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* Posts by Lee Dowling

1188 posts • joined 28 Mar 2007

Raspberry Pi supplier coughs to ship date delay glitch

Lee Dowling
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Re: I'm still waiting for my Open Pandora

I managed to avoid said project, despite being very interested in it from exposure to its "predecessor in essence" the GP32 / GP2X. That's where the idea for that device came from, and at first it looked like a really good project.

3 years on, people are STILL waiting for those first-day orders and even getting bypassed by new orderers who want to pay ridiculous sums of money for what is basically a glorified GP2X /BeagleBoard. And *ALL* due to disgusting business practices that are excused by being "amateur" / "nonprofit" / etc.

Sorry, if you're selling a product, you're a business. You may be nonprofit but still a business. And you ALWAYS have certain obligations to your customer / the law no matter what happens or what definition you want to use.

Sadly, the RPi seems to be heading down the exact same lines, even with its "fanatics" posting on the forums about how people should shut up because "it's non-profit so what do you expect"? I expect the same as any other business gives me, and especially the same as any other business supplying a school would give that school. And if you're AIMING at schools, as stated on national TV broadcasts, amateur hour isn't the way to go.

I DIDN'T pre-order the OP precisely because of all that mismanagement, despite being there from before Day One (and still wouldn't touch them now, if I'm honest). I did pre-order the OP only because I was given the impression it was an ORDER that could be fulfilled almost immediately and then got stung in the whole "launch day" debacle.

I predict the next problems will involve distribution, queues, ordering, profit margins, cases, "upgraded" versions, component shortages, etc. I reckon that by the time the suppliers get to the point where they can churn through the customer lists for sending out orders, the hype will have died down and the number of people interested will be minimal.

I truly HATE seeing good ideas fail because nobody knows how to do business, or bothers to find someone who does.

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Sarkozy hails 'success' of Hadopi's pirate cops

Lee Dowling
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"Hadopi's stats say that 6 per cent of internet subscribers have received a warning – and 95 per cent of those who received only one warning stopped infringing, and received no second warning. Of those receiving a second warning, 92 per cent stopped infringing. Ninety-eight per cent of those who received a third also stopped."

Correction. Replaced stopped with "may have continued to do so using undetectable methods".

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Republicans shoot down proposed ban on Facebook login boss-snoop

Lee Dowling
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Stupid Consequence #1 of modern "democracy".

You are voting for a person, who votes for what you AND THOUSANDS OF OTHERS want.

Stupid Consequence #2:

Voting for someone because of the party they are in when they clearly have NONE of your issues at heart and don't care about it.

If they write back to TELL you that you are wrong, that means you should never have voted for them in the first place. But you did. And put them in power. Which makes them more likely to get into elsewhere and stay in power again.

Modern democracy just means that it's impossible to find someone who's worth voting for. I've never voted precisely because of this. There is not one single person on the voting slip that I have even HEARD of, let alone met, let alone know intimately, let alone feel confident in trusting with handling the majority of issues I feel strongly about.

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Hasbro fails to win Asus Transformer Prime ban

Lee Dowling
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Re: Hasbro has history against it.

Did anyone REALLY think that Apple is only allowed to be used by Apple Computers?

Of course there's precedent. Go search on Companies House for UK companies with Apple in the name. There's hundreds. Hell, there are six "Apple Accountancy" in various forms.

And that's the COMPANY NAME, not just a single tag on a single product. So long as you're not trying to "pass off" as the other company then it's fine. If they have a trademark, they have to pay to register it in EVERY CATEGORY they want to use it in (so trademarks can get very expensive very quickly) and if they don't use it properly in one of those categories, they can lose it.

And even when there is a direct conflict between an established trademark and some "use" of it somewhere, it's not necessarily the trademark that will win: Too generic, only part of the name, other uses predate the trademark, etc.

No company in the world owns the right to a particular, well-known, English word. They can hold certain very limited rights in certain very limited circumstances at their own expense and risk, but that's about it.

Stop using generic worlds to describe your company / product. Google even did it (from "googol"). Windows. Apple. Kindle. Amazon.

But did Zoopla? I doubt it. So you INSTANTLY stand a lot more legal chance in defending a trademark of Zoopla against such things, than of any of the largest IT companies / products out there, even someone is OBVIOUSLY trying to pass itself off as that particular company/product.

Make up some junk. Easy to remember. If you're successful, everyone will learn it. If you're not, nobody will care about your name. And you can *honestly* steer clear of having to deliberately initiate such silly lawsuits because you have to "defend" your trademark.

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Judge orders O2 to name suspected smut burglars

Lee Dowling
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Re: RADIUS Server Logfiles are not Proof

And when you've gone to the expense of finding all that, what do you hope to prove with an IP address and a filename they downloaded?

Because courts are reluctant to prosecute until you can RELIABLY identify an individual. An IP address corresponds to a phone line, at best. Sure, you could search and seize on the address, given the court's approval, but *PROVING* they had anything to do with it is going to be very tricky anyway.

Now multiply that up by wanting to search and seize lots of people, along with common knowledge that certain trackers insert fake / falsified addresses into their torrent swarms deliberately, and you're asking the judge to approve a mass search warrant over multiple potentially innocent properties. For a film worth a few pounds. Though, technically, there's nothing to say he couldn't do it, it's likely to be INCREDIBLY frowned upon because the intrusion will almost certainly never be justified by the outcome.

It's really like searching the house of every John in London because you once caught someone whose friend called him John stealing a DVD from your shop, but he got away. At some point, the CPS / judge just has to say no, or the future implications don't bear thinking about.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Intellectual?

Intangible Property.

Much more descriptive and accurate.

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TSA bars security guru from perv scanner testimony

Lee Dowling
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Re: Quite innocuous, everyday items can be used.

And you can't do that with a necklace? Or a coat? Or a jumper? Or a handbag-handle? Or a plastic bag?

This is the problem, which is why the TSA doesn't want to expose this publicly - ANYTHING can be used as a weapon and some of the least obvious things can do the most damage. Trying to garotte someone is really an ineffective method of attack anyway - they will take minutes to go down and attract a lot of attention. You'd be better off just whacking them over the head with a bit of luggage.

There is NO logic in banning 100ml+ fluid containers if I can book 20 people onto the same flight. There is NO logic in banning cables when they can't be used on the pilots anyway (real security - lock your fecking cockpit doors!) and the pilots wouldn't be stupid enough to cede control because of what's happening to the passengers. There is NO logic in requiring me to put a laptop into a separate box - what do you think you'll see there that you wouldn't see inside the bag / wouldn't have missed on its own if I'd just put it inside the bag anyway?

All these things are elements of paranoia, not security, and come at the EXPENSE of security. Scrap them all and have your officers have a 10 second chat with every passenger instead. You'll discover a LOT more.

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OAP sues Apple for $1m after walking into store's glass door

Lee Dowling
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Apple

Again, "design" over utility. Glass doors that you can't see because they "look" nice. Anyone else remember having to drag the CD icon to the Wastebin icon in order to eject a CD? And there being NO other way of doing so should the computer fail?

Glass panels can easily be totally invisible, and if they were in the shop window, I'd say tough. It should have been obvious that they were there even if you couldn't see them. But if they were in the doorways, that's just another You've Been Framed conservatory-door waiting to happen. Sometimes you just CANNOT see them and if you don't expect them to be there, you can do damage.

