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* Posts by Mark Allen

188 posts • joined 19 Mar 2007

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Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies

Mark Allen

Re: Confused

Yeah, I realised this. My sarcasm font didn't stick correctly.

What I find odd with these tiles is that they keep wanting to change around. Would make more sense if they could just be pinned up there permanent, but then that is what the StartPage add-on does as mentioned earlier.

I find it funny when people let their web browsers tell 'em what to do. Even more comical is when a forum like El Reg has people complaining about something which they can easily fix themselves. I thought this place was inhabited by geeks and technical people? Or doesn't anyone look into the options and plug-ins any more?

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Mark Allen
Facepalm

When I installed Pale Moon it set the Home Page to http://start.palemoon.org/ which is a collection of links to Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, BBC, Facebook, etc.

So Pale Moon by default points to a page which links to way MORE than just a few tiles. And has that same "advert" idea to it.

But just like with my copy of Firefox, I just change the Pale Moon home page.

At least with the Firefox Tiles you can turn off the ones you don't want, unlike that Pale Moon start page.

Doesn't every change their home page to what *they* want?

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Mark Allen

Confused

So... you open the new Firefox and see a bunch of tiles you don't like the look of. You hit the X on each of these naff tiles until the sponsored ones are gone. And you are then back with your own tiles.

Or am I missing something? Are these sponsored tiles locked and undeletable?

I don't get what the fuss is about. Surely the average user of Firefox can hit an X?

What is more interesting is that the tiles that are being pinned up are ones that Mozilla have chosen. Which implies to me that no one is buying these sponsored tiles yet. That's when it could get interesting. Lets see who Mozilla will take cash from.

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Siri: Helpful personal assistant or SERIAL APP KILLER?

Mark Allen

Maybe... but only if it gets localised

Trouble is with Siri and dumb assistants like that they are going to be too biased to the American OS they are installed on. Would you trust Siri to get you there via Apple Maps? Or rather open up Google maps instead?

If you can tell Siri which app to use to get reliable information, then maybe it would be of some use. Trouble is, Siri doesn't work for you, she works for her masters at Apple.

An obvious error I see appeared in your article:

"Want a weather forecast for Gloucester? I could ask Siri instead of firing up the BBC weather app."

Try comparing the Accuweather App with the BBC weather app. I'd trust the constantly updating local Met Office data over the US Accuweather data any day. Have done a few tests comparing them and the difference in quality is noticeable when compared with what *actually* happens outside..

Phone Assistants need to be localised to their market. Under the control of the user of the device. Allowed to trust sources that are not Apple. Trouble is, I don't think Apple would really like that.

(Same would be said for Android or Microsoft Assistants)

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The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?

Mark Allen

Re: 20th century

@LDS: Stop trying to put a sensible comment in reply to a news item which is a Rant Magnet.

So many hardware companies send out buggy "It runs, so ship it" drivers. Drivers clearly not fully following the correct rules in the MS manuals. Then add in the whole rafts of extra weird apps theses same hardware manufacturers throw into the Startup as services or sitting down by the clock in the Task Tray. Add in dozens of other "helper apps". No wonder this then becomes a minefield for OS updates.

Some of the crud I find running on client PCs is unbelievable!!

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World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs

Mark Allen

Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

It was the guys in the less fashionable seats of the Vulcan I was thinking about. The three of them in an ordered queue trying to get down a narrow stairwell and out of that hatch. All while the aircraft was likely to be a bit windy if the front two had already banged out. And where would they be landing in their parachutes if they did jump out?

If anything I think the Lanc guys almost had an easier time of it!

(Now off to read accounts of the people who *did* try and get out of that daft hatch... this thread has had me off reading all kinds of reports :))

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Mark Allen

Re: I was amazed at how SMALL these aircraft were

Lanc or Vulcan cockpits - don't know which is the scariest! Tiny little dark spaces to sit in. Especially when you think of the distance you would have to cover when flying one. And if things went wrong, it wasn't exactly easy to get back out again.

Reading this thread I am realising how lucky I was to have been in a small Air Cadet Squadron in the late 1980s which meant I got to experience so many of these classic aircraft. And can only be amazed at what the crews of these craft had to go through.

Though the true heroes that I met in those years were the members of the Guinea Pig Club. Men were really made of something different back then.

