* Posts by James 100

593 posts • joined 26 Jun 2009

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MELTDOWN: Samsung, Sony not-so-smart TVs go titsup for TWO days

James 100
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Dumb setup

I was thinking how dumb this sounds - why bother with the "phone home" bit at all? Then I remembered this is exactly how iThings implement WiFi login portal detection - request some Apple URL; if that gets hijacked to a login page, display that before you regard the WiFi connection as "up". They do handle failure more gracefully, though: as I recall, if Apple's URL isn't reachable, it tells you the connection doesn't seem to have working Net access and asks if you want to connect regardless, or try another access point.

So, if Samsung fold, or samsung.com somehow gets taken over (court order, Nokia-style split between the different bits of company, etc) those "smart" TVs become permanently dumb barring a hack like this? Thanks Samsung. At least when other manufacturers fold, you just have to do without support and firmware updates, instead of having the kit brick itself!

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Net neutrality secrecy: No one knows what the FCC approved (BUT Google has a good idea)

James 100
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Comment now on the report coming later?!

This is rather bizarre - they've "approved" the rules, but can't yet publish them because they're waiting for comments on the rules they haven't yet published?!

Wouldn't it make more sense to publish the draft rule first, then collect comments, address them and approve the results, instead? It would save on royalty payments to Mr Orwell...

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FCC says cities should be free to run decent ISPs. And Republicans can't stand it

James 100
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Re: Just wondering

Either way, right now they seem to be $6m down on the deal - now, maybe that $720k will continue in future years and eventually recoup that, but that's years away.

"did it take them five years to payback the initial capital investment?"

They haven't, yet: they're still carrying a $6m hole!

I love the idea of more broadband investment in general, particularly when it breaks a monopoly, but having the government running a business at a loss leaves a nasty British Leyland taste behind. Let's hope they have a solid plan to recover the other $6m in a reasonable timescale, while also delivering a decent service to customers: that, I'd very much support.

Personally, I'd have gone after the likes of Comcast strongarming Netflix using antitrust legislation (given the obvious conflict of interest between a cable TV company also providing access to a streaming TV provider) rather than fall into "regulating" ISPs more overall.

One interesting angle, though, is Google's take: apparently being a "regulated utility" would actually benefit them, because then they'd have the right to use public rights of way for their wiring, in the same way the phone, cable and power companies do now. I wonder how the regulatory overhead might hit small ISPs though? Of course Google (and AT&T, Comcast and governments) can just go and take on another dozen lawyers/accountants to deal with it all, but might little local operators get squeezed by this?

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TalkTalk 'fesses up to MEGA data breach

James 100
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Business "service"

Having had my office moved to TTB from Sky (having been happy business customers of Be previously, until Sky took over with no clue what to do with all the business customers they'd just bought), I've found the technical side shockingly poor. All day every day, 100+ms latency spikes, packet loss up to 10% - even in the middle of the night, when everything except the router is switched off and nobody's in, burst of packet loss and crazy latency every hour or two. No chance of VoIP working properly, either.

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/ping/share/43d63f7aa936a76c5cec055cb6cd8c15-28-02-2015.html

TalkTalk's answer to this? We're using their "unlimited" "business" service "too much", perhaps we should move to a leased line: VoIP apparently doesn't work over their ADSL service, unlike everyone else's. How much usage is "too much" on an "unlimited" package? 40 Gb a month, apparently. So, we're off to a proper ISP, on their second-lowest usage tier: 200 Gb per month...

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Obama administration ENDORSES Apple Pay during Tim Cook's White House LOVE-IN

James 100
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Re: Less Than No Interest

The situation is rather different for people who aren't like you, of course; nobody is suggesting that you buy an iPhone in order to pay for things, but that those of us who do have them can use them instead of carrying and using a separate piece of plastic.

I was pretty sceptical about the touchscreen at first, but it actually works a hell of a lot better than any of the physical keypad phones I've tried so far. It's easy to have great battery life on a device with no functionality, but since my main use for my mobile is email and web access, a voice+SMS only phone would be almost completely worthless to me even if it had a year-long battery life: it doesn't do what I actually want a device for!

FWIW, it seems my usage last month consisted of 3 outgoing text messages and a single minute of voice call, probably to open the car park barrier at work; all my other usage was data. If I lost the ability to make or receive voice calls, I probably wouldn't even notice for a week or more.

