* Posts by Dr Paul Taylor

97 posts • joined 15 Jul 2009

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Proxima and Ultima: AI, hard sci-fi and multiverse – ALL GOOD. Romans – not so much

Dr Paul Taylor

Also, the Romans (at least the ones who spoke Latin rather than Greek) were never scientists either. Pliny the Elder might have got a job on New Scientist but that's as far as they got - they never did any original science or mathematics for themselves.

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97% of UK gets 'basic' 2Mbps broadband. 'Typical households' need 10Mbps – Ofcom

Dr Paul Taylor

Link please

Please can we have a link to this Ofcom report, and maybe to any other available statements of what ADSL speed it is "reasonable" to expect, because I am getting nothing like what it says here.

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BLAST-OFF! BOAT FREE launch at last. Orion heads for SPAAAAACE

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Typo

I now have to translate from Fahrenheit phrasebook-style, so I happen to know that 68F=20C. I haven't got a clue what 40000F means, I just divide by 2. Negative F temps leave me completely flummoxed. Completely unsuitable for scientific or engineering use.

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George.Best walks into a sex.bar, spots a bearded dwarf sysadmin and thinks: Warcraft.cool

Dr Paul Taylor

ICANN should not be allowed to sell standard English words (.home .book etc) as top level domain names. If we really must have this nonsense then it should be restricted to trade marks that have already been registered in the old fashioned way.

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Judge: Terror bomb victims CAN'T seize Iran's domain name as compensation

Dr Paul Taylor

Simpler argument?

I don't want to defend Iran, where they execute people for being gay, amongst other things, but...

If Amazon were ever to go bust then I am sure that courts would not hesitate to sieze their newly and expensively acquired .book top level domain (which by the way stikes me as being appropriation of the English language).

But in the case of a sovereign country, siezing the Internet domain name .ir would make as much sense as siezing the telephone dialling code +98 or the name of the country as a postal destination.

Surely there must be longstanding international or diplomatic law preventing such nonsense. The legal argument that this judge has used seems to be rather contrived.

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An 'embed' link isn't a new infringement, says EU Court of Justice

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Could have easily pointed to...

and the remarkable thing is that a court managed to follow this bit of logic that is obvious to Reg readers.

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BBC Trust candidate defends licence fee, says evaders are CRIMINALS

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Harassment

I get a letter about once a month, alternately a "reminder" in black print and a "demand" in red. I ignore them all. It is unsolicited mail. I don't reply to the pizza leaflets to tell them that I don't eat pizza, so why should I reply to the TV licensing authority? I am not their customer, I don't want to be on their database. At least while it is a criminal issue there has to be "proof beyond reasonable doubt" but if it is decriminalised then administrators will be able to impose penalties without due process.

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What could possibly go wrong? Banks could provide ID assurance for Gov.UK – report

Dr Paul Taylor

But retail banks are clueless about security

They make you perform cartwheels to log in just to check your balance.

They send you personal information and PINs in letters with "if undelivered return to Internet Banking" on the back.

THEY phone YOU, withholding Caller ID (which can be spoofed anyway) and ask you "security questions".

They send emails that ape phishing emails, whose Received: lines indicate Cloud providers, not their own domains.

They invent textbook examples of Man-in-the-middle network attacks.

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YES, I have ridden the UNICORN: The Ubuntu Utopic unicorn

Dr Paul Taylor

@ DanDanDan on "so many versions"

We don't often get straightforward tutorial posts here, so thanks for writing that.

(I have used Unix/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux for 28 years so I personally didn't need it, though I would appreciate tutorials on other topics from time to time.)

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Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: An amazing piece of work?

Because Outlook uses the core editor from Word, it won't allow you to quote contextually, as it refuses to allow you to break up the quoted material into blocks for Question/Answer, Q/A, Q/A...

Thanks for explaining to me why so many people insist on quoting the entire email back but don't edit their answers into the questions.

