* Posts by Jonathan Richards 1

863 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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Crumbs. Exceedingly good cakes, meat dressing price hike in wake of the Brexit

Jonathan Richards 1
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WTF?

Mathematical inexactitude

> rises around the mid-single digit mark

That's so elliptical as to be a waste of oxygen to enunciate. If you were to conclude that Premier Foods might add somewhere between four and six pounds sterling to the price of everything, it wouldn't be contradictory.

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Like stealing data from a kid: LA school pays web scum US$28,000 ransom

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Live and learn, the hard way

V1.0 said "This is a school system - probably with a system administrator who is getting paid a pittance"

From TFA: ... the campus' 1,800 staff and 20,000 students

That's twice the size of the university I went to (admittedly a long time ago!) so there will be more than one sysadmin.

In fact, the LA Community College District named in the article comprises NINE colleges with a total enrollment in Fall 2015 of over 130,000 students [1]. The ransomware attack was at Los Angeles Valley College [2].

[1] LACCD Fast Facts

[2] LACCD Chancellor’s Statement [PDF]

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Live and learn, the hard way

> the unpalatable one becomes more desirable from the perspective of continuation of normal business activities

But paying ransom to cyber-criminals isn't a normal business activity, is it? I agree in principle with your cost-benefit analysis, but you ought to factor in (a) the extra cost of iron-clad protection against another attack, since paying up identifies you as an easy mark, (b) the time and risk involved in undertaking decryption (you'll be running software from a known bad supplier with no performance guarantees), and finally (c) the risk that the scum-bag that you pay may not give you the decryption keys anyway. Good luck requesting a refund.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Live and learn, the hard way

@Paul Crawford

+1 Informative, thank you

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Unhappy

Re: Live and learn, the hard way

> triggering when enough time has elapsed for offline data to be encrypted along with the online version

How would that work? I would expect the attack to be immediately obvious to an enterprise of this size, and the very first thing one would do is to isolate the backups and shut down the network, probably invoking the business continuity/disaster recovery plan at the same time. In the past, when we used to do backups to half-ton tape drives, the backups were 'grand-fathered'. I don't know how modern backup technologies work in this respect.

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For Fark's sake! Fark fury follows 5-week ad ban for 5-year-old story

Jonathan Richards 1
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New Year's resolution @voland's left eye

... to read the whole article before posting!?

Yes, of course Googletm is too powerful. We've often observed that folk who just use the WWW without much thought about how it all works believe that Google is the Internet.

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You have the right to be informed: Write to UK.gov, save El Reg

Jonathan Richards 1
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Enables, but does not oblige

> If the court feels the circumstances are appropriate that provision enables them to dump the defendant's costs on the plaintiff.

Aye, there's the rub. Frivolous plaintiffs could end up with a shock. To make that happen you as defendant have got to engage a lawyer good enough to convince the judge that all the circumstances mean he or she can overturn the statutory award of damages. It's three levels down in the error-trapping code, and certainly not as good a protection as "Truth === no award of costs".

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Jonathan Richards 1
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At the mercy of the court

+1

> Even if El Reg was 100% correct in what they write, they still get lumbered with the bill.

There's a bit of nuance to this, as other people have mentioned in these comments.

Section 40

(3) If the defendant was not a member of an approved regulator ... the court must award costs against the defendant unless satisfied that—

...

(b) it is just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case to make a different award of costs or make no award of costs. [omissions for clarity]

That's quite a high bar to cross, though; to convince the judge, in the face of inevitable opposition from the plaintiff's lawyers, to vary the statutory award because it's "just and equitable in all the circumstances" [emphasis added].

This is where the law isn't like a program. There's very little IF ... THEN ... ELIF ... ENDIF.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Question

Hmm. The Guardian counts as major dead wood publication, I think, and they covered PRP recognition of Impress in October: Max Mosley-funded press regulator recognised as state-backed watchdog.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: "The part that says that a publisher has to pay all costs, even if they win in"

> does not come in to force until a Regulator is set up

... which happened back in October when Impress was recognised by the Press Recognition Panel.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: I want to sign but...

Attempted explanation of the dilemma faced by El Reg, though IANAL either:

Key point: there is currently no choice of "approved regulator". Only Impress has received approval, and for the reasons Gareth explains, submitting to regulation by (and paying subscription fees to) Impress is unpalatable. IPSO is the industry's response to the widespread call for a regulator to curb excesses of The Press (phone 'hacking', making stuff up, etc.) following the Leveson report, but it's not approved so membership doesn't give a publisher the protection from the Section 40 jeopardy.