Looking at the post above, I'm given a mental image of a deaf person baffled by the popularity of MP3 players...

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Help! DYING Google Helpouts YELPS out the door

James 100
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This is the first I've heard of it, too - despite being a Google Apps admin, occasional G+ user and even having an acquaintance who works for them.

For an advertising company, they certainly didn't do much advertising of it!

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'Come on, everyone – block US govt staff ogling web smut at work'

James 100
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Why just porn?

The real problem surely is that this is a waste of public resources - the computer capacity and staff time involved; is someone wasting half an hour surfing Playboy.com any worse than them wasting the same time and bandwidth on Facebook, eBay, or YouTube?

(Conversely, I'd say personal use in breaks should be allowed: if someone's allowed to go outside to smoke, why not let them stay inside to surf the web instead?)

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TalkTalk boasts of fourplay-loving customers, extreme growth

James 100
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Well, my office TalkTalk line's unusably poor; their excuse is that 40 Gb per month, on an "unlimited" business package, is so high their network can't cope. (Not my choice, needless to say.) Suspiciously cheap - but bad enough the MD's finally considering coughing up the hefty early termination fee to get a proper ISP even before the contract is up.

For mobile, they're just resellers, so presumably it's all up to the real network doing the work - but for broadband? Hopeless.

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UK's landmark mobile not-spot deal already falling apart

James 100
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Re: I could never understand..

We're almost half way to that anyway, between Vodafone-O2's "Cornerstone" and EE-Three's MBNL.

I'd be happy to see Cornerstone and MBNL pooling resources to cover more remote areas - though of course, with one part of MBNL buying part of Cornerstone, things could be messy for a while now.

I would be wary of too much consolidation, though: having watched the coverage of different networks, it's largely the case that a gap in one network matches a gap in the others anyway. Most of the exceptions seem to be where a network is having technical problems (dead backhaul, failed cell kit, congestion): if that equipment were shared across networks, that would mean (a) more customers affected and (b) no ability to bypass the problem by switching networks, as dual-SIM handsets and roaming SIMs can do right now.

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FORCE Apple to support BlackBerry hardware, demands John Chen

James 100
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Call his bluff

OK ... let's start by applying his demands to his own software first. Order him to release BBM for BeOS and OS/2 on PowerPC for starters. That North Korean Linux distro, too, of course.

Like a comment above, I could understand requiring open protocols for these services, in the same way MS were forced to open up some of their APIs and file formats and the big cable and telephone companies have to follow standards and interconnect nicely - but his demands are just crazy. Not to mention, of course, the exact opposite of what his company did until long after it had any market power - hypocrisy anyone?

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Let's be clear, everyone: DON'T BLOCK Wi-Fi, DUH – FCC official ruling

James 100
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Re: Wait a minute!

The facility to mount a DoS attack on the other access point really doesn't help at all, unless you think Pete who "isn't terribly bright" is going to go hunting for and attacking "rogue" access points just in case. Indeed, it's more likely to be the attacker who employs a deauth DoS, to render Pete's own AP useless and push victims towards his trap: are you still so sure the standards body shouldn't have fixed this vulnerability?

You've also missed the point that there is no such thing as a "rogue" access point: you have a right to set up an AP. So do I. We're both prohibited from jamming each other, whether by deauth or any other form of DoS. Ownership of the building does not confer any rights over the radio waves: those are governed by the FCC. (For that matter, of course, Pete's own AP may be compromised, either because Pete is a closet black-hat type, or because he'd left his admin password set to "admin" and someone else now controls it - which is why you should make sure to encrypt all your traffic whether it's the hotel's own wifi network or any other.)

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James 100
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"my worry is that this ruling by the FCC could be stretched to impede my ability to use deauth to keep students from setting up their own little SoHo wireless routers"

That isn't a "stretch" at all - what you are apparently doing is flat out illegal. You are the administrator of *your* network, and you have precisely as much authority to interfere with communications on *their* wireless network as they do to go changing your routers' IP addresses: none at all, with legal penalties if caught. You are mounting a DoS attack on equipment you neither own nor have authority over: how could you ever think that was either legal or moral?

In short: those radio waves are *public*, and everyone else has just as much right to use it as you do - including the right to be free from you interfering with it. It's the FCC's job to stop people like you obstructing that.

(Fortunately, the latest revision of the 802.11 family removes your ability to do this anyway, requiring deauth packets to be signed by the network you're trying to interfere with - so as soon as the drivers and access points are updated accordingly, your DoS attack becomes futile anyway.)

