* Posts by SImon Hobson

1142 posts • joined 9 Sep 2006

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Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Update tweaked to stop you disabling app promos

SImon Hobson
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Re: "PROfessional" or "PROsumer"?

It looks someone at MS fails to understand the needs of many PROfessionals who uses their computer for true work ...

I suspect they fully understand - hence why they are deliberately pushing them to a paid version. As someone has already commented, it was predicted long ago that MS would start pushing sh*t, crippling features, etc on an ongoing basis so as to force everyone but the basic home user onto a paid subscription. Win10 was never "free", it was only "free" as in the "free samples" drug dealers anecdotally give prospective users to get them hooked. Once hooked in, the costs start to become apparent.

So no, there's no lack of understanding - they know exactly what they are doing. What they don't seem to realise is just how "unpopular" they are making themselves. But, as has been pointed out again and again - they can make themselves unpopular, push sh*t on users, screw users over, but people still go back and keep buying their sh*t !

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Ofcom should push for fibre – Ex BT CTO

SImon Hobson
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Re: Cui Bono?

Talk Talk say it's costing about £500 per property passed in York.

As I wrote above, part of that is because it's a niche, done in low volume, and it's being retrofitted. It's the same reason there are only "pockets" of cable TV - it's 'kin expensive retrofitting services around an already built environment.

Done as new provision to new developments the cost would be "very substantially less". OK, that only helps new developments, but it also means the economy of scale starts kicking in and bringing down some of the retrofit costs.

But if you do the costing on the basis of "we have to pull a 'kin big multipair cable out to 'Shoeboxville' anyway", then the cost of pulling a multifibre cable vs the cost of pulling a multipair copper cable is not that much different. The costs of putting the ducting into Shoeboxville* as the estate is being built is the same. Yes there'll be some incremental costs, but the equipment to terminate and manage all those analogue phones lines is not cheap - it's just amortised over long times. Before I moved, we'd had the same phone line in use for 30 years (and we weren't the first to be using that bit of copper) - so that bit of copper's been sat there earning rental for 40+ years. Apply that sort of timescale, and that £500/premises doesn't seem that expensive - as low as £1/month depending on how you do the calculation.

But BT don't want that sort of calculation. It suits them to keep the scarcity and keep the costs high - because that's their cash cow.

* Shoe boxes seems to be about all they build these days !

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SImon Hobson
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Re: "leave Europe, that needs everything in its favour"

Seriously, FTTP and ultrafast broadband isn't going to make a shit of difference to the vast majority of people.

Well that is true to a point. But, the cost of something tends to follow supply - as in, if everyone is getting FTTP whether they need it or not, then costs fall due to economies of scale. Thus for those who do want FTTP, the costs are high because it's a "niche" product, with a different set of teams to install and maintain it, etc, etc.

Had there been a policy set up "some time in the past" to make any network expansions done with fibre then instead of FTTP being an expensive niche product - it would be the default product and actually cheaper since IIRC I've read comments from BT that an all fibre network would be cheaper to run long term. And they have done trials converting entire villages to fibre only - "we have the technology" to do it, we don't have the commercial impetus to do it while they can sweat assets and charge a premium (aka fleece the customer) for what they consider to be premium services.

I've seen all this before - when ISDN2 came along, other countries adopted it with gusto. BT crippled it (refused to support some features) and made it very expensive so it wouldn't eat into their cash-cow leased lines business. Then when ADSL came along, same thing as BT deliberately adopted it as slowly as they could get away with to avoid eating into their cash-cow leased lines business. Now, with ADSL, VDSL, and even FTTP, they impose asymmetric speeds (sensible for ADSL, less so for VDSL, and not at all a technical issue for FTTP) so as to make the service less useful for hosting stuff (I run my own server at home and better outbound speed would be quite nice) - again (partly), you've guessed it, to force people to higher priced offerings. Pretty well everything BT of old, and OpenRetch now, have done is strategically what's best for BT - if that also happens to be best for the country and for individuals than that's just coincidence. But that's the problem with allowing national economy affecting policies to be set by a commercial operator with their own bottom line as the primary driver.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Cui Bono?

It's obvious from the relatively low take-up of top tier services that there is limited demand for speed. People want something better than 'crap speed' but that's all.

Indeed. But ... there are economies in scale from having everyone on the same system. So while many users have no need of FTTP - going "all FTTP" would create economies of scale meaning that it would be cheaper for them to have that than copper. AIUI, BT have even gone so far as to run trials where they've converted entire villages to FTTP and removed all the copper. True, it would cost money and take time, leading on to ... Also, AIUI they claim that an all copper network would be cheaper to run as many of the faults that occur on the copper network just wouldn't happen (no corrosion in a properly made fused fibre splice !)

I published a link last year to a Thinkbroadband article that pointed out that it would take more telecoms engineers than currently exist and a couple of decades to complete such a project. If BT had actually gone that route then most of the population would only now be moving from analogue modem to FTTP.

And the same argument will still hold in a couple of decades ! I'f we'd been putting in FTTP as a matter of policy for all new developments*, then there'd be a lot of FTTP already in, economies of scale would have got the costs down (like they did for ADSL and are now doing for VDSL), and the task would be getting smaller rather than larger. Just think, if all new housing estates built over the last decade or two had FTTP as policy then that would be all those houses now already on FTTP and not part of the "too big to tackle" process of retrofitting it.

* When I write developments, as well as new estates etc, I also include wherever BT/OR has had to extent it's network - eg where it's run out of copper and had to run new bulk distribution cables from the exchange to service rising demand for lines.

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IPv6 now faster than IPv4 when visiting 20% of top websites – and just as fast for the rest

SImon Hobson
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Re: Not entirely on topic, but...

who tell me that there is no way they can do static addresses on domestic broadband

Of course there is, what they would say if they weren't a bunch of ****ing ****ing ****s is that they won't do because they want to force you to pay extra (double). They figure that if you want a static address then you'll pay for it - even their business broadband has dynamic addresses unless you pay extra (last time I heard it was £5/month extra !).

