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* Posts by Pete 2

2283 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Europe's shock Google privacy ruling: The end of history? Don't be daft

Pete 2
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Re: Move the goalposts

> Your solution is for me to completely change my identity and start a new life. OK assume this is possible and I actually do it.

Well, thousands of women manage to do this [change their names] every year, with very little hassle, when they marry and adopt their husband's last name. The biggest problem they have seems to be "learning" a new signature. There certainly isn't anything as dramatic as "start a new life" - though I guess you could go for some plastic surgery as well, if you wanted to.

Sure, there are some hassles - like having to apply for a new passport and notifying your bank of a name-change. But you have to ask: which is more onerous? a few small administrative alterations, or dragging Google through the courts as the instigator of this whole story did, for many years, just to get one link changed.

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Pete 2
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Move the goalposts

IIRC this all kicked off because some spanish guy Googled his own name (and we all know: nothing good ever comes from doing that) and discovered that it listed a financial embarrassment from years gone by.

Now, whatever the ins and outs of that particular situation, surely the easier approach (easier than grinding your way through the courts) is to simply change your name?

So, if Mr Derek Stinky was to change his name to, say, Mr. Albert Stinky then Google would have no link between the two names - so far as they are concerned it's only data and there is no attribute (unless Mt Stinky was to explicitly add one) to link the two. Even then it would have to be an exceptionally clever little search engine to twig the fact - and since it's main function is to push advertisements, there's no reason to make it so smart. [ Now GCHQ: there's a search system to be reckoned with ].

So, being a lazy git and always taking the path of least resistance, I would always go for the simplest solution to a problem of this size: and simply become someone else. Pete 3 has a nice ring to it.

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Boffins debunk red wine miracle antioxidant myth

Pete 2
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Newsflash!

> red wine doesn't confer some of the alleged benefits

and none of the drinkers will care one jot.

If you like it and don't overdo it, that is probably doing you some good. Mentally if not physically (but who wants to live forever, anyway?)

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LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

Pete 2
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altitude overflow?

> the system crashed because an operator entered a value that was outside limits

You aren't thinking that if you enter a flightplan with an altitude of 2^16 feet, you might just get an integer overflow, are you?

After all, nobody could fly that high, so we'd never need to test it, right?

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London cabbies to offer EVEN WORSE service in protest against Uber

Pete 2
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Re: you're having a tin mate...

> never see a penny of tax

Even if a cab driver did manage to avoid having their fares recorded, they still pay a significant amount of tax (as we all do).

There's tax on fuel: 58p per litre - tax on the fuel tax (VAT) - making UK diesel the most expensive in the world¹. Then there's VAT on buying the car, car tax and tax on the servicing costs. Do Uber cars have to pay the congestion charge? - another tax!

Even when a cabbie does get home with his (or her) untaxed wad, pretty much everything he/she buys will have 20% VAT to pay on it, too - plus any "sin taxes" like booze & ciggies. Now you might think "it's only VAT - everyone pays that" but bear in mind that VAT is the government's second biggest earner and that you pay the same rate (unlike income taxes) whether you are on minimum wage or £1million a year - and it's easy to realise that even cash in hand will never escape the clutches of the HMRC.

[1] Daily Telegraph, May 6

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Pete 2
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Gets worse before it gets better. But who said it'll get better

So, you are faced with a competitor who undercuts you, actually turns up, is prepared to take you where you want to go (sarf ov the river????) and has a more flexible business. How do you challenge that?

> the demonstration ... will attract many many thousands of cabs

Obvious, innit. Withdraw ALL of your services, leaving the other guy to be the only game in town.

Maybe what London (well, OK: what everywhere) needs is a taxi service who's only barrier to entry is the servicabillity of the vehicle and the lack of criminality of the driver. After that, let anyone with the right insurance in on the game - and let them charge whatever rate they please.

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Spy sat launch wannabe SpaceX fails to stop rival gobbling Russki rockets

Pete 2
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Once through Google translate ...

> she [ the judge ] had received letters ... explaining that the ULA deal doesn’t violate sanctions.

One assumes that's the jargon du jour for someone stratospherically high up in the administration screamed threats and abuse at her if she didn't "see the error of her ways" - and then dangled the carrot, for when she did.

Energomash - really?

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Britain'll look like rural Albania without fracking – House of Lords report

Pete 2
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Question time

> The lords ... stating there is actually "little hard evidence of public opinion" one way or another on fracking

The answer you'll get as "public opinion" depends totally on the question you ask:

Do you want to see gas companies drilling in areas of outstanding natural beauty? or:

Do you think we should be doing something to keep electricity prices down and make sure we don't run out of natural gas?

