* Posts by Tony S

488 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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Vendor rep 'Stinky Sam' told to wash and brush teeth or lose job

Tony S
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As a junior manager in the 70s, it was sometimes left to me to do some of the less attractive jobs; and on a couple of occasions, I did have to talk to staff about personal hygiene and appearance.

Not always the easiest thing to do; but my view is that there is no point dancing around, you have to come right out and state the obvious. This sometimes doesn't go down too well with the individual concerned. The first time was the hardest; so embarrassing. But after that, it did get easier.

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HP Enterprise Services readies deeper cuts in UK: Now 1,000 techies face axe

Tony S
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"Where I work almost an entire support team is made up of contractors with no knowledge of the systems, so SLA's are being broken everywhere, the service given is utterly woeful, and the customer receives little or no actual support.

Sadly, I've seen that from the view of the client; and service levels that were bad are now shockingly awful.

What was once a company that provided a good service at a reasonable price is clearly doomed. I feel tremendously sorry for those people that have tried to do the right thing, but have been shafted by corporate greed and incompetence.

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Everything bad in the world can be traced to crap Wi-Fi

Tony S
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Alert

Shit Wi-Fi?

Is it really shit Wi-Fi or is it badly designed, shitty apps that broadcast their presence to world + dog every 10 milliseconds.

Or is caused by the obsession of marketing droids to capture every activity that we make so that they can apply bad "Data Science" in order to try and sell us shit that we don't need?

Or is caused by the obsession of TPTB to capture every fleeting message in order to ensure that there is no "wrongthink" or unauthorised shit taking place?

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Bruce Schneier: We're sleepwalking towards digital disaster and are too dumb to stop

Tony S
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"Defenders have to protect an entire system, where as an attacker only has to find one flaw to achieve their objective."

Unfortunately, this misses a key issue. That there are a lot of people that should be on the side of the defenders, producing secure systems; but are in fact doing a half arsed job. Although those people are not on the side of the attackers, they are effectively supporting attackers.

For example, there is a situation where some programmers have hard-coded something into a system that makes it very easy for an outsider to gain access to an internal system through a device that is outside of that system. When I queried this, they were clearly oblivious to any thoughts that it might not a good idea from an overall view, just that it was a convenient way of fudging something to make it work. The chances of getting this changed? Zero. So for the next 10 years, this system will be a back door that allows access to all sorts of important data.

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Donald Trump promises 'such trouble' for Jeff Bezos and Amazon

Tony S
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Re: Just a successful PR campaign

""Hey, I'll run for president. Worst Best case it's a lot of cheap PR, best worst case I'll be the next president."

FTFY

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IT boss gets 30 months of porridge for trashing ex-employer's servers

Tony S
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Pint

Ummm...

"No policy of changing passwords when tech staff leave?

Bet they have one now."

You'd think so wouldn't you; but based upon the average company's methods of working, I'd be prepared to bet they've done SFA and won't do anything until it's happened another couple of times.

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HMRC clamps down on gov bodies wanting to reclaim VAT on IT kit

Tony S
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Re: Someone explain this

That's what it sounds like to me; and it makes a lot of sense, especially if it then encourages them to actually pay the invoices on time.

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NASA stormed by 18,000 wannabe 'nauts

Tony S
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" at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft"."

They forgot to highlight that hours logged on Microsoft Flight Simulator don't count; that'd probably cut out about 80% of applicants

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Ukraine has a Eurovision pop at Russia

Tony S
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Joke

I thought that there was going to be a referendum on the UK pulling out of Eurovision.

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Brit spies can legally hack PCs and phones, say Brit spies' overseers

Tony S
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Black Helicopters

Think about this

Go and read the short story "Minority Report" by Philip K Dick or watch the film of the same name. Now think about the issues raised in the story. Compare it to what is going on now and what these people seem to want to be able to do.

Feeling scared? You should be.

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No, HMG, bulk data surveillance is NOT inevitable

Tony S
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Big Brother

"There needs to be a debate as to whether bulk works and whether it really is worth it.

I'd say that there has been a debate; unfortunately, the PTB have not been the ones involved. I'd go further and say that the arguments have been very clear; it doesn't work, is not worth it and would actually have the opposite effect to what the proponents suggest.

