* Posts by Captain Underpants

716 posts • joined 24 Jul 2009

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Beware WarKitteh, the connected cat that sniffs your Wi-Fi privates

Captain Underpants

Re: "reboot them a few times a week" - Luxury, sheer luxury

Not the first time BT's firmware wizards have buggered up firmware, there was a longstanding issue on one of the two revisions of the Home Hub 2 where an upload of more than a specific not-very-large-amount-of-data (of the order of a few MB, IIRC) would cause the damn thing to reboot. I ended up with 3 of the things, because they screwed up the first replacement and gave me a second buggered unit. (Details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_Home_Hub, if you're interested).

If it's happening regularly, get onto their support folks. They probably won't want to, but stick to the "your product is stopping me using the service I pay for" line and they should eventually give in...

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Catch cack-handed baggage handlers in the act with Ericsson's SPY SUITCASE

Captain Underpants

I'm a bit confused

Sounds like something where a Raspberry Pi could usefully and cheaply do the same/a lot of the same job. Only without taking up half the case...

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PAF! MPs go postal over postal location data sell-off by Coalition.gov

Captain Underpants

Re: PAF 18 years out-of-date

It should have been kept up to date, yes, but it should also not have been put into a position where it is the proprietary property of a privatised entity who is now in a position to demand whatever price it likes for information which is of substantial value in non-commercial contexts as well as commercial ones.

Exploiting PAF for commercial gain is something I have no problem with, but by putting into the full control of a private entity with no real obligations concerning it re: public access means that things like open-source map applications may well find it harder/more costly to get accurate postcode information.

I'm glad to see that the committee was able to take a wider perspective on the issue in their conclusion, but I've no doubt that whoever is in government, they will ignore this conclusion as it's not in line with what they already want to do (see also David Nutt & co's advice re: current drug legislation).

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Samsung flings sueball at Dyson for 'intolerable' IP copycat claim

Captain Underpants

Re: Doh @underpants

@AC

Nope, the point is supposed to be that the patent holder gets recognised as the sole licence holder for the idea (and thus a mechanism to get paid for having provided details of a useful idea/solution to a problem) and society/industry benefits from not having to constantly reinvent the wheel by providing an incentive for inventors to share the specifics of their ideas.

Deciding that you're going to patent something and then refuse to licence it to anyone is to specifically Act The Bellend; nobody says that you have to licence your ideas *cheaply* (and certainly I could see justification in eg setting the licence fee such that competitors would be unable to price-match their offerings without cutting into their profit margin). But boasting about how you use the patent system in order to specifically refuse to ever share the solutions you've devised to engineering problems instantly puts you into my Big Book O' Bellends.

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Captain Underpants

I find it difficult to sympathise with any issues Dyson the person has when the smarmy git has taken out adverts in the past in which he boasts about how Dyson the firm patents its ideas & technology in order to maintain their exclusivity (ie refuse point blank to licence them to any other firm). Given that colossal missing-the-entire-point-of-the-patent-system, I find myself automatically suspicious of any complaints he has about the patent system as it stands.

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No anon pr0n for you: BT's network-level 'smut' filters will catch proxy servers too

Captain Underpants

Re: @Marvin

@Phil

The doublethink is strong in this one! The point I was making with those examples is that we are:

a) living in a country governed by bodies who actively make use of mission-creep-enabled powers (See also local councils using RIPA to catch those who don't clean up their dogs mess, etc) and

b) living in a country where the CPS clearly does not apply adequate expertise and oversight when undertaking prosecutions that can very easily destroy an individual's life. I'm sure Mr Neal was delighted to have his case overturned, but I'm equally certain that to a huge chunk of the population he'll always be "That perv who got away with it" rather than "that guy who the CPS tried to frame". The case should never have made it to court, but the fact that it did so and his name is in the papers and internet search histories in the context of child porn convictions means the damage is done.

The suggestion that this level of filtering *wont* somehow be extended beyond its original frame of reference and be used for purposes entirely unrelated to its stated current goal (and which are harder to justify with the simplistic mumsnet-friendly "BUT ITS TO PROTECT THE KIDDIES!") is to be both naive and ignorant of past trends in similar cases.

Now, if you don't actually care, that's up to you. But it's clear that UK.gov has, regardless of ruling party, a marked tendency towards mission creep and giving itself powers on the sly that are used for decidedly off-message targets. Remember how cosy the Home Office was with Phorm, considering that they were supposed to be evaluating whether Phorm would be breaking the law?

