* Posts by Mark Allen

255 posts • joined 19 Mar 2007

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Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions

Mark Allen
Flame

Selling my details

I get frustrated with companies like Faceboook, Spotify, Twatter as they are busy selling my personal details and connecting me up with people on their networks even though I have never accepted any of their Ts and Cs.

I've never been on any of these networks, but due to my job I have my personal contact details in many many people's phones and email contact lists. Which means when my clients join these Social Advertising Networks they are passing on *my* personal details without asking *my* permission.

It is a little scary at times thinking of the web of connections these advertisers have about me!

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Still safe as houses: More CCTV for the masses

Mark Allen

Phoneline Weakpoint

So if the burglar starts by cutting the phone cable outside the property these systems become pretty useless. Do they have any method of notifying you of that outage?

Would seem more logical to me that these have some kind of 3G fallback available.

1
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Sony PC owners to get Windows 10 upgrade as early Christmas present

Mark Allen

Re: Ignored the warning.

Is one of those little wireless mouse receivers enough to stop it blue screening?

0
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Windows 10 is FORCING ITSELF onto domain happy Windows 7 PCs

Mark Allen

Certainly is

And I know at least one smaller ISP who admitted that this is causing them bandwidth problems when a client was having YouTube hiccups. I was told that: During Business hours non-Business critical traffic is being managed currently to maintain stability for VPNs and VOIP systems. This was directly blamed on the Windows 10 downloads

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BT hands £129m back to UK.gov after beating rural broadband targets

Mark Allen

So when do they sort out the slow ones?

I notice this on the list:

* provide basic broadband (2Mbps) for all by 2016

Can't seem them managing to do that in time. Far too many people are stuck on the far end of a line too many miles from the exchange. Especially bad in those areas with aluminium cables in the ground. Some of my clients have shocking speeds available - well below that "basic" level. Not as if these are out in the sticks either!

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How to quietly slurp sensitive data wirelessly from an air-gapped PC

Mark Allen

So they installed a modem?

So they get long enough at this machine to modify it to add a modem type ability. Which just shows that the airgap isn't a gap if the computer can be modified.

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Windows 10 in head-on crash with Nvidia drivers as world watches launch

Mark Allen

Re: Driver only option?

You beat me to it. That is what I came here to say. In computing the word "Experience" now means "bloated tracking crudware from the marketing team".

I did have that GeForce Experience tool go totally batsh*t mental on a client's PC once. It seemed to be intent on finding an nVidia shield in the house. Which did not exist. Was totally messing with the PC until it was removed.

I do get worried by this plan of Microsoft to auto-update drivers. Especially on OEM machines. Things like sound cards get pointless tweaks from some OEMs that mean the generic drivers then break the audio. So Microsoft does an auto-update and kills the audio. I've also seen similar with video.

It is *really* helpful that we have now had this silly nVidia Driver dance during testing. Hopefully this will make them think a bit harder about letting some of us have some control.

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Google dumps ISP email support. Virgin Media takes ball, stomps home

Mark Allen

Re: Hold on...passwords remain the same?

Yeah, there is a big room at Google HQ with all the user passwords on separate post-it notes attached to the wall. It is their backup system for when people forget passwords.

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Bezos' bozos swing ban-hammer at media player

Mark Allen

I think you have spotted the real reason behind this ban... "an Amazon Fire stick sideloaded with Kodi". With all the extra features Kodi can bring to an Amazon Fire stick I think Amazon didn't like that.

3
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Mark Allen

Re: Ultimate stupidity

You could almost argue that Amazon is promoting more piracy through these KODI\XBMC android boxes than KODI themselves. If it wasn't for Amazon and Ebay listing them and making them so easy to find for the average "bloke who wants to watch footie and some films" then no one would know these existed.

Or are they banning KODI from the Amazon App store to stop it being put on their Amazon Fire sticks?

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US mega-hack: White House orders govt IT to do what it should have done in the first place

Mark Allen
Facepalm

Should have employed Garry McKinnon

Sounds like nothing changed.

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No Silicon Roundabout U-Bend U-Turn: Build that peninsula boys

Mark Allen
IT Angle

Is this out the El'Reg window?