So no there is no "can't" about this, it is all about "we won't because we want to screw you over".

Same with Sly and StalkStalk - they won't do fixed addresses on "consumer" broadband either.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: I'm sure many of the punters here

It is an abomination.

And so is IPv4. I assume you've also never setup IPv4 stuff from scratch either - and I don't mean the "from scratch" available today with largely auto-provisioned routers, LAN settings already there and DHCP enabled, etc. Having done it when manual config was still common, SLIP lines were the norm, etc - IPv4 was no piece of cake back then either.

But, IPv6 really isn't any harder - it's just that people are "comfortable" with IPv4 and so it seems harder. The biggest obstacle is getting away from the "it's the same with longer addresses" mindset since some things are different - not necessarily better or worse, but different. Part of this is also getting away from the "networks start and end with Ethernet" thinking some people have because they've never dealt with anything else.

E.g. The concept of "on-link" neighbour is very different - but once you get to grips with what is different and WHY then actually I do think it's much better. But if you can't escape from what you know about IPv4 then you will find it hard - but that's you making it hard when it isn't.

PS - I've been IPv6 enabled both at work and home for several years (via a HE tunnels) , and pretty well "it just works" and I seldom notice it.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: 20% is not noticable

Downvoted for this :

I don't see a pressing need

That's the point, you don't SEE a neede, that doesn't mean it's not there.

What you don't see is all the wasted work, wasted cost, etc involved in making many things work with IPv4 and NAT. You fire up a program is "it works", you don't see the effort the dev had to put in to make it work.

As someone who's dealt with installing and troubleshooting various stuff for many years, I've seen the problems NAT causes, and the hacks needed to work around it - or in some cases, not work around it (thanks Zyxel and your crap-by-design NAT). Not even FTP works through NAT without help - but people don't see that because pretty well every NAT gateway also includes an FTP helper to fiddle a few bits and work around the breakage.

Noticed how almost all these "control your ${something} from your phone" systems all use a hosted server ? It's only partly so the vendor can slurp your data and sell you to advertisers - it's also to work around the problems caused by NAT (and to an extent, dynamic IPs).

VoIP - yup, problems with NAT.

Peer-peer stuff like torrents - yup, problems with NAT.

Yes, these are all surmountable problems (for example, the voip provider we use at work has large proxy servers - the cost of which goes into the product) - but the point is that most people don't generally see them because other people have wasted effort in working around the problems. All this effort is largely a waste when IPv6 simply removes those problems.

So anytime I read a tirade like yours about how "it's not needed", I know it's someone who hasn't got a clue and really has no idea how much borkage NAT causes and the effort needed to work around it.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Time to learn

I.e. you have your internal network on a private /64 subnet then NAT bidirectionally to your external /64 subnet.

That would actually be Prefix Translation rather than address translation, but unfortunately (AIUI) that got kicked out as "not needed" quite early one. I can see many reasons why prefix translation would be useful (especially if standardised and with a standard way of devices getting the translation info from the device doing the translation).

This means changing IP is easy but you can still get the advantages of uniquely addressable machines.

Not just prefix changes, but also multihoming would be easier. Without it, it's easy to multihome a device (just give it an address in each prefix) - but you then have to put the routing decisions (which address they use for outbound connections) on each device instead of being able to manage it in one place.

This impacts on load balancing (each individual host doesn't know what the combined traffic looks like at the router), and also on failover time in the event of service loss.

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Openreach to split from BT... so they'll be 'Legally Separate'

SImon Hobson
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Re: What a joke

> does this mean that we now have to pay 17 quid a month "line rental" to Openreach instead of BT, ragardless of which ISP we use?

No, it means that whatever service provider you use will still pay OpenRetch as they do now. The difference is that at the moment, BT and BTOR are not separate - so BT can make a real buffet out of the books and hide real figures.

As above, the allegation is that BT sucks money out of OR, thus making OR look unprofitable and just justifying what it charges. In principle, when this legal separation is complete then it will be visible where the money comes in and goes out.

But the thing is, providing the wires to your home is a natural monopoly - and that's not going to change. You'll find plenty of providers who will sell you a "complete package" for an inclusive monthly fee - but also you are free to get your phone service from one provider, your broadband from another, ...

What hopefully will change is the end of the preferential treatment that BT group companies allegedly get from OR. What is supposed to happen is that (for example) BT (for the phone) and BT Internet (for the broadband) both get the same access and service from OR that all other providers do, no more and no less - yes, and I'm watching the porcine aerobatics team practicing outside my window right now !

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MPs tell BT: Lay more fibre or face split with Openreach

SImon Hobson
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Re: If you REALLY want change...

Replying a bit late - the effective and natural monopoly isn't for the fibre or copper cable, its' for the infrastructure (ducts, manholes, poles, ...) they run in.

But even then, there is also a huge cost advantage to the incumbent (BT OR) who already has the cable in place.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: If you REALLY want change...

> Make it clear that monopolies will not be supported with taxpayer funds

The problem is that telecoms (at least the "last mile" is a natural monopoly - just like roads, water, gas , drainage, ...

Our house has just one road in front of it, not several competing roads. It has one water main down it, not competing water mains. It has one gas main down it, not competing water mains. And the natural state of affairs is to have one infrastructure for getting telecoms/broadband to us.

There simply is no business case for multiple competing sets of infrastructure - as all those cable companies found out when they borrowed huge amounts of money to lay competing services, and then went bust. The main reason Virgin has the size of cable network it has now is because it let all those other companies build it and then bought them for a pittance in the liquidation sale. It's notable to read all the complaints about how Virgin doesn't expand it much - except perhaps when a developer pays for it to cable a new estate.

