* Posts by SImon Hobson

725 posts • joined 9 Sep 2006


Plusnet wants resellers' SME customers and is willing to pay

SImon Hobson

To be fair ...

And speaking as a customer for many years, it's hardly the ISPs fault if a customer's own equipment is either faulty/insecure/badly setup/whatever and causes *that customer's* traffic to get redirected.

Yes, they have problems - and I had *strongly worded discussions* with them over the deficiencies in their DNS and email systems (at the time it was impossible to use the included hosting but not have email go through, or rather got lost in, their broken servers). But their connectivity works fine for me, and unlike some ISPs we have to deal with at work on behalf of customers, you can actually get hold of support !

Not the cheapest, but they don't try to pretend that they don't do traffic management (they are open about that), appear to have enough backhaul for the service not to crawl to a halt in the evenings, have support staff that speak/write english and can be got hold of, and in my experience are reasonably reliable (most problems I've had have been Openreach issues).

Oh yes, and they don't charge extra for a static IP address - unlike BT who charge £5/month for one address !


What kid uses wires? FCC supremo angry that US classrooms are filled with unused RJ45 ports

SImon Hobson

I find it interesting that the assumption is made that "network connection" == "internet use" !

Seems the concept of having on-site servers for ... ooh dunno, how about school email, course work/lessons, students' own work, etc. Then having a wired connection will most definitely get you better results than fighting with hundreds of other pupils (and staff) for a few congested WiFi channels. At least, assuming the network was built by someone with half a clue ... err, that might be something of an over assumption based on local observations.


My work-from-home setup's better than the office. It's GLORIOUS

SImon Hobson

Re: I can rotate my widescreen TFT into portrait mode

> ... but I've yet to come across a desktop OS and monitor that automates the screen rotation ...

Guess you are too young to remember then. Back as far as the 80s and 90s, Radius did a Pivot display that did just that - A4 greyscale, used custom graphics card, but included a switch so it knew which way up the monitor way.

It was cool, but like most Radius gear, "inexpensive" was generally not part of the description !

Sadly, such things seemed to disappear in the 90s - and as you point out, modern hardware doesn't do it. It wouldn't take much to do, but unless the OS vendors integrated support, adding a monitor would mean installing drivers (to handle the auto-rotate) - how very 20th century !


BT's IPv6 EXPIRED security certificate left to rot on its website

SImon Hobson

Re: They got their IPv6 site working then?

It was broken a lot more recently than that, last year IIRC. AFAICT there was simply no server on the address given by teh AAAA record. I did report it to them, but several months later it was still offline.

If someone the size of, and with the resources of, BT can't get it right ...


Anti Gmail data-mining lawsuit hits possible stumbling block

SImon Hobson

Re: Who is behind this lawsuit ?

> A class action wouldn't seem to make sense from a user perspective, the actual value of one individual's data is going to be a few measly Dollars at best and simply not worth the time.

Perhaps it's not about the money, perhaps it's about the principle of "My emails with <some other person> are between me and <that other person>, not the whole wide world, and not Google's money machine". I don't use gmail - but other people do. I have not at any time consented to have Google scan emails, but since other people have, then that apparently means it's OK to do ?

I have to admit, at times it is tempting to blacklist gmail and just return an error message suggesting the person contact me from an email account hosted with someone who doesn't consider me as a product to be sold.


Apple's Windows XP moment: OS X Snow Leopard left to DIE

SImon Hobson

> The license doesn't allow virtualizing that. You can't do it

Yeah, that's a crock, but with a little fiddling you can work round that - once you do, 10.6 will work fine in Parallels. There is actually absolutely no legal reason, the licence does not in any way prohibit it - but I suspect that once Apple have given their interpretation from inside the RDF* then no-one is (was) prepared to risk the wrath of jobs by challenging it.

* The infamous Reality Distortion Field that seemingly envelops Apple.

SImon Hobson

Re: Last 'upgrade' failed for me

> But 10.9 was a no-no when they finally removed sync services

Ah, so not just me then.

I found out the hard way that it had gone, and boy was it a pain restoring a workable machine :(

So for now I'm stuck on 10.8 until either Apple relent and re-instate SS (no I'm not holding my breath) or software vendors come up with an acceptable workaround (which doesn't involved information going off my machine).

This isn't "old unsupported" software as was thrown at me when I mentioned this in another thread, this is current software (Missing Sync) for syncing my new Android phone. The fact that I was still using it for my old Palm Treo back then is irrelevant.

But of course, not wanting to share all our data with Apple is these days a heinous crime in Apple's eyes so I can't see them co-operating at all with this.

PS - I keep a working copy of 10.6 which I run via Parallels so as to be able to use Eudora to manage my old mail. If only I could fine a replacement that works in 10.8 and works acceptably like it - MailForge looks good on paper, but at present it's horrendously unreliable and clunky. Apple Mail is so horrible to use :(


Energy firms' security so POOR, insurers REFUSE to take their cash

SImon Hobson

Re: Ewww! Informed comment!

> If companies can't make money out of generating electricity then the market clearly isn't working

Correct. It's not a market as you or I would recognise it.

It's like going into a shop to buy a bottle of whisky. You look and on the shelf there are loads of bottles at £10, some more of the same at £20, a few more at £50, and a couple at £100. Naturally you want to buy one of the £10 bottles - why pay 10 times as much for the same thing ?

But the cashier tells you that you can't buy any of the £10 bottles until all the £20 ones have been sold, and so on up to the £100 bottles. Apparently the only difference is that they came from different suppliers, and the £100 bottle supplier is really unreliable meaning they have to keep loads of the £10 bottles in stock "just in case" even though they can't sell many, and the supplier of the £10 bottles is fed up because he has to keep stopping and starting his production line as customers expect him to be able to supply when the £100 supplier doesn't, but won't buy from him when teh £100 supplier bothers to deliver.

Those £100 bottles are the wind farm output, down to the £10 bottles coming from coal and gas. The rules over here are that the energy companies have to buy all the output from the wind farms whether they need it or can even handle it - worst case they have to pay the windfarms to "turn down" their output !

At the other end of the chain, operators of gas and coal plants have to turn up and down (or on and off) to balance the grid - when the wind blows (but not too much) they lose their market, but when the wind doesn't blow (or blows too much) then they are expected to fill in the gap. All this is over and above the daily variation in demand.

Because of the extra stops/starts and power changes, maintenance/wear and tear on the plant costs go up - but because they spend a lot of time shut down they don't get to make as much money. Costs increased, income reduced, sometimes the profit margin is negative ! It's hard to make a profit when you have to pay the customer to take your product off your hand.

