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* Posts by Paul Crawford

1610 posts • joined 15 Mar 2007

How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

Paul Crawford
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Re: Not quite true...

Or use a VM of XP on any OS of choice, more flexible.

But neither deals with XP in interface applications where it has to deal with custom hardware cards.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: @LDS

The "backward compatiblity of Linux" problem is when you change kernel version and some muppet decided, yet again, to change APIs on the basis that they assume all can just re-compile.

What I said was you can patch a working system for security holes in virtually every case without changing versions. I did not say it was easy, but possible. With MS you have no such ability at all, and given the typical extended support costs they are asking for you could hire a decent programmer just for that job alone.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Paul Crawford

The MC6800 series is a CPU, not a computer platform, i.e. not a standardised board with "computer" (CPU, RAM, boot loader, etc) and expansion slots for extra interfaces & custom cards.

Most equipment designers want to concentrate on the "added value" they provide, which is the custom part, and not to have to develop the computer/boot loader/networking/etc.

That was why the original IBM-AT was so attractive - you got a functioning stand-along computer, along with plenty of development tools, and documented hardware that made it easy to build a special ISA card for whatever custom job you needed done.

The transition to Windows made that harder but safer (Linux is marginally easier as you can see most device driver's code to copy & adapt, but neither as simple nor dangerous as DOS' direct-to-hardware approach), and PCI is far more complex to implement (even with a cots chip or IP core), but the same basics apply: a PC is still a cheap, easy and longest lasting platform to develop for compared to any other I can think of.

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Paul Crawford
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Re:@Decade

You are right that Windows was a bad choice of platform for so many reasons, but usually the decision is based on what is cheap & practical now, with the presumption that product development and support will continue so upgrades to newer hardware/OS are thus managed.

In practice companies fail, get bought over, or otherwise decide to orphan products so support stops but lots of users have business-critical stuff that is no longer upgradable when the OS, like Windows, drops aspects of backwards-compatibility (often for other good reasons, like security).

Sadly short of an open source system, you are stuck making the best of what you have, not what you wanted.

More recent MS OS with product activation checks are even worse and should never be used. But they will, because some green programmer only knows that way and all problems look like nails...

But retuning to one of your gripes, that of PC hardware, what other computer platform has been more-or-less supported for 20 years? It is far from ideal, but a longer supported choice is hard to find.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Keeping Windows XP alive is not good for anyone

Here are some ISA motherboards:

http://www.bressner.co.uk/isa-motherboards

If you need more then various 19" rack mount PCs support ISA / PCI mixes.

We still have ISA cards with DOS control software, but now running in dosemu on Linux (which allows selective control of direct hardware access).

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Paul Crawford
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Re: So does OSX and Linux...

Not as such, but with Linux you have the code and the patches and if it matters enough find someone who can patch things and also there is an incentive to share that.

In most cases it is stuff that MS has dropped that makes upgrading a pain, along with DRM-like stuff that rejects old drivers that are not signed, etc.

But really for most XP-dependants the road now is likely to be one of auditing what they do, why, and how to isolate them from t'Internet and then moving all web/email/exposed stuff to newer, more secure, machines.

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Hotmail-gate: Windows 8 code leaker pleads guilty to theft of trade secrets

Paul Crawford
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Re: 10 years and $250K is way too little

I quite agree, he should be dancing the Tyburn jig for such appalling crime against humanity - that of promoting Windows 8 to the press!!![1]

[1] A single exclamation mark is hardly enough to convey my indignity, but 4 is just getting stupid.

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OkCupid falls out of love with 'anti-gay' Firefox, tells people to see other browsers

Paul Crawford
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OK Cupids untained ethics?

Ah yes, the site that pulled the blog about the money-grabbing approach of match.com when, ah yes, when they were bough over for $50M:

http://www.geekosystem.com/okcupid-pulls-why-you-should-never-pay-for-online-dating-match-com/

While I fully support LGBT rights, I find this a pointless attack on an open-source project for the past personal actions of one person. No doubt by those with numerous gadgets made in China by what is barely different from slave labour...

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Artists install Monty Python silly walk signs in Norwegian town

Paul Crawford
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Re: Fitness Craze

What ever you do, do not spill your precious fluids!

Yours sincerely, General Jack D. Ripper.

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Bruce Schneier sneers at IBM's NSA denials

Paul Crawford
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Re: I'm going to repeat my comment from elsewhere..

"...and legal ways to do it without pissing off US government too much."

IANAL but as far as I know the "patriot act" can be used to force them to provide data even from overseas sites, irrespective of other laws that may apply. So yes, it is good they are willing to pay lip service to EU laws and expectations, but if it matters you still can't depend on it.