I am trying to understand the IT Angle. For a moment I thought I had opened my local newspaper website and their standard rant-bait articles. Or does this just drop into that category of annoying designers who don't bother to check with the user as to what they really want.

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Sacré bleu! Parking machine labels French mayor ‘thieving bastard'

Mark Allen
Mushroom

Should twin with Lewes

Lewes, Sussex has a far better way of handling parking meters. The locals blow them up with explosives \ fireworks.

http://www.theargus.co.uk/NEWS/12978562.Vandals_attack_parking_meters_in_Lewes/

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Windows 10 upgrade ADWARE forces its way on to Windows 7 and 8.1

Mark Allen

Why remove Minesweeper?

What I really don't understand about Win 8.1 and this Win 10 upgrade - why have MS removed the classic games like Minesweeper, Solitaire, etc?

Already I have had to port these over from Win 7 to Win 8.1 for a number of my clients. The old games work fine after the right dlls are located and a bit of hex editing of the game binaries to remove a Windows Version Check.

These classics have been wasting office time for decades. Why kill them off now?

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'Millions' of routers open to absurdly outdated NetUSB hijack

Mark Allen
Flame

Everyone wants "cheap"

Trouble is everyone wants "cheap" or "free" routers. I have clients who get upset if I tell them a router is over £100 so instead they end up with sub-£40 devices. Devices that attempt to be routers, modems, wireless AP, print servers, USB Backups, make the tea whilst juggling three balls in the air.

Not surprising these cheap bits of kit keep failing. Is there any profit in these silly devices? At this end of the market I can see why support is a PITA. If they have to chase a firmware update out of the manufacturer they must burn that profit away.

It is also noticeable that even among the trusted brand names the exact same router is sold at the bottom end just with a different logo in the corner of the control panels. I get a feeling some of these companies build their own expensive kit, but bring in cheaper stuff to fill in the holes at the bottom end of the market.

The only reason everyone is now noticing these security issues is because finally people are actually *looking* for the problems. These issues have always been there, but now we have companies who make money shouting about it.

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Last flying Avro Vulcan, XH558, prepares for her swan song

Mark Allen
Pint

Re: cockpit

It is so cramped in that tiny dark cockpit. And not exactly a place you want to be if you had to leave in the hurry. Fine if you were up front in the posh seats, but if not so good in the back. Pilot and co-pilot had ejector seats. Everyone else had to clamber out of an impossibly awkward back door.

Many stories around of how the rear crew would put the pins back into the ejector seats to remind the pilots not to leave the plane without them...

Now that this will really be the last ever flights it does mean that they are going to be able to make the most of the last hours of those engines. Last few times I saw her they talked of how they were taking it easy on the engines to extend as much life as possible.

Shoreham airshow will be my last chance to see her in the air. That's going to be emotional. The parents used to take us to airshows even as small kids. I've grown up with that howl and will miss it. Power you don't just hear but you feel in your soul.

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Lenovo system update flaws plugged, security world not impressed

Mark Allen

Re: Just wondering why ...

It always puzzles me too. All they seem to do is update the bloatware on the computers. Driver updates usually get abandoned by many of the manufacturers within a few months of release.

When setting up new machines, after one check of the manufacturers update tools it will then be removed. Too many of them have these kinds of issues in them, or are just blatant processor wasters with constant daily checks.

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Yahoo! Mail! goes! titsup! in! Blighty! due! to! mystery! error!

Mark Allen

Yahoo and DKIM

One of the bizarre sides of Yahoo is they were involved in setting up DKIM standard to check if the mail server sending an email is legit. Yet they often forget to register their own mail servers correctly and end up with lots of mail bounces. Especially from their BTInternet.com hosting.

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Massive TalkTalk data breach STILL causing customer scam tsunami

Mark Allen

Annoying lack of interest from TalkTalk

This scam got one of my clients. They phoned up and had so much of his TalkTalk info that he assumed it was legitimate. They then passed him around various departments and managers while scaring him into installing remote control software. They attempted to setup a Western Union money transfer, which didn't work. But they did get his debit card details out of him and drained £400 from his account.

Police are now involved... but don't hold out much hope in plod doing anything.