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So the sensible way to do it is to have one outfit that manages the local delivery infrastructure - like the DNOs for lecky, water companies (water and drainage), National Grid for gas, and OpenRetch for phone & broadband. But what it does need is proper regulation, but that cannot come as long as that monopoly provider is in a position where the books can be suitably cooked to hide the true financial position, and where it is owned by it's biggest customer - leading to the obvious situation that the company is going to do what is strategically best for that owner rather than what is best for all it's customers and/or the end users.

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What's Brexit? How Tech UK tore up its plans after June 23

SImon Hobson
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Re: I hear you

> and actually took part in european democracy, sending candidates to the EU parliament with an agender other than causing problems

That would be the EU parliament that actually has naff all powers ? It really really is nothing like the UK parliament where the elected government actually has a say in things. In teh EU, direction is set by the non-elected commissioners (in fact, a required attribute seems to be that your own country rejected you - cf Neil Kinnock). Then the various committees (all staffed by non-elected career committee members) get to work on implementation for the high-level policies - and bear in mind that these are people who's jobs depend on coming to the conclusion that "new regulations are needed". When all this non-elected bureaucracy has finalised things, only then does it go to the EU parliament for rubber stamping.

And rubber stamping it is. There are only 2 options available - rubber stamp it or reject it in it's entirety. Usually (for various political reasons), outright rejection si not an option - so it gets rubber stamped regardless of how badly it smells.

About the worst the EU parliament can do is write a "strongly worded letter" which the recipients can ignore - or more likely, wipe their backsides with.

We have been trying to fix the EU from the inside for several decades. Those in a position to fix things have made it really really really clear that they are not going to fix it - instead they intend taking it further and further down the road to total political and financial integration - ie a "United States of Europe" with one currency, one set of laws, one set of tax rules, ... We've seen with Greece (amongst other things) just how well that's working out when you deliberately ignore the rules on joining the club and then carry on as if nothing was wrong.

So, you are on a boat, the iceberg is clear to see dead ahead. You've pleaded with the captain to change course, but he is adamant that not only is he not changing course - he is going to increase speed. There comes a point where you realise that he is going to crash as hard as he can into that iceberg - so do you stay on board and keep trying to change his mind, or do you decide that the best place is to be on another boat when the crash happens ?

I voted for us to be on that other boat. It might not be as big or as well fitted out, but after the crash, it'll sure as hell seem much better than the carnage that'll be left. Perhaps there'll be a mutiny and others will realise the seriousness of the situation - especially when they realise we're not sinking as everyone had said we would. Perhaps when the captain has been kicked off and sane people are in charge, we can talk about working with what the EU should have been (and was when we joined).

If you look at nothing else, watch this video>.

And see this for a view on how well the Euro is working for Greece.

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Guess who gets hit hard by IR35 tax clampdown? Yep, IT contractors

SImon Hobson
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Re: Who pays employer's NI?

If you hadn't already heard, if "hit by IR35" you get to pay the extra taxes but aren't expected to get any of the benefits. I vaguely recall reading about cases where one branch of gov (the taxman) says "employed - pay more tax" while another branch said "not employed - not entitled to <something>".

Put another way, TPTB see no problem whatsoever in someone being neither an employee nor not an employee - getting the worst of both and none of the benefits of either.

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Internet exchange Linx cuts peering prices by 40% after rip-off claims

SImon Hobson
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Re: per month per Mbps to 28 euro cents

> I assume it covers the cost of routing data to the rest of the world ...

Then you assume wrong.

Think of a room with a big ethernet switch in it. Various ISPs, transit providers, etc get their own connections to that room and plug into the big switch. All these outfits can then make arrangements to "peer" with each other - effectively "I'll take your traffic if you'll take mine" or "I'll pay you to take my traffic across the Atlantic" arrangements.

The advantage over peer-peer connections is the scalability. If you have 3 providers that want to peer, that's three links (A-B, B-C, and A-C), for 4 providers you need 6 links (A-B, A-C, A-D, B-C, B-D, C-D), and when you get to the dozens or hundreds of outfits in the market these days, the number of provider to provider links would be huge - and very expensive.

Alternatively, the ISPs would have to send their traffic "up" to a transit provider who would then route it back "down" to the peer - at a cost.

So they all get one connection to a single exchange - one link for provider A, one link for B, and so on. They can all talk to each other via this "big switch".

As an analogy, suppose you are one of hundreds of companies in big office block. And lets suppose that you do a certain amount of business with other companies - you might be doing IT for them, others are doing HR or secretarial or accounting for you, and so on. You can have someone walk round the building to deliver post to others you deal with (roughly analogous to peer to peer connections), or you can stick stamps on the envelopes and get BT to route them via the nearest sorting office (roughly analogous to sending the traffic up to transit networks), or you can all send someone down to the post room and drop the letters in the post boxes for the other companies - this is roughly equivalent to an IXP, a "Post room for the internet".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_exchange_point

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BT customers hit by broadband outage ... again

SImon Hobson
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Re: Some sympathy -but not a lot

> BT is not the same as a small One-man-and-a-cat rural welsh IT company

Indeed.

Us small fish just have to accept what conditions are on offer. BT are big enough that they should be able tocan dictate to suppliers how things are done. It may be a supplier's problem, but BT can't hide behind that because either they've audited the setup and were happy with it (oops), or they didn't audit it in which case they can't be said to have done due diligence (oops).

Either way, from a PR PoV it's BT's name in the headlines.

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UK's climate change dept abolished, but 'smart meters and all our policies strong as ever'

SImon Hobson
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Re: I want one!

Read this carefully ...

You do not need a smart meter to get that information. Really, it just doesn't need it, and all the outright lies (which is what most of the publicity stuff is) won't change that.

A clip-on meter will give you a good idea, though a better quality one will work all the time and take into account power factor.

