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* Posts by Lee Dowling

1188 posts • joined 28 Mar 2007

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Lee Dowling
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I have to say, as a 1.6 user who couldn't get used to CS:S, CS:GO is a significantly well-executed modernisation. I have over 100 hours on it now, having been in the Beta. There's game modes in there that seem whimsical but are perfect for practice and warm-up (and were existing in mods for even 1.6), and to bring in a generation brought up on console games (but still not modes you can win by just running and spraying).

And the competitive mode (i.e. the "traditional" CS gameplay) is just as good, but prettier.

There are a few niggles and there are things that people won't like (hell, I still keep pressing the wrong radio messages because they removed "Storm The Front!") but as an iteration it's a very good update. Made by Hidden Path, who also made Defense Grid, so kudos to them.

But then, I actually enjoyed CS:CZ for adding flavour to 1.6-like gameplay (and, yes, some things were mistakes in that but it extended the life and enjoyment for me by quite a margin).

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BT wins ad watchdog ruling against BSkyB's 'instant movie' claim

Lee Dowling
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Re: Instant

Sorry, but the definition of instant depends on what you're doing.

"Instant" coffee - a damn sight quicker than normal coffee but you still have to heat the water, etc. so 1-2 minutes is fine so long as the "instant " bit (i.e. turning water into coffee) is quick. And it is.

"Instant" finance - I would assume that it would take at least some financial checks, some form-filling, some credit histories, some mandatory period, some bank transfer time etc. The "instant" bit is that once they've said yes, the money goes in as quick as they possibly can.

"Instant" streaming - I would assume was instantaneous - i.e. the second I clicked it, it would start trying to play and be playing within a few seconds (ala iPlayer). Saying the "instant" stream may take up to a minute to start isn't really playing fair (people with duff computers where iPlayer takes a minute to start aside)

With computers, "instant" is a very, very powerful word because it is actually achievable and even the average householder sees "instant" streams (i.e. click on a YouTube link and within fractions of seconds, it's playing).

So the ASA are quite right here. But yes, I doubt any consumer complained and it doesn't really matter now if the ad has finished its run. The ASA are the hindsight-watchdogs - powerless and ineffective and if you ask them to validate an ad BEFORE you run it, they refuse (i.e. we don't want the responsibility of approving something when we can just do nothing and wait for people to complain and then jump on the back of their complaints alone and "punish" companies in the most pathetic ways possible). It would be perfectly possible to run a series of ads, all of which were completely misleading, each of which was different, modify them to comply with recent ASA rulings on your other ads and NEVER have a customer get what they were advertised, and get only a token slap on the wrist from the ASA for doing so.

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UK ISPs crippled by undersea cable snap

Lee Dowling
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Okay, tell me that it's not just me.

The point of running huge data centres with failover hardware, and the point of IP routing is basically so that, should something happen, the dead bits die and everyone is automatically shifted onto the non-dead bits.

Assuming that the capacity of your average ISP isn't being constantly tested 24/7 on all of its lines (which kinda makes the word "redundancy" not applicable), why should any ISP have to take any physical action for this kind of thing to be noticed, monitored, and then failed-over to other routes? I can understand warnings, and notifications, of it happening but why does it require manual intervention? Why are there half-a-dozen routing protocols professing automatic best-route selection if nobody uses them? Why can I set up a simple fail-over over several routes in about two lines of "ip" commands and yet big ISP's, datacenters and network providers can't do the equivalent on their expensive Cisco equipment?

I completely understand "capacity problems because we're running on one-line-less than normal" but "takes 30 hours for someone to work out what to do and find another hole to plug the cable into?".

Do we really have an Internet where manual intervention is required to provide the routing that's required when something fails?

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REVEALED: Everything Everywhere new 4G logo ... a SNAIL?

Lee Dowling
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- Date the company by putting a technology name in its name (Because "Windows 2000" sounds really modern, as would "56K Modem Solutions Ltd." nowadays).

- Provide it with a symbol linked to slowness when you're trying to sell speed.

- Confuse everyone by consistently running three separate company names (What's wrong with Orange & T-Mobile Group?) and then further by saying you'll rename again.

Yep. Seems they ticked the boxes on the sheets of any major logo / slogan designer I've heard of in the last 20 years.

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Everything Everywhere to be Nothing Nowhere in rebrand

Lee Dowling
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Three company names for what is basically one company, all of which operate in the same industry, all of which sell the same products, all of which appear in press releases as a conjoined entity, one of which you cannot buy a "product" from, and now we're changing them again.

And *WE'RE* the ones who are confused?

It's pointless, stupid, costly and insane. At least call yourself "T-Mobile / Orange Group" so that people know who you are. But that's the real reason for it's existence. If you change your name often enough, people end up using you again where they'd previously sworn off you for life.

This is really no different to the Consignia / Royal Mail example. You've spent lots of money on corporate branding to make us think you're someone other than the Royal Mail, when you could have just carried on using the name. You've split what was one entity into two (and EE split 2 companies into 3!) in the hopes that something magical about the name will recoup you the money it costs to have rebranded in the first place.

Or you could have just called yourself ANYTHING and NEVER used that name except on legal documents. E.g. Nobody knows who the hell Hutchinson are. But I bet they've heard of Three. See how easy that was? Proctor & Gamble have a million brands under the same name. But you only really see the P&G mark on some of them, and only in the smallest way possible because they want the BRAND to be important, not the company name.

And notice how ALL the BT companies contain the word - BT! So you at least carry your reputation forward and have an idea of who their parent company is, and can avoid as necessary (not so for "PlusNet", but that's another issue entirely).

For years, I used a domain name registrar until I realised that the actual company name was Parbin Ltd. There never used it except on official documents.

So you have two, huge, well-known brands, both of whom are doing well, both of whom people already own products from, both of whom own shops, both of whom serve the same industry. And what you do is create a 3rd name that nobody's ever heard of, put that into press releases (and even in the adverts they ran about the name change / network merger), change it after a year, and at no point truly "merge" the two well-known brands so lots of people still think they're the same company.

Yeah, that's obviously *ME* being confused, that is.

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Lee Dowling
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No. Please. Don't.

O <sub>2</sub> is bad enough, without people trying to subvert numerical powers to make their brand sound cool.

If that was the case, I think we should vote:

e-Mobilitative Inter-Facilities Solutions mc^2 Inc. Ltd. PLC. GmbH.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love IPv6

Lee Dowling
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Re: @Lee: close but not quite

I agree with you, to a point. NAT functionality basically demands some packet-state-inspection, which provides the "security" but I wouldn't rely on it alone.

But NAT breaks only broken protocols. FTP DATA, some other historic ones, almost everything else has hole-punching of some kind nowadays. If you embed IP information into data packets you break not only NAT but IPv6, too. FTP over IPv6 isn't going to work unless you use yet-another-bodge, for example. So the protocol breakage isn't really that much a problem and is the result of people not understanding what data should be in the payload and what data should be in the header. Seriously, can you imagine if we had to have "HTTPv6" that only works on IPv6 rather than just talking standard HTTP over whatever-we-like? That's how stupid NAT-broken protocols are.

