* Posts by Lee Dowling

1188 posts • joined 28 Mar 2007

New UK network touts FREE* mobile broadband

Lee Dowling
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Advertising-supported businesses.

Back in the day, my friend used an ISP that let you have free Internet (33.6k modem!) so long as you installed their toolbar and clicked on junk that popped up occasionally.

They went bust quite quickly, as did a number of similar offerings. The connection was hideously slow and the adverts just got larger and larger and more annoying. Most customers fled before the company actually died.

Advertising-supported models like that don't really work. A lot of smartphone apps try it but I don't see how the advertisers make their money from it - you can be on Angry Birds Free all day long, it doesn't translate to sales in proportion to the money you have to spend to be there. And the app author really doesn't care because he can offer a £1.99 "no ads" version and make money if his app is any good anyway (so the adverts are really his way to annoy customers into giving HIM money). Sure, you can make money if you hit a big title by accident but who'd have thought Angry Birds would be that successful and who knows what the next title will be?

Now, Google, for example isn't the same - the advertisers spend millions to get on there but they at least have a chance of translating into some money for the bigger companies and Google provide a wealth of tools to target your advertising (even on smartphone, now, I believe). Otherwise, everyone I know who thought they were being a genius and advertising their tiny little 1-man company on Google ads either burned through all their cash in literally minutes with no return or could not measure what the return was (with trackable Internet ads? Come on...) and blindly pumped money into it.

Advertising-funded business is a fickle and dangerous area to stray into, especially without a lot of knowledge of the industry and big players on your books. In this case, your viewers won't convert - you've expressly targeted cheapskates who don't want to buy a contract - even with a phone they already own -which is something that 90% of us have now, or even PAYG, and who are willing to sacrifice a lot of convenience for that "freeness". Just how much do you think they will spend on the adverts that they will be trained to ignore within seconds of using the SIM?

Never target your business at a customer that is going to extremes to NOT spend money with you. Like the ISP who tried to run lots of state-of-the-art complicated and expensive telephony hardware on the basis of you watching ads on your 640x480 screen, you'll go under. The people who are your main base of customers are already determined NOT to spend money, and quite likely to circumvent anything you can put in their way. As such, your income source (the advertisers) will spike and then die off very quickly.

You want to shock me into changing my SIM to your company? Offer me something nobody else does, not add to the existing tripe that everyone already sees too much of and hates. Like, oh, I don't know, decent roaming rates around Europe.

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YouView launches with pricey premium DVR

Lee Dowling
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Content

I'm a geek. But I'm an stalwart geek. I bought my first flatscreen TV on Monday. It arrived yesterday. It's Samsung. It's not "Smart". Because, to me, a TV is a viewing device. I choose what to put on it and it displays it. When I'm done, it gets turned off. Hell, I've not even Ethernetted it yet, even to try it out, because I haven't yet done anything that I think would be served by that facility (despite deploying Serviio DLNA servers in work for multiple displays, etc.)

The black boxes situated under or around my TV are things I've bought to specifically add functionality I need and one of them happens to be a laptop. Which does everything that the TV and all the fancy set top boxes can do(and more) - it even does PIP and HD Freeview PVR with Dual Tuners from a £20 dongle, so the actual TV is literally just a display device that happens to have other functionality, in my view. And my laptop has done all this for months/years. I use that sort of functionality once in a blue moon and the desire to put it on the TV is infinitely less again.

About the only other things I have plugged in are a standalone DVD player (because I only own DVD's, and my girlfriend sometimes just wants to watch something on it - which I quite understand as a user interface simplifier) and my Virgin Media box which I've had for years - which also does lots of fancy stuff but, you know what? I can count on one hand the number of times I've watched something on iPlayer through it, or bought things on Pay-Per-View events (and once, it cut halfway through the film I'd bought to watch and it wouldn't come back, so I dug out a DVD instead).

Hell, I had to seriously consider what it meant to only have one SCART socket on my new TV but realised that with the SCART switcher I have, the once-in-a-blue-moon use of a Wii wouldn't cause hassle either (and that does iPlayer too). I was disappointed that I couldn't get VGA-In too but I sacrificed that for price and did so knowingly.

My problem with TV is not availability online, not the technology to do so, not the equipment, cabling, internet access or set-top-box. It's not the number / type of ports or the HD-ness of my TV (incidentally: I'm still holding the opinion that HD is tripe because I now have it - proper 1080p@60 - on a TV standing next to my old CRT and honestly cringe at the new TV's reproduction of 4:3 SD content from the same DVD player over the same cables compared to that old CRT). It's not the scheduling. It's not the ability to timeshift or PVR. These are all problems that are solved now.

It's the fact that there's nothing to watch. The other week, with the football on, I was bored to tears. I could not find a decent bit of TV to watch at all, for several days. In the end I reverted to my personal archives and a boxset that I forgot I had bought. YouView isn't solving a problem. It's just adding to it. It's now easier to find tons of stuff that I don't want to watch and no harder to find what I do (because for things I *DO* want to watch, I know when it's on, what time it's on, how long the series lasts, and whether it's a "compilation" episode or not - and I can timeshift it as appropriate).

Stop the technology. iPlayer solved most of the problems there (and the only one which remains is bandwidth, which YouView doesn't solve). Start the content. Gimme things to watch on this wonderful new service. Don't put on old stuff in HD, or archives on repeat (unless I specifically WANT to watch something from the archives - just how hard is it to just put EVERYTHING online, no matter how old?).

Gimme something to WATCH. Everything else is sorted, and has been for years, and all you've done is put it in a pretty (and pretty expensive) box that I already could have 5-6 of without even trying.

Gimme something worth watching on all that technology. All the last 10 years of TV technology has done is increase the noise and (sometimes literally) decrease the signal.

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Vodafone to let you roam in Europe at UK prices

Lee Dowling
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Sigh.

Call me back when I don't have to work magic to just have it cost the same (or SLIGHTLY) more than the UK for everything (whether PAYG or not). Hell, T-Mobile are spread throughout Europe already, so there's no excuse - they don't necessarily have to co-operate with any rivals at all.

And don't mention MB. The second you mention MB at all, I'm put off. Start talking GB's and we can negotiate.

Until then, stop pretending you're doing something helpful. You're not. This is like cutting a penny off petrol by using a different petrol station, where I would save 60p a week, which is barely worth the hassle of worrying about.

Gigabytes, people, and out of my expressible-in-gigabytes-without-having-to-use-floating-point monthly allowance that I would be able to use in the UK too, and with no special arrangements, text-activation or warnings needed beyond what I'd receive in the UK. It's not like you have to send the damn 3G packets all the way back to Blighty by radio in order to let me see Google on my phone while I'm in France.

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Sysadmins: Your best tale of woe wins a PRIZE

Lee Dowling
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Re: Oh well....

Similar story.

But stemming from the cleaner accidentally binning the SmartBoard eraser.