That said, warning stickers already present and breaking your nose? Sorry. I don't buy it. They either had the warning stickers or didn't, and you either accidentally walked into it or you ran full-pelt into the damn thing. Worst I imagine happening would be a bruised ego and maybe a nosebleed if you're particularly sensitive to them, and if you're 83 I doubt that a turn of speed was entirely sensible and maybe your eyesight IS already failing.

In the school I work in, we had to put stickers at eye-height on things that were clear-glass, even if they were in a 3-foot-wide frame and quite clearly a door. I'm not sure if that was H&S-mongery or whether there's actually something about it in the law.

But, honestly, why do you WANT whole-glass fronts? The Apple shops are bare enough of product as it is without advertising the fact. And if you do have thousands of *THE* most expensive product out there, it might be an idea to use something unbreakable too, rather than a 20-foot-long pane of glass.

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Dot Pharmacy: New web weapon in war on duff drug peddlers

Lee Dowling
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Re: So...

You're forgetting. The world isn't just America. So who gets to decide what's classified as a pharmacy and what's not? Who gets the .pharmacy marker and who doesn't? Where can those businesses legally trade in the world (i.e. can someone legitimately "steal" aspirin.pharmacy or similar and hold it to ransom over the rest of the world that uses that brand name)?

It's a silly idea. No sillier than all the others (".bank"? Really?) but still silly. It's the Internet equivalent of a designer tag on your shoes. Ten times the price, only to those who pay the premium and no advantage.

If .pharmacy (or even .pharmacy.uk) ever exists, do you think that everyone in the world will only look there, and that they can trust everything that's there, and that's it's even vaguely relevant to the country they are in, or that they'll bother to check?

.TLD's are a worthless status symbol, designed to generate money for ICANN. I work somewhere that has a .mobi. It's never been used. The mobile site is actually on our main domain (a .co.uk, which is in itself inaccurate for us), but we had to have the .mobi "so that someone else doesn't".

Have you got a name? Can people access it? That's about all that matters. You don't need seven billion TLD's that all say the same thing or "describe their function" (because they never do!) when one, well-advertised, works just as well. How many com's are international companies, how many .org.uk are UK non-profit organisations? And if you CAN enforce it globally, who decides who is allocated "nazimemorabilia.museum", whether that's a legitimate museum or not, and who's going to risk the row of blocking/allowing it? And if there is no controversy, what makes you think people are going to know about or even touch .pharmacy compared to any other TLD (I just did my first visit to a .something which wasn't com, org, net or a country TLD just now!).

I think I would avoid any pharmacy on principle that used it (not that I would buy pharmaceuticals online anyway, or think that's even close to a good idea). It means they spent a lot of money and certification process to be in something that's completely useless, and that would filter down into their prices too.

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Baffling barcode-on-steroids stickers plaster the EARTH

Lee Dowling
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Re: @Lee Dowling

Has nothing to do with honesty.

Why *panic*? That just MAKES people suspicious. If your immediate reaction to blue lights is to think the police are behind you - okay. If this then provokes panic in you, maybe you shouldn't be a naughty boy, or maybe you should learn not to look like a drugs mule shuffling through customs holding their stomach.

There is a certain in-built human response to authority to jolt slightly in the "Who? Me?" way, and a tendency in the guilty and inexperienced to give themselves away by such over-sensitivity of the reaction (sweating, nervousness, shuffling, etc.). Don't trust the incredibly calm, either. It's a sign of professionalism and them being accustomed to a police presence.

If you panic at the sight of blue-lights, if I were a policeman, I'd probably pull you over, just to see. Most people just look, indicate, make way (usually in 1-2 foot "edge-forwards" if in traffic).

It took a cop over a mile to pull me over the other day. He looked at my car at a roundabout, followed me, then blue-lighted when we were both in the middle lane (so I waited until it was safe and pulled into the left-lane), where he then followed me and blue-lighted again (at which point I realised he wanted *me*, not to get past), and then again at a suitable layby where I pulled in. If I'd been "oh, crap" and just pulled in, I'd have been suspicious of me too. I'd seen him at the roundabout, of course, but he was just a car. I was just driving as I normally would. I pulled over to make way for him like I normally would. I wasn't running down the street thinking "Oh, blue lights, he's after me", or making my driving reflect that.

But he'd already picked me out for pulling because he'd seen my lovely un-matching two-tone bumper and bonnet on a clapped-out Mondeo. I think he thought it would be an easy pull. I had the MOT certificate on the seat next to me from the previous day. He got out, I waited in the car (because I don't know why he's pulled me or if he is worried I'll jump out into the traffic), he came to the window, he looked at the MOT, we exchanged pleasantries about me not having the compulsory gaffer-tape-on-the-bumper to warn him of a Mondeo driver, he went on his way and barely looked at the car itself. He told *me* that I'd seen him at the roundabout, because I didn't know it was the same cop car. I think the slightest jerk of the car (or jerk in the car) when the blues and twos come on would have made him take a much closer look at things.

Whether you trust the police or not, whether you've done wrong or not, unusual reactions to their presence makes them doubly suspicious instantly. "What speed were you doing?" - the correct answer is "X mph" or "I don't know, officer". Not "Why should I tell you?" or "WE DID NOTHING WRONG!".

Blue lights should NOT make you jump or change driving patterns - whether you're doing something wrong or not.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Colour QR

I spent years looking into "homebrew" backup solutions back in the days of dodgy CD-R's and floppies. I even had a Video Backer that I took to pieces to find out how it worked. And I looked into paperising data too, as a sort of side-hobby while doing my Coding Theory courses at uni.

Turns out, anything with high enough a data density to be useful, the format was unreliable and weakened far too easily over time, and more and more unreadable. And anything with lower data density to be able to effectively store it - you might as well just print it out as English text / Hex codes. There's a tiny sweet spot but it's really been sucked into the real of 8Gb Flash drives nowadays, so it's not worth the effort.

So the world revolves again, keeping its data safe by just constantly moving it onto multiple copies of newer and newer media and expanding the data size by parity, checksum, etc. to check that its (probabilistically) okay. Not much of our data will survive to become archaeology, but that's pretty true of anyone that's ever lived anyway. Why should our data be more useful to future investigators than the Roman coins?

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Lee Dowling
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Re: So do people actually scan these things?

You, sir, are a genius.

I'm off to print out a thousand sticky labels with "rickroll" QR codes. If you were really unscrupulous, you could even direct them to, say advertising sites that generate revenue....

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Lee Dowling
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Re: What really annoyes me

Bigger question: Why do you panic when you see blue flashing lights?

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Council to chuck £28m wad at schools' ICT supplier

Lee Dowling
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Re: Who ate all the pis

"MS basically gives away software to schools"

Really? Because I'd be interested where that option is. MS all-but refuse to sell them anything but an annually-recurring license for everything they could potentially have (used or not) if they have large sites (e.g. secondary) and "you're on your own" for smaller (e.g. Primaries). Some Borough have agreements, but I assure you it's far from "given away".

Hell, sometimes it's cheaper to just get the software yourself. Pugh.co.uk are probably the biggest educational-focused software licensing place I know. Go look at their prices.

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El Reg Forums FAQ

Lee Dowling
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Personally, I have serious concerns.

You're going to reinvent the wheel to produce a modern-day forum with HTML, maybe messaging, etc. It's just seems like the first step on the path to disaster to me. The simplicity of the forums are what save you from the spam - nobody is going to bother to try plain-text links because they won't help the google ranking and can be modded to oblivion quite easily. But now opening up features that others have "just because"? It seems like that's the time that you'll have to reinvent the defences that all forum software have been building themselves for the last ten years, but doing it on your own, via your own code. I don't want yet-another site where I have to be careful what I click if I'm one of the first commenters (and the 100-post limit will be worked around, I'm sure - we'll see lots of "Yeah, me too" posts now, for those fake users that spammers want to hold in reserve for where their current one gets caught spamming).

