* Posts by Number6

1537 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

BOFH: My diary is MINE and mine alone, you petty HR gimps

Number6
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Re: CRT Monitors...

I discovered that my Amstrad PC1640, by the time I'd talked the boss into letting me buy an NEC V30 CPU for it, and a long session reworking the disk interleave, outperformed the IBM AT used by the higher-ups. The V30 microcode seemed to be as efficient as the 80286, and far superior to the 8086, and the AT was running at 6MHz (I think) compared to 8MHz for the V30.

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Sun? In Blighty? Nah, just build that rooftop data centre, it’ll be fine

Number6
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Little-league stuff

Not quite in the same weight category as most stories, but on an individual machine basis it can be important too.

I had a Pentium 166 (that will date it nicely...) machine with a SCSI disk and a few other add-ons. One day the disk started giving read errors, so I went to fish the machine out from where it lived to have a look at it. When I did, I could feel the heat radiating from it, it turned out that every single fan in the machine had failed. This was before the addition of speed sensors on PC cooling fans. It had soldiered on bravely with the internal temperature rising, until it reached a point at which the disk drive couldn't maintain performance, hence the read errors. When it was cool, I stripped it down and there was noticeable discolouration on the Pentium chip where the die temperature had clearly reached impressive levels. As I recall, the chip survived another couple of years before expiring, but by then it had been relegated to a secondary role so it wasn't a catastrophe when it did finally shuffle off this mortal coil.

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Contractors who used Employee Beneficiary Trusts are in HMRC's sights

Number6
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Re: Clarfication

I thought the legal obligation on the company was to maximise shareholder value. If you're the sole director, shareholder and employee then there is no conflict of interest if the scheme provides you, as the shareholder, with the most money.

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7/7 memories: I was on a helpdesk that day and one of my users died

Number6
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Re: No more terrorism.

The irony is that the Franklin quote is used out of context. It's such a good soundbite though, but in its original context it was about taxation and the elected government giving up powers. Google has quite a few articles on the matter.

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Q. How much did Google just spend applying political pressure in the US? A. $4.6 million

Number6
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I'd like to see how much they spend on lawyers. I suspect a million before legislation getting it right[*] is worth tens or hundreds of millions afterwards trying to fix the damage.

[*] Use any definition of 'right' you want here...

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Brandis' metadata retention recipe doesn't prohibit USB drives stored in a garden shed

Number6
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A shame they can't just encrypt it with a SHA-2 hash.

"What's that? You meant reversible encryption?"

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Canadian dirtbag jailed for SWAT'ing, doxing women gamers

Number6
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Re: Sounds like an ideal candidate

Not just a 1Mbit connection but random packet loss too. Nothing like a bit of unexpected lag to screw things up.

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Biologists gasp at lemur's improbably colossal bollocks

Number6
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This is the sort of weekend bollocks we've come to expect from El Reg.

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Apple's mystery auto project siphoning staff from other divisions

Number6
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Re: Bah!

Probably San Francisco - have you ever tried parking there?

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Number6
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Re: Precedent

I'm looking forward to a claim that curves on wheels is one of their design features to be protected in court.

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US police to throw big balls in criminals' faces

Number6
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Re: Totally unrealistic

Of course, that's the downside of a camera, the cops will have to learn how to delete images.

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Number6
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Re: Limited application?

The obvious one is a WiFi jammer, put out enough noise and they won't get to see the image. For added fun, but beyond the average perp, might be a spoof device so that the image received is not the one from the ball. Given its roots as a humanitarian device, I wonder how good its security is. If all else fails, a baseball bat might be adequate countermeasure, either to return the ball if it comes in high enough, or simply to just squash it. The physical methods will probably work until the police had had training in how and where to throw it.

On the other side, if it's a bit bouncy, one could send it round corners, harder to do with a mirror on a stick. And if you think of the latest Star Wars robot, BB8, you could make a mobile version.

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BOFH: Don't go changing on Friday evenings, I don't wanna work that hard

Number6
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I know I have some former colleagues on here, so who remembers the day the US IT department did some changes just before midnight their time and went home? Leaving those of us just starting work at 8am in the UK without a functional network... I remember hearing the boss telling someone "I don't care what time it is there, get them back in to fix it".

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The slow strangulation of telework in Australia

Number6
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Fact Check

The A in ADSL stands for ‘asynchronous’.