Your inverter on the solar panels will tell you what it's generating - that's a standard function, but may not have been explained to you, or perhaps the f***tards stuck it somewhere stupid (like the attic) where you can't get at it - ask the installers to make it possible for you to read this information, it may need a remote display.

Besides, even if none of this covered it, none of what you ask for actually needs what the meters being talked about can do. Few are worried about the accurate and real time usage information - yes that's useful. The variable rate tariffs are perhaps a bit controversial given that they are intended to be price rationing - ie hike the price until the poor cut back on usage.

But, the smart metering is about huge data collection - knowing your consumption by the half hour for every day of every year can tell a lot about your habits, and would be "quite valuable" to certain types (think what advertisers could do with it, or criminals). Yes we're assured it will be secure - but we don't trust that (the law can be changed, and it's too juicy a target) and collecting it isn't needed as all that is needed is (say) monthly totals for each register* (ie how much you used at each rate).

* Register is the industry term for the "totaliser" bit - the numbers you can read. We've have multi-register metering (think economy seven) for many decades - but that didn't need the intrusive and security risk data slurping these smart meters have built in.

There is one actual benefit - though that is in itself also a downside. These meters can be remotely switched between pre-pay and credit modes. This means it's quicker and cheaper to switch someone from pre-pay to credit mode. The downside is that it's also quicker and easier to switch from credit mode to pre-pay - so find yourself struggling with the bills, hey presto you find you're suddenly part of the pre-pay crowd with all that entails. Of course we all believe the "strong safeguards" will be properly applied don't we ?

And on that last one, we all believe the "strong safeguards" will never fail to prevent an incorrect remote supply disconnection when someone clicks the wrong button on some system somewhere and "click" - that's your power off and it's now down to you to persuade them that they've made a mistake.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: smart meter

> Citation needed. As far as I know there is no such EU mandate.

I have no citation, but you are correct that there isn't a mandate as such. However, AIUI, the energy rating system is weighted such that hot-fill machines suffer a severe penalty such that while they may be using completely free hot water (think of those with solar thermal panels who don't use the boiler at all in weather like today) they get weighted a lot worse than those that use poor efficiency coal-fired* electricity.

* Yes, coal fired because until we have enough of everything else, we'll still be burning coal to make lecky. So it really is a comparison between "burn gas locally" and "burn coal, convert heat to steam (with losses), convert steam to motion (with losses), convert motion to lecky (with losses), transmit lecky (with losses),a nd finally convert lecky to heat (fairly efficient).

PS - in our house it's a combi (yeah, I hate it), and there's about 4 foot of pipe between boiler and washing machine take off - but it's cold fill only. There is an argument, valid for many houses, that with the reduced water consumption of modern machines, you'll seldom dray enough hot water to even flush the pipes.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Consumer benefits are not falling!

> Consumer and contract law might have to be changed if the consumer has no idea how much the bill is going to be until it comes in.

Ah, but they will - that's what the in-home display is for.

> You can't treat to sell without disclosing the price, and if the price is going to be variable, possibly minute by minute, then the consumer is totally fscked.

I think you'll find that variable pricing is OK - provided it is very clear up-front AND the consumer has a means of knowing what they will be paying before they use it. AIUI, it's not so much "your lecky now costs 50p/unit" as "starting at <next half hour point> the lecky will be 50p/unit".

> Even more legally dubious would be to vary the price tariffs on a pre-pay meter. If you've already paid for your energy, the supplier can't just change the price of the already paid for goods.

But you haven't pre-paid for the goods. You have paid for credit which is then used to pay for the goods as you use them.

All that said, the current design of the smart metering thing is a complete and utter fail-magnet.

Contrary to what someone has said before, part of the spec is for remote disconnection (and remote re-connection) - though in theory that is a last resort when "pricing demand management" has failed. Eg, if making the lecky 10 times more expensive hasn't reduced demand enough when the wind isn't blowing (and hence all the windmills in the country are doing SFA useful), then they can impose rolling blackouts - like in the 70s but more fine grained.

There is zero need to report back the detailed usage by 1/2 hour periods. All that needs reporting back is a tally of usage at each charging rate. FFS we've been able to handle multi-rate metering for at least 4 decades now - don't the f***tards in charge not understand that ?

And I take all the "guarantees" about security and privacy as being worthless. When was the last time we had a big project like this that didn't leak like a sieve ?

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The last point is that will cause real problems - some of them fatal. All the bullsh*t seems to be about shifting usage to when the windmills are actually working - so running the washing machine and tumble drier at night. What an insanely stupid idea.

Firstly, when manufacturers are saying to never run tumble driers when you are asleep in case it catches fire and burns your house down - how on earth can it be a good idea to encourage just that.

And given the number of people who don't live in nice detached properties, just how would you like it if you are nicely asleep* when the washing machine in the flat above you goes onto spin cycle ?

* Actually you won't be asleep, the cycles leading up to the spin cycle will have woken you up.

If I ever found myself in that position, I'd be complaining about the statutory nuisance, and I;d be doing the best I could to get the weasels responsible to be dragged in for conspiracy by encouraging the anti-social behaviour.

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Brit Science Minister to probe Brexit bias against UK-based scientists

SImon Hobson
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Re: "EU rules still apply until we've actually left."

>> Don't just vote to run away. That's what cowards do.

> No, it's what pragmatists do.

Indeed. We've been trying to fix things, but the likes of Junker have made it very very clear that this ship is carrying on, full steam ahead. Ignore the warning of the iceberg ahead (without reform, the whole thing is going to collapse in a horrible mess sooner or later), keep keep full steam ahead on the same course to doom.

The EU parliament is nothing more than a rubber stamp department. The MEPs have f**k all power - by the time anything gets to them it's set in stone and the only thing they can do is throw the whole thing out, and it has to be really really bad for that to happen. They can issue rebukes, but really all they can do is announce that they don't like something - no-one responsible for whatever mess has any need to actually listen.

