Feeds

* Posts by Lee Dowling

1188 posts • joined 28 Mar 2007

Archaeologists resume Antikythera Mechanism hunt

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Aliens done it.

"If they open the Stargate underwater, we are DOOMED!"

Well, for a start, all our ocean will drain into some foreign planet.

0
0

Apple: Blue-shirts can fix iOS Maps in their spare time

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Wasn't it Tomtom data?

My TomTom seems to like a particular roundabout in Chelmsford and if I followed its instructions, I'd still be circling it:

"Go around the roundabout" - 180 degrees later - "Go around the roundabout" - ad infinitum.

But that's not a critical mapping error, so much as a slip-up or mistyping. The problem Apple has is sheer lack of data in some places and vastly inaccurate data in others (e.g. going 25 miles away from the address you intended and then leaving you there).

Minor mapping errors will always occur, and the driver should be compensating appropriately anyway. Just because it says turn right doesn't mean you a) can, b) should, c) will be safe doing so.

1
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Can anyone estimate....

Put it this way:

How long has OpenStreetMap been running and how many volunteers have they had?

Because without a similar sort of effort, they won't approach even OpenStreetMap's quality of mapping (which is far from perfect, but not as terrible as Apple's).

9
0

Scottish brainiacs erect wee super-antenna

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Seems sensible enough - it's just an automated directional antenna.

More interesting applications would surely be outside the range of phones - such as the stated WiFi example, Bluetooth, GPS, etc.

But I can't help thinking this is something that is just a miniaturisation of something already existing, say, satellite tracking antennas, etc.

License it direct to those manufacturers, let them slap it into their dies, and it'll be on £2 Bluetooth chips before you know it. Methinks patent licensing would actually be the thing that kills it, though, if anything - not battery life.

3
5

Virgin Media's 'bye-bye to buffering' ad nuked by watchdog - AGAIN

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: no access to router

OP: Your first point - you say yourself other ISP's do it, and Virgin HAVE to state it if they don't want to be sued. It's in the small print, same as every other ISP. I assure you they do not "guarantee" your final download speed. Because they can't. Same as everyone else. And I download ISO's all day long and never see any dip in my networking graphs at all.

Superhub download corruption? I'll give you that, but purely because I'm sensible enough to ONLY operate third-party junk ISP hardware in modem mode and do things like wireless myself (you trust wireless from the cheapest-bidder provider on your home network? More fool you). Ever since I saw a BT Broadband modem that wanted to offer my connection to all-and-sundry without asking as a guest network on whatever their global WiFi network is called. From a quick Google, I believe in modem mode, that corruption problem doesn't exist in modem mode - hence it's almost certainly just the usual junk wireless on an ISP-supplier router. Same as every other ISP.

Admin - just what do you WANT to access on the SuperHub that you can't? I can't see anything that it does that I can't control except Virgin's remote-support (see next paragraph).

"Most of the time this is fine, but there's nothing stopping VM logging into your home network and snooping."

Except a decent firewall on your network from the Internet connection and not relying on a junky, third-party, home router to do an effective job if that's what you're worried about. My "firewall" is actually a 10-year-old WRT54GS - it stops ANYTHING coming from the SuperHub going anywhere unless I've explicitly allowed it. Virgin get to see exactly what I send them and no more (and I send it to them because I need them to deliver it). They can't do anything on my network - the only things accessible to them are the STB and the SuperHub device. Everything else is blocked off from Virgin as it is blocked off from random people on the net. If you're on The Reg (and so presumably an IT professional or at least geek of some kind) and don't get this, it worries me.

And this is no different to other ISP - I've never used nor trusted any of their supplied modems/routers whatsoever. Stick them in modem mode or (at worst) DMZ with wireless disabled, install your own firewall/router/access point and get on with life in the secure knowledge that silly mistakes on Virgin's part (e.g. remote accessible admin interfaces, predictable WPA keys, WEP available on the wireless etc.) won't do anything to decrease my own security. The wireless router I use has piggy-backed on at least five different ADSL / cable modems / routers in its time, from a variety of ISP's, and is there to keep my local config consistent (who cares what IP Virgin give me?), and to stop junky routers ruining the connection (e.g. bad NAT limits, terrible Wifi, responding to UPnP when I don't want it to, opening the ports on MY commands, etc.)

Struggling with wireless strength on the router? The above solves that permanently. And it might be the cause of, say, corrupt downloads, etc. etc. etc. It's a cheap, junky, supplier router that tries to do-all for the home user. Switch it off, buy a real device (what's that now? £25? A month's subscription, if that?) and you can use that FOREVER on whatever ISP you go to and do the same for their problems. Same as every other ISP.

"Erm, no. This isn't how it works. Every time I phone them up they say they have to send someone round and they need access to the house."

Night workers. Emergency shift workers. People who just aren't in. What do these people do? Tell them no, tell them to fix it, problem solved. You have no idea how much leeway I've had on things that "require a home visit" from BT etc. just by telling them that I wasn't going to be there (and, no, I'm not a night worker, but they have to cope with that issue the same as any other company would). They *can* fully diagnose, reboot and check your connection remotely - exactly the kind of admin access you are complaining about. I've had them reboot my modem remotely and check logs from their end ON THE PHONE and it was the first-line support who did that, not hours on the phone. The point of a cable network is that they OWN it all, they can not only remotely reboot your device but watch it's login to the cabinet, to the network and have it report back SNR's etc. once it's back up. Have you not seen the little PDA gadget the engineers carry that they can see the local cabinet status of any connection in the area? That's how they initialise the MAC's of new modems to the nearest cabinet, last I saw.

Everything else is the user's problem and (therefore) obviously requires visits to sort. Junky wireless is, I imagine, their biggest problem and their usual test would probably be something like "I can access it from the engineer laptop 1m away, so my work is done" - like any other ISP.

I'm not saying you haven't had a duff experience, but you're having a duff experience that others on the same service aren't getting - either because they accept it and compromise (like any other ISP), or they workaround it, or they just don't accept fob-off excuses.

And, seriously, stop using ANY ISP's supplied router. It's just asking for trouble and has been since the very first ADSL days (hell, I still have the ADSL router that I moved through 3 ISP's because their supplied ones were so crap they used to crash if you opened a Counterstrike server list).

0
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: As punishment

Been with VM for four years after moving into a flat-share that had it (and later took the connection with us when flat-mate became girlfriend/cohabitant in a new house).

- Never seen a corrupted download (and I would, because I actually check things like checksums of huge ISO's etc. before running them).

- Never seen the bandwidth throttled (and I do some hefty downloading).

- Had a modem for 10Mbps, that worked fine. House move forced us to move onto SuperHub, I didn't touch anything except to put it into SuperHub mode and then plug into the same wireless router the old modem had always been plugged into. Never had a problem (I suspect a lot of people live in VERY noisy wireless areas and would see unusual problems like connections cutting and corrupt downloads from their own crappy routers and even VM'S SuperHub when it's over wifi). Also, the SuperHub, I have an admin login for (was set up that way, didn't request it or anything) and the previous modem I had the same. But I *did* have to reboot it when they did a firmware update recently, and it stored all my settings and worked perfectly on reboot.

