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* Posts by Nick Ryan

1351 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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MEN WANTED to satisfy town full of yearning BRAZILIAN HOTNESS

Nick Ryan
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Re: Beware, O horny IT types!

Casa de los Tarantulas e Crocodylos

I think I've just found a name for my holiday home. Now to deal with the small matter of not owning a holiday home...

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Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws

Nick Ryan
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Re: Not surprising

Sorry, but singling out "C" as the "biggest mistake in the history of computers" comes across as nothing more than fanatacism. Dumb, dangerous code can be written in all usable computer languages. Newer languages may have more built in range checks at the language level but these most definitely do not prevent stupid and there is no single programming paradigm that is more correct or more universal than others. "C", being a defined standard, was probably the best thing that happened to computers as it facilitated code and skill re-use rather than the previous situation of vendor and system specific languages and code. Copying code has its drawbacks of course, but it is generally considered better to re-use code than rely on individuals recreating the same things time and time again.

Most dumb code is produced either by poor quality or inexperienced developers (usually operating in a poor or non-existent review framework), developers who do not use how to use profiling and checking tools or chose not to use them, or developers working in a financially constrained environment where there is pressure to release code whatever the state in as short a time period as possible. On a lesser pool, the "I'm really clever I write minimalistic code" developers cause a lot of issues as well, but these are usually swamped by the quantity of code produced by others.

I've had to beat so many developers who turn off compiler warnings and hints because "there are so many"... FFS... they are there for a reason. Look at them, learn from them, fix them. There are (rare) occasions when compiler warnings and hints are genuinely false, but on these rare occasions such checks can be turned off and re-enabled and clearly documented as to why this is happening.

In the past I've also had the joyless task of having to to unpick "exceedingly clever" code that featured convoluted 40 operator logic statements and to instead separate them into useful code blocks that was both maintainable and allowed problems to be accurately logged with appropriate error handling rather than anonymous failures.

As previously noted here... Input validation: it's not optional. Validate for expected, unexpected and total nonsense values and handle them appropriately. Trust nothing, especially when it has an external origin and write code that propagates failure cleanly.

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Finally, a practical use for 3D printing: Helping surgeons rehearse

Nick Ryan
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Re: Finally?

Wow, talk about a relatively simple external bit of kit (that needs to be exactly the right size and tension) drastically improving a child's quality of life!

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Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

Nick Ryan
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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

You have missed the point of Pi.

It's an educational device, not a device that allows you to pirate movies and stream them around your home.

Aha! So that is why my encoding of bluray discs to MP4 was taking so long - I was using my Pi.

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China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE

Nick Ryan
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Military-ish tech research tends to pay off in the long term, and the long term is something the Chinese (government) tends to look at rather than four year cyclic self-destructive short term goals. It'a also important that the Chinese maintain enough military capability to ensure that they have an adequate military presence, but as noted about their main advantages are financial and production capabilities.

While this application has obvious potential for warhead delivery the spin offs are likely to benefit all manner of technology fields where fluids are involved - including pipes, gas/liquid delivery systems, more efficient boats and so on.

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Vampires and Ninjas versus the Alien Jedi Robot Pirates: It's ON

Nick Ryan
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Re: Ninja's?

I love the entire concept of Cohen, being that his, and his silver horde's, most notable skill is staying alive. The description of the fight and aftermath between them and ninjas was a very memorable read.

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Nick Ryan
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Who would win?

... out of Ninjas, Pirates, Jedi, Robots, Vampires, Elves, Dwarves, Dragons, Toadstools, Godzilla, Zombies, Englishmen wielding branches at cars, Aliens, Predators, Robots and so on...

Chuck Norris.

/

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TV transport tech, part 2: From sofa to server at the touch of a button

Nick Ryan
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Nice article(s) - always interesting to learn about the backend and everything that goes into these services. Does explain some of the directions that VM are taking and how the industry is moving.

Now if they could just provide a tivo box that wasn't a piece of shite I'd greatly appreciate it... a user interface that feels carefully designed to be as unintuitive as possible that is randomly unresponsive or fast so double button presses followed by loading up of an idiotic amount of resources for a service that you didn't mean to enter. To cap it all, no effing RGB / Component video output. I don't watch (broadcast) TV very often at all and tivo is putting me off watching even the little amount that I do watch. I really don't know how I haven't ripped the thing out and thrown it out of a window yet. Some people love it of course, but not me or my family.