Of course, none of this is factored into the "aren't we cheap" numbers put out by the wind industry.

For a better view, try this link :



Q&A: Schneier on trust, NSA spying and the end of US internet hegemony

SImon Hobson

Re: Why all the fear?

> You must really have an inflated ego if you think any spy gives two craps about you.

I don't think anyone gives two craps about me - at the moment. But do I think that no-one will ever give two craps about me ever in the future ? Who knows.

Lets take a real world scenario. Every 10 years in the UK we have the official census, in which we have to (under threat of punishment) list everyone living at an address together with age, sex, ethnicity, religious leanings, and a load of other stuff.

Is that a problem ? Well not right now. But rewind a few decades and pop across the Germany in the 30s. Was it a problem back then that they were "cataloguing" everyone with ethnicity/religious data ? Well no, it wasn't a problem at first.

But you may recall that a large chunk of the population later found out that it was a big problem when a later government was less benign and used that catalogue to round up and murder certain sections of the population.

Is that likely to happen again ? Who knows. Probably not in my lifetime in "the west", but it's clear that worldwide the issue is far from relegated to history. So the problem isn't "do I have to worry about who is doing it now", but it should be "do I have to worry about god knows who having access to that data in the future" - to which the answer is "yes - because I have absolutely no idea who I might have to worry about in the future".


Mac Pro fanbois can rack 'em and stack 'em like real sysadmins

SImon Hobson

Re: Pah!

Ah, but there is another engineering use of the word "chuck". It can be a noun (as in the piece of a lathe that holds the part being turned), or it can be a verb (the act of mounting the piece in the chuck). Eg, "chuck it in a 3 jaw chuck" would mean to mount the piece in a 3 jaw chuck.

So actually, using chuck (n, part of a lathe for holding the piece being worked) would make perfect sense.

But so would "clamp"


Broker accuses FAST of scaring users off secondhand software

SImon Hobson

Re: Unclear? Not overly

>> You cannot import a US license into the EU and sell it - as this is an infringement of their trademarks.

>> What am I missing?

I think most people think - why on earth should that be so ?

If I buy a Flurble Widget make by Flurble Inc, then it's a Flurble Widget made by Flurble Inc. No ifs, not buts, no "nut only in these countries". So Flurble charge $10 in the USA, but £15 in the UK - they're ripping off the market. If I buy one in the USA and import it - it's doesn't stop being a Flurble Widget, it doesn't cease to have been made by Flurble Inc. It's still the very same widget that rolled off their production line and could have gone to the UK or US market just by chance of which box got picked up and sent for export.

So why does a Flurble Widget, bought and paid for, cease to legally be a Flurble Widget just because I "use it in a way the manufacturer doesn't like" (ie taking it abroad) ?

Sadly, the court (and the lawmakers that made the messed up law) have confirmed that if I buy a Flurble Widget outside the Eu and import it - then Flurble Inc can declare it a breach of their trademark and so make it illegal (and liable to seizure and destruction by the authorities). So this Widget, that Flurble themselves put their name on, is not legal ?

It's a crock of crap, but that is the mess we are in !


FBI offers $10,000 bounty for arrest of laser-wielding idiots

SImon Hobson

Meanwhile, over here in the UK ...

We introduced an offence of shining a laser at an aircraft which doesn't have the option of a custodial sentence ! So prosecutors are apparently reverting to charges of "endangering an aircraft" which does have a custodial option - and judges are using it.



On that latter one, if you are up before Tudor Owen for such a charge then you definitely can't expect any leniency.


Of course, it helps the arrest and conviction when the idiots are stupid enough to consider targeting the Police helicopter - hence the "slap face" icon.


If you reckon Google will never tap into Nest's Wi-Fi thermostats, guess again

SImon Hobson

Re: Take your "connected homes"....

While I largely agree with your sentiment, just FYI coal fires stations can ramp up and down in power "relatively" quickly - ie matter of hours. SO they can do a significant amount of load following. They can take a couple of weeks to transition between operating and fully shut down (either way), but that's a different thing. Form cold to running they can take a couple of days, and from hot to running is a few hours. IIRC

it is nuclear that doesn't like load following. It's not that it can't, but the designs we have now (still, just about) really don't like it - it imposes thermal cycle stresses on them that they'd really rather not do.


LogMeIn: We're stopping our free offering from, errrm, NOW

SImon Hobson

Re: free as in beer != free as in free speech

> Beer isn't free so I don't understand how something can be "free as in beer". Is the saying trying to make the point that something that costs money is not the same as being able to say what ever you want?

IMO the Wikipedia article doesn't really put it simply, but then that could just be me !

There are people who give away their software free (as in for no charge) but they restrict what you can do with it - eg no commercial use, no giving it to anyone else, no reverse engineering, or a myriad other restrictions. So it giving you something tangible for no cost (like giving you a free glass of beer), but it's still restricted in what you are allowed to do with it.

There are also people who are more interested in the "freedom of use" side. To them, the important thing is to be able to think, speak, use freely. So if someone writes a nifty bit of code, and you think "that would be great if I just altered it a little" then you are expressly allowed to take that code and alter it to suit your needs - and to pass on the unmodified or modified code to others. Also, you are free to look at the code and see how it works - to learn from others. And finally you can use it where you like, when you like, and for what you like. This is the "free as in speech" bit.

In many cases, the two overlap - so it's free (as in cost) and free (as in freedom to use, adapt, and share). And we are all familiar with commercial software which is not free in either sense.

In many cases they do not overlap. As an example, you can download the free PDF viewer from Adobe - but it comes with a licence agreement with a long list of things you aren't allowed to do with it. It's free (as in beer) but not free (as in speech).

And of course, thinking about security you can't look at (or ask someone else to look at) the code of this (or any other no-cost but not libre software) to see if it phones home with your details or any other such freedom/security infringing activities.

You might think it's not possible to have free (as in speech) without also free (as in beer). But that's not the case. It's quite allowable for me to take some software, adapt it, package it up and build a system to do/manage some task. Under the GNU public licence I am specifically allowed to do that. I am also specifically allowed to ask people for money - and some people may be happy to pay for the convenience of having everything packaged up into something they just "turn on and use". What I am not allowed to do is refuse to pass on the modified versions of the FOSS software I've used. I can keep other bits (eg scripts and stuff, web page designs, etc) to myself and paying customers, but not the modified FOSS software.

This is the RedHat* business model - a lot of what is in a RedHat Linux system is FOSS which they cannot refuse to let you have. However into the mix they have added their own utilities, configs etc. In effect, what you buy when you pay RedHat for a system is a bunch of FOSS that you can get for free, plus a load of RedHat proprietary stuff, and all packaged up into something you pop in and turn on.