The problem is that NAT has a history of deployment. IPv6 - well, doesn't. So faced with a paid-by-the-hour IT guy, the majority of people who are forced to move to IPv6 will keep some level of NAT - for whatever reason. You only had one IP address before, you allocate out internal addresses, you have to migrate the bare essentials as quickly as possible, so what you do is change the external address for ONE of the internals (your NAT-router) to IPv6 and let everything else sort itself out with ZERO changes. It's not the recommended way, or the best way, or the most sensible way, but it's the cheapest way, the lowest-impact way and the way that companies WILL migrate for the most part. Deploying whole new firewall rules for every possible tweak you've done to them for a few hundred computers, modifying your DHCP setup to issue IPv6 addresses to internal clients, etc. it plays with EVERYTHING you touch (and everything better be as IPv6 ready as everything else).

Or you could just set up a 6-4 tunnel, or just assign an IPv6 address to your external interface and you're done. I wouldn't do it personally, but it's what will happen when ISP's stop handing out IPv4 addresses (and, let's face it, the "convenience" of NAT is what's keeping them running at the moment despite there being no more IPv4 IP's left to allocate for a lot of numbering organisiations - a lot of cheap ISP's just use NAT and will never see a "shortage" of IP's).

It's not a question of design, or intention, or best practices. Anyone who follows those is already set up and not worrying. It's a question of convenience and cost. And that means that most people who are "forced" onto IPv6 on a tight budget (read: almost every company that doesn't make millions) will do what's cheapest and what makes best use of their existing investment in their configuration.

And, even then, if you somehow imagine that the decree will go out to purge all IPv4 addresses from even internal networks, that won't happen until the very last possible second and until then they'll still to IPv4 internally.

IPv6 is a great idea, hindered by the fact that the people who preach about it have no concept of what will happen to those users on the periphery of IPv6 connectivity and how they WILL go about doing things quickly and cheaply. Stop focusing on NAT-problems that will never affect anyone who doesn't deploy a NAT themselves (so why should you care unless you're dealing in broken protocols?), and focus on getting websites and services to provide service over IPv6 in the first place. When they have both types of address and routing, then you can argue about their internal setup.

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Lee Dowling
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NAT wasn't invented for security, but for convenience. It provides a little of both (in that you *cannot* directly talk to my IP from the Internet even if I don't configure a firewall specifically prohibiting that, because you aren't party to any connection established from INSIDE the NAT, which means you have no idea of - and no way to contact - internal IP addresses, and anything you try to fake will be rejected).

NAT will still exist on IPv6. I guarantee you. If you're a company it's just too easy to migrate all your IPv4 external addresses to IPv6 addresses and keep the same configuration.

Which brings me to the point I bring up everywhere someone publishes an article about how great IPv6 is:

# dig AAAA theregister.co.uk

returns nothing.

It's so good, we can't even be bothered to use it!

And, yes, I have an IPv6 accessible website, with IPv6-accesible tunnelling, email, SSH, and even public NTP services. Guess what? Apart from remote upstream NTP servers that I selected BECAUSE they were IPv6 compatible, I see zero IPv6 traffic.

IPv6 is a fabulous idea. How about using it WHERE you promote it? I have the same problem with Slashdot, too. They always whine on about IPv6 and don't even TRY the simplest of IPv6 deployments on their production site. If the Registers and Slashdots of the world can't be bothered to do it (or can't manage it) where does that leave the idea that "everyone" should move over?

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Networking industry to collaborate on TERABIT Ethernet

Lee Dowling
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Re: downloading

Then you're not their target.

Their target is datacentres, large networks etc. where a single Gigabit connection is no longer sufficient and 10G isn't going to last long once it gets to sensible prices.

Hell, a lot of people have Gigabit connections at home now, via things like 802.11n wireless routers that need more than 100mbps to make best use of them. And even home users have to copy stuff across the local network that takes time.

But this is really aimed at servers in hosting environments, where 100Mb has been a standard for so long it's laughable when you consider ADSL speeds. Even the cheapest VPS will end up on an 100Mb connection nowadays.

And when you run a network of any size, your switches will start off at the most basic with 10/100 ports (now almost exclusively running at 100Mbps) and Gigabit interconnects (whether copper or fibre). This is the sort of £100 off-the-shelf model that goes into every from a small dentist surgery up. When you outgrow that (which is easy to do if you have even a handful of users, and bog-standard servers now come with dual-redundant Gigabit ports that can usually be reconfigured to load-balance so you can have "2 Gigabit" to the local network) you can multiply that up - 10G is really too expensive and 1G is insufficient for such places at the moment but that's likely to change. Even your average school will have a Gigabit backbone with the servers on it and will run multiple servers, so before you even start you've hit the theoretical capacity of the backbone and would really use 10G if you were doing heavy file-moving or things like, gosh, video editing which is part of the standard curriculum for some subjects.

So 10G, when it comes to sensible prices, will slowly come in (it is already - hell, I could buy it today, it's just a little pricey for what it is) and guess what that does? That makes 100G necessary. The 40/400 G ones are really just temporary measures because of the technology at the time. I imagine only the top-end of users ever touch them and only because there's nothing else standardised. By the time it comes down to the "small LAN" level requiring that sort of speed, they'll skip the 4-whatever speeds and go straight to the next power-of-ten.

So, it's quite sensible to suggest looking into getting things standardised ready for that. Hell, what speeds do you think your local cabinet / exchange talk at? Chances are your data spends most of its transit on a gigabit-capable network at the very least. Just because UK telecoms have yet to catch up doesn't affect what those ISP's are using, what even small businesses are using, what datacentres are providing by default, or what your local network runs at. Hell, my local network was running at 100Mbps back in the days of 56K modems. Your Internet connection speed is only one item out of many uses of your computer (and is an entirely different matter - nobody puts Ethernet to the home yet).

But even there - by the end of the year, lots of people will be able to get 120Mbps home broadband on fibre with Virgin, for instance. Not to mention other fibre providers. And as soon as you do that, that old 100Mbps networking kit starts to look tired and becomes a bottleneck (i.e. your sister copying large files to her laptop over Ethernet will knock down your Internet speed because there isn't enough "spare" on the local network).

Routers for fibre products already come with Gigabit ports by default. Give it another five-ten years and that might be Gigabit. And ten you have to think about what happens to all those companies who have Gigabit coming out of their routers, shared by dozens or hundreds of users who are all using the local network heavily. And that means 10G is only a stopgap until these standards are approved.

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PLT chair: UK Radio Society is 'living in a dream world'

Lee Dowling
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Re: "i bet most house wiring is inspected ressonably regularly"

I had to explain to my Italian girlfriend that we aren't required to have annual gas safety checks now that we own a house instead of rent. It seemed a little daft, that one, to explain that apparently owning a house makes you somehow more resistant to a gas pipe moving, rupturing or just plain blowing up. I suppose it's pseudo-related to being illegal to adjust the piping in any way without a Corgi certificate to their name (and then I had to explain that most people know what Corgi is, and Gas-Safe is just "the new name for Corgi").

But with electricity? Hell, you don't even need to fit it professionally. The standard is "competency", which is open to interpretation and could cover some guy going to an evening course once. The fire risk is significantly less (though the risk of electric shock is always present, that's more likely to hurt the person tampering than some random joe plugging something with its own fuse in).