- Reporting faults? Generally nobody calls until they've been to the cabinet first and then they escalate a problem. The one time I had them out in the old house (because we lost interactive TV too), they were there next day, on a weekend, sorted it in an hour, didn't even need to come in the house (but they did, just to check it was up).

- Never seen an unauthorised bill increase (and the increases they charged, I got free upgrade to 30Mb, and they'd waived several days for the switchover between houses anyway, so it ended up as nothing in either favour.

- Junk mail - yes, I agree. But then, I have a Virgin contract phone because I saw a good Android deal on one of those junk mails and chased it up.

Virgin are no better or worse than any other company, but people have to realise that it's EXTREMELY variable based on your own hardware (which no-one wants to blame), how many people are cabled in your street, and how you deal with them when you speak to them on the phone.

The only "outage" I ever experienced above and beyond what I've seen with BT, PlusNet (before they were BT and were FANTASTIC), etc. was a PPV movie stopping half-way and losing signal. Refund, free re-run the next night and sorted out in ten minutes.

5
0

New science: SEAS WILL RISE due to CO2 ... but not for centuries

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Though I am very much a "climate change sceptic" (even though I think that makes me sound like someone who doesn't believe in climates changing at all, I just don't believe the current evidence that we're doing anything that wouldn't naturally occur is lacking - note: NOT FALSE, just lacking, even if it could still be feasibly correct) I think housing is the least of our worries if a rise in sea level measured in metres occurs. That's a vast amount of land to lose, and a vast amount of maybe farmland and woodland destroyed for the original purpose. You'd also lose ALL beaches first, which is infinitely more worrying then where you'll shove granny onto when it happens.

But more important than all: Just what do we do about it? Saying if we warm up, the world will flood, and then spuriously linking it to synthetic climate change because of a handful of industries are links that are dubious and still unproven beyond a reasonable, statistically-significant doubt. And if they ARE 100% correct, what's the impact of the proposed fix?

If stopping all greenhouse gas emissions leads to 10,000% increases in the cost of electricity, say, or that we can't have plastic at all, or that we have to tear down the telecoms networks and Internet because it just costs so much to run that it's no longer practical, I think there's a good chance that most people would actually be happier to let the world flood a bit (not saying that's a likely outcome, or a sensible response). If the fix is worse than the problem and sends us back to a dark age, surely that's a LOT worse than a slightly speeded-up natural cycle.

The world is reliant on energy production and oil production at the moment. Sure, at least one side will come to an end sooner or later anyway, but we're SO reliant on that energy being around to use that our whole planet is set up to rely on it. Take that away in the name of climate science and we may well be unable to sustain the population on levels even comparable to post-10m-water-level-rise populations (which may even make some of the deserts farmable and inhabitable again without energy-heavy fertilizers, soils, machinery, genetic modification, etc.).

My gripe with the focus on climate lately is NOT the predictions of doom - it's the bad science, the blindness to the solutions, and the lack of good, scientific comparison of what will happen if we don't do X (where X is a currently unknown solution to the currently unknown cause of the problem) versus what will happen if we do. If you gave the populous a choice between a 2m sea level rise and not having electricity or cars for the rest of their life, they might take more interest, and give more thought to exactly what should be done, rather than doomsaying with no notion of what we actually need to do about it and what the impact of that will be.

15
8

Zombie-animating malnets increase 200% in just 6 months

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

It's quite sad to still, in 2012, see huge IP ranges of dynamic IP customers who shouldn't be sending email spamming mail servers with junk. Why aren't we just turning these ISP's off, literally dropping their AS blocks, so they can't do anything until they sort out their problems?

My own mail server with a single domain sees 99.9% of its connections being from either dynamic IP ranges (the simple tests of "no valid reverse host name" and "not listed on spamhaus" eliminate 99.9% of all connection attempts!).

And yet I *still* see Google sending me bounce-backs which have been sent by someone else, forging my address in the "from" (so which mail server allowed that in the first place?), Google noticing that it is spam or to an undeliverable address, and then sending back TO ME. Standard practice? What's INCREDIBLY annoying is that when the email is sent "from" me and "to" me, the Google servers include headers into the email which suggest they not only looked up my domain, but read my SPF records and then rejected the message because my SPF records tell it that it's a fake, but then Google BOUNCES IT BACK right back to the fake domain that it knows is fake because it just looked it up. I wrote a script to reject bounce-backs from Google where they have obviously looked up my domain name's SPF record and spammed it on someone else's behalf anyway with a customised message to their mail admins - not that they'd bother to look.

That's not to mention making up email addresses that have never existed, even trying to forge DKIM signatures for my own domain when sending email to it! What is the point in a little home-server guy implementing all this stuff properly, from SPF to DKIM to just plain blocking of stupid amount of connections that are obviously fake, if the big companies don't do the same, don't enforce the same for their customers, and are too stupid to do anything but add to the mess themselves, let alone start cleaning up their customers and blocking machines?

About 90% of the blocked IP's that I bother to go look up are marked as being part of a botnet, and have been for an extended length of time. Just what are the ISP's of those users (who *aren't* all in the legally-unreachable corners of the globe) doing to not know they are listed and to allow their users to just directly spam sometimes hundreds of connections a second to mail servers direct?

We have perfectly good systems in place to DRASTICALLY reduce this amount of junk but nobody is using them. When 99.9% of email fails because of simple checks even AFTER they've arrived at my domain (which has SPF and DKIM records), we need to give it up. But yet what we're instead doing is chasing tails of botnets which would be pretty useless if they couldn't spread email and thereby create funds and attack vectors for their controllers.

When almost every IP I bother to manually look up on CBL shows me instantly that it's part of an established botnet and is known to be spewing spam, sometimes for YEARS, we're just not doing enough to stop the problem.

Implement SPF, DKIM and other measures. Stop being part of the bounceback mechanism with obviously-forged return headers. Block outgoing email from your users unless authenticated to your internal mail server. That will honestly cut out so much spam that it would become quite impractical to operate a botnet in the first place. And we seriously just need a DNSBL with high update rates for such things so we can just block at the firewall and thereby prevent spreading of the infection, attacks from infected machines, and incur such fallout from ending up on the lists that some places will cry if they end up on it because of an internal infection.

What we actually need is just a new mechanism for email entirely, and for people to secure their damn machines. But what's practical is an ISP-level agreement on what to block and what not. Lots of ISP's block outgoing SMTP unless through their servers (or you provide an exception with appropriate guarantees of non-abuse measures), and I've even seen a couple that block SMB ports too. There are just too many dumb home users with no security (or Norton Antivirus, which is pretty much the same thing) causing problems for everyone else and it's about time we started shutting them off and cleaning them up.

2
0

Ubuntu 12.10: More to Um Bongo Linux than Amazon ads

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: "When you play with someone's desktop, you are interfering with the way they do work..."

Yes, but I think you miss a step.

At some point, every business has to pay a nerd of some breed, to implement their systems in a secure and efficient way so that information does not leak out and users don't waste their time on the Internet. As much as I'd like to give a user a text-only console with only option that did what they absolutely had to do, the reality is that we take a commercial distro and customise it to remove things that shouldn't be there before it's deployed out.