In more than one place I've worked it has been very, very difficult to get changes approved. So hard in fact that it was often easier (and sometimes quicker) to let a failure occur and then have a "whatever it takes" emergency change rushed through to get the failed system back up and working again. In relation to fracking, I would be less than surprised if all the naysayers changed their attitudes in an instant if the lights went out.

Maybe that's the time to ask the question.

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Carphone Warehouse, Dixons embroiled in £3.7bn merger rumour

Pete 2
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Short and sweet

> Sky News claimed the proposed name of the merged enterprise is Dixons Carphone Group

Car Ware Dix House, possibly shortened to Cawadiho might work. Dix Ware Car Ho has a certain, kerb-crawling, ring to it too.

Though I still can't imagine buying anything from that outfit.

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Cost-cutting Barclays bank swings axe on 5,600 IT and ops bods

Pete 2
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cockup in three ... two ... one ...

Very soon after all the hackers realise that ...

> The bank promised automation of IT platforms across the Group

... means there aren't actually any people supervising the security systems. And even when an alarm goes off, it'll take some time for whoever's on-call to get their arse out of bed, realise what's going on and escalate the problem to the few capable individuals who are still working there.

But given the speed of financial transactions, will there be any money left by that point?

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Hungry for humbler Pi? Check out kid-friendly LED-laden Pibrella

Pete 2
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Re: ...really now?

> using those bloody interrupts

On a Pi, or other SBC running Linux, wouldn't it be more like using a poll() or select(), unless you fancy writing a device driver to get down 'n' dirty with the processor's interrupt hardware.

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Nuclear reactor sysadmin accused of hacking 220,000 US Navy sailors' details

Pete 2
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Best excuse ever

> he hacked naval computers "out of boredom"

Good. I'd hate to think that someone in charge of the software that ran a reactor was overworked and constantly too busy.

And while "the devil makes work for idle hands", that's surely better than "yes I know that alert's been going off for the past 15 minutes. I'll get to it when I have a mi<BOOM>"

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Look out, sysadmins - HOT FOREIGN SPIES are targeting you

Pete 2
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Re: They'd never get me

> Hmmm... How about "a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn. "?

Ach! you spies. You know every man's weakness. But before I betray my country and my employer, tell me more about the clock.

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Pete 2
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They'd never get me

I would just like to say that I will never be bribed by the offer of hot sex, fine wines, good meals and holidays in the Carribean (even if they were on a large yacht). And I challenge any interested spy agencies to try to prove otherwise.

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ARM exec: Forget eight-core smartphone chips, just enjoy a SIX-PACK

Pete 2
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Bigger is better

> My building? ...

and that is probably why an 8-core processor is important: as a sales tool.

Just like it's "better" to have a 12 MPix camera on your phone than just an 8MPix one (so 2013, darling!)

Maybe the trick that ARM should consider is not so much the "some biggun's and some little-uns". Just go for the numbers and have 8 (or 10, or 12) of the small processors. More people will be taken in by the processor-number marketing than will be by the benchmark number marketing - neither of which bears much relationship to the users perception.

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Please work for nothing, Mr Dabbs. What can you lose?

Pete 2
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Re: The saying or the doing

Is that the observation about romantic drama writers: those who feel the need to write about it aren't doing it?

> I bet you're a romantic sweet-talker in the bedroom.

You'll never find out.

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Pete 2
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Re: Absolutely and Schools

> Still who needs to bother with such things as the period table

I think Tom Leher could help you out there. or if that's not trendy enough for today's yoof (the teachers, not the children) there's a new, graphic version - though I'm not sure if the entry for Silicon(e) was a deliberate mistake. Or did I just imagine it?

http://www.tastefullyoffensive.com/2013/05/the-new-periodic-table-song.html

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Pete 2
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The saying or the doing

> Some would suggest that I earn my money disreputably and don’t really deserve to receive any.

The difficulty with paying people to write is that so little of it contains any actionable, credible, information. And so little of the tiny minority that is actionable is worth anything..

Anyone can write "do this and you'll earn $1m" - but is the value in the information: "do this ..." or in the actual doing?

For example: a boxing promoter can suggest that Wladimir Klitschko could make millions by fighting Alex Leapai (he did, he won). But merely suggesting the match takes no effort - even though the money-making opportunity was a certainty. And so it is with most writing. Merely suggesting a course of action is a trivial enterprise (even if you had to spend time researching it, writing it and doing your own editing and publishing) and, importantly contains no investment or risk for the writer. It's the effort: the activity and the risk of failure that deserves reward, not the writing or suggestion.

After all, if writers were able to identify all these ways of turning ideas into actions - wouldn't they be too busy doing them, themselves rather than just sitting there writing about it?

