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* Posts by James

73 posts • joined 20 Aug 2008

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Beeb tech boss seeks to expand TV licence online

James
Stop

Wonderful

I'd be delighted to see the TV license linked to usage of BBC services - it would save me £139.50 per year. I have a TV, I watch a dozen or so channels regularly - none of which is provided by the BBC, so WTF do I have to pay them? Sky manage to link payment to services perfectly well, it's about time the BBC got dragged kicking and screaming out of the dark ages where they were the only TV provider around. Copy Sky's system: conditional access so your services only go to those who pay, whether it's on a TV set or a laptop. Hardly rocket science.

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EU urges US to drop ICANN

James
Stop

Trust

I wouldn't trust the unelected and unaccountable Eurocrats with tin cans and a piece of string, let alone the Internet. European governments tried building their own (like Minicom), the US built another - guess which one worked? Now, why take the successful network away from the guys who built it and hand control to the guys who have already failed at least once? Absurd.

Alain Williams has an unusual perspective, apparently thinking it's the creators who would be "hijacking" their own creation by keeping the status quo, rather than applying that label to this irrational EU power-grab. Right now, the Internet *IS* fairly available for everyone - but the EU seeks to change that and seize control. Unacceptable.

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Microsoft opens up for Office SP2

James
Gates Horns

PDF "support"

I certainly hope it has better PDF support than the optional download gave; the PDFs which came out of Word using that were beyond pathetic. Rather than embedding fonts, it would convert them all to *bitmaps* - low quality and large file size. Enable 'PDF/A' mode, it embeds the fonts - but trashes the graphics in the document instead. I suppose it's very slightly better than the total absence of PDF export the previous version of Word offered, but only just!

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Ready or not, IPv6 is coming

James

Availability

I have three colocated (virtual) servers (different companies and data centres) and a home ADSL connection. My ISP was quite happy to enable native IPv6 on request, as was one hosting provider; a second server is tunnelled, since that provider's upstream provider offers free tunnels from that data centre, one hop away.

IPv6 isn't hard to get or use - the tough bit is getting a working IPv6 only setup which can access IPv4-only resources reliably. A dual-stack setup is easy enough, but does nothing to conserve IPv4 addresses!

Perhaps universities, big companies etc could switch to NATted IPv4 with routeable IPv6; somehow, though, I suspect IPv4 will keep going as it is for quite a few years. The /8 top level blocks will run out eventually, then the regional registries will get squeezed, and finally organisations will start feeling a push to make changes - but not until then. As long as there are still IPv4 addresses available, why bother?

With NAT, having "only" 4 billion addresses for whatever subset of the 6 billion people actually have Internet connections doesn't seem that bad.

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Olympic cock-up knocks East London off Internet

James
Coat

Digging deep

The BT report I saw indicated the tunnel was 32 *metres* below street level, but even 32 feet is well below the reach of most JCBs. There were 70,000 copper phone lines running through that tunnel as well as a lot of fibre links serving that exchange, some mobile phone masts and ISPs. For the copper wires, diversity isn't available (well, you can sometimes get a second line differently routed as a backup from the next nearest exchange, but obviously that's a very rare configuration) and for most of the others, it would be an extra cost option; it seems most of the companies involved chose not to pay the extra for full resilience. How many of us are actually willing to pay an extra 30% or 50% for our Internet access to average one hour of downtime instead of eight each year?

With an iPhone, if ADSL goes out I can still access e-mail and the web - and do so on the move as well; I did have a 3G datacard, but haven't used it for a while. This kind of outage might take both out for a while, but at least getting the mobile network back up will be quite a high priority.

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Google force feeds Web 2.0 to US gov

James
Linux

Insane tendering

I've seen similar stupidity in large organisations - passing over free and better options because they don't have a PR team or lawyers to jump through tendering hoops. It's this "logic" which has my university squandering six figures each year on a third-rate unreliable proprietary email product, while other universities either build far more reliable services on open-source packages or get an adequate service - certainly better than we get for far more money - for free from Google.

