* Posts by SImon Hobson

1111 posts • joined 9 Sep 2006

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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" !

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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
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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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Is Windows 10 ignoring sysadmins' network QoS settings?

SImon Hobson
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Re: Self appointed Mythbuster to the rescue!

> You don't need a domain to mitigate this problem, as I pointed out in the original posting.

I think you completely missed my point. If this peer caching needs domain trust, then hardly anyone who could benefit from it will be able to use it. As you point out, a half-competent admin can install and use WSUS - but the vast majority of computers are on sites with no admin - no half competent one, not even a not competent one, but no admin at all.

If you are unaware of these sites then you need to get out more. These are the small offices, shops, larger homes, whatever where they buy computers ad-hoc, files tend to live on each users computer with no means of sharing them, printers are often USB connected because network connections to them are too complicated, ...

So for these sites, WSUS might was well be the sound someone makes when they sneeze.

Oh yes, and it looks like BITS has been subverted already :

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/09/bits_of_poison_downloading_malware/

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Self appointed Mythbuster to the rescue!

> ... as the clients will only trust domain joined computers ...

So in fact, it's useless as the vast majority of computers that are domain joined are likely to be better managed, but domain joined computers are in a minority anyway. Most small businesses don't have a domain etc ...

So if you are correct, MS have gone to a lot of trouble for nothing, and this won't help the majority of people who could actually use it.

On the other hand, if the file is signed rather than it being an inter-computer trust thing, then that's a different matter ...

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Re-read and remember

> but most people's caps are for download only.

I doubt that.

While I'm now on an "unmetered" tariff and VDSL (FTTC in the UK), my previous ADSL tariff with the same ISP metered traffic both ways. I'm fairly certain that this is not uncommon.

But anyway, people have mentioned slow connections - but even "modestly fast" connections (like the 6Mbps ADSL I used to have) often have much slower uplinks (442kbps before overheads for ADSL is typical in the UK). Hence acting as a torrent peer is going to royally screw your uplink, and therefore your latency, and therefore make anything interactive turn into "an unpleasant experience".

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Post-Safe Harbor: Adobe fined for shipping personal info to the US 'without any legal basis'

SImon Hobson
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Yes it's a tiddly little fine - but it's an actual conviction and penalty imposed. That in itself is a milestone. I'd take it as a shot across the bows intended to give everyone a prod to actually do something - rather than ...

I suspect most companies have been in denial mode, sure that Privacy Figleaf will be along "real soon now" and that'll make everything legal again.

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Letters prove GCHQ bends laws to spy at will. So what's the point of privacy safeguards?

SImon Hobson
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Re: Lack of knowledge over ... signing

> ... in practice they're not going to read everything that passes over their desk

Indeed, and Yes [Prime] Minister had, as I recall, some very good examples of how the civil, service could manipulate an MP to sign whatever they wanted signed. By all accounts, it wasn't exactly fiction.

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Would YOU start a fire? TRAPPED in a new-build server farm

SImon Hobson
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Re: stern words warranted

Indeed, SOP for people who work alone and/or are particularly vulnerable should be to have some sort of check system. Either you have to call in at set times (and if you don't they start looking for you), or you have people checking in on you periodically (there were guards at this place right ?).

In this case the site operator was criminally negligent and as above should have been reported for H&S breaches. At the very minimum, their security staff should have been checking on him at regular intervals.

I have to admit that I've often had situations where I find myself thinking "that wasn't too clever, what if ..." when I realise that the wife won't be home to find me for another 8 hours. And I know for certain that 8 hours is well past my "personal endurance" ;-)

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Flytenow's other wing clipped: second appeal fails

SImon Hobson
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Re: Hypocrisy

> Supposedly a bet got around CAA rules but I'm not sure I believe that.

No it wouldn't !

A flight is commercial if the pilot has an expectation of a consideration (needn't be cash) in return for it. You have an expectation of a reward if you get him to the destination - thus it's a commercial flight<period>.