Now if you were to consider yourself an entertainer, and that the product of your efforts were supposed to engage the audience, rather than direct them to ways of improvement or profit, THEN there would be a way to place a value on the content. But it would be content for its own sake, not as a means to some other end.

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Script fools n00b hackers into hacking themselves

Pete 2
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Catch 'em young

If the "career" path of a hacker follows the conventional route: from starting as a script kiddie to either getting a girlfriend or becoming a hard-ass hacker, then anything that can nip the process in the bud sounds like be a good thing.

Maybe the world should start hacking back? With tools like this and then later on with malware that purports to prevent self-hacks. We know, from the life-cycle of hacking itself, how to escalate these things.

Maybe attack really is the best form of defence.

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Granny's Guardian: Acorn BBC Micro hero touts OAP watchdog kit

Pete 2
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Re: Cheap at half the price

I was thinking of blogging about it, but I had a word with myself and came to the conclusion that I would not want to be held responsible (rightly or wrongly) for a monitoring failure that led to injury or death. I could imagine a situation where someone had either implemented my project correctly but I had made a mistake somewhere, or that they had bogged it and the result was it failed to alert the right person in a timely manner. Now, one could counter that by saying that if said person hadn't had a monitor n the first place, they'd be no worse off - but I didn't want to be put in that position: of beta testing with some elderly folk who were unaware of the development status of the hardware and code.

Although the aged relative in question already has the full gamut of smoke alarms and CO alarms. I have added an air quality sensor (small analog device, looks like an electret microphone) to check the air in the room. It's surprisingly sensitve to fly-spray and other household chemicals / cleaners. There is also an LRGB sensor that can use the RGB components of the ambient light to distinguish daylight from room lighting. Dark in daytime implies curtains weren't opened (bad sign) and movement with no light is downright mysterious - unless they have a cat. The LiPo controller also makes it possible to detect power cuts and light an LED in that circumstance.

Apropos the Pi phone: yes I did see that and I'm hoping that when the code is published I can take a look at the GUI, for tips and shortcuts. At present I'm thinking of coding the touch interface (Olimex have a range of touch-screens, I have a 7-incher which should allow for sufficiently large buttons for shakey fingers to hit). At present the A20 is running Debian and Xfce, so the GUI would be a full-screen layer on top of that. I really don't want to expose any facet of the O/S to the users.

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Pete 2
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Re: Cheap at half the price

> Why didn't you just use the Raspi and RAMFS

Because in my impetuousness, I bought a very early (yes I was up at 6 a.m. on release day, trying to order off the website - won't do that again) Model B that only had 256MB. I think I've isolated almost all of the write activity to RAM, so hopefully NAND lifetimes won't be a limiting factor. Nor will mechanical connections to the n/v storage.

I also wanted the Mk2 to have audio input capabilities and the Olimex SBC also comes with a LiPo interface so it will run off an outboard battery (6600maH - the size of 3 * AA jobbies: good for over a day) thus making RAMFS viable. It also has enough GPIO for aforementioned 800x480 touch screen. But this is getting to sound a bit like an advertisement and I'd hate to make the Bulgarians blush.

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Pete 2
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Cheap at half the price

> It costs £225 for the goods,

Yikes!

The one I built for an aged relative, last year, amounted to the cost of a RPi + Wifi card + PIR, DHT11, loudspeaker + amp and a light sensor. Including the (tastefully varnished) wooden box the total was < £100.

It also had some additional features that proved to be the unexpected highlight, so far as A.R. was concerned. There's nothing quite as comforting (apparently) as entering your living room in the morning and hearing a cheerful "Good Morning" from a familiar voice.

Sadly, the SD card soon got tired with the constant writes to /var/log and gave up the ghost after a few months. But the Mk2 learned from that, runs from an Olimex A20 that has NAND on board and holds all the sensor data in RAMFS - and has lots of other added features.

Now, if I can just get the Kivy interface going on the touchscreen ...

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Behold! World's smallest 3D-printer pen Lix artists into shape – literally

Pete 2
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3D ink blots

> outputs solid lines as you move the pen through the air

My hot-melt glue gun has been doing that for years. Crikey! I have a 3D printer and I never even knew it.

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Today's bugs have BRANDS? Be still my bleeding heart [logo]

Pete 2
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GOTO be GONE?

> Because nobody uses goto in real code, right

Actually EVERYBODY uses goto's - they just turn a blind eye to it.

Look under the safety-blanky of your favourite compiler and you'll see the assembler which is produced is absolutely infested with goto statements.

I think what is meant is that nobody (again, incorrect) writes GOTO statements in their source code. The problem isn't actually the goto statement: which is so useful there would be no practical software without it. No: the issue is partly mere fashion/snobbery, but mostly the problem of documenting it: the lack of a complimentary, high-level, COMEFROM statement to tell the poor little debuggerer how the program-counter ended up at a certain point in the code.