Surely it stands for Asymmetric?

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Phone scamming up 30 percent last year: Report

Number6
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Call Blocking

I have a simple approach now. I have an Asterisk PBX running on an old Sheevaplug, a MySQL database and a few Perl scripts. An incoming call gets the CLI looked up in the database and known bad numbers are answered, a recorded message is played and then it hangs up, all without ringing the house phone. Unknown numbers get ignored, on the basis that real people will leave a message, scammers will just hang up. Then I look up the dodgy ones and add them to the database for next time. Known good numbers also get added to the database so that they'll present an identifiable text string to the phone.

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If I get hit by a bus, Linux will go on just fine says Linus Torvalds

Number6
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Size?

So would that be a 32-bit or 64-bit bus? Or is he going to survive until the next big leap in size?

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Manchester car park lock hack leads to horn-blare hoo-ha

Number6
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Re: Old trick that

Many years ago they had problems with the local amateur repeater and the 433MHz car systems. Despite the repeater being up on the roof, the car receivers were crappy enough to be jammed by it. There have been tales of MoD Mould repeaters, also in that band, causing similar issues.

I have no idea which idiot decided that 433MHz, a very popular amateur band, was a good place to put poorly-designed consumer electronics, but I hope their name is high on the list to be put against the wall when the revolution comes.

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Crude scammer targets Brit oil brokers

Number6
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Re: grey area? line crossed?

You just need a good lawyer. The compromised machine already had permission to access the server, else how could it upload the credentials. There was nothing in writing restricting it to write-only access so one assumes they could use the same machine to read from the server too.

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Health & Safety is the responsibility of Connor's long-suffering girlfriend

Number6
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Re: H&S Certification

Isn't a half-decent memory all you ever need to pass an exam? Either you've memorised all the questions and answers or you've memorised enough of the subject matter to know what you're doing.

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Number6
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Re: General Approach

We learned (c) at uni. For part of the course we were in project teams and had to do regular presentations on the progress of the project. It was soon learned that if we did an immaculate job, they'd ask hard questions, so the trick was to leave some small flaw in there, brief the whole project team on its existence (so we could all competently field questions on it) and let the review team find it. Once they'd found something wrong they were happy and stopped digging and so didn't ask the hard questions.

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Your metadata and the cost of collecting it belong on your phone and internet bill

Number6
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Re: what about a line that says

They might need an extra line occasionally:

"Last month your metadata was also viewed by three hackers who successfully gained access to the server"

Even if it's harmless, it highlights the danger of collecting information without proper care.

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BOFH: Getting to the brown, nutty heart of the water cooler matter

Number6
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A well-polished article.

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NASA snaps first full family photo of Pluto and its five moons

Number6
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Two missing

A shame it's two short or we could have had a picture of the Dwarf and its seven Snow Whites.

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Facebook echo chamber: Or, the British media and the election

Number6
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Re: It's still true.....

That just proves the corollary to free speech - you can say what you like but it has consequences. With freedom comes responsibility.

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Number6
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As usual, I turn out to be the exception. The content of my FB feed does not generally reflect my views but I clearly associate with people who do hold views so reflected.

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Traumatised Reg SPB team barely survives movie unwatchablathon

Number6
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To be fair, the book version of Battlefield Earth is far better than the film. A bit like 2001, it's far easier to understand the film if you've read the book beforehand.

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Google's 'stale pale males' to be replaced by crack black chick pack

Number6
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Google seem to have the right idea, putting engineers into schools to inspire the children. Positive discrimination is bad, it needs young adults with the right skills and the best place to get them is in school. Of course, this isn't to say that adults can't go take courses and learn, but jobs should be assigned on merit, not to fill a quota. If there's not enough then look at why that is so and fix the cause, don't just stick a plaster over the top.

Teach the children to treat others on merit rather than physical attributes but to show tolerance and understanding towards old people who can't do that on the basis that they can't help it. Let the bias die of old age while trying to make sure it isn't perpetuated.

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NSA domestic dragnet NOT authorised by Patriot Act, rules US Appeals Court

Number6
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Coat

Re: impliedly?

So yes it is indeed a real word, one that is also quite old too; goes back to the 1500s.

Damn Yanks need to update their language.

And their accents, so 1700s...

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EU geo-blocking: Ansip's crusade liable to disappear through 'unjustifiable' loophole

Number6
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Re: Hang on a sec...