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Mark Allen

Re: Love that noise

Starfighters - F104G. Can't remember if it was Fairford or Greenham Common. Was a RIAT show. We were at the far end of the runway when the pair of Starfighters did a pass. One going as slow as possible, when his partner came screaming through at high speed underneath.... and then he pulled up right in front of us... and crack!! Naughty boy broke the sound barrier!! Loud Plus!! (And no doubt a certain pilot got a bit of a bo11ocking when he landed)

For fans of those silly flying coffins it is well worth tracking down Bob Calvert's album "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Lockheed_and_the_Starfighters

Even though my post is about Startfighters... I'd much rather have the noise of any other of the aircraft being mentioned here. From Mossies to Lightnings... it is such a pity we will never hear those awesome soundtracks ever again.

I now have to go and book some tickets for an airshow to see those two Lancs together. Two lancs, Spitfire, Hurricane makes ten Merlins. Still doesn't quite out roar the Spitfire flypast of a RIAT of the past where there were at least 15 flying together! (Some time in the 1980s)

A BIG thank you to all those enthusiasts who keep these historic aircraft in the air.

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Brits STUNG for up to £625 when they try to cancel broadband

Mark Allen

Re: My opinion

This is a thread about ranting... surely bad form to mention the good guys who do it right?

A couple of years back I had a client who needed a short contract. Eclipse were going to be charged £60 by BT to install the kit. So they passed this on to the client as part of the monthly contract. Want to leave six months in? Then they'd ask for £30 of that £60. 8 months in they'd ask for £15 to leave. Once you got to the end of the 12 months, they'd ask for nothing. Seemed sensible. No contract renewal - just on going service.

Even better, you could just pay the £60 connection fee up front and then take a monthly contract.

Far too much common sense at Eclipse. Could be why they keep winning those awards for customer service.

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AVG stung as search revenue from freebie scanners dries up

Mark Allen

Ad revenue down?

That annoying toolbar that AVG install was one of the (many) reasons I stopped using it with my clients. Even the paid for edition did not let you control the tracking in the bar.

Is there any coincidence that sites like ninite.com disable this toolbar in their installers? (And we'll quietly not mention the security bugs found with this toolbar...)

Over the past years AVG seems to have been heading the route of bloatware like Norton. Adding in more and more "features" which then bring the older PCs to a crawl. For some reason, AVG don't get their head around the fact that people who are using "free" anti-virus tend to have old, slow, underpowered PCs. AVG only makes these worse.

Funniest thing I have seen AVG do in the past couple of years? Their "PC Tuneup" product that they try and sell did a "tuneup" on one of my client's PCs. It correctly identified what was slowing the PC down badly and disabled it. Yes - you have guessed right - the Tuneup software disabled AVG!!

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50,000 sites backdoored through shoddy WordPress plugin

Mark Allen

Re: Where is line 91?

A compromise I saw hit some of my client's Wordpress sites last year involved a single line of code added to the PHP files for each page, which then launched more code from a single page of script. In our case it was quickest to just restore from backups as too many little changes were all over the place.

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L33t haxxors compete to p0wn popular home routers

Mark Allen
Facepalm

Re: And bad advice...

Eh? Is that the Virgin Cable Router with the default password of "changeme"? Which then insists on being changed the first time you use the admin control panel?

I always tell my clients to never trust the guy who installs the kit. I have heard some "interesting" advice from these people before.

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Mark Allen

Re: Security changes with cost

"Screw Buffalo" for their lack of firmware updates. Agree with that.

Funnily enough, while dealing with the TP-Link router replacements I found a client with an old-ish Buffalo router. Clearly had the same identical hardware and firmware as the TP-Links I was swapping out. Admin pages were identically laid out. All except for the colour and company name in the corner.

They were so identical that the exact same DNS compromise was visible. Hacked from the WAN in the same way. Yet trying to locate updated Buffalo firmware was impossible. So that Buffalo router was upgraded with a large hammer and then replaced with a different brand.

I get a feeling many of these big brands have low end routers all from the same basic cheap source. So basic that they can't even have a Tomato put on them. I then assume that the manufacturers don't like fixing them as it looks like "wasted" money to them. Yet the actions of TP-Link honouring that three year warranty has me buying more and more of them.