* RedHat is just the one that comes to mind first - others do the same (SUSE is another, paying gets you their extras).

The confusing thing is that people talk about "open source" which doesn't automatically mean that it's free (as in speech). And people talk about free software - without specifying which meaning of free they mean.

Lastly, you'll often hear the name Richard Stallman (aka his initials RMS) when such conversations come up. He's a "hard core" free (as in speech) advocate and can be, ahem, quite blunt. Search around and you'll find a lot of comments that he's "quite difficult" to deal with. I've met him briefly at one of his talks, and he is - to the point where I think he diluted him message by turning people off. But IMO he is quite right in most of what he says - and if it weren't for people like him making the right noises I do think we'd be a lot better off.


Apple fanbois make it 'official', hook up with Internet of Fridges Things

SImon Hobson

Re: INTRANET of things

Or more importantly, I'd like an INtranet - what I don't want is what Google is heading for with it's acquisition of Nest, and what Apple has been doing with various things* While Nest looked interesting, it's definitely off my list now as full detail of how the house is occupied is none of Google's business.

The big thing to remember in all of this is that we are not the customer. We are the product, and advertisers are the customer. So look forward to more "IoT" announcements that tie you in to sending more and more personal information to Google & Apple (and Microsoft who are late to this party having had to have Apple show them how to do it without a user backlash).

* EG, they've dropped local sync services from Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks. The official line is that they aren't needed (crock of manure IMO) now that everyone uses the cloud. In reality, they don't want anyone to not use the cloud (by default their cloud) to sync stuff between Mac and <whatever> as that makes it harder for anyone daring to use other than Apple iThingies.

And Tim Bates wrote

> Will your Apple certified Air Conditioner be of any use in 2 years time when you've bought a new phone or Apple's decided to change the APIs in a way that makes the control app useless?

That's why open standards are such a good idea. But open standards don't allow Apple/Google/Whoever to a) lock you in to only using their devices & services, and b) force you to upgrade your kit when they decide to "upgrade" the service they depend on.

And strum wrote

> Apple house or Android house?

Again, it's why open standards are essential. But those of us who realise that are in a minority and the general population "don't care as long as it's shiny". It'll only matter if it gets to a state where one of us goes to look at a house and states "I'll offer you £x, but it's conditional on replacing <long list> with open standards equivalents", or "I'll only offer £Y based on how much I'm going to have to spend ripping out all that crap you thought was a selling feature". Only then will they realise that it's costly to support closed standards/


Techies CAN sue Google, Apple, Intel et al accused of wage-strangling pact

SImon Hobson

Re: That's the beauty of this

> First the plaintiffs have to prove they would have received the job that they were never called about.

Actually I don't think that's the case. There is more to it than "I didn't get a better paid job because company B refused to hire me because I worked for company A". IF there were free trade in employment, then if company B were offering better pay, they'd gain staff from company A. Company A would then either have to put up with losing all their good staff, or up their pay so thet people stopped moving to company B.

Thus these non-compete clauses don't just avoid the pay rises available for switching jobs, they also reduce the pay all round even for those that don't switch.

As an analogy. Imagine if all the big supermarkets colluded to keep the price of goods high. There's then no opportunity for you to shop around for better prices. But remove those non-compete agreements and they have to compete for your custom - with better prices, better quality, or better service (in other words, better "value" for whatever combination of attributes they decide to compete on). Even if you don't shop at (say) Tesco, just the fact that they are there means that ASDA next door has to keep it's value up (prices down). So without actually shopping at Tesco, you gain from them being there and there being no non-compete clause between them.

Put another way, ADSA managers have to look at prices and the equation is along the lines of "if we charge more than X then customers will go to Tesco". Similarly, employers will have to thing along the lines of "if we pay less than X then our staff will leave and go to <someone else>".

This is why collusion to control markets is illegal, and why these employees can claim damages even if they weren't planning to switch employer.


EU gives Google JUST WEEKS to submit stronger search biz concessions

SImon Hobson

Re: Erm

> … they've got a near-monopoly because they're the best at what they do. If someone came up with a better search engine, there's nothing stopping us all from moving to it

If *ALL* it was about was the search engine then you'd be right. But it isn't.

They've used their massive dominance (not monopoly) in search to allow them to just step into any other market and dominate it too. I find it "somewhat suspicious" how they can introduce a new product and miraculously it leaps straight to the top of the search results - straight past existing (and sometimes good and well established) alternatives. They also give their own stuff special dominance - such the the way their shopping isn't "just another search result" like the other shopping sites, but it's own special section.

Unfortunately the damage is done, and short of dismantling Google I don't see how it can be undone. The logical outcome was plain to see (and some people can now say "told you so") a long time ago - but for a combination of reasons nothing was done when there was scope for preventing the damage (just as with Microsoft). The two main reasons (IMO) are that the regulators can't do anything until damage is actually done and someone complains, and when they do finally take action it takes years during which the players can further entrench their position and make it even harder to undo.

Google, Microsoft, IBM, Standard Oil, … All have used pretty much the same tactics over the decades.


Why UK.gov's £1.2bn fibre broadband rollout is a bumbling FLOP

SImon Hobson

Clearly many of the commenters here are somewhat younger than I am

Thos of us who are old enough can remember what things were like when telephones were a "government" thing - back when they were provided by the GPO which was back then still part of the government. Like the railways, the modern privatised system may well be far from perfect, but it's a darn sight better than what we used to have when services were provided by a government department, and didn't need to worry about promptness or customer service as your choice was to use them or go without.

With the GPO there was none of this "get a phone installed in a couple of weeks" - it could take months, or if you were unlucky, years to get a phone installed. I remember the phone in our last house was on a party line for many years because the GPO weren't prepared to put in cable to support needs - they just adjusted needs to suit what they had installed.

If you wanted more than one phone then you had to *rent* it from the GPO. If you wanted sockets then you had to rent those (and pay GPO to install them) as well - every item had a cost to it. None of this "buy your own and plug it in" malarky.

And dialling took ages as it was all pulse dial, with rotary dials !

Go back to that, no thanks. <mutter to himself>Youngsters these days, no idea …</mutter>

No I don't have a suggestion for what to replace the current system with. It's not perfect, but it's better than pretty well all the alternatives that have been suggested.

Having an equivalent of OpenReach owned jointly by all the providers wouldn't help. The larger ones would be able to game the system (adjust charges) so as to put smaller outfits and/or new entrants at a disadvantage. Plus, with BT as it's largest customer by far, it's fairly clear which tune they'd dance to.

Have them independent of all providers ? Same problem - they'll sing whatever tune the largest customer tells them to.