This is where both Windows 8 and new Ubuntu's are suffering. They are creating work for those vocal nerds, who service thousands of unknowing users, and thus are going to lose out where they don't need to. There's even something to be said for a "productivity" configuration and a "home" configuration, in that case. I can name half a dozen IT admins who would kill to get business versions of Windows, Office etc. with all the junk turned off by default but compatible with the home versions. It doesn't tend to happen - Windows 8, for example, is quite clearly a "home" distro, designed for flashy tablet PC's and not corporate workstations. ME and Vista were much the same. But XP and 7 had a much more business-like approach to things and were easier to lock down and customise.

We can't just look at the home market here and say "Nobody customises their PC". Maybe "nobody who uses the PC casually does", but who's going to spend MORE on their OS and PC in the first place? Those people who are using it as a highly customised tool in whatever respect, and thus those people who will be hit by a productivity loss at such trinkets adorning their highly-maintained desktop.

My personal desktop has 5 icons on it. My start menus are organised into customised categories and no program is more than Windows-key, P, Category Initial, Program Initial, Program Initial away (that's a worst-case). The personal desktops of other staff that use the unmanaged machines I build are 50% horrendous messes of unkempt folders and half-installed programs and 50% clean-as-a-whistle affairs. But still the actual working managed desktops on the domain are MY pristine organised, categorised icon sets and used by 450+ users without complaint.

My opinion of Ubuntu counts for a million times more than any single user's, or even my superior's, impression of it. Nerds veto these sorts of things in corporations as well as their personal machines. It's dangerous territory to launch a monetising assault on their desktops and that of ALL their users, especially without adequate consultation.

I'm not saying nerds rule the world or override huge company's CEOs, but it's wrong to alienate any one category of your users when they could have been appeased by such things being a) optional, b) disabled by default.

2
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

So after spending years configuring my browsers to block adverts, replacing all my old ad-supported software with freeware/open-source, installing software to rip the unskippable ads from my DVD's, and going out of my way to configure an email reader to NOT show me anything that's probably an unsolicited ad,

NOW my start bar will turn against me and suggest ads when I want to run a command prompt.

Nice design decisions, guys (and supporting business model, i.e. one doomed to fail).

And I hate the Unity interface, and I hate the "new Windows" interfaces (i.e. Vista / 7 / 8) and made a time-profit by installing Classic-shell to get run of that junk as quickly as possible when I had to move onto a Windows 7 machine recently from a 10-year-old XP image that had had countless years of setting up to get it how I wanted it. It has to be said, the underlying OS's on both sides of the coin are actually quite good, they are just let down by TERRIBLE interfaces bundled into apps and the desktop utilities which remove features and give you no options to get them back.

I don't WANT things searching my hard disk when they are idle to propagate a menu of stuff that you might think I have installed. I know exactly how to get to every program I ever want to use and can get there before I could ever remember the name of the damn thing, let alone type it in enough to pop up in a narrow-down search. I actually spent my first few hours on my first, own personal copy of Windows 7 (after years of trials, etc. for my users) doing nothing but seeing if I could tweak the narrow-down so that I could eventually get used to it in preference.

And yet, five minutes with Classic Shell and I was back to be (almost) as productive as before. That program is worth its weight in gold. But if they plastered it with ads, then it would be in the bin before you could find the network IP address without using command line utils on a plain-install of Windows 8.

When you play with someone's desktop, you are interfering with the way they do work, in a way that's directly translatable to lost productivity if you get it wrong (or even if you get it right, but it takes people such a long time to get used to it that they will never recoup that loss). Control of the desktop is a hugely powerful thing that affects how people use their machines unlike any other. That's why corporate desktops get lock-downs, that's why admins have group policies to configure them, and that's why messing them up and slapping ads on them is a sure way to make people find OTHER tools, or even OS's, that don't do that.

5
0

WTF is... VoLTE

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Is it just me thinking that yet-another-technology will be destroyed by commercial interests, deliberate incompatibilities, differing pricing structures and lack of co-operation?

What if one network charges all things through it's net per second and another per kilobyte? Are we then just going to raise prices for everyone to make up the shortfall of costs to/from the differing network?

Someone needs to step in, even in the 3G days, and say that you can bill per kilobyte. Differing prices for "prioritised" data if you like, but that's all you can do. Then we get to use things like Skype (whereas currently its use is artificially restricted because it would do a better and cheaper job over their own network than the networks can provide themselves), data-downloads, etc. and not have this sort of hassle.

I predict yet-another-mess. We're already in a mess with spectrum licensing with it, we're in a mess with some networks getting to run trials that others can't, and now we're seriously suggesting all these companies to get together and decide what to charge the end users and how and do it fairly and consistently (even while roaming). It's not going to happen. It's a train-wreck waiting to happen.

Yet-another-technology thrown to the dogs because commercial interests can't deploy it in co-operation with each other.

3
0

New I-hate-my-neighbour stickers to protect Brits' packages

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: If re-deliveries are so costly

"They could pay their staff a ... a bonus based on successful first deliveries and still save money overall."

Possibly the worst idea in the history of the world.

But evening deliveries? Yeah, it's not hard to work out. Royal Mail should have been doing it since the invention of the light bulb let people stay up in the evening after work. Amazon already do, I often get a little random guy pull up in a car at 7pm who's been paid to bring me my Amazon parcels at a sensible time. Work for him, convenient for me, better for Amazon, only people who lose out are the Royal Mail because they're too daft to do it themselves.

8
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Personally, I would order ten thousand empty boxes and ask for them to be delivered, 8 per day, to my house.

Or order an enormous sex toy (the most outrageous one I could find) and ask for it to be delivered in the most OBVIOUS packaging ever (i.e. wrap it in paper and then pop it in the post, assuming you have labels that will stick to the uneven cylindrical shape).

Hell, play a tape of a donkey braying quietly in the bedroom every night. When she accuses you of something, ask her how she knows. Because she stuck her oar in where it wasn't wanted?

And when she sticks her nose in, tell her where to go.

If she wants to see who my visitors are - sorry, you weren't invited and I have guests - BYE!

I'd also build a slightly larger fence and then, hopefully, they'd get the idea.

If people annoy you, don't deal with them. Screw with their heads instead. If they want to know what's going on, deny them even the knowledge you'd usually give people and act even more mysterious.

"This?! Oh, it's just my... erm... parcel. For... erm. You know." (then stare, giggle and go inside).

2
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Can I have a ...

Remove doorbell battery before going to bed.

Problem solved.

Let him pick up his own damn parcels (and I'm that sort of person myself, around Christmas-time, and a royal pain-in-the-butt to my neighbours - but I don't ASK for them to be disturbed just because I'm out. Leave a damn card and I can get them all at once from the Post Office and not worry about them wandering off, well not-as-much.)

The phone and the doorbell have off switches, you know? It's amazing how many people don't know this or think they "MUST" have it on all the time "for emergencies". If there's a 1-in-a-million, absolute emergency that you (and only you) are required for, someone will find you, and you won't be any good if you're bleary-eyed from no sleep. Turn your damn phone off when you go to sleep or go on holiday.

4
4

Virgin ramps 4G to a whopping 90Mbps - and switches it off

Lee Dowling
Silver badge
Coat

Re: It's Virgin Media FFS

*looks around surreptiously, noticing he may be alone*

Am I the only one who has Virgin Media TV, Internet (including SuperHub), home phone and mobile and actually never has a problem with it?