The wiring in the house we live in now seems quite recent. There's a proper switch-box and most runs look like new cable and seem to fit new colourings. The only reason for that, though, is that we bought it empty and the previous owner was nothing but a renovator. Looks like they ripped out all the water piping and central heating too and just replaced it with something simpler and from this era. Chances are they will be the same cables in 10 or 15 years time, though, except for stuff that gets extended. Hell, my dad's house has wiring that he installed there himself when he was about 19. The only time you see it is if you pull up a floorboard, and then changing it because it's not using the correct colour code is likely a job that NOBODY would bother to do, or even pay someone to do. And, yes, he has a RCD fusebox now but it was him that wired it in to replace the old wire-fuses! They call them "consumer units" for a reason, you know.

Electrical stuff tends to stay for years on the same cables and connectors. So long as the light switches on when you press the switch, nobody is going to go pulling up floorboards to check it. The only time cable gets *replaced* (rather than extended) is when there's an obvious problem with it, or you have an absolutely empty house that you're either trying to sell or just bought yourself. And that's about the only convenient time to actually do any major electrical work at all.

Hands up how many people here think they know, or have a plan, of where every electrical cable in their house goes, and where old redundant cables lay, and how old those cables are? I'm guessing nowhere near everyone. Now how many have had the cable that brings electricity into the meter shielded or moved by the electricity company since the house was first wired?

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Lee Dowling
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Re: 'Worrying the spooks'

Almost all powerline kit nowadays encrypts traffic with AES or equivalent.

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IEEE admits its MS-DOS history revisionist is in Microsoft's pay

Lee Dowling
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Re: err

But neither is it the same as "independent, impartial observer"

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Scientists find safer way to store hydrogen

Lee Dowling
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Yet-another technology that will save us.

Call me back when I can a) buy a car with it, b) that car doesn't cost more than a conventional car (including long-term maintenance and, say, 10 years replacements of COMPULSORY items - e.g. batteries, fuel cells, etc.), c) that car gets me approximately the same MPG as currently, or better, d) that car has a range that means I can hit Scotland on one tank like my current 15-year-old car, and d) I can actually buy the damn fuel for it in the majority of petrol stations.

Because I've heard a story like this every month for the last 20 years and still haven't seen a car that can do that (or even come close) without using petrol. Hell, the *only* electricity supply point I've seen in my town for electric cars is actually in a council car park to fuel their little run-around cars (so it's not for public use). It's barely used (I assume they have a depot somewhere and that one's "just for show") and when it is, the little van is basically parked there overnight in order to charge.

I don't even need it to be a huge car, a little Smart-like thing would do. Hell, if it was single-person it would still work for commuting. But the practical problems of getting the car in the first place, and then driving it around in any reasonable amount or any reasonable distance mean that all the fancy new-age cars in the world can't cope with the average commute (who cares about replacing some old granny's car with an energy-efficient one if she tops up £10 in fuel once a month? She will NEVER make the cost of the vehicle and that vehicle's environmental impact back in her new car. The people you need to move over are the £400/month crowd and the commercial users).

1) Car cost (for fuel components and engine for that fuel, because the rest is pretty standardised)

2) Fuel cost

3) Fuel capacity

4) Fuel longevity

5) Fuel availability

6) Fuelling time

Spot the problem? Yes, it's the fuel. Nothing else, just the fuel you're using. You can run a can on whisky if you want, for proof of concept, but the fact of the matter is that it will mess your car up and/or not compete with petroleum-based fuels. Until it does (or the petrol runs out), you don't really have much of a product.

You know who've been seeing the most success in energy efficiency taken over the decades? Dairies with their milk floats. Hell, when I was a nipper, they were all-electric and it's a small step from them to make that electricity come from a renewable or cost-efficient source if you really want it to.

Sure, I've seen a lot of "hybrid" cars around. I've also seen their repair price tags but one thing I haven't seen is their second-hand value (which I'm assuming to be almost non-existent), which is where a lot of cars end up. Not many people own, or have ever owned, a vehicle from new. Not many people will pay for a "new" car that basically needs the value of the car paid again for replacement parts and zero secondhand value.

But an LPG conversion for my 15-year-old car costs £800 and will only take up my spare-wheel space. It might damage my valves over time but, come on, it's a 15-year-old car already so new "more resistant" valves are included in the conversion price and will probably last longer than the car anyway. And I can "save" the cost of the installation within a year of driving. That's what you're competing with, not top-end brand-new vehicles.

By comparison, even the cheapest all-electric car, fuel-cell car or any other alternative vehicle costs more than I've ever paid for every car I've owned, every repair I've ever had + several year's-worth of fuel before I can even get it moving.

It's all pipe-dream and fantasy until you make a viable vehicle that can do all that, and I can stroll into any petrol station and find a pump for it. Hell, I found a 4-star pump the other day so technically I've seen as many of those lately as I have electric filling points (and I've seen zero hydrogen points whatsoever).

Progress is good, but this is like telling me that in fifty years time we'll be eating pills and flying our own cars around. It's a great fantasy, and makes a good science project, but until it's viable the petrol is going to be favoured. You need to make it viable before we are priced out of petrol, too, because if the only alternative is expensive petrol, most large fuel users will HAVE to still use the petrol anyway.

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What to do with 110,000 Magstar tapes and 11PB of data

Lee Dowling
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Surely, if you have 11Pb datasets spread over 110,000 tapes, wouldn't you - at some point - have started thinking about what to do when the drives die?

And wouldn't you have the "new" tape format phased in as part of that migration (hell, you had to buy it anyway, if you wanted to read those new "converted" tapes)? And as part of that migration, wouldn't you slowly shift over all your old tapes onto the newer ones piecemeal with every backup you do?

I don't see that the company did anything fabulous there - they just did what the original datasets should have been doing all along. It's not like they were reconstructing the tapes from the bit level because of damage (and even if they did - why weren't you having multiple backups and moving them onto newer media all the time to prevent that?)

When you have to hand over that amount of data to a third party for "conversion", it just smacks to me of inadequate backup procedures in the first place. And I guarantee that they weren't cheaper to hire than it would have been to just have a slow in-house migration anyway.

Seriously. 110,000 tapes. That's a stupidly huge amount of effort that you should have been migrating all along if you knew you were going to keep it.

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Assange's fate to be revealed at high noon

Lee Dowling
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Re: Ecuador should...

Please cite said "threat" to do anything other than comply with UK law, worded quite politely if sternly?

Ecuador should have just washed their hands of the situation. It has no meaning or positive result for them even in their wildest fantasies. They're not about to swap him for a few billion in exports, for instance. But what they might end up doing is losing any UK trade. That's not a big deal for them, given their size, but it might be if the US puts its oar in (as Assange fantasises) - 25% of their import/export is with the US, the largest of any country. They might think they can hold the US to ransom for him, but it's unlikely, and will likely come at a bigger costs than benefit.

Ecuador should really stop harbouring criminals. Assange is one for breaching his bail conditions even if EVERYTHING else against him is false, and he had more than enough time for a fair hearing on his bail and extradition.

It's likely to be resolved by just walking in and grabbing him, to be honest. There's little Ecuador can really do to stop it. But placing yourself in the middle of an international incident that has *nothing* to do with you, for no benefit, is really quite a stupid thing to do in terms of trade.