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Captain Underpants

@Marvin

I suppose you're right.

I mean, it's not like we're living in a country where the Metropolitan Police have used laws governing extreme pornography to crack down on commercial-scale dvd piracy operations, is it? Or a country where a desire to "think of the children" meant that a man was convicted for owning a book of photographs despite said book being on sale in most High Street bookshops and the photos concerned having been exhibited to wide acclaim in galleries, is it?

...

Has the penny started its descent yet?

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NSFW spotlight images

Captain Underpants

Re: NSFW? in Blighty?

@Rippy:

I consider a spotlight image of what appears to be a topless woman painted blue with a Superman logo on her chest to be NSFW (here, if you're interested, and linking to this story). Whether you do or not is not relevant to me, although I do appreciate that we've all got our own boundaries on this one.

Anyway, Lewis has pretty much made it clear that since analytics say this drives the clicks, the phenomenon isn't going away. Which is what I wanted to determine.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Borne in mind, but ...

I figured analytics would be contributing to this, Lewis, and your honesty in that regard is appreciated, but for me at least the probability of reading the site on a daily basis (or at least doing so at work, where I generally consider the news covered here to be related to my role) is decreasing in proportion with the amount of non-worksafe icons used.

I'm not particularly interested in who's responsible for the pictures; my concern here is not whether there is sexism involved, but merely that the site has seen a marked increase in the usage of NSFW images. (I will say, however, that I share Jamie's views on the topic and would prefer if El Reg didn't feel compelled to become yet another site that desperately uses The Promise Of Bewbs to try and get more clicks...)

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Captain Underpants

NSFW spotlight images

I've noticed this seems to be getting more pronounced lately, and I'm substantially less likely to keep the site open in a background tab as a result.

I know that pictures like Sunbathing EeePC Girl have been used a lot, but it would be great if you could stop using NSFW images for spotlights or carousel article listings.

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Whoops! Apple drops kimono, flashes 'FREE' GarageBand for iOS7

Captain Underpants

@Robert, re: "going forward".

I think what you wanted to do was have "in future", then strike it out and replace it with "going forward". At least, that seems to be the usage context I've seen...

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Facebook RIPS away your veil of privacy, declares NO MORE HIDING

Captain Underpants

So pre-emptively fill your account with bollocks then. Make a point every now and again of going on a spree of liking complete nonsense to throw off their algorithms, and if you really want to confuse them set up fake accounts now and again that you befriend.

No, it's not automated. But it *is* an approach to mitigating the effect that Facebook Bastardry can have on your life...

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Captain Underpants

Re: Would I miss it?

Sadly, like many other bits of the internet, allowing anonymous commentary brings out the inner bellend in a lot of folks. Anything involving the issues arising from social networking brings out a particular type of Complete Cock who seems to think that all humans are born with an innate and highly-refined understanding of the long-term repercussions of actions undertaken on a networked computer platform. It's not a helpful reaction, but then again humans generally have a remarkable capacity for bellendery.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Real names optional

The thing about using fictional names is that it's much more fun to make up something completely fake (as in, you'd actually have to be a complete fuckwit to not realise this). And that's assuming that folks don't just create duplicate accounts (I've done this before and always use stupid names to make it blatant - the last one was something like Donkeypunch McFunkwit or something along those lines....)

I think FB is currently in a panic to try and squeeze money out of the people using it, having failed to realise that the more they try to overtly do so the more people push back. The main issue is people uploading photo and video (less deniable than simple profile names), but thus far this hasn't been too big a problem...

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Apple iMac 27-inch 2013: An extra hundred quid for what exactly?

Captain Underpants

Re: Another comparison

@AC 7/10/2013 17:36

Yeah, after 3 times is my experience too. Problem is, when the 4th failure happens, they insist on treating it as a new case (unlike every other vendor I've dealt with, where the normal approach is to take the system history into account and provide actual useful service).

My experience of Apple gear is that it's pretty shiny when it's working and you don't need to change the out-of-box config. If it breaks, or you need to tinker with hardware, it's a substantially crappier experience than many other vendors provide. (I'm also uninterested in OS X, on the basis that I'll go either whole-hog Windows when that's what I need or RHEL/Fedora if I want Linux.)