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Mark Allen

Security changes with cost

Good to see this exposure going on. Though I don't see the point in bricking or denial of service as this just makes the owner replace them with a new one. It is the hijacking that is sneaky. I had some TP-Link routers out with (home user) clients, all sub-£50 kit. At the start of the year they had DNS settings changed from the WAN side even though they were "secure" with no external ports open. Access to Facebook or Google would get redirects to ask them to "install a Flash update". Clever little hacker.

In this case, TP-Link had new firmware out within a month for the current models. For the older models, they happily swapped them on their 3 year warranty. Surprisingly good service. (I don't work for TP-Link)

@Ragarath: Don't avoid *manufacturers* if you can't change the Admin Username. This is often a model specific thing. Pay more, get more features. Those basic ADSL routers I mentioned above had fixed usernames, but only a tenner more up the range and the username can be edited.

Worst are the ISPs who supply routers that are "password protected" to their clients and then refuse to let the client have access to the router. You have no way of checking if they have been hit or not!

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EE in giant VoLTE-face as it tries voice calls over Wi-Fi... again

Mark Allen
Trollface

Re: I thought EE had the .......

Hello troll. Because even the "best" 3G coverage doesn't work in a basement where installing WiFi is usually trivial.

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Mark Allen

Blackberry Bold 9780 and UMA

Okay, so I am still using an "old" phone from 2011, but UMA Calling is why I will not let this phone go. 3G coverage in my house is patchy at best, but since I got the UMA enabled phone I can make calls anywhere. And it does not have to be over an EE ISP as I use Virgin Media. The phone connects to my own WiFi access point.

The hand-offs between Wifi and 3G are surprisingly good. I can walk from my home wifi, down the street on 3G, and then into my friends house and jump onto their wifi without dropping the call. It "just works". Which is brilliant.

There is nothing funnier than being in a deep basement and answering a mobile phone. :D You see the confused look of the person standing next to you looking at their iPhone wondering why they get no signal....

This UMA implementation is 100% Blackberry. The only EE part is that I need an EE Sim to make it work. If I swapped to O2/Vodaphone/etc I would loose UMA. Yet my phone is not Orange branded.

Previously Orange made a UMA app which would work on some Android Phones. But it was too locked down as it would only work on an "Orange" phone and not an unbranded phone of the exact same model. Orange's own attempt at UMA is probably what make UMA not as successful as it should have been.

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Internet of Things fridges? Pfft. So how does my milk carton know when it's empty?

Mark Allen
Flame

Re: Too complicated

Totally agree with this one - employ a human.

* Less hassle to run.

* Will interact with far wider range of different products.

* Takes voice commands - both local (shout) and remote (phone).

* No special tags needed on the products.

* Has special sensors like "smell" available to tell when the milk is off.

* Will handle Asda and the Farmer's Market to the same quality level.

* Knows when nipping to local shop for a pint of milk it more sensible than ordering online to be delivered by diesel burning lorry.

* Can handle cupboards as well as fridge.

* Will be multi-tasking so can actually cook the food for you as well instead of needing to buy a special Cooker, Bin, Sink, Plate.

* Will not become obsolete (see Smart TV features)

* Will not burn lots of excess electricity. In fact, will still operate during a power cut.

* Will not have advertising screens plastered over the front telling you what to buy.

List could go on an on... technology is not always the answer. Look at our "Smart TVs". Now, I like my Smart TV. I use features like iPlayer, YouTube, DLNA, etc. But there are umpteen gazillion extra "features" and "apps" that are just clutter and of no use. And even the apps I do use get "upgraded" and loose features (I'm looking at you iPlayer - where did my radio go?)

My last fridge lasted 20 years. How long will a Smart Fridge last before I have to replace it with something new? We spend our time talking about "saving the planet" and "going green" yet we are making more and more pointless tech for the sake of making pointless tech to burn up resources.

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AV for Mac

Mark Allen

Re: OS version?

The lack of old OS Version support in AV products for a Mac can be a headache. I have one client who is using an old Apple Mac stuck on OS 10.5 with no upgrade options. As he tends to spend a little too much time on dodgy sites the only way we've found of keeping him clear of viruses is good backups. A total reset seems to be the only simple way out of problems he walks into.

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Yes. Facebook will KNOW you've been browsing for smut

Mark Allen

Re: Pointless adverts

@PerlyKing - I also hate adverts, but to be fair to Amazon you can turn all of the email trash off. Go into your settings on Amazon and change the Communication Preferences. It can all be disabled so you only see info on transactions. Same with EBay\Papal.