If you can come up with an IP address assigned to the UK then you can watch BBC iPlayer for free wherever you are in the world. This is what VPNs can do for you.

Conversely, if you're sat in the UK office of a company with multinational presence that uses internal VPNs, it is possible that the IP address you present to the BBC is assigned to another country and you're stuck with the bbc.com international site (with its adverts) and problems accessing iPlayer.

I've experienced both situations.

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iPhone case uses phone's OWN SIGNAL to charge it (forever, presumably)

Number6
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For Sale: One Bridge (slightly used)

Anyone want a bridge? I'm open to offers on several, located in various parts of the world.

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'Use 1 capital' password prompts make them too predictable – study

Number6
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Re: VbV

when you're in the back of cab that is red-lining the engine and blowing every stoplight...

In some places that's normal behaviour for a taxi.

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Number6
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Re: What's the real issue?

Not necessarily, they can just hold a hash value (although with brute force they can recover the password that generated the hash). Most of these things only store the last n passwords anyway, so you can always repeatedly change your password until it lets you have your old one back.

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Sick of tech bro Silicon Valley? Oakland is building a better tech world – say Oaklanders

Number6
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They need to do something about their transport network. I-880 is hell and there aren't many other sensible options available so the local housing costs are going to go way up, just like in San Francisco and South Bay.

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America was founded on a dislike of taxes, so how did it get the IRS?

Number6
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Re: @Dana W

That's where you can look at it fro a different angle. Affordable healthcare can be seen as investing in the workforce, just as you pay to have your car serviced and it keeps running longer and is less likely to break down when you need it most. I appreciate that this is not a perfect analogy because it's easy to scrap a problem car, whereas the law frowns on doing that to a person.

I wonder how popular a voluntary national insurance fund for unemployment benefits would be? If you pay in, you can claim from the fund if you're laid off, if you choose to opt out, you're on your own. It's a bit like donating to charity if you don't expect to be unemployed, with the side benefit that if something bad does happen, you get rewarded for all those donations.

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Number6
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Surely you don't expect it to make sense? This is the country that is shocked by a nipple on TV but is quite happy to have guns and violence, the loud group that protests about contraception and abortion but then makes no provision for raising the unwanted children born because of such policies.

The US is not the only country where the thinking is clearly not particularly joined up, but it has some really glaring examples of it.

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Number6
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The UK has council tax - vaguely related to the value of the house in the distant past. Cambridgeshire is charging about half a percent of current value, others may vary. However, I'm not sure they can confiscate your house for non-payment, so it's not quite as bad as the US.

The US system has some things in its favour though - starting from the date of last sale, California property tax is assessed as 1% of that value, and it increases by a nominal amount each year. That way, you buy a house knowing what it's going to cost you in future years. It also means that if you bought a house dirt-cheap many years ago and it's now worth several million, you're not expected to pay property tax based on its current value, over which you have no real control. This is way better than a mansion tax which will hit people who may have very few assets other than a house with a hugely inflated value. As with council tax, it's distributed locally.

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Number6
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Re: Wouldn't work there, unless I planned on living there until the end

When switching countries you need to look at what tax treaties exist. In theory it should allow you to claim back tax from one side.

As for the American Way, all sorts of things seem to be set up to make you spend your money. California in particular has the smog test for cars, for which you pay eight or so dollars for a certificate and something a lot more to whoever does the test. Unlike in the UK where the MOT test has a maximum price mandated by government, California does the true market economy of letting all the smog testers compete with each other on price, although in practice most of them end up the same. If you've got a modern car, it's ten minutes interrogating the car's engine management system and you're about seventy dollars lighter. That's a good hourly rate. Sadly it's not possible to just read the numbers yourself.

If you want to do anything to your house you need a permit. I can see that for structural stuff that may be sensible, given the earthquakes, but you're supposed to do the same for all sorts of other stuff too. Much stuff has to be inspected by someone with the appropriate license (with an 's'), so that's even more money required.

On the subject of taxes, it usually costs you money to do that - a lot of people pay someone to do all the paperwork, or buy a commercial software package to do it themselves.