Have them independent but all charges set by regulator ? That's not much different to what we have now, and we can see how well that works - constant arguments about whether the charges are too high or too low. Plus it's still an incumbent monopoly so not that much reason to change anything.


ICANN posts guidelines to avoid gTLD mix-ups

SImon Hobson
Thumb Up

here it is



Fiendish CryptoLocker ransomware survives hacktivists' takedown

SImon Hobson

Re: backups and...

> So along comes ZFS and BTRFS etc.. so copy on write and snapshots.

> Am I mistaken in thinking that if the Linux box was managing the copy-on-write with

> snapshots (say every hour/day etc...) and exposing the filesystem as SAMBA (or

> whatever) to a windows guest, that cryptlocker would come in and mess up files

>(I am assuming users home directories), but since copy-on-write , the old version

> would still be around?

No expert here, but yes - that would be my understanding. As long as you keep a snapshot from before CL got it's paws into the filesystem then you should be able to roll back. You still need other backups as a filesystem corruption or disk failure can still lose you your data, as will a house fire if you don't have a backup offsite.


Microsoft: C'mon, you can trust us... look at our gov spook-busting plans

SImon Hobson

> Euro-centric data centers are a damned good idea …

But won't help if the company is US based. Unless the data centre is operated by an outfit with no US control at all will it help - simply because if it's US controlled then the bosses can be told "give us the data or go to jail", at which point they'll slurp the data back across the pond and hand it over.


I thought I was being DDOSed. Turns out I'm not that important...

SImon Hobson
Thumb Up

Re: @bob

I run my own mailserver as well. I first did it many years ago (when there weren't hoards of suitable services on the net) and I was completely peed off with my ISPs borked servers. It also means I can choose my own policies on spam management - including what is (to me) a priority constraint of "if you accept it for delivery then you deliver it", I absolutely do not accept any excuse for accepting a message and then not delivering it*.

It was also a useful learning exercise. It also means that when I use (for example) the multi-function machine to scan stuff and email it to one of us, it doesn't need to go out on my limited outbound bandwidth and come back in on what used to be also a very limited bandwidth (it's now just limited !).

It also means I can look at the logs - cf below about not knowing if stuff has been delivered. At least I can show that I sent stuff and if someone didn't receive it then that's their fault (either for setting up a broken system or using a broken external system).

More recently, it means my mail is IPv6 enabled :)

* Personally, I think the idea of building a whole system around the concept of "accept it, say you'll deliver it, then throw half of it away" is, struggling to stay polite, completely brain dead. It leads to all sorts of problems - notably the fact that these days (unlike the "good old days") you can have no confidence that when you send an email it'll either be delivered or you'll get a message back to say it wasn't. In other words, most mail service operators have deliberately broken their systems.


Who will recover your data if disaster strikes?

SImon Hobson

Re: Not just a technical problem

>> - It's written by IT and thus only deals with IT. No handling of staff, media, buildings, business processes (looong list of "others" omitted).

Been on the other end of that, as a techie in IT, having management demand that I "write disaster recovery plans". I knew enough to know that I didn't know much, and was lucky enough to get on a good course at a "last minute, got empty seats, and the course works best when full" discount. After the course I now knew that I didn't have half the information needed, and also knew that my chances of getting buy in from management was nil - confirmed by the less than helpful responses to my requests for information such as recovery time objectives.

And I expressed my "concerns" about the situation.

And did I mention that this was to be a zero-budget exercise - so even if I came up with a 100% absolute requirement for something, there was no budget for it.

A few months later as we had a fire alarm in the factory - false alarm, but we were still stood outside in the rain. I don't think it was received too well when I asked of a senior manager "so if this were a real fire, and we weren't going back inside today, how would you propose to get people home (or at least out of the rain) given that their car keys will be in the office ?"

We never did get DR plans. We had plans to cover IT, but no DR plans. It was all forgotten before long - long most "buzzword bingo" requirements thrown at us by insurance inspectors or auditors.


POWER SOURCE that might END humanity's PROBLEMS: A step forward

SImon Hobson

Re: Science

>> Do you really think that anyone is deliberately choosing the most expensive methods of obtaining energy when all factors are taken into account?

Actually yes - the politicians, in a desire to appease the green lobbies, are doing just that. The *direct* cost of wind power is something in excess of 30p/unit - that's only what's paid to the operators in direct payments for the lecky and subsidies (called a Renewables Obligation Certificate just so it technically isn't a subsidy). Then there are significant additional costs to the rest of the network in accommodating the intermittency - but that's OK, it doesn't appear anywhere in a way you can directly pin it on the renewables.

Meanwhile, people complain that the government looks set to guarantee new nuclear operators something like (from memory) 10.5p/unit - so as to get them to invest billions of private sector funding.


Mandatory HTTP 2.0 encryption proposal sparks hot debate

SImon Hobson

>> If you're using something like blogspot then I would assume that the shared nature of the service will mean that only one certificate will probably be needed.

>> Something similar could apply to shared hosting in general.

That only applies if you are using a shared domain, eg user.blogspot.com. Once you start having your own domain name, then there is both a cost for the SSL cert for *your* domain, and the knock on cost of having to host each domain on a unique IP address. The latter is no problem with IPv6 - but it's certain to impact on anything still hosted with IPv4 (which means pretty well anything you want to be widely accessible at the moment).

AIUI, the only way round the shared hosting issue would be to redefine the protocols so that the site name wasn't encrypted - but that's a significant weakening of the protection.


The micro YOU used in school: The story of the Research Machines 380Z

SImon Hobson

>> The printer connected was an Anadex

I'd almost forgotten about those, or more correctly, almost purged it's memory from my mind !

First computer I got to play on was the Exidy Sorceror we had at 6th form - I believe they had "a computer" at secondary school but I never got to see it.

But we had an Anadex printer - which looking back was an elegant design with it's spiral grooved cylinder to drive the printhead back and forth. The head had to do two full passes, even if you were only printing one character ! And for a bonus, as it got worn, the positioning got slightly out so characters printed on the left->right passes didn't line up with those printed on the right->left passes.

<sarcasm>And wonderfully quiet</sarcasm>

Still, better than the first print I had - it had a single pin (or rather bar) in the printhead, and a ridged roller behind the paper. So the bar hammered away while the roller turned to allow the bar to print a column of dots. And at the end of the print line, the print head returned to the left with a spring.

Didn't actually see a 308Z until I got to Uni (IIRC it was in the Physics Dept where the computer club met), and by then I was already into other things and never got to learn how to drive it.