It just seems like an invite to a hacking / overloading the site when something goes wrong with that code - no matter how well you think you wrote it, or how much you tested it before. I'd have preferred things to just stay as they were with BUGFIXES, like the "not logged in" issue (where hardware.theregister.co.uk doesn't think I have a cookie but www.theregister.co.uk does but other sub-sites don't, etc. and I spend my life chasing logins and cookie timeout to post), like it being far too tricky to get to the list of your posts, or to see a post in context (play "guess which un-descriptive link to the article does the job and how many sub-levels you'll have to go through to get there), or even just simple stuff like actually using some decent, modern HTML to make the vote buttons work in-place.

Am I the only on who's now going to hold their breath before entering the comments section for at least the new few weeks to see when the spam (even just "helpful" spam to reader's own blog articles or whatever) starts? I give it a few weeks until the first kind of Javascript injection trick or whatever makes it through the filters (or even just bait-and-switch - make the link point to an article you want until it passes moderation, then change to something spammy).

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LibreOffice will have roadmap for cloud service next month

Lee Dowling
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Re: LibreOffice for Android

Sorry, but I use a computer for 80 hours a week, for everything from work to gaming and have done for the last 15 years (and quite a bit before that too).

Full-screen apps are full-screen for a reason. Sure, at times you use multiple programs / tabs / whatever but mostly that's because it's tricky to align everything you need to see on one screen otherwise. Forcing us all into overlaid, multiple apps isn't progress. There's a reason that the "full-screen, almost all of the time" usage pattern stayed with us and it's not due to lack of multi-tasking (I can remember Lotus Suite, which let you have multiple apps tiled on a DOS screen and working on both - back in the very early 90's before Windows took off).

It's because we need to see as much as possible of what's relevant and as little as possible of what's not. I spend 99% of my time with dozens of apps, all full-screen, each with dozens of sub-tabs, each full-screen, which I switch between at will. Information transference between them is minimal and well-defined and SHOULDN'T require them both onscreen (explorer drag/drop is a pain compared to Copy, Switch, Paste). There's nothing wrong with basic desktop or windowing concepts, we just don't use them to their full capability because, in the end, we're human and they are not and so they can do a lot more than we can handle at once.

And my Samsung Android phone is no exception. The single-most annoying feature, on phones and PC's, is things popping up over others and stealing your focus (either mental or keyboard), and things running "in the background" because they want to run all the time when you don't want them to.

The closest I get to "multi-views" is when programming in Eclipse. One window with code, one with debug information, one with the program. All tiled onto a full-screen because they are ALL relevant. But one minimise command or task-switch and they ALL go away at once, because they are all related. And I have several programmed "full-screen" layouts for code-bashing or debugging, for example. Because some info is relevant at some times and not at others and at other times I want to make FULL use of my screen on the task at hand (e.g. full source code views when I don't have debug windows showing).

In office work? I can't remember the last time I used a "windowed" pane, certainly not for more than a minute or so to compare two ends of a document, etc. Put it this way, I've been using OpenOffice for years instead of MS Office and I don't think I've *ever* used that function in it!

This is a lesson that smartphones have learned. The first thing they can ditch is true multitasking because most people will want to play a game OR make a phone call OR play with their settings, not all at the same time. My girlfriend has the same phone and it drives her mad when she's phoning that it *doesn't* always just go to a simple phone interface (with hang-up) for the entire duration of the call. She doesn't care that she was playing Angry Birds when it rang, or that she might be approaching her limit on the number of texts, or that the GPS has turned off. None of that matters because it's a damn phone in a phone call and the ONLY important functions are phone-call-related at that point. And if you're going to have them, they better be full-bloody-screen so you can read the damn things.

You somehow think that the PC was only full-screen apps - it's not, except by choice. Go look at any typical users usage (one who's found the maximise / minimise buttons preferably, but I can name dozens who still only run one app at a time even if they don't maximise them), go look at professional usage, hell I can spend two minutes lining up a single window where I'd like it. Full-screen, on the focus of the task you are doing. Maybe, just maybe, a statusbar showing the available apps, important cross-application notifications, and a clock (because that is a general-purpose item to the usage of a computer). Now look at the top bar of an Android phone. Same.

There's a reason phones run full-screen. And it's got nothing to do with resource limits. It's to do with usage patterns. Even as far back as Windows CE and Palms this was true.

Liberating us from full-screen apps is just a feature that hardly anyone will use, certainly not effectively. I don't want to spend my life arranging my phone-windows and working out where window X went or got tiled to. It has a small screen - USE IT ALL. If I need to use another program for something else, I'll switch to it and switch back. I can only watch one thing at once, I can only read one line at once, my eyes are not independent and multi-tasking, they are incredibly fast single-tasking units.

Sure, it's "cool" to play YouTube while looking at Google Maps but you can ONLY look at one of them at a time, even if you can hear multiple ones at once. For ALL of the screenshots of that app, I can't find one that I could actually see the point of beyond having a full-screen switched system. Either watch the match or read the papers. You can't do both, and if you're reading the papers, you can STILL hear the match and switch to it if anything interesting happens.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: LibreOffice for Android

Agreed. We are now (almost) where I thought we would soon be 10-15 years ago.

- Free operating system that you can tinker with the code to and which works on everything.

- Free office suite that you can tinker with the code to and which works on everything (though Lotus/Wordperfect compatibility has shifted to Office compatibility now).

- Cheap, powerful devices that range from desktops to laptops to tablets to smartphones able to run the above.

- Worldwide, ubiquitous network and services.

- Virtually everyone from grannies to children having appropriate access to the devices and networks.

All we really need is a bit more government adoption but government IT really is one of those things we should stop throwing money and salesmen at and start throwing geeks at. The "open data" initiatives are a step in the right direction but we still throw billions away on making schools provide themselves with Microsoft software individually. Meanwhile, the kids are all sitting in class with smartphones, have iPads and laptops at home, and could use whatever the hell software you wanted.

To me, if I were a sub-teenager now, I'd be in utopia. Cheap devices that you can change the whole OS on, program on for free, even program for other devices on, and smartphones that you can aim your apps at and that ALL YOUR FRIENDS can then play (who, also, you can talk to at any time of the day or night no matter where they are, and can find new groups of friends in minutes with shared interests), and internet resources to help you do all the above, push it to people and even make money from it.

If I'd had that when I was that age, I *seriously* would never have left the bedroom. I think people underestimate just how much the world has changed recently. Sure, there are still lots of unsolved problems (securing a corporate network against such devices, preventing inappropriate usage, etc.) but for your average person, and your dedicated geek, the world is slowly creeping towards science fiction.

Imagine in your early PC days if someone had said "Oh yeah, and this entire office suite is free and runs exactly the same on this touchscreen device the size of a credit card that anyone can have at a reasonable price, that also happens to be a general purpose computer with an open OS on it and powerful enough to take just about anything you throw at it because we got stuck at about 2-3GHz and haven't really progressed past that yet." You'd have not touched it for being quite obvious vapourware back then.

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The Facebook job test: Now interviewers want your logins

Lee Dowling
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Re: Surely this is illegal

I know that my server host has my root passwords stored somewhere (or root access of some kind). Doesn't mean I'll give it to a job interviewer, or employer.