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Paul Crawford
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Follow the money...

IBM has a lot to lose financially from any such involvement with the NSA (even if that is a legal requirement of doing business in the USA), thus they will be as "economical with the truth" as they dare, just short of statements that could lead jail-time.

So yes, I suspect they "lied".

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Microsoft issues less-than-helpful tips to XP holdouts

Paul Crawford
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Re: Depends on who/why

Hmm, on 2nd thoughts maybe a £100 Android table won't be that much more secure than their old XP box unless they are adverse to installing stuff.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Backup XP?

I don't use windows enough to know what is the best backup software for typical home use, but I know from experience that windows own backup sucks donkey balls in terms of portability for getting your files back again after a major crash.

Suggestions folks for a good Windows backup program?

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Paul Crawford
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What you should already be doing - put them on a separate network area with no internet access (or heavy firewall control for specific sites they have to access), disable autorun on all drives, and force all personnel on pain of cattle-prod to have any USB sticks scanned on a known good machine before they plug them in.

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Paul Crawford
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Depends on who/why

If it is someone who really needs XP natively for some special application then they will already be taking precautions.

If it is a home user without any technical skills or the money to simply buy a new PC they are screwed, unless someone is willing to help them. At least a Linux install can be done for beer money, so folk on a really low budget have some option for safe web use.

Failing all of that, there are £100 android tablets out there...

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Another day, another nasty Android vuln

Paul Crawford
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Joke

Re: 387,000 characters?

They obviously never employed little Bobby Tables:

http://xkcd.com/327/

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TV sales PLUMMET. But no one's prepared to say what we all know

Paul Crawford
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Re: Could it be what is on offer in the shops/online?

" It isn't something that really adds to the cost."

No costs - what of patents, etc, that have to be licensed?

What kind of 3D?

If its polarising type you loose some brightness, if active shutter you have to add the hardware to support the headsets (and probably get one with the TV, which is just great for a typical family).

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This changes everything: Microsoft slips WinXP holdouts $100 to buy new Windows 8 PCs

Paul Crawford
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In most cases, probably special hardware aside, if you have XP-specific software the best solution is to run an XP VM in another host OS (my choice Linux, but Win7/8 just as effective).

You get 100% XP compatibility, no future hardware driver issues, the ability to restrict internet access to the (soon very vulnerable) XP VM, and a host computer that runs whatever new stuff you need fairly safely.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Lifetime free support?

If I was being aggressive I would say "because they sold it with so many bugs in the first place".

If I was being helpful I would have suggested to MS that they could have offered support for, say, $5 per user per year after the first year. That is pretty small per user, but a tidy sum with some hundreds of millions of users and you could get support as long as you want, and they can afford to pay the staff to do so.

But doing what the customer wants seems to be an alien concept to so many companies.

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Paul Crawford
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@jason 7

"Try using a 13 year old install of XP on a 13 year old PC and you'll find that it doesn't work...very well at all."

It works fine if you have the original configuration - and typically that means no AV and anti-spyware running, and not piles of software that no one really uses but each one starts its own updater on boot-up. If not running well, usually some RAM as an upgrade is enough to restore sanity cheaply.

However, I think you will find there are two classes of hold-outs where the machine is newer but they stick with XP:

(1) Folk without the income or desire to spend on a PC, the old "it works fine for me and I hardly use it anyway" brigade. Definitely not El Reg readers.

(2) Folk who have the budget and support, but are sticking with XP because something they have won't run acceptably on a newer OS. Now you could argue they should simply upgrade the program(s) they use to avoid this, but there could be a whole range of reasons why not:

2.1) Stupidly expensive to do as it was custom software, etc. (thinking here of gov and IE6 lock-in, for example).

2.2) Not possible as no newer software exists (e.g. for old hardware, or company went bust, etc)

2.3) The upgrades change things in ways that will (or could possibly) break something key to their business (e.g. industrial control where it took a lot of time & money to certify the system in the first place).

All can be sorted with enough money, but it is likely to be WAY more than the cost of a new PC/OS.

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French novel falls foul of Apple's breast inspectors

Paul Crawford
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Re: What about Apple's rights?

"people who do choose to buy Apple devices should not then complain about the fact that they're limited to Apple-approved apps and content"

Have you ever spoken to a non-tech user and asked them if they know what they can and can't get for their proposed new shiny toy? Do you think they even considered that when buying?