Though if you debug your stuff with a logic analyser, or trace/emulator, working out where the GOTO came from is generally quite easy. There's nothing about a GOTO to sneer at or to be scared of.

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Chinese iWatchers: Apple's WRISTPUTERS ALREADY in production

Pete 2
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Off the cuff

I wonder if Apple will bring out a range of attire with especially shortened sleeves, so that everyone will be able to see that you have an iWatch?

What's the point in having Apple gear, if nobody else knows that you have it?

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BBC hacks – tweet the crap out of the news, cries tech-dazzled Trust

Pete 2
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Re: Populism and the Licence

> university education is - a reward for being 'clever'

I think the OP is a little behind the times. These days (according to The Guardian - ooops!) about 50% of school leavers go to university. So maybe a "university education" (or 3 years of beer, brainz and bonking as it was recently explained to me: how times have changed) is now just a "reward" for being academically above average. If that's the new "clever", then so be it.

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Pete 2
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Re: Populism and the Licence

> audience share - 30% to 40% - because it was paid for by the universal licence

The logic is inescapable: what right does an organisation have to require a payment, if it provides nothing in return?

However, the idea that the BBC should cater for the masses falls into the "give a man a fish ... " category. If all it does is make itself accessible by adhering to the same standards of taste, intelligence and popular, faddish programme content as the commercial channels (and scheduling them head-to-head, then calling it "choice") then it's valid to ask: why have it at all, if it doesn't provide anything different or apply pressure to raise the overall standard?

For most people (well, most people here at least) the BBC has two unique properties: Dr. Who and no advertisements. Oh: and the silly notion that it's "free", just like the health service isn't. Given that the vast majority don't watch the programmes that have otherwise been tagged as "upper class" and "elitist", maybe the time has come to dump the licence fee and the ITV-esque (matron! he's using complicated words again) channels and simply have BBC2 & Radio 4 paid for by and only accessible to, the 40% tax-payers or those with a masters degree?

Or is it a case of: you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?

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Pete 2
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No news is good news

When something momentous happens: some fool starts a war, the Martians land, a plane flies into a building then the whole country thinks "Hmmm, I should find out more about that" and accesses a news service - for big events and the BBC still seems to be the source of choice.

However, we live in an era where there aren't any wars (at least, wars in any timezone that are likely to cause us to flee our homes), the Martians have seen our TV programming and decided to stay away and there aren't that many crazies in control of aircraft. Under those circumstances, where most of the events that will actually have a material affect on most people are either political (new laws) or economic (no money) - both of which are abstract, complicated and out of our control, is it any surprise that most people don't actually care? It's not like the (good old) cold-war days, when the news programmes could dangle the threat of nuclear annihilation as a carrot to watch, and "big up" the fact that some foreign leader hadn't been seen in public and the new guy might press the button.

So what do the news people fill all these empty hours, on channels too numerous to mention, with? Stories about minor celebrities and who they snog, marry or avoid. Lurid, voyeuristic footage of suffering in far away countries and the random doings of sports "personalities" who can't string together a coherent sentence to explain themselves - if you know what I mean (harry).

In short, we have news broadcasts coming out of our ears, 24 hour rolling news channels that have 15 minutes of stories on a loop (and that hardly ever change at weekends as the news staff aren't working - but when most people would have the time to watch) for most of the day - and most of the night, too. Channels that are so desperate to cheaply fill their air-time and website space that they have descended into trivia and celebrity instead of going for depth and analysis. And using the televised, in-your-face, suffering of genuine victims, used merely to attract viewers: sitting on their couches shoving crisps down their necks, as people watch their houses being destroyed.

It is any wonder that most right-thinking people reject this form of "news" and only care about whether it will rain today, or if there are traffic jams on their way in to work? Having bigger or flashier graphics and tweets won't make any difference here, guys. The basic problem is one of quality and relevance.

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Google forges a Silver bullet for Android, aims it at Samsung's heart

Pete 2
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Rooting for Silver

Isn't this the "experience" that most people who root their Android phones are doing it for?

Dumping the bloat-ware and getting up-to-date versions. I guess the differentiation will now come from things like hardware features: cameras, 3D on screens, number of cores and amount of memory and maybe even some "killer" accessories that no other manufacturers will have.

They may even play the security card and demonstrate a widening gap between themselves and the (explicit or covert) entities that monitor and collect data from Android phones.

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Cuffing darknet-dwelling cyberscum is tricky. We'll 'disrupt' crims instead, warns top cop

Pete 2
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Re: A better solution: better defences

> the "eternal vigilance" problem

You're quite right. However the goal should be to design intrinsically secure systems. Not ones that require people to be vigilant, as we know they simply can't be trusted with secure information. No, the security has to designed in as the default option - and designed properly to not impact usability, so that users/owners have neither the need nor the ability to disable it.