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Pi(e) Day of the Century is upon us! Time to celebrate 3/14/15 in style, surely?

Mark Allen

Re: 9:26?

You beat me to it. I was about to point out the same thing.

Trouble is, 9:26 doesn't work either due to the zero. 14/03/2015/09:26

And who puts the time after the date? This is pushing vague numeric associations to an extreme.

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UK call centre linked to ‘millions’ of nuisance robo-calls raided by ICO

Mark Allen
Devil

Suitable Punishment

All Owners, Directors, Managers of this company should have their home and mobile phone numbers published so we can phone them at stupid times of the day.

In fact, I think this should be a standard. If you run a call centre, then you should have your personal details made public.

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Vodafone: Can't make calls on our network? Use Wi-Fi

Mark Allen

Re: "EE has had UMA for some time"

Signal Boost and UMA are different things. EE is still running UMA on the network as my Blackberry Bold 9780 uses it. Nothing funnier than being in the basement of a building with a client and my phone rings. My call being routed via the building's WiFi network while the client looks as his fancy Smartphone with zero signal bars.

If it wasn't for UMA I would not have phone coverage in my house, or my neighbour's house. So it is good to see Vodaphone supporting this as I have been a little nervous about what will happen when BT eats EE.

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Ad bidding network caught slinging ransomware

Mark Allen
Flame

Re: Sort your shit out advertisers

At least with fax machines you had the fun of replying with solid black pages to use up all of the advertiser's toner as revenge.

I heard a rumour that it would be possible to get some fax machine's to overheat and catch light if you sent them 50+ pages of solid all black. Not that I ever tried this out with annoying fax spamming spammers... innocent whistle....

Back in 2000 it used to get so bad for our fax machine it could print through half a ream of paper overnight!

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'Hi, I'm from Microsoft and I am GOING TO KILL YOU'

Mark Allen
Trollface

Fun times

I had one yesterday. Initially I just politely said "No thanks, not interested" and put the phone down.

The guy then phoned back and hurled abuse at me. Clearly he had been learning a few choice English swear words. "Excellent", I reply, "The early morning abuse line. This is more like it."

I confused him by being mega polite and laughing a lot. He seemed happy he was wasting my time... until I pointed out he was on speakerphone and I was carrying on with my work.

It did get a little weird as he was asking if I had the mobile phone numbers of any women he could have. I could hear the call centre behind him, he said there was a thousand of them in the room! Sounded like it!

I never did find out what he actually wanted as he seemed to have forgotten about his script. Only thing that disappointed me is he hung up just before I had selected some music for him. I had just found some rather nice abusive extreme punk music to play him, but he hung up.

You have to play with these people. Free entertainment. I see it as doing a service for the community as the longer I talk to him, the less he is scamming someone else.

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Bad movie: Hackers can raid networks with burnt Blu-Rays

Mark Allen

Blu-ray hardware

An how many computers or laptops actually have Blu-Ray players in them? Or is the PowerDVD bug also going to work with DVDs?

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SSL-busting adware: US cyber-plod open fire on Comodo's PrivDog

Mark Allen

Does IBM's Rapport spot this?

With all the UK Banks keen to install IBM's Rapport thing if you do online banking, does that flag up these advert SSL MITM attacks? Does that stop the user from doing online banking if Superfish, PrivDog, etc are installed?

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Google looks to scrape away scumware, as only it can

Mark Allen

Download.com and the rest

So are Google going to block all the "free download" sites? It is getting annoying that even the "legitimate" sites now play this malware game.

Trying to use any of those free download sites is a game of hunt the button. A minefield of scummy adverts distracting the user from the real Download Now button. Press any one of them, and you have scummy software on the machine.

But even when you do navigate to the correct button, there is then the installer package that has been added to the product by the hosting website. So many hidden buttons, triple negatives, and just plain scams added to the installers it makes it a puzzle game to get through even for the most paranoid of techs!

And, of course, many of these are sticking in these dodgy certificates... It is getting nasty out there for the average home user.