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BT bemoans 'misconceived' SUPERFAST broadband regs

James 100
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Re: This sort of crap

"Why would you invest in new network expansion when you then have to allow your own competitors to undercut you using the cables you just installed?"

You're still selling those customers a service, and making a profit on it, either way - you just might have to sell through a middleman for some of them, instead of being able to force them all to buy directly.

Personally, I'd prefer Openreach to be a genuinely separate company, with proper independent accounting - which, after all, is what BT claim their structure already delivers, so they have nothing to complain about there.

Right now, BT are offering an FTTC package for £7.50 per month. The wholesale price for the connection between your home and the exchange alone is £8.28 per month. So, do you think the bandwidth from the exchange to the Internet, plus authentication, DNS etc genuinely costs them less than minus a pound per month, or are they abusing the monopoly to undercut their rivals? (Oh, they include their BT Sport TV channel for that negative amount per month too...)

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Not app-y with VAT: Apple bumps up prices in Blighty, Europe, Canada

James 100
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"Apps aren't a globally-tradable commodity like oil"

Why not? You're selling to a single distributor; I really don't like the idea of charging extra to people in one region than another like that.

Now, if you developed, say, an English-language recipe app and sell it for $5, then invest in translating it into French, I could understand you charging $8 - it's probably a smaller market, and you've incurred extra expenses - but why charge your distributor more for stock they ship to the US than for stock they ship to Australia, or vice versa?

If there's a real difference, you could sell both "Recipe App UK" at $8 equivalent and "Recipe App US/Canada" at $9 - but I'd view that as gouging if there isn't a real distinction in your costs between the two. I'm disappointed in Google enabling that sort of behaviour, personally.

I agree it's a bit dodgy that Apple gave so little notice of the new pricing points, though; posting the figures a week in advance would have been much fairer all round.

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Tesla S P85+: Smiling all the way to the next charging point

James 100
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Re: Five adults AND two children?

"or do you just throw the children into the boot?"

Yes, there are two rear-facing seats which can go in the boot area as a factory-fit option, on top of the regular 5 seats. There's something a bit disconcerting about putting kids in the boot, but the photo I saw looked OK for smaller kids.

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Your data: Stolen through PIXELS

James 100
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"Wouldn't monitor physical disconnect and reconnect events be traceable?"

Probably not distinguishable from "monitor turned off ... monitor turned on again", which probably happens quite frequently and shouldn't trip any alarms.

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UK national mobile roaming: A stupid idea that'll never work

James 100
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"First - wouldn't this be more efficient for an interim aggregator to automate this into producing a multi-SIM PAYG? Then, this wouldn't require government pushing, and it wouldn't require industry-wide agreement."

AAISP already did exactly that, except not quite PAYG - you pay £2 or so per month, plus usage. You can use O2, EE or Vodafone (Three should be an option too, although apparently that doesn't work right now), either by forcing carrier selection in the iPhone menu, or letting it pick automatically. O2 happens to be cheapest (right now) - but if I happen to stray out of their coverage, I can fall back on EE instead. In practice, of course, anywhere O2 lacks coverage, I'm usually out of range of the others too, unless it's just mast maintenance or whatever...

Yes, Apple have a multi-carrier SIM for iPads now in the US, so you can just pick one carrier for this month (maybe a cheap low-usage plan), then change it to another one next month (maybe a bit faster, because you expect to use it heavily) if it suits you better; I suspect actual roaming would be a small step on from that, so you could use, say, Verizon's nice fast service most of the time, then PAYG fill-in from T-Mobile in a gap in Verizon's coverage, or Bell Canada if you stray across the border.

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FCC bigwig grills Netflix: If internet fast lanes are so bad, why did YOU build them?

James 100
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Picking your battles

Short version: "Why are you paying protection money, while also wanting the authorities to clamp down on protection rackets?" Put like that, I hope the FCC can grasp the situation better. Of course Netflix are paying right now, because they want to stay in business. Of course they want that fixed.

(Yes, for big ISPs Netflix are trying to mimic the Akamai structure of colocated edge nodes, as well as offering free peering - nothing wrong with that, IMO; I suppose a small charge by the ISP might be justifiable, although the savings they make in transit costs should justify giving it free anyway.)