@AC 08/10/2013 10:43

Apple changed iPhone support policies a while back in pursuit of higher margins, and massively clamped down on on-the-spot replacements (especially for accidental damage, unless you've got AppleCare+ which is basically Accidental Damage For Apple iOS Devices). So your stories are clearly not current.

Also, other vendors being slow and shit to carry out repairs doesn't make Apple magically not shit. If you need to get into the store for a repair, you need an appointment. Anywhere busy (eg ALL the London stores) will mean you can only get an appointment a week in advance. So then you're immediately 1 week down - and that assumes that they can do next-day repair, which is not guaranteed. (The alternative is send it to a 3rd party approved repair centre, which still involves 1-2 weeks wait time because they generally don't have the parts on a shelf and have to order them in after verifying the fault...) Compare that to the NBD onsite service that business-class kit from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba and others can be supplied with and it starts to look crap. I've used consumer support from various vendors and it's generally sucky - Apple do reasonably well there. But for business-class support they suck the arse off a dead donkey.

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Captain Underpants

Re: just purchased a 27"

@AC14:46

I've got a 15" MacBook Pro that was essentially free -I rescued an ancient PowerBook from a skip, it got nicked from my house when I got burgled, and the insurance company eventually replaced it under the new-for-old clause (I paid for a screen upgrade and AppleCare to get the 3 year warranty). When I found that out, I spent quite a lot of the day quoting a particular episode of The IT Crowd :D

It's nice, but there's nothing about it that would make me give money to Apple over Toshiba, not least because the Toshiba option would include NBD onsite support for hardware issues at the same prices as AppleCare would expect me to make a genius bar appointment for a week today, then shlep into the store myself, then leave it with them until the repair was complete...

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Captain Underpants

Re: Ethernet

@AC12:08

If it's "not a big deal if you need one" then it shouldn't be a big deal for Apple to provide one with every unit in the box?

Oh, wait, that'd be cutting £30 out of every sold unit, and since we're still living in a world where end-to-end data transfers over wired connections are appreciably faster than over wireless connections (unless you're the poor sucker who believed Apple when they said that Gigabit Ethernet was going to work just as well through a shared-bus USB2 adapter...) then the dongles pretty much sell themselves for anyone who knows of what they speak.

Of course, Apple also tried to claim that the move away from optical media was because "nobody uses optical media any more". Which explains why every new film release comes out on Blu-Ray. And of course in no way would Apple be trying to push customers toward buying stuff on the store where it's made a habit of getting a 30% cut of purchase cost....

Seriously, at least acknowledge you've drunk the koolaid. If it works for you and you're happy with it, then well and good - that's the point of a diverse marketplace. But your usage patterns (or mine) are not universal, so what you consider minor may not be minor for others. The main point is that for lots of people, not having a practical option for this kind of storage or network access is a silly oversight driven by design rather than functionality.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Another comparison

@AC 13:31

The shine wears off when you realise how shoddy Apple's hardware warranty service is compared to any vendor who actually offers business-class machines and support. (In particular, Apple don't do what other vendors do when eg you have the same unit fail 5 times in less than a year...)

As for Dell: I've no idea why your account was only getting you 6 week turnarounds - I've been dealing with 'em for years and it's more like a 2-week turnaround on most laptops. They don't do shiny as well as other vendors, but they do damn reliable systems and bulletproof hardware support. The key is "don't buy the consumer stuff". But you really should already know this if you're paid to support and buy IT stuff...

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Dell ‘xpands XPS line with 'WORLD-FIRST' MEGA-RESOLUTION laptops

Captain Underpants

Re: Finally!

@AC 18:08

Basing my experience on a sample of >500 desktops, laptops and servers over about 6 years at my current workplace, I reckon that if you buy a Dell consumer/prosumer laptop without seeking out a warranty upgrade, you'll have probably had an inconsistent-at-best experience. If, however, you get them to apply a ProSupport-type warranty you get excellent support including NBD onsite service for repairs/replacements. (The problem remains getting the buggers to actually offer ProSupport for any laptop with a decent-res screen in a <14" display form factor...but they're slowly getting better in this regard).