To those who don't know - if you don't have the eraser or a pen in the right pocket, the light-sensor on them thinks you've picked up THAT pen / eraser, and determines what colour / whether to erase or not by what's stored in the holes and what's not. With no eraser detected, you're obviously holding the eraser, yes? All the time. No matter what you do with the pens / boards / cables / laptop / replacement laptop / rebooting / etc.

They'd cleared 14 pages of the day's work by the time I walked in and applied a bit of blu-tak I happened to have at the time to the sensor in the eraser pocket..

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Lee Dowling
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Re: The day the M.D. acted as a doorman...

I've had techies come in and start up their own DHCP server (presumably accidentally by sheer incompetence) by leaving things like the DHCP options turned on on, say, an ADSL router or similar, and then leave it running. Things can work fine for a while until either a) machines leases expire, b) the server detects the other DHCP and shut down its own service (thus making you reliant on that little ADSL router to do EVERYTHING or sometimes c) machines "closer" (network-wise) to the DHCP server get one response, the rest a proper response from the server and sometimes the two overlapping and issuing leases for each other's IP's to each other's clients.

Then I would get a phone call (I was doing the rounds for local schools and spent a day per week in each for many years) that nothing was working and had to work out what was happening when no documentation or even help from the original installers existed for the networks they were running (is the ADSL *supposed* to be giving out addresses? In what range? What ranges are the firewall etc. configured to use? etc.). But, of course, "nobody's touched the network in 28 days" and no problems are noticed until the DHCP leases die or the ADSL goes off or whatever.

The nicer switches let you block DHCP from all but one port, which is a lovely option until you're not told that and try to replace a server that's falling over. And the places that have those nicer switches tend not to have the problem in the first place (though it is funny when someone replaces that switch and you find that there's dozens of DHCP servers all other the place in WAP's etc. and nobody was previously affected because of that safety barrier that they've just removed).

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Not a sys admin but...

Sod that - why do you have 80 or more unlabelled cables just plugging into an apparently vital device?

Get the Dymo out, ffs!

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Lee Dowling
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I once crashed an entire school network (it was RM, so the classification of it being a computer, or a network, is dubious at best) by allocating an MSI package (I say that, but the RM ones are pretty butchered - embrace and extend again!) that happened to have a space in the filename. It was only a tiny MSI of something minor but I'd called it something like "packagename update" so I could distinguish it from the base package. I'd tested it on some machines and it was fine, all I did was rename it and deploy it for installation that night (you can't really deploy stuff during the day in a school).

Every single client crashed at reboot (which obviously didn't happen until the next morning) and just hung there before the login screen because their crappy software didn't know how to handle a space (despite the fact that their network management tool on the server did to allocate you to allocate it in the first place). And there was little you could do about it except login and clean-install or (if you know the magic words) wipe out their package databases after removing it from the server.

I made the RM guys fix it in the end, because I certainly wasn't going to be held responsible for their crappy software. And even though they told me the problem was "fixed" in the next hotfix, I never deployed another package with a space in the filename, just in case.

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Lee Dowling
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I once was caught by a network outage whose ultimate cause was:

An X509 certificate, in a Java package, had expired. The Java package was part of a UPS monitoring software (and nothing you'd ever normally play with). The UPS monitoring software went absolutely crazy and just hung the entire machine (as in, your mouse couldn't move across the screen in under a minute). The machines affected were pretty important and all of them had the problem. Because they still responded to some queries, pings, etc. (just about) nothing bothered to failover anyway but even the failovers had failed. And you couldn't log into the damn things or use any of them directly.

And obviously, the entire network slowed to an absolute crawl affecting the entire place it was in. Sure, we could force failover to a clean machine but those servers had apps running and we needed those apps (data - pish, we had that, but if you can't submit the payroll without that heavily-locked-down smartcard tied only to those machines you were stuffed).

Sounds like nothing but go through your standard procedures - everything responds, everything responds to ping, just some things are very slow. Can't narrow down to one server. Try to log in to them remotely and it timeouts. Go find the physical machines. Try to log into them. LITERALLY could not get the mouse to move. Suspect hung servers. Wait suitable length of time. Force a reboot. Server boots up at normal speed, does disk check, nothing wrong, gets to login screen, hangs like hell.

Okay. Weird. Safe mode. Same thing. Okay. Disconnect from network. Same thing. Restore from latest backup (which takes HOURS). Same thing. Okay, restore from Known Good backup (more hours!). Same thing. Confirm the machine is fully operational with install from clean Windows CD (but too much software on there to just replace every server in the space of a day or so from nothing). Perfectly working, no problems at all. Okay, restore from ancient backup taken just after the Stone Age and which DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY works. Same thing. WTH? Try other machines. Same thing.

Restore a backup to an identical machine acting as tepid-spare. Same thing. Bugger. Complete reinstall looking like only way to get it back and working. Clean Windows install on clean, isolated machine. Start reinstalling software from disks (known-good versions of everything that worked for YEARS). The reboot AFTER the UPS software is installed starts displaying the same symptoms. Damn! (But at least we can narrow down). After a couple of installation retries (and rebooting after literally every step), narrow it down to the UPS software installation. Update available? No. Reported problems? Yes, with same symptoms. No solutions.

Fall back onto the last resort of IT: Phone random IT people and see if they've had the same thing. Couple of them experiencing it, one of them in the advanced stages of diagnosis. After much jiggery-pokery and literally just turning the software on under heavy debugging/monitoring (and LOTS of rebooting) and trying to identify cause, narrow it down to accessing a certain Java package and then, inside that, find an expired certificate. How do we know it's the cert? Can you fool it by putting the clocks back? Actually, yes. Before the expiry time, it works, after it doesn't. Can you replace the cert? Yes, but the software refuses to work even if it doesn't hang. Can you fake it? No. Can you remove it? No, the software won't work. Can you run your processes with an inaccurate clock? No. Can you run your server without UPS monitoring? Not really.

So it takes this long to get to knowing what's happened and what you can do about it. The affected servers can have their filesystem accessed by something else (Linux boot disk) and have the UPS software disabled, because there was literally no other way to get the software turned off once Windows had started (and actually, I moved the UPS monitoring to a Linux machine that then would issue shutdown notices to the Windows servers instead!).

Eventually, after about a week, the UPS manufacturer issue an update and pretend it never happened (and NOBODY installed that update without first installing clean or working out what the problem was). But you try diagnosing that bugger while having a whole company breathing down your neck and silence in the server rooms.

What saved the day? Linux, contacts, careful investigation, no blind reinstalling, and not relying on the UPS manufacturer to actually DO anything about it.

The last thing you expect when your whole network goes down (and only the servers, not the clients) is some UPS software that's been working FOREVER, on known-good versions, on known-good servers to suddenly stop working even on restoration of older, working backups (whose restoration had ALWAYS worked before that point when testing backups) and then hang the machine to the extent that you literally could not do ANYTHING on it at all. I was just about ready to kill Microsoft until we saw that no updates had taken place in the weeks leading up to it and the servers had been rebooted and backed up and test-restored since then.