I should add: I have absolutely no clue how someone would either design, or enforce the use of, such systems. Though I'd hope that the big internet players: the ones like Google, and FB who have the biggest investment in internet use - would be working on this problem as a "giving back" for all the wealth the internet has thrust upon them.

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Pete 2
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A better solution: better defences

Let's assume for a minute that all this "cybercrime" is actual crime: taking stuff that doesn't belong to them. Whacking law-abiding citizens with a large stick (or whatever the "cyber" equivalent is: tweeting that their mothers smell of cabbage, maybe?). Possibly even persuading online sellers to give them stuff in return for no money?

Rather than going through a public wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth as they bewail the fact that these criminals are doing the online equivalent of wearing a mask with two eye-holes, aren't there other ways to use their time and budget to better effect? Such as stopping crimes from occurring rather than running around - Keystone Cops style - trying to catch them afterwards: once they have their swag, or have tweeted vaguely insulting things about someones mother.

Obviously it's not as sexy: going from online business to online business and saying "did you know, that there are lots of bad people who can persuade you to give them your money, unless you do X, Y and Z". Given the lack of any visible deterrent on t'net, placing the onus on the e-tailers (e.g. refusing to insure them unless security holes were fixed) and using the existing cyber-cops to uncover those weaknesses, might get "cybercrime" down in a more efficient way than their current activities.

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Brit IT workers are so stressed that 'TWO-THIRDS' want to quit

Pete 2
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Oi! less of that talk, if you please.

> I did a weeks worth of work in an afternoon by ... looking at the problem and then automating it.

Don't give away all the secrets. Yes, we know about automation and how it can do all the tedious tasks, while allowing you to do the work of four people (I could give you their names, except for the confidentiality clause) AND keeping abreast of developments, new languages and skills AND being able to do the crossword while waiting for the clock to strike 5.

But there are lots of IT workers who's only skills are tedious cut'n'paste: data from one spreadsheet into another. Who will see what's presented on one screen and dutifully type it, manually: new mistakes 'n' all, into an application's form and who STILL print out data and then highlight fields in yellow or pink, depending on whether they are above or below some fixed limits. One assumes it's these people who are in the two-thirds who want to quit and who feel the stress.

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Pete 2
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Re: 40+ hours of overtime

> in reality you haven't got much of a clue as to who I am, or what I do.

En contrario, mi amiga!

I can assume your gender, that you wear high heels for an IT job (which leads to conclusions of it's own - but let's not go there). I know that you are IT-literate and I know where you are going on holiday and roughly how much you earn. I also know that you have a lot of time on your hands, right now. That's as well as feeling stressed and overworked (which leads to yet more conclusions that I'm too polite to dig in to) and that you feel very, very defensive about your work: which leads to more conclusions, too.

And all that is only what you've divulged to the world in a few posts on a single morning. Who needs to go snooping when people volunteer so much personal info without even being asked?

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Pete 2
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Re: @msknight

> I've got to stop reading the reg and get on with some work (published an hour ago, at the time I write this)

same person wrote this, 39 minutes ago:

> @larsg @bearden - actually I started in programming ...

So what happened to the work?

Newsflash! and again, just now:

> @Caaaptaaaain kick arse - in my case

So is that you done for the day?

And yes: this IS a case of "I've been watching that (insert job title of manual worker here) for the past half an hour and he/she/it hasn't done a stroke of work". But then again, I'm sitting here in a sunny Andalucia: the birds are tweeting (mostly inane comments about food or nests), not a cloud in the sky and the bells on distant sheep can be heard wafting across the countryside. Bliss.

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Internet of Thingies bods: Forget 3G, let's go straight to 4G

Pete 2
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The internet of cars

> a "connected" car sending significant data – both telemetry and perhaps video – might need the bandwidth of 4G.

This might sound like a good idea in isolation, but even a 4G network would soon collapse if presented by a whole motorway-full of cars, all streaming video - mostly of the cars in front and behind: all of which would be streaming exactly the same views back again - and engine management telemetry and all the other stuff that is unquestionably *possible* even if of questionable *worth*.

From my understanding, the IoT is more suited to being a "below the radar" network of small devices sending bitsy little packets on an infrequent basis: the comparison with tweets being not just the size, of the records, but their value, too. It's not meant to turn every road-borne vehicle into a Formula-1 racer, complete with live video feeds and EMU/biometric data. That would never scale (but would make a fortune for 4G carriers).

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Chap builds mobe based on Raspberry Pi

Pete 2
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Re: Newsworthiness

> Perhaps we could have some balanced coverage of pi alternatives?