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Mobe not-spots 'landmark deal'? We ain't thick, Javid

James 100
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"But a big negative for the current providers. It's now easier for some upstart to move into the market as they don't need to build a full network all at once."

Not really: first, we have plenty of upstart operators with no network at all, some even owned in whole or part by the main networks themselves (Giffgaff by O2, Tesco Mobile part-owned by O2). Second, that roaming has been an option for years: because of their "significant market power", both O2 and Vodafone were already required to provide roaming services to the other operators if asked. When Three were getting started, though, they contracted with both Orange and T-Mobile for this instead.

So, all five (now four) operators have already either been required or have chosen to participate in similar arrangements for years - it just hasn't been much use.

I happen to have a SIM card which is already capable of domestic roaming (I can choose whether to use O2, Vodafone or EE - Three should also be an option, but apparently doesn't work right now) - but it turns out (perhaps thanks to O2 and Vodafone having merged network operations under "Cornerstone" anyway) that in almost every single case I've had a poor signal from one network, it's been much the same from the others anyway.

TL;DR: Government making a big fuss about "forcing" the networks to offer stuff that was already available anyway and actually offers negligible benefits. Rather like Perry's efforts to ram filtering down everyone's throats...

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Virgin Media CUTS OFF weekend 'net surfers after embarrassing smut-filtering snafu

James 100
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Re: I'm not with stupid

The difference is, Openreach don't even see inside your packets - just like in the dialup era, there's just a data flow between you and your ISP's access routers. Openreach don't even have the *ability* to filter your traffic on that level, let alone a system that could do that accidentally!

It's a shame. If they put their minds to it, Virgin could offer a decent service - instead, they waste money importing a censorship system from China (paid for by all their customers, opted out or not), spam customers to arm-twist them into using it to placate Nanny Perry - then force it on everyone by mistake anyway.

(I'd been a customer of theirs - and before the merger, Telewest too; there was a time when they actually had an edge. Now, they just claim silly peak throughput their choked-up backbone can never deliver, even when it isn't falling over entirely.)

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Apple fanbois are 'MENTALLY UNSTABLE' but you still have to 'SERVICE' them

James 100
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Short termism?

"we are sprinting a marathon right now"

So ... they'll put on an impressive burst early on, then run out and be overtaken by everyone else by the halfway mark? Probably not what she had in mind - though come to think of it, probably all too accurate for the tale of the iPhone and its Android competitors...

Rather than being "serviced", though, how about replacing all those faulty MacBook Pro batteries and chargers? (My first Magsafe cable caught fire back before I had an Apple Store within travelling distance; later, they fobbed me off with a dead Magsafe plug with the "stuck pin" problem as being "damage" and therefore somehow excluded. Their cables seem to have a particularly shoddy build quality, made all the more ironic with their crusade to stamp out alternatives.)

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UK superfast broadband? Not in my backyard – MP

James 100
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Re: He cited a computer programmer who had reported that it took three days to download a program

To be fair, he also notes places with performance below 2 Mbps (i.e. 900 Mbyte/hr) - on which a 50 Gbyte download (enormous, but I seem to recall that's the size of one of the recent game releases on Steam?) would indeed take well over two days running flat out. I've downloaded a few things lately (Adobe Creative Cloud, Windows 10 beta, OS X Yosemite) each of which were well into multiple Gb - meaning they'd each max those poor sods' connections out for many hours instead of the minutes it took for me.

To be fair, I'm actually quite impressed with BT's FTTC rollout overall. Of course I'd like universal FTTP, but FTTC's a good stepping stone (it puts a fibre node within a few hundred metres of everywhere with FTTC, giving much better service than ADSL without the cost and long wait of individual fibre pulls). Apparently BT are willing to do FTTP on new developments, but builders aren't cooperating much so far since they don't get paid for it directly; maybe that'll change once they see enough demand from house buyers.

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'National roaming' law: Stubborn UK operators to be FORCED to share

James 100
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Re: EU roaming rates cap

Too late: several already offer UK roaming SIMs which can switch between networks for better coverage; my current ISP, Andrews & Arnold, offers them now. (2p/min when you're on O2, 10p/min if you roam to one of the other networks.) I think a few other companies do as well, though can't remember names off-hand.

For that matter, Three had an arrangement to use T-Mobile and Orange to fill gaps in their coverage, although they've cut back on that after expanding their own network; now that EE and Three have combined their networks as MBNL, that probably isn't needed anyway.