GoDaddy kicks off gTLD land rush with first domain sales

SImon Hobson

>> The new naming options will open up significant inventory and give business owners and entrepreneurs, and the public in general, more relevant choices that are specific to their business or location.

Let my fix that …

"The new naming options will open up significant inventory and give us more opportunities to blackmail businesses into giving us more money lest their name fall into the hands of a squatter".

In any case, most people are used to ".com", and for us in the UK, ".uk" - plus a handful of other country codes they come across. Apart from the observations above that most people don't know what a domain name is, if they do, then I think people will be wary of these "obviously fake because I've never heard of them" new TLDs.


Tesla battery fire pushes beleaguered firm's share price even lower

SImon Hobson

Re: V8 sound

>> Although I do believe that batteries are a broken technology.

As well as the "refuelling issue, there's also the consideration of where the lecky comes from. Adding loads of cars to the grid is going to add incremental demand that's only going to be supplied by fossil fuel generators (at least here in the UK, and I believe almost all countries worldwide). That won't change until there's enough renewable and nuclear generation that we have an excess of "zero carbon" lecky to throw around. Lets just say, I'm not holding my breath on that.

<sacasm mode>Of course, the biggest form of renewable is (I believe) wind which is so well known for it's dependability</sarcasm mode>

Even if we sort out the supply side, there's still the minor issue that if you do the sums, our distribution network couldn't cope with anything but a small minority of cars going lecky. The costs (both in direct costs and indirect costs such as the delays while loads of roads are dug up to put bigger cables in) of such upgrades would make HS2 look like spare change.

The simple facts are that liquid hydrocarbon fuels are really high energy density, easily stored and transported, and we already have an infrastructure for transporting and dispensing them. When you consider that there are well known methods for synthesising methanol from water and atmospheric CO2 (plus a load of lecky) - it would be logical to put up large arrays of solar panels somewhere that's got a low population density and lots of reliable sunshine, and then simply shove the resulting easy to handle liquid fuel into the existing infrastructure. Current designs of petrol car can, so I'm told, be easily made flex-fuel (any mix of petrol, methanol, ethanol) with relatively minor software changes which would cost very little if integrated during system design. Even older cars with carbs can run on methanol with adjustments (rejetting), but they'd lose the ability to run on petrol.

As for hydrogen. Expensive to make (mostly from hydrocarbon sources at the moment and required huge energy inputs to compress and/or liquify), hard to store, no distribution infrastructure - and a really low energy density needing a heavy tank for limited capacity.

PS - yes I'd be happy with a V12, but I can't afford the extra 4 cylinders so I have to make do with a V8.


Fury as OS X Mavericks users FORCED to sync contact books with iCloud

SImon Hobson
Thumb Down

Re: Molehill->mountain

> So you're unhappy that Apple have dropped support for an obsolete third-party phone that synced using unsupported third-party software.

No, I'm "irritated" that they've dropped a system service that was provided for just this sort of arrangement - ie to allow third party software to sync in a supported way (rather than having to dig into stuff they shouldn't). I'm "very annoyed" that it was dropped almost silently, but then that's par for the course for Apple these days - as long as their iStuff works then nothing else counts.

But like many of the others, I consider it a real step backwards to remove local sync capability. Regardless of various issues (I'm not that fussed if the NSA know that I'm going to the office party etc), I fail to see the point of punting a load of data (slowly, and if away from home, potentially expensively) up my internet connection, only to pull it down again. A local USB connection is 3 orders of magnitude faster than my internet upstream.

Not only that, but I'm assuming I'll still need to use a cable to sync videos etc - it would take days or weeks to sync photos and videos to my iPad via the internet. I haven't looked into at all, but that's what I assume from the references to calendar and contacts servers. So given that I'll still need to use a cable, what's so wrong with … well … using that same cable and same sync session for the calendar and contacts ?

> In the meantime it's probably best not to upgrade your OS when you're using obsolete hardware and software.

Yes, for me the answer is to not upgrade (now I've rolled back by restoring from backups). But I would point out that "old" does not equal "obsolete". My "obsolete" phone works very well as a phone, works very well as a calendar, works very well for contacts, will run for a week between charges (unless I'm using TomTom in which case it will still last me a good day).

Incidentally, I do generally look at compatibility of applications before a major upgrade - I just missed this one.

SImon Hobson

Re: Mac OS Server?

Sync Service are (or were) used for more than just iWhatsits. Third parties (eg Missing Sync for <something>) also use Sync Services, and some of those devices don't have cloud ability.

Besides, if I run my own server then I have two options - buy and run an extra machine for it (limits me to syncing at home, not anywhere as long as I have or can borrow a cable), or have to set aside a large chunk of my limited RAM to run a virtual machine to run it in. And it's an extra cost - granted it's hardly anything compared with what they used to charge - but it's still an extra cost.

SImon Hobson

Re: Molehill->mountain

> They've provide users with a perfectly good alternative to cabled synch

Err, no they haven't for me. I'm still using an older phone* for which cloud synching is not an option - so even if I was happy with the privacy side of things, let alone the extra bandwidth and delays, it doesn't work. Besides, I *LIKE* synching with a cable - after all, the phone (and other devices) need charging.

So count me in the "seriously unhappy" camp. As I write this, I'm running from a temporary 10.6.8 install on an external hard disk while a backup from before I upgraded is restored. Rate varies a bit (it's into the little files now), but it looks like it *should* be finished before home time. So there's a day I won't get back.

There really, really, **REALLY** is no excuse for dropping a feature like this without warning.

* Palm if you must know - using Missing Sync. Yes it's past it's best (Web browser is ancient), but it works well as a phone, the contacts work well, and the calendar works well - and it sits there running on just one or two charges a week. Can't decide what to upgrade to - these days it seems to be a case of who do I bend over and take it from, Apple, Google, or Microsoft :(


Blighty's laziness over IPv6 will cost us on the INTERNETS - study

SImon Hobson

Re: Would this work?

>> Could everything on my internal network then stay the same?

Basically, yes.

There's a lot of FUD about, and a lot of the criticisms derive from the workarounds people have to do now to get around lack of ISP support. Eg, my ISP doesn't do IPv6 yet (but they've had a trial and are working towards it) - in the meantime I'm using a tunnel service from Hurricane Electric.

This does mean I have a few extra config lines in my router (a virtual Debian GNU/Linux box), but **ALL** the complexity is handled in the router.

From an end user POV, what should happen is : User signs up with ISP, ISP sends out pre-configured* router, user plugs it in, user equipment gets both IPv4 (as they do now) and IPv6 (which is new) addresses from the router.