Now, that would be a bit unreasonably restrictive for people wanting to share the costs - so the CAA (and EASA) have an exemption that permits that flight (still commercial !) to be flown by a PPL given certain restrictions. My PPL is long expired, but back then the rules were fairly simple - max four people including the pilot, and no-one paying more than their share of the total costs. Thus the pilot still has to pay a minimum of 1/4 of the costs if he gets three friends to go with him. There's also a restriction that the flight cannot be advertised - which is specifically to avoid the "charter disguised as a cost sharing flight" scam.

It's hard to see how any Uber style air service could be made legal in the UK. If the pilot advertises the flight then that breaks the rules for the cost sharing exemption, if the user requests the flight then that's what's normally called a charter !

Sounds like the USA & FAA have similar rules, and this company has found out the expensive way what they are !

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UK Home Sec makes concessions to please Snoopers' Charter opposition

SImon Hobson
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Re: Effing "opposition"

> I see Labour are only objecting to the way the data is accessed, not that it is bulk collected and logged to a database in the first place!!

That's because they're upset that their attempt to get this into law didn't succeed ! Seems odd seeing Harpy criticising Treasonous for exactly what Harpy tried (but failed) to get through - but I guess that's politics for you !

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Smartwatches: I hate to say ‘I told you so’. But I told you so.

SImon Hobson
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> Oddly enough nobody ever managed to make PDAs sell as they only appealed to seriously anal business types (i.e. the ones who think having an MBA is actually cool) and geeks with absolutely no life whatsoever.

Actually Psion and Palm did a half decent stab at them. But you missed out a third category - those who need something to help with their crap memory (one of the common features that go with my condition). I had a Palm 3 which worked very well, lasted aaaaaaaaages on a charge (or was it set of batteries), was small and light, and was really easy to use. It took a lot of abuse before I broke it's digitiser ! Then I had a Treo650 (about the time they were being discounted to shift the stock to make room for a newer model) which had the advantage of not having to carry around two devices (phone and organiser). I used that for (I think) over a decade before I finally switched to a basic Android device.

OK - a phone will store phone numbers, but prior to the "smartphone" the functions were fiddly to use. A paper diary will keep track of what I;ve got on, but it's something else to carry - and big deal this, what's in there stays there unless I copy it by hand.

What's great about my current (Android) phone and the Treo and III is that I can keep my address book and diary synced between my phone, laptop, and tablet. It's one of those "so what" things that until you realise how useful it is, you don't realise how useful it is (I hope that comes across as it's meant).

There's also the issue that this allows me to backup the information - so I have no worries like those for whom losing the phone means "losing their life". I struggle to comprehend the mentality of those who keep their contacts, diary, photos, pretty well all their "life" on this small device - with no thought as to what happens when it gets lost or stolen, or simply breaks. I was at the photo counter in Asda a while back, and there was someone in there asking about bluetoothing their photos (hundreds of them) off the phone because the USB port was faulty and it was going back for "repair" (which usually means replacement with a blank device).

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'Windows 10 nagware: You can't click X. Make a date OR ELSE'

SImon Hobson
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Re: I don't see any of this nonsense.

> I click the X ( which is blue, or grey and in a white box) and it goes away for a few days. Has ever been thus.

But if you follow what's going on, at some point an "update" will change the meaning of that X to "yes I actually want it". And if you get around that, then the next update (reported here) removed both the X and the "click here for other options" link.

So it will auto-install, and the only option will be to decline the licence agreement at which point it will attempt to roll back to where you were. Just the install, decline, rollback will make your computer unusable for several hours each time - assuming that the rollback actually works and you're not left with a doorstop.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Windows 10 Pondering

> They'll make it "shrinkwrap"-style and make it accept by default by simple fact the software is being installed (much like you voided a refund by opening the package).

Not even MS will try that, because they know already that's it's illegal AND they have already been smacked down for it. The vendor you purchased the software from CANNOT refuse a refund because you've opened the shrinkwrap UNLESS the full (and complete, and readable) T&Cs are printed so they can be seen before opening it. That's basic law, not just in the UK but in the US and many other jurisdictions as well - you CANNOT enforce a contract where one side did not know the terms before accepting it.