I know HSBC has my bank details and access codes and PIN's stored somewhere. Doesn't mean I'll give them to a job interviewer, or employer.

I know the government has my tax records, passport numbers and medical details stored somewhere. Doesn't mean I'll give them to a job interviewer, or employer.

I know my phone company has my phone number and list of contacts stored somewhere. Doesn't mean I'll give them to a job interviewer, or employer.

You can be a privacy nazi all you like, but the fact is that most of that stuff just doesn't matter. I have nothing on Facebook apart from some family photos and "I crashed my car the other day". There's nothing that I'd be horrified them knowing. Hell, even the password is unique to Facebook. The point is THEY DON'T NEED TO SEE IT (which is why it's set to Friends only for most things). So they don't get it. No matter how nicely they ask. They might *technically* be able to get that data from other sources but I would consider that a gross invasion that would hurt them more than the data ever would be worth.

I could share a Facebook picture with the entire fecking world. It doesn't mean I'll give them, or you, a copy if you ask for it.

Privacy is about choice. If I want to tell my friends about my Facebook account, I can. If I don't want to tell my employer, I won't. With proper controls, they might *never* be able to find out, short of a court order. The Facebook DBA will already have that data and, if they're anything like the database work I do, you really, really, really don't care about what the data is past its ability to be read/written by the right people. And, just as an employer can be up before a tribunal for misusing personal information, the Facebook DBA will be up before a court if they play with it outside the bounds of their contract.

I'm in charge of school databases. That can (depending on the school) include everything from what the kids spend their lunch money on and how many lessons they've missed, up to an including (genuinely) reports of abuse at home, details of staff disciplinary procedures (and in one previous school, I know of a teacher sacked for accessing unsavoury child images during work-time, for instance), details of student's "previous lives" under witness-protection schemes, and all sorts of nasties. You can say "it doesn't matter, because X already knows" all you like - the fact is that they won't be finding out, and won't EVER have found out, from me.

Similarly, my photos and personal data (including what I was doing last night) and especially passwords and usernames are my business and thus, up to me to disseminate to who I see fit. And I won't. Because I've already made that choice. If you weren't on the list, there was a reason for that. Even if everyone if the world could find it if they went looking (like my phone number, for instance) - that's neither here nor there. If I refuse to give it to you, that's MY choice.

Your argument is akin to saying "Hell, the doctors and NHS can see your medical records already, so you might as well print them out and leave them in the pub". Stupid, nonsensical, counter-productive and shows NO CLUE about what privacy is at all.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Surely this is illegal

I think my actual, considered, reply in an interview would be:

"I'll do you a deal. You retract that question now, and don't ask any other candidates the same question, and I'll pretend I never heard it."

Should be shocking enough and warning enough for them to stop doing it (unless they are terminally stupid), enough to politely reassure an employer who *WAS* just testing you to see if you're stupid enough to give out logins just by being asked, and clear enough that - actually - I do understand employment law and if you pursue that course there will be trouble, job or not, and I *will* be asking other candidates if they were asked it.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Surely this is illegal

Almost-as-important: Would you hire someone who freely gives out their usernames and passwords because someone asks for them?

But yeah. Do not ask for my password. Because the reply "Take a hike!" may cause offence.

In fact, if you even ask for it (whether I refuse or not), I will be reporting you to the Department of Work and Pensions and the Data Protection Registrar. Aside from the fact that actually GIVING you that password is a breach of Facebook's policies.

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Fujitsu has phone fraudsters in its sights

Lee Dowling
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Re: Or...

"their server has received a message from my computer that it has been infected with a virus and that I need special software to remove it"

Has it? Gosh. That's quite amazing. Tell me, can you put me in touch with your company's data protection department, because I think I'd like to initiate a lawsuit given that they don't know my phone number and certainly shouldn't be linking it to an IP address.

Most scams are obvious and stupid. Most people who fall for them are similarly stupid. There are outliers where you've only just realised that maybe Granny doesn't understand that people are out to try to con her, but those are edge cases and the solution is not software. Ever.

The solution is to instil as much doubt as possible into their brains to the point that they ring YOU first and you tell them whether they can answer the door or not. If you can't get that message in, or they're too stubborn, or you don't want to restrict their freedom by, e.g. putting them into sheltered accommodation, then there is absolutely SQUAT you can do about them potentially being conned. Honestly. You really can't. Nothing.

If someone is not sane and aware enough to *ASK FOR ID*, *CHECK THE ID WITH THE COMPANY* and if in any doubt, close the door, or to just say "I don't understand, sorry" and hang up on them (like we've been drumming into the elderly for 50+ years and who are now all people who were drumming it into THEIR parents too), then the only way to make them safe is to put someone you trust in charge of their affairs. Relying on a computer to judge people's intentions is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard - the first rapist or conmen "allowed" by the system will mean the company's downfall.

The rules are simple. If you don't follow them, you're risking trouble. If you *can't* follow them, then you shouldn't be trusted to follow them on your own.

Trust nobody. The people who are GENUINELY calling to check your meter, inform you of a bank refund, need to change your meter, etc. will QUITE UNDERSTAND you not believing them. They won't be offended by it at all - they will be PLEASED you checked. The absolutely worst that will happen is that they will send you a letter or arrange an appointment with you at your convenience - BOTH of which you can have someone present to help verify the authenticity for you, and NOT be pressured into doing anything there-and-then.

Seriously. Even if your computer will explode or your gas will be cut off. Let it. Turn it off if you're worried. Just don't let them in to do it. If they NEED access to your property, a nice policeman or fireman or whatever will come who you CAN CHECK, who will quite understand your need to check, who will contact your relatives for you and get them to come and check on your behalf, if you want. And if you don't trust him and instead call the police when he arrives - guess what! That will still work!

In my old house, a guy rang the doorbell (while I was laying a floor) and wanted to talk to me about my electricity supply and pre-pay meter. He was "from your electricity supplier" and "just need to put this new key in for you". Strangely, he couldn't tell me WHO my electricity supplier was (but the first few guesses weren't bad attempts). He fled quite quickly once my tirade started to join his 50+ friends in hi-vis who were all performing the same con on the houses in the street. He was an EDF Energy employee (I like to shout about this con quite openly so people heed the warning and avoid them, but quite obviously I *WASN'T* an EDF customer). A genuine one. Who was trying to enter my house under false pretences so he could fiddle with my electricity supply and switch me to their tariff. Just how would you catch that if you're a senile old lady, or other vulnerable person, without your wits about you and following the rules?

Also in my old house, I was repairing a computer that was behind the front door (which was behind a porch). I heard someone approach the door (Fair enough. Postman? Leaflets?) and push it open (Neighbours looking for me? Someone who's seen the door was ajar? Even just wind blowing it open?). I had my fingers in my electronics behind the inner door at the time, so I just waited to see who it was. Some great lump of a lad walked past me, edging around every corner trying to be quiet, and quite obviously hadn't seen me at all. He made it nearly as far as the kitchen.

He jumped rather too much when I asked him if I could help and hastily came up with an excuse that he was just "Er... Er... looking for... John" before literally fleeing. Even *he* knew from my expression that that excuse was as likely to wash as a dog who's just jumped in mud. Yeah, mate, 'course you were. I'll give you a five second headstart.

