* Posts by James 100

631 posts • joined 26 Jun 2009

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VMware, Microsoft in virtualised Exchange blog battle

James 100
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Shark jumped

When having "only" 24 processors and 96 Gb of RAM is an "itsy bitsy" mail server, there's something wrong. More or less enough to store a thousand users' Inboxes (excluding attachments) completely in RAM? Just how many organisations have enough email users to need more horsepower than one of those?

It wouldn't surprise me if the overheads got excessive above that point, so you'd actually be better scaling out rather than up at that point. Probably what MS do in their own "cloud" Exchange offering ... so maybe that's the scale they tune it for, rather than individual mega-box servers?

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BT: Let us scrap ordinary phone lines. You've all got great internet, right?

James 100
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Re: It says "provision on request"...

You aren't actually forced to - BT (Openreach) are quite happy to provide just the wire bit to any ISP that wants it. However, most of those make a nice living out of bundling in the PSTN side - and more pragmatically, one ISP that did offer a broadband-only line then discovered those lines tended to get disconnected and recycled by BT's contractors when installing new lines: they'd see a line with no PSTN service, assume it's spare, and re-use that wire for the new line they're installing.

The problem is, the copper wire itself is the expensive bit: plugging it into a PSTN port in the exchange only adds a few pounds per year to the c £88 they charge for the copper. Saving a small percentage isn't really worth the extra hassle it causes in support, for most ISPs.

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FCC hosts Reagan-off as it enters 21st century

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"if telcos are willing to provide service for that, tells you something about how much they're overcharging everyone *else*."

Not really - from the article: "citizens pay the discount rate, and Uncle Sam makes up the difference on a normal full-price plan with the telco". So the telco still gets paid as normal, it's just the taxpayer left out of pocket.

You'd think a very cheap basic mobile plan wouldn't cost much more than that anyway - for a while, I was paying £7/month for a SIM-only account in the UK, with three hours of calls, a lot of texts and a few hundred Mb of data, which would surely be plenty for a "lifeline" service without needing any subsidy.

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Obama issues HTTPS-only order to US Federal sysadmins

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Re: Why?

For browsing static content, yes, unprotected HTTP is normally fine (give or take HTTP tampering, like the NSA's "QUANTUM INSERT" stuff, and the usual adware crud). Having said that, though, you need to be running over HTTPS to get the benefit of things like SPDY - so if you're using Chrome or Firefox, you'll probably see a performance *gain* overall from browsing via HTTPS rather than HTTP, even on typical static pages.

Even without SPDY, once you start encrypting some of your pages/sites, the extra cost to encrypt the whole lot should be pretty trivial - I rather like the idea of encrypting all the traffic as far as possible, not just selected bits.

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The blandness – or madness – of King George of NetApp

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Safety

"Is safety-first the right approach?"

No. I don't mind if my data occasionally disappears in a puff of error codes. Er, wait...

The tough migration path is a big mistake I think: just like I faced a few years ago with a Windows SBS 2003 server. With no upgrade option (can't just upgrade it in-place to 2008, because that's 64 bit only and 2003 is 32 bit only) we were faced with "Need to migrate to something new anyway, and buy new hardware if it's on-premises ... might as well switch to hosted email then". So, of course, there's now one less MS Exchange installation in the world.

That, for MS, was a rare exception: normally, it's a smooth upgrade treadmill, just the way they want it. "Yes, the new version's expensive/difficult, but not as expensive/difficult as moving to a whole new platform, so go on..." Storage isn't part of my problem these days, but we do have a few 7mode NetApps holding almost everything - and I get the impression NetApp really dropped the ball there.

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Microsoft spunks $500m to reinvent the wheel. Why?

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Factions

In an outfit the size of MS - or even one much smaller - not everyone will be on the same page. You'll get different teams re-solving the same problem in different ways; sometimes one is better and replaces the other, sometimes you're just left with duplication. Raymond Chen recently blogged about a situation where two rival teams actually wrote rival clients for the same internal protocol, too.

The Windows Installer stuff - MSI - started out within Office 2000, as the Office installer, before being moved and extended. They had other installers before that.

Maybe the management don't like Exchange as a backend mechanism for these new services, for example? Even a "poor cousin" offering right now might still have a better infrastructure MS want to get their hands on, or just a better/different skillset to the existing ones. I never really saw the point of Yammer, but MS seem to like it...