Given Apple is the market leader in this area (certainly in the high value range) they deserve scrutiny from the technically literate. Just how hard would it be to have a tick-box or similar so users can choose kid-friendly stuff or not? If it is not illegal then Apple should simply classify it, not ban it.

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No more squeaky bum moments, please Microsoft - partners beg

Paul Crawford
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If you sup with the Devil...

...use a long-handled spoon.

MS look after themselves, resellers are only important if they are absolutely necessary for #1

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Panasonic slaps Freetime EPG on 2014 smart tellies

Paul Crawford
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Re: HDCP?

Best way to play reliably is to get DRM-free content via TPB. Of course, the industry can't see yet why paying for something should be the nicer experience.

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Paul Crawford
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Perhaps, but few have access to enough ISP bandwidth for streamed 4k content without horrendous compression artefacts (which removes its single advantage).

Add to the a whole new dimension of DRM that Sony, etc, are talking about for 4k content and I for one will wait and see before buying something that expensive.

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Win XP holdouts storm eBay and licence brokers, hiss: Give us all your Windows 7

Paul Crawford
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Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

"Surely it can't be all about Metro and the lack of start menu?"

Mostly it is, and the general buggering about of where thing are.

Technically using Win8 is a good idea, but myself (and a lot of other El Reg commentards) just find the UI a horrible experience and life simply too short to put in the effort work around it when there is Win7 and various free Linux distros as alternatives.

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Paul Crawford
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Lenovo?

Did I not read on El Reg that Lenovo, one of the few PC makers to grow in market, are offering Win 7 machines?

Coincidence?

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Straight to 8: London's Met Police hatches Win XP escape plan

Paul Crawford
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@AC

"There has been widespread scepticism as to if those numbers show the full picture"

And never have you once provided the report, or figures, to back up your counter-claims.

Even if it was cost-neutral, I would be in favour of our government departments switching simply to be free of US corporate control, and to pay for EU professionals to offer the required support in lieu of MS on-going costs.

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Windows hits the skids, Mac OS X on the rise

Paul Crawford
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Re: AC

"The vast majority of enterprises require a) documents to be interchanged seemlessly and look the same at source and destination"

That only works if you force them all to use the same version of Office and even the same damned printer. Otherwise use PDF as that actually works!

"and VBA macros"

No one wants to use VBA macros. Few really need to use VBA macros, they are 'needed' simply due to legacy lock-in and not even supported on the WindowsRT version of Office. Though I would forgive you for saying that is not a real version of Office...

"To a large degree, you get what you pay for!"

With MS you often don't even get that.

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Paul Crawford
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Trollface

@Matt "sorry, I dropped FreeBSD when ZFS was forced on us"

Come on Matt, you don't need to be shy on El Reg's forums - everyone here knows you use Solaris on the desktop and simply like to protesteth too much :)

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Is no browser safe? Security bods poke holes in Chrome, Safari, IE, Firefox and earn $1m

Paul Crawford
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Re: We need something more simple than webbrowsers

That ain't going to happen now that world+dog expect to run javascript/HTML5/etc to display "hello world". The modern web browser is more like an OS than a text rendering application, and so much of the web now depends on that to work. Yes, I know its dumb, but no I don't see it changing.

Probably the best we can hope for is sandboxing becoming robust enough to stop break-outs, and maybe aggressive enough to just kill browsers when something dodgy happens.

But there are problems in terms of actually using that - for example you might use Linux's apparmor to limit file access so a browser can't write to sensitive place, nor snaffle your files for uploading to spooks/criminals, but most users will simply howl when they find the browser dies on trying to navigate to, say, their collection of cat photos for uploading to facebook, etc. Sadly so far usability always triumphs over security.

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Tony Benn, daddy of Brit IT biz ICL and pro-tech politician, dies at 88

Paul Crawford
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Re: Concorde?

"The thing that killed any prospect of Concorde"

It was not one thing, but a combination of factors, most importantly:

(1) Oil cost post-1974, which made it expensive to run.

(2) Limited range, it could do London-NY and Paris-NY, but not the sort of range that would have made it a major success in the 80s such as Tokyo-SF

(3) The problems of supersonic flight over land. While the USA's stance did smack of national pride being upset, it turned out that no one would put up with the sonic boom over land, so key routes to make money had to be over water (not so bad, if it could have done Tokyo-SF non-stop).

(4) Noise levels. Concorde needed engine re-heat (aka afterburners) for take-off and that add massively to the noise (extra thrust proportional to exhaust velocity, noise to the 8th power!). When developed in the early 70s this was not so bad as other jets like the 707 were also noisy buggers, but by the 80s and onwards the move to high bypass engines for fuel efficiency also lead (and was driven by) much lower noise levels.