Corrections/amplifications welcome.

References:

Impress recognition [guardian.com]

Impress site [impress.press]

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FBI let alleged pedo walk free rather than explain how they snared him

Jonathan Richards 1
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WTF?

Re: Not proven

> I would like to keep the world's paedos in doors wanking to pictures ...

Would you like to volunteer your own children to take part in the photoshoot for those pictures, perhaps?

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: 'We...

> Do the images protect our kids after all?

One thing is certain. Unless the images are cartoon/CGI then one or more real children have been abused and exploited to make it. Stamping out the incentive to create images like that will protect children other than mine, and that's a fine objective, right there.

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Dotdot. Who's there? Yet another IoT app layer

Jonathan Richards 1
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Domain naming opportunity

I suppose there's no chance that someone will decide to document the rush to implement this (ha!) at dotdotdash dot com, morse the pity.

That still reads better than 'colonpipepipe', though, which has unpleasant overtones of, um, irrigation...

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Twas the week before Xmas ... not a creature was stirring – except Microsoft admitting its Windows 10 upgrade pop-up went 'too far'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: M$ Long History

Version 1.0 proposed a toast:

> a big Christmas Cheer to the unsung coders

If I remember correctly, most device drivers were written by the device manufacturers, not by Microsoft. Before the internet was a useful channel for software distribution, one got a floppy disk [1] (maybe even a Compact Disc <gasp>!) with drivers thereon, bundled with the hardware device. The ISA card manufacturer (per your example) would have been on the hook for supplying and debugging device drivers, not Microsoft.

I subscribe to the sentiment re the unsung coders, though!

[1] Exhibit A: ftp://ftp.msan.hr/drivers/LAN/3COM/3C509B-tpo/README.TXT

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Peace comes to troubled embedded-Linux-for-routers community

Jonathan Richards 1
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Called it

Just sayin' :)

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Sneaky chat app Signal deploys decoy domains to deny despots

Jonathan Richards 1
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Agreed

> I think Signal underestimate how much control these places want over their populaces

Indeed. Outside the USA, not many of us use google.com. If the authorities block google.com, would users still be able to reach google.com.eg? Signal developers may have bought into the 'Google is the Internet' idea.

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Virgin America mid-flight panic after moron sets phone Wi-Fi hotspot to 'Samsung Galaxy Note 7'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Not just US

Definitely not just US. I flew a lot in South America recently, and all the regional airlines we used had announcements during boarding, telling passengers that Galaxy Note 7 devices were banned.

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Support chap's Sonic Screwdriver fixes PC as user fumes in disbelief

Jonathan Richards 1
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It really was the EM field!

Scene: 1994, office with synthetic fibre carpet and wheeled office chairs with which to sit at desks bearing computers running Windows 3.11.

If one scooted the chair across even a moderate stretch of carpet, a static charge built up which was quite painfully discharged once one touched an earthed surface. I got into the habit of discharging by touching my wedding ring to the metal desk frame, (which produced a nice fat spark but no pain!), and noticed that doing so would frequently lock up my PC. For a while we worried about the quality of the electrical earthing, but all was well there. We conclusively demonstrated that moving the keyboard a foot or so up off the desk prevented the lockups: apparently the discharge through the frame induced a voltage spike in the keyboard that was transferred to the PC (keyboards had PS/2 connectors then, not USB) and the motherboard didn't like it.

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Crim charges slapped on copyright trolls who filmed porn, torrented it then sued downloaders

Jonathan Richards 1
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Devil

Re: Not News!

> Go read Ken White's account ...

+1

Here is the link to the latest of Ken's articles, which the good Dr Syntax unaccountably failed to supply.

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Houston, we have a problem: 'App dev stole our radio station'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Facepalm

Re: one side of the story

I've come late to this thread, and the AC twerp who posted 'one side of the story' has had his post deleted by a moderator. I can piece together part of the yarn from the quotes in the replies, though. What a colossal idiot! Cue a request for web logs to El Reg from The Plod in 5, 4, 3, 2, ...

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Galileo! Galileo! Galileo! Galileo! Galileo fit to go: Europe's GPS-like network switches on

Jonathan Richards 1
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>For what purpose?

"connected services for drivers, including real-time traffic and weather reports and accident or road works warnings"

Apparently.