I take it back, once I paid for a PPV movie (Serendipity before people start raising eyebrows) and it stopped mid-movie, and I phoned up (on my Virgin home phone), got a refund, and a replay of it for free the next night.

Is it really just me? I was actually thinking if Virgin sell pico-cells (as hinted at in the article), I would probably buy one now because my new house is in a poor reception area for any mobile network, 4G or not.

Really?

Am I alone in this?

I'll get me coat...

7
1

Blazing new comet may OUTSHINE THE MOON in 2013

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Re:Shirly we need a pluto rant by now

Dimensionally-challenged, if you please.

0
0

Aga-saga doyenne ponders how to put ebooks in public libraries

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

A DRM technology that works... would be welcome as well.

There is yet to be found an "uncrackable" DRM technology, even if that's via "analogue holes" like screenshotting the pages of the PDF and reassembling them (but for most things, you don't even need to go that far).

The rule of digital content: If you can perceive it, you can reproduce that perception.

0
0

McFlurry McMisdemeanour costs Welsh lass McJob

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Sigh

The negative publicity, the loss of an above-average employee, the cost of the internal investigation, the cost of the external litigation (successful or not), the cost of her friends not coming in any more.

Sure, there's a point where you crack down on employees but it usually involves a quiet word and insistence and repeats of the event making your "quiet word" louder and louder. But I'm guessing that all of the above cost a LOT, LOT more than anything she ever did with chocolate sprinkles (especially when you consider the bulk-buying price of those sprinkles and/or the amount of profit that places usually makes a day anyway).

Management. A posh word for idiot who doesn't understand how humans work.

6
0

Rumour: Asus rejects $99 Nexus 7... rumour

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

I would be most annoyed if they did, because I just bought one.

But, considering their costs and that I got £15 Google Play credit, I doubt they could do it. Though, maybe they'll just scrap the credit if they did do.

People are basically gossiping that Google will sell at cost, which I think is a bit of a stretch. The device is very nice but I bought it BECAUSE it doesn't have any external storage, 3G or a lot of other junk and will be compatible with virtually everything out there on the store (which some of the cheaper tablets aren't, even if you hack the store onto them) - it's going to be used by a child, so I don't want that junk and I want to be able to lock it down. I can't see the price coming down soon given what's in it, and that it will never really own the tablet market because of some huge feature omissions in the hardware.

I think the rumour is probably just that. And it's a nice device but it's not nice enough for everyone to rush out and buy even at 2/3rds the current price. You can't make a loss leader with a device that's behind every other offering out there.

1
0

GiffGaff: We've got no iPhones, but here's how to cut down your SIM

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Hmmm

And also, the least likely to dig out scissors to go cutting up circuit boards in order to use their devices in the first place.

Sorry, but even the "micro-sim" junk was too much for me and I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole (work once asked me to do it for their Samsung S3's. I told them that if it doesn't arrive with it's own micro-SIM, I'm not going to go chopping them up. Not because it's dangerous, or because it's a pain, or because I might screw it up, but just to make sure that the only people paying for the decision to use a non-standard SIM ****FOR NO GOOD REASON**** are the people who made that decision.

In the end, the phones all came along with new micro-SIM's from the mobile operator and I made the telephone company shuffle the old numbers onto them, and the box contained some adaptors to turn the new micro-SIM's into normal SIM's should we move on .

The SIM is a good standard and trimming even 1% of its size off is inexcusable and unnecessary. These phones are NOT that cramped for space. It's just trying to make a new "standard" by force. I refuse to be part of it.

I can't imagine an Apple fan taking a pair of scissors to their SIM's, either, to be honest. They'll just take it to the shop and get a "genius" to do it for them. (And, as Sheldon says, I refuse to contribute to the devaluation of the word genius).

5
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

So, basically, like every other provider on the planet "unlimited" means nothing to them at all.

To be honest, too many horror stories on The Reg front page alone over the past year for me to even touch them. Especially if they're just pulling the same tricks as everyone else. If they want money, they can pull their sponsorship of The Big Bang Theory ("let's advertise to nerds, all of whom know who we are anyway!").

3
3

Populous

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: breakthrough into link up gaming

Not related to this particular game alone, but I still contend that I had the following system running for multiplay in DOS days:

A parallel cable and serial cable between each of three computers (you could use anything, but you had to "daisy-chain" the connection so needed two suitable ports on each machine), some ancient DOS packet driver that I can't find any more than turned the Heath-Robinson cable connection into a "proper" network, and multiplayer DOS IPX games (e.g. Doom, etc.) - and later even proper TCP/IP - running over it as if it were a LAN.

Worked *perfectly* and I still have the cables somewhere - we bought extra-long ones to make it work between rooms and had all sorts of adaptors to make sure the 9-pin serial ports could be used with the 25-pin on the other computer etc. Eventually ousted by our own 10Base2 BNC network (that we had to install ISA network cards for that cost more than all the previous system had cost!), and then onto 10/100BaseT. But we were playing "network" games during this era over parallel and serial cables (which were also cheaper than buying pre-cut runs of 10Base2 cable, especially when people were throwing them away most of the time!) and a handful of adaptors.

Not saying it was fast or you could rely on it for massive file transfer (we did file transfer and proper networking, but we didn't use it for that), but for gaming it was fabulous. And Windows 3.1 let you use DOS packet drivers too so we didn't even upgrade for that.

Damn, that was a long time ago, but we were so happy to have a "proper" network because of that driver. I'd give the author a pint if I could find him now.

1
0

They said it wasn't right for biz - but Samsung unveils TLC SSD

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: SSD secure erase

Fabulous. So you find a 10-year-old SSD in the back of a server room. You don't know what's on it, but it could well be financial details. It doesn't boot up, the drive controller doesn't recognise it at all, and there's no buttons/resets on the drive whatsoever. A data recovery firm will charge you several thousand pounds just to get the drive back to operational to find out what's on it or issue a secure erase command (if that's even possible by then).

ATA secure erase commands predate SSD's by about a decade. There's a reason you don't rely on them. When a drive dies, you still need to destroy the data, but you can't make it do it itself. You tend not to replace drives unless they've died or you don't want to waste time cleaning them up for re-use. And waiting hours while each drive of 1000's is powered on, issued an erase command and waiting for its successful completion (which could still take hours) is the least efficient way possible to destroy the data (the most efficient being to throw things in a fire until there's no recognisable components left).

2
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: How I learned to stop worrying and love TLC

I once spent an instructive afternoon smashing drives with my dad. We had a load of them that needed to be destroyed beyond recovery, so we took at them with a chisel, sledgehammer and a bench-grinder.

Things were going well, and we had a stack of magnets so high they were starting to topple even with the neodymium strength, until my dad struck the exposed platter on one with the hammer. Turns out it was some kind of glass, that shattered into millions of pieces. It was the only one not to have a metal disc.

Data destruction achieved, but the sweep-up took longer than we thought.

When SSD's come along, guaranteeing data destruction isn't going to be as easy.

1
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: I've gone for large capacity.

It depends.