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Flying United Airlines? If you could just scan your passport with your phone, that'd be great

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: RFTM

Excellent description, Brenda! Some airlines let you pay extra to jump one of the queues, except that it is not the one that actually lets you sit down in your chosen seat on the plane any quicker. It may just let you get on the transfer bus first and therefore off it last.

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NORKS hacker corps reaches 5,900 sworn cyber soldiers - report

Dr Paul Taylor

Evolutionarily good

One might hope that this will result in some toughening up of operating systems and improved virus detection software from South Korean sources.

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If Google remembers whom it has forgotten, has it complied with the ECJ judgment?

Dr Paul Taylor

Google isn't the Web

We all know about the common confusion of the Internet with the World Wide Web. There seems to be another one between the WWW and Google underlying this. I don't particularly want to defend Google, but there it is. I am already concerned that their searches show me what they think I want to see or what they want me to see or what the Govt wants me to see, instead of what's actually there.

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How to catch a fraudster – using 'top cop' Benford and the power of maths

Dr Paul Taylor

Scale independence

At this point you might be wondering if this is to do with the units in which you choose to measure, but no, this phenomenon is unit-independent.

It's exactly because it is unit- or more accurately scale-independent that it works. I am a little surprised not to have seen the word "logarithm" in the article.

Scale issues make me a little sceptical of its value for fraud detection: I would imagine that credit limits and common denominations of payments would obscure the distribution.

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The amazing .uk domain: Less .co and loads more whalesong

Dr Paul Taylor
Thumb Down

the intermediate level is useful

In British system the usage is clear, for example www.birmingham.ac,uk and www.birmingham.gov.uk. Without the intermediate level you have to express the same information in an ad hoc way, for example

www.tu-darmstadt.de and however they name their local authorities.

It would be much better if we introduced new intermediate level domain names for each of the things for which there is some regulatory authority, eg lloyds.bank.uk or smithbrown.law.uk, to go with .ac.uk .gov.uk .nhs.uk .sch.uk etc.

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A scanner, darkly: Master data-miner Google tweaks terms of service

Dr Paul Taylor

your own email

Nowadays I am not aware of a hosting provider that doesn't use Microsoft or Google services for email.

I have been a satisfied customer of primexeon.com for several years now. No, they haven't paid me to say that.

They use cpanel and various standard LAMP tools under that. Frankly the cpanel interface is a pile of ****, but the freedom it gives me is far preferable to the home-grown ones that other web companies provide. In particular, I can write my own code for my webpages and email as I wish.

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Boffins devise world's HARDEST tongue-twister

Dr Paul Taylor
Headmaster

muddled history

whilst the rest of Europe was enjoying the Rennaisance the Brits were in the sway of the Puritans ...

The Rennaisance was well out of nappies and on its way to school by the time of the Puritans. Might be a good idea to look at some dates.

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Late with your ransom payment? Never mind, CryptoLocker crooks will, er, give you a break

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: amazing

and conversely.

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Techies with Asperger's? Yes, we are a little different...

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Pperhaps the start of a series...

I've known bipolar people and haven't a clue how you deal with them. They can be very scary when they're at the wrong pole and no amount of telling them that you want to be their friend seems to help matters. Surely interacting with a colleague or friend with Asberger's is a doddle compared to dealing with bipolar people.

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Dr Paul Taylor

Acceptable discrimination

So what if someone has Aspergers. Other people have a squint.

Other people are female, gay, of other ethnicities, physically disabled, etc.

However, in all of these things it is no longer acceptable to discriminate, and more or less everybody now knows that. The problem is that autistic spectrum behaviour --- which many of us here do not regard as a "disability" --- remains a perfectly acceptable reason for discrimination.

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Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Noise pollution

Totally agree on the noise pollution thing. (Classical) music is fine, so I listen to Radio 3, but that all too frequently degenerates into airheaded chat from conceited arts graduates - the "opera" from the Met, for example, seems to be ?50% chat. "Just play the f**king music!", I frequently yell at it.