It's easy to be exposed to a con, arranged and commercial, or opportunistic and individual. It's easy (but requires effort and confrontation and saying No) to avoid them. And nobody genuine will question you checking them out (in the same way that only those who have done something wrong will run from the police). If something is not scheduled, arranged, expected, then don't even *start* to fall for it. Nobody will be offended unless they are of criminal intent. And if it is scheduled, arranged, expected (ON PAPER) then you can have something you trust there, ready.

Oh, and next time your bank phones you to talk about "an issue with your account", you hang up and ring them back on THEIR number, not just immediately give out your bank details to "verify who you are". YOU RANG ME, you pillocks, on the number I gave you. The amount of people who fall for that one (even if 99% of the time it IS genuine) is astounding.

Trust the rules. Not the machine.

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Geeks seek cubits for Battlestar flight sim

Lee Dowling
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"creating a simulator more advanced than any commercial entertainment systems currently available"

And more expensive. And more bulky. And horribly impractical. And outdone by any number of commercial non-entertainment systems and/or systems that *aren't* currently available any more. And not, actually, very realistic at all (you still can't fly upside-down without gravity making you feel like your feet have just pushed all the blood into your skull, for example).

As others have pointed out, these systems already exist. There's no reason to replicate them unless you can do something new. I don't see them being able to do anything new - in fact, I imagine the problems of reliably powering and talking to a system that's capable of 360 degree movement without tangled cables or dodgy connections would take longer to solve than they have.

Have fun, guys, but seriously - throwing a few hundred kilos of electrically-powered and electronic equipment around in 3D space without killing someone or breaking something is not as simple as you think.

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Braben sticks knife into secondhand games market

Lee Dowling
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Re: Price...

Single-player games that take note of this advice aren't dead. That tells you a lot. Hell, it's hard enough to find single-player games in retail stores nowadays without attacking the very concept of them. How dare someone complete a game!

In the era of BBC Micros and ZX Spectrum, it was still a problem - in theory - countered by the fact that actually most games lasted much longer anyway and could be replayed (hell, I'm still buying emulators to play some of them again). Even DOS games would have had the same problems but - gosh - sales of GoG.com and similar sites are doing quite well, thank you, and paying their dividends. Recently I had the choice between the old and the new Syndicate. Guess which I chose. Now ask yourself why.

The era of £50 single-player games being the norm is way over, that we can agree on. But claiming that there's somehow a problem with the business model is to ignore the very business model that got him where he is today (aside from selling small devices that are delayed and not having a single example in the wild despite HUGE fuss about being released). It works... IF you play fair.

If you can sell a game that's popular, people WON'T trade in their copies. They will buy it for multiple platforms. They will buy it for their friends. If you sell a game that's recycled pretty junk, it'll end up in the pre-owned bin, of course it will, where it only serves to tell your potential customers NOT to buy the damn thing at full price. It's like claiming that game rental destroys the market (by the same arguments he uses, they would do more damage!) but OnLive seems to be doing pretty good at that (and I might JUST buy Space Marine if the price comes down a bit because of a quite good demo of it using my "free" first OnLive game).

Make decent games. Supply decent demos (What's happened to them? You think I will risk my PC and cash on your dodgy coding and idea of gameplay without having a quick jaunt first?). Stop paying for FMV and ads that look so unlike the game they have to have a disclaimer. Stop paying for DRM that's about as much use as a chocolate teapot in a heatwave. Price reasonably, so I don't WANT to give it away, and people *won't* buy a secondhand copy of it because it's not worth the difference between that and a new one, and so I can buy 2, 3, 4 copies for friends. Make it replayable (not the same enemies in the same location every single time). Make it not take up 10% of my disk space so it's the first candidate for culling. Put it on lots of platforms so I end up buying it for my phone too.

Then go look at the "indie" market, see that they've done ALL of those things and have stolen all the revenue from big studios by doing just that, even to the point of "pay what you want" and giveaways (just got a free key for Faerie Solitaire from the developer - ended up paying for another for my girlfriend in appreciation because she liked the game).

Your second-hand market wasn't the downfall of your game. It was your poor attempt at hitting the first-hand market and severely stripping them of value that did that. At that point, you'd ONLY consider looking at second-hand or your mates copies. If it was really any good, both you and your friend and the guy who sold the game would have wanted to hang onto it.

I'll tell you where all my "game" money goes nowadays:

- Humble Bundles

- Indie games

- Steam sales

And most of the things I buy *are* single-player. I don't even own most of the big titles of the last five years.

Start making things that people DON'T want to re-sell the second they get hold of them, or can't complete in an afternoon. But, of course, that's HARD. This guy did it once. You'd think he'd know that it was harder to do than just knocking up a formulaic, unoriginal modern game with pretty graphics.

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GiffGaff gaffe charity spaff to quell miffed riffraff

Lee Dowling
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Next:

- RAID controller fails requiring complete restoration. 8+hrs outage depending on disk size, quality and location of backups and accessibility to the machine.

- Computer goes boom - 10+ hrs outage to locate, remove, provide spare, restore data.

- Datacentre has a fire - Xhrs outage due to the fire, potential equipment restoration costs.

These are all not-unheard of things in ANY datacentre. In fact, that's all that some teams would do 24/7 for their managed servers. That's the point, they are *gambling* that this won't happen often enough to be a problem and/or cost them less than putting in a redundant system (which isn't exactly non-standard procedure) - and they are forgoing redundancy on that gamble rather than taking a calculated cost. Also, the fact that they *don't* have hardware for hot-spares suggests they don't really have cold-spares either, which further suggests that actually their backups aren't really tested all that well either (or they DO already have all that hardware and just aren't using it where it would be useful and it's sitting in a cupboard somewhere).

Today we're talking about a single incident, that's cost them 8+hrs outage + £10,000 + a lot of unhappy customers. Another outage makes it even more expensive for them, and the more outages they have, the more expensive each one gets (customers run for the hills, and they'll probably have to pay for redundant servers anyway).

The network works AT A CONSTANT LOSS without the server. That much is true. And it being free to customers in those intervals and customers using it (now KNOWINGLY so) means that'll be the most expensive part of their business if it happens again. Again, it's a gamble. I'm not sure I would want to be a customer of a company that gambles that much with its profitability. The "everyone wins" mantra excludes the costs that GiffGaff would have to pay anyway. All they are saying is that the phone call costs of a single period of downtime where customers didn't know the calls were free was cheaper to ignore than to keep a hot-spare handy. That's *not* going to be true next time there's a problem.

The alternative is to run a business like a business and cost out appropriately, especially if such downtime could (and would have, if anything else had gone wrong in the meantime) get longer and longer until it reaches the point they are issuing compensation.

As a one-off trade-off for this particular incident, it's fine. But it's highlighted a key flaw in their business expenses - and next time they may not be so lucky.

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Lee Dowling
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"Building a redundant SDP would be very expensive, especially considering how rarely it would be used"

Er. Yeah. That's how redundant systems always pan out. That's the point of them. You spend money on them, equivalent to how much you spent on your normal system, in the hope you NEVER have to use them. The decision shouldn't be one of "expense" (because then you won't end up buying redundancy, backups, etc.), but surely one of service continuity. How much has this event cost you - including lost customers, free calls and the donation - and are you seriously suggesting that a redundant server in place (even if underpowered) would have cost more? If there's a repeat, ever, for any reason, it's going to cost you again and again and again every time it happens.

Which is probably why, prompted by customer anger, that post was updated with "We are not ruling out a full DR site".

If people wanted a mobile telephony system that was unreliable, they'd probably be on some other service or not bothering with mobile telephony's expense at all. And we're talking an authentication and billing server here. Surely that's *not* the sort of thing you should be leaving to chance if you want your company to thrive?