The number of rewrites is only given "per cell, on average", which is very different to the real-world maximum. You might find that it writes the same cell over and over (even with wear-levelling) and burns through the replacement "spare" cells too, writing that same information, and you end up with a worn "hole" in the disk even though millions of other cells are untouched.

The wear-levelling algorithms are not perfect, and the averages given mean that any write could fail and bring in spare cells to replace a broken one, regular or not. It really depends on how much "spare" capacity you have to be able to bring online should a cell fail more than anything else. With 500Gb, you're likely to have less spare (proportionally) than a 100Gb.

I'd actually care more about just using the drive normally and choosing a manufacturer/model with a good reputation than any advertised statistic, though. Base it on real-life experiences, buy the "older" model with more good reviews and less "it just died on me", which would tend to be the smaller one, and would also tend to cost more than equivalents of its size (even to the point where you could get a 256Gb for the price of a particularly reliable 128Gb).

Or, don't use it for permanent storage and just realise you're going to kill it like any other drive. Have a spinning disk for actual data, and an SSD for "working storage" (e.g. games, Windows, things that can be replaced and don't actually matter).

People keep telling me that spinning disks have a lifetime and die. The only disk I've personally witnessed dying without giving LOTS of warning before hand (e.g. SMART etc.) was actually 20Mb. Ever since then, I've seen disks that report 1-2 bad sectors and you can just rewrite those sectors and get around it (either the disk pulls in spare sectors, or the OS marks them as bad and doesn't try to use them), or they just keep going. Hell, I have a stack of disks at home that go back to 386's.

Buy it, expect it to die, don't rely on maths based on adverts to base your averages on, back up anything critical on a couple of disks of differing technology to cover your ass.

SSD's are really just consumer items now. You're probably NOT going to hit the write limits at all in the lifetime of the drive but, like with any consumer item, it's possible it could blow up on the first day.

2
0

Brit turns Comp Sci coursework into $100k glad-rags search biz

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Google?

Yeah, cos they just snapped up TinEye, didn't they?

(Which is a fabulous service, I hasten to add, and deserves to be bought, but has still been unbought by anyone serious since it was founded in 1999)

0
0

Analogue TV snuffs it tonight on UK mainland

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: @ Lee Dowling

"Now that you aren't using your Pi any more, can I beg it off you please ?"

For £30 from cpc.co.uk, delivered next day if you like? They aren't rare any more, aren't expensive, and - believe me - aren't worth it for anything serious. Still had USB problems (i.e. not letting some basic devices operate at all - all a bit of a lottery), SD card problems, and power problems (you need an insanely stable and powerful power supply if you intend to use it long-term) last time I tried.

Original project I planned (and spent £100 on parts for over a year) was an in-car GPS tracker / alarm. I have casings, interfaces, battery backup that charges from the car when its running, GPS, Bluetooth, 3G modem, various relays etc. all ready and working. Originally built with a Mini-ITX board with the assumption I could just slap the RPi in there when it arrived. All it had to do was have two USB ports that worked and bog-standard Linux-supported drivers (drivers aren't a problem, nothing I used had anything more than a plain-text modem/serial device interface presented to Linux) and present a Linux console (no graphics output was needed at all). Never managed to get it working well enough to rely on. Project still wired to Mini-ITX months later (was one of the first orders of RPi, just had that many unresolved issues).

Also bought it to trial in the school I worked in. Just far too many issues that it would be embarrassing to even try to suggest it professionally for anything. Sure, people can do stuff with it, but it's nowhere near as reliable or as useful as you might think. I actually regret paying £25 for it - I could have just bought a pack of Z80's and made something better for the task myself (though it wouldn't have run Linux). Sure, I did a demo that ran some basic X-Windows on the HDMI lead, but the TV composite-out never really worked either. Networking was affected by USB load so it was useless even for simple things if you actually wanted it to do anything. And RAM was always a problem for anything heavily graphical (e.g. browsers).

To be honest, I'm only holding on to it in the hopes that they fix the kernel eventually and I can use it to do a simplified subset of the functions necessary in partnership with some basic IC's or microprocessor. The Mini-ITX board is too large, and I have nothing else that will fit in the gap left. If I ever get funds to put a small, embedded, ARM-Linux board in there instead, the Pi goes into the loft anyway, I'm afraid. A warning to myself about pre-ordering things (my first and only pre-order, and am immensely disappointed with it).

0
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: CEEFAX

You've obviously not watched some of the documentary channels, for instance David Attenborough's ones where he shows millions of bats flocking is a good way to really kill MPEG compression, which is the artifact that the OP describes seeing.

Couple that with low-bit-rate channels, and poor MPEG conversion hardware on the broadcast end that they can't be bothered to pay real money for, and you end up with a complete mess trying to watch something that looks like a bad YouTube clip on your HD TV.

The HD channels "solve" it a bit, but only if you have them and pay for them (where appropriate) and if the thing you want to watch happens to be shown on them.

It doesn't matter how big your screen is or how far aware you are if the MPEG compression just can't keep up.

9
1
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

I repurposed all my analogue Hauppauge WinTV cards years ago to become CCTV recorders. They are infinitely more useful doing that than receiving even five channels of the junk they put on TV now. The USB-dual-DVB-T stick that I got to replace them (and because it was a bargain) has barely been out of its box (I find the EPG and constant retuning unnecessarily onerous, especially when there's nothing to actually WATCH on it).

In the last week I have watched literally about 4-5 hours of Digital TV, most of that repeats, filled with adverts (muted), and with all the best lines cut out and only so that there was "something on" while I did other things (e.g. ate dinner). But DVD's and iPlayer? At least double-that. Hell, technically I have watched more TV through my Raspberry Pi (that I've consigned to the bin for what I wanted to do with it), than over the digital or analogue airwaves combined.

A TV is just a display device now. I lived for three years without one recently - can't say I missed it at all and only got one again as I bought a LCD flatscreen to go nicely on the wall in a new house and be used for showing things from the DVD player / PC.

You can switch off the analogue, now. Hell, switch off the digital while you're at it. It won't be a huge loss to a lot of people (especially when this "local TV" thing comes along). Personally, I'd remove TV from the airwaves at all and use the space for local wireless broadband which people can use for IP-based media.

6
1

Microsoft flashes fat mobe wallet, whispers: 'Just rub our hub'

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Not seen Oyster cards then? Because there's no printing involved at all, there, and according to the papers today, they (or something very similar) are about to be rolled out up and down the country.

I haven't seen an actual paper ticket inside London in over 10 years, except for the occasional tourist. And the guards have electronics readers to check where you got on and that you haven't forgotten to declare your journey correctly (e.g. didn't doink in at one of the gateway stations to things like National Rail etc. that cost more to use).

Paper tickets aren't necessary. In fact, they're even quite easy to fake (mag-stripe included). But faking an entry on your smartphone that will correspond with what the train guard's handheld reader says it should be is a bit more tricky.

More likely, though, the primary hassle will be bring thrown off a train because your battery has died and you can't show your ticket.

1
0

Brave copper single-handedly chases 'suspicious' Moon

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: What does he have to be ashamed about?

The charge of "Maliciously interfering with the tide" might be a hard one to make stick, though.

And the only other thing they've got is a nuisance charge for all that light it throws this way.

6
0

DON'T PANIC: Arctic methane emissions have been going on for ages

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

One word.