But we seem to live in an age rather nicely described by Isaac Asimov; "Democracy; where the belief is that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'"

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Ex-TalkTalker TalkTalks: Records portal had shared password. It was 4 years old

Tony S
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Not at all surprised.

I remember seeing a green screen application some years ago at a big company. Most of the staff had access to this, without needing any form of security control. I believe that they had something like 400,000 customer details in that particular system.

That was a system based / managed in India. Used by some call centre staff there, but also by several call centres in the UK.

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Home Office lost its workers' completed security vetting forms

Tony S
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Flame

Why am I not even in the least surprised?

Yes; these are the people that want us to trust them over matters of security. On that basis, why am I not more upset? Anyone that deals with security should be howling for blood.

Please assure me that there will be no-one from this incompetent bunch that gets anything in the Queens Birthday honours list for at least the next couple of years.

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The monitor didn't work but the problem was between the user's ears

Tony S
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Along those lines

The client's PC wasn't working; so after testing several things, I tried a different power lead, at which point it booted OK. Clearly, a problem with the fuse in the plug. I went to change this, but was told off by the office manager. Only an electrician could change a fuse as it was dealing with electricity. No electrician available on site or within an hour's call.

So I went out, bought a new power lead from (I think) PC World. My MD went a bit crazy to begin with when he saw the cost on the job sheet; but after an explanation, happily submitted the bill. The client queried this; we had a snotty note asking why I couldn't change the fuse. Told them to refer to their own office manager.

Much grumbling from the client followed whilst they refused to pay the bill. Then, I hit upon the idea of getting a quote from an electrician for changing a fuse. Submitted that to them as evidence that buying the new lead was still cheaper. They didn't have a choice after that other than to pay the bill.

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'Printer Ready'. Er… you actually want to print? What, right now?

Tony S
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Printing?

How 20th century of you.

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UK.gov plans to unveil a new Digital Bill

Tony S
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"Something Must Be Done Act"

When in doubt, draw up a parliamentary bill so vague, that it might be interpreted in any way that you choose. Add in amendments to allow it to be expanded to cover situations outside of the immediate descriptions in the original preamble.

If possible, prevent MPs from discussing the bill by forcing it through under a 10 minute rule; ignore calls for it to be scrutinised in committee. Use the Parliamentary Act to prevent any hold ups by the Lords. Then apply the legislation for purposes or in ways that were clearly never considered.

What could possibly go wrong?

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ICO says TalkTalk customers need to get themselves a lawyer

Tony S
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WalkWalk

"His advice was paraphrased by the committee as: "Don't rely on fines, if you're a TalkTalk customer, walk," "

Maybe if enough customers did actually WalkWalk, the company might re-think its processes. But I wouldn't hold out any hope for that.

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How to build a starship - and why we should start thinking about it now

Tony S
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I'm working on that

There have been suggestions that asteroids are the way to go; not just to be mined, but because they could also be the basis for a suitable vehicle which would save a certain amount of time and effort in construction.

I have a copy of a book by Bill Shatner; it talks about the various technologies that were predicted within the various Star Trek series. During filming for some episodes of ST:TNG, Professor Stephen Hawking was doing a tour of the USA and was invited to do a cameo appearance on the Enterprise. After filming completed, he was invited to tour the various stage sets and one of these was the "engineering" section with the iconic "warp drive". Apparently, he looked at it very carefully, before announcing that "I'm working on that!".

For anyone that might be interested, he was also the guest speaker at the Reith lectures. I believe that these will be available on the BBC website for the next 3 weeks (a transcript is also available). He has a very dry sense of humour; it's well worth listening to the broadcast.

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Berlin takes down ‘for sale’ sign over top Nazi’s love nest

Tony S
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Coat

"Alternatively, she said, the most sensible option might be to just raze it to the ground."

Didn't the Russians already try that?

I'll get my coat...

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Lenovo's file-sharing app uses hardwired password '12345678' ... or no password at all

Tony S
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Facepalm

Make that a double facepalm

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Dixons Carphone to shut down 134 shops

Tony S
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Based upon previous encounters with these people, it seems likely that they will keep the same staff who will now be ignorant of products in 3 completely separate markets.