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Darwin alarmed by six-legged mutant cane toad

Lee Dowling
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Re: Just one question

Though mutations might take millions of years to occur, the success of them can happen in mere decades.

Think about it - the gene mutations to give a toad longer legs than its mother/father will only happen quite rarely - and even rarer for them to not negatively affect the animal and even rarer to positively affect the animal. DNA and its associated mechanisms actually has a lot of error-checking-and-correction code inside it, according to the geneticist I live with, so it's quite hard for even a mutation of junk DNA to actually do anything noticeable. But once a toad is out there with longer legs, breeding and stealing food that the other toads can't get to / can't get to fast enough, the wipeout and replacement can be quite quick.

This is what we see in the archaeological record too. It took BILLIONS of years to get from single-celled to multi-celled animals. But it took only MILLIONS of years to get from there to crustaceans because it was SO much more efficient and successful to be an animal than a cell. And we've only been around for 200,000 years in our modern form (i.e. not hairy, having goosebumps instead of your hair standing up, having wisdom teeth that do nothing and are too big for your jaw, etc.).

Genetic mutation is damn slow. Natural selection is damn fast (literally, within generations and with lots of animals a generation can be less than a year!). Evolution is a conjoining of both concepts to explain long, long histories. When we evolved out of our predecessors, the predecessor pretty much died off or was isolated very, very quickly. There aren't still Neanderthal walking the Earth because we wiped them out, either because we perceived them as a threat and destroyed every simple example across the globe or (more likely) we interbred and eventually bred their genes out for more successful ones. And we did it far, far, quicker than you'd think.

This is why it is hard / nonsensical to go looking for a Missing Link to join ancient species and ourselves. The amount of time the evolution takes to a even a single example of a more successful form is enormous, but the change is almost immediate when it happens.

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Microsoft loses appeal against EU antitrust smackdown

Lee Dowling
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Re: What to do?

Yeah, because with their two 100billion+ payouts already, 0.8bn is going to make a hell of a difference.

The money would be better spent put towards alternatives to MS (e.g. LibreOffice government projects) because that would not only help the Greeks but everyone else too (Hell, the British government just shaved off 65m on their IT this year alone by negotiating with MS directly).

But, actually, what will happen is it will end up being seen as a "windfall" to the EU and they'll use it for some international advertising campaign for green energy or some other such waste of space.

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Automatic Wi-Fi roam, signup and billing via SIM card to be tested

Lee Dowling
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Re: Fonero!

Never heard of a FON pass then? Which can be bought (and sometimes given away at trade shows) as any other prepaid card and used on your FON hotspot?

Seems like the perfect way to get online anonymously, conveniently and quite cheaply, to me.

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Lee Dowling
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How do you think that works when combined with 3-strikes laws?

Nobody with a brain is going to open their wireless to the world if it means they get their broadband cut off and fines.

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Android Firefox: Screaming, awesome, you'll go blind etc

Lee Dowling
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Re: Hello? Anyone there?

We just don't read stories concerning Firefox unless there's some sort of gross comparison.

Other browsers playing "catchup" (apparently not very well) isn't news to us.

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'Inexperienced' RBS tech operative's blunder led to banking meltdown

Lee Dowling
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Re: no backup of the schedule?

And in typical Microsoft programming, it does make you wonder why it doesn't check if it's a system partition FIRST before it even poses the question.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: no backup of the schedule?

Then I refer you back to the first question - how did someone who couldn't understand the confirmation get into a position where they were presented with it in the first place? And/or, what were they doing confirming it if they didn't understand it rather than CHECKING with someone else? And/or, what is your entire banking system doing hinging on the wording of a confirmation?

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Lee Dowling
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Re: no backup of the schedule?

I should think that such a piece of software was built solely to solve such problems and, if not, then you should be leaving obvious markers as you churn through jobs and also have proper transaction rollback so you can "undo" a broken / incomplete job before continuing with its replacement (and even just rollback to before any of the jobs were run or any of the schedules deleted!).

We shouldn't apply common server management functions to such large jobs, I think, but we should hold them accountable to a HIGHER level of control over such things.

How did someone inexperienced get on the team?

How did they get access to the schedule controls?

How did they managed to delete EVERYTHING on there?

Why did the software allow such deletion without confirmation?

Why is there not a rollback or even versioning function for the schedules?

Why, precisely, does one mess-up by one employee in front of one computer put your ENTIRE BANKING SYSTEM out of action, nationwide?

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MI5 boss: Cyber spies, web-enabled crooks threaten UK economy

Lee Dowling
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Oh, ffs. Please, just get on with it already and declare war with China.

Not that I think they're doing anything worthy of warfare that you actually care about (e.g. human rights abuses etc = not your territory), but PURELY because between American agencies, GCHQ and MI5, there seems to be a culture of immediately blaming certain countries the second cyber-attacks are mentioned, and then - on the other channel - publicly equating a cyber-attack with an act of war and asking money to defend against it. While simultaneously our allies create entire botnets to take down Iran's nuclear program.

Please, just get it over with. If you want to go blow up China, or Iran, or wherever, just say so and go and do it. Stop fabricating and - worse - guessing at the sources of attacks and just do what you're obviously dying to do.

If someone is attacking critical national infrastructure, then the ONLY person I would personally give you permission to shoot is the guy who created that infrastructure's security and connected it to the Internet in the first place. The same applies whether we're talking governments (e.g. Iran's problems = using Windows and SCADA tools on Internet connected networks), big businesses (e.g. if someone's getting into IBM's computers, they need to sort it out) or vital services (e.g. if someone can shutdown the smart-meter network if it's compromised, maybe we shouldn't have one?)

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Microsoft's Surface plan means the world belongs to Android now

Lee Dowling
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Re: Many people saying Android has failed on tablets..

Nobody wants to buy *Android* or nobody wants to buy a *tablet*? It's an important distinction to make. Tablets are pretty niche in their usage, in my opinion, and I don't know anyone who has one that they own for anything more than a status symbol. Hell, an old boss of mine was given an iPad as a leaving present and I'm pretty sure he just eBay'd it and bought himself a laptop.

Also, the cheap Android tablets are surprisingly good. ~£60 for a low-end full-Android device with large touchscreen big enough to do browsing / movies on? Not bad at all. People I've shown one that I bought my mother (big games player) have reacted stupidly positively - literally saying things like "Damn, my iPad cost me £XXX and this does all the same type of stuff I do on it".

I don't think Android is really a failure on tablets. I just think that tablets are the new "netbooks". I think tablets are now a failure to provide appropriate status symbols any more and also don't have a practical niche they can exclusively fill. As such, they are now walking towards toys - and there Android (with a vast library of free and well-known games, and cheap hardware) is likely to win.

Personally, I won't touch anything else. I literally tell people to go away when they come to me with a problem with their iPad or similar (because the solution is almost always to throw more money at it or take it back to an Apple shop). But Android won me over with just one device after years of putting off having to manage yet-another-computer in my pocket.