I am always amazed when I see other people's inboxes full of this kind of "spam". It is all opt-outable. You can get rid of the lot. Buy something from Tescos and forgot to opt-out? Then hit the unsubscribe link and say bye-bye to their trash.

Some of my clients have mailboxes full of this kind of ham\spam. They must waste hours a month wading through it instead of hitting unsubscribe. Madness.

On another similar thread, I never understand when you buy a new computer it has the home page set to the manufacturers website where they try and sell you a new computer....

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Security bods mop blood, sigh: NEW CryptoLocker zombies? We don't see their kind

Mark Allen
Facepalm

Bizarre 14 day challenge

Didn't the the daft people who said "You have 14 days to secure your PC" realise that they are just issuing a challenge to the scammers to get a new version out quicker than that? Take down one network, and four others will spring up in its place.

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Swiping your card at local greengrocers? Miscreants will swipe YOU in a minute

Mark Allen
Flame

Re: So...

Not all POS terminals are the same quality POS. Some POS are real POS terminals built on XP Embedded. Wheras other POS terminals are real cheapo hacked together PoS just built using the cheapest components and standard Windows XP Home slung together by a clueless droid just trying to maximise profit. The PoS is then installed in a shop and during setup this ID-10T "installation engineer" will then disable all the security while you are not looking, and then go onto the main Office Admin PCs and setup a file share on the whole C: drive open to everyone just to get their crud software installed.

With some suppliers, POS describes every part of these systems as some of them come from companies with a scary lack of interest in security. And when a real IT Engineer is brought in to fix problems, the POS suppliers tend to get a little upset when challenged over their POS practices. Even more frustrating when they think it is okay to put free editions of AV products on the PCs to "protect" them (ignoring the "not for business use" licences).

Some of the POS that is sold to shops is terrifying. The suppliers know the shop owners rarely know what they are getting, so the supplier can get away with murder. Overcharging for the privilege. And try and ask these suppliers why they were still shipping XP based tills in 2012 and what they plan to do to protect them... and you get all kinds of BS replies. Whereas the truth would be that they are just plain incompetent rip-off merchants.

Experience of POS may vary... and I am not naming clients or suppliers here. But down at the shop level of suppliers it is a stunning mess of scams. And that is even *before* they have been drawn into botnets.

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Bing's the thing in Microsoft's push for cheap Windows devices

Mark Allen

Bing already default on kit

Am I missing something here? By the time most Windows based computers are turned on and updated Bing is usually the default on it by one means or another. Dell, Sony, HP, Acer, Toshiba seem to leave the search defaults alone. Which mean they tend to still be Bing.

I know when I setup a new computer for a client I am nearly always having to remove a home page from the supplier which is trying to sell another new computer, and setting that search default to Google as it is rarely there by default.

If anything it is the anti-virus companies who try and hijack the search more than anyone else. (AVG being a good example. Don't understand why a "security" tool needs to butt in and take over your search...)

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EBAY... You keep using that word 'ENCRYPTION' – it does not mean what you think it means

Mark Allen

Re: @AC

Silly question, but surely it would be possible to create a new password system alongside the old? Let people login with their old password, but request they change it. Then pop that into your database in the newly salty hash version instead.

Yeah, this means users who don't login often will still have less secure passwords in your database, but surely this is a step in the right direction to protect your users who are accessing the data more often?

Eventually you'd have the current users all updating to nice new secure passwords, secure in your newly secured salty hashed system, leaving you with a much smaller group to contact. Or just plain suspend those old accounts until they contact you?

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Mark Allen

Which Ebay?

Is there any comment as to which EBay has been hacked and therefore how wide this is? US, UK, FR, DE?

Have they got *every* Ebay user's details, or just a select few from a single country?

Just curious as to how soon someone will knock at my door as no one has yet phoned me on 01111-111111.

I have seen my ebay specific email address get a flood of messages. Which is no different to any other day as that address has been sold on by so many EBay sellers over the years. And\or those sellers who get their mail accounts hacked and viral spam sent out to all. At least this password change gives me an excuse to change my email address at the same time...

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Recommendations for NAS-based home media set-up

Mark Allen

A few more ideas

I'm currently rebuilding my own setup to make it a little less geeky. A few extra tips and tricks to add to the above.

