* Posts by Tom Wood

427 posts • joined 14 May 2008

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First HSBC, now the ENTIRE PUBLIC SECTOR dodges tax

Tom Wood

Re: "while no one would go to prison for false VAT claims"

It's hardly the same. Whether VAT is or isn't paid by a government department isn't costing the taxpayer anything.

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UK chip champ ARM flexes muscle: Shows strong profit and sales

Tom Wood

Re: Good or Bad?

It's worth noting that ARM don't make the chips themselves; they design cores and license the designs. The likes of Qualcomm, Samsung and TI include the ARM core as part of their SOC designs and produce the actual chips.

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UK air traffic mega cockup: BOTH server channels failed - report

Tom Wood

So the cause

was a hard-coded limit on the number of "things" in the system. But instead of being hard-coded in one place it was hard-coded to different values in two places. Recent changes meant the lower of the two limits was exceeded for the first time ever, and the higher limit wasn't.

Sounds like a fairly basic software test should have caught this issue. If your requirement is "the system shall support up to X things connected" then a decent test would check what happens if the system is tested with X-1, X and X+1 things to make sure the limit had been programmed correctly (and with the correct use of <, <=, == etc).

But, you know, it had worked OK since the 90's, so why would anyone need to test it?

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Tom Wood

Re: Passenger count

Many will be cargo flights, or light aircraft.

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'Tech' City hasn't got proper broadband and it's like BT doesn't CARE

Tom Wood

Business class...

We're a SME (about 60 staff) based in Yorkshire. We recently moved buildings into our own office and had our own fibre installed (100 Mbit symmetric). No doubt this cost a fair chunk of money, but if you want a business class service you can get one if you pay for it.

This might not be affordable for smaller businesses but if decent connectivity is important to you then I'm sure you'd make sure it was available (e.g. in a shared office facility) before signing a lease?

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BT coughs £12.5 billion for EE as fourplay frolics pay off

Tom Wood

What will happen to EE TV?

I'm getting to like my EE TV box... from what I can tell it's a lot nicer to use and more fully-featured than BT's TV offering.

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Google gets my data, I get search and email and that. Help help, I'm being REPRESSED!

Tom Wood

But... Google is a monopoly

If you want to search the internet, you have to use Google (more or less).

If you want to use Google, you have to hand them some amount of personal data.

That's the problem. It's like you are effectively the only apple supplier in the market (OK, there are a few other tiny suppliers, but their apples are very small and not very tasty and they have limited varieties) and you insist that if I want to get some apples, I'm not only going to have to hand over my pears but also information about how many pears I grow, what variety of pears, the secret recipe for my pear crumble and so on.

If the market were functioning correctly there would be multiple apple suppliers. One might exchange 3 apples for 2 pears plus all that data, and another might exchange 2 apples for 2 pears plus no data, and I'd have a meaningful choice.

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EE data network goes TITSUP* after mystery firewall problem

Tom Wood

Re: Whole country?

I was listening to the live BBC radio stream over 4G EE on my commute between Leeds and Shipley between 9:00 and 9:30 this morning with no problems.

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MI5 boss: We NEED to break securo-tech, get 'assistance' from data-slurp firms

Tom Wood
Meh

Re: oh no

I'd love it if my login screen looked like that. Especially if it made that "computery" noise while I typed my password.

As it is I have to put up with the default Ubuntu thing, ho hum.

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Users shun UK.gov flagship digital service

Tom Wood

Yes the HMRC site is painfully out of date. Once you have completed your tax return you can download it as a PDF, the site tells you how long it will take to download on both a 28k modem and a 56k modem.

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Stuck on a coding problem – should you Bing it?

Tom Wood

It looks like you're writing a program...

Would you like help?

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NHS refused to pull 'unfit for purpose' Care.data leaflet

Tom Wood

Re: Same old arrogance

Indeed, here's some anonymised data, there is no way you could possibly work out who these people are:

Male, age 40-49, lives in SW1A area, occupation: prime minister

Female, age 80-89, lives in SW1A area, occupation: head of state

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FREE EBOOKS: Apple falls into line with EU refund laws

Tom Wood

Re: Assumptions

You have obviously never worked behind the refund desk in a bricks and mortar store.