The requirement to *keep* a copy of all websites, blog posts and Facebook status updates is sensible - requiring the copies to be *on paper* is not. An electronic record (in an open format: HTML, plain text or similar, as appropriate) would be far better, in cost and ease of retrieval: far easier to index gigabytes of files on computer than tonnes of paper in a storeroom!

The archiving rule should just be changed to allow electronic rather than paper copies; tendering rules should mandate that free options be included automatically, and fix the indemnity thing somehow - it's not as if Microsoft rush to take the blame every time a Word virus trashes a load of work!

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Researchers poke holes in super duper SSL

James

Price != quality

I dislike the assumption that price and quality are linked; I'm sure a Russian gang of criminals would be quite happy to invest the price of a good car in getting a certificate which allowed them to steal millions in a banking scam. I'd far rather have a $10 - or free - certificate which is properly vetted, ideally by someone trustworthy and neutral (LINX? VISA? IANA?) rather than have big wads of cash changing hands, which seems to me like an incentive for dodgy companies try cashing in or regular companies to try cutting corners.

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Google Voice forbids itself

James
Linux

Funny EULAs

I preferred the Codeweavers one on their Crossover product for running Windows apps on Linux, which said something at the top about how important it was to read the whole thing, especially the bit about having to wash their car for them. At the bottom was something along the lines of "no, you don't really have to wash it, but if you insist, it's the red VW at the South end of the parking lot. Hah - made you look!".

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Pink Floyd's Gilmour backs McKinnon protest gig

James
Stop

Honeytrap != entrapment

Entrapment is where they actually entice you to commit the crime (say, having a scantily clad female cop standing on a street corner offering passers by a 'good time', or advertising for a hitman to see who takes the contract) - honeytraps, be they unsecured PCs or 'bait' cars parked to await a passing car thief, are valid policing because they aren't actually contributing to your attempt to break the law, just passively monitoring it.

I'd prefer him to stand trial and serve time in the US for three reasons: first, I think jurisdiction should be determined by the location of the victim rather than the perpetrator; second, I hold US justice in far higher esteem since he'll receive a much more appropriate punishment, and third I'd rather have another government paying the bill for his punishment rather than mine. I feel sentences are pathetically lenient in the UK, and want to see computer crimes punished seriously.

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BBC botnet 'public interest' defence rubbished by top IT lawyer

James

Paying for crimes to be committed

Hey, how about a sequel where they put out a hit on somebody, to show how easy that is? After all, if botnets are big enough news to merit "public interest" of this sort, surely murder is big enough too?

As with McKinnon, I'd like to see the BBC perpetrators extradited to the countries whose computers were broken into to face trial. Of course, it could turn out one of the PCs was a Russian government one, and the BBC canteen tea urn will suddenly gain a pellet or two of polonium...

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Brit nuke subs exposed on Google Earth

James

Protection from Al Qaeda

Let's face it, if the people who are supposed to be protecting us FROM the likes of Al Qaeda are intimidated by having pictures of their highly guarded bases out there, we're doomed. Can you really imagine anyone with the firepower and skill to attack the SAS in their own base being deterred by only having a blurred photo of where they'd be confronting a couple of hundred highly skilled, heavily armed special forces troops? Err... no.

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Small ISPs reject call to filter out child abuse sites

James
Stop

A modest proposal

Since she wants censorship, however expensive and futile, the obvious solution is to close the IWF down entirely, reprogram her computer to block all web access unconditionally and leave the rest of us alone. On average, there's about as much censorship as she wants, but without inconveniencing the rest of us. Better block her email and phone access too, to stop her whining - I mean, in case any unsuitable content reaches her that way.

*sigh* It's embarassing that the IWF even exists, let alone having it rammed down our throats with this "think of the children" BS.

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US lawmaker injects ISP throttle into Obama rescue package

James
Thumb Down

Just one flaw after another

This near-trillion dollar porkfest was already ridiculous - projected by the Congressional Budget Office to achieve a total of a 0.1% *reduction* in GDP, at a cost of nearly a trillion dollars, over the long term. Does this thing have ANY redeeming features?! Probably not - yet still it's going to be rammed through, because of which pockets all the pork dollars end up in.