I find DLNA can be a PITA at times due to built in limitations. In my case on a 2012 Panny TV I find that it dislikes some MKV files and refuses to pick up subtitles from a separate file. Or complains at certain types of audio encoding. 80% of the time it is "good enough" and happily drags video across my Gigabit LAN. But I wanted better.

XBMC - brilliant. Find a spare old laptop to sit under the TV. Ideally with HDMI connection (personally I have to have 5.1 surround) I find XBMC is just playing anything I throw at it. No need to keep transcoding or embedding subtitles blah blah.

XBMC also has the advantage it can map folders from all around the house. Mixing local storage with external storage and SMB shares. Initially I tried UPnP but again hit that issue of the lack of external subtitles, so swapped to the superior SMB.

With access rights on SMB I just made up a new "read only" user for working across the network. using a different PC and user to clean up the library.

XBMC means videos can be scattered on different PCs and NAS's accessed in multiple different ways, but XBMC will present them all to you in one clean way without the normal person having to care where these files are actually stored.

I am currently doing a test run of XBMC using a USB flash drive and Xmbcuntu. Allows for experimenting without changing anything on the PC\laptop. Though in the long run I'm going back to Win7\8.1 on the PC so I can also run other programs like 4oD, get_iplayer, etc.

MediaCompanion - an excellent tool for cleaning up the cataloguing of your videos. This will let you pop the artwork and video details into the folders along with your videos. Yes, XBMC has automatic scrapers built in, but I find this tool is handy as it keeps the relevant details permanently with your video files. That way next time you change the system you don't have to totally start again. Also will be of benefit to those with slower broadband as this saves the media centre from constant lookups at TVDB and IMDB.

And last but certainly not least "YATSE". Download "YATSE" to your Tablet from the Google Play store. A totally BRILLIANT remote control for XBMC. Allowing total control of XBMC boxes and then pushing of video around the house. It is so much easier to be able to scroll through your film collection on a tablet in your hand to choose instead of working with clunky remotes on the TV screen. This application has to be seen to be believed!! Paid edition also allows to push video to Chromecast and other funky devices.

TBH - I'm still playing with the setup, tweaking and fine tuning. Making it more idiot proof so I can setup similar for friends. One thing I do notice is that as the years progress all of this stuff becomes less and less geeky. Though we all want different solution.

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iPhone-stroker-turned-fandroid sues Apple over iMessage text-slurpery

Mark Allen
WTF?

Small Businessman here...

This is a funny thread to read as there is so much Apple vs Android rant in here. Which then kind of misses the point.

I certainly don't agree with the $5 million figure, but this is a valid issue. Apple are clearly responsible by merging SMS into iMessage and should be the ones to fix this. The average iPhone user doesn't have a clue how the tech works - that is the point! Apple users are not supposed to be geeks.

What I do find interesting is this the business angle. I run a small IT business. So my phone number is in hundreds if not thousands of phone contact lists of my clients. Now assume I wasn't an IT whizz and I decided to move from iPhone to Android without de-registering first. This would be almost impossible for me to follow the "Apple Solution" of contacting everyone who has my number in their phone to tell them to "delete and re-add me".

How would I know who to contact? How would I know which of my clients of the last umpteen years currently own an iPhone?

I have a lot of clients who contact me via SMS. The iMessage bug would mean I would be directly loosing new work as that client would not be able to reach me. In those situations I could see how a $5million law suit could start to add up. It all depends on the trade of the defendant.

This is an insane bug from Apple. Though it does follow that arrogant pattern of "You will never leave" that seems to be built around the religion that is Apple Products.

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Apple, Beats and fools with money who trust celeb endorsements

Mark Allen

Re: Limited bit rate?

Play FLAC and 320kbps MP3/AAC side by side on decent speakers or decent headphones and there is a very noticeable difference with many types of music. Compare something like Dark Side Of The Moon on an iPod with the standard Apple headphones with a FLAC playing Android or Blackberry and Sennheiser speakers and you will certainly notice a difference.

Personally when I listen to 320kbps MP3 played back through decent speakers it sounds like the music is underwater and muffled.

I found this out after I had ripped my 300+ CDs to MP3. After that rather long task which was carried out over a year I changed my HiFi to £1000+ kit (Just the AV Amp and 5.1 speakers). First time I played back those MP3s I swore. Loudly. Then pulled out the CDs of DSOTM. The difference stood out a mile.