With EE and Three merging their networks as MBNL, while Vodafone and O2 pool theirs under a project name of "Cornerstone", will this really offer significant benefits anyway? A dual-SIM handset would give you access to both sets of base stations anyway!

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Yahoo! Timestamps! Now! Block! Facebook! Email! Snoops!

James 100
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Hotmail...

Years ago, I set up a new Hotmail account using my initials for a username. It turned out the previous user of that address had been using it on ... lesbian dating sites. The mail tailed off after a while though.

I still have a Yahoo account, but never use it for anything except contacting the two friends who use Yahoo Messenger for IM purposes. The email client causes me enough headaches just from my mother's insistence on using it ("How do I forward attachments?" etc, when they randomly shuffle UI components and break functionality every other week...)

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Google’s dot-com forget-me-not bomb: EU court still aiming at giant

James 100
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Re: I still don't understand this

That's the insanity of it: having admitted that the information in question is correct and legitimate, so it would be wrong to demand that it be removed, they concoct the absurd compromise that somehow, censoring true and accurate search results pointing to that information instead is a better outcome.

If there were a legitimate case for removing the information from the Internet, that would be another matter entirely: the page gets removed, Google's index then automatically deletes that entry shortly afterwards, end of problem. It's the judicial absurdity of "the information's legitimate, so it can stay online, but we'll force third parties to make it slightly more difficult to find" that bugs me: demanding that Google and others return less accurate search results to suit their whim.

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BT: Consumers and cost cutting save the day

James 100
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Re: Praising BT does feel wrong somehow but

Mine went a step further - after the sixth visit, the fault was finally tracked to a bad bit of BT backbone 60 miles away after escalating from Openreach to TSOps. I know there are very, very few ISPs who are willing or indeed able to chase and escalate faults that far, but AAISP just don't give up on faults, whatever it takes - even, in this case, escalating all the way to Adastral Park and arguing publicly with BT about fault thresholds and handling. (BT denied there was a fault, but did eventually fix it: rather inconsistent, but the right outcome in the end!)

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Netflix and other OTT giants use 'net neutrality' rules to clobber EU rivals

James 100
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Re: Great plays on at my local theatre at the moment

Exactly.

I pay my ISP for my bandwidth, including transit to/from LINX. Netflix pays for its own bandwidth to/from LINX too. They split the costs of LINX between themselves and all the other members. (Neither LINX nor my ISP has any ratio requirement for peering: LINX applies a surcharge if your ports exceed 80% of capacity, that's all.)

Of course, it doesn't help when ISPs offer "unlimited" connections with very high peak speeds but no way of delivering heavy usage at those prices - but letting them try to squeeze money out of the sites their customers visit is the wrong solution to that.

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ICO to fine UNBIDDEN MARKETEERS who cause 'ANXIETY'

James 100
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Statutory penalty/damages, or strike off the directors

I'd love to see a short-code we can dial after receiving nuisance calls, anonymous or otherwise (even "anonymous" calls are still known to the network, it's just hidden from ordinary users). Trivial for the telcos to identify the worst offenders for ICO, who could then hit them with 6 or 7 figure fines each time - and, more importantly, disconnect the company from the telephone network and Internet. Re-offend, the company should be dissolved with all assets forfeit.

Time to ban companies from using 141 or equivalent, too - that prefix should only be permitted on residential lines/accounts, not business. I'm not at all convinced of the merits of allowing individuals to make anonymous phonecalls, particularly at no extra charge - for commercial purposes, there's really no excuse at all.

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An 'embed' link isn't a new infringement, says EU Court of Justice

James 100
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Re: Confused

"Sites that specifically aim to publish torrent links to copyrighted material may be, depending on where you are."

This ruling would seem to change that, at least for the EU, though - since hosting a collection of links *isn't* infringing activity by this ruling (and the precedent they cited about linking), it should be a lot harder to justify going after them and demanding that third parties censor access to them.

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We chat to CloudFlare about its 'EVERYBODY GETS SSL' venture

James 100
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I like their advocacy of and support for IPv6 and SSL - I just wish they were less spam-friendly (as noted in two comments here already) and didn't insist on taking over your DNS hosting to provide their CDN service unless you upgrade to the $200/month plan.

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Wanna hop carriers with your iPad's Apple SIM? AVOID AT&T

James 100
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Roaming?

"the only UK carrier that has signed on to support them (so far) is EE, rendering the question of carrier lock-in moot."