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Lee Dowling
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Happy

Re: Getting him out

Someone watches QI. :-)

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Lee Dowling
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Re: the Quito diplomatic letter

Nice catch.

But I don't see a "threat of attack":

'The letter said: "You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy."

It added: "We need to reiterate that we consider the continued use of the diplomatic premises in this way incompatible with the Vienna convention and unsustainable and we have made clear the serious implications that this has for our diplomatic relations."'

Sounds like quite a diplomatic letter to me. Hell, I've received worse from phone companies with whom I had no phone.

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New MPEG format paves the way for UHDTV

Lee Dowling
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Re: HDTV at 8k! Just wow!

My last TV was pulled out of a skip, worked for 5 years after (until I dropped it) and had been in a school since at least the 90's before that.

For the HDTV replacement I bought, I would like (but don't really expect) the same sort of lifetime. Hell, I only bought HDTV because I *had* to as there was nothing else (I've been using "HD" monitor resolutions since Windows 3.1, but I don't need them unless I'm six-inches away from the screen, and I tend to stick the TV on the other side of the room).

I can't "see" HDTV at those distances (whether you can or not, that's a matter for the person in question - I *can't*). I sure as hell won't see 4k or 8k unless I knock down a wall to make a personal cinema (which isn't likely to happen given how little TV I actually watch, and how 0% of it would benefit from 4k/8k resolution).

As far as I can tell, the only people who'll use this are cinemas and movie studios. And I don't really care what they use to project the image, and I'm unlikely to notice if they had 32k, let alone 4k resolution, from the distance you watch a cinema screen from. Hell, I'd go back to old slightly-blurry film projectors if they offered a discounted ticket price for doing so.

Looks like one of those technologies that will linger in the professional market anyway while everyone else just tweaks their H264 or whatever settings.

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$1bn for Instagram? Knock yourself out, Facebook - UK watchdog

Lee Dowling
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Because of all that money we give Facebook. I mean, I must have spent a fortun... actually. No. I haven't. And I have ad-blockers. And I don't click ads. And I upload a ton of crap onto there for family to see, including hefty-sized videos of my kid walking in circles. And I played a game or two until they started asking for "points" or money.

And... hell, I don't know why. Apparently because "someone said so". Let's see how this pans out. At one point FriendsReunited was "worth" hundreds of millions of pounds. Be good to know where all that came from because it depreciated like mad once Facebook took off and never seemed to do anything to make its money back for anyone.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Confused

Given that there are a handful of Facebook Ltd's in Companies House and one of them is registered to a HUGE accountants in Egham, who seem to serve all sorts of international clients tax needs, I'd guess that the UK has not only jurisdiction but the ability to - for example - stop all UK advertising payments getting to the company. Probably even EU, depending on where their other offices are and how far it goes up the legal chain.

And outside of that, it would still be of interest to the EU (of which the UK is a member) for a huge corporation doing business in Europe with their own money-handling facilities (you can now "buy" things on Facebook, don't forget) whether they are on-shore or not - especially when it comes to potentially anti-competitive actions that would impact on UK/EU competitors.

It's like saying "What right does the EU have to fine Microsoft and order it to do things?" As it turns out, all the right in the world (or at least the EU).

They trade here. They accept money from here. They provide service to here. They advertise here. They pay tax here. They affect competition here. That's what jurisdiction they have.

Having all your EU income suspended, your finances audited, your tax affairs inspected, your company fined or suspended, banking outfits forced to freeze your accounts or stop processing your transactions etc. because you failed to properly consult on an anti-competitive takeover would actually hurt quite a bit. Probably more than the equivalent in the US because some people forget we actually do a lot more business collectively as the EU than the US alone does.

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Nokia CEO: No shift from Windows Phone

Lee Dowling
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Does it matter? Are you saying that it's not allowed for someone to boycott a product range from a company they dislike? It's like suggesting that a SCO Phone should be hunky-dory even though it's from a company that has performed some morally repugnant actions in other industries related to computing.

MS should learn that their reputation in some areas will follow them into others. Do you not notice how horrified some people are that their *car* might run Windows? Or that Windows might come onto their phones? Eek.

And are we supposed to discount all history from, say, Windows CE too? Every product release is a whole new ball game and we have to wipe the slate clean? Sorry, it doesn't work that way even if MS want it to. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Or maybe the guy just evaluated the currently available products and found Windows inferior. It doesn't have to be a conspiracy against MS, and even if it is (I tell you now, that I wouldn't buy a phone with MS's name on it) then there's nothing wrong with that.

If MS want to avoid this, they need to clean up their reputation across the board, not pretend that their secondary businesses are somehow running under some improved management that makes them not subject to the mistakes and business decisions they already use in other subsidiaries.

On the other hand, it also works the same way - if you have a good reputation, I *will* try a product on the basis of that reputation. But what you seem to be saying is that's it not okay for someone to boycott a company that has (with them) a bad reputation? How ridiculous.

How about we judge everything on its merits, including previous history of that corporation. Yes, it might have been a Sony subsidiary that enforced a rootkit DRM on its users, but that should equally tar all other Sony products too. Especially if, as history shows, they go on to make more mistakes and more problems under that brand.

Personally, you couldn't get me to touch a Windows phone with rubber gloves and a face mask. Hell, I'd rather try making my own first. Unreasonable? Only if you've never tried any Windows product at all and/or you've never heard bad things about Windows products from others. Otherwise, you're an idiot to think that their reputation shouldn't carry over to new industries and products.

And, besides all that, Windows Phone is inferior if everything I expect from a product on my Phone. And has a certain price tag associated with it. But even if it wasn't, it doesn't mean I *MUST* use it. A philosophy that saved me from Vista, ME, and all manner of other horrors, despite the fact that my desktop OS *is* a Microsoft one.

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Toshiba pulls out of Windows RT tablet push

Lee Dowling
Bronze badge

Well, I can't think what the other parts would be.

ARM Processors? Licensed out to dozens of manufacturers and all pretty compatible.

Tablet-specific parts (screens, touchscreens, accelerometers, whatever)? People are going mad for tablets at the moment, and any shortage wouldn't hit "just" Toshiba.

Batteries? Same.

Memory / storage? Same.

Does Windows RT need some sort of specialised "RT-only" chip? Like a TPM or similar? Maybe that's it.

Or maybe it was just a case of "it's not taking off like we thought it might, let's find an excuse to bug out and concentrate efforts elsewhere".

It's either the OS, or a complete backing out of the project for other reasons than that stated. Can't say I would blame them either way, to be honest. Dead-horse floggers tend not to survive very long in business.

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Windows 8: Download it, then speak YOUR brains

Lee Dowling
Bronze badge

Re: 2 camps

My productivity dropped when I tried to do my normal work on it. What more do I need? Fancy anecdotes? Factual benchmarks? Finding some reason for it? No. It dropped, and I couldn't get it back to XP-levels even with a hell of a lot of messing about.

Hell, compared to a properly organised XP "classic" menu, it takes me twice as long to find a program using the silly narrow-down search when I have hardly any programs installed at all. I need to get to dialogs inside control panel and other weird places and get there a lot on a lot of machines that may be configured differently and get there every time, consistently. I can't. Same reasons I rejected "Unity" or whatever it's called on Ubuntu. That, similarly, saw a single test and then went into the bin. Ironically, I now use Ubuntu LTS for server text-mode-only installs and Slackware for desktop installs.