Altogether an excellent piece, as I see many other Reggistas also consider. However, the only events that I could find on the website autism.org.uk were lectures, not self-help groups.

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Dubya: I introduced PRISM and I think it's pretty swell

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Mañana

My friend bought a fridge in Spain. The guy in the shop said it would be delivered "mañana mañana" and it duly turned up at 10am. Better service than Currys or Comet.

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SAP in search of autistic software engineers who 'think different'

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

Evidently you understand the condition, so you should be capable of making allowances for it, particularly given the link between Asberger's and technical competence. We're not talking about someone with a mental illness that might suddenly make them violent. Nor is it dementia.

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Congress: It's not the Glass that's scary - It's the GOOGLE

Dr Paul Taylor
Black Helicopters

Re: Google Analytics

But there are also googleapis and googlemaps and ...

Increasingly, you cannot opt out of Google without opting out of the Web altogether.

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Hunt: I'll barcode sick Brits and rip up NHS's paper prescriptions

Dr Paul Taylor
FAIL

Sounds like another ID card.

Please just let me email my repeat prescription requests to my GP's surgery, instead of making me go there one day with a note and two days later to collect the prescription. Then let me take it to whichever pharmacy I feel like on the day. The existing and proposed systems for involving pharmacies in obtaining repeat prescriptions just add to the time and the complication.

Also, I should be able to get my complete medical records by turning up at the surgery with a USB stick and my passport.

My way of doing it would take next to no additional IT. Any proposals from computer-illiterate politicians are likely to be expensive failures.

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Virgin Media: SO SORRY we fined your dead dad £10 for unpaid bill

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: I can't afford to die.

If possible, especially if the amounts of money are small, it is easier just to pretend to be the person or say that you are doing things on their behalf than to tell bureaucrats that someone had died or that they have Alzheimers and you have lasting power of attorney for them. If you tell them that there is some legal piece of paper they will stop doing anything until they have the original. Spoken from experience.

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Smug Red Hat buoyed by UK gov's open-source three-line-whip

Dr Paul Taylor

Lost for Words

Does this mean that I can now refuse to read Word documents from people in the public sector?

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Remember Streetmap? It's suing Google in a UK court

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Streetmap is superior

Where can you get any idea on how to get from A to B on streetmap?

When I went to school there were lessons called "Geography" that, amongst other things, taught how to read a map.

My street shares its name with a much bigger one on the other side of London, so sometimes I get misdirected mail. One day I had a misdirected person: someone who had typed the street name into Google Maps and then blindly did as he was told, despite obviously being in the wrong part of the city.

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Dr Paul Taylor

Streetmap is superior

Google seems to think that the only way from A to B is by car, so pedestrian areas simply do not exist, as far as it is concerned.

Streetmap appears to be based on the Ordnance Survey.

I would appreciate recommendations for services that are as good as Streetmap but for other countries.

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MISSING LINK between HUMANS and MONKEYS FOUND

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Missing Windows 8 User

The immediate successor of Peter as Pope was called Linus.

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Publishing ANYTHING on .uk? From now, Big Library gets copies

Dr Paul Taylor

practicalities

This is a Good Thing.

However, this is not really the same as the BL getting a copy of every book that is published, because before a book is published it is put in a form that the author and publisher regard as "finished".

Websites are never "finished". (Once upon a time it was de rigeur to have an "under construction" logo on one's site.)

So it would be nice to know more about the practicalities of this, so that the owners of websites who would like to regard their content as permanent can contribute in the most effective way to the national archive.

I couldn't find anything about this in my quick perusal of the relevant webpage.

http://pressandpolicy.bl.uk/Press-Releases/Click-to-save-the-nation-s-digital-memory-61b.aspx

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Model S 'leccycar selling better than expected, says Tesla

Dr Paul Taylor

units

22 gigawatts of electricity per hour

This is one of the things that makes me stop reading something in mid-sentence. If the author cannot get this right then nothing else is to be trusted.