Since then I have replaced those MP3s with FLACs and not looked back.

This is why I can't see why people get excited by iDevices and iTunes and over compressed music. It also explains to me why Apple supply such rubbish headphones. This Beats deal seems to me to merge two names "known for music" yet they are adding rubbish to rubbish which just sounds like rubbish squared to me.

Heavy compression made sense when storage space was expensive. Now with storage so cheap it seems silly not to make use of it.

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Microsoft blinks, extends Windows 8.1 Update deadline for consumers

Mark Allen

Re: Ok I may be going mad..or something changed

There are plenty of huge updates in Windows Update. What you downloaded there was probably Win 8.1 Update. Or Win 8.1 Update 1. Or whatever the confusing thing is called now.

Taking a bare Win 8.0 laptop through to fully updated means some huge multi-gigabyte downloads. Yeah, fine if you live in a city like me on 60Mbps. But what about that guy out in the countryside who is struggling with 1Mbps?

And I hope the user never has a hard disk fail... as he is then back to his "Recovery Media". If he made them that is. No licence key stickers now. Of course, that recovery media is back at v8.0 with not only no updates, but all the factory supply crudware back on the machine...

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Mark Allen
Facepalm

Re: Windows 8.1 - the secret update

This is the one thing I have never understood - why is the very importantly vital update from Win 8.0 to Win 8.1 only available in the App Store and not in Windows Update? Us IT Techs have spent years training people to use Windows Update to keep their computers up to date and safe. Yet this update was put into a SHOP instead?

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Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn

Mark Allen
Facepalm

Re: Business as usual

Yep... the same people who trust the "Speed up your PC" adverts will now get caught by these "Free XP Security Update" scams. It amazes me as to how a flashing box on a screen makes users walk into these scams, yet if a bloke walked up to them in a supermarket carpark offering them a deal to make their car go faster they'd know the difference.

What is certainly the most comical is that I am already seeing some of my ID-10T users who have moved from a PC to a Mac "because it is safer" manage to continue to fall for the same scams and now are infecting the Mac...

Maybe this just goes to show that viruses don't infect the OS - they infect the user. So many of the "viruses" I see now have been installed by the user who believed the Snake Oil offer was valid. Or they could watch some "free" sport...

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'Yahoo! Breaks! Every! Mailing! List! In! The! World!' says email guru

Mark Allen

Nothing new

Yahoo! seem to constantly make a mess of their DKIM signatures. The hosting company I use for my clients check these headers and regularly I get reports from clients getting email bounced from Yahoo (or BTInternet) addresses. All because they've been fiddling with the signatures again. Problems seem to come and go at random during the year.

At least BT are moving away from Yahoo! so that should reduce some of the complaints I get.

As I always point out to these people, you get what you pay for with free accounts.

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Netflix needling you? BBC pimps up iPlayer ahead of BBC3 move

Mark Allen

Re: I think the quality ....

You should "name and shame" your ISP. I sit here on Virgin broadband in a city and laugh at how well it works. The last time I saw stutters was when I was on the older 10Mbps modem in 2012. Since updating to the newer 60 Mbps service I have laughed at how smooth iPlayer is. (Whilst also hammering the network downloading ISOs from the PC at the same time)

The biggest problem with iPlayer are people like yourself and those who live in the countryside. When broadband is still sub 5Mbps it is incredibly unfair when attempting to watch something. I hope the "pause and buffer" trick will still work for you. There needs to be real subsidies into the countryside to lift average broadband speeds outside of the cities. I find it incredibly unfair that BT got cash to flood fibre into the city where I live where we already had insanely fast broadband available from Virgin. Also unfair as BT will soon make money from people hooking up due to the density of population.

Meanwhile, barely five miles away in the countryside, broadband barely hits 2Mbps. THAT is where the grant money should have been put.

Back to iPlayer... I am all for the idea of allowing non-UK people to pay for access to iPlayer. great idea. But I bet it will be killed off by people like Murdoch claiming "unfair" and by the daft rules on which areas a show can appear in. Nothing more annoying than the bizarre rules on programs like Match of the Day where if you miss it live you have to wait a random number of days before watching it.

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Opera founder von Tetzchner: It's all gone to crap since I quit

Mark Allen
Flame

Re: Sad panda.