Only if (a) the other 3 carriers don't join later, and (b) you never travel outside the UK enough to want to switch to a local provider!

That seemed to me to be the biggest selling point: use it in the UK on EE, go to the US for a few weeks and you just select an AT&T or Sprint plan to keep online: no more roaming fees, just pay the same price the locals do for that month.

My UK ISP already does SIMs which allow switching between O2, Vodafone and EE to get the best signal, though I haven't tried it yet - nice to see Apple taking this a step further, just a shame AT&T seem to have sabotaged it.

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Hey small biz: You know what you need? A tape library – Overland

James 100
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Yep - I took over support for a small business which had a backup system consisting of an external USB HDD with nightly full Windows NT Backup backups going back a week. That was it:7 big files. Of course, as soon as the server filled up beyond 1/7th of that drive's capacity, the backups stopped working...

(Almost no budget for new anything, so I switched it to a weekly full backup and nightly incrementals to keep it going, then backed it up over the Net to a server of my own just in case.)

Of course, a library of 60 tapes would be massive overkill as an upgrade from "one external USB drive", but there's definitely still a place for tape!

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US government fines Intel's Wind River over crypto exports

James 100
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Re: I cant believe it.

I demonstrated exactly that on a simulated CPU at a security conference earlier this year - a plain old Intel CPU with AES-NI ... and an FDIV instruction which just happened to leak the crypto keys when you divided a particular pair of numbers. It didn't even need closed source software to do the sneaking: a few lines of Javascript did the trick.

(The harder question is "how do we guarantee the real CPU isn't doing this too?" - and it really is a hard question.)

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AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC

James 100
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Re: X Windows dumb client for the modern age

That is pretty much "dumb terminal/X terminal" updated for the intervening decades of progress, isn't it? I understand it, and I do like the idea - so yes, the encryption is new, the graphics are much fancier and you get USB support, but which of those isn't an obvious feature of "modern version of X terminal"?

The centralisation has big advantages, and disadvantages too. That big powerful central box is cheaper to administer and secure than lots of little machines, but expensive to buy. For bursty loads like typical office (or indeed developer) work I imagine it could be a great advantage: you get the full attention of a handful of Xeon cores to compile or load your code, with all the applications already cached in RAM.

(I still remember when the more clued-in geeks at work would fire up Netscape Navigator on the big shared Sun box over X, because it was faster than cranking it to life on the diskless 486 Win3.1 machines we used at the time ... ah, nostalgia!)

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Keep a beady eye on your business's cloud service shopping

James 100
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Shadow IT - symptom of poor internal IT

Having been on both sides now, I sympathise with both to some extent. I've seen Ethernet bodged in on the cheap by an electrician (coax in those days, and it didn't take kindly to getting stapled to the wall), departments balking at a tenner a month for their department's server to be included in the tape robot's nightly to-do list (then getting billed £500 for my time scraping the data off said server when it died suddenly with no backups) ... and I've been on the outside, seeing my department quoted thousands for a few hundred extra Gb of disk, thousands more for the use of an existing GbE port on an existing switch, a hundred a year to register a .uk domain.

TL;DR: In-house service provision should at least keep pace with what online services can offer the general public - and stop client departments ending up buying third-rate junk, too.

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Sky's tech bets pay off: Pay TV firm unveils blazing growth for Q1

James 100
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Wholesale?

"Just over 11.5 million of those are retail customers, and just over 4 million wholesale."

Presumably those are Virgin Media people buying their TV channels via cable? I was baffled by Sky buying up Be, only to kill off their wholesale offering entirely - it seems they just migrated the retail customers over to Sky's existing LLU network, then pulled the plug on the one they'd just bought: buying a whole company, only to throw away both their infrastructure and a whole class of customer. (Also messing Be's retail business customers around badly, refusing to provide VAT receipts, changing IP addresses...)

The "cord cutting" offering might be interesting: I can imagine light TV users like myself going online timeshift-only for the few programmes we actually watch - and no more TV Licence.

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'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan

James 100
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Physics fails

Yes, the absurd physics anomalies involved grated on me when I watched - from the mysterious gain in mass before hatching, to the idea of the new hatchling immediately laying an egg the same size and mass it had been previously - but then, it is a series about a time travelling police phone box. If you can get past that every single episode, is the "moon-egg" really such a big barrier?

Lousy episode, though, and rather too close to "Waters of Mars" (which also violated the conservation of matter, with spontaneously created water in large quantities).