The school I work for are currently looking at just buying a shed-load of Android tablets to do what other schools are doing with iPads in their classrooms. Difference is, (apart from STUPIDLY HUGE cost savings) we can actually manage the devices, and root them if required to do ANYTHING we want. Windows tablets were briefly considered until we actually saw Windows 8 and tried it on a touchscreen. Combine Android with Google Apps for Education and you have a lot of powerful features that you just can't get on other tablets.

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Bonking for money to be built into the next iPhone

Lee Dowling
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WTF?

Anyone else read the article like:

"Next version of Apple phones will have the feature that most other phones being sold with today also have"

?

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Mensch pal Bozier defends Menshn security, dubs critics 'snippy geeks'

Lee Dowling
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Re: politics

I have an easier way. He's a politician. It's basically something that he perceives to be his job.

I don't particularly care what party they belong to, I have a healthy distrust of anyone who wants to be a politician or refers to themselves as one. It's like the line from The Thin Blue Line about gun ownership. A good enough reason to stop someone becoming a politician should be that they WANT to be one.

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RBS IT cockup: This sort of thing can destroy a bank, normally

Lee Dowling
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I left NatWest years ago when they first introduced their Online Banking. It was IE-only, needed ActiveX controls (so you couldn't even fake it) and it was a heap of junk.

Out of principle, I refused to use it, complain via their contact section (they sent a politely worded "No" to my request to allow Opera or at least some Netscape-browser to access it) and moved my account. That one, sole reason actually cost them my account. They probably didn't care at all.

A bank that FORCES me to use IE (and accepted IE6 usage!) shouldn't be handling my money, or anyone else's. Simple as that.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Single sourced

Opening a new account isn't that easy. First, you're assuming a perfect credit history. Banks aren't REQUIRED to let you open an account that actually does anything interesting (I know friends with UK doctorates who were sitting for years on "basic" accounts that didn't have so much as a debit card and being refused any sort of "normal" account - despite earning twice what I do). If you do want an account, that's a credit search more on your record. You probably won't get an overdraft on it (which can be a risk in itself if you're juggling accounts and can't remember which one actually has the money in). You'll probably be required (for any sort of interesting account features) to pay a monthly fee and/or pay your wages into it. Extra credit cards are, again, yet-another credit search on your history.

That's before you get into the hassle of all that paperwork and management of two accounts. It's not as easy as you make out. In fact, I'd say MOVING your account entirely (to someone who will give you those more interesting features like A CARD YOU CAN USE ONLINE) is ten times easier. Hell, nowadays, they even move your direct debits etc. over for you and you don't have to do anything.

I don't have a second account, not because I don't want one, but because almost certainly the expense and hassle of having one (even if I could get one) wouldn't be worth it. Much easier to just keep some emergency cash elsewhere, or have a credit card with another provider (even a pre-pay will do) should something go wrong.

Banks *do* hold you hostage. Not by refusing to open an account, but by placing more demands on any decent, usable account (e.g. debit card, credit card, overdraft, monthly fee, etc.) to make them more hassle than they are worth for the once-in-a-lifetime bank outage like this one. Read the news. Basically the banks want the end of "free banking". And they are already starting to do it as much as they can. That means that having a second account is actually an extra expense that isn't justified by being able to have another bank account - it's just easier to get a credit card from someone else or store a small amount of cash elsewhere.

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Iran: Our nuke facilities still under attack by US, Israelis 'and MI6'

Lee Dowling
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Re: Hey Iran...

That's not the same as penetrating a system controlling a nuclear plant. I don't design the systems I'm responsible for to prevent loss of life and nuclear meltdown, or from the invasion of foreign agents. About the worst I design to deal with is an idiotic (but not malicious) user. That's like saying "I can jump the fence into the park, so I could walk into a nuclear power plant". Not quite the same thing. But ask me to put in a design for a nuclear power plant and would it include the Internet or a USB port? Come on! I've had to physically disable USB ports in a school, ffs, let alone a nuclear plant.

Disconnect from the Internet (why are you even connected to it?), unplug all your USB ports from the motherboard or - better yet - use computers that DO NOT HAVE EITHER CAPABILITY AT ALL (and basic system security means nobody should be able to approach your actual motherboard without a shed-load of alarms going off), problem solved.

I'm not saying they WOULDN'T get in but being infected this way is like saying that the space shuttle didn't launch because the controller was too busy upgrading his antivirus that popped up. There's failing to be impenetrable to a well-resourced and expert foreign agent with incentive, and there's leaving the doors to the reactor open, unsecured and unmonitored.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Hey Iran...

And stop using those components that you have now verified are easily vulnerable to attack (e.g. those particular SCADA controls, Windows desktops, etc.)

It's a fecking nuclear plant, not a PC in a nursery. If you'd had any sort of IT security in place whatsoever, it wouldn't have happened in the first place. Complaining about a reoccurence is like the guy who says "Well, I didn't take a backup this time because I didn't think I'd lose my data TWICE in a year..."

That said, the US and Iran could have nothing to do with these things (which they have confirmed would be classed as acts of war if they were to happen on their own systems), but that doesn't mean they didn't do it. Without proof, it's all just posturing and big words, and we know what they normally precede on a Friday night down the pub.

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Brits spent £334 each year on games

Lee Dowling
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Re: Consoles: Don't get it.

Same here.

I own a Wii. That's mainly for my girlfriend, but she got into point-'n'-click adventure games on Steam and I can't seem to shake her off that. We use it for "dinnerparties" (or their modern equivalent of having some friends around for pizza and while they're drunk take advantage to kick their backsides on Wii Sports Bowling).

It's there because it was cheap, the games are cheap, it's very "party-friendly", people can bring their own games / controllers because lots of people have one, and it doesn't look too bad next to the TV. It's quicker to turn on and not as fragile as a PC when it comes to people throwing Wiimotes at it instead of letting go of the virtual bowling ball.

But, honestly, outside of parties, it doesn't get used. I think we weighed the cat once using WiiFit.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: 16 games?

Ideal life-work balance for the average person:

8 hours working.

8 hours at your leisure.

8 hours asleep.

8 hours of leisure x 7 days (we'll assume you have important things to do on the weekends too when you're not working) = 56 hours a week. In those 56 hours, in between visiting relatives, doing the shopping, popping down the pub, mending the shed, cleaning the car, etc. and NOT counting the weekend "working day", are you honestly say you can't spend an hour in front of the telly or, in this case, games? One hour a week, that's a game a month on average with modern titles.

That aside, I found that when I stopped watching broadcast TV, I had a lot more time in my day for doing things. All of my TV comes to maybe an hour or two a week (depending what's on - nothing at the moment with the damn football taking priority over things I normally watch - no, not soaps) and when you iPlayer that, it's not extended by ads and other junk that eat into the rest of your personal life.

Hell, I put in a few hours each week of programming into a game I'm writing, let alone playing games myself.

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Holographic storage: We're going to do it this time. No, really

Lee Dowling
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Then probably best NOT to use some fancy-pants technology that's pretty untested and only run by one company (which has already gone bankrupt once and had to be rescued), don'tchathink?