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You did what? The trials of supporting remote users

James

Printer not working, how to promote project...

As a favour, years ago, I labelled some old machines in an office with their status (which had hard drives potentially containing sensitive data, etc). A few days later, an irate phone call revealed the label printer hadn't worked since I used it. Needless to say, once I finished using it, I shut down the PC and the printer - apparently for the first time since it had been installed, since the regular user had no idea it needed to be switched on to function.

Last year, working on organising a conference, some of my colleagues had an idea of how to promote it. Since they had plenty of time on their hands (I'd already automated all the paperwork except for actually depositing the cheques in the bank!) they spent a week or two browsing the web, gathering email addresses to send the conference information to. Sadly, they went ahead with this plan - and worse still, actually got away with it, using a throwaway Gmail account. I had really hoped Google's own abuse precautions would cut them off at the knees, but no...

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Novell cutting more heads?

James

Groupwise I hope

I'll break out the champagne if the cuts include all the perpetrators of Groupwise: at work, I have the misfortune to have my email mangled by that abomination, all because some of my colleagues were dazzled by the claim to have read receipts (which do work - *most* of the time) and a third-rate integrated calendar which apparently somebody uses somewhere on campus. That product just cannot die soon enough!

The trouble for them is that they were a single-product company: Netware - the product they've virtually abandoned to go off and become yet another Linux distro. Whoops.

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Amazon probed by US Mail

James

Advertising?

Amazon's book and CD deliveries should all qualify for Media Mail rates - but the rules say these "can not contain advertising except for incidental announcements of books". My last few Amazon parcels in the UK have contained several little slips promoting business card printing and similar services, which would seem to violate this rule: it wouldn't surprise me if someone in the US spotted this and complained.

Now, quite how USPS can justify charging different prices depending on whether or not there's a promotional piece of paper inside the package, I don't know: it's not as if it costs them more!

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Texas lawyer sues Citibank over fake cheque scam

James

Bouncing cheques

@Peyton: That would fail since the account wouldn't have the money available: the cheque would bounce straight away. Now, if you were to *deposit* a fake cheque, from a genuine account which had funds in, then withdraw the cash as soon as the cheque "clears", by the time the bank comes chasing you to reverse the deposit, it's too late: you've already withdrawn in.

It would be nice if you could actually guarantee that the cheque had irreversibly cleared, but then someone could just deposit the fake cheque into his own account when he knows the account holder is away on holiday - by the time he comes home, he's out of pocket permanently, which doesn't seem fair.

Of course, the real answer is not to use cheques in the first place, but some people seem to have an irrational attachment to paying with handwriting on bits of paper...

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3G forever, cries Carter

James
Paris Hilton

Infrastructure sharing

It would certainly be nice to see more infrastructure sharing - not just masts, but coverage, particularly in remote areas. There might not be enough users of any one network on some Scottish island or a remote valley with lousy coverage - but if the five networks could split the cost of putting in one shared base station to cover it, they'd ALL benefit. If they could just have their own dedicated kit in urban areas, where there's enough demand, then have rural areas covered by shared equipment (maybe through a neutral non-profit company like LINX), they'd have better coverage nationally at lower cost.

Saves money, improves service - even Paris could see that it makes sense ... yep, I can see why it won't happen here :-(

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Parallel importer jailed for up to nine months in Microsoft case

James
Gates Horns

The real solution

The real solution to the "problem" of grey importing is to eliminate the concept: buying from one region to sell in another should be permitted without the original manufacturer being permitted to interfere or discriminate in any way. We went through all this with cars a few years ago, where companies had been ripping off British customers by charging higher prices than in Europe for the same car - the car manufacturers weren't allowed to get away with it then, Microsoft shouldn't be now.

If Microsoft sells a product for £10 in one country and demands £50 in another, when someone makes a profit by importing from one to the other and selling for less than £50 the only court action should be against Microsoft, not the person undermining their price discrimination!

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Mayor Boris backs McKinnon in extradition fight

James
Jobs Halo

Eh? "Electronic jihadist"?