BTW why are errors with units almost always in the time factor?

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Merde! Dummkopf! Google Translate used as spam cloak

Dr Paul Taylor

If we all went back to plain text email ... The problem is that nobody wants to do this

I do.

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ICO clamps down on nuisance calls, slaps £90k fine on Glasgow firm

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

The fault is that caller ID is useless

(1) The "message that this sends" to such companies is that they should not provide caller ID and so get caught. The telephone system is technologically so primitive that it is (the telcos claim) impossible to trace calls. Even when caller ID is provided it can easily be spoofed, because the spec is primitive.

(2) Many organisations (eg the NHS) withhold caller ID as a matter of policy "for security". That is, they consider that it is more secure to get someone involved in a possibly sensitive conversation if they can't distinguish the caller from a complete stranger. So blocking anonymous calls also blocks the important ones.

(3) As I remarked a few weeks go with lots of upvotes, many organisations (eg banks) go to great lengths to mimick the behaviour of criminals, eg by asking for security information in calls that they have initiated.

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Chinese Army: US hacks us so much, I'm amazed you can read this

Dr Paul Taylor

Probably evolutionarily beneficial

A lot better than the US and China lobbing nukes at each other.

Presumably there's quite a lot of skill on both sides going in to this game.

It might spin off some better cybersecurity for the rest of us.

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Amazon, eBay, banks snub anti-fraud DNS tech, sniff securo bods

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

Clueless banks

It would be nice if banks even understood the basic idea of the hierarchical domain name system, ie using subdomains such as online.bank.co.uk instead of www.bank.co.uk, bankonline.co.uk, bankgizmos.co.uk, ukbank.com and a dozen other things.

It would be nice if banks did not send emails that seem to be designed to look as much like phishing as possible.

It would be nice if, having warned people not to hand over their passwords when asked in emails (which El Reg readers at least know how to trace), they did not then phone customers, withholding even (the easily spoofed) caller ID, and ask for their security information.

It would be nice if banks did not use obvious man-in-the-middle systems like Verified by Visa.

Complaining that the don't use DNSSEC seems rather irrelevant in this context.

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Wikipedia's Gibraltar 'moratorium' - how's it going?

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Interesting...

That's not fair. It is well worth a day trip and way more interesting than La Linea de la Concepcion. It's also interesting to note how much it suits the Spanish to have it there, as a source of employment and cheap petrol. But there are plenty of other interesting places in the world, so it does not deserve as much plugging on a global website as is alleged in the article.

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BT copper-cable choppers cop 16 months in the cooler

Dr Paul Taylor
Joke

grammar

"to totally ignore the subjunctive is equally as silly"

"I'd be very worried if someone was sentenced,,,"

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Meet قلب, the programming language that uses Arabic script

Dr Paul Taylor
Thumb Down

historical ignorance

I suggest that you read the excellent book Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili.

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Fans of dead data 'liberator' Swartz press Obama to sack prosecutor

Dr Paul Taylor
Flame

Re: Copyright law needs fixing

Whilst I have upvoted this post, I should point out in the context of this and the following comments that the analogy with the entertainment industry is false.

I don't have any sympathy with the music distributors, but the fact is that the purpose and funding of pop music are achieved through those companies.

In the case of academic research, on the other hand, the purpose is other academic research and the funding is largely from the public purse. The distributors (publishers) used to facilitate this process, but nowadays they contribute NOTHING at all. Academics continue to use them because they are forced to do by by their universities and governments.

The whole business of commercial academic publishing is armed robbery of intellectual property.