GiffGaff is increasingly becoming amateur hour. Trying to achieve something grand, but doing so by basically cutting out simple IT basics.

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Trial finds EIGHT WAYS to defeat Google, PayPal and other SSOs

Lee Dowling
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Link just redirects to Bing.

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Giant planet pileups in far-flung star systems: Computer says yes

Lee Dowling
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Re: Interesting

I consider the Ewoks to be primitive, evil aliens like those in Alien.

No technology. No fanciness. Just sheer weight of numbers. It doesn't matter what guns you bring, they'll get you.

But all highly-sophisticated technological systems have some quite basic flaws that people don't notice until years later. That's true even today. Fingerprint scanners defeated by Gummi Bears (Ewoks again! In jelly form! All they need is acid for blood...). Chip & PIN defeated by fake C&P terminals. NFC passports stymied by a Pringles cantenna and a bit of maths. Self-drive "accident-proof" cars that crash 3 out of 4 times in simple demos.

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So, what IS the worst film ever made?

Lee Dowling
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Re: every

Oh. Forgot about From Dusk Till Dawn.

Seriously, I'm not picking on George Clooney - he's done some great stuff - but that movie made me reach for the remote in a way I've never done before.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: The Matrix 2

For the first category? Because I Robot really steals parts from all the Asimov robot books, not just one. And, actually, given that, I don't think it's that bad.

But someone really needs to shoot the studio for the sell-out crap on the Nike shoes or whatever it was. Excruciating product placement best left on the cutting-room floor.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: every

BLASPHEMY! Kill the heretic!

"New" Italian Job (I always make a point of adding that prefix) - decent movie, REALLY, REALLY badly named. It was like someone remaking The Shawshank Redemption or The Matrix or A Clockwork Orange with the EXACT same name (no sequel rider) and a completely different plot.

The original wasn't brilliant but it was a cult movie that enjoyed good success and had a good following. Ruining it by some poor American Hollywood "homage" is not the problem, the problem was ALWAYS the name. You could have come up with a million different names that paid homage without trying to trounce the original and cash in on the name. Hell, Italian Job 2 would have been better. At least we could have just written it off as yet-another-sequel to bash.

It was okay, at best. The first was brilliant at the time and still remembered 40+ years later. You can't judge both films simultaneously.

Anyway:

Worst film ever? I could name a few dozen. There are thousands of candidates, certainly, but most are just "bad". I'd have to go for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", though.

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The Register obtains covert snaps of Google's new London offices

Lee Dowling
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Re: WOW!

I work in a small office, hidden at the back of a school, with a lovely view of an air-conditioning machine (or three) and (just visible) the length of a long outside path to a brick building regularly trampled by screaming kids. If I really squint from the right angle, I can see the top of a dead tree. However, I now have an unrivalled knowledge of the outside cabling due to the fact that it all runs across buildings and into my view before coming into my office.

You people don't know you've lived until you've tried to code C with classes of nursery-age children tearing past your window while workmen trample all over your roof and rip up all your cables.

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That MYSTERY Duqu Trojan language: Plain old C

Lee Dowling
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Re: So....

Or, plucking anything NOT a boring conspiracy theory out of the air:

- any professional team of software engineers working for a company who's slightly amoral.

Russian spammers, industrial rivals ("Look how rubbish their security is! By us instead!"), god-knows-what that could lead to profit indirectly. What better way to make an attack code within a legitimate corporate environment than to make it so modular that no one programmer actually knows what it is while they are working on it.

First, we don't even know what it sends back to central servers. Second, it doesn't "damage" anything, even the SCADA control systems it seeks out. Third, it steals PKE certificates. That's about all we know about it.

My actual "conspiracy theory" explanation would be: Written by a bunch of professional programmers who usually do professional programming work, in a modular way so that few know its actual purpose or where their code ends up, or could give them away. Then distribute to key sites, "discovered" (or just wait until someone DOES discover it), then pick major nation that's a key "potential" culprit and blame them for it with zero evidence (my bet at the moment would be China but Iran's a strong candidate too), in order to justify - what? A war? A cyber-attack? Internet censorship? A Great Wall of America? Removing their nuclear ability? I don't know.

But the media certainly seem to have hooked into those attacks fast and been quick to name potential sources and blame them without evidence past "we saw one copy spread from a China IP". By which argument, the Chinese government makes every spam message on the planet with the purpose of attacking "Western" government by a social DoS. It's just as insane and just as without proof (and, actually, probably more effective).

All this tells us: Security analysts don't know anything (I've seen lots of posts on Duqu in the last few weeks that say it's DEFINITELY not C, etc.) and still haven't properly reverse-engineered it (apparently too busy trying to discover the language so they can google "decompiler for language X"), and the people who wrote it had done some programming in their lives enough to get used to doing things properly and modularly.

Anything beyond that is conspiracy theory, and a bad one at that. And picking ANY source on such limited information (Hell, they could find "(C) China 2012" in the damn thing - that's still not any sort of proof it was from China, or the Chinese government, for example) is ridiculously stupid.

Ask yourself: Why have governments been SO keen and SO quick to suggest the origin of code that we'll probably NEVER know exactly where it came from?

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BBC Micro team to celebrate historic machine's 30th year

Lee Dowling
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Re: WHAT!?

Seeing as there isn't a single one available for sale in the world yet, no. And at least the BBC came in a case and COULD be sold to schools (which all current versions of the Pi do not and can not).

<-- embittered "preorderer" who was under the impression it would NOT be a pre-order of any kind but actually selling stock that existed and worked. But apparently, that doesn't stop them working in a mention on every other article on /. and the Reg...

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Hardware hacker rigs up VR for Skyrim

Lee Dowling
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Am I the only one who saw the walking action and felt tired, saw the first sword-swipe and thought "That's proper gaming out the window, then", saw the total equipment / cost and the overall result and thought "Why bother?"

Seriously, I've been waiting DECADES for a proper Quake / VR / Laserquest / Paintball tie-in, where you run around a real blue-background game arena and interact with / shoot your pals while the VR overlays a realistic 3D background over the whole thing and handles things like bullets so you don't *ACTUALLY* shoot your mates. It would be a great laugh to match up in de_dust against each other "for real". But since the late 80's, we've made ZERO progress on VR even with fancy gesture-recognition systems and orders-of-magnitude increases in computing power, etc.

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PoC code uses super-critical Windows bug to crash PCs

Lee Dowling
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News at 11

Allowing remote Internet access to a function that requires enormous amounts of resources and integration (and, thus, high level access) into the system to setup connections is considered a bad idea.

Shock, horror.

RDP always was a horrible bodge, and I hate it being enabled by default. It's embarrassing how many "remote-access" systems I've seen that are designed for use by staff and even school pupils which are nothing more than RDP into a remote system sitting on an internal network.

I barely trust SSH, but that's only because I'm religious in updating the damn thing and I know the initial authentication is very good about not requiring privileges or granting any access until everything is authenticated. RDP has a long history of problems like this. It tries to do too much, too simply for the user and although it works, it's always behind in terms of encryption, security etc. Even back in 2002, the problems with it were as ridiculous as trying to roll-your-own encryption and checksums and not bothering to verify their security.

If you deploy RDP on anything other than an internal network, you should be shot. That's what VPN's are for, and crashing your VPN equipment (pretty unheard of) is nowhere close to crashing your server. If you have something on your internal LAN that attacks your own server, you haven't secured it properly (which is possible in ALL instances, hence things like Ethernet port-based authentication, etc.)