Forget the "electronic jihadist" BS - he's a criminal, and being extradited as such under a treaty intended to cover criminals, not just terrorists. He broke the law, and admits it - the only question amounts to where he should be sentenced. For obvious reasons he'd prefer to be let off by our pathetic parody of a "justice" system, where even a so-called life sentence for murder amounts to a few years in a cheap hotel with locked doors, while those of us with a strong dislike for criminals in general and those who think it's OK to break the law if you do it electronically in particular would prefer a serious sentence in the much less comfortable surroundings of American prison.

I believe that in general crimes should be prosecuted where the victim is located (so if you shoot someone the far side of a border, you go and stand trial on that side, regardless of where you were standing at the time); the CPS has a rather more waffly bureaucratic official position, mainly concerned with the interests of the victim, the availability of witnesses and evidence as well as the location where "the majority of the criminality or loss occurred". In this case, all those factors seem to point to a US trial rather than a UK one - and the CPS specifically says that the different sentencing powers should *not* be considered as a factor.

What I resent most, though, is the suggestion that Aspergers should somehow get him off. It isn't even close to being a valid defence, and I resent the implication that it renders Aspies incapable of obeying the law!

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Carbonite nabbed with hand in review jar

James
Stop

Backup astroturfing

I've been using Mozy and Carbonite (on different systems) for a while now, and encountered the CEOs or other senior people from both posting online (identifying themselves quite openly, as well as being rather more helpful than the official support channels!) - they both seemed quite helpful and responsive, as well as honest, admitting to problems rather than stonewalling or shifting blame.

Carbonite does seem to be better than Mozy - I've only lost data with the latter, including a restore job which failed stating some files had been missed but failing to indicate which ones, as well as my entire backup set disappearing twice - but I'm starting to wonder if both services just cut too many corners to compete on price at the expense of everything else - including, apparently, a rather poorly thought out attempt at "astroturf" marketing in place of something more professional.

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Hybrid fusion-fission reactors to run on nuclear 'sludge'

James
Go

Existing technology

"Seriously, this article is about utilising a technology that doesn't exist yet to solve a problem that will be a mere formality once it does exist."

Er, the tokomak technology does indeed exist, it's been in use for nearly half a century now! The issue was not that it's unproven, just that it doesn't produce a net gain of electricity in itself, it takes so much power to operate. As the second half of the quoted sentence implies, this idea does indeed reduce a significant problem to a "mere formality" - which certainly makes it newsworthy!

Now we just need a great big batch of new fission reactors, some waste recycling sites and a few of these things to mop up the leftovers cleanly. Roll out algae-derived biofuels, and the future finally looks good, despite the eco-luddites trying to force hair shirts onto us all.

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Microsoft's IE 8 beta adds 'special' list

James
Gates Halo

Cars

@Tom Cooke: Not a list of roads you can drive down, just a list of roads where you have to reverse down them because the road signs are all backwards. Come on, for once Microsoft is actually trying to get the browser right (or at least less blatantly wrong than before), now they're bending over backwards to compensate for people who botched their websites by depending on Microsoft's earlier mistakes as well - what more can they do, go out and fix all the broken sites for you?

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Google Analytics crippled by autoimmune disease

James

Not just Google

Facebook has a similar anomaly: if I create an event, I can invite anybody to it by email address - unless that address is associated with a Facebook account, in which case I can only invite that person if they're on my friends list. Presumably Analytics (and Facebook) is identifying these addresses as belonging to user accounts and handling them differently, then in this case there's some bug with the latter process.

@Charlie Clark: "data protection legislation" bans me from knowing the rough location and configuration of my websites' visitors?! I've heard it used as an excuse for all sorts of institutional stupidity, but if it actually says I'm not allowed to analyse the things Analytics collects, the authors need a serious battering with the clue-by-four.

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Judges grant McKinnon extradition review

James
Stop

Guilt already admitted

He's already admitted doing it; Asperger's would only be a valid defence if it actually meant that either he could not tell that what he was doing was illegal - utterly absurd - or that he could not control himself. How on earth is it any kind of excuse?