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Microsoft: We plan to CLEAN UP this here Windows Store town

Nick Ryan
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Re: responsibility

Completely agree. However the software industry has grown up with a licence that effectively reads "We, the company providing this software, generously, out of the bottom of our bank account, are lending you a copy of this software exclusively on our terms. It may not do what you want it to do, it may not do what we say it does, it may not work very well at all, in fact it probably doesn't work at all but this is your problem and not ours. Now pay up bitches.".

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US Copyright Office rules that monkeys CAN'T claim copyright over their selfies

Nick Ryan
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Re: Too paraphrase

Ah, but did he pay peanuts? In which case a contract could have been said to have been established.

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Nick Ryan
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Nothing created by animals? That's humans out then

This is the US Copyright Office - of course they deny that humans are animals. Excluding religious influences, in their defence it may be that as many of the members of the US Copyright Office (and US Patent Office) tend more towards plant or mineral state this is a reasonable assumption to make.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Infinite monkeys

So if an infinite number of monkeys did manage to type out a brand new Shakespeare play, Shakespeare would lose out on all the royalties? How fair is that?

That is perfectly fair, particularly if you are the agent representing said infinite number of monkeys. Any royalty fee divided by infinity would result in a payout of zero to each monkey with the remainder being retained by the agent naturally. Not sure how music publishers or royalty collection and distribution agencies equate their number of represented artists to infinity but it seems that some clever accountants have worked out how to do it.

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Things are looking up in Flappy Bird sequel

Nick Ryan
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Re: The Shaft

I guess you don't play any games that use Google play games services then? All of them require it.

Quite possibly. Is there a way to tell if an application is using these permissions as part of the google play games services or not? No... therefore no install.

There are a lot of apps I don't install... :)

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Nick Ryan
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Re: The Shaft

Nice. It looks an interesting enough game but as it requires Identity and Account use permissions it ain't getting installed.

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Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?

Nick Ryan
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Re: Open council web sites. Secret bin collections

Too right! The terrorists could use that in some double dastardly attack on neighbourhood recycling centres. One cannot be too careful. Please think of the children.

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Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!

Nick Ryan
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Re: Lack of integrated email/contacts/calendar?

"I can only assume that you have never used Outlook / Lync / Unified Messaging - together with Office / Sharepoint / Yammer, etc?"

Outlook is an appalling, bug ridden product with some serious usability issues and total disregard for any established standards. I'd more than happily shoot, multiple times to be sure, the developers of Outlook's HTML renderer, quite apart from the intentionally broken IMAP support, or as noted elsewhere broken anything non-Exchange. However the worst thing Outlook... is that it is better than anything else equivalent. I may be wrong on this, but so far I haven't come across anything close and I've tried a lot of alternatives - only Thunderbird came close and the UI of that was designed by idiots.

Lync may appear to have a clean interface, but it's amazingly bug ridden, bloated beyond belief and just performing simple tasks is an exercise in frustration. Once it's finally started which tends to take a long time.... and yet somehow after all this it is better than Communicator, but that isn't because it's good, just that Communicator was so bad. However to be fair, IM clients don't have a good usability pedigree and bolting extra functionality on top of very poorly designed, or intentionally limited interfaces, is not always an easy task.

Sharepoint is the devil's work. For good (sanity) reasons, I avoid this bloated, unwieldy monstrosity whenever I can. The security scheme alone makes the hatchet job of normal windows file/print security look well designed. As for all the ridiculous bugs that relate to data that are still in place... arrrgggh. On the other hand, if you want a quick alternative to shared spreadsheets that are used to do little more than record data, it does quite a good job and while the document management feels entirely cumbersome and has been implemented in a ridiculously inefficient manner, it does sort of work.

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Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet

Nick Ryan
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“... applications or workloads that Microsoft IT considered high business impact, such as financial information, protected corporate information, or personal information, should be among the last to be migrated. This would allow Microsoft Azure to be effectively assessed and prepared to host this highly sensitive information.”

If Microsoft aren't in the position to trust their own cloud services with their own information this is a telling indicator that neither should anybody else. So every cloud sales-rat attempting to foist cloud services for such information and services has now been demonstrated to be lying through their shiny white-than-white teeth? Again. Maybe their previous careers in selling glazing or used cars didn't work out for some reason...