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Marriott fined $600k for deliberate JAMMING of guests' Wi-Fi hotspots

James 100
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A small step in the right direction

Now, can we please see the de-auth loophole closed so any old idiot can't disable wifi networks, and shut down all the firms selling these DoS tools?

My old university (in the UK) pulled the same stunt on anything within range; perhaps a few more six figure fines in the news will stop this being mistaken for acceptable.

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EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report

James 100
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Re: Jurisdiction shopping

"It becomes a race to the bottom as undercutting what the "other guys" charge is worth it if you can get enough extra to make up what you lose from who you already have."

That doesn't sound like a bad thing, or any different from other areas of competition: if, say, O2 offer me a cheaper mobile tariff, I'll jump - or get Three to match it as a retentions deal. There's a limit to how low either telco will go since they don't want to take a bath on it, but the end result is that we reach a price where neither of us is getting ripped off. Not a race to "the bottom" - just a race to the best price for both sides.

Even as regular individuals it happens now to some extent, particularly on a local level with council tax levels - just as it should: we can each make our own choices about levels of tax and spending.

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Kenyan court case could sound death knell for mobile money

James 100
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"if banks stop telcos from doing mobile money"

That's the missing link in the logic: nothing here says anyone is trying to stop Safaricom's existing service, just that the banks want to get into the same game. Merely competing with them doesn't do that, unless perhaps the banks plan to run an unsustainably cheap banking service to wipe Safaricom's one out completely, then pull the plug and hope they don't come back - which would be a bit of a stretch.

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Oracle plans German DCs to soothe NSA-ruffled nerves

James 100
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I think it probably brings a bit of legal safety to European companies, though, even if it is almost baseless.

If my UK company sticks customer data on a server in the US or Canada, we're potentially in a world of legal pain for doing that. If we put it on a server in Germany, and the hosting company there goes and exports it without our consent, that's probably *their* problem rather than ours.

(Besides, a US court order against Oracle to get access to our data really isn't something we need to guard against, either legally or practically: legally, we're supposed to keep it in compatible jurisdictions and take appropriate precautions, practically, half of it's a matter of public record anyway and the other half is just something we'd like to keep away from our bigger UK competitor.)

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Netflix bullish after six-country European INVASION

James 100
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Re: signed-up for free trial in France - still feel it is bad value for money

It does vary country by country, as they buy up rights - unfortunately, because those are regional, content in one country might well not be available to another. I imagine they will sort out the House of Cards oddity soon; in the mean time, remember your Netflix subscription works wherever your Internet connection is, showing the content for that country. I'm told the Canadian content is quite good these days, though haven't tried it myself...

The library is quite good, too. I've been catching up on some old 24 episodes, it meant my mother could easily watch a couple of Robin Williams films when he died - replacement for a Sky subscription? No, but it's a decent service for the price.

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'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'

James 100
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"clear indication that the internet NEEDS to be censored"

No, just clear indication this "Rantic" bunch need to be purged. I would love the irony if 4chan ended up owning them in court for pulling this mad false-flag stunt...

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iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport

James 100
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Security so good ...

... that you can bypass it *by mistake*?! I feel so much safer knowing how likely that is to stop the likes of Al Qaeda: surely they wouldn't be so devious as to try sneaking through the unguarded door? You'll be telling me they go through the green Customs channel without declaring their bomb!

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Internet Transit price falls slowing: Telegeography

James 100
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Meanwhile, BT...

So, for just over $1 per Mbps, you can get a port in London which covers the globe, probably with a service level guarantee about packet loss and latency. Or, for £50 per Mbps, your ISP can get connected to BT's exchanges, with no such guarantees.

I wonder if these prices levelling out might signify growing demand and investment coming back? There was a huge overbuild early in the .com bubble years, with everyone rushing to lay fibre - then the bubble burst and the backbone providers could buy up lots of fibre cheaply, pushing prices down for years afterwards. (You weren't paying to lay new fibre any more, just paying to light up a spare bit of the existing stuff.) I wonder if Telegeography or similar track that aspect: are the point to point links that make up transit networks getting tighter too?

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IT crisis looming: 'What if AWS goes pop, runs out of cash?'

James 100
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Crisis?

The "banking crisis" was fear of a collapse in clearing bank services: that our salary payments would fail to transfer, we'd be unable to pay our bills and mortgages or buy food. That really would have been a crisis: headlines of "Nobody paid, direct debits all bounce, starvation and looting in the streets".