I don't use the Metro interface. At all. I spent more time trying to get rid of it than I did using it (and you can't get rid of it permanently, which is literally a one-line code enforcement at MS for no sensible reason). Just because others might find it useful, I just find it getting in my way and making even more things take even more clicks to do than before (and I even tried it on a touchscreen!). Guess what? People work differently. You might love Metro, to me it's an extension of everything I hate about modern "desktops". I'd rather have an ugly, blocky, square, bland interface than all that junk. Hence why people call it "Fisher Price", etc. Yeah, looks really pretty. But I can't get used to using it and never have since XP.

Windows 8 boots fast and shuts down fast, that's about it. Everything else is just natural evolution (e.g. driver support built-in for more things, new types of technology support, etc.) and is pretty much Windows 7. The number of boots/shutdowns I do is absolutely minimal since standby became a stable solution in XP, so even the boot times mean NOTHING any more (and if I was that worried, I'd use an SSD).

Productivity costs. I don't *want* to train on an interface. I want it to work. When I do train on an interface, I expect to see the gains in productivity. I haven't, since XP. In fact, since then every Office and Windows has made me less productive. Ribbon toolbar and contextual junk is NOT FOR ME. I can't stand it. I want to turn it off. I hate suggestions that LibreOffice might try to go that way in the future. It's stupid and ridiculous and kills my productivity with unpredictability. But MS can't be bothered to give me an option and tell me I "must" do it this way.

These interfaces GET IN MY WAY. They STOP ME INTERFACING in certain ways. They MAKE INTERFACING DIFFICULT. No amount of training provides consistency in some parts of the interface (i.e. the narrow-down search changes depending on what you have installed!). Dialogs that I've been able to get to in two-three clicks for years (and not got in anyone's else's way) I now have to know magic incantations for, or go around the houses in non-obvious ways to get to the same point.

I can't remember what I was doing but it was something quite trivial like checking an IP address, finding a MAC address and then changing it to a static IP to do something. It took me longer to figure out than imaging the machine had. And it was such a convoluted way around because MS just wanted to hide that information and options from the administrator user. Hell, I know you don't tinker with that every day, but when you do it's nice to be able to find it.

Technically, Windows XP through to 8 have been good. They run pretty much the same programs, work on lots of hardware, each has their niggles but they get the job done technically. Usability-wise, they get worse and worse (and now Ubuntu is following suit). If you cater to the dumb user, you'll only get dumb users. Dumb users rarely make the call on what gets installed across sites or in companies of hundreds of employees, because they DON'T have to manage the machines and do the things that technical people do.

Honestly, from a personal perspective, I still use XP for purely usability reasons. If I'm "forced" onto other OS in the future, I'll just go Linux, because I *can* configure it how I like, use what start menu I like, use what desktop environment I like, and use an Office suite that doesn't force me to use ribbons and other rubbish (even if I have to stick with an old version of it). It's literally that important that I be able to get to options, right-click menus (which seem to have disappeared in Ubuntu's new interface, for example), technical details, etc. that I will sacrifice Windows compatibility for it. Work is a different matter but the same things will affect the same decisions.

Now, I work in schools, so also a problem is "small children". Get your child to run a program that's not on the desktop. Hope they can read and type the full, correct spelling of the program because otherwise you'll have to clutter their desktop with EVERYTHING they want to use! Get them to all write a letter as a group. They will ALL end up with different menu options in Office depending what stage they get to. It's not ideal.

Seriously - turn off the "#ifdef METRO, splat_metro_screen_over_desktop", re-enable the old Start Menu for those who want it, and get rid of any transparency, side-bar (god, that's annoying, especially when you hover near the right on a touchscreen), and all the other crap.

My desktop and start menu are my program launch interface. This destroys them. The other junk just pops things up unnecessarily all the time and gets in my way (hell, I had to answer a question about which browser I want to use on first logon now, as if it wasn't obnoxious enough when they pushed that through Windows Update). Gimme a desktop that's "dumb" and inactive. It shows me program icons, runs those programs when I click them and gets the HELL OUT OF MY WAY so I can use what I bought the machines for - running programs. Every time you hide something away, you are getting in my way. Every time you don't show full options, you are getting in my way. Every time there's ANOTHER step in the way I do things, you are getting in my way.

Seriously, the first person to bring up a minimalist interface on something that can run Windows apps will be a billionaire. I want to choose what happens on my own desktop (i.e. NOTHING should pop up and steal keyboard focus EVER). Apparently, that's not allowed. And, until it is, I won't be using it.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: STOP SAYING METRO!!!!!!!!

Metro.

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Lee Dowling
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We trialled the previews with a view to using them in the school I work in. We had Windows 7-compatible, brand-new touchscreen PC's.

We disabled touch (kiddie security issues with being able to use shortcuts to do things they shouldn't). We need a way to disable Metro. That was about our only thought above and beyond what we thought of Windows 7. The closest we got was to make the Metro screen have only one icon, desktop, which took you to the desktop. If we bought 8 (we've already skipped Vista and 7, but we feel it's now either 7 or 8 or nothing for another three years), we'd need to buy that utility that puts the Start Menu back to how it should be.

Really can't work out why MS can't give the customer what they want, when it ties them more into the MS way of doing things, they scream out for it, and it costs nothing to implement. Obviously, they just don't want our business, so we already try our hardest to avoid giving them money as much as possible.

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Boffins create 100,000 DPI image

Lee Dowling
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Re: Very clever, but

The problem is there's not a lot of point, apart from wanting to be a spy and hide something in very vulnerable microdots (one tiny smudge = no info), or wanting to make a counterfeit-proof money (we've all seen how that's worked out in the past).

Anything past a few 100 dpi and you will strain to see individual elements. Hell, most huge posters are printed at stupidly low resolutions and look atrocious close up and even magazine-print, you can see the CYMK "circles" if you look closely.

We have little need for it. And most of the need we have is covert stuff that 99.9999% of us will never use. This is why cameras tended to bug out at 5-10Mpx. Because, after that, you really can't tell when you print it on paper and it just takes up more room and uses more equipment to process than necessary.

We are closer to printing CPU's on paper than we are to getting this technology to commercial standards. And when you can put a whole CPU + RAM on a bit of paper, it seems a bit silly to rave about having a tiny "printed" image on there instead.

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Arctic ICE PANIC sparked by half-baked sat data

Lee Dowling
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Re: ........

The public are ignorant, this much is true.

But the problem is that you can't base anything on data until you can provide some evidence of the error associated in your data. This is what all that "six-sigma" rubbish is when they discuss the Higgs Boson. Basically, until it's mathematically MORE likely that you're right (by a long margin), then you're wrong. Or at best your data is inconclusive.

The problem with the global-warming debate is that nobody calculates (or publishes) that error because, and this is the funny bit - nobody can tell you that error accurately because of lack of data and those that can won't get statistically significant results based on the amount of data they *DIDN'T* collect. If you add all the data from everything to ice-cap monitoring to sea-level rises to atmospheric content studies etc. together, you still don't get anything conclusive at all.