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Films-on-USB kiosks come to airports

Lee Dowling
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Or I could just buy a DVD before I go.

No DRM. No Internet activation. Can copy to hard drive, USB, or just carry the disc (Region restrictions a slight inconvenience and nothing more). Permanent "ownership". Some resale value. I can change laptop whenever I like without losing the movie.

And probably quite a bit cheaper.

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TV market stalls as LCD sales slow

Lee Dowling
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Re: Hardly surprising...

And the survey says.... Uh-uh.

£40 a year? Take electricity to be 15p per KWh. That's 266.67 KWh. or 30W constantly, all day, every day, for the entire year. There's no way that any TV in my house *consumes* that much power averaged over a year, let alone would save me that much just by replacing it with a newer model (and see the posts above about that - it's NOT true).

If you're lucky, you'll save a pound or two a year, and the TV would take a couple of hundred years to pay itself off. If you're *really* lucky, your new TV will last you 10 years at best. What makes a much better saving is turning EITHER type of TV off when you're not using it.

But then, for the saving you suggest, literally 0.1 of a degree less (or 5 minutes fewer) on my heating system would blow it out of the water. Or doing larger loads of washing. Or just not using a tumble dryer at all. BY ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE.

This is the problem with people who rely on environmental arguments based on consumption like this. You have no idea how LITTLE electricity that is, even though you've overblown your figures enormously. You want to convince me on an economic or envrionmental argument, then target the things that LITERALLY make up 90% of my bill and cost me NOTHING to fix (i.e. turning off my heating five minutes earlier), not energy-saving bulbs, solar panels, smart metering, low-power standby or any of the other crap.

Hell, descaling my kettle would probably make more savings than your suggestion.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Hardly surprising...

Hell, to be honest, I'm still on a CRT and don't really care (and it's a 4:3 CRT at that!).

I can see the picture, in enough detail that I can't spot pixels (but I can spot MPEG decompression artifacts from the digital TV box plugged into it!), from my usual sitting place as can three-four people seated comfortably on the sofa. I don't need to manage another computer so I'm quite glad it can't get on the net or plug into an HDMI or whatever.

I have a remote-control SCART switcher, even, because it only has one SCART slot. Total setup cost? About £30, including the TV which was rescued from the skip. I pay more than that each month for my TV license + cable subscription. Cheapest similar TV would cost about 5-10 times that now. Cable box does all the fancy stuff (digital conversion, go on iPlayer, pay-per-view, etc. which I don't use anyway) and the final screen width - even when watching widescreen - is comparable to a decent widescreen LCD ( I think I measured it once and would have to have something like a 36" widescreen in order to even start competing).

If I do upgrade, it'll be to a basic model to keep me going on the same kind of lines. I have no need for anything larger, louder, lighter, slimmer, brighter, higher-res, or more fancy. I don't even OWN a piece of HDMI kit unless you include the one next to my laptop's VGA port which I've never used. Obviously, my lack of interest in 3D is what's killing the industry!

What I have is good enough and does everything I need at the distance I need. I work six-inches from a 1900x1600-res screen all day long and can spot a dead pixel at fifty paces. But the TV... well... it plays motion images in a way that I can't fault or spot a problem with unless it's a ridiculously contrived test. I suspect most people upgraded to LCD just for footprint - hanging the damn thing on the wall, but I don't need that. Past that, what does the average person gain from upgrading or buying a new TV nowadays? Junk that they don't want to have to deal with (HDCP, net-connectivity, etc.).

One day, yeah, I'll go for LCD when this TV blows up, but to be honest, that's only because there won't be any free CRT's going by then. Considering in its previous life it was a classroom TV in a primary school for 10+ years, I think I have a while to go yet. It's enjoying a relatively quiet retirement compared to its heyday.

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TV tax takers reveal Brits telly habits

Lee Dowling
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Yay

Not one single program listed in the top 10's did I watch. Fabulous to know how well TV is catering to my needs over the last three years (and equally how less sad I am than about 90% of the population).

And, really, is anyone shocked? Everything increases except for B&W license figures (and how many of them are ACTUALLY only B&W viewers?) and 3D has a very slow death ahead of it. You don't need to be Mystic Meg to forsee those statistics, really.

Even the gender of iPlayer viewers - at first mostly male, now 50-50.

Not so much a researched report as just stating the bleeding obvious, really.

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Lawyers of Mordor menace Hobbit boozer

Lee Dowling
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Re: Why not change it to...

Personally, I'd change it to:

"The pub with no name because <COMPANY NAME HERE IN 20-FOOT-HIGH NEON LETTERS> threatened to sue us after 20 years of doing business under our old name which rhymed with 'Mob It'"

Paying for the sign will be cheaper than paying for the lawsuit, and the photos of it will be in every paper by lunchtime. And, it'll be a talking point if they don't back down and you DO keep it as the name. I'd also silently encourage ALL the regulars to only ever refer to it as The Hobbit too.

And I'd send an invitation to the CEO's of that company once a week, too, for my "unhappy hour" where everyone who worked for them would be charged 10 times the normal price.

It probably won't do much more than any other technique would, but it would make your point quite clearly and increase your Facebook campaigns hits dramatically.

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Mobile banking security bypassed in fiendish malware blag

Lee Dowling
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Re: This sounds silly...

Intercept your post. Ask bank for new smartcard because you've "put it through the washing machine". Wait for replacement to arrive and steal it before it gets to your door. Clear out your account before you can do anything about it.

Skill needed: To work in the post office (or know someone who does) and be able to talk.

That's basically what these scams do, if you read the article. It's not a question of technical hacking but social engineering and interception. Your IMEI and/or a replacement SIM can be silently gathered quite easily without you ever knowing in similar ways and then they are in. The hack described involved visiting a police station and reporting someone else's mobile lost in order to get the police report on that - we can safely say these people are quite brazen!

The ways around it rely on the banks / phone companies to do their job - which is to VERIFY your identity for everything. That can't happen without falling into ridiculous scenarios (such as I've experienced) where companies WOULDN'T take a payment from me because I wasn't the account holder, but wouldn't take the payment from the account holder because it wasn't their card they were paying with. And try getting a PIN reset on a bank card you haven't used in 10 years and have forgotten all your codes and moved house in the meantime too.

There are some genius hacks, and some genius technology, but there's always an "analogue hole" in that it's very hard to prove that the person in front of you or speaking to you on the phone *IS* the account holder in all situations without also locking out the GENUINE account holder who's just forgotten their details. And a simple post-office intercept can overcome almost anything if someone is determined enough to target you in particular.

Don't be so complacent. Scams operate on your complacency. "This system is uncrackable" is akin to saying "This boat is unsinkable". Historically, it's been proved to be an incredibly stupid thing to say.

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iPlayer repeat fees threaten BBC earthquake

Lee Dowling
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Re: One flaw

I watch BBC for precisely five programmes. Not Going Out. Anything by David Attenborough (3D-junk aside). Russel Howard's Good News. Mock The Week. QI. My girlfriend watches those and Inspector Montalbano (but she's Italian, so that's understandable purely because it's the only Italian programme on British TV).

And, you know what? Waiting for new content on those outweighs actually being able to watch ANY of them. Averaged over the year, none of those programmes show a new edition more than once every six months. I don't watch the repeats of those programmes at all. So turning on the TV in the hope of catching something new from those programmes means that I'll almost certainly be disappointed.