So at present, user just plug in and their equipment gets an IPv4 address - the user doesn't need to do anything (other than connect to the wireless for wireless devices). When ISPs are IPv6 enabled, "nothing happens" to the user experience - their equipment will just auto-configure both IPv4 and IPv6.

What does change is that for IPv6 connections, there's no NAT - so that means a whole shedload of complexity disappears - complexity which many users don't see because clever programmers spent lots of effort working round the problems when they could have been building better <whatever>. I can assure you that there has been a **LOT** of (IMO) wasted developer time expended on working round the breakage that is inherent in NAT. NAT is only "not a problem: because of all this effort into working round it.

On the security front, a basic stateful firewall will give you all the security that NAT ever gave (and more). On the privacy side, a device is quite free** to change it's IPv6 address within the subnet - and it's got millions of addresses to go at. All these will be tied back to your assigned network range - so consider IPv6 range == IPv4 address in terms of privacy. Eg, if you have a fixed IPv4 address now, everything done by your devices is linkable to your connection by the single external address - for a fixed IPv6 assignment, you'll have millions of address (actually 2^64 minimum), but they'll all be linked to your connection. If your assignments are dynamic, then they will change periodically - and the privacy issues are just the same (if <someone> wants to identify you, they can go to court, show proper reason, and get an order for your ISP to say who that address (IPv4) or range (IPv6) was assigned to at any point in time).

* Actually, I think they use a remote configuration protocol so it gets configured when plugged in, but I'd not looked at that side of things.

** I forget what the term is called, but some devices will default to using a fixed address based on the MAC address. Some default to using a dynamic address that it changes from time to time.

Of course, technical users can mess around with fixed addresses for servers, opening ports in the firewall etc. An average user doesn't need to.

Another facet of all this is that these days it's getting less and less necessary to use IP addresses. So much now uses multicast DNS (aka mDNS, Bonjour, ZeroConf, …) so that one device can advertise on it's network all the services it offers - and other devices can automatically detect them and present them to the user. So, for example, your new printer should just plug in, systems can "just find it", and you may even see an entry for it in your browser's bar (for web management) - you you don't need to know it's IPv4 or IPv6 address (both of which will be dynamic) in order to configure and use it.


They've taken my storage hostage ... now what?

SImon Hobson

>> Much as I deprecate giving money to criminals, for the commercial organisation you describe this would seem much the cheapest option

Here's an interesting thought. Is it *legal* for a business to pay the ransom ? Perhaps Trevor (or one of his colleagues) could consider that conundrum in a future article.


Price rises and power cuts by 2016? Thank the EU's energy policy

SImon Hobson

Re: @ TheOtherHobbes

> Nonsense. It works fine. Wind is now 12% of UK electricity supply and rising fast.

It depends on how you define "works fine" !

If your definition is "it creates electricity, on average, to supply 12%" and leave it at that then yes - it does work fine.

On the other hand, if your definition is "It generates dependable electricity when it's needed" then no, they really do not work fine. If they produced 12% day in, day out, day and night, 365 days of the year then that would be fine (ish). But they don't. The output is massively variable (anything from 4 or 5 GW to less than 200MW for the 7GW of metered wind generation capacity), and doesn't always produce when needed.

Result ? At some times, demand is up but wind is down - this means other generators must fire up and fill in the gaps. At other times, wind is up but demand is down - so because of the stupid rules other generators must scale back. This (as the article points out) makes other generators unprofitable and so they are likely to shut down. When they are gone, all we need is another spell like the end of 2010 - very cold, extended period of cold and calm air over the country, naff all wind output, massive demand, and ... none of those useful gas powered stations to fill in the gap and keep the lights on.

Now, if the wind (and other renewable) operators had to take care of their own intermittency - paying themselves for the negative effects they have on everyone else - then and only then would I have any sympathy at all with the massive subsidies they get. As it is, they are little but leeches - sucking out loads of money, and leaving everyone else to pay for the problems they cause.

I'll add that in general it's hard to criticise someone for taking advantage of the situation - as someone I know put in when having his solar PV installed, "if they're handing out free money, I'll have some of that". No, the problem comes down right at the feet of the clueless f***wits in London who put in place such a broken system and ignored all advice about what were obvious consequences.

Fail icopn - both for the policies, and for your comprehension (or lack thereof) of reality.


Exciting MIT droplet discovery could turbocharge power plants, airships and more

SImon Hobson

Re: Nothing will make airships viable.

>> Nothing will make airships viable

Depends on what you want to use it for. Logically, a cruise ship shouldn't be viable - after all there are cheaper and faster ways to travel !

I wouldn't suggest airships will ever replace a large amount of other transport capacity, they do have certain advantages which (should practicalities be overcome) guarantee them a niche. If shifting large loads, fixed wing aircraft generally need very large (and strong) runways to operate from, while heavy lift helicopters are still quite constrained in lifting capacity while being very expensive and noisy to run. In flight, fixed wing aircraft have minimum speeds and are quite noisy, while helicopters also have minimum speeds (or efficiency drops) and are even noisier.

Where I see niches appearing would be things like :

Large lifts in/out of inhospitable/remote areas. The sort of movements that currently require the building of (often temporary) roads and/or the breaking up of equipment into small part.

Leisure activities where the slow speed may actually be an advantage - long distance cruises and game watching (as currently done from hot air balloons) come to mind.

I'm sure there are others.

>> Hydrogen airships died fiery deaths: helium ones were torn apart by turbulence.

In films yes. You should remember that the Hindenburg, the poster ship of the "IT BURNS" camp, wasn't destroyed by a hydrogen fire - the hydrogen only went up AFTER the rocket fuel coated outer canvas cover set on fire and the fire then burned through the gas bags.


Parallels pledges roll-back fix after silent 'trojan' freebie install triggers punter outrage

SImon Hobson

Re: What I really don't understand...

> Is why do Mac users still pay for Parallels Desktop when VirtualBox is free?

Why buy cheese when chalk is free (dig it out of the ground) ?

Yes, at the basic level they do the same job, but they do it differently. Parallels has some features that, at a quick glance, VirtualBox does not.

For example ... To a certain extent (it's not perfect), Parallels can make your Windows programs appear very much like part of the Mac - ie instead of having a window with the virtual PC running in it, each Windows program has it's own windows intermingled with the Mac ones as if they were Mac programs.

I also note that VirtualBox has "experimental support for MacOS guests. Parallels 8 had full and supported support for MacOS guests* which was very useful for me when I upgraded my OS and had to keep a copy of my old system running for the handful of (old) applications that don't run on Mac OS 10.7 or later.