Source: https://www.gsa.europa.eu/newsroom/news/satellite-navigation-core-future-connected-car-systems

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Uber to Cali DMV: Back off, pal, our 'self-driving cars' aren't self driving

Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

Re: Typical Uber

> the money you're paying them isn't paying them

Prolly, it isn't money at all... which means it can't be taxable! Doubles all round!

Uber's corporate behaviour reminds me of that of a bolshy teenager, always trying to find a smartass way to get one-up on long-suffering parents.

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A single typo may have tipped US election Trump's way

Jonathan Richards 1
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Unhappy

Gut feelings === FA

Ah, but this is the post-truth world, where we are tired of experts, and irritated by facts. Expect more insane court decisions shortly!

I considered the Joke icon, but this one is more appropriate =>

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: legitimate/illegitimate

It takes a little time, but if everyone re-read what they had just written before committing the message, fewer mistakes would be made [1]. I'm a bit too far the other way in this respect: I will now click 'Preview', check for spelling mistakes, repunctuate, 'Preview' again ...

[1] ... and add footnotes. The trick in proofreading your own work is to dis-remember what it was that you *think* you have written (because that's what your brain will see, half the time). Advancing age is a great help :)

[2] repunctuate seems not to have been a real word... until now.

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Military reservist bemoans frost-bitten baby-maker on Antarctic trek

Jonathan Richards 1
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URL

Ooo! Lawyer-baiting in the URLs, is it? [icon => ]

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Top tech company's IP was looted by China, so it plans to hack back

Jonathan Richards 1
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Go

One way links

Data Diodes are a thing.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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RAND

Simon says this was run by the RAND corporation. They've been researching, and influencing policy, for sixty-odd years, so yes, I would expect the outcomes at least to be placed within easy reach of the policy-makers and executives. Whether they take any notice is somewhat up to people like the Reg readership - there won't be, for instance, a security quality star rating system, unless there's a widespread call for it.

http://www.rand.org/about/history.html

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Pirate

Ground rules re: Errr

> scrap[e] search queries for ... IP ideas

Ideas are not intellectual property. No-one can own an idea: this is not some utopian ideal, it is a settled matter of law. What you can own is a state-granted patent on an implementation of an original idea or innovation. It is crucial to note that the patent MUST disclose the idea, and the innovation, in enough detail for someone else to implement it. If what we are seeking is a better way of protecting the direction of innovative research at e.g. the hypothetical Green Tech Company, then not shoving illuminating search queries into public search engines would be a hot favourite.

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Linus Torvalds releases 'biggest ever' Linux 4.9, then saves Christmas

Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

Re: Wrong, you are...

OK, I'll bite.

One of us is wrong, and it depends on your OS which that is. I'm running a KDE/GNU/Linux machine, and if I press Alt-Ctrl-F1 I can have a CLI from which I can shut down the GUI1 and the machine continues to run. The virtual Teletype terminals are certainly not macros sitting on top of a graphical user interface.

If you're running a recent version (like later than 3.1.1) of Windows, then yes, your CLI (cmd.exe or powershell) is an emulated terminal running in your GUI. If you kill the window manager, then your CLI disappears with it.

'Macro language' is still pretty much wrong, though. The CLI doesn't automate the GUI, e.g. by simulating mouse inputs; it provides alternative commands to manipulate operating system objects like files.

1 jonathan@Odin:~$ sudo service lightdm stop

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Jonathan Richards 1
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PHBs from the 80s, In re: What's wrong with a CLI?

Eighties? I worked for PHBs in the nineteen-eighties (for certain values of 'pointy'), and none of them would have had a clue what to do if you had placed them in front of any sort of computer interface. GUIs then were rudimentary - Windows 1.0 was released in late '85. The rise of personal computing has been faster than we sometimes remember. It was the middle of the nineteen-nineties when giving computers to office workers as a productivity tool [1] became normal. I submit that the productivity value for PHBs even then was questionable: someone else has pointed out the whole secretary-prints-the-email thing (this still happens, and it's 2016!).

[1] Scientists and engineers had been using computers for computing stuff, and for information retrieval, for quite some time, of course. I'm talking about word processing and spreadsheets for administration.

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Samsung, the Angel of Death: Exploding Note 7 phones will be bricked

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: the precedent this sets if a manufacturer can

Remember the Sony Playstation update that removed much-loved OtherOS functionality?