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Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report

Nick Ryan
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Re: Alkaline

Eeek - I had forgotten many of those old battery types (on the wikipedia page). I remember playing with many of the larger everready snap on connector type batteries, but oddly can't remember what they were used for.

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Revealed ... GCHQ's incredible hacking tool to sweep net for vulnerabilities: Nmap

Nick Ryan
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Re: I'm an old-school hacker from the 80s ..

Read a website somewhere where they listed the most amusing, shocking or clever twists delivered in place of standard banners. Can't find it now, but there some real gems on there...

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TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button

Nick Ryan
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Agreed. I expect it brings out the (not so closet) geek in many of us. As much as we might enjoy whinging and bitching about VM and laughing about their failures, it's still impressive and eye-opening to see what they do achieve and how they do it.

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Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media

Nick Ryan
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Re: Aren't there a number of exemptions to copyright

The work has been made available to the public.

This is the sticking point - the official match footage is not by default made available to the public - it is paid for content.

The earlier point about using your own camera at a football match, that is not copyright violation. However it is often against the T's & C's that you implicitly agreed to with your purchase and use of the ticket.

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What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this

Nick Ryan
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Even with a common wireless interface, successfully updating all of them and verifying that the updates have all been applied to each of them isn't going to be a fun task. Having worked with mass update devices (admittedly the last production devices was a rather badly designed IR update process, the next gen were wireless or wired), there are always some devices that just fail to update and identifying and tracking down these devices makes for a tedious day.

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Nick Ryan
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While you are essentially correct in that these could have been modelled in software, and doubtless the initial basic programming was, it is only through creating the physical devices and letting them roam that all of the foibles, annoyances and damn stupid gotchas really come out. This real learning is then fed back into the software model which can be refined and then (typically) pushed out to the physical devices for the next tests. Upgrading the software on a few devices is usually annoying, 1k of them very much so.

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FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'

Nick Ryan
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Re: is that what ElReg sarcasm looks like

I don't know why anyone even bothers selling devices with reflective screens in Aus. They ain't going to beat the sun.

By reflective I presume you mean shiny screens? These are brighter than matt screens - just the fact that a screen is matt blocks out some of the light.

Far better for daylight is to have a genuinely reflective display such as e-ink rather than a transmissive (light emitting) display such as the usual OLED / LED displays. However reflective displays are not so useful in the dark and colour accuracy depends entirely on the light source you are lighting it with. Now if somebody could create a display that could switch from transmissive to reflective as required...

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No Apple fanbois here: Man United BANS iPads from Old Trafford

Nick Ryan
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Re: Terrorism

Hell yeah. What short story is this from? Where the spectators* were given mirrored match day programs.

* I vaguely remember that the spectators were generally all police / military as well.

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Hollywood star Robin Williams dies of 'suspected suicide' at 63

Nick Ryan
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Happy

One of the great things about this thread is that here, on El Reg, various commentards, many long established, are (relatively) publicly revealing the pain they have been through with depression, either with themselves or somebody close to them.

If just one person reads these posts and takes positive action to turn their life around then that's an amazing, positive thing. Even more so on a sarcastic, often blunt, forum on an technical Internet news site.

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Nick Ryan
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Not sure where that line comes from, but here's an analysis of the phrase and a shameless plug for an organisation that can help: http://www.suicide.org/permanent-solution-to-a-temporary-problem.html.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Mork Calling Orson

"Sad news. When will we take mental health seriously?"

Where shall we begin? Help begins with family, friends and professional counsellors who are trained how to help people get out of their mental ruts / holes / whatever... the sufferer is the only one that can stop the depression but they often need the help of others and may often be unwilling to ask for help or even to accept the problem, particularly men. Except in rather rare cases, prescribing drugs for depression is not the way forward, however it is the way that far too many (substandard) GPs treat it. Along with antibiotics for colds.

The really sad part is the statement "Williams' publicist Mara Buxbaum said the actor had battled severe depression in recent months". Where was the help?

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Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner: Capital is top target for computer thieves, say police

Nick Ryan
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Re: People just don't get it....

It's worse than just that, it's the way many people (mainly women) have open bags with such multi-hundred pound devices lying around on top, along with purse, keys, travel cards and anything else they may need at a moment's notice. For pickpockets (more "pick-bags"?) it's probably like shooting fish in a barrel, one quick brush past and a palm off to an accomplice (who also masks the act from sight of others) and they're done.