When I was studying my A-levels I worked in Argos and people will try and get away with returning anything - artificial Christmas trees or lights that have obviously been used the week after Christmas being a particularly good one.

People occasionally used to even bring back empty packaging full of bricks or rubbish or whatever in the hope that we wouldn't check that the product was inside the box...

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EU VAT law could kill THOUSANDS of online businesses

Tom Wood

No, the contract for an online order is normally formed when the goods are dispatched, not when they are delivered.

From Amazon's terms of sale (which I'm sure you read if you've ever shopped with them, right?):

Your order is an offer to Amazon to buy the product(s) in your order. When you place an order to purchase a product from Amazon, we will send you an e-mail confirming receipt of your order and containing the details of your order (the "Order Confirmation E-mail"). The Order Confirmation E-mail is acknowledgement that we have received your order, and does not confirm acceptance of your offer to buy the product(s) ordered. We only accept your offer, and conclude the contract of sale for a product ordered by you, when we dispatch the product to you and send e-mail confirmation to you that we've dispatched the product to you (the "Dispatch Confirmation E-mail").

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European Commish asks for rivals' moans about Booking.com

Tom Wood

Re: Am I alone

In the case of big chains like Marriott, especially in "business" locations like Preston (when was the last time you went on holiday to Preston?) the dynamic is different. They use different pricing to segment their target market.

They know that the many of the people booking direct with them are using corporate rates and corporate credit cards and by booking direct they can collect reward points. They're not paying the bill so don't have to worry about getting the absolute cheapest price.

Those who book the Marriott through Booking.com will be the few leisure travellers who are visiting friends nearby or something who are after a good rate. If the Marriott have rooms free, they can afford to cut their margins and pay the 15% and still sell to these people through channels like Booking.com. (Besides which, they will probably make money back selling breakfast and drinks and so on, on which Booking.com won't take a cut).

It's a different game with smaller independent hotels, who don't have corporate accounts and rely on leisure travellers for most of their business.

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Tom Wood

Re: Am I alone

The point though is that you (as customer) don't pay 15% to Booking.com for the "service", the hotel does, and the contract with Booking.com prevents the hotel from recouping that cost by charging more through Booking.com than they do direct.

Booking.com then do things like buy Google search ads with the hotel's name so that when you search for the hotel's name, the first thing you see is a Booking.com link promising the same rates as if you booked direct with the hotel, above the link to the hotel's own website in the search results.

So, the hotel loses direct bookings (which could otherwise have been cheaper for the customer), and Booking.com makes a comparative killing, for doing very little.

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TalkTalk customers demand opt-out fix for telco's DNS ad-jacking tactics

Tom Wood

Re: Focus on HTTP/Web breaks everything else

Yes - the TLD that should never resolve is .invalid

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Tom Wood

Re: Meh

This is known as DNS hijacking. While it's merely annoying for users using Web browsers, it's a real pain for developers of other Internet-connected software, Web browsers etc. They rely on the NXDOMAIN response to help ydiagnose Internet connection issues etc. I develop software for set top boxes and we had to change our internet fault diagnosis tools significantly to cope with DNS servers that mess around with the DNS results in ways such as this. Basically, any DNS server that does this is broken and not compliant with Internet standards.

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Four tuner frenzy: The all-you-can-EEat TV Freeview PVR

Tom Wood

Re: BT to buy EE

Well it's a better box (from a hardware perspective) than BT's YouView box. Presumably BT's software could be ported to it, or some hybrid of the two. Possibly this could become the hybrid box you hinted at above?

But, I hope the sale to BT doesn't go through. I've been a long-standing T-mobile (and now EE) mobile customer, and only moved to EE broadband when O2 sold their broadband business to Sky. There is a reason I haven't signed contracts with Sky or BT and I'd rather not be forced into it...