I have to say that Samsung are in a hard spot here. Suppose they *didn't* take steps to render safe these devices, when they have a mechanism to do so. Are they then liable for increased damages? I bet you can find a lawyer who would say so.

A better change might be one that destroys the ability of a battery to hold a charge (maximum chargelevel := 1%). The phone would still work when connected to an external power supply, then. Maybe there's no way to do that with an over-the-air update.

Afterthought: you're never going to get 100% of phones turned in for refund, anyway. How many have been stolen, or dropped in the lav.?

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Latest loon for Trump's cabinet: Young-blood-loving, kidney-market advocate Jim O'Neill

Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

Market forces

If Mr Trump was in need of a kidney, he might buy one of mine... Only he can't afford it.

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HBO slaps takedown demand on 13-year-old girl's painting because it used 'Winter is coming'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Unhappy

Re: I've had a call

> my speedo pair

Aaahh, when read your first para, I thought "speedo pair" was a euphemism along the lines of "the dog's proverbials", and then I read the last four words, and cognitive dissonance + extreme sympathy resulted!

For readers unfamiliar with rhyming slang, Tea Leaf === Thief

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I was a robot and this is what I learned

Jonathan Richards 1
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Joke

To the limit... and beyond!

Then, you could make the stands virtual, too, eliminating the need for physical telepresence unit movement, and you'd have... oh! a web-site!

[Edit: I see that I was beaten to the punchline by several posters funnier than I. Ah well!]

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Take that, creationists: Boffins witness birth of new species in the lab

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Most of the creationists I know also believe in evolution!

> ... some species is "more evolved"? How is that possible if there is not a plan that is being followed?

There isn't a plan, and I don't think that respectable evolutionary biologists use loose language such as the examples you give. No organism is "the pinnacle of evolution", or whatever, except in the sense that the current generation is the end result of about three billion years of evolution from the first life form [1]. Evolutionary mechanisms don't look forward in time, and don't need to have any such direction to explain fully the diversity of life which we observe. That is what makes it a successful theory: it explains observations better than any other theory, without having to invent anything more than (i) heritable variation amongst siblings and (ii) some of those siblings reproducing more effectively than others.

[1] Possibly not the first life form. Maybe there were others, before and after, not based on DNA/RNA and twenty-odd amino acids, but those didn't survive.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Go

Re: Meh...

> non-living particles with some chemical characteristics similar to those of life

+1

Crucially, though, those chemical characteristics include DNA, and its transcription to form the proteins that constitute the phenotype of the virus (bacteriophage, in fact). This is the 'engine' that mutation and evolution work on. Because the phage needs the bacterial cell mechanisms to achieve its reproduction, the phage isn't considered alive: it can't reproduce. But clearly it can evolve: mutations in its DNA lead to different phenotypes, with different abilities to infect certain bacterial cells. Whether that is 'speciation' depends on your definition of 'species'. That way madness lies! After all, the entire concept of 'species' was made up when species were considered to be immutable.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Before they are convinced

I think not. Approximately 9 nano-seconds after the tadpole metamorphoses into a (probably tiny) giraffe, someone will opine that the frog was designed by the Creator to become a giraffe at the appropriate time, and that evolution doesn't come into it. Word-of-the-Year 2016 refers, depressingly.

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The UK's Investigatory Powers Act allows the State to tell lies in court

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: As we slowly

Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, perhaps?

There is a handful of El Reg stories featuring him.

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US election pollsters weren't (very) wrong – statistically speaking

Jonathan Richards 1
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FAIL

What is polling *for*?

When the media are in a feeding frenzy for poll results, it seems to me that the motivation is just wanting to know the news before it happens. Even for the campaigns themselves, it doesn't seem to have a real democratic (lower case) benefit. Swinging the vote your way particularly in places where it will get you a parliamentary-seat-benefit, or an electoral-college-vote benefit, is not democratic, or at least not as democratic as making your case clearly, stating your policies lucidly, and communicating with all the voters in all the constituencies. I agree with an earlier poster: the days of polls being able to produce convincing results is over, and I shall not be sorry to see and hear fewer of them in future (supposing that to be likely).

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Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Considering it's such a tiny amount

> Why is it so tricky to change?

Because it's introduced way back up the supply chain. Bank of England buys the plastic unprinted web from Innovia, Innovia buys the base plastics from one or more polymer producers, one or more polymer producers use or produce plastic pellets which are kept free-flowing by trace amounts of tallow.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Is there a petition to insist that we DON'T change the new £5 note?