Nope.

The embedded "revolution" of SBCs is proceeding quietly behind the scenes (just waiting for the 8-core SBCs to appear). However the Pi is the sizzle, not the steak.

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Pete 2
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Re: LEGO for the modern era @pete @Daniel

> It's projects like this that teach, and inspire.

Inspire: yes. Teach? definitely not.

As we have all been told: a crucial part of learning is the mistakes. Hence a project (and the author, to be fair, of this piece of work makes no claims for its educational validity: only that it was fun to do) that contains no information about the problems encountered and solved, nor the dead-ends, nor how to recognise and deal with errors, nor why one solution was chosen above any others will teach very few people and discourage many, many more. If all of that knowledge requires "reams of doumentation" then so be it. it's that "reams of documetation" that others will learn from: not from seeing one example of anything, presented fully realised as an end result. It would be like writing a cookery book and only having photos of the food you're prepared with no recipes or discussion of technique. Lovely as food-porn, but useless to anyone who wants to make their own.

So it's wrong to dismisss "reams of documentation" as not necessary for the learning process. For most people. it's vital - and it's lack in most OSS applications makes them little more than app-porn (to coin a phrase). Great if it works out of the box, and for the tiny minority who have the skills, inclination, tools and time to fix or adapt it: who disingenuously say "the code is available for anyone to use". But as "productised", as that was the essence of my comment, piece of work: ready for the full spectrum of talents who would wish to use it, undocumented stuff fails as an educational tool. Big time.

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Pete 2
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Re: LEGO for the modern era

> Yes, it has been done before, in other ways by other people. Apple, Samsung, Nokia would be prime examples

And the lesson we learn (at least: those who have tried / failed to productionise something electronic: or even been rash enough to put some of our work up for scrutiny on a website) is that getting the prototype to "proto" is often the easiest part of the process. The really tricky bit, as almost every OSS project is proof of, is the human interface, the support documentation, the standards compliance and the 100% perfect, works-under-all-circumstances reliability.

And when I see all of that in an amateur project, then I really am impressed.

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Pete 2
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LEGO for the modern era

> Apparently some people are way too easily impressed.

Yes, they are. But what more should we expect? The crucial aspect of this project, in the author's own words, are:

... where’s the fun in that. I got a great kick out of the first phone call I made with this thing. And it wont’s stay in one piece for long, I’ll be using those parts for other projects very soon!

So no-one is saying it's a practical solution. It was meant to be fun, nothing more. And power to his elbow for doing something that he enjoyed. CERTAINLY no-one is saying it's supposed to be educational (for the children - what an insult to adults who like playing with Leg Pi's) and the creator himself says that it was only meant to be fun and that it will be torn down (or "recycled" if you prefer) to another project later.

However, so far as ease is concerned - and being impressed. The referenced article does point out that all the parts are Off-the-shelf, hence the LEGO analogy. However that GUI looks a bit handy, I might just use that code myself, when it comes out.

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Facebook preps ad network to TARGET YOU WHERE YOU LIVE

Pete 2
Silver badge

Selling to the sellers

> expand into location-based mobile advertising

An advertisement is an advertisement. Most people have seen enough of them (or soon will have) to become totally immune to their powers. Either that, or the more impulsive and impressionable people who will forever be influenced by them will go broke.

Either way, the point of new advertising technology is not to sell more stuff to the consumer: we either ignore them, block them or would buy whether the ad. appeared on a mobile phone screen or on a billboard. No, the point of wizzy new technology is to convince those people who want to advertise their products to buy advertising space. That's the only real sale (as anyone who's watched Mad Men will surely have worked out) that ever takes place in the advertising world.

So add adverts to apps. Add location awareness, with local discounts, "today only" offers, e-vouchers, wowchers, "likes", groupons and all the other stuff. It makes no difference - I'll still ignore them. If I want something, I'll still search for the best price and most trustworthy vendor: not for whatever pops up on my screen as I walk past a coffee shop. If vendors want to spend their money, it would be better spent on improving the product and lowering the price.

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Brain surgery? Would sir care for a CHOC-ICE with that?

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Wot IT shortage?

What I was hoping to convey was that any shortfall in the number of staff that management feel they require can easily be mitigated, to some extent at least, by better leadership and a clear vision of what they are wanting to achieve. Which would lead to greater efficiencies: including less techy-time taken up with non-technical issues - ones that are dumped on techies but that don't require their specialist (and we are told: scarce) skills.

Also that given a management layer with better technical skills and organising abilities, there would be less workplace stress, less wasted effort and that everyone would be a lot happier. There is a saying:

There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it again

which seems to summarise the waste and poor leadership that IT (and other technical careers) seem to suffer from.