For context, bear in mind that the fastest turnaround I've gotten on a repair for an Apple portable or display (not desktops as they still get onsite support...for now) is about a week and a half - even the shops that turn things around in a day or two still require you to wait a week or so to get an appointment, because even if you've got a case ref with Applecare that doesn't translate into any prioritisation mechanism in the Apple stores (because Apple has realised that shitty consumer-level support is cheaper to provide than anything remotely like business-class support, despite charging premium prices all the way...)

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Tesco's new fondleslab winks at Apple's stealthy NFC assassin iBeacon

Captain Underpants

Re: Maybe I'm missing something here...

The hypothetical plus of the Apple Store model is that every member of staff in the shop can handle sales - so you just put everyone on the shop floor and have them wandering around "helping" customers and processing sales, thereby maximising the potential value of every square foot of floorspace. In my experience, it also means that if you, as a customer, want a proper invoice/itemised receipt for your purchase, you get to dick around far longer than normal while the shocked staff try to figure out how to provide something as antiquated as an actual paper invoice....

Long story short - I don't think that the Apple Store model is will be adopted in full by Tesco. I would guess this functionality will be used as an eventually-exclusive mechanism for offering discount codes provided by an on-device app that generates a barcode/QR code that you then scan at the till when paying. So you'd probably still need at least an automated checkout point.

(Sidenote on why the Apple store model can be worked up the collective dirtbox of everyone at Apple who thinks they're great - the free-range salesdroid model is fine for actual sales, but the worst heap of shit I've ever seen for hardware support/warranty stuff, since the shop enforces a dual stream queuing system - one for appointment holders, one for non-appointment holders - and the enforced design of minimalist free-roaming bollocks means that at busy times you end up with an astounding amount of people waiting around for ages in badly-designed "open" areas).

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'Modern warming trend can't be found' in new climate study

Captain Underpants

I'm on the fence here

It's worth noting that the paper itself acknowledges that it's the first such long-term study using this technique, so it's not as though we should conclude that the experimental methods used for data gathering are guaranteed to be free of systemic errors.

That said, from a scientific perspective more data is always a good thing, so with any luck this will help us get to a point where we can accurately understand what's actually happening with our climate, and reconcile what appears to be a rise in temperature and related rise in sea levels with longer term meteorological patterns...

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Regretful selfie-snapping vixens, lads to get shame-hiding digital burqas

Captain Underpants

Re: @Sparx

@AC 08.29

Well done on failing the Ed Byrne test (see here for info).

We agree it's crap, but you're also underestimating kids here somewhat- when my friends and I first got internet access via crappy modems 15+ years ago we figured out pretty damn fast that some stuff was in fact public and that therefore being stupid might have repercussions. And that was just being a dick in chatrooms or on message boards.

Education is the key to solving this (possibly using some pointed but ultimately painless examples to drive the point home), for parents as much as children, and a greater degree of Damn Good Kickings for every moron who tries to pull the "I don't understand, it's the technology's fault, how was I meant to know that giving my five-year-old a device with full internet access and integrated cameras/microphones that they could use unsupervised might have bad results" defence.

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Dodgy 'iMessage for Android' app deep-sixed by Google

Captain Underpants

Re: I'm sure app and website will soon be back.

@AC 10:25

Ridiculous permissions issues are possibly the biggest flaw in the Android OS from a user's perspective, and one that I think Google has finally realised it needs to fix (by the sound of what's forthcoming in Kitkat). (The combination of lack of user education and thieving bastards developing apps means you get stupid nonsense like torch apps which demand access to your address book, permission to send SMS messages and all sorts of other crap - and, even worse, idiot users trying do defend this....)

Cyanogenmod was, for a while, the fix for this - up until CM7 ie Gingerbread, it had the ability to let you over-rule per-app permissions as you wished. For some stupid bloody reason they decided not to implement this in ICS, then later changed their mind when the community made enough of a fuss, then realised they'd left it long enough they may as well just wait for the source for 4.3 to be made available and have it become a core Android feature.

I discovered this, of course, after going through the process of putting CM9 on my Xperia Mini Pro. This weekend will involve downgrading to CM7, which should also rather helpfully improve performance...

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Shopping list for Tesco: Eggs, milk, bread, tablets (the £60 7in Android kind)

Captain Underpants

Re: Who cares what it's called?

@Steve Davies 3:

I'm not so much defending your local branch as pointing out that this is most likely down to Senior Management Bastardry: I've read on multiple occasions of research supporting the idea that regularly rearranging stores forces regular customers to spend longer looking for the stuff they know they want/need, which in turn increases the chance of unplanned discretionary purchases.