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Tom Wood

Re: Generous Space?

It's a 2.5 inch (laptop sized) hard disk, not a 3.5" one.

The £460 covers broadband and landline costs too...it's a pretty good deal.

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Tom Wood

Re: Doesn't work with any broadband

The replay feature is slightly better than described in the article.

It basically works by recording the entire multiplex for the PSB1 and PSB2 multiplexes. Any channel on that multiplex has a "start over" button, meaning if you tune in late you can restart the current programme from the beginning. From those multiplexes you can select up to six channels and it will keep those recordings for 24 hours (or so, it seems to be a little longer on our box), whereas the other channels on those two muxes will only be kept until the end of the current programme.

This is actually surprisingly useful and gives a good selection of content ready to watch straight from the guide.

The downside is not being able to record (well, save the recording) for one of the replay shows. If the show is still running, you can select record and it will save the whole thing, but once it has run its course the recording will be lost after the 24 hour period.

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Tom Wood

Doesn't work with any broadband

I took my EE TV box into work to show to some colleagues (I work in the digital TV sector). At work, the EE box complained that it wasn't connected to my home broadband, and deactivated all the on-demand and networking features (live TV and recordings worked OK, but streaming to the mobile app did not). It also popped up some error message which hinted it would only work for a limited time without connection to EE's network.

(I worked around this for demonstration purposes by connecting it to a router at work which was connected by a layer 2 VPN to a raspberry pi at home, making it look to the box as if it was connected to my home broadband. )

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HORRIFIED Amazon retailers fear GOING BUST after 1p pricing cockup

Tom Wood

Re: Hang on

Technically the price on the shelf in Tesco is an "invitation to treat". By placing the items on the checkout belt you are making an offer to Tesco to purchase the items at the advertised price. Only once they process your transaction through the till are they accepting your offer and at that point a contract is formed.

Online, the website is the invitation to treat, your order is the offer and generally speaking the dispatch confirmation is the acceptance (point at which the contract is formed).

The problem here comes from taking humans out of the loop. In Tesco, if everything scanned through the till at 1p, the checkout assistant would probably figure out something was wrong and you wouldn't get as far as forming a contract. But if there is an automated system (self checkout maybe, or Amazon's automated dispatch system) performing the acceptance step and forming the contract, there is a risk that that system could go awry and lead to the company forming contracts that they would rather not have done.

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UK.gov STILL won't pop a cap on stolen mobile bills

Tom Wood

Re: Does one assume

Yes, exactly.

Of course the networks make a profit from all these charges, which explains why they are dragging their heels.

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Wanna buy a dot-word? If you want a .pizza the action, now's a chance

Tom Wood
FAIL

Re: Can't blame them...

See headline.

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Cloud Printing from a Chromebook: We try it out on 8 inkjet all-in-ones

Tom Wood

Re: A couple of things missing here, though...

Er... this isn't 1999?

A few JPEGs (colour or not!) aren't going to make much of a dent in your broadband allowance, assuming you even have a limit.

And as for network speed, all the models here will have networking that is "fast enough" for printing.

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Tom Wood

What's with the subheading?

We've got an Epson model (a year or two old and not tested here) and that will quite happily send scans to Google Drive accounts.

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Uber? Worth $40 BEEELLION? Hey, actually, hold on ...

Tom Wood

Re: Maintenance

A significant chunk of taxi business happens in the small hours of Friday and Saturday nights (and other nights especially at this time of year). How is a driverless car going to fare in such circumstances?

Will be fun when the first gang of drunken students manages to take a driverless car hostage and turn it upside down or something...

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What a pity: Rollout of hated UK smart meters delayed again

Tom Wood

Re: Pointless and dangerous fads

I think the theoretical savings come from not having to send someone round to read the meter.

Not that anyone ever reads ours since they always come during working hours. They leave a card asking us to read the meter and put the card up in the window for them to check the next day, then it shows up on the bill as an actual meter reading and presumably the meter reading guy gets paid as if he really did read it.