I do what I think everyone else does now - I bought the boxset on DVD and watch them at my own convenience if I want to watch repeats and use the TV only for "new-new" stuff. Why would I wait for them to appear, come up on iPlayer or anything else? I had two years without a TV. Can't say I missed it at all. We bought a license for an old-fashioned CRT TV we rescued from the scrapheap. It gets watched a couple of hours in the evening if it's lucky and usually for junk. I'm not entirely sure it's worth it at all.

The BBC used to be great. iPlayer was a world-leader. But if they have nothing to show, there's nothing worth watching. Repeats are there to fill time on 24-7 channels that have nothing else to show. They should *NOT* make up the majority of live or online content. There's something to be said for "catch-up TV" and historical archives of shows, sure, but if it's historical content I'm after, I'll pop over to 4oD for some Whose Line Is It Anyway (though I see the BBC have poached Dan Patterson and almost the exact format of that show now, 20 years later) or stick a DVD of something good in.

The BBC's greatest strength was it's ability to broadcast well. But the content is now sadly lacking and the best shows are "vintage". It's not the only provider to fall into the trap of accessibility taking place over actual new content. Hell, I just bought The Two Of Us on DVD because I wanted to watch something actually FUNNY and ITV don't show that any more, and Rough Science, because I remember it being quite interesting when I watched it first time around (and it features Italy in the first series), and there's nothing "new" to watch. There are a few gems on TV now, but an enormous amount of dross (anything that involves a phone-in or viewer-voting) and repeat. Dross I avoid. Repeats I have sitting on DVD if they are any good. In the absence of new programmes, I'd rather find something on DVD that I haven't seen and nobody currently broadcasts.

The point of Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week, Russell Howard's Good News, etc. was that they were funny, current, and different. Hell, even Drop The Dead Donkey was tied into current affairs. If you want people to watch it, either admit it's archive and charge accordingly (i.e. no more than it would take to buy a DVD with that episode on it divided by the number of episodes on that DVD) for permanent access, or make it new and current and have enough of it to keep me wanting to watch.

I was invited to a filming of The King Is Dead a year or so ago. New BBC "comedy" show that was offered to me because I missed a place in the QI audience. I can safely say that I was embarrassed to sit through it. The funniest bit was the comments in between filming (which never made it into the episode) and the unheard-of warm-up comedian. The BBC aren't content producers any more, they're archive managers. And they do that badly. I'll just stick to my DVD's of stuff they could be bothered to license out.

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Just like a real computer: Android gets Android IDE

Lee Dowling
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Bring over the Native Development Kit so we can write programs in a nicer language like C, and you've got me sold. Especially if it ties in well with the Eclipse C IDE too.

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Picture this: Photo-fiddling app Instagram on Google Android

Lee Dowling
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Re: $40m in venture funding and had been valued at $500m

Compare and contrast: One was a world-wide accessible search engine that wiped the floor even with all its early competitors, backed by a major university, lots of hardware (the capability to index the entire Internet as it existed at that time, for instance), tons of complicated number-churning and had potentially every Internet user as a customer.

This is a photo-app that makes fades a photo and makes it look aged, like PaintShop Pro and Photoshop have been doing since... gosh... before Google existed, and like several thousand other apps let you do, and which I could probably knock up in an afternoon. The only "new" thing about it: They target a particular platform only, and you have to pay for the app.

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Game Group shares slide under a penny

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Good riddance

Stocked by morons, priced by idiots, staffed by stupidity-personified.

Back when DOS games were the fashion, they never stocked any of them. When they started to, they were good for a year or do until the Windows fad hit. Since XP, they have dropped off the radar due to DRM, pricing and an inability to actually sell product. When I was a teenager, sure, they were quite good for getting things you couldn't get elsewhere.

The last few times I dared in there, I fought through crowds of people who were looking for Peggle or the latest Mario (neither of which were in stock), had to circumvent the area around the pre-owned tat that was surrounded by kids trying to steal anything they could, had to navigate towards the tiny, hidden PC section at the back that had nothing interesting in anyway, nearly passed out at the pricing (which a quick online search could beat by about 75% with delivery to my door next day) and was accosted by spotty oiks who weren't born when I started gaming trying to tell me what I should be playing, and on what format, and having no respect for my gaming criteria.

Good riddance, I say. I think the only time they ever make money nowadays is pre-selling the latest Nintendo gadget or game before it comes out to people who want it for their kids for Christmas.

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Nuke clock incapable of losing time chimes with boffins

Lee Dowling
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Re: need more accuracy

Don't worry. You pension will kick in in about 19599 billion, 999 million, 999 thousand, 995 years anyway.

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Lee Dowling
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Why is it that historically the clocks have gotten more accurate, but the trains have been getting later and later?

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Crims fall back on old-school cons to avoid anti-fraud tech

Lee Dowling
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Re: Schools

And many operate cashless canteens entirely nowadays because a) you can't have kids carrying that money around because they get bullied, b) you can't rely on your kids because they'll lose the cash/cheque anyway, c) kids CAN'T go hungry just because they don't have cash, d) parents want to monitor what the kids have eaten anyway, e) cheques bounce a lot in schools, especially primary schools, especially inner-city primary schools, especially those in poor areas.

I have *never* seen a kid come to school with a cheque. I've seen parents pay private school fees and some trips with a cheque. That's about it.

(Disclaimer: I work exclusively in inner-city schools, mainly primary)

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Re Time to phase out cheques

Personally, the window-cleaners I've used over the last 20+ years, all took cash-in-hand before starting the job. I've *never* seen one leave a Freepost envelope or anything even approaching that complexity. You're in, your windows get cleaned. You're not, you book them in advance by some method (usually, from what I remember, by paying them the week before to come the next week).

It's the same as the milkman. How do you / did you pay them? Nowadays, I don't even see milkmen any more (I'm sure they still exist, just not in my area, and not delivering down my street certainly) but you can pay them online before for weeks in advance. Or, shock, horror, pay them cash either when you see them or when they come knocking at a convenient time (usually early-evening). They come back later if they are owed money, I assure you, and at your convenience.

As for "Ask him to clean my windows at night when I'm home?" - Er... YES?

I think I might print up a load of similar-looking Freepost envelopes and just stuff them through every door I see. Bound to get lucky eventually.

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Banks toss $8bn into Facebook's lap ahead of IPO

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

$8bn. So that's a dollar for every man, woman and child on the planet. Plus all the dogs, I think.

Of course, you'll want that back with interest. And you'll want it back in, say, 5-10 years. And you'll be paid back by Facebook's money-making expertise, which basically consists of Google Ads (of which Google only gets about $9bn a year itself - before costs).

So you're suggesting that ONE website on the planet is going to make, say 1/5th to 1/10th, of the money that Google sees from ads (not including costs) in pure profit that it can afford to pay you back. AND MORE, to keep running effectively. And for this state of affairs to continue (at both Facebook and Google, without ANYTHING changing in terms of customer numbers, etc.) until the company is sold at a profit and/or the loan is paid off.

That's a lot, considering that most people use Facebook for a bit of IM and for showing granny their baby pics.

I'd like to contrast this with a friend of mine recently who was refused by their bank to have a debit card (or credit card, or overdraft, or chequebook, etc. - only an ATM card) on their account when they earn a verifiable, reliable, and historical £50,000 a year at a job that took them 10 years to qualify for, and had no debts, when the bank next door (one of those bailed out by the government) offered her credit card, debit card, chequebook, mortgage, etc.)

Banks have a lot to answer for.

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