And if London floods, it floods "permanently" (i.e. don't worry about what will happen to the residents, because they will HAVE to move out and never go back in their lifetime, or their child's lifetime, or their grandchild's lifetime). That's a pretty drastic action to have to deal with and thus the "fix" is equally or moreso drastic. So you're basically suggesting something whose solution is equivalent to evacuating London permanently. That's a pretty big risk to balance on the say-so of a couple of discredited papers and inconclusive evidence. And, in actual fact, the real problem is much bigger and thus so is the real solution.

The problem here is not scientists ignoring evidence, or the public being ignorant. It's politicians and scientists-with-interests (i.e. those working for certain companies / government departments or who are after getting a media reputation) that are pushing their version of events as if it's the ONLY possible model that works. Despite the fact that just about every global-warming study is proved flawed or inconclusive within a year of release and each focus only on one tiny aspect with miniscule amounts of data available. Two years of ice-cap data is totally worthless without context of other data. Seriously. Just throw it in the bin, it's just not worth the effort. It's no more significant than the waiter in Corfu who insisted on telling a table-ful of scientists and academics that global warming "must be real because it's felt hotter these last few years" - we didn't go back to that restaurant just because of the ensuing argument.

The Earth is almost certainly going to get warmer. At some point. By some degree. A part of that will be man's contribution. We can't say how big that is. Hell, we can't even say we won't flip into an ice age next year, that's how ignorant we are of that particular science. The question isn't "when do we do something?", but "what do we do?" Seriously. Let's just forget the problem for a second and look at a solution. All the solutions are immensely drastic and political suicide and will change the lives of billions of people worldwide. So, is it wise to run in and say "Ha, we can fix this problem that nobody can really agree on the cause, effect, data, or predictions! Now let's switch off all the power stations, stop using oil, stop all manufacturing and shoot all the cows"? Not really.

Global warming isn't something we can just fix. Hell, we can't even agree on if it's happening at all, let alone if we're helping the process along. And what if we've triggered a chain of events that are unrecoverable now? We'd basically change everything we do and the way everyone lives and still end up 10-feet underwater. So until we know WHAT'S happening, we can't fix it. And any potential fix is likely to be the largest change in worldwide history, ever. So let's not rush into such drastic actions on the basis of (at the moment) zero conclusive, mutually-agreed evidence. Because the fact is: we don't know what's happening.

CFC's were burning holes in the ozone. We spotted the hole, measured it, determined the cause beyond reasonable doubt, studied it some more, legislated and removed provably-dangerous materials from production to solve it. It took DECADES. And the only human impact was a slightly different substance in your fridge and a slightly different propellant in your aerosol.

With global warming, the human impact will be vast and devastating. You will literally push millions or billions of people into poverty, deprivation and death if you want to "stop" global warming by the release of human-created gases within the next century. So maybe we should have just a *grain* of decent, undeniable evidence before we start panicking and running for the hills and leaving millions in the lurch?

Hell, the funniest/scariest bit about the global warming debate is if we do (or even can) prove it's all man-made, you will have the biggest worldwide riot you've ever seen and nobody would WANT to be in charge of cutting energy sources, global resources, at vast governmental expense, huge taxations required to fund it, and handling billions of displaced people that would be caused by it. Your car will go. All plastics will go. Wood prices will go through the roof (can't chop down those trees!). You won't have processed food. You probably won't have much electricity (brownouts, blackouts, etc.). Your life will change in every way possible. You'll basically go back to living in the Dark Ages, but with 100 times the population. And that's in a first-world country. What do you think will happen to the third-world?

Precisely because the problem is SO drastic, we need a lot more evidence than normal. And we haven't even agreed that what's there is a normally "significant" amount of evidence to do anything yet. You can have a thousand papers all saying the same thing, but if there are even half-a-dozen saying the opposite and equally undeniable, or even a dozen retractions/errors/flaws in methodology, then it all means precisely zip. And certainly NOT what you'd want to base a global rescue mission on.

For all we know, we could read a paper that proved that X was the cause, cut out all X at great expense, and then discover that the alternative Y that we had to ramp up 10-fold to compensate was actually the problem all along.

We don't act until we know. And we don't know. And when we do know, we don't know how to act. But it isn't going to be like cutting out CFC's from your spray-cans and fridges. You're literally going to have to deal with millions of deaths either way, and that means we need to study MUCH more (probably decades, because the global warming thing has been going around scientific circles since at least the 50's and still can't come to an answer) or only react to the effects that we physically notice as we notice them (e.g. give everyone in London a bucket and tell them to start bailing).

This is why any scientist who is happy to wade into this debate and blast their paper's results across the front page before it's even released is probably just a nutter or funded. Any decent scientist would be pulling back until they had absolute, undeniable evidence and then release quietly and let people check the data and realise the implications for themselves.

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Lee Dowling
Bronze badge

The Ark, which I presume you're referring to, actually carried 14 of each "clean" animal and 2 of each "unclean" animal (supposedly).

I'm not even religious, but it's amazing how many religious people get that incredibly wrong (probably stems from a desire to eat bacon, which is also against Christianity and most other religions too. Either that or just sheer ignorance or selective blindness).

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Alleged 'Xbox 720' dev box eBay'd for $20,100

Lee Dowling
Bronze badge

Is that allowed at all? Seems to me that it would be a cinch for MS/Sony/etc. to put a clause on the software license that it's not to be transferred. And then you end up with a PC with some funny cards in it that don't do anything.

I'd be more suspicious about the legality of this purchase even if it were real, rather than whether the auction actually is real or not.

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Microsoft job ad advises 'Xbox 720' out by Feb 2014

Lee Dowling
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Re: "720"

To go with the red-ring-of-death?

Or to show that Microsoft just send in circles.

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Not a Cloud in my holiday sky

Lee Dowling
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Re: Wot, no 3G?

Hell, my ex lives in the middle of a large town in Cornwall. The quote was:

"If you text me, I won't get it until the next time I drive over the hill" (a hill which is miles away).

And that's SMS, which is sent in the GSM control channels. 3G doesn't work in most of the Highlands or Cornwall, I can assure you. Especially if you're *trying* get away from civilisation.

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Lee Dowling
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Cloud is crap in proportion to your connectivity.

You work when you're not being paid to.

Precisely what else am I supposed to take away from this article?

We all know cloud is reliant on a connection, which you can't reliably get in Britain, let alone anywhere else.

And you're apparently silly enough to post Reg articles while on holiday rather than just queue them until you get back - to the point that you steal others wifi and balance things precariously in the only place you can get that stolen signal. And your "getaway" involves a iPad, a laptop, Bluetooth keyboards, etc. So what?

All I took away was that you're an idiot who doesn't know how to relax.

I do take my laptop on holiday, mainly because it's a god-send to play movies and TV shows on the plane and can be used to clear off memory cards and send photos around and Skype home. But when I went to Scotland last month, there was no connection at all, even via a 3G dongle, for 99.9% of the time. So I didn't use it. I work in IT, I had projects on the go, people wanting to contact me. So what? I'm on holiday, so they'll just have to find a way to deal with things.

It's the same if you phone me while I'm driving. There's nothing THAT urgent that you can't wait for me to get to my destination. Honestly. And if it *IS* that urgent, you'll ring a few times and then send a text describing the problem, which I can read when safe and convenient.

Stop being an idiot at everyone's beck-and-call. Hell, I *WANT* people to notice that I'm not there. It saves effort when they whinge about not being able to find me, and it also works well when something does go wrong - they realise what I've been managing silently as part of my job all that time, and the difference my knowledge/skill/presence makes.