One area I do know a bit about is aviation. "The EU" decided we needed our own regulations and regulator, so EASA was created, and of course they aren't going to sit back and say "well actually lads, we don't need to do much as the current regs (eg JAR and ICAO rules) are near enough. No, they set to with a clean sheet - re-invent not just the wheel, but everything as though the industrial revolution never happened. As a result they created a huge bureaucratic mess - and while the parliament really hated it, the only choice was pass the mess presented, or create a bigger mess with a big hole where aviation regulation should have been. They even went so far as to use quite undiplomatic language in criticising things - but still had little option but to rubber stamp.

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The EU is run by the commissioners - those unelected leaders whose primary qualification seems to be that the electorate in their own country rejected them ! And piles of committees who are similarly unelected and effectively have very little constraint put on them other than ... the obvious one that deciding new regulations aren't actually needed is like turkeys voting for Christmas.

AIUI, Junkers was made a commissioner after getting kicked out in his own country. Ditto Neil Kinnock.

Watch this video, it's "quite interesting" !

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Pimp your ride with new Linux for cars and an rPi under the hood

SImon Hobson
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Nah, it'll (almost) always start ...

But you will never know whether it'll let you get in before it drives off. That, and if you don't wear the same clothes every day, you'll find all the devices like steering wheel and gearstick keep moving around - wear the wrong jacket and your passenger will have to steer from the back seat.

Problem wil be stopping it, every time you stop the engine the supervisor will think it's stalled and helpfully restart it for you.

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Nukeware: New malware deletes files and zaps system settings

SImon Hobson
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The "can restore files from elsewhere" option should always be number 1 on the list. "I can pay the ransom" is only for those idiots who didn't have number 1 in place.

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Tesla whacks guardrail in Montana, driver blames autopilot

SImon Hobson
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Re: No cell phone reception??

> Even the worst coder on Earth wouldn't rely on real-time / live map data.

There must be some worse that the worst coders around then - because a few navigation systems do do exactly that. Some will pre-cache data for the planned route, but there are navigation systems (mostly for mobile phones) that rely on real-time map data downloads.

It's something I tend to note in product reviews, given that mobile coverage round here is so much coverage as fig leafs.

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Facebook deleted my post and made me confirm pics of my kids weren't sexually explicit

SImon Hobson
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Mushroom

Re: I dumped Facebook

I wish I could. I don't have a FarceBork account, I don't go there, I don't use it - but "friends" and relatives keep posting stuff about me even when I've asked them not to.

I'm really tempted to get a copy of their file, but I'm afraid it'll just lead to a "rant of the century" causing long term discord in the family (see icon).

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Google slammed over its 'free' school service

SImon Hobson
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Re: The strangest bit

> If you do not want Google to spy on you, use a different search engine.

You missed the point entirely here.

The article is nothing at all to do with using Google's search engine - it's about schools forcing their pupils and staff to use Google's education management offering. There's nothing inherently wrong with using a cloud based management system - but in this case it's one of those "what's the cost" things you need to look at. Google has, it appears, gone out of it's way to give a false impression of how it uses users' information - effectively (as pointed out above) they won't mine the contents of Johnny's essay, but they sure as hell are going to record his online activities, build a profile on him, and sell services to others based on that profile.

THAT'S WHAT GOOGLE DOES

Even this isn't all that much of a problem IF it's done with understanding of the consequences - AND parents have the opportunity to understand the ramifications and opt out. But it isn't. It's being mis-sold to educators by lying about what Google actually do, and forced on children without their or their parents consent - I'm sure I recall reading about US schools threatening to throw out children if their parents don't consent to the data slurping.

It's also worth remembering that not using Google's search engine doesn't stop them profiling you. Like FarceBork (see Max Shrems and the destruction of Safe Harbour), Google are good at getting web site owners to embed code on sites that will track & profile users regardless of whether those site users have, or would if they knew, consented to it.

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White hat banned for revealing vulns in news sites used by London councillors

SImon Hobson
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To extend the analogy ...

Yesh ocifer, it's completely OK to drive while pished - I've driven home pished many times and never had an accident yet.

Leading to ... Insurance ocifer, don't need that, I've never had an accident.

What a complete and utter numpty to suggest that a security problem doesn't exist if it's never been triggered yet.

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WIPO chief trying to 'fix the composition of the Staff Council' – lawyer

SImon Hobson
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Pint

Re: How does he still have a job?

Sorry about your keyboard, but I claim no originality for the name - someone at work told me that one. Here, have a virtual one on me.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: How does he still have a job?

People asked the same about Septic Blather for quite a while - the comparison with FIFA is quite apt. But there's only so long you can keep this sort of thing going, as Septic eventually found out. And the higher you've built your castle, the further and harder the fall when it does eventually arrive.

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Debian founder Ian Murdock killed himself – SF medical examiner

SImon Hobson
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Re: With friends like that ...

> The fact is that the severely drunk are a danger to themselves and practically impossible to look after ...

I suspect few people have actually witnessed a "proper" drunk, and that is not a criticism as it's not something anyone should have to do. I've been "surprised" by just how much some of my friends change when intoxicated - not totally plastered as in your anecdotes, but just "had a few too many at the pub". Extrapolating to "totally plastered" I could easily see what a handful they'd be.

> In the Linux world we all owed a great deal to Ian Murdock. It's very sad that he reached such an end and my sympathy goes out to everyone concerned, family, friends and, yes, police.

+1 Also, why wasn't I surprised to see Aspergers listed in amongst his problems ? We "aspies" struggle with social interactions at the best of times, I hate to think how bad it gets when adding alcohol to the mix.

Debian has been a big part of my career - it's sad to see it being highjacked as it is now.

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Man killed in gruesome Tesla autopilot crash was saved by his car's software weeks earlier

SImon Hobson
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Re: Autopilot...