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Why hackers won't be able to hijack your next flight - the facts

Nick Ryan
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Re: The communication system sounds similar to CAN-BUS

I was keeping with the terminology in use in other posts (which wasn't especially a good idea), but you are correct - there are many senders. There is only one active "master" allowed though.

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Nick Ryan
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The communication system sounds similar to CAN-BUS

The communication system sounds similar to CAN-BUS - a relatively sane system designed to operate in (signal) noisy environments, originally automotive but now a lot of industrial. Similarly you have only have one active "sender" on the network, devices are communicated with using a time-sliced / QoS communications scheme and much of the communications is uni-directional, including asynchronous, synchronous or watchdog communications. Devices (nodes) can be configured to communicate with each other automatically and nodes can be configured to only publish the very limited interfaces that you want or need to publish. Restricting such communications to very clearly defined, tight interfaces makes the things very hard to hack and this is true of any communications system between devices or systems.

(I spent a few years working with CAN-Open, which is effectively the same as CAN and very similar to many other industrial or signal-noisy control systems.)

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Can't touch this! Microsoft joins OpenGL 3D graphics group

Nick Ryan
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Re: Microsoft on security.. Pot calling kettle black...

To be fair, there are and have been a lot of genuine security concerns regarding OpenGL generally because of the programmability extensions and how these interact rather too directly with the hardware from the security point of view. 3D graphics programmability was never built with security in mind, doubtless because being a local task running on a local machine the system's security was in trouble anyway and adding security checks does slow things down a lot which is generally the exact opposite of 3D graphics programming aims.

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Nick Ryan
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Eek.

Before we know it... Microsoft will release Internet Explorer for Android...

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Crypto Daddy Phil Zimmerman says surveillance society is DOOMED

Nick Ryan
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Re: Defeat of slavery

To add a few quick points that are almost always neglected regarding slavery, most important of which was that slavery was not a racial based process of the "evil white men" enslaving all the "poor black men".

  • There were more "white" slaves than "black" slaves.
  • The European slaving nations - England, Spain, The Netherlands etc, did not go into Africa and enslave the locals. They bought the locals from other locals who were more than willing to sell different castes, ethinicities, religious adherents, the unwanted, the poor or pretty much anybody else who couldn't argue strongly enough.
  • The abolition of the (largely) trans-atlantic slave trade did not stop the slave trade, unfortunately it only stopped what had become one of its largest markets at that time.
  • Most slaves were not mistreated, many regions had very strong slave protection laws which ensured an adequate level of care for slaves. While this was partly financially motivated, it's important not to forget that the many of the slave owners in "the new world" were strongly religious and while this might not mean seeing slaves as equals, it did promote compassionate care. However I have read that "black" slaves were considered harder working or more valuable than "white" slaves, and were therefore treated better.
  • Many slaves were volunteers, opting for slavery over starvation and death. While not a great choice, it was choosing life over almost certain death.

Not to condone slavery at all, but so much seems to be commonly omitted. Not least, that there are more slaves in the world now than there ever have been at any other time in history.

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Microsoft throws old versions of Internet Explorer under the bus

Nick Ryan
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Re: Best Browser

Sorry but total fail to any IT professional recommending Chrome.

I know. They should be using Lynx instead.

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Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

Nick Ryan
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Re: Maybe not the whole car....

Reliability aside, the heated windscreens do work well. Although initially I habitually found that I had focussed my eyes on the wires rather than the road....

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London cops cuff 20-year-old man for unblocking blocked websites

Nick Ryan
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Re: Sometimes we need to download to watch the film

Disney are one of the worst as they abuse the "you may not skip this" DVD functionality to foist trailers on the viewers. One of the great things about DVDs compared to the old VHS tapes was that you didn't have to fast forward through 30m of crap just to get to the film, however Disney reintroduced this by abusing the DVD standard.

I have a pile of unopened Disney DVDs and just watch downloaded copies instead as a result.

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Nick Ryan
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"Commenting on the arrest, FACT Director Kieron Sharp argues that these proxy sites and services are just as illegal as the blocked sites themselves. "

Which, translating from legal weaselese is a statement of nothing at all:

  • If the blocked sites themselves are legal then these proxy sites are also legal.
  • If the blocked sites themselves are of questionable legality then these proxy sites are also of questionable legality.
  • If the blocked sites themselves are illegal then these proxy sites are also illegal.