That's why these click-thorugh agreements contain guff about "if you don't accept these terms ....." - they have to or the contract is void by law in many jurisdictions.

So if they didn't present an agreement, with the option to decline, then any contract they may wish to enforce on the upgraded software is void. They are stuffed, and their spywaretelemetry is also explicitly illegal in the UK as you won't have consented to it.

This is fairly basic law - pity so many consumers are just so completely ignorant of their rights.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Fit for purpose

Go to the Police and report it as a crime - Section 3(3) of the Computer Misuse Act 1990. My suspicions are that you'll get one of two equally unhelpful responses, but you never know.

The first one I'd expect would be "Eh ?"

The other might be "Ah, another one"

If, just if, enough people actually complain then they might have to take some action. And there's just that tiny tiny chance that if the office in Reading gets a visit from plod asking awkward questions about criminal activities then they might just change tack.

Or we wait till someone with the wherewithall starts a class action and sues them to oblivion - in the US of course.

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Swiss effectively disappear Alps: World's largest tunnel opens

SImon Hobson
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Re: What's a couple of hundred meters between friends?

> I was also a bit curious why they didn't try to use this heat source...

It's only hot because it's insulated - by the "up to" 1 1/2 miles of rock above it. The amount of heat will probably be quite small and be removed fairly quickly.

That's the problem with geothermal energy - once you start taking heat out of rocks they get cooler. The rate you can take the heat out is limited by the rate at while the heat flows through the surrounding rocks to replenish what you've taken out - and that's generally relatively low for the same reason (that there's a large amount of rock between the heat source and where you are trying to take it out.

TL;DR version - there won't be enough heat to make it worth while.

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Brits don't want their homes to be 'tech-tastic'

SImon Hobson
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> Due to the DMCA in America, Farmers can't fix John Dere Tractors or get a mechanic to fix it, tampering with the engine means also tampering with software controls and so breaching DMCA.

Yeah, that's a nice little "unintended" consequence, I'm sure it was completely not thought of when a) the DMCA was passed, and b) John Deere put loads of software into their machines.

One thing I think we can be very certain of is that most of the big names will not have any problem using such techniques to "own" us.

The first problem is that we don't "own" the device. We may own the hardware, but read the small print and we don't own everything needed for it to work. The manufacturer can, at any time if they believe we've not complied with their restrictions (fair or otherwise), withdraw their permission to use the code - and then technically the device becomes "unlawful" to continue using. We're long overdue a test case - what if (taking something lke the John Deere example) your car "just stopped working" and you were informed that the manufacturer had bricked it (with no legal recourse) for an alleged breach of licensing terms ?

And as already mentioned, plenty of this I-o-Tat won't work without the mother ship - so the manufacturer can brick your devices at any time, either because they choose to, or because they are no longer around to provide said mother ship.

BTW - for those interested in heating controls without the lock in or cost, take a look at the OpenTRV project. That could be interesting when they get to the stage of having product for end users to buy (AIUI, at the moment they are still in trials with the likes of social housing providers).

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SImon Hobson
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Re: "free installation of smart energy meters"

Unfortunately, it seems that the vast majority of people really do believe that something can be "free".

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Brexit? Cutting the old-school ties would do more for Brit tech world

SImon Hobson
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Re: You don't need money to get into Oxford or Cambridge

> You don't need money to get into Oxford or Cambridge

Have another upvote from me.

Sure, there will be an element of "old boys club", but most (probably everyone) I knew enough about to form an opinion got in on their merits - I knew not a single person who had a bought place. I knew quite a few "interesting characters" - but being "interesting" doesn't really mean much.

This is from an engineer's POV - might be different with other subjects.

Might also vary with college - mine had a reputation for having one of the highest proportion of state school admissions. Luckily for me I was turned down by my first choice* college - that one wouldn't have suited me.

* When one is an innocent 6th former, with little idea about what they are like, how is one supposed to decide which colleges to apply to ? Choosing universities is bad enough (and yes, the admissions tutor who did turn me down was correct, there was an element of "the name" to it), but having to choose from dozens of colleges within that uni ?