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Nuisance calls DOUBLE, Ofcom vows to hunt down offenders

Dr Paul Taylor

Real calls indistinguishable from spam

The phone or the telco can block calls without caller ID. However, this does not solve the problem, because there are legitimate calls without it too, and not just international or Skype calls. It seems that hospitals and banks have a policy of withholding this information. Banks seem to be very keen on mimicking phishers. If you have two parents with dementia or some other reason to expect calls from hospitals and social services then you have no choice but to answer all calls. So the other side of the coin is to overturn this misguided notion of "security" and require all non-residential callers to provide caller ID.

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Al Jazeera buys Al Gore's Current TV news network

Dr Paul Taylor
Thumb Up

Re: Good "news", pardon the pun

I started reading Al Jazeera when Zimbabwe was a big news topic, because I got sick of hearing that "the BBC is not allowed in Zimbabwe", so I thought it might be nice to hear from a news agency that actually had some reporters there. I read about the Arab Spring and Libyan war there too.

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Phone-hack saga: Police cuff man in southwest London

Dr Paul Taylor

PM in SW London

But the postcode of 10 Downing St is SW1A 2AA. SW = South West London, n'est ce pas?

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Police use 24/7 power grid recordings to spot doctored audio

Dr Paul Taylor
Black Helicopters

fm

I share the skepticism, bit there is a difference between this and dendrochronology. Whereas there is no control over the climate vaiation that leads different tree rings, Plod could be getting the National Grid to introduce coded signals into the mains hum.

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It pays to study the habits of your email users

Dr Paul Taylor
Linux

piling and filing software

I notice from reading through these comments that everyone seems to have an ad hoc home grown solution to managing their email. Nobody has recommended a piece of software (of any religious affiliation - see on the left for mine) to do it.

I would like to have my email in both directions filed by (year and) the name of the other person, so that I can see a coherent account of my conversation with them.

I have my own code to do this, but don't trust it, despite years of development. I have tried searching for other people's (open source) software to do it but have drawn a blank. Any recommendations?

Recoll is the only useful thing that I have found.

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Revealed: Google's manual for its unseen humans who rate the web

Dr Paul Taylor

My own private Google

The thing that bothers me every time I read a story about how clever (or otherwise) Google's algorithms are is the thought that it is telling me what it thinks I want or ought to hear, rather than the way it is, even in response to non-commercial queries.

For example, presumably it already tells Chinese users that nothing newsworthy happened on 4 June 1989. Does it also only connect Texans with sites that say that the World was created 6000 years ago, that Climate Change is a fraud and that they will be Raptured anytime soon?

Suppose I search for something that is related to what I myself do. Someone in business would do this regularly to find out about their competition. When Google shows me my own pages and those of my immediate colleagues near the top of the list, is this because they are genuinely the important ones, or because it thinks that I will like that?

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Girlfriend 'tried to MURDER ME with her AMPLE BREASTS'

Dr Paul Taylor
Coat

Please, there are respectable gays and women who read El Reg! By all means put "ample breasts" in the headline as bait for the hetero boys, but not in the graphics for the lead story!

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Glorious silicon globes could hold key to elusive PERFECT kilogram

Dr Paul Taylor

Abolish Leap Seconds

Greenwich mean time is so called because it's averaged over the year. There is a difference of up to a quarrter of an hour (called the equation of time) from the actual movement of the Sun.

We generally have hourly time zones, so there's another 30 mins difference, but for political reasons some countries are far from their time zones. Then there's Daylight Saving.

Leap Seconds are trivial in comparison. In the year 5000, we can make a political decision to move UK to what is now Central European Time and the rest of western Europe can move to the next time zone, etc.

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Dr Paul Taylor
Boffin

Units of Planck's constant

Joules multiplied by seconds, not Joules per second. In terms of basic units, this is kg m^2/s.

In Heisenberg's Uncertainly Law, the uncertainty in Energy (Joules) multiplied by that in time (seconds) must be at least Planck's constant. Likewise, the uncertainty in momentum (kg m/s) multiplied by that in position (metres).

Given that the article is about units, this is a rather fundamental error, but otherwise it's a good article.

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