It's the BBC Domesday project all over again. And 320Gb of "long-term storage" is pitiful, and probably doesn't even compare to a SATA SSD or even a decent piece of Flash/EEPROM if you really have that kind of need.

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Lee Dowling
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If you can't produce a working example and compare it against standardised hardware (e.g. hard drives and SSD's), then I can't really see what you're trying to sell.

Honestly? An untested new storage medium that's slow-as-molasses and can be outdone by a £50 hard drive or the next gen of disk-based media? What are you aiming at? Who are you selling to? Why did your former attempt go bankrupt if it's so good and what everyone wanted?

With anything computing, I list my requirements and then buy what suits - whether personal or professional. My personal requirements for my own personal laptop for the storage upgrade I plan (which will be in the next few years) are: sizes over 1Tb, reliability for MY lifetime (not just that of the laptop/PC it's stored in), re-writability for that entire lifetime, access speeds enough to notice the difference and up to maxing out my SATA II interface (above that, I consider wasteful), and fits in a 2.5" drive space. And costing less than my laptop did.

Currently, that puts it firmly in the realm of easily-obtainable sub-£100 spinning-disk drives. I'm hoping that when the time comes for me to actually need it, it will be an SSD instead, but I'm happy to compromise for one more upgrade (and only because of cost / reliability than any of the other factors). If you can't even match the kind of thing I consider a small upgrade for a personal computer in your specs, just who do you think will pay through the nose for this untested, unstandardised technology?

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Major London problem hits BT broadband across southeast

Lee Dowling
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And, in a typical display of cosmic karma, the dual-ADSL2+ connections that my workplace runs on a load-balancing / failover system for which we have SMS-controlled remote hard-rebooting of the routers, because the connection (not the routers) is SO unreliable we need that just to stay online for most of the day even though we're only FEET from the main town exchange in a London suburb - it's working fine, and has been all day.

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Microsoft Surface: Join the Windows 8 teardown

Lee Dowling
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Re: Typical media stupidness

Stores stopping stocking it because nobody was buying it.

Which is probably what will happen with "Surface" too. Microsoft do make some viable hardware (whether it's actually GOOD or COMPETITIVE is another question entirely), but if they can't sell it to other people, you can only buy a turkey that nobody else has and which will eventually be forgotten like the Zune.

But, to be honest, the biggest killer was its complete inability to run software that did what people wanted, i.e. decent DRM and being able to buy and play music easily. Without that ability, the Zune died. "Surface" is the same - if you lock it down and people can't use it, nobody will buy it. Not because it doesn't have nice chips in it but because it's been designed to be a piece of hardware that doesn't do the things people need it to do.

Hardware "DRM" (i.e. not being able to use the damn thing as a simple media player that could download media from rivals too) was the death of the Zune and will probably be the death of Surface too. The statement really isn't that inaccurate unless you are very blinkered and think "hardware" means the electronics and not the design and operation of the device's hardware too.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Presumably, since its ARM

"pro" presumably meaning "anyone who wants to run the biggest selling applications on the planet".

I'm a bit fed up with "pro" designations on software, despite being one. If you have to be "pro" to want to encrypt your hard drive, or run old XP apps, or use those various bits that aren't available with "non-pro" Office versions, then I think that my grandmother is probably a "pro" too.

Personally, I think of them as "normal" and "cheap fob-off to be replaced when the user wants to do anything vaguely interesting with it". A bit like OEM vs retail, which is really "I don't care if I have to throw this machine away next year, or if it corrupts, or if I change a component" vs "I do care".

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Lee Dowling
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Re: I don't...

I want one. So I can sell it to some mug on eBay and then go out and buy 4, 5, 6, who-knows-how-many equivalent Android tablets and still have change.

Oh, I have to PAY for it? No, probably not then.

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LCD TV shipments slip for FIRST TIME EVER

Lee Dowling
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Re: Count me as one who hasn't

Have you seen how large a 16:9 TV you need to get the same vertical size as an old, large, 4:3 CRT? 36" TV's were hardly out of the ordinary in either format, so if you had anything larger than that as 4:3, there's hardly a TV you can buy for under a grand that will give you the same vertical size.

Black bars are inevitable, on the side or above the picture, but I'd rather have "free" black bars on my widescreen programs that still give me a WIDER and TALLER image than a cheap LCD would and nothing on my 4:3 content, than "expensive" black bars on my normal programs that would give me a NARROWER image even on a top-of-the-range, huge LCD.

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Well, once you have a nice big LCD TV in your living room and a couple of small ones dotted about the house, you probably won't be replacing them for years, certainly not for every fad that comes along.

Short of exploding TV's, of course sales will plateau without some incentive. The incentive, though, is not 3D or HHHHHD, or some other gimmick any more.

When LCD TV's came out, we started to replace our huge cubical boxes with them because - and this is pretty much the biggest selling point of an LCD - you could hang them flush on the wall and regain 16 or so cubic feet of space for no loss. When HD came out, it didn't really hit home (and I still see people playing SD content on HD TV's and gasping over it without realising) but, along with digital TV and the LCD space-saving incentive, it was the right time to change hardware and almost everyone did. At once. Now. Done. Finished. Even grandmas had to change their telly to keep watching Corrie, so they did, got themselves some room in the corner of their living room, and carried on.

What's to change that for again? Maybe some early adopters missed out on the HD-ness, or the digital-side but they've rebought or compensated for that mistake now. So all you're seeing are natural, base-line sales after everyone's upgraded to the superior product (for many reasons, combining to a SINGLE upgrade for each TV over the last few years).

You can't keep making people upgrade things like that without an incentive and, really, what's the incentive now? 3D? No thanks. A lot of people can't even see it or it affects their vision so you can't just bundle it by default either (poor sods with vision in only one eye probably REFUSE to upgrade to it, even for free, for instance).

I have deliberately put off buying an LCD TV until it settled, for instance, and that point was probably last year. The problem is - my TV still works and in 4:3 is actually giving a bigger image on widescreen content than a lot of widescreens (so it's actually a loss to all of my stored 4:3 content to upgrade to anything that isn't something ridiculous like 40"). I don't need the space but may be moving soon and, yes, probably then I will buy myself a nice LCD TV to get the most out of a having a bigger room with no cabling worries.

But after that? What do they expect me to do? Just keep buying TV's for no benefit? It ain't going to happen. For a few hundred quid, I can get a 36" LCD TV with Ethernet, Twin-SCART, quad-HDMI, VGA, DVI, Composite and even Aerial in, with Freeview tuner, interactive content, DLNA access, internet-browsing, USB ports, smartphone control, less energy consumption than my old CRT, and more knobs and whistles than I can shake a stick at. Precisely what else do they think I *need*, to the point I will throw all that away to buy something else, if I already have that?

The market "dwindling" isn't news. It's just hit peak and now we can get back to normality until some moron decides that 1080p isn't enough and we all need to have 7 million HD channels and not just a few thousand ordinary channels on our digital TV.