I want to see him punished properly for breaking into these computers - whatever price you might put on the intrusion, it's still a crime. Since the victims were in the US, that should be where he gets prosecuted, sentenced and punished. I object to Russia shielding Russian criminals from prosecution for their crimes abroad - it would be hyprocritical of me to support the UK shielding a UK criminal, particularly where the foreign legal system is one in which I have far more faith than the UK's own!

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Payback time for Ofcom on incoming call charges

James

A welcome surprise

It's a shock to see BT actually arguing to *lower* the costs imposed on us by telcos, for once; sadly, less of a shock to see Ofcom trying to keep them up. Even 4.4p/min is ridiculously expensive (more than an order of magnitude higher than BT and Virgin get for calls to landlines, for example), but a step in the right direction at least - and a far cry from the double-digit ripoff of recent years.

Ultimately, I want to see phone calls handled like Internet traffic with peering: the telcos just agree some points where they'll plug each other's networks together, traffic flows across that point, the end. Vodafone pays for Vodafone's network, BT pays for BT's. No, that will NOT "force" any of them to start charging for incoming calls, any more than BT charges us for incoming calls now (or indeed most outgoing calls): it can just be lumped in with line rental except for PAYG.

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Breakthrough paint blocks top-end spectrum

James

Lower limit?

Actually the AC raises a good point: this article is bragging about blocking "up to" 180 GHz, but of course almost every paint ever made blocks stuff up in the hundreds of THz, otherwise it would be transparent! Presumably, there's a gap in the coverage from the 100-odd GHz quoted up to around 100 THz, then another block for (most) visible light, but does it go all the way down to DC? Does it block TV, radio and mobile phone signals, or are those all below the lower limit?

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Brit porn filter censors 13 years of net history

James

Censors indicate no intelligent life forms

Neil Greatorex is spot on: these clowns shouldn't be tolerated in any way. The IWF just needs to be shut down entirely, and Demon should be forced to refund the month's subscription fees to every customer: they just intentionally denied paying customers the service they were paying for.

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McKinnon lawyers push for UK trial

James
Stop

Sufficient punishment

His guilt is already admitted, the only real question is what punishment should result. Firstly, as someone who secures computers, I want to see him doing a decade of hard time - I don't care whether it's in America or Antarctica, as long as he gets an actual punishment not six months of sitting on his backside watching TV at our expense. Secondly, I think he should face trial and sentencing in the country where his target resided, not the country he was in at the time; if one of my systems in the UK were compromised, I'd want the offender punished here not let off because he happened to be in some country with no laws against computer crime at the time - except in the UK he'd just receive some joke sentence, or be let off because the government is too dumb to build enough prison cells.

Yes, his punishment will be presumably be harsher in the US than it would be here - but that's a failing of the UK system, not the US one. We shouldn't let people off with pathetic sentences, Russia shouldn't refuse to extradite criminals, .mil systems should be better secured - and McKinnon should do serious hard time to make the next scumbag think before breaking the law. Even if we can't get the first three, we should still do everything possible to achieve the fourth!

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Microsoft smooths Windows 7 snafu

James

Crazy traffic volumes

2.5 million people, each getting a file over 2 Gb in size - 5 petabytes of Internet traffic. About half a million dollars, if you serve it through Amazon's CloudFront; MS are using Akamai, who are a bit more secretive about pricing. I wonder if this means even Akamai had to beef up infrastructure to deal with this traffic surge across their tens of thousands of servers?

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Microsoft disables automatic IE 8 downloads

James
Gates Horns

The "mess" of FIXING problems

This sort of nonsense really infuriates me. The real mess is that Microsoft botched their implementation originally, compounded by other people attempting to write HTML without understanding it properly and thus blindly mimicking Microsoft's mess. Now Microsoft is finally cleaning up its act - and these cargo cult web "developers" are whining that it exposes their pile of broken crap for the broken substandard crap it has always been?!

Seriously, anyone whining about their code "breaking" when rendered in a standard-compliant way just needs to have it explained to them that their mess has ALWAYS been broken - it's just being made more obvious now.

Evil-Gates, because even if his clowns are trying to fix the mess now, they're still the ones who made it this bad in the first place.