As it is, our 6th form arranged a trip down for those of us applying, and during dinner some of the then current students were making recommendations. One of those turned out to be very good for me.

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Bank in the UK? Plans afoot to make YOU liable for bank fraud

SImon Hobson
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Re: (de-)Training ...

At least HSBC stopped calling me with sales calls after one of these "you called me, there's a fair chance that the person answering the number you dialled is me or at the very least someone with access to my phone, you could be calling from anywhere in the world, so I'm not giving you any information whatsoever until you prove who you are, and no I'm not calling you back on any number you give me - what sort of idiot do you take me for" exchanges.

I made a right fuss about it, and how it really just blew all their security out of the water. What's the point of telling customers to "be safe" when the banks themselves ignore all their own instructions. Ditto those who repeatedly send me emails which include "you can tell this email is genuine because ...".

The downside is that when they do actually phone you for a genuine reason (they'd detected fraudulent activity with my card), it can be hard when calling back through the contact centre number to find out who you need to speak to in order to find out what the issue is.

BTW - if anyone is under any doubt about the supposedly unbreakable security of Chip&PIN, head over to https://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org and see their blogs on the subject. They've comprehensively proved that there are multiple flaws in the system, which are design flaws, and about which the banks have full knowledge. So next time the bank tells you it's 100% secure, you can call them a liar and be right.

And for a bit more fun, see how easy (or otherwise) it is getting a non-contactless card next time they try and foist this on you. Responses I've had vary from "no problem" to "no way" (the latter getting a "in that case, your card doesn't get used" response).

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Microsoft won't back down from Windows 10 nagware 'trick'

SImon Hobson
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> This morning I had the pleasure of hiding KB3035583 for the fourth time.

That's because, as found by someone else, that Microsoft keep changing the version number of it - so that Windows Update treats it as a new update. This is not the update you've hidden before !

MS are lucky I don't have the means to take them on, I am fairly certain that if someone could get them to court (in the UK) it would be game over with a criminal conviction (Computer Misuse Act). Telling Winblows Upbloat that "no I don't want this installing, and no I don't want to be shown it again" should be fairly indisputable as removing any assumed consent to installing this crap on the computer. That they go to such lengths to bypass such users stated intent is clear (IMO) premeditation for the criminal act of interfering with all these computers.

Winbloat 10 may or may not be the best thing since sliced bread (personally I struggle not to toss the darn thing out of the window when having to use that fscking stupid UI), but given all the security chasms (aka sending unspecified stuff to unspecified people in unspecified locations for unspecified reasons) built in by design - I have no intention of using it.

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A UK digital driving licence: What could possibly go wrong?

SImon Hobson
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Re: Just for balance ...

> Assuming you use it on the road, won't the next MoT test demonstrate the engine chnage at no additional cost to you?

You'd think so, but they refused to accept the MoT clearly having had a petrol emissions test.

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SImon Hobson
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Just for balance ...

When my late father died, transferring the car registration into my name was hassle free. As was cancelling his drivers licence. Gold star.

When I wanted details of a car's registered owner (because they'd bumped mine and someone got their number), although slow (especially since I forgot to include a photo of my damage and they returned the application) but they provided it.

In fact, I don't think I've ever actually had a problem with them ... except oh yes, there was that time ...

My old Land Rover is still officially diesel even though it's now petrol - DIY engine change. They won't accept my notification without me going and paying someone to confirm the change, something which on principle I refuse to do. I don't actually care - I've notified them which is all the law requires, and their letters back prove that they have received such a notification.

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G4S call centre staff made 'test' 999 calls to hit performance targets

SImon Hobson
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Re: Same problem as any helpdesk.

> Setting targets based on outcomes, which is what should be done, creates a very much more difficult measuring task.

When I was at university, I vaguely recall (it was a lot of years ago now) one of our lecturers warning us of the perils of designing a control system to control what we could easily measure, rather than measuring what we needed to measure in order to be able to control what we wanted to be able to control.

Unfortunately, TPTB don't seem to understand such simple things.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Targets Vs Cost

> ... as train companies were adding unnecessary time on between the final two stations to try and "catch-up".