Again.

Just how many times do we have to play the "No, you're talking rubbish" game in having to discredit poor science by using good science (i.e. get down there, see what's happening, see what explanation would be plausible or not, rather than just hypothesising doom on the back of zero evidence)?

I hereby posit the theory that man's addiction to bananas is causing the planet to warm up at a thousand degrees a day. By these standards, everyone will take me seriously for the next few years until someone can be bothered to come along and show what a crackpot suggestion it is.

9
7

Mmmm, delicious new sugar batteries keep gadgets up all night

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

They probably said that you'd "never store lightning" back in the 1700's. Batteries have come a long way very quicker to the point that even your average rechargeable battery has a capacity that alkaline batteries could only dream of when I was a kid. Hell, I remember playing with 400mAh NiCd cells and being able to set things on fire by shorting them out for very short periods (discovered accidentally, repeated scientifically). The power (and flow of current) in them was phenomenal compared to doing the same to even a new alkaline battery.

Batteries are nothing more than a chemical store of energy. The only problem is really the way we get that energy out (we want electricity, not explosions). Even a litre of petrol has a PHENOMENAL amount of energy in it if you use it properly, much, much more than you might think (hell, one litre of petrol can drive my 1 ton car for at least ten miles at 70mph after losses,imagine a 1-litre battery that could do that - car starter batteries tend to be in the 5-10 litre ranges, so your starting battery would be able to do 100 miles!).

It's not really a question of whether they will appear but how we handle them. In the same way that 1litre of petrol is dangerous, 1 litre of equivalent energy in any form is also potentially lethal, especially if mis-used or damaged. It would literally turn into a serious hazard in an accident and make it useful for terrorist actions, even.

There's no limit to battery power that we know of, and we've changed through so many materials that can do better jobs that we could probably work on improving them all for centuries yet. The problem is really the conversion to electricity and the safety of them.

0
2

Crooks can milk '$100k a day' from 1-million-zombie ZeroAccess army

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

That's 10c per machine per day. I'd love to know what exactly a machine is doing to earn that. Bitcoin mining? Seems far too much for just that. Spam email? Seems VERY cheap considering how many thousands of emails you'd have to send from each machine. Ad-click fraud? Doesn't seem very much at all if that's that case.

Makes you wonder exactly where those estimates come from and who is actually supposed to be paying that amount of money for whatever service is rendered.

2
0

Scottish islanders' wave power hopes sunk by 'massive costs'

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Only for awhile

"I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."

On average, the Sun gives us about 6 kWh/sq m. on land, at sea level, in perfect conditions. It can only do that during the day, it can only to do that at certain latitudes, etc. along with a host of other problems (i.e. what was receiving that energy before you put your solar panel in the way?)

That's not a lot. Not a lot at all. In fact, it's rather pitiful. And it's not a matter of technology, that's the absolute theoretical maximum energy you could get with a 100% efficient conversion device. This is why "solar" cars are dead-in-the-water. You'd barely get 12KWh. That's 16hp for an hour, or various fractions of it for longer periods. Sure, we have proof-of-concepts even on inherently inefficient panels but AT BEST we'll never get close to even replacing one consumer car with the theoretically best solar panel in the world strapped to the top of it. Multiplying it out, means you lose vast swathes of land just to generate electricity by absorbing the Sun's rays, which is going to have massive knock-on effects for local climate and environment too.

Sure, it's all do-able. But it's also inherently impractical. Solar isn't the answer. Or even wind or wave. Nuclear is. And then after that we can worry about how we scale DOWN to meet our energy production capacity with renewables. But with nuclear, we still have THOUSANDS of years of scaling UP. Just nobody wants to live next door to it, that's all.

It's just not sensible to chase large-scale solar solutions. This is why it needs government subsidies for you to put panels on your house. And then you'll NEVER make back the energy used to extract the materials for that panel and installation. It's all based on bad sums. The Sun provides us with all our energy, but it has done so over a large area, for billions of years and through a fog of atmosphere which strips it of power. In terms of energy / impact, it really loses out. But we're still sitting on worldwide stocks of nuclear material capable of running the planet for centuries, if not millennia. People are just too frightened of the political "fallout" to use it.

3
1
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: The question I would ask is...

Obviously never seen the Scottish seas during a storm? Which is pretty harsh on your equipment and any cabling near it. And then you have to carry, what? GWatts of power? Back over copper cables that run over the sea-bed, back to a major industrial complex where you can convert it to something sensible (those wave-powered machines aren't going to be putting out mains-voltage!), then transport it EVEN FURTHER over-land through one of the harshest territories in Britain to somewhere when it can join onto the National Grid? It's literally THE SINGLE WORST PLACE to ever site anything like that in terms of getting that electricity back to civilisation. Some of the harshest seas, worst weather, furthest distances you could ever involve in trying to keep huge wodges of copper cable with HT-voltages and GWatts of power on them safe and reliable.

2
1
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

If it costs that much, then it costs that much. Who pays is really someone else's concern here, my concern is: if it costs that much, is it worth doing at all?

Seriously, the cost of transporting that electricity to the mainland means that it's just NOT practical to use for generating electricity to transport to the mainland. Sure, if you want to make a little off-shore independent grid, it would probably work well. But if you're generating all that electricity, and you can't then afford to push it back to where it needs to go, and having to rely on government subsidies to get it back there, then all you are doing (at best!) is wasting my tax on something that's just not practical or cost-effective.

So stop it. Or absorb those costs.

I understand encouraging new technology, trials, etc. What I don't understand is why companies with crackpot ideas that can't make money should be given money to do them badly. £100m of electricity transportation is a heck of a lot of cable and management. Maybe you should have thought about that when you chose where to site your electricity generation project, rather than expecting the government to pick up the tab.

And pointing to an example where you'd have been given a few million to do it is not only orders-of-magnitude away from the costs of your own idea, but it's *somewhere else*. If the subsidy was really that lucrative elsewhere, why didn't you put your site there instead?

Sounds like sour grapes, to me, that you aren't given hundreds of millions of pounds for free to spin a few token blades in Scotland (which has a pretty good record in approving wind-farms where they won't interfere with the beauty of the countryside).

Next time, don't rely on government subsidies to make your sustained profit (to cover your first-year startup costs, sure, but not 100's of millions of pounds of forever including the most-critical bit of your entire plan - getting the damn electricity to the grid!).

8
0

Seagate: Our tech will be BETTER than WD's helium-filled hardness

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

I'm still holding off. 256Gb is my absolute required minimum for a drive now, and that low only because I have a laptop with two hard drive bays in it now and I can put the 1Tb it came with on the other side for storage), and they still haven't come down enough. 30-50% of my laptop price should not be in the hard drive alone.

And they have to not just keep bringing prices down but actually change the *ratio* of those prices too. I can't believe that a 1Tb drive costs anywhere NEAR what they charge when you could easily buy four 256Gbs for much, much, much less. All they do is push some more chips into it (usually in standard positions that would just be unsoldered on smaller-capacity drives of the same model), so it doesn't seem to scale. If they can't bring those prices down before I need a 512Gb primary drive, then I can't see them getting the sales they deserve.