There is a worrying chase for lowest common denominator now. A chase to dumb down all of our software. I've been using Opera since the 1990s because of the extra choices it gave me as the user.

Too much is heading into the dumb-down route. Look at Win8, or even worse what has happened on the Apple Mac with Mavericks dumbing down the applications to be more stupid and iPad like. Removing features advanced users need and replacing it with an interface your granny can use instead.

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Sony set to axe 5,000 workers worldwide as it flings PC biz overboard

Mark Allen

Re: Is this laptops as well?

The Apple troll is just too obvious. I enjoy supporting Apple kit as I get more support calls for it. The random email problems, the strange downgrades of their software.

It was interesting last month playing with a brand new Sony laptop and comparing it to the Apple Mac. The Sony was just so much better in many ways. Looks, design, styling. Just little things like how the speakers were setup in the hinge.

Or the way they get round the lack of Ethernet port. On a Mac they just assume you will use Wireless. Hardluck if you are in a room without a WiFi signal. With the Sony they had added a tiny WiFi Access point in the box. This tiny Access Point just clipped to the laptop's power brick and then connected to Ethernet. Such a nice, simple, elegant solution.

And the guy down there bashing the support... I guess I was just lucky. Emails replied to, and phone calls to a Dutchman who not only knew his stuff but also phoned me back and paid for the call.

So... back to the drawing board for the people with excess cash... Samsung is certainly part of the thoughts, but again with the bloatware... I wish these PC guys would stop that.

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Mark Allen

Re: Big guys?

I don't want to look like some fool just bashing Novatech. This was at least six or seven years ago, maybe more. And if they are still building them they would have learnt from the mistakes by now.

And yeah... HP... well the less said there the better. So many laptops built with fans designed to eat dust and fluff and then not be cleanable. That little layer of solid fluff and grott that builds up between the fan and copper heatsink. First time I saw that wedge of grime I thought it was a filter... until I poked it.

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Mark Allen

Re: Their market

Novatech? I hope they have improved from the past. Last saw a self-build Novatech laptop about seven years ago and it was such a mess of an overheating build it made me run away from all self-build laptops.

At least when the big guys build laptops they have the economy of scale to work with meaning problems get spotted earlier and the recalls are put in to place.

Lenovo - solid is a word I'd use for them. Certainly handy for a machine that is moved around a lot, but not exactly pretty. Great for us IT geeks, but my clients include artists who pick machines based on colour...

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Mark Allen

Is this laptops as well?

I quite liked Sony kit. Once you got rid of all the crudware that Sony would bundle there was usually a decent machine underneath. When I got a heavy Windows user who started to talk Apple to me, I'd usually steer them to Sony kit for better value. If they had money to burn - it might as well be on a Sony.

Now I have to work out where to steer my clients who want to spend lots of cash on something pretty and stylish.

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BT scratches its head over MYSTERY Home Hub disconnections

Mark Allen
Trollface

Virginmedia hardware

Once the Virginmedia hardware is in passthrough mode there is no problem. The router is as good as off. I've had one running for over a year now without a hiccup. I have my own router sitting behind the modem. Rock solid.

Have also been running some industry test kit here which sends me montly reports that keep telling me that my average downstream throughput is generally around 60-62Mbps.

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Intel to shutter AppUp app store

Mark Allen
Flame

Intel crudware creep

I wish Intel would use a different company name for this stuff. In the past, a new computer would come with the odd Intel program pre-installed. I'd leave these in place as they were for graphics or network card tweaking.

The last few laptops I have setup are getting more and more of these oddly named Intel programs pre-installed. And it is getting confusing knowing which to keep and which to bin. It is getting towards too much crudware.

I worry that when then finally rename McAfee they will just stick that Intel badge on it. Leaving us with a big confused heap of crud slowing down the machine. And not really clear as to what should be removed.

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China's Jade Rabbit moon rover might have DIED in the NIGHT after 'abnormality'

Mark Allen
Alien

Throwing Rocks...

Are you sure that someone hasn't thrown a rock at it? The same rock thrower who is throwing rocks at Opportunity?

There are some aliens out there trying to wind people up...

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Chrome lets websites secretly record you?! Google says no, but...

Mark Allen
Big Brother

Turn the mic off

There is an easy way to fix this. The most obvious solution is the one in the article - go into Chrome options and tell it to never touch your microphone and camera.