Funny little experiment at Happy to Geek where they install the top ten apps from Download.com

http://www.howtogeek.com/198622/heres-what-happens-when-you-install-the-top-10-download.com-apps/

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TV Idol star's keyboard upstart idolizes our gear too much – BlackBerry

Mark Allen

Re: Question is - why is this a patent case?

I would say the main problem is the exact copying of the shape of the keys. Yes there have been many phone keyboards, but this Typo effort is clearly copying the shape of the keys on a BB keyboard. Compared with other phone keyboards, the patented shape of the keys makes a noticeable difference when typing on it.

It is especially a joke when they are show side by side. Almost as if Typo got a bunch of BB keyboards from EBay.

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VirusTotal wants YOU (but not you) to join its epic AV whitelist

Mark Allen

It is just another list to frustrate the average user

This list sounds similar to the ones that Chrome use when you download an installer. A list that is a serious PITA at times. I'll often talk to a client over the phone to get them to install something like TeamViewer - only to have Chrome tell them that the installer can't be trusted.

So if they can't even keep a list up to date for big name companies, I worry for the smaller developers. Those companies who will not be able to afford constantly getting their software on the white lists. We all know there will be a fee for this service... and it will become a massive headache for devs as they find PCs become a closed shop unless you pay the fee for entry.

And what is a legitimate application for the list? How will the handle all these SnakeOil registry cleaners? SpeedUpMyPC applications? "Watch Free Sport" toolbars? These types of programs can be argued to be "legit" but have evil Ts and Cs and take over computers. In many cases they do worse damage than an actual virus, but so many of the BigBrand anti-virus products leave these scumware applications in place.

This just sounds a bonkers system for me which will only benefit those software companies with wedges of cash.

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Now Samsung's spying smart TVs insert ADS in YOUR OWN movies

Mark Allen

Re: Outrageous!

THIS is what I don't get. I paid good money for my TV and I thought I owned the hardware. So why do I have to suffer adverts? NO other device would do that to you. Imagine buying a car and every time you turned on the radio there were adverts from Ford? Or there was a salesman installed in the boot?

The only logical way I could see adverts as making sense on a bit of TV Hardware is if you had a choice. So if you had a choice of saving of a few hundred quid on the TV by seeing adverts, then I'd understand.

WHERE is the benefit to the customer? What is the positive reason for adverts?

I really do feel sorry for the future generations who will not be allowed to have a thought of their own...

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Mark Allen

Re: Tired of Samsung

It is this kind of buggy firmware, combined with this advertising, that clearly shows that no one at Samsung uses a Samsung TV at home.

When a product is created, the people who come up with the ideas should be forced to actually use the device they designed.

I am rather relived to have a 2012 Panasonic TV. No adverts. On the 2011 models they stuck adverts on the EPG. The fact they disappeared in the following year showed that someone was listening to feedback from customers.

Broken features are always annoying. And we all know that firmware updates get abandoned a year after sales as they move to a new model.

Us geeks are lucky - we can swap to software solutions like Kodi/XBMC. The average home user just suffers all this crud.

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ACHTUNG! Scary Linux system backdoor turns boxes into DDoS droids

Mark Allen

Re: This is a very poor article.

Why did El Reg post this? Because all the AV companies create these stories if you watch. An obscure virus will have been found by one of the anti-virus companies and they put out a "Security Warning" which should really just say "Press Release" or "Advert for our product".

Almost every time the "answer" to the panic will be to buy protection from the company producing the advert press release.

This is a classic example as it seems to imply that the hacker needs root access to install his code. Which kind of defeats the point as once you have root you can do what you like, and you certainly would not be copying in the same old code you have used elsewhere. If your hacker can get root, then you can't blame a "virus" for taking down the machine. You blame the sys admin for leaving the door open.

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Keyless vehicle theft suspects cuffed after key Met Police, er, 'lockdown'

Mark Allen

Re: Old-school tech

The point is to make your car too much hassle to nick, so they move to an easier one. This is why I park my grubby Honda, complete with dents and dings, next to the poshest car in the car park.

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Death becomes it: Grim Fandango Remastered

Mark Allen
Devil

Re: There was another game that came out a year earlier...

20MB over a 33.6K modem... those were the days.

Time to get the modem back out as this download is only 3.89GB!! I'll let some other poor soul work out how long that would take to download over your modem.