An Amazon outage? We've had those before: my company had a pair of EC2 instances in Dublin knocked offline back when they had the mysterious cascade power failure. Yes, it meant some downtime; if it had lasted more than a few hours, I could have picked up a pair of VMs from some other hosting company and restored backups to it - meaning a day's downtime for DNS caching to update. No missed mortgage payments or starving kids: "Big service provider closes suddenly, everyone moves to rivals"?

It's very hard to imagine Amazon suddenly pulling the plug, too: more likely, either they'd hike prices to sustainable levels (if current levels really aren't), or announce a planned shutdown, giving us time to move. Yes, maybe the alternatives would cost more ... where's the scary headline there? "Hosting providers hike prices, web hosting to cost more next year"? Sorry, not scared.

Apart from anything else, in the estimates of AWS revenue, are they really factoring in Amazon's own heavy use of the infrastructure for the corporate web presence? (That use probably won't show up in "revenue" since it's internal.)

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EU operators PLEAD for MERCY, may get roaming rates cut ‘reprieve’

James 100
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"Surely for the bigger providers (i.e. vodafone) this should be a non-issue as they already have networks in most countries so they are only paying themselves..."

That would be one problem with this plan: it screws smaller operators who don't have a heft pan-European footprint.

Some comments point out the *cost* of a call now is trivial. In a way, that's right - the problem is, the *price* of that call - even for one telco charging another - is not.

Supposing I had a UK mobile network. I charge a flat 2p/min for calls. (As, in fact, my current provider does.) If you roam to France, Orange charge me 10p/min; go to some small island, maybe I get charged £1/min because there's only one operator there. Now the EU demands that all of those be the same price to customers - do I charge everyone £1/min so I'm not getting ripped off any time someone visits the island? 3p/min to everyone, so UK customers have to subsidise tourists and make that island's monopoly rich?

That's the problem with the "one price" proposal: there is no single fair price to customers, when the goods in question differ in wholesale price widely! If they were to regular wholesale roaming charges, then cap the retail roaming price based on that, it would be fairer all round. Yes, calls in Croatia would cost me more than they do at home - that's because the service in question actually costs more to provide! (Of course, Three have managed to iron out the difference, for *some* countries; hopefully that will continue and spread - but it certainly isn't universal, and perhaps never will be.)

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Jesus phone RAISED from DEAD. Watch iPhone 6 get BURNED, DROWNED, SMASHED

James 100
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I had a Nexus 4 with the self-destructing back (smashed to powder by a small drop, revealing the back was made of very very thin glass rather than plastic) and I've lost two handsets to liquid damage (one washing machine incident, one coffee spill that got into the wrong place), so I'm delighted to see things like the Galaxy S5 on the market with decent resilience and water resistance.

Living in Scotland, just going for a walk can mean a wet handset (walking a mile in heavy rain meant that even the shirt under my "waterproof" jacket was soaked through, leaving me seriously worried about the phone in my pocket until I got a carrier bag to wrap it in).

Of course, these days I make sure to put any new handset in a Lifeproof case - so, from their specs, I could safely go scuba diving with my phone never mind get caught in the rain.

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Apple iPhone 6: Looking good, slim. AW... your battery died

James 100
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So thin it's thick

I do wish they'd easy up on the anorexia: an extra millimetre of thickness would both remove the camera protrusion and enhance the battery life, at the cost of an extra few drops of LiIon gunk in the box. Will you find a single person who thinks the iPhone is too *thick*? I doubt it: just those like me who think it's a bit too thin.

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Mushy spam law's IDEAL for toothless watchdog: Spamhaus slams CAN-SPAM

James 100
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Re: Zero enforcement in the UK

There is at least a token effort at enforcement of nuisance call prohibitions now - a few big names got fined. Far too little, though - and of course they are still allowed to make anonymous calls, which is a large part of the problem. (Prohibit anonymous calls from non-residential lines, and the spam problem will be greatly reduced.)

I'm planning to set up Asterisk soon to route all anonymous calls straight to voicemail without ringing. That should solve the problem - but I really resent having to make that effort to deal with people who break the law to boost profits! My e-mail spam filtering is pretty effective - but again, why should we make that effort, when spammers are getting away with breaking the law? Start *jailing* directors of companies violating it, and terminating their companies' phone and Internet access, and we might see real progress.

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