Thats how it recall the documentaries about it. The controller gave conflicting advice, the russian pilots followed it, and flew into the path of the other aircraft that had avoided them.

There's a reason why the rules are "if the controller says something different to the TCAS, you follow the TCAS".

As an aside, the reason why avoidance action is always given as ascend/descend is simply because the vertical axis (height) is the most accurate - there's much less accuracy in position and heading although modern GPS systems have probably improved that significantly. When TCAS was being developed, the only really reliable information is the heigh information provided by the other aircraft in the vicinity - the horizontal position being (originally) "fairly vague" based on radio bearing (crude measurement) and signal strength (crude proxy for distance).

The choice of who climbs and who descends is by fixed rules (who's got the higher transponder code) so unless there are bugs in the software, you'd never get two aircraft being given the same advisory.

But as has been pointed out, the aviation space is relatively benign. Once in controlled airspace (particularly Class A where equipment and qualification requirements are fairly tight), you don't need to worry about pedestrians, kids on bikes, pets dogs, cattle, ... There is still the issue of (typically) light aircraft without all the hi-tech (and expensive) TCAS gear, but even then it takes some effort to get two aircraft very close - hence why we insist on herding them into smaller areas around airports and into airways to justify the effort of keeping them apart :-)

So given that there will probably never be 100% "clever" cars with all the comms gizmos, and we'll always have other road users (people, animals, stuff that's fallen off things, ...), autopilots for cars are always going to be quite a lot harder to implement. I look forward to when they start properly throwing them into urban environements - that's going to be a lot of fun for other drivers who know how to "game" the automation ;-)

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SImon Hobson
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Re: @Phil O'Sophical

I find the same thing in an Avensis. So I manually accelerate to about the required speed before resuming.

But I agree, it's easy to lower ones concentration with automation - and it's a big issue in commercial transport. One of the big challenges in commercial aviation is keeping the crew alert - a more extreme example of the problem being this one (yes, we all believe they didn't fall asleep don't we ?) :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Airlines_Flight_188

I recall some years ago suddenly realising that I'd become too reliant on the GPS. I'd got so used to putting in a route or destination and following the displayed course that I'd got "rusty" in following the map and keeping track of exactly where I was. It was something of a wakeup call to realise that I was actually uncertain of my position while flying over familiar territory ! It took a certain amount of effort to get my visual navigation skills back up to standard and keep them there.

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SImon Hobson
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Stop

Re: Can it cope with farmers?

I've been on the other side of that equation, sort of.

<cough> decades ago I used to do some farm work, and one farm I worked at was "out in the middle of nowhere" and ... lets just say legal compliance was a bit lax a lot of the time.

Anyway, I was carting silage - trailer of freshly chopped grass back to the farm, empty trailers back to the field. The weather forecast wasn't good, and the farmer was keen to get as much in as we could before it rained. As it got dark, I'd been pointing out that there were no lights at all on the tractor - but we only stopped when I declared that I could no longer see the road. It really did get to that stage - clear skies, no moon, middle of nowhere so none of that "orange haze" you get around town - just darkness.

The upside is that I'd have known if anything else was coming (as long as it had some lights on it), downside is that there would have been SFA I could have done about it as the road was not much wider than the trailer. (and bounded by hedges).

All I could have done would be to stop and wait for the bang.

I was young and naive back then - sure as heck wouldn't do it now.

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Magnetic, heat scanners to catch Tour de France electric motor cheats

SImon Hobson
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Re: Um, dumb question

> Is that so daft?

No, and there are some sports that more or less do that. For example, I believe some karting and other motorsport series require the competitors to use a specific engine, and some that require a specific vehicle - which as you say means that there's little scope for competitive advantage from technology developments.

I used to compete in some trials where there were fairly strict limitations on departing from what came out of the factory in terms of engine and suspension - as someone else in the club put it, it limits the benefit of a fat chequebook !

But in this case, as pointed out, there's a lot of money at stake - so it aint gonna happen.

There is also the factor that were standardised stings have to be used, innovation tends not to be very rapid. Where the rules are fairly free, you tend to see some fairly rapid, and often novel, innovation - but also, you tend to see a lot of chequebook engineering going on, with bigger budget teams having a distinct advantage over those with small budgets (especially privateers).

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'I urge everyone to fight back' – woman wins $10k from Microsoft over Windows 10 misery

SImon Hobson
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Re: Now the precedent has been set ...

> Besides civil litigation there is in my opinion also a wide open possibility of criminal litigation (unauthorised changes of a computer - from what I read, those updowngrades were not always authorised by the user), and that's something YOU don't have to do, you just have to complain to the authorities.

And in my case, after trying an informal approach, got a "so what" response from the local Police - I haven't had time to gather some paperwork together and kick up a stink. The person answering my emails simply took the attitude that "it's an upgrade, there's ways to control it, your complaint is merely with Microsofts policies - take it up with them".

When I pointed out that the law is very clear, I'd made actions which would invalidate any presumed consent, and the upgrade does in fact remove functionality - so it's an offence - I stpped getting replies.

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Medicos could be world's best security bypassers, study finds

SImon Hobson
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Re: Biometric systems

> Maybe a solution is to have separate terminals and requirements in different zones ...

You mean, like the people who design these systems actually go out and find out how the people who need to use them actually work ! And having done that, design systems (note plural) appropriate to each situation.

I think teh article could be summed up thus :

TL;DR - systems not designed with users in mind

Now, haven't we heard that one before ?

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Vendors suspend tech orders as Brexit slaps Brit pound

SImon Hobson
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I really can't understand why the mass kneejerk. Surely everyone knew that this morning, we'd wake up, look at the news, and regardless of which way the vote went - we'd still be in the EU, we'll still be in the EU next week, we'll still be in next month, and it's fairly certain we'll still be in for another couple of years. There won't be massive trade barriers until we leave, in fact, f**k all changes really in the short term.