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Assange's Ecuador asylum bid has violated £200k UK bail, say cops

Lee Dowling
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Re: breach of bail conditions?

Can't really feel sorry for them, to be honest.

I'd have to think twice if I was asked to post bail for my best friend or a close relative, let alone a stranger whose cause I may agree with (I don't, by the way, and think he's pretty much getting what he deserved with all this hassle, especially that the leaks in question were so petty and minor that it wasn't worth the effort, and the sensationalism when he could have just agreed to give evidence to the Swedish court by, e.g. video (which he could have then published online, court permitting)). I certainly wouldn't be putting up huge sums in front of a court as a guarantee that I believe they won't do a runner - it's not the huge sums that would put me off doing that (I'd be getting those back from the culprit as soon as they got out of jail), but the guarantee to the court!

Posting bail for someone is a HUGE thing to do. You have to be pretty certain that they didn't do it (i.e. they were with you at the time), and would never run away, to even consider it. And if I did post bail, I'd keep an eye on the guy myself - sod the police, he wouldn't have made it to the Ecuadorian embassy if I'd been the one posting bail for him - I'd have handed him in myself because that's an absolute breach of trust over the whole "bailing him out" process I would have undertaken. And if he did get that far, he'd have to deal with me when he got out of there too.

Posting bail is not something you should do lightly or for a celebrity (that's all he is) with a cause you support. It's a serious undertaking that you are vouching for that person's trustworthiness in front of a court.

And, to turn around and breach bail on your friends who did that for you is probably more disgusting than anything Wikileaks published from the Manning leaks. The only thing I can think is that he's trying to make EVERYONE hate him as publicly as possible so that it's impossible to get a fair jury who don't know who he is or how much of a moron he's been.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Petty, petty, petty

No.

This is a falsehood. It's still UK soil. However, it's considered "illegal" for law enforcement officers to enter without authorisation form the ambassador (but, when he says Yes, they can come in and arrest Assange if they want).

Google the relevant laws for embassies. The ambassador has immunity to prosecution, yes, the embassy is still English soil, though. We just have an arrangement that we won't storm in and arrest everyone there without permission. That's considered standard fare for embassies worldwide and has been for decades.

Also, see the QI episode where they mention this too. Nor can a ship's captain marry a couple.

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Schneier spanks AV industry over Flame failures

Lee Dowling
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Re: Reactive broken model?

Why should plugging in a USB stick mean that your OS is compromised? Firewire, I'd give you, because that allows arbitrary memory location DMA as part of the protocol (which is why Firewire should die a death and is disabled on every machine I manage).

But a USB stick is just a mass storage device. Autorun should not do run. Your systems should be configured to refuse to run executables from external device (if you have any care about the security of your system, that is). Users who manually execute a program from a USB stick via whatever method (e.g. copying it to the machine and authorising it) should be disciplined accordingly.

People just assume that there's nothing you can do about this because, on most people's home PC's, they don't BOTHER to do anything about it. It's nonsense. Arbitrary code execution is NOT required for any in-place system. And the bigger you are and the more customers and data you have, the more reason you have to STOP arbitrary code execution occurring.

It's not an AV issue (which is nothing more than a miner's canary for when you DO have something infect your machine), it's a security issue - spurred on by the use of general purpose machines and operating systems for EVERY LITTLE THING. You should NOT be running code. Why does the person who operates a till in a shop require anything more than till controls? Why does the person handling the legal stuff at your solicitors need more than a menu of options and a word-processor to run? They don't. We just think they do nowadays, because we're used to having that control. So rather than a list of options that it's not physically possible to choose the "Format my hard drive" option because it doesn't exist, we hand them a general purpose OS where they can literally do anything and then try, half-heartedly, to pare it back to stop them breaking it too quickly.

If your staff can run anything they like, can play about in browsers, can go on the Internet, can play Minesweeper and Solitaire, it means you DIDN'T lock down their computers for work-only use. Thus, anything that happens is your own fault. Your antivirus costs are ENTIRELY due to your own laziness in failing to secure the system.

With SELinux and even things like Windows Software Restriction Policies, there's no excuse for anyone larger than a small business to have virus infections on their systems. It's just laziness and the convenience of being able to do non-work things traded off against your system security. If you wouldn't play Flash games on your network servers, why would you allow it on the clients that handle your customers banking details (no matter how indirectly)? And a verbal ban, we all know if we have kids, is about as secure as a Ford Fiesta parked in a dodgy area. Don't tell your staff not to do X or assume they won't (e..g don't use Internet Explorer, don't run games, don't install software, etc.). Make it 100% impossible for them to do so, if you care about your security.

The tools are there. Nobody uses them because they obviously *don't* want to stop people going on Facebook in their lunch hour on the same machine that they're typing in customer's details into during the day. If they cared, it wouldn't be possible. And neither would a virus infection.

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Internet Explorer bug patched only a week ago now being exploited

Lee Dowling
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It does worry me, not that people are still finding bugs in IE, but that those bugs are so prevalant and easy to find, and nobody has bothered to actual fix the cause (not just patch the resulting symptom).

Use-after-free = we don't track variable state / memory handling properly and could crash your browser in a second even in normal use.

ASLR = defeated by making IE load an "old" pre-ASLR DLL (why do those still exist, and why don't their addresses get randomised by some wrapper for them?)

DEP = defeated by putting "jmp" statements into the data area (instead of literal code) that call into executable memory which does the actual work instead. (Why is this allowed and why does the "jmp" not get classed as an execution in a data area too?)

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1

T-Mobile outs low-cost mobile data roaming bundles

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Hmmmm

I think you're mistaken if you believe that any one company is better than the other.

I've had horrendous experiences with Three, as have a lot of people I know. And it covers all areas - customer service, contracts, coverage, you name it.

You can't pretend today that there's a magic company who'll solve all your problems forever. It's always a compromise of what experience you get personally. For me, Virgin have been wonderful for everything from phone, cable, mobile, etc. which is why I'm on them. Absolutely everyone I know whinges about them constantly but I can't say I've really had any trouble with them. T-Mobile were good to me for mobiles (and Virgin piggy-backs on their signal). But Three threatened to sue me for a phone that never arrived and friends with Three phones can't get a signal in many areas at all (T-Mobile, on the other hand, has given me a signal everywhere I've ever been, even in the Highlands). One of them, we joke because she always gets cut off 20 seconds into the conversation and we keep telling her to learn how to use a phone box. Orange had an horrendous reputation amongst my family, as do BT / O2.

It's the same with everything - phones, broadband, banks, insurance companies, you name it. One lot of people will never touch them again and one lot will *only* consider them. And, depending on who you ask, where they live, what kind of house they live in, how stroppy they are to customer services, what date they joined, etc. you get different answers for what's best for them.