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Google Oompa Loompas cloaking user agents?

James
Gates Horns

An innocent proxy?

As I recall, blanking or replacing the user-agent string is a standard feature of Squid (and presumably other proxy servers as well). OpenBSD's pf firewall has a "modulate state" option, which does something similar on a TCP/IP level (randomising all the parameters, making it hard to identify the OS generating the traffic).

If I wanted to hide my secret OS/browser, I'd have it report itself as something like a Subversion build of Firefox/Gecko running on WinXP - looking normal in logs, while having an obvious explanation for any odd behaviour server admins might notice (it's a work-in-progress version of an open source browser, of course it's not acting in exactly the same way as the last released version!).

Blanking the user-agent, on the other hand, would make sense in two ways: first, as a paranoid sysadmin wanting as little information getting out as possible (so you blank user-agent and probably have a firewall randomising parameters too) - second, to help catch sites which are running spider-traps which serve up pages of link-spam to anything other than IE. (In fact, the comment about these 'appearing to be real people not spider activity' could be exactly the point: comparing the pages seen by real people - and their proxy - to the pages served up to Googlebot.)

Or option 3: they don't want the world knowing that for all the hype about using 'Goobuntu' and having their own web browser, 90% of their staff are still using IE 7 on XP!

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Microsoft preps IE 8 for the web-challenged

James
Gates Horns

Could be worse, I suppose

It's better than one possibility I had seen mentioned, the appalling idea of abandoning standards and making the old buggy behaviour the default, so the sub-standard sites would not just survive but continue to spread. At least this way, new sites won't be coded to rely on legacy bugs - I just hope this hack doesn't make it harder for the offending sites to be fixed.

IE6 was an abomination which needs to be purged from the Internet pronto, IE7 is just about adequate in some respects - it would make a nice change if IE8 could do something to repair the damage done to the web by its predecessors.

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Google Analytics — Yes, it is a security risk

James

Tracking "admin page" visits

It does occur to me that this may not actually be the real admin page - particularly since, as others have pointed out here, there is no reason to put urchin.js on a genuine admin interface since you'd only be monitoring your own team's visits. If it's a decoy, on the other hand, you might well be interested in traffic to it.

Of course, given the number of newbie mistakes this team of clowns has made already, I wouldn't be surprised to find their CMS still has the default login enabled (or a username and password of 'change').

One serious flaw in the article, though: a DNS attack which replaced urchin.js with a copy from another server would work just as well for substituting the change.gov login page itself in the same way. It does open the door to attack from Google employees who have the right access to the Analytics service - but any external attacker wouldn't be able to do anything through urchin.js that he couldn't do as easily to change.gov itself.

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Regulators back Bell Canada choking indie ISP traffic

James

Wholesale v retail

It sounds to me as if this decision applies to the Canadian equivalent of BT's IPstream ADSL service, rather than to leased lines. With a leased line, you pay for X Mbit/sec of bandwidth and should be able to use that 24x7 without any impact on anyone else (which is why they're also called "private circuits": it's a dedicated link from A to B which is entirely yours), so I doubt they're talking about throttling those. Bad - I'd rather see Bell Canada provide raw connectivity and leave filtering policy to the ISPs - but also easy to circumvent if the ISP wishes: just tunnel or perhaps encrypt the traffic as it traverses Bell Canada's network VPN-style. Now, if Bell Canada start interfering with that traffic, there's a problem.

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Firefox millions - only 12 per cent Google free

James
Gates Horns

Stamping out IE = bargain at any price

If I ran a multi-billion dollar web-based company I'd be quite happy to donate a few million to cut into IE's market share - stamping out that braindead abomination's botched attempt at rendering web pages is enough of a public service they should qualify for charitable status anyway.

(Of course, I may be slighly embittered by the hours spent over the last week or two tweaking minutiae of a web page which rendered perfectly well in more than four dozen sane browsers in an attempt to pander to the minority which still insists on polluting the Net with IE6 - but then, who hasn't been through that?)

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Judge: No cryptographic hash analysis without warrant

James

Platters

"Without examining the file allocation table, you don't even know what platters hold the file(s) you're interested in."