So why is everyone panicking ? Indeed, the four horsemen aren't abroad - in fact their horses are still out at grazing, and they are still in bed.

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Intel still chip, chip, chippin' away at the European Commission's anti-trust fine

SImon Hobson
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And it's ground on for so long that Intel's been able to continue to enjoy the fruits of it's activities, probably earning far more in additional profits than the fine will cost it.

Now if the fine were adjusted for inflation, and interest added ...

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All this Brexit talk derailed UK tech spending, right? That's a big fat NOPE

SImon Hobson
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> Roll on Friday

Why, it'll be worse !

Assuming the result is out (and we aren't in for endless recounts etc), then the real fun will start with one side gloating and the others going on about what a big mistake we've made. And all the pundits will really get going on what the result means, and ...

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Brexit: More cash for mobile operators or consumers? Pick one

SImon Hobson
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Re: I am for leave because I am pro Europe

> Basically you think our government are wrecking the EU, and it would be better off without us?

If he's thinking like me, then it's not like that at all.

If we vote to leave, IMO that may be the trigger that starts others looking at things - and possibly looking to leave themselves (lets face it, joining the Euro did Greece a lot of good didn't it !). IMO, the Euro is a big part of what's wrong with the EU as it's become - it cannot work without the centralised control that the integrationists desire, and is effectively being used as an excuse to push the EU more and more towards a "United States of Europe".

It's that latter bit that I don't like, and if us voting to leave means that others start the same process and we get to break the fail caused by the Euro - well that means there's scope for reform into something we could then decide to stay in. If we vote to stay then we have no clout at all and the process towards the USoE will march on unabated.

Just my 2d.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: I still don't get roaming

> To this day I still don't understand why roaming is so expensive

Short answer, because they can get away with it !

In very simple terms, when you roam, the foreign network charges your home network for the privilege. Each network seems to take the attitude that you aren't their customer, and if they "make a bit" off visitors then they can be more competitive with their own home customers. The foreign networks don't really have any clout - after all, what can they do, stop their customers using the foreign network (which wouldn't go down well with travellers unable to roam) !

Thus the high roaming charges.

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Friends with benefits: A taxing problem for Ireland in a post-Brexit world

SImon Hobson
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Re: @Simon Hobson

> Re your comment about the Euro - yes that's all correct but what on earth does that have to do with the UK's EU membership? We're not part of any compulsory bailout mechanisms, so the mis-structuring of the Euro is simply no reason whatever to leave.

I don't think you read my post very well did you ?

I know we're not in the Euro, but the Euro is at the root of a lot of what's wrong with the EU as it stands now. A lot of our complaints are to do with the centralisation of power and the imposition of fiscal policy - and that is required for the Euro to function.

IMO, the EU won't (and can't) reform to deal with many of the structural problems until the Euro collapses. Simply put, as long as the Euro is kept as it is, there is no way to reverse the integrationist policies, and no way the problems will get fixed. If the Euro breaks up and we get back to separate currencies, then there is scope for proper reforms, and getting back to what the Common Market (ie the thing we joined) was originally about - because we sure as hell didn't join the EU as it is now !

So, I think leaving will be painful (and certain EU countries will be keen to make it visibly so to deter others) - but in the medium-long term I think it will be less painful than staying. I could even see a situation where we vote to leave, it's the trigger that other countries have been looking for, and the EU as it is now breaks down. When the dust settles, what's left may be something we'd consider staying in - cue a new referendum on whether we still want to leave.

But like so much of the hot air that must be causing global warming by now - that is pure speculation.

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SImon Hobson
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> ...just as it had no choice but to leave the ERM ...

Which was really a beta version of the Euro - and just as flawed. It failed for the same reasons the Euro is bound to fail - sooner or later, with the damage done depending on how long certain factions keep faith with their dogma.

It doesn't really need too much nous to realise that having one single currency across such disparate cultures and economies only works if you also have centralised controls on the levers that control those economies. The ERM didn't have those controls and it failed. The Euro doesn't have those controls, and as people wake up to the fact that the Euro is really an excuse for introducing those centralised controls, it too will fail.

IMO, if we do vote to leave, I suspect the result won't be as bad as some predict. I suspect it'll set off others seriously considering their position - and before long the EU as it is now will fail. Perhaps then we can get back to what was good about the "Common Market" we actually signed up to - without the bad political crap we have now.

No I can't predict what will happen - but I think the next few years could be "interesting" !

22
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Hey cloud lawyer: Can I take my client list with me?

SImon Hobson
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Ah, that depends ...

There are different ways of interpreting your actions - especially if you add "would you like me to get in touch when I'm there ?". Such an action would amount to a breach of contract (either express or implied) between you and your current employer - gross misconduct. But if the person did agree, then you have their permission to keep their contact details for your new employer.

It is, of course, why many employers take what may seem extreme actions when given notice. If you read some accounts, at some places you'll be immediately taken into a manager/director's office for a chat - and by the time you come out, all your access has been revoked and there'll be someone stood by your desk with a box to out your stuff in before they escort you out of the building. That is one extreme.

At the other extreme, one place I worked at there was such poor communication that sometimes we only knew of a new start when they (or their manager) complained that they'd been there a week and still didn't have a phone or computer - or someone would mention that "we've not seen Fred for a while, is he OK ?" only to be told that he left 3 months ago !

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SImon Hobson
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Re: So.....

AIUI correct.

If you arrive at your new employer, and then sit down and write down as many contacts as you can remember, I don't believe there is anything to stop that. Similarly if you've kept personal notes with nothing more than names and contact numbers - though that's heading towards a grey area (at what point does this stop being just your notes, and become "processing data" or become part of your employers data ?)

This is an area the article really should have covered. There's a big difference between taking copies of data, and "knowing who your contacts are".