I just hope MS aren't adopting Google's usual habit, of buying up a small company that makes a nice product - then killing the product and mulching the team into their collective, never to be seen again. OK, Google needs staff, but stop killing off products in the process!

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Vodafone IS talking to Virgin Media daddy Liberty Global

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ISP?

Some interesting angles here. Right now, Virgin has the contract to provide backhaul to MBNL, the combined Three+EE network operation, while Vodafone pools stuff with O2 under "Cornerstone" - with BT buying EE and Three buying O2, something there will have to change drastically. Hard to imagine BT continuing to buy in network backhaul from Virgin.

Right now, Virgin resell EE's mobile services: will they or BT be happy to continue that post takeover, or will Virgin be in the market for a new provider for their MVNO?

Vodafone owns both the old Bulldog/C&W LLU network and Demon - so either offloading that to Virgin, or taking over Virgin's leftover non-cable ISP operation to bolster their own size, could make sense.

Sky wouldn't make much sense, though. They just bought O2/Be's LLU network and customers, only to throw both assets in the bin: maybe they could repeat that with Demon/Bulldog, but they've only just started on their mobile reseller deal with O2. Virgin seems a much more sensible match overall.

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Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

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Re: Some Dutch shops..

I discovered the Morrisons self-service checkouts have a nice coin hopper like that. A year or so ago, I'd accumulated a small plastic bucket of loose change, mostly coppers (each time I do laundry, I take the coins out, then don't always pocket them again later, so they slowly build up). Having discovered this, each time I was going to be walking past it anyway I'd fill a pocket with change and buy something small that I wanted anyway - milk, some salad or whatever.

Some supermarkets also have coin-counting machines - which take a fairly hefty cut of your money in the process. Stuff that!

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Microsoft makes Skype beach body ready with web browser beta release

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No need to install software, just a plugin...

Really, what does changing "software" to "plugin" actually get you?

If they'd genuinely made it browser-only, via HTML5 or whatever, fair enough - even relying on Flash, I suppose - but when you just change it from "you must install the Skype application" to "you must install the Skype plugin" ... why bother? You still need to be able - and willing - to install software for that to work! I suppose it makes sense if this is an intermediate step, before they have a pure HTML5 version?

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Spoiling staff with toys could turn against your business

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Re: If you dislike change, you're going to dislike irrelevance even more @AC

"if a company goes down the route of alternative service provider, it is essential that they keep some IT expertise"

Yes, that's vital and easy to miss - of course, those experts need to be able to communicate the issues properly, and meet the users' needs rather than their own. Consultants/salesdrones can easily push a solution that meets their own needs rather than the users' - whether they're external suppliers pushing a product, or internal ones with an agenda.

Do those "standard laptops" actually do the job adequately? Especially when they're a year or two old, but being pushed by the IT management because they're less effort to support than more modern kit? Does that configuration actually suit the sales reps, the graphics people and the software developers? When the users have different needs, you need to accept that a single answer probably won't fit: either you're short-changing the developers with some ultra-portable that can only handle email and PowerPoint, or wasting money and weighing the salesdrones down with overpowered machines for their needs.

"I agree that IT departments are an endangered species, and not because they do anything wrong, but because they're not saying what the non-technical managers think they should be hearing. Too often, influential managers in companies are more prepared to listen to the salespeople trying to sell snake-oil rather than their own IT people."

Agreed, in part - but perhaps it's not just because those managers want to hear the wrong thing. Look at this article: full of what the author wants and what suits his needs. Yes, giving everyone the same laptop makes his life easier - but does it suit the users? Maybe their needs would actually be better met by greater flexibility. (Particularly in a software company, of course: there are quite a few obscure bugs I've been able to investigate much more easily by having varied hardware and platforms. Yes, it makes support very slightly harder - but of course we need to support external users on different configurations anyway!)

Remote-wipe can be handy too, when a device or its user goes AWOL - but what happens when your Exchange admin goes rogue or gets fired, or the server itself gets compromised? A whole lot of extra collateral damage that way. Has the author never had a server compromised, or a sysadmin go rogue to some extent? (10 years on, do you *really* know who all those Domain Admin members are and why they're there? All those privileged scripts doing who-knows-what? A colleague's been looking at all that lately ... it really isn't simple, in a large setup.)

