. Not that 60 is required.

And, to be honest, a lot of things affect it - hell, even the local mains frequency can affect what hardware does and how it reacts at 50 or 60Hz.

You could have just used a codec that's not designed with 24fps in mind, or a poor implementation of that codec.

But, that said, the difference is minor, and on an animated "slew" rather than real-world video (YouTube isn't going to be showing much left-right 3D animation, more likely home video and recorded gameplay). Certainly for a web video, 24fps is good enough. Otherwise YouTube would have been overtaken by a competitor by now. The artifact you've got there (possibly exaggerated by other factors) is not something you often see on YouTube videos, for instance. Even animated ones. And they AREN'T running at 24 fps.

And even if you're right, the argument doesn't necessarily hold past 60. In fact, it quite likely stops dead at that point. And for some people it will stop dead long before 60 (British TV was only ever 50Hz, with sometimes 25fps, until digitisation).

Fact is, it's subjective and subject to bell-curve. The sweet-spot of storage versus optimal number of people seeing it is likely below 60. Certainly there's little point moving towards 100-200Hz like some claim for monitors. And for the vast majority of the bell-curve, 60 is higher than necessary.

By all means do it. But, outside of announcement videos, if YouTube were to just randomly make half of the videos 60fps and the rest 30fps, the chances that there would be any kind of detectable "preference" for the 60fps one is slim.

There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly. -- Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

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