Worse than that - unless there are very, very few files on the disk, the file allocation table itself (or the Master File Table, for machines using NTFS) will be spread across all the platters anyway! The platter aspect seems ridiculous, since even the operating system itself has no idea which platter it's putting a block of data: it appears as a single set of blocks of data these days.

I suspect she was confusing platters with disks, but even there I'd say she's stretching it a bit: a warrant specifying the computer as a whole should suffice. Does it really matter whether there's one disk, two or a whole big RAID array in the case?

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Is Sun taking open source a little too far?

James
Gates Horns

Sun's contribution

Amusingly, in a geeky sort of way, the URL sun.com/ponytail actually works - and redirects you to www.sun.com/software/opensource/ too.

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Palin didn't know Africa is a continent, McCain aides say

James
Paris Hilton

Big deal...

Half of America seems to think Europe is one as well.

Charles Manning certainly has a point - and remember, this is the Obama who thought there were 57 states in the US, then wanted to go and make demands of the President of Canada. At least Palin's ignorance was of a *foreign* country...

Paris, because she managed to come up with a more coherent energy policy than Obama, too.

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Europe takes aim at BBC licence fee

James

Turkeys, Christmas...

"The European Broadcasting Union, made up of national broadcasters, is opposed to the draft proposals."

Really? They're opposed to the idea of reducing their current absolute monopolies*? I'm shocked.

The sooner I can stop subscribing to the BBC the better. I have no objection to other people continuing to watch it and pay for it, as long as I'm not forced to do either.

(* a monopoly is where you do not have the option of replacing them. You can subscribe to other services here, but cannot receive TV without subscribing to the BBC, making it a monopoly.)

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Sarah Palin gets righteously punk'd

James

Different standards

Christopher Martin actually has a point there - compare this to the BBC's obscene nuisance call. Apart from the obvious, lying about who the speaker was, this was a harmless practical joke. The BBC's stunt should get the perpetrators fired, if not prosecuted - this seems legitimate.

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MPs join fight to save McKinnon from US prison

James
Thumb Down

Time, crime, you know the rest.

Since he's guilty, why exactly should he get away with it? He should be extradited, tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with the law of the country in which he committed the crime: the US. He had ample opportunity not to commit the crime, just like the rest of us, but chose to break the law anyway - now he deserves to be punished for it. UK prisons are far too soft anyway, but since his crime was attacking systems in the US it is there that he should be punished.

Will those seeking to protect him from the consequences of his actions rush to defend 419 scammers and other international criminals? Just throw away the key. I'm sick of seeing script kiddies think breaking into computers doesn't really count as a crime because it's "only" electronic.

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BBC's TV detector vans to remain a state secret

James
Thumb Down

Stupid anachronism

The TV Tax is a stupid anachronism. As people have pointed out already, it would have been very easy to switch to technical enforcement (encrypt the digital signal; post-switchoff, no licence = no TV reception) - but that leads down the slippery slope to offering us a third option, having other TV services without being forced to pay the state monopoly broadcaster. (It is a monopoly because we are offered no alternative: we are not permitted to subscribe to other services *instead* of the BBC, only in addition to their tripe.) That, of course, is why the BBC rushed to rip the encryption facilities out of Freeview as soon as they got their hands on it: for all the astroturfing on here, they know perfectly well that many of us would be delighted to terminate the subscription given the choice.

Apart from anything else, WTF should I pay a tax on *TV* ownership - to fund a website and a bunch of radio stations I have never listened to?

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NetApp ready to rumble in Sun IP case

James
Linux

Rushing to judgement

I agree with Brian: it makes a lot more sense for the one with the better case to wait for the patent office to toss out any duff patents, rather than try to convince a judge to pre-empt their decision. I've always been impressed by Netapp's products, though never close to having the budget to buy one - but ultimately, Sun have made vast contributions to the computing community as a whole over the last two decades, while Netapp have milked a monopoly on a clever filesystem to make vast contributions to their own pockets.