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Quantum computing is so powerful it takes two years to understand what happened

Tom Wood

Indeed, though that's not really the point though, is it.

Though I'm lost as to the part about being able to verify the work with a classical computer. The whole reason factorisation problems are useful for cryptography is that the factorisation is hard, but the opposite, multiplication, is easy. So it should be trivial to verify the work by multiplying the factors together with a classical computer (or, in the case of 11 and 13, in your head).

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UK national mobile roaming: A stupid idea that'll never work

Tom Wood

Re: Just popping over to Calais ...

Yes but the EU have capped roaming fees (at least for voice and SMS) at pretty reasonable rates. It might be worth it. The main disadvantage is that people won't be able to call you cheaply from their own mobiles if you're using a French/Irish/Dutch number.

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It's BLOCK FRIDAY: Britain in GREED-crazed bargain bonanza mob frenzy riot MELTDOWN

Tom Wood

Amazon!?

Presumably no retailer that competes with Amazon wants to use Amazon's cloud services to build a scalable website, so maybe it is understandable, if not particularly acceptable, for them to hit issues. (Curry's queue isn't great, but at least it's better than falling over in a heap).

But if Amazon themselves can't make their website scale to fully meet the demand it doesn't say much about their own brand of cloud computing...

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Britain's MPs ask Twitter, Facebook to keep Ts&Cs simple

Tom Wood

Ah, the "all good bookshops" trap

"Socially responsible companies wouldn’t want to bamboozle their users, of course, so we are sure most social media developers will be happy to sign up to the new guideline"

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Yes, UK. REST OF EUROPE has better mobe services than you

Tom Wood

Re: Grumpy complaint from Yorkshire

Leeds certainly fits the category of "big city", though the stats make it look bigger than it is because of the way the city council areas are defined. Leeds City Council covers a large area including outlying towns like Otley (which is obviously not really part of the city of Leeds, it's separated by a fair chunk of green space). Whereas for instance Manchester City Council only covers the most central parts, while areas that are obviously within the same conurbation are parts of different local authorities (Salford, Trafford, etc).

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New job in 2015? The Reg guide to getting out and moving on

Tom Wood

On the flipside of this coin - I'm a software engineer who is frequently asked to review CVs for applications.

It's actually often quite hard to give precise feedback on the reason for rejecting a CV. It will normally be a whole number of factors. It's a bit like walking down a street in an unfamiliar city trying to pick a restaurant - there may be some absolute reasons for rejecting a place (too expensive, not the sort of food you are after) but often there are other reasons that by themselves sound trivial or judgmental but overall give you a bad impression (looks a bit dodgy, smells funny, decor doesn't look nice, menu has bad spelling, ...). Would you want to have to explain your reasoning to the proprietor of every restaurant you turn down?

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TalkTalk wants more FOURPLAY, jumps into bed with Telefónica

Tom Wood

EE are getting into four-play too

EE TV is now available. Yes, it's basically a Freeview HD PVR with some other bells and whistles, but so is Talktalk's TV offering.

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3D PRINTED GUNS: THIS time it's for REAL! Oh, wait – no, still crap

Tom Wood

Re: But against the backdrop of your British readership...

It's not. If you had the right tools and steel, you could make a metal gun, as the article says.

The whole "aarhgh this is terrible" angle to the concept of a 3D-printed plastic gun was that it wouldn't show up on x-rays at airports and suchlike, whereas a metal gun would. But if it was plasticy enough not to show up on an x-ray, it would also be useless as a gun.

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France KICKS UK into THIRD PLACE for public Wi-Fi hotspots

Tom Wood

Who cares?

With 4G there isn't really much call to use wifi in public (bars, train stations etc) in the UK. In fact I use wifi hotspots mainly when abroad and trying to avoid data roaming.

Besides, quality is better than quantity - those hotspots that make you do some elaborate sign-up dance (involving handing over an email address to allow them to spam you) for which you are rewarded with a rather mediocre connection are barely worth using.