If you can't say to your boss "I'm on holiday, bugger off" (unless it's the absolute huge extreme of major problems that going to bankrupt the company and you are absolutely the ONLY person who can save it - which means you weren't doing your job properly anyway), then you need to get a new boss.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Vacation

'burglarize'

Gah! My eyes! They burnalarize! Somebody please rinsabilitarianize them immediately!

Seriously, what a stupid-sounding, horrible construction of a word.

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Now Curiosity rover beams back 3D snaps of Mars

Lee Dowling
Bronze badge

No, McGyver would have shaped the tin into a knife and bomb-proof hat, melted the chocolates into a burning paste which he fired out of a gun fashioned from the remains of the tin, used the wrappers to build a stained-glass silhouette of himself to put into a window to distract someone below, and used the little piece of paper that tells you which chocolate is which to form an origami raft to send a message downriver to the sheriff station asking for backup.

Amateur.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: curious

G-g-get your ass to Mars... G-g-get your ass to Mars...

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Lee Dowling
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Buy Quality Street.

Place one Strawberry-whatever wrapper on one eye. One of those cyan Almondy-thing wrappers on the other eye. Swap eyes if you feel like the world is escaping for you.

Done.

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Snap suggests Apple out to 'screw' hardware hackers

Lee Dowling
Bronze badge

Last time I watched someone repairing a BMW, the OBD flashed up that it had detected an unofficial tyre. To clear it, they had to buy a specific BMW -> OBD convertor cable that cost more than the tyre, or pay a garage the same amount (who said that the high price was justified by the price of the BMW kit needed to do the job).

It's probably *not* all models and their drivers, just all the models and their drivers I've ever come across and heard repair horror stories from.

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Lee Dowling
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Assuming it's genuine:

Yeah, that'll stop those places that knock out $2 security-bit packs in their tracks. For about a week. And anyone who wants to "DIY" anyway would just drill into the screw with a screw-removing drill. Hell, there'll be packets of those things on eBay before the device is even released do you could just drill them out and then reinsert new ones. And, let's not forget, you have to send multiple sets of those screwdrivers to EVERY APPLE STORE in the WORLD. Yeah. Not one of those will go missing, or get cloned.

And even if not - let's assume that people *can't* take their iPhone to one of those "screen repair" places that have cropped up everywhere. You just quadrupled the running cost of an iPhone over its lifetime. I'm not saying that would kill the device, but it will surely affect sales. Hmm, an iPhone that I can have repaired for £200, or an Android phone that's about the same that I can have repaired for £20? Anyone who's broken their phone in the past will realise that it's actually just not worth the cost. Anyone who hasn't might get it repaired once but when it breaks again they will question a) Apple's sturdiness, b) Apple's repair costs.

But still, the BMW crowd will love it. It means another trip to the manufacturers any time ANYTHING goes wrong, or voiding their warranty entirely.

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Deadly pussies kill more often than owners think

Lee Dowling
Bronze badge

1) They're cats.

2) It's taken this long for anyone to notice they were doing it - so they can't have been that big a burden in the first place.

3) It's a natural process and cats, whether you like it or not, are now native to all countries. They can and will kill what they see move and short of locking them up (which isn't great for their health, or the smell in the kitchen) you can't do much about it.

4) How many of the people saying their cats brought things back bothered to put a bell on their cats collar?

Last thing my cat brought in was actually a frog, still croaking. The cat took great enjoyment from the way they just left it in the middle of the living room, waited for us to see what it was, then sat there while the girlfriend had the screaming ab-dabs, and I tried to herd a frog that I *could not* catch out of the house (we have raised sofas etc. and it was trying to look for shelter) using an unfolded sun-lounger as a snowplough to push it out the door. God knows how the cat managed to get him, he was a fast jumpy beggar of a frog, and the cat is nearly 19 now.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Biggest thing my cat ever brought in...?

Same here - saw it trying to pull the largest seagull in the world through the catflap while it was still alive.

Still, I'm not sure the greenies would be impressed as it was tempting for me to just angle the chair towards the door and settle in to watch fight-night. Probably more interesting than anything on TV at the moment.

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Party like it's 1999: CDE Unix desktop REBORN

Lee Dowling
Bronze badge

Ah, the days when a desktop environment was just that - it drew boxes for windows, tiny little icons and got out of the way.

Something tells me that by the time this thing is integerated with FreeDesktop standards, DBus, and all the other junk that's "necessary" nowadays, it'll be just as much a resource hog as any other.

Seriously, people. Give me Windows 3.1 looks, and the ability to run modern programs and then get the hell out of my way. If you need to use even 16Mb RAM, I want to know why.

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Sharp cuts exFAT deal with Microsoft for Android mobes

Lee Dowling
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Re: Still Using FAT ??!

Or why do you need to know the disk format at all? It could be absolutely anything.

If it comes to it, you're only going to send info to a computer by Bluetooth (filesystem-format-less) or USB data transfer (of which there are a myriad independent transfer formats, none of whom mention FAT or any filesystem). And, presumably, you've already paid the patents for those.

At worst, just have a proprietary protocol and a userspace program (not even a driver, which needs to be signed by Microsoft thus providing them more money) which uses something like libusb to interpret the transfer and save the file as normal.

At no point do you NEED to use any particular filesystem whatsoever. And, personally, I have used some Ext-based system just to avoid such problems even years before MS started to litigate their patents.

But, certainly, exFAT isn't even the same as FAT32 which isn't the same as just plain FAT, and they could have used that instead too. It's just a failure, it seems, to properly choose a filesystem suitable for the job. Hell, I'd be ironic and use the MINIX filesystem internally, just to totally screw with everyone. All it has to do is keep track of some blob of binary data, it's not like it's rocket science. Hell, actually, I'd probably find some way to run SQLite on top of MINIX and use that to store files instead, just to really blow people's minds.

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NASA's $2.5bn Curiosity rover: An Apple PowerBook on wheels

Lee Dowling
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Re: doh

Oh, and the RAD750 used cost about $200,000 each, according to Wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAD750

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Lee Dowling
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Re: doh

Two is actually a silly number for failover. It's not enough to provide much long-term security.

Four is worse, though, than three when it comes to simultaneous operation and checking of results. What they should do is run an odd number that's *AT LEAST* three and then take the "majority" opinion like an awful lot of avionics does. That way, you can at least spot a majority. With four, if any two share a common path that the others don't (e.g. a power line on one side of the board) and that fails, you get a 50-50 problem where you have no idea which ones are wrong.

But if I was designing failover for, say, a server BIOS then two is about right. It's something I never expect to happen but when it does I can start replacing the board while it's still working. For anything more critical, and in such a harsh environment though, I'd have more failover/backup chips. Hell, give me 200 1MHz chips rather than 1 200MHz chip any day, in those circumstances.

I'm always disappointed, though. The only Mars mission I *want* to see is for something to land, repair the old rovers, give them a dustoff, maybe an upgrade or two, and send them on their way again. I wouldn't even care if it had no science of its own, if it could do that.