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Pete 2
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Wot IT shortage?

So why is it then, that every time we advertise a vacancy there are dozens of applicants?

Sure, some of them can't even submit a CV without it containing disqualifyingly egregious style, grammar and spelling errors [like that last phrase ]. And some appear to have just listed whatever buzzwords Google threw up when they searched for the published job description.

However, there are *still* more qualified applicants than can practically be interviewed in any reasonable amount of time (esp. when you have a proper job, with its own deadlines and targets to juggle)

So, I call bullshit on this IT shortage. What there does appear to be is a shortage of talent that is able to understand technical issues their teams need to solve, that has little clue how to organise and marshall its resources and has no idea whatsoever what it they actually want to achieve from their IT departments. Fix those management issues and a lot of the workplace stress would simply evaporate. Hell, they might even be able to hang on to the IT talent - instead of it (us?) forever seeking employers who don't make headless chickens look like Mastermind contestants.

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List prices mean zilch. Remember that when buying from upstarts

Pete 2
Silver badge

Dance together, but don't get Tango'd

> Array lifespans of four to five years seems to be the minimum

The key thing about storage is to not buy too much. That's where a partnership can be helpful.

Few companies will have small or zero growth requirements. They will know that their organic data growth will be X% per year. They will also know that the price of storage is ever-decreasing. That both gives them leverage and puts them in a spot.

On the one hand, it permits a buyer to dangle the carrot of long-term sales in front of a storage vendor: knowing that they will need a certain number of TB every year can be as attention-focussing as having their nuts in your fist. However being beholden to a single supplier for upgrades over a 2, 3 or 4 year term can lead them to (mistakenly) think it's they who have you by the short'n'curlies. And extricating yourself from what seemed like a good deal, when it all goes sour, can be an expensive and career damaging chore.

There is also a danger from dealing with the "Upstarts": those storage outfits who have been going a few years, but haven't joined the hallowed ranks of the "established" vendors. Apart from the obvious: them feeling the heat if the market turns nasty, there is also a big question of how they will support customers who are not in their mainstream marketing area. Will a U.S. based Upstart be ready, willing and able to provide excellent service to an EMEA-based organistion: or will you find yourself subcontracted out to the lowest, local, bidder? And at the back of the queue where feature requests and bug-fixes are concerned? There's also a consideration that a lot of Upstart's "growth" strategy can be summed up as: race for growth and sell out at the top. In which case you find your storage strategy has quickly become a dead-end business for one of the major players - who only bought the Upstart to get their customer base, or their tech. You will have gone from being a profitable fish in a smallish pond to being an annoying sideline in a sea of enterprise players.

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DeSENSORtised: Why the 'Internet of Things' will FAIL without IPv6

Pete 2
Silver badge

A solution looking for a problem

> There's always NAT, of course, to keep IPv4 alive, but we're told that's rather 20th century:

IPv4 has one enormous advantage over IPv6: it's here already.

The v4 vs. v6 situation strikes me as similar to 3D-TV. Yes, it might well be better, but the old system is good enough. There are a few early adopters who have, well, adopted it early - but there doesn't seem to be much interest in the other 99.99% of the world tossing their perfectly good, functional, tried and tested systems merely on the say-so of a few "leaders".

NAT was brought in as a workaround for the impending filling up of IPv4 space and it's been very good as a workaround or that problem (much as Intel's arcane x86 architecture allowed them to back 16-bit addresses into an 8-bit world. It wasn't as pretty as the 68k linear space, but it worked well enough.) . And as far as the IoT is concerned I would be quite happy if my personal IoT was contained fully within a NAT'd environment - with little or no external "discovery" possible: or that *my* IoT be accessible only through a protocol gateway that was under my personal control: much like a router's firewall is, today.

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Bank of England seeks 'HACKERS' to defend vaults against e-thieves

Pete 2
Silver badge

I hope they're not *too* good

> the Bank of England's “ethical hackers” will attack 20 major banks and other financial institutions

One of the things that old consultants tell young consultants is:

Teach them everything they know, but not everything you know.

So one should not be surprised if the "ethical hackers" don't hold back one or two of the juicier holes as a sort of pension plan. Maybe the plan needs some extra-ethical hackers (one's who've already made their pile) to watch over the merely "ordinarily" ethical hackers?

Oh, and don't have the penetration testers stationed too close to any international airports.

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95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Top Floors

> the top floors will be a bar or a restaurant ...

Given the speed of this lift (one assumes it goes down as fast as it goes up), then I think I'd pass on the prospect of taking the elevator down, after a meal. Just in case my lunch wasn't traveling quite as fast as the rest of me.

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Tooled-up Ryobi girl takes nine-inch grinder to Asus beach babe

Pete 2
Silver badge

How many of those to the pound?