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Sainsbury's Bank web pages stuck on crappy 20th century crypto

Tony S
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Facepalm

That statement made my eyes bleed

"Customers visiting the Sainsbury’s Bank website can rest assured we don't give a toss about them that they are protected at all times by multiple layers of online security. We continually do as little as possible act to strengthen the protection of our online customer services through security improvement initiatives that we don't understand, achieve bugger all, but sound good.

FTFY.

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Four Boys' Own style World War Two heroes to fire your imagination

Tony S
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Re: Major Robert Cain VC

You might like to know that Robert Cain's daughter Frances, is married to Jeremy Clarkson.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Henry_Cain

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Tony S
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My heroes

My grandfather Percy Eastland.

Lied about his age, signed up in '14, sent to France in early '15. Fought in several major battles, including the Somme, where he got his first wound (bullet in the chest) when attacking and taking a machine gun position. Invalided out of the army in late '17 after his leg was blown off. Refused to talk about his experiences; only after his death did any information about his activities come to light. (He occasionally crawled out into no-mans land, usually without a weapon, to spy on the enemy positions.)

During the second world war, he worked as a mechanic in the naval dockyards during the day and a fire warden at night. During the Blitz, he dived into the harbour to rescue someone that had fallen in the water. Despite only having one leg, he was a powerful swimmer; he rescued the man and lifted him out of the harbour on his own. He didn't tell the family; they found out a couple of months later when he received another medal to go with those he received in '19.

My great uncle Ernest Mitchell.

He was a PO in the navy; and assigned to a new submarine, HMS Thetis. Unfortunately, there was a manufacturing flaw on the torpedo tubes, which they didn't know about. He had been designated to a different position during the maiden voyage, so his experience was not available to prevent a tragedy. However, he realised what had gone wrong, made his way to the flooding compartment and somehow managed to lock the water tight door to save the lives of everyone on board. Sadly to no avail; they were stuck on the bottom of the sea and succumbed to carbon dioxide poisoning.

As an aside, 70 years later, I was talking to a member of my then IT team. It turned out that he had a great uncle that served on board the same boat after it had been put back in service as HMS Thunderbolt; and had gone down with her in action in the Med during '43.

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SciFi and fantasy titan David G. Hartwell passes, aged 74

Tony S
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You know that you're getting old, when every day, you read obituaries of people you grew up with

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How to help a user who can't find the Start button or the keyboard?

Tony S
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The disturbing thing is that I actually guessed the problem, before getting to the bottom of the article.

The really disturbing thing is that the particular situation doesn't surprise me in the least.

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Guess how much IT spending slumped last year? $216 billion

Tony S
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Or in other words...

The total spend on IT products and services was $3.5 trillion; which if it were a single country, would make IT the fifth largest country economy in the world.

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TalkTalk outage: Dial M for Major cockup

Tony S
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Some people did not choose TalkTalk as their ISP; instead, their original ISP was bought out and conditions enforced that made it harder to leave.

Personally, although I hate the though of paying money to these shysters, I would actually pay up, just to get rid of them. Of course, it's easy for me to say that; but sometimes, it's the lesser evil.

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UK Home Sec stumbles while trying to justify blanket cyber-snooping

Tony S
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Re: A necessary evil

" Some people really need to get real and accept that we all need to make some level of sacrifice "

I note that you choose to make that comment anonymously.

Benjamin Franklyn said it best:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

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Brit 'naut Peake gears up for spacewalk

Tony S
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"the two Tims will "lay cables in advance of new docking ports "

I was complaining about trying to get some Cat 6 cables installed here last year. This sort of puts that into perspective.

Go Major Tim!

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Smartphone hard, dudes, like it’s the end of the world!

Tony S
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Re: All That's New is Old Again

"Judging by your mugshot, you've aged about ten years

I thought he'd put on about 10 kilos!

Must be all that sitting around on his arse, eating and drinking, instead of fighting his way through the commuter rush and existing on 3 day old sandwiches...

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Who's laughing now, doubters? Cloud makers rake in £75bn in sales

Tony S
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@ A non e-mouse

In my first year of management training, I was told "Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity". It has been true since the dawn of human commerce, but there are still people that refuse to learn this particular lesson.