Victory for Sun means we all get the benefits of a state-of-the-art filesystem as open source; victory for Netapp probably means we still get those benefits, but Sun will have to hand over a pile of cash first, just to get permission to keep using software Sun developed independently. It's like the SCO shakedown, only without even the pretence that Sun actually ever took anything from Netapp!

(As you can probably tell, I'm no fan of the concept of software patents.)

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UK.gov says: Regulate the internet

James
Stop

Beyond stupidity

This isn't just stupidity. It's far-left control-freak stupidity, and it must not be tolerated in any way. YouTube would not hire thousands of censors to please these idiots - if forced, they'd either give up entirely or just shut off access from the UK entirely. We need to stamp them out before this gains any more traction and it's too late to fix!

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Palin demands $15m to search her own emails

James

On the other hand...

I see nothing better from the top of the other ticket: Obama's vestigial track record of voting extreme-left in the Senate and IL State Senate (including opposing legislation against denying care to new-born babies in case it upset the abortion lobby!) and some extremely dodgy friends like the racist Reverend "God Damn America" Wright and Bill "I don't regret setting bombs". If that is ever the "safe" option, we're all truly screwed.

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Lehman Excel snafu could cost Barclays dear

James
Thumb Down

Wrong tool for the job

Others have already pointed out that Excel was the wrong tool for this job. Likewise, 'hiding' the data to be excluded was the wrong way to remove it. Converting to PDF was arguably the one aspect they got right - except it seems they converted it in the wrong way, since the hidden attribute shouldn't have been ignored.

They deserve to be beaten with a big cluestick and have their computer access revoked for a few months. Six months of doing all the paperwork on actual paper should teach them not to entrust billion dollar deals to a cheap graphing package.

Barclays screwed up three times over here, but it wasn't Acrobat which was at fault (nor, indeed, was Acrobat necessarily even involved at any point!) - just operator error and a poor choice of software.

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IP addresses in server logs not personal data: Ruling

James

Possible to track is another matter

Much like a drop of blood, really: it's possible for relevant authorities to track down the owner of a drop of blood by DNA fingerprinting, but if I see a drop of blood on the pavement outside, it could be anybody's. An e-mail address, like a telephone number, can actually be used to contact you without additional information - an IP address, like a car registration number, cannot.

The clown who brought this case whining about a website logging visitors' IP addresses - like virtually every web server on earth has done since HTTP was invented - really needs a beating with the cluestick. If he really wants to keep his IP address secret, he should switch to using an address in the 127.0.0.0/8 range and leave those of us in the real world to communicate sensibly.

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iSCSI: Game over

James
Stop

Cut out the middleman

Any modifications to cut packet loss over Ethernet for FCoE's sake could be applied to iSCSI over Ethernet as well, negating that advantage. The real benefit would be in cutting out the layers in between: iSCSI runs over IP over Ethernet, FCoE runs directly on Ethernet (as, in fact, does ATAoE for similar reasons). That's a slightly simpler, more streamlined setup - but I doubt it will really make that much difference, particularly given how much effort has already been put into optimising TCP/IP implementations and mass-producing hardware offload engines.

The big drawback, though, will be the lack of IP's flexibility. Right now, I can set up two machine rooms on a campus (or on opposite sides of town, or indeed the planet), connected as plain old IP networks in different subnets. Nice and easy: servers and storage can talk to each other across the network using nice well-understood systems. Now try with Ethernet: do I really want to have to have both sites in the same Ethernet network, purely switched? Possible, but not ideal.

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McCain begs for YouTube DMCA takedown immunity

James

Double standards

The notion that McCain "doesn't read e-mail" is nothing more than an urban legend (he reads e-mail a lot, then dictates replies since his arm injuries make typing painful), and of course he wouldn't be setting up the server himself, he'd pay IT guys to set that up for him just like any other politician. Nor, of course, would being President allow him to repeal the DMCA anyway.

I agree politicians should not be given special treatment, though: the process does need safeguards, but they must apply to the rest of us as well as to them. Requiring those sending takedown notices to post a deposit which is forfeit if the notice is found to be wrongful, as well as allowing the poster a window (24 hours? Next working day?) in which to respond *before* the ISP acts, seems like a reasonable start.

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