As for the comments about petrol prices, it does vary wildly. Back in January (when Cambridge were still in the FA Cup) it really did get down that low. At the moment it's floating around three dollars a gallon. Don't forget the obscene amount of tax and duty on UK petrol - if the crude price doubles then it can cause the pump price in the US to nearly double, whereas in the UK it's going to go up 20% because most of what you pay is a fixed amount

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Top US Democrats cry death to Comcast-Time Warner hyper-gobble

Number6
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They could agree to it provided ComWarner split their services similar to BT - an infrastructure division selling services to the retail division and also to anyone else on the same terms. That would allow smaller ISPs to set up in an area and offer a better service. Given that Comcast phone is VoIP, that could be made available too, just provision the modem to direct calls elsewhere. I have Comcast and I use none of their internet services except connectivity to the outside world. The service is way overpriced compared to Virgin in the UK.

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Google pulls plug on YouTube for older iPads, iPhones, smart TVs

Number6
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Roll Your Own

There's still a lot to be said for a dumb TV and an external media centre PC. If you've got something capable of running Linux (Raspberry Pi, perhaps) then it should have quite a long life, and if it runs out of processing grunt, you can keep the TV and upgrade the media centre hardware.

Plus it's not as likely to transmit your viewing habits and conversations to third parties.

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SpaceX breaks ground on first commercial spaceport in Texas

Number6
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Re: I suspect

A matter of minutes for a rocket at full blast.

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US taxmen won't say WHY they're probing Microsoft. So Redmond is suing the IRS

Number6
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If you don't pay your taxes on time you can be sure they're going to want you to pay a bit more. Excuses tend to be one-directional when it comes to large government departments.

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'Arkansas cops tried to hack me with malware-ridden hard drive'

Number6
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Cock-up or Conspiracy

At this point I'm quite prepared to believe that if one was to do an audit of the police department computers, most, if not all, of them would be found to be infected with the malware and the bigger question ought to be about who's stealing information from the police and what have they already got?

An interesting line of approach for the defence: "our client is incompetent, not malicious".

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LA schools want multi-million Apple refund after kids hack iPads

Number6
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Re: Technology for technology's sake

and the machines ended up just being used for internet access, but no actual learning.

I learned a lot from the alt.binaries.pictures newsgroups, including the fact that some of them should definitely not be viewed while eating.

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Eyes on the prize: Ten 23-24-inch monitors for under £150

Number6
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Re: @david bates

On the plus side, you don't get bombarded by all the banal advertising that one gets on US TV and UK cable TV. (Just tedious trailers about how wonderful the BBC is.)

There's always a debate on it, it is not a tax because if you're not receiving live TV broadcasts then you don't need to pay it. The contention comes when someone says they never watch any BBC stuff so why should they pay for a licence to support the BBC just to watch other stuff.

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Because the server room is certainly no place for pets

Number6
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Re: Actually, DON'T Virtualize it.

I still run an OS/2 VM because I have yet to find time to re-write a bit of software that runs on it. It's on the to-do list but so far things are working OK and there's no urgency, apart from thinking of some new features I'd like to add to it.

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Microsoft uses Windows Update to force Windows 10 ads onto older PCs

Number6
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Subverting the Programme

It's installed on my PC here so I just renamed the GWX directory to something else, that might make it a bi harder for something to run one of the programmes in there. Any other directories it uses?

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Light the torches! NSA's BFF Senator Feinstein calls for e-book burning

Number6
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If there's one thing guaranteed to spawn more copies of the book, an attempt by a clueless politician is it. People will host copies just because someone wants to ban it.

You don't fight extremism with censorship, you fight it with education. Or by making a few copies readily available for download and logging the IP address of those who actually do.

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Encryption is the REAL threat – Head Europlod

Number6
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Re: Headache eh?

If they hadn't been able to detect it then either they have subsequently discovered it or they're talking hot air. Just because they've been looking and haven't found it, doesn't mean it exists.

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Silicon Valley gets its first 1Gbps home bro– oh, there's a big catch

Number6
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Re: VPN

I was going to make the same comment, with the additional note that if there isn't a suitable VPN provider, you can be sure that someone will start one.

I like the data pollution idea, will see if I can implement it even without an AT&T connection. Perhaps someone could do an app for Verizon users and their unique cookies, too.

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Day FOUR of the GitHub web assault: Activists point fingers at 'China's global censorship'

Number6
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The way around that would be for people to install a browser plug-in that filtered traffic to the Baidu ad network. If they're not requesting scripts from inside the Chinese firewall then hopefully they're less likely to be modified.

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