As for the performance of cloud providers; currently working with one that is doing a pretty poor job, considering how much we are paying them. They seem incapable of providing a secure or stable service; we won't see 99.9% uptime this year (might even be less than 99% uptime).

We could buy our own hardware in two months, software in another two, train staff for the cost of month 5, and then host it ourselves; and save the company a substantial amount after that. Plus, I wouldn't have to have 2 pointless weekly meetings where I raise complaints, they promise to look into it and do nothing.

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Social media phisherfolk cast their lines for Fortune 500 suits

Tony S
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Low hanging fruit

These are people with money; and sufficiently low enough technical knowledge to make them an easy target.

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EMC's VCE welcomes new president amid '250-plus layoffs at all levels'

Tony S
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Been there

About 30 years ago, I had to attend a company meeting at a big hotel / convention centre; almost all of the staff from that region were present. The MD got up and did his usual "isn't everything wonderful and exciting" speech at the start, before we then had various other senior managers do their pitches.

Just before lunch, a large group (about 40 ish) were asked to go to a side room. Once inside, they were told rather unceremoniously, "you're fired" and were given 5 minutes to get their luggage from their hotel rooms and leave the premises. They were hustled around to prevent them speaking to anyone else. I managed to catch up with one of them who was in a pretty shocked state; I was sure that he shouldn't have been allowed to drive home.

After lunch, the MD was rather scathing about those people; quite honestly, I thought the way he talked about them and the language he used was appalling and certainly not justified. I stayed the night, but about a week later I quit as I was just so disgusted with the whole bunch; it would probably be no surprise to anyone that the business got taken over a couple of years later, the MD got a massive (multi million) pay off and the staff got SFA before being kicked out in the street.

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ISPs: UK.gov should pay full costs of Snooper's Charter hardware

Tony S
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A warning from history, or the future?

In Orwell's 1984, we were presented with an established scenario; and there were only minor details on how the political situation he wrote about had actually developed.

What we have been seeing with this and all the other similar schemes, is possibly the prequel to that novel.

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Day 2: Millions of HSBC customers still locked out of online banking

Tony S
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Now working

I tried a couple of times this morning without joy; finally managed to get access about 30 minutes ago to make sure things are OK. But checked it just now and it's back offline again.

Unfortunately, my pay has not gone into the account yet, but I suspect that's because they were late making the transfer. Fortunately, I left sufficient in the account to ensure that I covered all the SOs and DDs.

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HSBC online customers still in the cold after hours-long lockout

Tony S
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Re: There might be an app :- But

I can confirm that having tested it several times this morning in different browsers and via different connections; also tried the app, but that seems to have a problem as well.

Having said that, managed to get money from an ATM; almost everything is paid by SO or DD, so they've got a few weeks to sort it out before it becomes an issue for me. Just inconvenient is all.

But there will be others that could be in much more difficult circumstances; feel sorry for them and hope that HSBC will do the right thing and make sure that no-one gets charged (or gets refunded) if they end up getting slapped with penalties.

Not surprisingly, the telephone banking service line is mega busy; but their staff are doing their best under difficult conditions

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Ruskie rats selling Choose-Your-Own-Adventure love scams

Tony S
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Re: The most important question being of course...

I immediately thought of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2pYV7LtKT4

634-5789

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Dr Sue Black among handful of IT Brits getting New Year gongs

Tony S
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" because once in, it's almost impossible to get them back out."

But as most of them are already of advanced age when they are appointed, that issue tends to take care of itself in time.

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Linode: Back at last after ten days of hell

Tony S
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Re: Curious

I don't "know"; however, I "suspect" that this is an example of some group flexing their collective muscles to test out a number of processes. Who they are and where they come from is unclear.

I also suspect that these are probing operations, designed to tested operational capacity of both sides. Specifically, their ability to conduct the attack and the capacity of companies and agencies to respond appropriately. We may see a few more of these, possibly in the not too distant future; and then possibly even a full scale attack.

I somehow doubt that this is the work of script kiddies; it seems to be too focussed and determined for that. I'm betting that the more senior members of the security community are privately very worried indeed.