It doesn't make it any less tedious, but it does tell you exactly what not to do if you want to see this habit die out (ie make a note of any unplanned spends that suggest themselves as a result of this, buy them elsewhere instead, and optionally write to Tesco mgmt. to tell them as much...)

As far as this tablet goes, Tesco have priced it within spitting distance of my "at that price it'd have to be super-duper shit to be a complete waste of money" threshold. Which means that, since my Eeepc's battery has recently died and I'm considering whether it's worth replacing the battery or just selling it on, that I'm eyeing up the Hudl as a potential purchase...

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EE still has fastest, fattest 4G pipe in London's M25 ring

Captain Underpants

It's not the core focus of the story, but I figure letting it slip would be lazy - how about an explanation of that little footnote about how the EU wants to push data rates up to US levels? There's nothing in the linked article to state that prices going up is inevitable, and unless there's already an existing discrepancy what companies pay for data connection handoffs and what they charge for incoming connections from elsewhere (in which case, that discrepancy is the amount that gets folded into the bill) the actual end user shouldn't see any difference.(though, on the other hand, Three have started doing free roaming to certain countries...)

Which sounds far too naive, so what have I missed? Other than "greedy bastids will try any excuse to claw more money out of you"?

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Google smacks Surface with free Quickoffice for Android, iOS

Captain Underpants

@Office on Android recommendation

I've found Documents To Go to be pretty good. I first tried it out because at the time there was no PDF viewer worth a damn, but since then I've found it's pretty good for Officey stuff too. I've not done anything hugely complicated with it, but thus far it hasn't had any problems with the random selection of documents I've put through it.

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BRUCE WILLIS (ad) DIES HARD (in Sky broadband telly fib ban)

Captain Underpants
Joke

Re: I wondered why the ads had changed

@xyz: Heh, those ads also introduced a new (and much more welcome) definition to the term "unlimited" as defined by ISPs :D

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It's now or never for old sysadmins to learn new tricks

Captain Underpants

Re: This may not be relevant,

If the process says it's the infrastructure team who deals with this stuff, the process is wrong. Doesn't mean them failing to adhere to the process helps anything, that just means everyone's working in an ad-hoc fashion. And, you know, that'll only ever have awesome results...

Tl,dr: there's scope for everyone to have a scoop of the blame cake here.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Retire

@Duncan

I've seen a fair bit of how well that works from a friend working in a school that decided to go down that route. Now, instead of their "expensive" on-site sysadmins (2 guys, from memory) they have a helpdesk number for a helpdesk based in Norway (I think), with something like a four-hour response time. As opposed to the "how long it takes to get to the classroom from the IT office" response time when they had proper on-site support.

Don't get me wrong, there's scope to do outsourcing of that sort properly, but it's not at all cheap to do properly.

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Captain Underpants
FAIL

Re: This may not be relevant,

@AC

Perhaps I'm failing to catch some sarcasm in your post, but if you think that the effective updating of internal systems to remove staff who have left the company from internal distribution lists isn't a problem, you're not thinking correctly. Most of the time, updating someone's mailing list memberships is done at the same time as administering their permissions. So if they haven't done that, there's reason to worry that said person's account is still active with the same access as when they were still employed... which is a fairly bad process failure.

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Does Gmail's tarted-up tab makeover bust anti-spam laws?

Captain Underpants

Re: Promotions tab?

@Richard 22:

In GMail, click on the cog icon under your username. Go to "Configure Inbox". This should give you an option to enable tabs you want to use, and Gmail automatically sorts stuff into one of the tabs.

I tried it, didn't like it, and turned it off. Maybe the "email expert" blowhards quoted in the article could try that out, since what they describe is not really any different to the way GMail in a web browser shows ads elsewhere....

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'Abel, you're fired!' Hear AOL supremo axe exec during conference call

Captain Underpants
FAIL

Re: You are being patched!

@Destroy All Monsters

Yeah, I can totally see how at-will employment (ie no notice) is much better for everyone and definitely doesn't lead to total bollockery like employees refusing to document their work or job procedures in an effort to use obscurity as defence against being sacked.

Oh, wait...