* Some caveats apply :(

Plus, when you've been using it for as long as some of us have (looooooong before VirtualBox and other upstarts were around) then there's a certain amount of inertia - it's a lot easier to upgrade than to start again with a different package. It's not that expensive either for what it is - the upgrade (they come every couple of years in general) has just cost me less that £40. So something like £20/yr or less - which isn't a lot of money (I can spend more than that on a single round of drinks). If it cost significantly more then I'd have seriously considered switching by now - but as it is, it's not worth the cash saving and I've more pressing demands on my time.

Sometimes "free" isn't the be all and end all. Parallels is "just a tool" for me - one of a long list which includes both free and paid for options. And it's one I've been using for around a decade - before that I used Connectix Virtual PC, until Microsoft bought it and stopped development of the Mac version.

SImon Hobson

Re: I'm not entirely sure...

I believe it would be as well - except that being a US company they would be outside the reach of UK police and so it's not worth reporting. However, it seems my purchase is with Parallels GMBH - ie a German company - which does change things a bit.

On the other hand, it's all completely OK. I logged a security issue and got this response. So that's OK then !

>> From the e-mail I understand that when you installed the Parallels Desktop along with

>> it the Parallels Access was installed and connected to the server automatic without

>> any permission and because of this you think this software as a Trojan.But for

>> your information Parallels Access is free software provided with Parallels Desktop 9

>> with 6 months of free subscription for remotely accessing your computer from you

>> iPad and the credentials that has been used is fully confidential and will not be shared

>> with anyone.

My response to that was "somewhat brusque".

I'm now off to raise another ticket, querying why my Parallels forum posts still haven't been posted after 2 days. I won't put that down to malice or censorship - just perhaps not actually having a moderator who's awake.


Fingers crossed! Half a trillion quid in public cash entrusted to ageing gov IT

SImon Hobson

Doesn't sound that bad to me

The figures given suggest less than 0.5% of turnover is spent on running the system. IMO that sounds like a pretty good figure. And there's that old argument that if it isn't broken, we should be fixing ... err, modernising ... it until it is.

See, it is possible to have "well managed and … stable platforms" in government IT. On the other hand, these are old systems that would have been built back in the day when people cared about such things.



SImon Hobson

Re: One thing the FSF seems to be overlooking...

More to the point, with Apple's (or anyone else's) closed system : NSA come along and say "We want a back door into it - or someone is going to disappear". Apple say "What style of doorknob ?"

With open source project it's a lot harder. Who are they going to go to since few projects have only one person involved. Yes, they can apply pressure to one person, but then he has to explain what the code is that he's submitting - and all the others in the project can look at that code.

So in practice, they'd need to coerce a number of people - some of whom won't be under their jurisdiction. Even then, that doesn't prevent someone on the sidelines seeing something fishy in the code.

So it is correct to say that being open source can't prevent such things - but it makes it a darned sight harder to pull off without being caught.


LOHAN slowly strips lens caps off hi-def imaging arsenal

SImon Hobson

Not considered a drying rig ?

Other than putting silica gel inside the case, have you considered creating something that will dry everything out before launch ?

Not my field, so I don't know if a sealed box with dry silica gel would do the trick. Or perhaps a box with some dry ice in the bottom (to create cold and trap any moisture as ice, with a heated section above to keep the cameras warm ? I'm sure between all us commentards we have enough boffinery skills to come up with something.

The gauntlet is thus propelled on a downward trajectory ...


No signal in Seascale? Countryside Alliance wants to hook you up

SImon Hobson

Yeah, we don't need headlights up here.

That is a joke BTW.


Green German gov battles to keep fossil powerplants running

SImon Hobson

Re: Where Germany goes

>> the biggest elephant-in-the-room of which is the long-term disposal problem

Which is mostly political and largely the making of the anti-nuclear lobby !

Take some of the current/recent/upcoming reactor decommissioning. When these were built (and I'm thinking about the Magnox stations) there was a plan to deal with the "quite radioactive core" and related material. Once you've taken the fuel out, the core that's left is active - but one thing that the anti-lobby forget is that you can have highly active and short half life, or long half life and not very active. Unfortunately, the public has been hoodwinked into believing the tosh that it's both highly active and long lived. SO the plan *was* simple - turn off the reactor, let it cool, take the fuel out - and just keep cooling it for a while. Before long, it's so active that you can remove all the ancillary equipment and you're left with a block the size of an average house - which you wrap in a bit of concrete.

You guard it - but really that's for show and to avoid graffiti which is about all that's going to happen.

Then after a century or so, all the highly active stuff has decayed, and it so radioactive that it's safe to walk in and pick up the blocks of graphite.

So that *was* the plan. Unfortunately, the anti-lobby has outright lied about all this, and the sheeple believe that's not acceptable. So instead of doing the simple, safe, cheap thing - we spend huge amounts of money to deal with the highly active stuff now. All that money could be spent on far more useful thing that would benefit our children, grandchildren, and so on far more than by removing a house sized non-dangerous object now !

The other problem is that people are unable to differentiate between costs that are really due to "current" production, and those that are due to poor choices made decades ago when priorities were to get nuclear up and running quickly so as to have our weapons. In hindsight some of these choices were poor - but priorities were different back then.

Anything built today is designed with decommissioning in mind - ie before anything is built, there is already a plan for how to take it apart again. This was not the case back in the 40s and 50s when the current problems were being laid down.

As to the German problem, perhaps the owners off all the fossil fuel plants should decide to switch off at the same time - just when the wind is poor and the sun has gone down. I think that might just persuade the population that renewables aren't going to keep them warm.


Google goes dark for 2 minutes, kills 40% of world's net traffic

SImon Hobson

Re: I know what must have happened. And it's not like we weren't warned.

Nah, not that one, try this one instead



Boffins, Tunnel Tigers and Scotland's world-first power mountain

SImon Hobson

Re: Restarting the grid

>> as to whether the line about restarting the National Grid really has much truth in it.


>> If the grid was in such dire circumstances that it needed a restart, would the pumped storage systems be full or already drained?

Well before my time, but my father spent his life in power engineering so knew many of the details ...

We have had a near complete blackout in this country, as have others (the USA has a particularly famous one that started with a relay tripping at Niagra Falls). Interestingly, when I looked them up a while ago, I found out that they are more common than I'd thought !

Anyway, back to this country.

At the time, most of the infrastructure had been designed on the assumption that "that can't possibly happen can it ?", with the result that there was little black start capability. After that, there was a massive retrofit programme to add gas turbines to many power stations specifically for black starting. These also had the useful extra feature of being useful rapid start devices for lopping peak demands a bit.


ICANN puts Whois on end-of-life list

SImon Hobson

It's all very well ...

OK, so The Reg have tipped us off about this, but cane I find an address to email ? Well not in the limited spare bit of lunchtime I have available.