Nice thing is they are releasing it via bittorrent making downloading a breeze

0
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Adobe and software pals haul Forever 21 to court over piracy allegations

Mark Allen

Re: Happens too often

I assume Corel's company name derives from "corral". They seem to corral so many other products that the didn't create and attempt to profit from them - Wordperfect, Winzip, Paint Shop Pro, WinDVD being a few that spring to mind.

So my money is on Winzip being the "Corel Compression Software".

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Mark Allen
WTF?

Happens too often

I've worked for Software companies who get upset if someone steals the software they produce, but don't think twice about using Pirated copies of Office, Photoshop and Winzip.

What is really annoying about companies like this is they don't even need the stolen software. OpenOffice, Paint.NET and 7Zip will do the same jobs legally for free.

Wouldn't be surprised if they only ever used Photoshop to crop images like many of the people who steal it...

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Dongle bingle makes two MEELLION cars open to exploit

Mark Allen

Can someone explain...

Why on earth is a tool for monitoring how and where you drive allowed to mess with the car's controls? Shouldn't the point of a monitoring tool be to watch only? If this device can also control the car then isn't that a simple get-out in court in case of an accident? Or do the companies supply a separate insurance policy to cover the damage that may be caused by the dongle talking control ROTM style?

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Should spectrum hog TV give up its seat for broadband? You tell us – EU

Mark Allen
Devil

Power Usage?

So in this supposedly "Green" world we live in where we are supposed to be cutting back on our power usage, how much extra power is this going to need to supply all the individual feeds to people instead of one single broadcast? All that new kit needed in the home sending all that old kit to landfill - again.

Ah - of course... missing the obvious. Broadcast TV covers everyone equally with the same service. Whereas a wireless system is going to be more point-to-point therefore allowing a more personalised advert laden experience. Gotta get the adverts in.

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BAN email footers – they WASTE my INK, wails Ctrl+P MP

Mark Allen
Facepalm

Also kill the annoying "Green" messages!

It is not just that pointless paragraph of legal text, it is the far more annoyingly patronising "P Before printing, please think about the environment" line which has been carefully added in GREEN to also use a little bit of your green ink up every time the document is printed!

One of my clients uses a sig with a 350x200pixel company jpg, legal blurb, registered address, facebook, twitter and linked-in buttons, website links, green message, company motto AND the annoying (out of date) award logos (which are also links). That mess takes up about 25% of an A4 page. Obviously he also includes it on all replies too!!

The most bizarre thing is this guy only ever sends single line emails...

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The Wi-Fi Alliance wants to get you off Wi-Fi

Mark Allen

Billboards Talking

This is so the Advertising Billboards can talk back to you like in Minority Report. It says it will be exchanging information about who and where you are... which sounds to me like something for the advertising crowd.

3
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Misfortune Cookie crumbles router security: '12 MILLION+' in hijack risk

Mark Allen

Hopeless list of affected hardware

What is the point of a list of "affected hardware" if they don't include the firmware versions?

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Microsoft fires legal salvo at phone 'tech support' scammers

Mark Allen

Re: From near front line...

@AC with the Retail Shop: One simple trick I have seen to pollute a host file is just leave a hundred empty rows after the standard text. That way when notepad is used to look at the hosts file it looks "fine". How often does one actually check the scroll bar on the right hand side of the screen?

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Mark Allen

Re: But what does the scammers EULA say?

You get down votes for not reading the article. This is a *phone* fraud\scam. They phone you up and tell you your perfectly working computer has a problem and then they talk you through installing remote control software. And yes - this does happen on Apple as well as Microsoft kit.

Most calls start with "we are from Microsoft" but I have also heard of ones from "Symantec" or "VirginMedia" as well as other official sounding names. At least one of my clients with a Mac was walked through a script that would have successfully taken over his Mac. (The only bit of the script the home user needs to follow is the installation of Remote Control tools... which is just as simple on a Mac as a Windows box)

What needs to happen next is Google need to stop promoting these same fake companies. So often I notice the AdWords have been bought up by these same scammers offering to "reset hotmail password" and other common phrases the average dumb home user types in. The phone calls are just the tip of the ice berg.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

Mark Allen
Stop

HUGE headlines but less information

Visiting the site today I noticed that these huge font headlines for the blind now give us a lot less information. At this moment there is a headline of "Real Ale TWATS: In SPAAAACE, no one can churn your cream". In the past there was plenty of warning that this wasn't "news" but one of those "Something for the weekend" posts.