Still, it was the most beautiful airliner to date and I once had the privilege to fly on it. Not cheap, but my flight cost less than a similar first class flight I priced nearer the time.

RIP. My thoughts go out to Tony Benn's family, and I feel we have lost one of the few politicians worth listening to and a champion (abet not always best-advised) of technology.

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'Amazon has destroyed the unicorn factory' ... How clouds are making sysadmins extinct

Paul Crawford
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Re: Beware of sysadmins bearing cattleprods

More likely the BOFH will arrange for the CFO to get a visitation of ghosts of other companies who bet their corporate crown jewels on SLAs that turned out to be not worth the paper they were written on. Not even soft and absorbent.

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Is Microsoft hinting at a fully fondleslab-friendly future for Office 365?

Paul Crawford
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Er, no

"ARM-powered Windows RT slabs all come with a fully licensed version of Office"

Not for business use, so not "fully licensed" in my books.

The sooner MS learn that Windows is not the centre of computing any more, and that Office for other OS will sell, they will do themselves and the world a favour. However, this rental mode and the expectation of your files and ability to access them vanishing if you stop paying is not appealing.

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BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!

Paul Crawford
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Gimp

King Dick

Psst!

Want something a bit "harder"?

<winks>

http://www.lawson-his.co.uk/king-dick-super-2000-vde-combination-plier-c2153

Say no more! Say no more!

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Paul Crawford
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Re: Which reminds me..

You mean this?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Leathermans-Handbook-Larry-Townsend/dp/1881684199

Quite an open-minded wife you have :)

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Satisfy my scroll: El Reg gets claws on Windows 8.1 spring update

Paul Crawford
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@Sean Timarco Baggaley

"There are textbooks explaining this core principle that date as far back as the 1970s."

I am pretty sure they have a lot to say about metro's lack of discoverability and the surprising behaviour on hitting corners or odd track-pad gestures.

"You don't get to blame Microsoft for your own ignorance."

No, but I can blame them for forcing an unwanted interface upon us and not giving us the choice. All would have been just fine if you could have ticked a box (perhaps auto-detected when no touch screen) for "classic interface" when touch, etc, was unwarranted.

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Paul Crawford
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@h4rm0ny

>>"TL;DR In short, you are saying"

Got to appreciate someone who starts a post by saying mine was too long so they didn't read it, and then posts an incorrect synopsis of what I wrote.

While TL;DR might have been a bit glib, the point is you made a huge rant on telling us how we should be liking Win 8. We are just not holding correctly, perhaps?

In fact you have made one critical point yourself:

"...the very basic fact that you can get the Start Screen from clicking in the lower left - something that Windows tells you the first time you start up"

What if you did not go through the tutorial because it was someone else's PC? Or life was just too short?

Discoverability. The principle of least surprise.

Win 8's interface violates them both big-time. Now that is not to say others do not share some of the same stupidity of this approach (Ubuntu's Unity, a lot of Android, some of iOS) but the basic fact remains the same: What was an acceptable user interface for XP (more so if you chose "classic" a la Win2000) has become an exercise in sucking donkey balls. Actions are non-obvious, you have to learn things (hello command line, I love you!), and you are trying to do something and you get the metro screen slapped in your face due to some non-obvious track-pad gesture.

Choice. Why not? With XP you could revert to Win2000 if you preferred, which I did. Why are we now forced to use metro?

That is a rhetorical question, as the answer is well known and explains why most are unhappy. We are forced to suffer so MS hopes to get developers, developers, developers for an interface few wanted.

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Paul Crawford
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Re: As if this will make people happy!

TL;DR

In short, you are saying we have to jump to whatever new way MS demands we use things?

And then re-train all of our friends/family/non-tech users to match

If so, why not learn to use Linux instead an save the license fee?

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Vodafone Germany looks to provide end-to-end encryption with SIM signatures

Paul Crawford
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Why?

Given that there are plenty of cases of phones being compromised, thus the data can easily be had before any crypto, what do you get from this that is so important? Also given the carries are (or can be forced to) cooperate with any country you are in, the possibility of them doing it to your phone cannot be ruled out.

So better to use a rooted phone, with care, and some open-sourced app? Of course, the fundamentals problem still applies, of Bob & Alice knowing each other's true keys when most of the SSL certificate authorities are dubious.

Or go back to exchanging microfilm hidden in odd places. Maybe not that secure, but probably too costly to simple be hoovered up "in case we need it in 5 years".