The other solution is go into Windows Control Panel and locate the Sound control panel. Then just Mute the Microphone from there. That way, no matter what program tries to mess with your microphone they won't hear anything if it is muted.

What is most concerning is the number of people who use Chrome but have no idea why. When you talk to them you find it has just been sneaked onto the PC as part of an Adobe Flash update or some other program. Most of my clients who are using it never chose it. With an underhand method like that for installing your product, this revelation of access to a microphone without full feedback on screen that it is operating does not surprise me at all.

I make sure my clients realise Google is an advertising company and then ask them if they really trust Chrome...

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Apple loses sauce, BlackBerry squashed and Microsoft, er, WinsPhones (Nokia's)

Mark Allen

Re: So, Mozilla...

Well, there is a simple answer to that. Mozilla presents itself as a "community" based browser. It would be happier if we all forgot that it is funded by the Gorilla that is Google.

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Code-busters lift RSA keys simply by listening to the noises a computer makes

Mark Allen

Other White Noise

So in a room full of computers, Plasma TV screens, monitors, microwave oven and a HiFi crunching out electronic music all while living in a basement I assume makes the chaotic computer user harder to listen in to than the guy who owns one computer and one mobile phone?

Which reminds me... I still haven't worked out which device at the front of my house blasts out so much white noise I can't hear MW or LW on my car radio when it is parked outside the door. A little odd as when I use radios in the house it is fine... unless I fire up the Plasma TV.

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World+dog: Network level filters block LEGIT sex ed sites. Ofcom: Meh

Mark Allen

Re: Hopefully it'll block the Daily Mail and their noncebait sidebar of shame

At least Porn is honest about what it is. The Daily Mail and its nonceing sidebar is stunning for the way it can have a "Think Of The Children" article on the page with its nonceing links on the side bar. Certainly need it added to the banned list. Along with Mumsnet as there are plenty of threads in their forums of an extreme sexual nature.

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Harvard kid, 20, emailed uni bomb threat via Tor to avoid final exam, says FBI

Mark Allen

Re: Harvard need to reassess their admission policies?

Why even go into the coffee shop and sit in front of cameras? Surely it would be simpler to do from the street outside? Accessing the wifi from outside of the building and away from camera range. That way you also have the excuse to wear that thick coat and scarf.

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UK payday loaners cop MEGA £175K fine for 'misleading' SMS spam

Mark Allen

Re: wait

That 7726 number has been around for years. I've been forwarding SMS spam to if for five to eight years or so. (Can't remember exactly). I have noticed that in the past couple of years I am getting replies thanking me for passing it on, and asking for the phone number the spam was sent from.

It is nice to see something gets done with this information now. I certainly notice less repeats of spam messages compared with spam in past years.

As to fines... yeah... £100 per SMS sent out should be a better scale. A fine that should be paid by the directors of the company. Otherwise stuff like this just gets written off as a company expense.

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IBM turns plastic bottles into life-saving 'ninja' MRSA, fungus fighters

Mark Allen
Pint

Re: Type of bottle matters!

I assume Irn-Bru bottles will produce the toughest Ninjas.

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Recommendations for private cloud software...

Mark Allen

wetransfer.com

Wetransfer doesn't quite fit everything you ask, but it is simple. Takes up to 2GB transfers and keeps them for seven days. You upload your big zip file and it gives you a URL in return. You can even just plug in your email addresses and it will notify you and the client when the file is available, as well as telling you when it has been downloaded.

There is a pro version as well - but I've just been using the free version for shifting videos and similar to friends.

Best bit of it is the simplicity.

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Macy's: Now with Apple's Minority Report ads system that TRACKS your iPHONE

Mark Allen
Flame

Re: Two things....

I agree with you Big_Ted. Nothing more annoying that some idiot sales kid trying to push some crap at you. Especially in electronics stores where they are usually so clueless all they do is read the labels at you. When shops do that to me, I generally walk straight out of the door. Normally saying "Sorry - I thought this was a shop for grown-ups. I'll go elsewhere".

If a phone did that, then I'd again start avoiding those products. Amazes me how "Sales" people think the only thing we care about is their shoddy products.

@Don Jefe: I understand that is it "Management" telling the staff to harass the customers, and not directly the fault of the shop floor staff. But when I am clearly trying to *avoid* eye contact then they should take the hint that I don't need "assistance"

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