Problems can happen in any environment, but good management (ie an effective regular performance evaluation mechanism, coupled to procedures - agreed to in a contract by both sides, natch- that provide effective mechanisms for either side to have problems raised and addressed) combined with some basic employee rights to not be randomly fucked over at no notice (and obligation to not attempt to fuck off at no notice if another more tempting offer should appear) tends to lead to more stability. Which, surprisingly, helps businesses stop worrying about people fucking off and get on with actually doing whatever they do to earn money...

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Think your smutty Snapchats can't be saved by dorks? THINK AGAIN

Captain Underpants

Re: Whatever.

Depends on how it's routing and whether he's running a packet sniffer hooked up to the right antenna, really...

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NSA gets burned by a sysadmin, decides to burn 90% of its sysadmins

Captain Underpants

Re: that machines are probably better at doing

@Caesarius

Second Variety was made into a pretty good film by the name of Screamers a while back. Well worth a look.

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Brits give thumbs-up to shale gas slurping in university-run poll

Captain Underpants

I find the statement that "(fracking) does not pollute the water table" to be questionable at the very least.

Sure, it may be possible to claim that thus far, fracking installations following best practice haven't demonstrated statistically-validated risks of water table pollution. We don't really seem to have enough data to draw that conclusion, as suggested by research like the Pennsylvania surveys published earlier this year, along with concerns about China's planned shale gas exploitation strategy (see here) suggest that we're not yet at that point of saying "yeah yeah, it's safe, piss off Greenies".

One important issue with the surveys mentioned in the article is whether they used any filtering mechanism to determine what, if anything, the respondents knew about fracking before being surveyed. I think that would be a significant contextual indicator, which has to be taken into account when talking about "public opinion"...

(Also, I can't help but smile at Andrew's decision to use numbers from a survey whose methodology he clearly finds questionable...)

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Jimbo Wales: ISP smut blocking systems simply 'ridiculous'

Captain Underpants
FAIL

Re: Content Filters Help Me

@G Watty What?

The thing is, you're using a content filter at your home level. I've no objection to that, and neither do any ISPs - in fact, the big boys will oblige and offer software/advice on how to do this if you ask them. The problem is not content filters, but network-level content filters that treat everyone in the country as if they're actually children who couldn't possibly be trusted to make informed decisions for themselves.

Signing up for a contract wth an ISP requires you to be an adult in the eyes of the law and able to enter into a contract. That means that you should be asked if you require filtering on your service, with the default being "no" (on the basis that adults can make decisions for themselves). If you say "yes", having an optional network-level filter available is one option - having client-level filters as well is another, and running your own DNS is yet another (though more involved and technically challenging). But those are decisions you should be making as a parent, not decisions that should be made for you by an ignorant and ill-informed MP who has gotten confused about the difference between "can find legal porn with Google and an unfiltered connection" and "contributes in some fashion to the creation and dissemination of child pornography".

The thing with child porn is that the priority is protecting children from exploitation. A filter on the network will do fuck-all towards that end. It will do fuck-all towards the end of preventing further dissemination of existing child porn, because if you think that child porn right now is primarily distributed through high-Google-ranked publicly-visible sites then I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you - and the folks at CEOP are of the same opinion (see The Telegraph for example - look for Jim Gamble's comments).

It's a bollocks initiative championed by the uninformed (don't believe me? Go and read the exchange between Claire Perry and Paul Staines that was the result of someone getting access to Perry's website and sticking porn all over it, and consider how little technical knowledge she demonstrated in that exchange. Then think that this is the person insisting that they know better than everyone else in this area, including the agency that directly deals with online child exploitation issues. Still convinced that she's someone who should be making these decisions?) that will fail to achieve its stated goals, but will succeed at its actual goals of establishing government-accessible network filtering as something that "the public wants". And will totally not be misused, just like RIPA was never misused. Oh, wait...

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Captain Underpants
FAIL

@NomNomNom:

Worried about what your kids do on the internet?

Fair enough, it's a sensible worry. The thing is, making someone else deal with the problem is STUPID. Yes, all-caps degree of stupid.

The smart thing to do is learn about how you can control their access to services, and do so. Don't just let them have TV/games console/DVD players in their room. Aside from anything else, you do realise that smut and assorted other inappropriate stuff exists on DVD, Blu-Ray and even paper format, yes?

Or were you expecting Dave's Magical Bullshit Internet Filter to sort all that out as well?