Maintain your own personal blacklist, like I do, but eventually you'll find yourself on a company that everyone else keeps telling you are awful and you'll get nothing but good service out of them. I will never touch NatWest ever again on the basis of one incident years ago (who cares if they've changed - they had their chance and didn't want to know), and HSBC are fast pushing themselves out of consideration since they laughed (literally) the last time I asked them for a mortgage (and this was just before the mortgage crash, and we got a mortgage from the shop NEXT DOOR to our usual HSBC branch, at lower rates, we never missed a mortgage payment, and ended up paying it off after three years at profit to us and them... who's laughing now?) and I deliberately went and wasted an hour of their manager's time because they charged me for one of those "your cheque cleared a microsecond after the payment you made three days after you handed the cheque in" moments (they refused to tell me if I'd cost them more than the "fine" they imposed for their slow systems to process a cheque in the modern age, so I stayed another 20 minutes just to make sure).

My girlfriend hated HSBC, so she moved to Halifax but my feelings weren't strong enough to do that, and Halifax are being a bit of a pain but are much nicer to her. But I guarantee I can find people who've gone the other way for similar reasons.

If you want to see if a company is worth it, use them. Personally, my best ever ISP service came from PlusNet, but I had innumerable problems with BT (and, strangely, BT owned PlusNet for the last three years before I moved onto Virgin - not for any problem I had with PlusNet). My best mobile service comes from Virgin, better even than the T-Mobile that they use as a backend (how is that possible?). I've worked my way through most of the major banks over the years and still not found one I "like", just one I can tolerate.

Ignore what others have said. Seriously. Otherwise you become like my ex-father-in-law who thought that anything that Which magazine recommended must be the best thing ever and would pay literally 5-10 times the price necessary to get the exact model they recommended OF EVERYTHING. Still, he had a never-ending range of problems with them, but he never saw that.

Get yourself a SIM of the other networks on PAYG (hell, they're £1 each now, if that, and most will post you a few free ones). Judge for yourself. Pick the winner.

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Lee Dowling
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STOP accounting in Megabytes and I might actually bother to use my phone abroad.

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Tumbleweed-plagued Google+ is minus Bejeweled and Wooga

Lee Dowling
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Re: Tumbleweed-plagued Google+

Gosh. So it's like a newsgroup. Or a forum. Or a Steam group. Or any of a billion and one interest forums.

I agree that's different from Facebook. Facebook isn't interested in that, so much. You can "like" things but the only people who will really care are the friends / family you already have linked on there. That's probably why Facebook is filled with people linking in their entire social circle and G+ is regarded as a bit of a dead-horse, then, really?

I'm on Facebook to share photos with my family and put the odd bit of family news or funnies on there. I'm not on G+ because of the reasons you state - there's nobody on there who's doing that, it's all just "interest groups". I have that. That's the whole point of things like newsgroups, forums, etc. But I can't get my granny onto G+, because of lots of associated hassle and the fact that NOBODY else I know is on there. Literally. I have 5 different IM accounts linked into Pidgin, I have Facebook, hell I have my own pseudo-private family website to share things like Christmas lists and wedding photos, etc. What I don't have is a single person from those lists wanting me to come onto G+ so they can do something we don't already do on other media.

Facebook isn't about meeting strangers. Google+ isn't about meeting friends. That's the problem. That's why nobody's on it. I don't WANT to meet other educational ICT specialists with an interest in Counter-Strike and Encryption. If I did, there's places for me to meet those people already. Google Calendar, on the other hand, is fabulous for sharing among people and we often use Google Calendar to organise international meetings of friends. But what, precisely, would I let my Google account go on G+ for that I can't already do?

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3

Office 365: This cloud isn't going to put any admins out of a job

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: My experience

So someone paid you, say:

*************over £200 a month (oh, plus 20% so that's over £240) ***************

to provide them with an office suite and hosted email for a small business. BARGAIN! (spot the sarcasm).

Guess the monthly cost of my employers setup with 50+ staff, 400 students? Zero. Literally, the Office licenses were one-off purchases on VL pricing some years ago and they haven't needed to upgrade. They also get hosted email for free if they wanted (we run Linux servers for lots of in-house and external hosting stuff already and email is barely scratching a config file to enable). We use hosted webmail that we get for free with our annual domain hosting package. It has a spam filter we can configure. It also doesn't charge us any extra if we suddenly double the number of staff.

Win for you, obviously, with your 20%, but not really a sensible proposition for ANYONE who has a brain and/or knows a guy in IT even through a third-party.

Some people don't want to configure stuff and don't know what's possible themselves, but suggesting that Office 365 is ALWAYS a good deal for someone with up to 50 users is ridiculous. If you are big enough to have an IT guy, even a part-time one or an external one, they should damn well not be costing you £200 a month for Office and email on top of your usual costs and their wages. If your IT guy doesn't SAVE YOU his wages in his first year compared to the alternative, you should ditch him. Guess what I would suggest your clients do for you?

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5

Scots council: 9-yr-old lunch blogger was causing 'distress and harm'

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in next week's staff meeting.

And I'd love to see them televise Monday morning's assembly now.

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Scottish council muzzles 9-year-old school dinner photo blogger

Lee Dowling
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Re: They may ban her from taking photos...

They certainly can't ban her drawing a picture of the meal like she's sometimes done when the camera wasn't available. And I think at this point, anything she doesn't post will be filled in with the reader's imagination which, given the state of some of those dinners, can only be worse than the reality.

The council have done themselves no favours here. They picked a weak target and instead of some encouragement, some hand-waving and then burying the whole affair they have managed to make an international news issue of it.

You know what, if the truth is JUST THAT BAD, maybe you should fix the truth and apply for more funding (what a perfect time for the local council to say it needs more funding if it's to provide better school meals!), rather than try to silence those taking an accurate photograph of what they were served.

Why is it that the student's are doing more than the teachers / heads / council nowadays to get things improving? I'm beginning to think the idea of a "free school", an example of which exists somewhere up north as an independent school where all rules and changes are decided by student panel, might be the right idea in that case. Hell, it's not long ago that the whole "schoolboy in a skirt" thing took to the news over similarly ludicrous school rules.

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Tesco grabs Peter Gabriel's musical streamer

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Self-service checkouts

I can't stand them. I avoid them, and their ilk, in every shop I go in. They are nonsensical and wasteful. It takes me longer to get my shopping through (time yourself... you can't be as quick with all the junk they put in your way like the bagging area scales, stupid touchscreen messages etc.), causes more inconvenience if something is missing a label / barcode / whatever, doesn't allow me to buy certain things (without one of the compulsory 2-3 members of staff who watch over the machines authorising it for you anyway), and stops me doing convenient things like topping up a Tesco International Calling Card, buying stamps at the checkout, etc. etc. etc. Why on earth would anyone touch them unless they have literally one or two items (in which case I would tend to go to a smaller and nearer newsagent or equivalent for those items anyway rather than bother with a huge superstore that takes me ten minutes to park and walk through to buy the one item I need). And let's not forget - 99% of the time, there is a QUEUE to use those checkouts. WHY!?!??!?!?! I love playing the "beat-ya" game of pushing my trolley / basket down to a proper, human cashier and coming out the other end quicker than those with less items trying to use the automated systems. And don't even get me started on the old granny / stupid idiot phenomenon that can treble your time at those things.