AFAIK the sites themselves are not strictly illegal, however they have been blocked by civil orders anyway.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: What law has been broken.

You can't - Copyright isn't a document or some other tangible object that you have lying around anywhere therefore it is impossible to steal Copyright. Copyright violation... well that's quite a different matter but doesn't make for the right sounding propaganda.

I'm all for creators being adequately rewarded, and the enablers and promoters that they may require being adequately rewarded as well, but starting off with a lie is not the right way to start these things.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Jolly good work.

This was the City of London cops. They're not "real" police, they are corporate police. Real policing in London is carried out by the Metropolitan Police although technically within the City of London's area the City of London cops are also responsible for real policing.

Good to see that in a "raid", a private individual from the Federation Against Copyright ViolationTheft, a private for-profit organisation funded by large studios, was invited along for the ride.

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Microsoft OneDrive tip-off leads to arrest over child abuse images

Nick Ryan
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Re: In the end...

Ouch, that's not a fun job but it is critical that a human is involved somewhere along the line as a sanity check. Some of the shit that the police do come across is pretty foul, and in just an average visit to a police station incident room you'll often see pictures that you'd rather forget.

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Brit kids match 45-year-old fogies' tech skill level by the age of 6

Nick Ryan
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"For years there has been a very stubborn resistance by the over 65s to accessing the internet," said James Thickett, research director at Ofcom. "In the last three years we have seen that change and we think that's down to tablets."

Could this perhaps be due to the passage of time? In other words, those at the top end of the age scale have a habit of dying, taking their lack of technological know-how with them, but with the progress of time, the under 65s (who are generally more tech savvy) are now joining the over 65s.

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It's WAR: Internet of Stuff firms butt heads over talking-fridge tech standards

Nick Ryan
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Re: Lactose larceny

Add green food dye to your milk. It tends to put the milk thieves off... :)

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Nick Ryan
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Numbers, numbers, numbers...

Gartner has predicted that the Internet of Odds and Ends market will add $1.9trn to the global economy by 2020

Other than Gartner coming up with an arbitrary number as usual ("making numbers up for whoever pays us since 1979" really ought to be their tagline), can somebody tell me just where this money will materialise from? "Services" is just a redistribution of money, Internet of Stuff won't create money, it will just create another avenue for redistributing it.

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What's that? A PHP SPECIFICATION? Surely you're joking, Facebook

Nick Ryan
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Re: PHP is like democracy

...except that PHP's (initial) implementation of Objects was created through a third hand inept description of what Objects are. The whole thing feels like "we've heard about Objects, but barely understood them, therefore we implemented them like this"... and then changed their minds a year later and bodged another layer on top of it all.

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Government's 'Google Review' copyright rules become law

Nick Ryan
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Re: I invent a cure for cancer.....

I knock up song about it in an afternoon. For that I get protection of death plus seventy years.

Well, your publisher does anyway...

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'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece

Nick Ryan
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Re: It'll be messy

IoT = the internet

IoT = M2M - Machine to Machine communications. It's just that the devices might happen to use the Internet to communicate - which is where the serious security fails come from...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Not surprised, but...

It's easier to understand what is going on and what can be done if you ignore the marketing rebrand that's basically all that IoT is. "Machine To Machine" (M2M), is much less marketing-tard friendly.

Hence one of the comments above about home automation not requiring Internet connections, just some form of communication medium in the home.

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SOULLESS machine-intelligence ROBOT cars to hit Blighty in 2015

Nick Ryan
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Re: Bastards

:)

Seriously though, it actually got me wondering at the level of routing abd control that will be offered. In a human controlled car, it's very easy to slow down to a crawl for whatever reason - whether it's "shopping in a red light district", enjoying the landscape / scenery (hopefully with nobody behind you) or just trying to arrive at the in-laws as late as possible, how easy will it be to control and specify this?

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Will these night time trucking lorries

Aha! That aerodynamic bow-wave and tail-wave explanation now sheds some understanding on why, on a three lane motorway with two lorries seemingly joined together across lanes one and two at a seemingly identical speed, there is inevitably a Nissan Micra (other manufacturers and models are available) stuck blocking the outside lane and unable to overtake the lorries or pull back in behind them.

Suddenly it all becomes clear... quite unlike the motorway.

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