* Posts by James 100

609 posts • joined 26 Jun 2009

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If IT isn’t careful, marketing will soon be telling us what to do

James 100
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Re: Erm?

"Isn't IT a tool to help rather than a force to takeover business aims?"

Absolutely - a point lost on too many, I think. In some places, IT staff understand that, and work to support the outfit as a whole - so you get the marketing people a new domain, a Wordpress install and some email addresses if that's what their plans call for, the design people get Macs, whatever helps get the job done best. Others, you get power-crazed obstructionists giving everyone a locked-down XP box and telling them they have to use Sharepoint instead because it costs money, whether it actually suits anyone or not, and no, the graphic designers can't have any graphic design software because it's too much effort to install for them.

I've seen both sides of the coin up close. The day marketing say "we need X, $company retails that for $10k" and the IT department's reply is "no, you have to go through us and it'll cost $50k", the IT department doesn't just need to start taking orders from other people - those orders need to involve fries and mikshakes. Conversely, if the answer is - honestly - "$company's product won't do what you need, you'd be better with $otherthing because of A, B and C", marketing should listen to it.

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Nexenta flies over the Edge into the object storage bearpit

James 100
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Re: Sorry, how is this ZFS competition?

I think it means competition *from* ZFS for the other object-store platforms, since Nexenta seem a ZFS-centric outfit, as opposed to this being a competitor to ZFS.

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Brexit-fearing Vodafone: Of course we’ll make money from 4G

James 100
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Goose, gander?

"Another anti-competitive aspect of the deals, as he sees it, is that EE and Three have a mobile site infrastructure-sharing agreement."

Well, yes, they do ... rather like Vodafone and O2. Did the Vodafone guy conveniently "forget" to mention that bit? (OK, Three and EE were sharing a bit more infrastructure that way, and presumably that'll be phased out now with O2 becoming part of Three, but still...)

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Australia forces UberX drivers to become tax collectors

James 100
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Greedy government?

Demanding that even the smallest taxi business register regardless of size seems a bit excessive to me: certainly most of the taxi outfits here in the UK don't do VAT, which is a fairly similar system generally AIUI. Uber in Europe is subject to VAT of course, being way over the threshold - giving small operators a little bit of an advantage on pricing.

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Sage boosts profit but that means NOTHING without the CLOUD

James 100
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No clouds for customers

We use Sage at work - and are firmly in the "traditional" camp. Not because we have anything against "cloud" services as such - we use Google Apps, and our main business is selling hosted solutions - but for cost: we bought a copy of Sage a decade ago. Then bought a newer version two years ago, because the old version was finally showing its age (didn't work well on Windows post-Vista IIRC). As long as the VAT rules don't change in an incompatible way, why would we want to buy another until we're unable to use Windows 8.1?

Of course, those are exactly the reasons we don't sell software outright ourselves, and why Sage would prefer to push hosted solutions with an ongoing charge as well... - and exactly why most customers will resist.

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Australia cracks tech giants' tax dodge code

James 100
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Taxing the wrong thing

Personally, I'd like a switch to taxing turnover rather than profit. Set it at, say, 1% - then it doesn't matter whether Apple Australia bought that $1000 handset for $500 or $990, they hand over $10 either way. Or, of course, accept that this is basically a duplicate of VAT (or GST, or your local equivalent) and just rely on that in the first place, scrapping the rest.

As individuals, we don't pay tax on some portion of our income deemed to be "profit": we pay income tax on the whole lot, give or take some special cases like child tax credits.

In terms of the "where value is added" criterion, of course virtually nothing important happens in Australia - either a few dollars worth of postage, or a trivial share of the costs of a retail outlet. It seems quite plausible that Apple Australia really is only doing $10 or $20 worth of the $1000 you pay for an iThing, so why should the government grab a bigger share than that, on top of already demanding sales tax?

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Facebook invents Caller ID ... say Hello to today's staggering technology

James 100
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Re: @Sebastian A

Sadly, UK mobile companies have managed to get away with ignoring the requirement to provide that facility, so far - and the landline companies charge a premium for it, despite the nuisance-call-enabling facility being free. (Also, they only reject the call with a recorded message - they don't divert it to voicemail, and they still let "number unavailable" calls through.)

At some point soon, I'm going to programme my Asterisk setup to send all anonymous calls to voicemail. I only know one person who makes calls using that "feature", plus a great many persistent spammers and a few businesses; if more of us blocked anonymous calls, the latter would disappear and make the block even more useful.

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Massive TalkTalk data breach STILL causing customer scam tsunami

James 100
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Last time I emailed the clowns, they requested a bunch of information "for security" - information which was already included in the email they were replying to. I pointed this out, and got an identical cut and paste obstruction from a differently-named drone. Ironic, since the original email was just complaining about their lousy unresponsive customer service, not related to any confidential customer details anyway...

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Industry infighting means mobile users face long delays on UK trains

James 100
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"would you really want your train driver to face the problem that they can't contact the signaller in an emergency because all the capacity is taken up with people saying they're at a standstill?"

A large part of GSM-R's design seems to revolve around prioritising traffic for exactly that reason: you don't want a set of points switching late or the brakes not coming on because the train management system decided this was a good time to dump the engine diagnostic logs back to base or download a fresh set of timetables for the overhead status displays.