Put me in charge of a Mars mission and you'd have hundreds of cheap bots and rovers all running about. You'd cover more area, get more science done (e.g. 10% are chemical-analysis, 10% are rock-grinders, etc. so who cares if one gets stuck unless you NEED it?) and you could have some form of repair / diagnosis rather than having to spend MONTHS working out if it's safe to move the rover wheels again because it's the only thing in that area and has to "repair" itself if you break it.

Sod all that, play the numbers game and while you're there have them all watch each other and be able to fix each other (even if it takes forever over with a bunch of humans over a remote connection). And the element of humanity and community would make it seem much more inhabitable as a planet altogether.

"We now follow the news of bot #36 on Mars, who's managed to get further than anyone else and found the intriguing sample that NASA so desperately want to analyse. According to its controller back on Earth, Dave Smith, It appears to be on the Olympus Mons crater at a point higher than any other has reached, but now has become stuck there while the winter sets in. NASA are organising a bot rescue party and plan to warm the stricken bot using the warmth of the motors from the other bots until they can return him, or the sample, to the home base. Already 4 bots have perished on the dangerous mission, but it's considered worthwhile if it means that sample makes it back home while its still fresh...."

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Cough...

And Apple had zero do to with the hardware, which already existed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIM_alliance

Basically, they were going to be the "software" partner.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: xerox laser on wheels then?

I found the Apple link extremely tenuous, personally. But then, given the author's previous articles:

http://search.theregister.co.uk/?author=Anna%20Leach

It's hardly surprising. Every other one is about Apple in some form or another.

I know we all have preferences, and those preferences creep through into articles, but we can stop the really gratuitous examples of trying to equate a NASA Mars landing and Apple somehow. Hell, even if they'd just compared it to, say, a modern laptop (brand name not required) and explained that "even Apple used similar chips historically" would have been enough.

I count three "Apple"'s, three "PowerBook"'s, one "MacBook" and one "iPod", in an article about something where there is ZERO Apple hardware or business connection. That's excessive for a six paragraph article.

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French minister: 3 strikes anti-piracy rule a 'waste of money'

Lee Dowling
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You can't cut off the Internet when you want all government services to move onto the Internet. It's quite simple. And, fortunately, it will be the eventual death of laws like this.

You can either cut costs by putting government services online, or you can start cutting people off willy-nilly for a comparatively minor offence against a corporation, not the government (and much more easily dealt with - fine for the price of the item downloaded + 100% legal fee, done). It's like cutting off someone's phone line because they once told a friend how to open their car without a key using it. In *EXTREME* circumstances where they are persistently a nuisance / danger, you could potentially get a court order that stops the PERSON accessing the 'net (a standard ASBO-condition), but to cut off a connection that may be entirely unrelated to the offender? And even then, you know what the human-rights issues are that crop up from that.

The Internet is fast becoming a "utility" like any other. And though you can cut off my water, gas, electricity, etc. you really need to have a good reason to do so. And does cutting off mean I can, for example, just put a new PAYG SIM in my 3G phone and carry on using it as a "new" connection that you can't trace? If not, then surely an ABSO or similar on the *person* would be more effective? And putting people on an "Internet blacklist" is like saying they can't be trusted to have electricity supply brought into their house. Doing so because they downloaded 3 songs is like saying that you did so because they blew a couple of fuses with their Christmas lights. The response has always been, and will always be, disproportionate while you're literally severing people's connections.

And that just isn't compatible with "smart meters", online government services (taxation, benefits - hell, just looking up what bins you have to put out), online banking, and a myriad other things. It's like saying that someone can't have mail delivered to their address - not because they bite the postman, but because they once sent a photocopy of a school photo of their child through the post.

Governments saving money is actually the thing that will kill off this law. It generates no money for them (they see zero increased tax revenue from the music industry, I imagine), no money for their citizens, yet costs a fortune to implement, is ineffective, punishes the wrong person and stops people being able to be reliant on their cheaper "online" services, rather than having to cause more problems in person / on the phone / etc.

And in the end, you reap absolutely zero benefit as a government (except possibly the odd backhander). When the backhander's stop or people ask questions, it's quite obvious that you'll never achieve anything by this method.

You want effective copyright protection? Fine identified users the value of the copyright infringement plus legal costs. Like everyone has done for CENTURIES. And then you find out that the problem is you can't without identifying users and you can't do that without penalising legitimate users (i.e. cutting off a flat of students because ONE pirated something) or some sort of vastly draconian Internet ID laws that will never pass. So give it up.

P.S. Where does the law stand on VoIP phones? Do they get cut off too, even if they're your only phone? What about if the user has an contractual obligation to be connected to the Internet (e.g. smart meters, etc.)?

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Black helicopters circle Street View car crash

Lee Dowling
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Re: The camera setup looks really similar

Yeah, like almost every London's borough's parking enforcement cars. They must have bought them from Google too!

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Scribe's mobe, MacBook pwned after hacker 'fast-talked Apple support'

Lee Dowling
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The Gizmodo thing is Gizmodo's fault. They say themselves he was an ex-staffer who still had access. Why?

Most of the rest is Apple's "fault" for allowing the bypass of their security procedures.

But not having other backups of the data, or other ways to access it? That would be the victim's fault.

Don't rely on the cloud. It's just not worth it. Don't rely on any one company, entity, connection, location, storage, it's a simple rule.

The only other difference, I think, is really how much control you voluntarily give to the people behind the OS running on your phone / laptop. Personally, my phone being wiped or blocked wouldn't be that much of a chore. I'd hunt down a replacement and copy back over my contacts list. My laptop, on the other hand, I would not be pleased to find had been wiped remotely. Yes, I have backups but the SETUP of that machine and the ACCESS to a facility that can remote-wipe the drive is not something I'd trust anyone else with. Hell, I'm not sure I'd trust ME with a button that did that (hence, I don't use remote-wipe software for laptops).

I would not trust Apple with that facility. I would not trust Google with that facility. I would not trust any brand-name with that facility. There's just too much inconvenience if they get it wrong or do it by accident. If you want that, encrypt the drive and make MASSIVE amounts of backups of the keyfiles. If it's stolen, it's already "remote-wiped" with undecipherable random data that's useless without the key. But the difference is, if it's returned you can restore access and know it was untouched and you can also do so without reliance on ANY brand-name company whatsoever to do it for you (or, in this case, not do it for you).

Remote-wipe is for people that haven't found TrueCrypt yet, or are too thick to not keep their keyfile/passphrase scribbled on a post-it stuck to the machine that would get stolen along with it, and those who implicitly trust a multi-billion dollar company to work in their interest, perfectly, all the time.

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Euro NCAP to mandate auto-braking in new-car test

Lee Dowling
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Re: That will be definitely ...

If you can afford a 40,000 Euro car, I'd assume you can afford the 300 Euros as a one-off expense one a year or so to keep it in check and passing the required tests, personally. If you can't.... well, that's a situation that you could have foreseen no matter what the problem was: "300 Euros for a new wing mirror?!". You also have it serviced, presumably by the manufacturer, but I'm assuming outside warranty?

That said, you've now left it for 2 years with that problem, so it's obviously not that much of a bugbear or you'd have fixed it.

This is why I stay away from THAT manufacturer, nothing to do with new or old. Hell, last time I helped out a neighbour, they wanted to sell you a £300 cable to provide a "normal" OBD-II socket out of the car because there's was non-standard.

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