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Thousands of 'lost data' reports mean we should ARM the ICO, says infosec bod

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Re: Anyone else see the gaping hole?

No surprise there really: if the small company I work for had a data leak, would I or anyone else publicly report it? I honestly don't know: with no legal obligation to do so, I imagine not. Why would we? Of course, I like to be proactive and keep everything properly secured anyway...

This company's got a product to push, of course, but that doesn't necessarily make it wrong. I'd like to see the ICO giving more detailed guidance (to be fair, they do already give some) and explicitly linking future penalties to how closely they've complied with it. (Maybe they do that now - but if so, that needs to be more widely reported, so everyone else knows about it.)

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The time on Microsoft Azure will be: Different by a second, everywhere

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Re: Feb 29th

Yep - Azure crashed because internally the nodes communicate using internally-issued SSL certificates with a one year validity - so on Feb 29th, any node that got rebooted requested a certificate for itself with an expiry date of Feb 29th 2013. Of course, that doesn't exist, so the request failed. That meant the new VM failed to communicate with its host in time, so got rebooted; after a few cycles of that, their systems decided the hosts were faulty and tried resetting those. Which, of course, then tried to get themselves new SSL certificates to connect to the controller, which failed ...

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NSA eggheads tried to bork Nork nukes with Stuxnet. It failed – report

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Re: Sony First, Nukes Second

Different servers? Of course the nodes attacking Sony had to be online (and so vulnerable to attack themselves, to some extent), but those involved in the nuclear program could be fully airgapped, but with a better gap than Iran's had. Not to mention that FBI/NSA "access" may just have consisted of monitoring their external Internet traffic - so they could see "Norks are probing 100.64.12.34 ... uh-oh, they got in, whose is that?" but not necessarily had any control over in-country systems from that.

My ISP could see if I'm off breaking into Sony - it doesn't mean they can to anything to interfere with my printer, even though it is on the LAN that connects to them.

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German watchdog rips off Facebook's thumbs after online fracas

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Two step version?

There's a "privacy enhanced" version out there somewhere which displays the social icons greyed out initially, without loading their scripts - so they don't get a chance to track you unless/until you've explicitly requested that service by clicking on it. Once you click (thereby arguably consenting to tracking, since you are knowingly interacting with them) the Like button activates.

Google Analytics and co worry me a bit too; IIRC back before Google bought them, they offered a self-hosted option which avoided all these issues, but of course that got killed off smartish.

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Fibre Channel over Ethernet is dead. Woah, contain yourselves

James 100
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It died?

Was there some actual development to trigger this announcement? Has Cisco announced they're dropping FCoE support, or NetApp announced it won't be supported in the next ONTAP release, for example?

Maybe it's a bad idea, and/or doomed, but the article seems terribly short on facts to support that. Maybe some actual sales or investment figures for regular FC and iSCSI versus FCoE?

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

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Re: Erm?

"The question comes down to whether Marketing is trying to make IT decisions. You don't have to set up an IT department, but if you do, the implication is that you need their skill in the field of IT."

Really, you need to bridge the gap - either Marketing will need to understand the IT side to some extent, or the IT department needs to understand Marketing (or both).

Having a departmental "IT person" is a model I've seen work well for a lot of things - they get to know that department's needs much better, as well as knowing how to get services delivered from the central IT department when needed. Much better than having a homogenised "Helpdesk" knowing nothing about everyone, IME.

(Personally, I'm a systems guy - originally Solaris and web servers, filled in for a while doing some departmental support as a sideline, now DB and development, so I've seen it from each point in the food chain. The whole "all requests must go via the Helpdesk" ... "Helpdesk, port 1A-31-7 in building 11 is on the wrong VLAN, can you tell $(guy from the desk next to my old one) please?" "What's a VLAN?" experience was quite depressing...)

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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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Private cloud has a serious image problem

James 100
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Talking Toasters

Clearly, the Toaster needs connectivity so it can serenade you over VoIP about bagels, muffins and other toasted goodness. Just ask Lister how irritating that gets!

I can see a little bit of appeal in some cases: boil the kettle on remote, start the dishwasher when it's cheap electricity time, check if the washing's finished yet. Not something I'd pay more than a couple of £ extra per device for of course, which is probably where all this will struggle...