I'm not against women having opinions on technology; I have a strong objection to uninformed vote-seeking muppets having opinions on technology, especially if they try and ignore advice from the experts on why their suggested solutions won't actually work to solve the problem they claim to be so worried about.

For an analogy: You remember all those idiot parents who decided that, based on complete bullshit masquerading as science from one attention-seeking doctor, they weren't going to get their kids vaccinated because OMG ASPERGERS? (If you don't, Google Andrew Wakefield, read what those parents did, then try very hard to do the opposite as much as humanly possible). What Perry is doing here is analogous to what those parents did. Experts who know the technology and understand the problem have all pointed out that it's an expensive and stupid approach to a problem, that conflates legal pornography with child pornography for no other reason than to attempt to silence disagreement. But there is nothing about an internet filter that will stop the creation or dissemination of porn, legal or illegal - in the case of legal porn because the problem of kids seeing porn is down to Crap Parenting (compounded by Lack Of Support For Parents From Government), and in the case of illegal porn because only the very stupidest of potential paedophiles goes to Google and searches for their fix.

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Paid-for stuff likely to triumph over free – shock report

Captain Underpants

Re: If YouTube is anything to go by ...

@JimmyPage

The problem you're talking about isn't charging, it's curation of content. And it's emerged because the cost of presentation has disappeared.

The real fumble, IMO, was trying to bolt paid-for content onto an existing "free" user-generated content site like Youtube.

The smart thing to do, IMO, would be to have a Commercial and a Classic/Free/Community section on YouTube, where access is restricted to content owners who have decided that they're charging for content. Nothing to stop VEVO or whoever else from making their music videos available on the Classic/Free/Community section if they want, but the key to a good experience with paid-for material is an effective search.

This is the same problem Netflix and eMusic both have - I really like both services, but their search is crap. Aside from anything else, Netflix has a horrible way of handling searches for material that's not available. I don't give a donkey's bollock what someone else watched when they found, as I just have, that the film I want to see isn't on the service. What I want is more likely to be a mechanism to say "I'd like to watch this, please bring it back" and for that mechanism to be one of the factors considered when negotiating for licence renewals or prpvisions. And as for eMusic, well put it this way - a lot of the time I use Google to find their page for the artist or album I'm after, because it's less of a bollockache. And that's desperately bad. (Also, they have a built in RSS service but don't offer you a "follow this artist and get updates when new content becomes available option" within their webservice, which is just arse-backwards).

Anyway, yes, curation (or its absence) is the problem that most content providers are having now that user-generated content is a factor. And it's no good simply getting rid of USC either, in some cases it's better than the commercial stuff (eg The Tunnel remains a better horror film than anything released by a Hollywood film studio in the last decade).

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Jurors start stretch in the cooler for Facebooking, Googling the accused

Captain Underpants

Re: Juries

@YAAC

Or maybe the problem is that, because of the varying ability of crime victims to pressure/bully police/CPS/law enforcement to prosecute/convict the person responsible (which is frequently interpreted as "nearest young man from a non-white ethnic minority without an ironclad alibi"), higher focus is put on securing successful convictions and prosecutions in cases that "look easy" (ie social conditions make it more likely that the defendant might be a criminal and less likely that he/she will have recourse to reverse a miscarriage of justice, plus the aforementioned social conditions mean that they are more likely to mistrust the law and its representatives anyway) in an effort to hit targets/performance metrics which are at least partly structured to allow politicians/senior officers at the Met to claim that they are "doing something" about crime.

Part of the reason the CPS come across as so schizophrenically inconsistent is that they are given performance targets based on cases taken to trial, which completely disregards the reality of police and legal work (ie the number of promising cases where due to a lack of a key witness/piece of evidence the trial can't proceed, thus making all the work put into said case a black mark against performance evaluation).

To put it another way, there's plenty of blame to go round for the current situation and a lot of it should go to those who decided on some not-particularly-good management structures for the folks who decide who to try and prosecute. (It doesn't help that the people they appoint aren't always the best of the bunch, or that the laws they have to enforce are frequently full-on Pants-On-Head Mental...)

2
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Capita IT Services staff plan strike over pay this Friday

Captain Underpants

Re: What about non-union staff?