Indeed, I've witnessed this in some timetables. Can't remember the details, but one journey I recall having made a couple of times had a change at Wolverhampton one way and Birmingham NS the other. When I looked carefully, the time taken to get from Wolverhampton to BNS by the original train was much longer than for the one transferred to - thus meaning that you could get off a train, wait for another train, and get to BNS before the train you'd got off !

As you say, padding the last sector of the trip to make punctuality figures better.

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Chaps make working 6502 CPU by hand. Because why not?

SImon Hobson
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I think this could be a wonderful teaching aid

I recall when I was at Uni back in the 80s, one evening at the computer club we found an old PDP-8 stood on a landing with a notice - "free, please take away". One of my friends followed that request and had it in his bedroom. It turned out that they'd wanted to get rid of it years earlier, but the prof in charge of it refused to let it go because of the teaching utility of being able to single step it and see directly from the lights what was going on.

Said prof was away on holiday when it "disappeared" from his lab.

I do recall that whenever I visited my friend, I'd end up sat manually rewinding punched tapes while we talked. I suppose it was the nerd version of the vision of a group of women sat clicking away with their knitting needles while chatting :-)

And the hard disks were truly impressive looking beasts !

From what I recall of the 6502 (it was the first thing I programmed - hand assembly and all that) it was a static chip, meaning it can run down to standstill and have the clock single cycled. With all those LEDs, that should make quite a useful tool for visualising what's going on. Personally I don't think some video on a screen can ever replace that.

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Queen’s Speech: Digital Bill to tackle radicalisation, pirates

SImon Hobson
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And didn't they say "only serious sh*t" about things like RIPA ? Passed when it was supposed to be only for "serious" crime and terrorism - since used for that well known terrorist act of (for example) wanting your offspring to go to a decent school.

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Investigatory Powers Bill: As supported by world's most controlling men

SImon Hobson
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Re: Tried writing to my local MP (Gisela Stuart) about it.

> There really ought to be some way to force these b'stards to actually listen to the wishes of the people they allegedly represent - and if they don't know what those wishes are, then to take the trouble to find out.

Well for starters, you could go and see your MP in person at the surgery they are required to hold in their constituancy - much harder to ignore you and just forward boilerplate replies when it's a face-face discussion. Also, in a world where most "don't care", and most of the rest don't care beyond firing off an email, turning up ion person will have more impact on their view of the important of your views.

But, the big problem is who your MP is. For a long time our local MP was a "career politician" climbing the greasy pole (and is now a Lord). As such, he rarely if ever worked against the official line of his party (Labour). Since most of my letters to him were against the then Labour government position, I didn't tend to get any replies at all other than acknowledgements and standard replies forwarded from other departments that usually didn't address the question(s) I asked. As such, I did sometimes wonder what was the point of having an MP when they had no interest in views of their constituents unless those views were in line with the party policy.

My current MP ... not quite sure yet, but looks like being much the same.

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Pro who killed Apple's Power Mac found... masquerading as a coffee table

SImon Hobson
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Re: iFurniture next?

I thought they already did - p**stake on Youtube

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Kent Police handed domestic abuse victim's data to alleged abuser – a Kent cop

SImon Hobson
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Re: Stinks of corruption

> The woman provided the phone to the police and consented to its contents being copied

I would speculate that she consented to specific data only (the video) being copied. If anything else was copied then that would have been without consent and thus a criminal breach under the Computer Misuse Act. Passing that illegally copied data to a third party would be the offence we read about here under data protection laws.

The question then is whether the solicitor might reasonably have suspected that the data he was handed was not "legit" - and reading the report it sounds like he really should have had suspicions, and therefore could be argued to have also committed one or more offences (data protection, assisting an offender) as well as a serious breach of professional conduct.

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Lock-hackers crack restricted keys used to secure data centres

SImon Hobson
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Re: Making a non-pickable electronic lock is possible

Which is more or less the basis of modern car security - at least for some manufacturers/models. The key has a "chip" in it, and the security system in the car interrogates the chip when it's close to the ignition lock. So with some models it's possible to have a key which will unlock the steering wheel but won't allow the vehicle to be started - useful for those who tow a vehicle around (eg those small cars you see on tow behind a large motorhome).