Please put the sections back with the headlines in some way. (And not just the tooltip)

Sub-headlines still have the section. So do the main news stories. It is just the selected GIGANTA-FONTED-HUGE-IMAGE-SEE-IT-FROM-SPACE headline item that is missing this handy information.

Personally I always avoid BONG\SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND as these are the wrong humour for me. Would be nice to be able to keep doing so.

5
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Mark Allen

Flashy Menu

Glad to see the pop-down menu has calmed down today. It is currently running at a much better reaction speed as now I can move my mouse over it without the manic strobes of yesterday.

IMHO I still think the images at the top of the pages are too big. We don't all have 4K monitors yet as I am still on a lowly 1920x1200. I assume the page designed had a big whizzy monitor and doesn't realise how much extra scrolling he now has us all doing.

Re: the all white glare. Any chance of having off white \ cream edges a bit like you see over on the BBC Sport pages? I end up having to zoom in to the El'Reg pages to try and get rid of the empty glaring border.

This one is only me... I realise this... but I often look at the site through an old Opera web browser and you seem to have killed the ZOOM option on the page. + on the keypad or the zoom option on my Logitech mouse is borked on this site now. (Yeah yeah, I know, stop using out of date Browsers...)

2
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Mark Allen
Thumb Down

Re: Hard on the eyes

Agree with the harshness of the white - far too bright. The old site was heavy on the all white everywhere.... this is getting worse. The huge areas of white are actually leading to headaches for me. I often find if I am trying to read El-Reg at the end of the day, the brightness of the screen eventually means I have to leave the computer.

Too many sites have been doing this lately. Going brighter with the white and shrinking the text. I'm going to have to learn some custom CSS I guess to try and tone down the glare.

(Ouch - I am already having problems on this page... I'm not actually going to be able to manage my end of day read...)

Also not a fan of the pop-down menus. They are a bit too fast as I keep having to move my mouse away from the menu bar as I accidentally sweep past it.

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BT Infinity ‘working to fix problem’ after three days of outages

Mark Allen

Re: Change DNS

@Billa Bong: That Parental Filter can be turned off in the router settings. Either per machine or in its entirety. Not as if it will stop the average teenager anyway - they just learn about Proxies and TOR to get round it. Joke is, in the average house, it is only the kids who understand how the filters work anyway.

2
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Mark Allen
WTF?

So what's up with all the DNS outages?

We had VirginMedia having DNS problems only a short time ago as well. Add in 1&1 and this current BT issue. No doubt there are others not as loudly reported. So what has suddenly happened that all these big ISPs are having coincidental DNS problems. Is there some new security protocol being implemented that means more complexity for the support guys? Or is this just plain cock-ups all round?

Personally I use OpenDNS (208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.200) which, like the 8.8.8.8 Google servers can either be put into the router settings for handing out via DHCP or into each desktop client by hand. (This also helps if your cheapo router gets hacked and the DNS settings compromised like so many of the cheapo routers at the moment... see old El'Reg articles)

1
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Home Wi-Fi security's just as good as '90s PC security! Wait, what?

Mark Allen

The default IP Addresses just as bad

Most routers sit on 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 by default. A small number are on 192.168.1.254. And Belkins are (used to be) on 192.168.2.1

This makes it trivial to send commands to the routers from a web page from the User's own PC from within the LAN. Visit a website, and it could well be issuing a command to your router using plain old HTML.

0
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Plusnet customers SWAMPED by spam but BT-owned ISP dismisses data breach claims

Mark Allen

Makes phishing emails easy to spot

This can also be done with email aliases. Which is how I do it. It makes it easy to spot phishing emails as an email from my "bank" which has been sent to my ebay email address is clearly bogus. It also keep my personal mailbox a lot clearer meaning less junk on my phone.

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