There may be clauses in your old contract prohibiting you from contacting (trying to poach) them - but as the article points out, such clauses are on dodgy ground.

There are parallels with the world us techies inhabit as well. A programmer will almost certainly have some bits of code in his head - maybe not an error free verbatim copy he could type out, but at least the outline of some bits. If faced with the same problem to solve, it's likely to result in the same code - or something quite similar. An unscrupulous ex-employer could try and argue that the new code breached his copyright ...

As an aside, it was interesting to follow the Samba vs Microsoft case. In that, the EU forced MS to make documentation available on the protocols used - but not the code used to implement those protocols. The amusing thing was when MS (apparently with no sense of irony) stated that they didn't have documentation for a lot of it ! But the agreement specifically covered two topics :

1) That some problems naturally had a single solution/method of implementation - so similarity between implementations wasn't to be taken as copyright infringement

2) That when the access arrangement ended for any individual, they were free to continue using whatever they carried in their memory.

Some parallels there.

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Snoopers' Charter 'goes too far' says retired Met assistant commish

SImon Hobson
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Have an upvote for that succinct description of the upper house.

Of course, this whole "restraining the adolescent brat" bit is why Tony B Liar was so keen to stifle their ability to do so - so inconvenient having put blocks in your route to a totalitarian regime.

And it's also why an lelected upper house would be a completely flippin stupid thing to do - we only have to look at our friends across the pond to see how well that works out (or rather, doesn't).

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Ironic, isn't it...?

For me, the issue (as fare as this democracy discussion goes) with the EU is that the MEPs have very different (and fewer) abilities than our own MPs. Here, MPs get to see and discuss proposed laws, propose changes, and vote on them, etc etc - as we've seen here, the Lords are going to heavily criticise it, and in committee it's going to get some looking at. It then goes round the loop again.

AIUI, in the EU, all that is done by permanent and unelected groups - with the final product presented to the parliament as "here you are, rubber stamp it please". This is the one and only point where MEPs have the option to influence new law - and their only choice is rubber stamp it or throw it out completely. I believe it is very rare for them to not rubber stamp it - though they have at times used some fairly undiplomatic language to describe what they are passing, they've still passed it.

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Fat fibre taxes strangling us – UK broadband providers

SImon Hobson
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Re: Call Me Skeptical

But in this case, it's not so much "we can't pay" - it's "why should we have to may much more than BT ?"

It is a real problem. At work, a few years ago we got a call to get internet connectivity to a client "a bit in the sticks". They had just been given (very short) notice that their existing service was being shut down - because of rates. I didn't have all the details, but in essence the rates people wanted to charge rates on the radio towers based on what they could theoretically make in profits if fully utilised - ignoring the fact that there were several towers with only a few customers at the end of the chain !

Given the sudden imposition of disproportionately high rates, the operator simply decided it wasn't viable to keep the service running and so shut it down.

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Voter registration site collapse proves genius of GDS, says minister

SImon Hobson
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Re: You couldn't make this sh** up

> Go on then, how could it have been predicted?

Well firstly, as has already been mentioned, things are known to get busy leading up to a deadline. It's not like this has never been observed before :

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/10/01/dvla_website_outage/

And the one I can't find offhand about HMRC allowing extra time for self assessments after their site failed to handle deadline demand.

Some numbers are (or should be if the systems analyst wasn't a complete numpty).

Total number of people in the UK eligible to vote. Exact numbers probably aren't, but I bet there are people with a darned good idea.

Total number of people actually registered. If this isn't known then we might as well pack up and go home.

Subtract one from 'tother and you get a fairly good estimate of how many aren't registered.

As above, you should be able to watch trends, and apply knowledge from previous events, to get an idea of how application rate is likely to scale up as the deadline looms.

I think the only unknown is the number of applications it'll be expected to handle from people already registered - but then, why isn't it also handling that part of de-duplication ?

This is precisely the sort of thing "cloud" is supposed to handle - with the ability to scale up a (properly designed) system very quickly - and shut it down again when the peak is over. That suggests that either the people responsible are clueless f***wits, or the people responsible for them and their budget* are clueless f***wits.

* As has been pointed out before, it's possible that external constraints precluded a scalable system in favour of fixed costs. Whoever was responsible for that should be hung out in public.

In short, no - such peaks are neither unprecedented, nor are they unpredictable. A competent design would have coped with it.

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Man dies after UK police Taser shooting

SImon Hobson
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Re: Iraq & Afghanistan veteran?

But when that BBC report talks about witnesses having seem him stab a dog and himself, and also them describing him as "out of it" - that sheds a different light on the situation.

It does sound like a sad situation, but (from what little I've read), it's hard to criticise a copper faced with someone who's (presumably) of intimidating build, looks "out of it", and is wielding a knife which he's already used.

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Judge slams BT for blaming engineer after 7 metre ceiling plunge

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

No, the comment was correct.

The BT guy probably thought it was "only" 7 feet down to the floor level from which he'd entered the loft. But, he'd moved along the loft, and unknown to him, he was now over the stairwell where it was a much much bigger drop of 7 meters (which is about 23 feet).

I'm picturing that looking out of the office window - it's about the equivalent of hanging off our guttering, and I'd not want to be there.

I feel for the guy, I assume he'd been left permanently impaired and quite possibly with long term pain. Not fun at all, and not something I'd wish on anyone.

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Microsoft's paid $60 per LinkedIn user – and it's a bargain, because we're mugs

SImon Hobson
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Re: Amazingly LinkedIn just got worse

< ... and as it's a US company ...

Which is now (or soon will be) owned by a company with an EU presence, and that brings it (to an extent) within the remit of EU regulation.

If they (MS) want any of that information to be of "value" to them, then they'll need to monetise it - and that means flogging advertising to (in my case) UK based vendorsidiots. And that probably means doing it from one of their European offices.

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