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Remembering those who logged off in 2015

Tony S
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Re: Leonard Nimoy

@Colin Miller

I was as surprised. Although not a scientist; his acting work certainly encouraged a lot of people to go into STEM subjects.

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MPs slam mandarins over failed GP IT system

Tony S
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"The Government needs to get its house in order"

Most definitely. I'd say that statement should also include the civil service, as it does seem that they are more involved in the actual management of the projects than the MPs.

But I suspect that whilst they continue to use the same old crowd of suppliers, the situation will never improve. Maybe some of the smaller businesses might not do any better, but it seems likely that they wouldn't do much worse.

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BBC News website takes New Year's Eve break

Tony S
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Getting it on all of their subsites - all browsers.

Have they upset Theresa May recently?

Just I post that, the site comes back up.

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Good news! US broadband speeds are up. Bad news – they're still rubbish

Tony S
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"I consider myself lucky when my connection goes above 8Mbps (usually around 4.5Mbps) "

I dream of the day that I might actually go above 1.5 Mbps. (Probably the same day that I get 3G at the house.)

Unfortunately, it's all down to the wires in the ground. Not going to be replaced any time soon, so all I can do is dream.

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Flare-well, 2015 – solar storm to light up skies on New Year's Eve

Tony S
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It's been clear skies here for weeks. But get one little slightly interesting astronomical event, and the clouds form up in seconds.

Mind you, being this close to the Equator, probably wouldn't have seen sod all anyway. More likely that we'll see the lights of the firework display in Dubai

https://youtu.be/mxPzjsyspEc

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It's amazing the UK Parliament agreed to track 22bn Brits' car trips. Oh right – it didn't

Tony S
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Re: Legality

"As I understand it the judge decides and it seems traditionally they normally let anything in."

It might seem that way, but they are bound by the rules.

"Generally, in order for evidence to be admissible it must be relevant, without being prejudicial, and reliable." http://findlaw.co.uk/law/dispute_resolution/litigation/trial/admissible-evidence.html

A considerable number of cases involving digital data have failed, primarily because the evidence submitted did not meet the condition of being reliable, because (normally) the CPS couldn't demonstrate that the chain of evidence was accurate or complete.

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Tony S
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Re: Legality

@ The First Dave

Would you care to elaborate?

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Tony S
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Re: Legality

"It's worth noting that in Britain if evidence is in front of a court then it's admissible. It doesn't matter if it's been legally acquired or not."

PACE would appear to disagree with you: http://www.inbrief.co.uk/police/pace.htm

Although it is important to note that failure by a police officer to adhere to the codes of practice does not render them liable to criminal or civil proceedings, their failure to adhere to what the codes state can still be introduced as evidence in civil and criminal proceedings (PACE 1984 s.67). Additionally, any evidence obtained by the police in relation to the investigation of any criminal offence where they have failed to adhere to PACE, can be deemed inadmissible in court thus prejudicing the case against the defendant

(My emphasis)

The key item would then appear to be if the court decided that PACE was breached by the use of an unlawful system (not illegal; unlawful)

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Tony S
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Legality

So, if the database is not legal, then that would make any data it contains not legal; and as such, it could not be used as evidence in a court of law.

If someone is prosecuted and the sole or main evidence is the data from ANPR, then that data should be rejected or at least challenged. If someone has already been successfully prosecuted based upon that data, they could ask for the case to be reviewed and the judgement to be set aside.

Not a lawyer; but based upon a course that focussed on evidence and procedure within court cases, I think that I'm correct. Not doubt in time we will see loads of spam in the manner of PFI, indicating that you could get your money back.

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Linode's crippling cyber-siege enters day four

Tony S
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Re: Is there really that can be done against DDoS?

"The big question is, what's the goal? Are they using these attacks to hide something else like a penetration? Or merely trying to drive things off the air, so to speak?"

Just the question I was asking. I did wonder if this was part of a series of tests to check out a process that will then be used as part of a much larger offensive at some time in the near future.

The principle of an attack against critical telecoms infrastructure is one that has been raised before by a lot of people working in security, both as something to be defended against and as a possible attack vector.

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