I have the same problems with those machines in WHSmith, banks, and everywhere else. I don't see the advantage for any of them. I'm hard-pressed to think of a place that would benefit from them enough to justify the cost and hassle. Seriously, if you have to employ someone to encourage people to use them and help them use them, couldn't you just have put that person behind a till? I honestly don't see that it scales for the companies that use them. If it did, we could have done it decades ago and every shop would have them now and there'd be no such thing as a cashier.

And what happens when the store is busy? They put on more cashiers. They don't trundle out more automated checkouts. It's very telling.

And, besides all those measurable and provable consequences, give me a human. Because I'm not a robot and you really don't want me thinking of your company and staff as faceless corporate drones. Self-service checkouts are like automated telephone systems. I'll tolerate them if it gives me an advantage. I've yet to see an advantage for me, and thus I avoid them wherever possible and "just press 9 to talk to a 'bag of mostly water' instead".

4
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ICANN eggfaced after publishing dot-word biz overlords' personal info

Lee Dowling
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Happy

Re: Conspiracy Theory #2,305:

Where can I send a donation to, to aid the efforts of these insiders?

1
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RIPE reverse DNS broken for much of day

Lee Dowling
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Didn't even notice, but I do have a couple of reverse lookup failures in my logs during that time now that I come to look. Looks like they were IP that were listed on spamhaus anyway, so the mail server just ignored them still.

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Reborn UK internet super-snooper charter to be unveiled today

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Bring it on ....

Cue the idiots with the "acres of datacentres" arguments. Oh, no, we're not on an American forum...

You can have all the datacentres you want. Literally MILLIONS of computers. Hell, BILLIONS. You can do everything computational that you need to. And then at some point you have to pull that amount of data in, put in into only a handful of places and do something useful with it, in real-time because storage will never be anywhere near adequate for even a second of country-wide data, and that's where the problem lies. The fastest Internet lines in the world are deployed in the oceans to transport data internationally. Put all of them from one country into a single place and the amount of data is stupidly ridiculous to handle. We're talking MILLIONS of Googles.

Sure, you can spot obvious stuff but you should have your spies doing that anyway (and what's wrong with a legal request for that same obvious stuff?). That's what an intelligence agency is for - to go find this stuff that people don't talk about publicly using specific leads you've obtained through INTELLIGENCE - not to just comb everyone in the country like they might be a spy at some point and overreact to people talking like spies in chatrooms or speaking to their friends in Kabul.

It's not a number-crunching exercise. It really isn't. The number-crunching things every ISP can do for you if you ask (e.g. "I want to know who accesses this carder forum that you own"), it's the things of interest to INTELLIGENCE that they can't do and no amount of number-crunching will aid that. This is why I'm suspicious of any intelligence agency that request money to do number-crunching. It means you went wrong. It means you don't have agents enough. It means you don't have enough people on the inside. It means you don't know who or what you're looking for in the first place.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: How long before

I can't see that as any more than a scare story.

- Facebook can require mandatory HTTPS.

- Google can require mandatory HTTPS and two-factor authentication.

- Any bank you care to name has been encrypting traffic forever.

- Any server you log into online (e.g. work servers, cloud servers, dedicated web servers, etc.) I guarantee you that the keys are secure and the admins don't reveal them unless by warrant.

- Most email accounts now require SSL encryption to send and receive.

- Anything you buy online is basically "unhackable" (but side-channels of just asking Amazon what you bought have and will always exist for use by intelligence gathering agencies - but this isn't part of their plans here)

You can't "outlaw" encryption, its use is far too widespread. For a start, it was invented by the intelligence agencies themselves. And with compulsory SSL for online purchasing, banking, government-gateway access, etc. it's very hard to backtrack especially when, given the nature of encrypted communications, you have no idea what's in the packets (only the source and destination, if they are accurate and not proxied in any way). You could be doing things like OTR over your GTalk account and it's virtually impossible for anyone but Google and yourself to know that just by packet sniffing. Blanket-sniffing powers DO NOT HELP and never have.

In fact, all measures like this do is push us CLOSER to an always-encrypted Internet. Bog-standard TCP/IP underneath and then every layer above encrypted and closed off. And eventually the same will happen to privacy too (Tor-like anonymisation layers, etc.). All these efforts do is make the people who ask for them's job harder. 30 years ago, people were running telnet, FTP, SMTP, POP3, all unencrypted. Now there's barely a protocol in active use that isn't encrypted any more. 30 years ago, you could probably work out who just about any individual was on the Internet even if just down to the phone number they were dialling from.

Now you'd be lucky to identify what country, what location and what time of CCTV footage to look at to find out, if someone doesn't want to be found (which is why "Chinese hackers" should instantly set off alarm bells in your head - really? How do you know that? You can distinguish a compromised or deliberate Chinese proxy from a real Chinese person just by their packets now can you? To the certainty to call them acts of war? And you *know* they are the ultimate source of the packets being sent and not a red herring designed to get you to attack an innocent nation? Amazing technology you have there - you don't NEED to have this legislation if that's possible, surely?)

I have nothing to hide. If you want to browse my browser history, you'll find nothing of interest (probably this comment would rate higher than 99.999999% of the things I've ever done online in terms of interest to a spy agency). But the fact is I will fight you every inch of the way to BEING ABLE to do that. Just out of principle, if nothing else. You have no need to know that information unless you're investigating a crime. If you're investigating a crime, charge me, and I'll tell you everything you want to know with my lawyer present (I'm not stupid enough to lie about things I've done in a court or police interview, but neither am I stupid enough to think I know what I'm obliged to tell you and what I'm not without a lawyer present), and I won't object to ANY subpoena to go through my possessions and data in pursuit of the STATED alleged crime. Even if I'd done the crime, refusing is stupid at that point, law or not.

But the fact is that without that sort of background and suspicion, you won't legally touch my email without my permission. Just out of principle. It's no different to having checkpoints on the roads where **everyone** has to get out of their cars, one by one, prove the car is theirs, explain their journey, vouch for their passengers, etc. Not even random stopchecks, or pulling over the thing putting out black smoke, just everyone. It is, quite literally, a breakdown of society to suggest we need to do that and this is the digital equivalent.

As such, until they sort out the problem these laws would bring, I and I imagine a lot of others would just encrypt and anonymise whatever is possible until there is a two-tier Internet - one of packet transport and one an encrypted payload layer.

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Stephen Fry's Pushnote goes titsup

Lee Dowling
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For someone so educated and "IT-literate", he does use a lot of junk when it comes to computing. Starting with lots of Apple hardware fandom and continuing through junk like Twitter, etc.

His video on Linux and open-source was spot-on, which makes me wonder exactly why he does things like that.

Oh, and his books are atrocious too, apparently. That said, he's still better educated generally than I am, so it's nice to know he has weaknesses in areas that I consider my strength... :-)

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