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BBC clamps down on ILLICIT iPlayer watchers

Tom Wood

Re: Smart TVs too

I have an early (2010 or 2011 model) Toshiba "smart" TV - it was never that smart but did have a iPlayer and youtube apps.

Recently the BBC discontinued the iPlayer service that was used by my TV so the app no longer works.

Toshiba have had no updated firmware available since I bought the TV in 2011 - I guess once they've sold the TV, they aren't interested any more.

So, for now we need to use a laptop to get iPlayer through the TV, and the "smart" TV is basically "dumb" again.

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WHITE HOUSE network DOWN: Nation-sponsored attack likely

Tom Wood

Re: why would any

This is the unclassified network - the one they use for checking Facebook, ordering sandwiches, and suchlike.

There will be other, more secure, networks which do have the controls you mention in place. Probably several in fact, at different levels of security marking.

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EE TV brings French broadband price war to the UK

Tom Wood

Re: Seems very complicated

Well, maybe not *your* house. But mine, certainly.

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Tom Wood

Re: Seems very complicated

At the moment I get Broadband from BT - basically the same people who manage the wires, the street cabinet and the exchange. It seems to work okay. Why add a middleman (EE) with no Broadband delivery experience?

Because it's cheaper.

I get TV from Freesat - plug it in and point it at the sky and it works. Why faff around with something more complicated. If I want to record stuff, I can buy a recorder. I don't, so I won't.

Freesat is arguably more complicated than Freeview, which works with the same aerial that's been on your house for decades.

Just because you don't want a recorder doesn't mean nobody else wants one.

My TV already has a remote. Why would I want to faff around using a phone to control the TV?

That is a good question. Because many people already watch TV with a phone in their hand?

Why would I be watching a programme on my phone when there's a TV in the room?

Because their isn't a TV in a different room?

Now you/your kids/your grandkids can watch TV from their bedroom / the garden / the toilet without needing to install another TV (along with aerial cabling etc) in those places.

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Tom Wood

Re: "70 free channels"

That said, I'm already an EE mobile and broadband customer, and I'm in the market for a DVR, so a 4-channel Freeview HD DVR for free has certainly got my attention.

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Tom Wood

"70 free channels"

is a bit disingenuous, these channels are just the ordinary Freeview channels that everyone gets anyway.

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Revealed: Malware that forces weak ATMs to spit out 'ALL THE CASH'

Tom Wood

Seems like the software the criminals install on the ATMs is, in a way, more secure than the original ATM...

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Will we ever can the spam monster?

Tom Wood

Re: Email spam? What's that?

I send an email order to a small business from a legitimate email address that I have had for getting on 20 years and actually paid for. Gmail silently drops it as spam.

The "from" address is irrelevant (in spam, they're fake).

Did you send it through a legitimate and correctly configured mailserver? Does the mailserver have valid reverse DNS entry? Is it allowed by the SPF record for the sending domain? Is your server configured as an open relay or has it for some other reason found its way into one of the big DNS blocklists?

There's a whole bunch of ways your "legitimate" email server could be mis-configured so that it looks to Gmail like you're a likely spammer.

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Tom Wood

Re: Block port 25 by default

Right, message submission (to the ISP's mailserver or your own external one) should use port 587 for SMTP (including using STARTTLS) or port 465 for SMTPS. Port 25 should be restricted for message relaying/delivery which most customers of a domestic ISP have no call to do. Those that do need it should have to ask for it to be enabled and can then be monitored by the ISP more closely.

I don't agree about HTML mail though, that definitely has its uses.

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Tom Wood

Block port 25 by default

If the ISPs hosting these botnet-infected machines blocked port 25 (as many/most UK ISPs do), the spam couldn't spread anywhere near as easily. Most spam my mailserver receives comes from domestic connections outside the EU/US which are clearly from botnet infected machines that shouldn't be operating a mailserver.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s

Tom Wood

Re: Maybe in the US

DIRECTV in the US blows Sky out of the water (yes, both require a satellite dish).

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