Not a bad price, but why does the Amazon advertisement specify the price per kilo, too?

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'Maybe I'll go to Hell, but I think it's a good thing' says plastic Liberator gunsmith Cody Wilson

Pete 2
Silver badge

A better alternative

> The western world slowly has become less violent in everyday life, and that is because the ability to destroy your neighbour due to rage or stupidity or drunkenness or greed has been curtailed

I would suggest that the reason for less violent crime as "civilsation" improves is that people now have more alternatives for redress (and due to better laws and better enforcement, less need to "do it yourself"). In past times if you had a quarrel with someone there wasn't much you could do about it without it getting violent. You could possibly appeal to a higher authority - if one could be found who was neither biased nor easily bought: by either side. However, that would have been a time-consuming, costly and unreliable activity, as pretty much anything would come down to one person's word against another.

The reason that people neither want, nor need to "defend" themselves: either from baddies or from injustice is that hundreds of years of effort (not all of it good, it must be said - and with no suggestion that we've reached the ideal position yet) has produced a justice system that most people have confidence in. Further, most people are also reasonably sure that if they transgress, they will be caught.¹

It seems to me that Cody Wilson is preaching to his particular choir here. There is always a proportion (larger in some countries, smaller in others) of the populace who are socially disconnected, terminally paranoid (man!), feel both powerless and threatened and/or are permanently afraid of whatever mostly imaginary evils their national media report fixate on, sensationalise and hugely over-exaggerate the incidence of. In the USA this appears to be guns and gun-related crime: as so many people have guns, it feeds on itself. Hence in America, it is easy to exploit the fear and promote guns as being both necessary and "liberating".

It's my experience of westen europe that we don't have these basic fears of violence and armed threats and have much more faith in our system of laws and detection/enforcement. I would therefore expect that "gun nuts" [ to use a not entirely inaccurate term ] would have a difficult time gaining traction over here - and I sincerely hope that they fail.

[1] although it's interesting to note that law-abiding individuals have been shown to over-estimate their chances of being caught, if they do something bad. Whereas "crims" or people who are likely to become criminals have a much more optimistic view: that the chances of getting nicked is very low. Both sides are wrong.

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Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...

Pete 2
Silver badge

The narcissism of small differences

> If such tiny UI refinements don't impress you ...

What does impress me, when I see it, are new features: things that I wanted to do in Version 1.0 that are now possible in Version 2.0. If they are things that I didn't even know I wanted to do (until I tried it), then that is a true improvement: real innovation.

But so far as Ubuntu goes, as a full-time user since version 8, I'm still waiting. Though to be fair, I'd probably say the same about any other O/S release, including OS/X or Windows. That WinXP still has such a large user-base would indicate that there are millions of other people who regard an O/S in the same way: unless there is a new killer app or feature, why change?

But so far as GUI design is concerned, the best thing it can be, is (like a good butler) completely invisible, yet indispensable at the same time. It should "know" what I am going to want and have it ready for me - with the minimum of fuss, time and keyclicks or mouse movement. Anything that comes between me and what I want to achieve is unwelcome.

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Is tech the preserve of the young able-bodied? Let's talk over a fine dinner and claret

Pete 2
Silver badge

You can sell anything to the young

> Nobody makes things that bad by accident, surely

They don't (it takes years of practice). However, if you make something truly bad, then you can still rely on the young, callow and stupid (meant in the nicest possible way, of course: let's call it trusting, open-minded and willing instead) to queue for hours to buy it. Provided of course you pitch it as being the latest thing that all their friends will have. Be the first on your street ... etc. etc.

For oldies however, it's a much harder sell. They (we?) tend to ask difficult questions, such as "yes, but what does it actually do?", or (case in point the up-coming Ubuntu LTS release) "but what will I be able to do with it, that I can't do with the old one?". There's also the not insignificant point that after some years, one tends to have all the stuff, clothes, gadgets and media that's useful, decorative or beneficial, already. After that it's more a case of just replacing worn out or broken stuff.

People with life-experience tend to be a lot more skeptical about novelty. Maybe it's a once bitten thing. Maybe it's a case of the money I have, I've had to work for (rather than being given an allowance, that just drops into my pocket), so I'm more cautious about what I spend it on. Whatever the reason, it's difficult for a wet-behind-the-ears sales person to sell to someone who can ask relevant questions, often based on experience, than it is to someone who just thinks "ooooh, shiney".

What that means is that all the marketing mulah will go on persuading the persuadable to spend their cash in one direction, or another. And not on the lost cause of enticing those who carefully read reviews, weigh up the pros and cons and then go off, in search of the best deal. What use is a full-page glossy ad, or 60 seconds of Superbowl publicity to those people?

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