I'm with the above, Whois may have its faults, but IMO the proposed centralised system is more broken, and their assumptions & conclusions are faulty.

Firstly, providing Whois is simply a cost of running a registry. If the argument is that this cost is unreasonable, then what else shouldn't they have to provide ? And I really can't see any way that running something that's "just like whois but newer" plus "fund a share of some central body to duplicate the data" is going to significantly reduce operating costs - the registrar still has to collect the data, validate it (they are best placed as they are the only ones with customer contact), store it, and disseminate it.

If the complaint is that the data is rubbish, then that's "simply" a matter of enforcing existing policies/agreements. For those registrars who hold rubbish, give them some time to clean up and terminate anyone that doesn't. If they know there's a lot of rubbish, then they probably have a good idea who the guilty registrars are.

As for functions like "find out what domains I 'own", well wow - perhaps all the bookshops should get together to form a central registry so I can remember what I've bought ! If the end user is too stupid to keep basic records, then why should world+dog hold his hand for him ? There might be some argument for having such a feature available to law enforcement, but is that really sufficient reason to rip out a system and install la costly, bureaucratic, and fragile central system that won't serve end user's needs ?

IMO, the distributed system is best, for much the same reasons that we consider a distributed DNS system to be good. And besides, who wants to hand ALL registration data en-masse to the USA (well at least without tham having to do some snooping effort !) I guess that has to be part of the reason - to give the USA the power of veto over all domains, not just those held with US based registrars.


Apple's screw-up leaves tethered iPhones easily crackable

SImon Hobson

Re: @gordon10...Smart people don't keep the default password for their hotspots.

>>... hiding the SSID ...

You should unhide it for security.

If it is hidden (ie the access point doesn't broadcast beacon packets saying "I'm here") then the devices with a stored association with it will constantly broadcast "Are you there ?" packets looking for it - all the time they aren't connected to it. This happens because the only way for them to find your AP is to ask if it's there - rather than just silently listening for it's broadcasts.

Thus, by hiding the SSID, you change the target from "broadcasts information while the AP (your MiFi) is turned on" to "all your devices with stored connections to it broadcast the information all the time they are turned on".

As a side effect, it also means your devices are more active (sending these "are you there ?" packets) which impacts on battery life and also clogs up the available bandwidth.


EFF files objections with W3C decrying addition of DRM to HTML5

SImon Hobson

> ... to continue to use non-standards compliant front ends. We'll be stuck with Flash/Air/Silverlight/Java forever - great plan EFF!

Instead, if the proposal goes ahead, we'll still be stuck with non-standards front ends, and we'll still be stuck with Flash/Air/Silverlight/Java forever. The only difference is that the Flash/Air/Silverlight/Java will be wrapped in a standard compliant package.

It'll be no less closed. It'll be no more widely available - wrapping it in a wrapper won't suddenly make it work on Linux when it's Windows only. It won't make it any less of a hassle to keep up to date. It won't make it run any more efficiently. In short, it will provide no benefits for the user.

**ALL** it will do is allow the closed vendors to ship the same closed products, for the same limited uses/platforms, but they'll be able to say "but look, it's standards compliant" - which will only be true at a superficial level. So same old s**t, but now officially sanctioned by the standards.


Builder-in-a-hole outrage sparks Special Projects Bureau safety probe

SImon Hobson

Re: It's all good fun until somebody dies

Indeed, and I've witnessed plenty of things over the years where you have to wonder what the people involved were thinking.

The problem is that Rui has probably been down lots of holes like that, and so have his mates, and they've all come up alive - ergo, no problem. But as you point out, just occasionally it goes wrong and then it's too late. The reason we (in the UK, dunno what the situation is in Spain) have bodies like the HSE is to deal with people who really ought to know better. In many cases they do know better but it's either inconvenient or too expensive.

The biggest problem we have is that there are some extremes and some stupid stuff done in the name of "elf n safety". "Elf n safety" does **NOT** prohibit anything (well hardly anything). It certainly doesn't prohibit school kids playing conkers. And it certainly doesn't mandate "hi vis everywhere".

However, lots of stuff is done (or banned) in the name of elf-n-safety because those responsible don't know (and often don't want to know) how to manage any potential risks. So instead of applying sensible rules, they just do stupid things - imposing "hi vis everywhere" rules, banning stuff, and so on.

But that is not what health and safety is about.

It's about simply looking at the risks inherent in an activity - and working out how to minimise/mitigate/manage them. It might be that the ground conditions are such that Lester's hole was highly unlikely to collapse - but I suspect the risks aren't as low as Lester or Rui think. But the risks are fairly easily mitigated - the techniques for doing so are well known and not hard - but they probably do come under the category of "inconvenient" or "too costly". And besides, elf-n-safety is just a bunch of busybodies out to stop all activity right ?

I'll leave with this thought ...

Have a look for the poem "I Chose to Look The Other Way". Try to imagine how you might feel if, at some point, you find yourself in such a position.

Think you know what it feels like knowing that by inaction you could have contributed to someone's death ? Knowing that had you taken a different course, then someone might still be alive today ? Really think you know how it feels ?

Now find someone who is in that position. I really really don't think they'll describe it how you think. All I'll say is that I strongly recommend you stay on the side of wondering what it feels like. It's a one way street and there's no coming back - there have been people who have committed suicide because they couldn't live with it.


Debian 7 debuts

SImon Hobson
Thumb Up

As an indication of stability ...

Yes, Debian tends to be "a bit slow" on updates, but that is often an advantage. Some time ago I started pulling a handful of packages from Testing (aka Wheezy at the time) when I needed newer versions. As some point I decided to try a full upgrade, and many of my servers have been running Wheezy for a long time - at least a year for some. I've had very few problems.

I did have a look down the list of RC bugs first, but didn't spot any that were relevant, so just went for it.

Since late last year, the only things I've not got on Wheezy are things I don't want to (or can't) upgrade at all (for now).

TIP: When setting up systems, explicitly specify the distro you want (Squeeze, Wheezy, etc). It avoids that WTF! moment if you use "stable" and didn't see the news.


ISPs: Get ready to slurp streams from Murdoch's fat pipe

SImon Hobson

Re: So the Anti Murdoch brigade

> Sky Broadband and phones are actually BT service re-sold

Phones yes, broadband probably not - they are an LLU operator in my local exchanges.

Personally I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole, though colleagues at work are happy with them. Apart from the ethical consideration that I wouldn't want to give a penny to anything touched by News International, there's the minor detail that I won't consider and ISP that charges extra for a static IP (like BT), let along one that doesn't have the option (like Sky).