Honestly, if a reliable 256Gb was sub-£100, I'd probably have two today. But they aren't, and the first ones to be will be unreliable and junky. They need to focus on ramping up capacity now that they've proven the technology has real viability.

0
0

LONDON iPHONE 5 MADNESS: 'You must be CRAZY to buy Apple'

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: There's a 'queuing' paradox here.

I, too, deny my British heritage and refuse to queue unless absolutely necessary.

I don't queue for products. I buy something else, elsewhere, which is readily available, or wait for the queue to disappear (and get on with my life in the meantime)

I don't queue for food. If you can't be bothered to serve me in X amount of time, or put enough staff on, there's a high chance the kitchen is understaffed, the food is undercooked, the floors are under-washed and the stock under-checked.

I don't "get" queuing. If your product is so fabulous, you'll have made it easy for me to get. If your restaurant is so great, you won't keep me waiting or let a queue build up without informing people of their waiting time. If your bank is so wonderful for my savings, why can't you afford another cashier on the front-line?

I generally leave others to queue if they want (even people I'm queuing with - I have walked away from friends in queues in the past, got something else and came back to stand with them while I eat it. Their willpower seldom holds out to the front of the queue so they can buy something for themselves to eat...). My patience is limited in that, despite being near-infinite in other regards. I have not only left queues, I have left them vocally. I have stood in the front of a queue of 2 for ten minutes before being served only to tell them, quite clearly and unnecessarily loudly, to stuff it (because they were messing about behind the bar with a makeshift paper-ball football rather than serve me, despite having seen me waiting), and have them chase me down the street to try and serve me (I pointed out that if you take ten minutes to say a word to me, how long are my food/drink going to take after I've paid you?). The guy behind me was silly enough to want to take advantage and I hope they served him quicker than me, I really do. I'd *hate* to think he was in there for 20 minutes still waiting for his order after managing to gain one place in the queue.

A queue is a useful, necessary concept in some things. Other times it's wasteful and insulting to your customers. I'd rather go back to a place that closed the queues off once they hit ten minutes so they can actually serve people without disappointing than one with an eleven-minute, unmanaged queue.

Not once have I personally felt hard-done-by by this principle either.

4
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Can you include anyone who uses management phrases too?

6
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

You've made the mistake of thinking there's logic involved.

This is closer to an impulse buy, or those auction houses you see (usually with bouncers on the door) where the crowd are hyped up and start throwing their money at the auctioneer only to find they got a bag with a load of cheap tat in it.

It has no logic whatsoever. Even if you're a massive fan, there's no need to buy on day one (which will be the HARDEST day to find one on, without having to queue madly). But this isn't about logic as much as fashion and society. These people feel "accepted" by being able to have a privileged early look at a device that is basically hype. That acceptance is reinforced by high-fiving idiots and cheering, and the way their friends all ask to see their new phone when they get home, etc.

Compare it to, say, a Star Trek fan who will queue for hours and go to extraordinary lengths and even pay to get an autograph from, say, Leonard Nimoy, something which is financially worthless. They will rave about it to their friends who are also similarly obsessed (and thus will be impressed, cooing and provide status to the holder of the autograph, etc.) but everyone else is looking on like they're a bunch of nutters. Same thing, different product.

It's about acceptance into a clique. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the device itself.

15
0
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: It would do a lot to restore my extremely low opinion of the human race....

I think the same about people who work in any "smiley" customer service or promotion job, anyone who knocks on your door trying to sell stuff (or, as the last few have stated "not trying to sell you things", merely exchange a business service that they will provide for my money), any Z-class "celebrity", and quite a lot of other people.

Humans are inherently gullible and susceptible animals when it comes to social recognition.

13
1
Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Because if you make people feel good about doing something stupid, they will think that it's not a stupid thing to do.

The Milgram experiment basically tells us this, too. If you lined up enough people who *were* enthusiastic about electrocuting people, or whatever else, then enough people would cheer and wave their arms to join the ranks of those encouraging without question and so propagate such actions.

If you could go into a newsagents with a grumpy man behind the counter who doesn't talk, or one where they know your name, talk about your family, smile when they see you, etc. then you're more likely (on average) to choose the smiley shop in future (even if they are ripping you off in comparison). This is just the same phenomenon on a larger scale.

Why do you think Apple have paid for those people to line up inside the store cheering you, and high-fiving? Because it makes some people feel better about something instead of thinking it through. And, yes, of course some of those idiots would do it unpaid too - hell, most Justin Bieber fans would happily work security for him for free if you asked them to as well. But not forever. And not if the iPhone 5 actually turns out to be a bit of a stinker of a product.

43
2

Apple's brilliant plan to fix iOS Maps: Get YOU to do it

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: OMG They are talking to el'reg?

I'm afraid to say that, just lately, the sudden apple-love and apple-exposure for sometimes nonsensical things has me worried.

I expect The Reg to be at least neutral in its outlook. If it's not, that worries me that there are backhanders and other incentives being passed around lately, especially given the recent iPhone review. If that's true, I find it a little disgusting to be honest, and will move on as I have from other sites that have sold out.

Personally, I'd like to see some sort of official statement to the effect that they aren't receiving something in exchange for these positive reviews and incessant mentions in unrelated articles. Absence of such a statement I will really take to be confirmation that it's true (because such things would be done under a NDA / NQA basis).

Seriously, Reg? Where'd all the Apple mentions come from this past year, when before it was no more than yet-another-IT-company?

4
2

Hapless Kate topless, toothless law useless

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Let's not even get into just how much worse of something "private" I can post online can be for you, and just start with this example:

So if I take photos of your bank statements, or credit card, and post them online, they "are now effectively in the public domain" so you shouldn't take action against me?

No. The fact is that that document cannot be "revoked" from the Internet - correct. But it's also true that you should be punished for publishing it in the first place, knowing that it was illegal and damaging to me, and that you should be punished to discourage a) future reoccurrences by yourself and b) future reoccurrences by others. Otherwise, everything we do will be in the "public domain", grey-market or not, and privacy dies a death.

If these photos were taken illegally, and it's proved so in court, there's going to be a HUGE slap to those who published them online or offline should they be identified. And it will have enormous knock-on effects, one of which will be that photographers and editors will be MUCH more careful about ever taking such snaps in the first place, let alone publish them (and I've heard one quote that he was "just a photographer, the editor decides what to publish" which shows an inherently shaky understanding of privacy and the law around who's responsible for actually permanently recording that image in the first place).

Nobody's stupid enough at the Royal lawyers to think they can suck those pictures out of thousands of personal hard drives across the globe. But they might well be able to put the fear of law back into the journalism industry and safeguard their (and other's) future privacy.

If I'd taken a photo of the next door neighbour sunbathing and plastered it over the net, I'd expect to be arrested if caught. Especially if I'd then sold those pictures to publications abroad. Why does journalism get a free-ride in these things that puts them above ordinary mortals?

6
0

Japanese fanboy robbers empty shops of iPhone 5s ahead of launch

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: And yet

Probably just easier to ship them out to Africa, South America or somewhere that doesn't care about IMEI blacklists, and probably won't see official Apple launches, and people will pay through the nose to even get close to one.