For AWS's scale, wasn't it El Reg telling us quite recently that Azure was generating nearly as much revenue as AWS? Why, yes, it was: just over $1.2bn versus just under $1bn for 2Q14, it said: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/28/azure_catching_up_on_aws/ - so how does that square with "bigger than the next 14 biggest, combined"?

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UK.gov confirms it's binned extended Windows XP support

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Re: Love it...

"I'll put the ICO on speed dial, so we (the tax payers) can pay the fines"

That bit always infuriates me. If a government employee gets a speeding fine, they have to pay it themselves, because the whole point is to punish them for breaking the law. So why, if managers decide to break the law, do they get to pass the buck to us?

Now, hold the board members of the body concerned *personally* liable for any resulting fines - I bet they'd scrape every last trace of XP off the PCs faster than Richard Stallman would, and start paying much closer attention to their jobs overall.

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BT boss to Oz: we're wonderful and so is copper

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Re: Total waste of time

I think the 500Mbps stuff is "FTTDP", the final step between FTTC (where the actual fibre stops a street away in the nearest green street cabinet) and FTTP - bringing the fibre right into the street or equivalent, at the BT DP (Distribution Point).

I get the impression BT have found the worst problems in FTTP are the final few feet, getting through people's gardens or driveways and into the home itself, so bringing fibre up through their own ducts and stopping just short makes sense for now on existing sites.

For any new-build development, FTTP makes more sense than running new copper wire - and, to be fair, Openreach seem to be facilitating this for house builders who cooperate, providing them with all the bits and information so they can pre-fibre new homes while building them - but replacing existing copper is a bigger job.

I actually have the option of 330 Mbps FTTP where I live now - for £1k or more in installation, plus a three year contract to pay about four times the price I pay now for 80 Mbps FTTC. Not really very appealing. In time, of course, regular FTTP services will be much more common thanks to new-build sites, but in the meantime I'm glad we have FTTC.

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Charter Comms to acquire Time Warner for US$55bn: lotsa reports

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Re: Just a "junior" monopoly then?

Was there much competition in the first place though? From what I saw, it was always a case of regional monopolies: you'd have a Comcast cable running down your street, OR a Warner one, but very rarely have both available.

From a customer point of view, having half the market served by Comcast (take it or leave it) and the other half Warner (ditto) isn't really any better than the whole lot being Comcast or nothing: even if the other company did offer their customers something better, you can't get their service anyway! It's more relevant for their suppliers, though: think of the bargaining power a single cable company would have for buying in channels, Internet transit bandwidth and cable equipment. If Netflix thought they were being squeezed now...

That's the UK situation now (only one cable company, Virgin Media, if you can get cable at all) though at least their TV services have serious competition from Sky and their broadband and phone services from BT (and its resellers).

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Governance the key if you don't want mobile workers escaping your control

James 100
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Re: Time to hack by bad actor

The amusing/depressing (depending on your distance) version is when you have serious computer forensics and security/pen testing researchers on staff ... and the central IT team see a traffic spike on the web server from spidering, mistake it for a security issue, panic and pull the plug, rather than ask anyone more competent to explain it to them.

I get the impression it's a tough balancing act in large outfits between "IT" and other computing departments - the likes of Microsoft and Google seem to do well, perhaps because they have to, but as soon as you move away from a pure computing focus it becomes problematic. A setup that suits accountants and secretaries ("oh no, I moved the Word icon somewhere by mistake and can't find it") is never going to suit web developers ("I need the last version of Chrome installed - yes, and Opera, and Firefox... and these 11 development plugins too") let alone driver developers.

There's something faintly absurd about being expected to develop firmware and kernel-mode code - on a Windows PC which has the "Run" command disabled.

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Do any REAL CIOs believe we're in a post PC world? No.

James 100
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Post-PC, post-mainframe?

I can imagine a similar crowd in years past denying we're in a post-mainframe world - but, of course, the spending had shifted from mainframes to PCs. Do big companies still use mainframes? Of course: even in 2015, IBM are raking in billions on the big iron, but compared to the 60s and 70s that's still just a tiny fraction of the whole computing market. 40 years ago computing was all big iron (bigger than a PC, anyway); 20 years ago, it was nearly all PC based - now it isn't. Yes, there are still PCs in the mix, and there are still mainframes too, but we can't deny they've lost a hefty chunk of market to smaller devices now.

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Nexenta flies over the Edge into the object storage bearpit

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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