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Tweak Privacy Shield rules to make people happy? Nah – US govt

SImon Hobson
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> Provide data to companies from an untrustworthy nation? Nah - Europeans1.

> 1. Those who understand the issues and actually give a damn, anyway - which, sadly, is probably not enough to matter.

Ah, but in most cases it won't be just down to the users actually understanding. Take FarceBork for example - they have a big business in Europe. Unless they stop illegally slurping data then they can be up in court and fined worthwhile money - enough to actually hurt them. So what are their options :

1) They could pull out of Europe and have no presence here, none at all. But then they'd lose a heck of a lot of income from EU based advertisers and so on. But having no presence here would put them out of reach of EU authorities.

That raises a question, would it be illegal (or perhaps made illegal) for an EU based entity to trade with them ? That's what did for Radio Caroline - the authorities couldn't touch them while they were in international waters, but they did cut off the advertising income. Or could the EU authorities tackle the export by having the internet carries block FarceBork traffic ?

2) They could restructure their operations so as to keep EU data out of the reach of US authorities. That's what I think they'll do - it'll cost them in various ways (such as not being able to mine global data as one big resource), but it's completely doable.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: My opinion on the last bit...

But companies cannot contract out of EU or US law - so contractual clauses providing for privacy are void. For the very reason used to squash the old Safe Harbour, no entity based in the US, or with a US presence, can give any believable guarantees on privacy/protection of information - because US law overrides those contracts and US authorities can effectively slurp data whenever they want.

And all this posturing by the US government will come to nothing - they'll either change their law (which they don't seem willing to do), or much of the transatlantic traffic in data is illegal under EU law. And the EU is big enough to be able to force the issue on this - it's not some tiny island state that needs US "approval" to survive.

There's also a parallel to be drawn here between the EU-US situation, and what would be the case between EU and UK if we vote to leave in June. The EU will turn round and basically tell the UK that either we follow EU data protection/privacy law, or we won't be dealing with EU data. That does rather undermine some of the arguments for leaving since even if we leave, we'll still need to fit in with EU laws/regulations if we want to trade with them.

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So you’d sod off to China to escape the EU, Google? Really?

SImon Hobson
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Re: Google gives everything away for free, so how in heaven can EU extort google ?

You're probably (if you ever come back to look) wondering why you've been downvoted.

The problem you demonstrate so well is that Google have built this huge image of offering "free" services. They don't - nothing from Google is free, the cost may not be monetary, but there is a real cost.

There are several aspects to their behaviour that are worthy of note.

The main one is their ability to cross fund anything they like from their huge income - basically they can enter any market they choose and "buy share" in a way that no other company (not even Microsoft) can manage. Microsoft used to do that, and were found guilty of it in the US IIRC. Such behaviour is illegal both in the US and Europe because it allows a big player to increase it's dominance by targetting and eradicating smaller competitors - Google, Microsoft, IBM, Standard Oil, ... Google hasn't been found guilty (yet), IBM (if memory serves me right) got the case dropped after many years of preparation right after a new president was elected - one that IBM had provided much funds to during the election campaign. Hmm, IBM funding a president and getting a case dropped, Google funding a president ...

But in this case, it's the question of whether their action has harmed consumer choice. If every* Android device must come bundled with all the Google apps (which the user can't even remove) then that distorts competition. Firstly, it's hard to make money selling mousetraps if some b'stard is giving them away free (c.f. Microsoft and internet exploder which was also bundled, made non-removable, and given away free) - so other companies will struggle to sell enough of an app to cover the cost of development. That means there is less choice available.

Secondary to that, there is the issue that all these bundled apps aren't free - they all slurp your data so that Google can sell you to their real customers, the advertisers. It's really really really hard to prevent this leakage - and that's by design because the last thing Google wants is for users to actually have any privacy from them.

* Excluding the small number that come without any of the stuff

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