I just signed up at the beerfuelled petition.

C'mon guys! There's over 200 comments on this El Reg story, and only fifty-odd signups, so far!

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

Re: Not much of a chemist then?

> could be other factors

Tallow is almost exclusively saturated fat, so it won't oxidise and become adhesive as partially unsaturated vegetable oils will - for an experiment, try treating your cricket bat with tallow, and compare with the traditional linseed oil! I'm thinking that the tiny quantities of tallow involved must be about ensuring the free-flow characteristics of the base polymer pellets. In a similar way, SmartiesTM are polished with a waxy substance to stop the sugar coatings from sticking together.

A little trivial research seems to indicate that tallow is cleaved to produce materials for soap manufacture in quite large quantities: washing one's hands is likely to generate much more contact with molecules that were once part of a cow than is handling a new fiver.

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Europol cop took terror dossier home, flashed it to the web accidentally

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Hit the Share' button by accident?

> Still can't see how he managed to 'accidentally' upload 700 pages...

I ran the linked Dutch article through Google translate: apparently the documents were copied to an Iomega network-attached storage device, without password protection.

she made a backup of documents on a private Iomega network drive, a hard drive that was connected to the Internet without a password

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

Re "this unlucky person"

Also, from TFA

> If organisations like Europol ... can make mistakes,

and

> Human error is the weakest link

There's no luck involved in this idiocy. It's not a mistake to take home a stickful of security protected documents, it's doubly not a mistake to copy them to a personal storage disk, and it's triply not a mistake to expose that on the internet. The first step is probably criminal, and the second and third are just reckless. Edward Snowden faces a lifetime of exile for just exposing classified methods of intelligence collection; this clown is termed "unlucky" for exposing actual intelligence in contravention of policy. Policy isn't made for arse-covering, it's meant to lead to processes and rules which make stupid behaviour like this extinct.

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UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

Jonathan Richards 1
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Mushroom

Points from a briefing

I'm fresh from a briefing about Smart Meters, and I brought away two important points:

(i) whatever they tell you, smart meters are not compulsory. You may decline to schedule a change of meter, or indeed change your mind about declining it, as you wish.

(ii) the "first generation" of meters, or the backend connectivity (it wasn't clear) won't talk to suppliers other than the one that installed it for you. I wish I'd known this prior to having EON install a SM, and then switching to British Gas for a cheaper tariff a couple of months later. Now the in-house display doesn't work as it did, and I'm back to reading the meter for BG. Waiting until the system works across all suppliers seems to be a good idea, but of course the suppliers won't tell you that: they have SM installation targets to meet.

(iii) THREE! Three important points!! The installers are forbidden by a strict Code of Practice from selling anything else during the installation visit. They can give you marketing information, but they can't transact a sale. They will, however, inspect your gas boiler, and if it's unsafe they can condemn it, and turn it off. However, you wouldn't want to go on using an unsafe boiler, would you? [icon]

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Internet Archive preps Canadian safe haven to swerve Donald Trump

Jonathan Richards 1
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How large is the Internet Archive?

According to the message on its home page, twenty-six petabytes.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Backup v. Mirror

> a full (realtime if possible) copy elsewhere ...

If your object is protection, then a real-time mirroring operation is probably not the correct strategy. After all, if some organization with hugely capable offensive IT attack capabilities were subtly to damage Copy 0, you wouldn't want that to be immediately mirrored in Copy 1. Unless there were many backups of both copies, of course. I have no idea what the resilience architecture of the Internet Archive might be, but creation of Copy 1 cannot make it worse, I think, so I've bunged them a few quid.

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100k+ petition: MPs must consider debating Snoopers' Charter again

Jonathan Richards 1
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Rain/Reign/Rein homophones

I refer the Hon. gentleman to my earlier reply (2013, blimey I didn't think my memory was that good!):

Rain - n., wet stuff that falls out of the sky. Hence vt. to rain (usu. down) upon something

Reign - vt., to rule over e.g. a kingdom or empire. Hence "a reign of terror", etc.

Rein - n., a piece of horse-harness, attached to the bit. Hence "rein in", i.e. to limit movement or freedom of action.

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Passengers ride free on SF Muni subway after ransomware infects network, demands $73k

Jonathan Richards 1
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Headmaster

Nations capitol ^W^W Nation's capital

That is all.

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