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Crafty French hackers tweak 'My Account' page, slurp 800,000 Orange users' details

Paul Crawford
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Re: Clarification required

"Why is it that the major operators/telcos and ISPs dont force a password change every 6 months for example."

Because it is not very effective:

(1) people get fed up and re-use or write down passwords on sticky notes on their monitors (yes, really!) or use really lame passwords they can remember.

(2) With a random time-to-hack the miscreants still have an average of 3 months to do their stuff. Do you think it would any organised gang more than a couple of days to exploit it?

(3) Making people used to regular email reminders to change their password is one easy route to making phishing emails more believable.

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Adobe goes out of band to fix frightful Flash flaw

Paul Crawford
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Just checked on my Linux box and found an update for flash.

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Just as we said it would: HP clamps down on server fixers

Paul Crawford
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Re: Once upon a time

And a full BIOS listing as well (OK on paper, but still...)

Somewhere we still have the IBM AT manuals with all of that.

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It's Satya! Microsoft VP Nadella named CEO as Bill Gates steps down

Paul Crawford
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Re: Message To Satya:

The problem MS has with XP is not simple:

Most end users want a Win9 to offer the improvements to security and performance that underlies Win8, but without the abomination of TIFKAM (my apologies to the few who genuinely like it), and to run the stuff they already have.

But XP supported a lot of dumb legacy features that are needed to allow a lot of software to run properly, and it is simply not possible to support them and also to improve underlying security. In addition there are a lot of legacy features that MS has decided to drop because it is not in their interests to spend the time & money to do properly (e.g. supporting 16-bit applications).

So there is a hope that Win9 might roll back the dumb aspects of the TIFKAM interface, but the push towards phone/fondle-slab/desktop integration may still be too strong, and it is very unlikely that legacy software will really work as hoped.

Time to make your XP VMs and make sure they have little or no internet access...

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Paul Crawford
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Re: take an image?

What if the AC's machine has hardware swaps in between installs?

Last time I tried moving a Windows HDD between machines it threw a major wobbly as half-way through booting it decided it could no longer read the boot device.

The point is, it should be possible/easy to have a bootable DVD or USB stick to test/install/fix Windows just like Linux supports, and that should be the normal approach. WTF is the whole activation key for if not to make the install image worthless (and therefore should be a simple download or torrent, with SAH-1 hashes of course)?

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BT scratches its head over MYSTERY Home Hub disconnections

Paul Crawford
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Black Helicopters

Creepy?

This bit surprised me in the AAISP blog:

"This is a little crazy in the first place. It's a modem. It shouldn't even be aware that it's passing PPPoE frames, let along looking inside them to see that they are UDP."

My tin foil hat is suggesting BT/Huawei are up to no good...

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Apple and Android split Santa's stash, go on Xmas PC and tab high

Paul Crawford
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This report kind of agrees what what I heard from family/friends/work: that Apple were top dog in choice, but Android the most popular cost+usefulness combination.

Me, I ended up buying a Chromebook from PC World as a replacement for an old netbook (two good reasons to feel a bit dirty), mainly because it was <£200 and "good enough". Had a WinRT slab been unlocked so I had the choice of dual-booting Linux, and using the supplied Windows ARM-variant, it probably would have won...

Oh well, that is how the cookie crumbles!

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Wheee GDUNK! Panasonic's latest Toughpads ready to hit the streets

Paul Crawford
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Thumb Down

Obligatory screen complaint

At one point Panasonic offered something better than the piss-poor 768-900 lines "HD" resolution, and for the sort of industrial applications these toughened machines excel at it was great. Sadly the whole range is now in crappy widescreen mode.

Do these guys ever use their products as their customers would? Come on, at this sort of price point the extra screen would add almost nothing and is far more important then the pre-installed OS (which is something you can change if needed).

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Reg snaps moment when Facebook turned air Blu: 1PB box for unloved pics

Paul Crawford
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Deleted profiles?

So if you delete your profile, and even if the EU rules that it has to be removed, what happens to the read-only disks?

Will they remove and destroy them?

Oh stupid me! Why did I think they might do something for the user (er, product)?

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Yes, Google can afford to lose $9bn in Motorola sale. But did it really?

Paul Crawford
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Joke

Re: Keeping track of all those billions must be hard work

Really? I keep a similar amount down my codpiece...

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Paul Crawford
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Re: "why the fudge Lonovo thought..."

If Lenovo are planning on making Android phones only, why do they need those patents?

As long as Google is using them to shield Android makers from Apple/MS/etc in any patent-related battles then it is not that important to Lenovo. They must see an opportunity to enter the market even more and profit.

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