Ship them en-masse and you could probably make nearer to a million, SIMS or not. And the nano-SIM's are not a hindrance if you have someone with the modicum of unlocking/SIM hacking expertise to their name (which is likely if you're looking to fence thousands of iPhones).

3
0

Polar sea ice could set ANOTHER record this year

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

"I don't see any easy conclusions to draw from this."

Thus, shouldn't this draw equal conclusions for the Arctic data too?

As I've said before, let's assume that this is happening, real, happening now, our fault, etc. Just precisely what the hell do people intend us to do about it? The answers to that are usually FAR more dramatic than anything that has been recorded so far and far more dramatic than even the largest of fantastical predictions of doom.

We can't do anything about it until we know what we did (and guessing is detrimental to science here). When we know that, we can try to see if we can do something. Then we can see what the effects of us doing that are. Then we can see if those effects are worse than would have happened if we'd done nothing.

But at the moment, we can't even agree that *ANYTHING* is happening, let alone what, what caused it, how to fix it, or what the fix will entail.

If we have found the problem (we haven't, but let's assume we have), what precisely should we do about it? We're talking about a fix big enough to "repair" global climate. Just what sort of impact is that going to have on human civilisation anyway? Is it nothing more than a choice between a 2m rise in sea level or no power production / oil-use / industry at all? If it is, then I know what I'd rather choose.

6
3

Tiny trackers untangle bee secrets

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Route optimisation isn't exactly the same as travelling salesman, though, is it?

Travelling salesmen is about visiting ALL nodes. Are they claiming that's what the bees do? Visit every nectar source on every run? And travelling salesman doesn't have that much to do with network topology unless your packets have to visit every machine in the network on their way. I think you've confused exactly what that problem describes and it's relevance to the rest of graph theory.

And the whole thing sounds dubious to me. Route optimisation in biological systems is pretty damn simple. Ants are a much better example, with their scent-trails that gradually fade but are reinforced each time they are walked over. That instantly provides every "junction" with a strongest scent on the newest (and thus, presumably, quickest-to-traverse-while-carrying-sugar) route, which then gets reinforced again and again with every ant that takes it and any wandering either provides a better route (stronger scent) or a worse one (less scent) that is immediately taken account of. They virtually perform A* pathfinding using things like that, except a bit more random.

And path optimisation in most things is quite simple. Find ANY route that works. Now wander around. If at any point you get to a point nearer the goal taking less steps than the final route, that becomes the best route (or new segment of an improved route). It's pretty clear from things like that that you can't just "look at an unknown universe and say what's the best route" without literally evaluating every single path (even if you discard most of them for being stupid), which is why lots of pathfinding and travelling salesman etc. is so time-consuming to solve.

Bees aren't doing anything special here. Probably barely worthy of study. You mess their routes up and then they find ANY route to the nectar and once they have that kind of triangulation the rest is just "tightening the string" (Imagine a bee trailing a string connected to the hive. When it finds the nectar, it ties off the other end of the string to the nectar. Now all path-optimisation is is "tightening the string" around the obstacles in its way and, sometimes, re-rolling the string around some particularly bad obstacles so it goes by a "tighter" route. When you unroll the garden hose to get to the back of the garden fence, that's the closest thing to optimal-path-finding you will do. The travelling salesman problem is like saying you need the hose to go by a ridiculous route touching X number of obstacles spread at all corners of your garden and STILL get to the fence at the end)

Personally, I'd be interested if there was not some more optimal mathematical way to *literally* tighten a string using physical mathematics and an appropriate "ideal space" to solve these problems by solving equivalent physics problems instead of pure graph theory analysis. But travelling salesman is another matter entirely where you have no choice but to check every permutation of nodes and see which gives the least total with the optimal route between each node.

0
2

Redmond promises emergency IE bug fix on Friday (zero day + 5)

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

I agree with you yossarianuk - a lot of people realised this decades ago, but we get called all sorts of names for thinking it and then the reasons we state get misconstrued to things like "if we can see the code, it's somehow magically more secure even if it's crap". It's not a question of security, or business, or affordability, or readability, or features, or even neat coding tricks.

The question of who you rely on is a big one in computing and, in my history, Microsoft is not a front-runner. I honestly can't guarantee that my Windows servers will be running tomorrow, even if I don't count hardware failure as a possibility. And I can't even say how long it would take to get a fully-functional replacement up and running either. And it's because of my lack of trust in Microsoft products given my experience with them.

Browsers are probably THE most important application that I allow to traverse my firewalls - they act on untrusted input all day long and have to do so fast, efficient and change constantly to keep up with standards. As such, I haven't used IE since, literally, IE4. It was just that bad. I was on Netscape before most people had ever even heard of the Internet (I remember my CS teacher being flabbergasted that I got an email from someone in Canada because they'd downloaded one of my games, and they read it out in class they were so overawed!) and from the first days, IE was always a heap of junk. It takes a lot more than "making good" those problems I find myself to get me to use it again, after that amount of bad history.

I have a sort-of-plan at the moment to write a video game. I have lots of code running already, and the expertise to make it work, and I don't think it will be anything fabulous or fantastic but, hey, I might sell a few copies in the style of some shareware-type games from back-in-the-day even if it's just as a smartphone app or an indie bundle game or something.

And occasionally I get to dreaming about how I'd scale up if it sold millions. Employ programmers and artists, setting up a compile farm, testing environments, distribution channels, payment processing, server hosting, version control, software patching, etc.

First item on the wishlist would be linux desktops, linux server, linux hosting, linux cross-compliation, linux virtual-machine hosts. The only MS-reliant item I'd have would be a real home PC with Windows on it as a sort of acid-test (because I would not like to think that making something "Windows compatible" would go out to the public without at least one real-world test on the intended OS). I literally would actually go out of my way, if I had enough funds, to avoid anything to do with "that" company even if I was writing games for their platform. I'm not even sure it would cost more or cause a lack of features on my end if I did either. But for sure, the productivity of updates, security and the simple things in life (like having a fecking desktop work how ****I****, the user, want it to) would be worth any hassle I did encounter.

I honestly don't trust MS to make a game that I won't hate to install any more. Just how do people trust it to run their most-critical and attack-vulnerable piece of software? I spend half my time setting up new PC's to turn off lots of the MS junk and install things that I know will do a better job (AV is one, software firewall is another, browser is another).

I don't get people that still use IE. Hell, at absolute maximum, I'd run it with settings that prevented it from accessing anything external whatsoever. A hole sitting in it for a week or so is nothing compared to the nightmares that it's experienced over the years.

On a side-note: My employer has just asked me to block anything IE talking out at the proxy that controls the web filtering (even though it's not accessible in any of our standard disk images). Totally unrelated to this vulnerability, and we've been a Firefox shop for years now, but just one of those things that even non-techies are starting to pick up on. It's just too much of a liability to have around and to trust to work how you expect.

9
1

UK electric car funding - another subsidy for the RICH, say MPs

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Charging

@Anon: Wow... your town is wired with copper that was not only free for the original purchaser but thief-proof too? Wonderful. A lot of people would want to know how you achieved that. British Rail, power networks, BT, you name it. Because they all have lots of VERY EXPENSIVE copper installations, with lethal current running through them at some points, and ALL cite that metal theft is costing them millions alone in affecting their business (not to mention the cost of replacement!)

0
0