There's talk of replacing it with an extended variant of LTE ("LTE for Public Safety Applications" or something like that IIRC), combining that robust QoS with higher bandwidth than the 2G GSM-R offers. Presumably, if and when the rail network moved to that LTE-R (or whatever), they could then use the spare bandwidth for passenger services as well - perhaps an on-train picocell with LTE-R backhaul, so they could perhaps get some sort of roaming arrangement going too.

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Green your data centre – without ending up in the Job Centre

James 100
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Re: Use a big UPS

For setups like Google, it makes sense - they don't care if a handful of nodes are down for battery changes or whatever, because the load's spread across many thousands of nodes anyway. Presumably that's why they've gone with the "lots of tiny UPSs" approach.

For a "normal" setup, of course, it's very different: you care very much if you need to power servers down to maintain their UPS batteries, or worse, lose power suddenly because that $20 battery isn't up to the job of a $500 UPS.

I wonder how big your setup needs to be for Google's "massive herd of disposable nodes" makes more sense than the more traditional "all your eggs in one really solid basket with redundant everything"?

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IWF took down over 31,000 child sexual abuse URLs in 2014

James 100
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Re: I was wrong.

"A few years later and the tyrannical moral censor that I anticipated has failed to appear and instead they have done a lot of good work in dealing with child porn."

Don't be so sure: it's the CleanFeed censorship system they feed which is now being used for the torrent site crackdown. Not their doing directly, but if they stuck to the takedown/investigation remit, we wouldn't have had that censorship infrastructure in place ready for that abuse.

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FCC taps CenturyLink on shoulder, mumbles about a fine for THAT six-hour 911 outage

James 100
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Re: So

One way or another I suspect Verizon and CenturyLink will be wanting to claw those fines back from Intrado now, since this resulted from their screwup, either in the form of "you just cost us $16m, hand it over" or next contract renewal going along the lines of "last time we paid you $x, but you screwed it up and cost us $16m, so we'll knock that off the fee this time OK?"

Whatever happens with the fines, I just hope they implement better monitoring to detect outages like this in future.

(Funny, I remember being assured by smug UK regulator-drones a few years ago that 911 just doesn't work reliably in the US because there are too many local calls clogging the exchanges. I also remember the reaction when I mentioned that claim to someone at a US telco at the time...)

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Bored with Blighty? Relocation lessons for the data centre jetset

James 100
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Fuel to the fire?

"gens were literally on fire and they couldn't get fuel in"

On the bright side, if the generators are on fire, being unable to add fuel to them stops being a bad thing...

My email account lives in a pair of NYC DCs at the moment, and one got flooded, spending a while relying on generator power. No disruption to service, though, and they're adding a third replica site in another country to provide full redundancy just in case both DCs go offline at once in future. I was pretty impressed by how well the sites coped, really.

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Mozilla piles on China's SSL cert overlord: We don't trust you either

James 100
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No-brainer move

Frankly, I'd be stunned and concerned if any outfit *didn't* revoke CNNIC's validity for this lot.

"Unacceptable"? Fortunately, CNNIC, you don't get to decide whether to accept things or not: we do, based on defaults from Chrome and others. It's CNNIC and their fake certificates which are not acceptable any more. Inexplicable? Well, that would be the suicidal decision to abuse that trust to issue a bunch of fake IDs, or enable a third party to do so with your implied approval.

Looks like we need a tougher auditing regime for these CAs, if not an alternative scheme entirely; I rather like the DANE DNSSEC approach for regular certificates. Maybe limit the current CA system to EV certs instead, and be much more restrictive about who can issue them.

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Not even GCHQ and NSA can crack our SIM key database, claims Gemalto

James 100
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Re: No air-gap?

With a government involved, it doesn't even need to involve a *corrupt* employee - just some government credentials. "Police" investigators come in late one night, show the minimum-wage security guys a search warrant and tell them there's a suspicion somebody's been using the work computers for child abuse images/terrorism/money laundering, and they just need to run a forensic scan of the target storage device - mustn't tell anybody just yet, in case it compromises the investigation... Or, of course, plant their own agent(s) as the guards themselves: a pretty trivial job for any government agency.

If somebody comes to my office with proper law enforcement ID and a warrant, I'm not going to jail to keep them out: would you? (Come to think of it, WTF should we do in that case? Trying to call the boss might legitimately be refused, tipping someone off about a search could mean an obstruction charge...)

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90% of mobile data eaten by TINY, GREEDY super-user HOTSPOTS

James 100
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Hot spots

Assuming they're consistent locations over time (no doubt the likes of Glastonbury etc will show a hefty spike for a few days, and no usage the rest of the year) it seems obvious for operators to stick in their own femtocell (on their own ADSL/FTTC line) to free up network capacity for the rest of the cell's coverage area.

I just wish UMA had caught on better the first time round: nice and easy for us to use free coffee-shop wifi in busy areas if it had. (I'm sure there will be a strong correlation between peak usage areas and wifi coverage, after all.) Maybe the newest branding ("WiFi calling" in the iPhone) will finally catch on better?

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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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