@tim_smith2000:

I'm not about to say all unions are awesome, but in general what you get with them is at least a bit better than what you get without them. I agree that businesses should be smarter about retaining staff and remuneration packages, but as in warfare, divide and conquer is an effective tactic in salary negotiations.

The whole "good staff leave, mediocre staff stay, company eventually acknowledges the problem or goes out of business" issue is hardly new - I saw it nearly take out the largest single account at my last employer due to an ill-advised venture with what turned out to be a very naive/stupid consultancy group designed to "improve efficiency" (which they interpreted as "review your performance against SLAs, cut down staff numbers to the minimum required to just about scrape the SLAs, but fail to use a statistically valid sample for determining variation in workload volume and subsequently almost trigger early-termination-clauses in said contract, ultimately remedied by having to re-hire all the staff who were let go in the first place with incentive payments required to convince them to come back").

Good luck with leaving for greener pastures, at any rate :)

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Captain Underpants

D'oh, just realised the thinko here. The second line should read:

"They know there's a union there. They know that a 1.1% raise is an insult and a real-terms pay cut, and to make things worse they also publicly give themselves a pay rise."

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Captain Underpants

@Lost All Faith...

It's a problem with the management's decision on how to deal with unionised staff, actually.

They know there's a union there. They know that a 1.1% raise is an insult and a real-terms pay cut, and to make things worse they also publicly give themselves a paycut.

The customer doesn't want to see the degradation of service that will happen when the staff who actually do the work bail out permanently. The 1-day strike option is a way of showing what that would be like for a short period of time, in an effort to get clients to nag management and essentially tell them to Stop Dicking The Staff Around.

Sure, some unions take the piss, but at the moment it's practically the golden rule for management to take the piss as well. In the business world, a peaceful protest will be less use than a chocolate teapot. Either you do something that has an impact forcing a response (good or bad), or you effectively accept what you're being offered.

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ISPs: Relax. Blocking smut online WON'T really work

Captain Underpants
Meh

Re: Job title

@TrishaD:

Unfortunately, being good most of the time at stuff that only your local constituents ever notice or have reason to care about, while also deciding that your total ignorance in a given area is no obstacle to imposing your views on those who work in that area, means that the vast majority of people will take one look at you and say "So who is this person and why did they decide that Olympic Gold Medallist In The Field Of Bellendery was their life's calling?".

And, frankly, it's kind of deserved. Especially when she's pulling "Think Of The Children" crap on us. If she really wants to help better look after the children in the UK, she'd be pushing for much greater support and education of parents re: effective parenting techniques, and (if she wanted to go Full-on Pants On Head Mental) probably mandating much greater amounts of profiling and pre-natal education for prospective parents, with a Licence To Sprog (with attendant bureaucracy similar to that which adopting parents go through) as the endgame.

But instead, she and Cameron are going for the low hanging fruit of giving the Mumsnet Moron Brigade (Proud Home Of Those Who Don't Let Ignorance Get In The Way Of Having An Opinion since 2000!) what they keep asking for, even though they barely understand what the problem is, never mind what available options might have any impact whatsoever in terms of solving it.

Tl, dr;

Nuts to her, she can reap what she sows in much the same way as Paul Chambers had to over the course of several years. It's about time someone in UK.gov got to feel the full pants-on-head mental state of current UK law in relation to the internet; it's probably the only way to make them understand.

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Articles with no comments

Captain Underpants

Re: Oh look...

@Daniel

I find that Lewis writing about military hardware is a fascinating and knowledgable (at least as far as I can tell) individual with interesting insights to share.

Lewis writing about anything relating to energy or climate, however, appears to be an anti-green evangelist looking for any excuse, no matter how contrived or factually inaccurate, to try and smack everyone even remotely connected to green initiatives. He's clearly passionate about the issue and has his own opinions, but he's so far away from objectivity on the subject that it really is hard to find any reason to read his articles a lot of the time, especially when he's misinterpreting scientific publications...

But yeah, an Orlowski phase sounds about right. Which is a shame, Orlowski with comments on and the right topic can produce some great articles and discussions, but Orlowski with comments off tends to be clickbait and/or effectively trolling his own audience.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Oh look...

@Graham Marsden:

Lewis Page? The chap who has at least once written an article he claimed was supported by a scientific paper that explicitly contradicted what he was saying? Surely not!

As far as the more general thread goes: I agree. If Vulture Central wants us using the forums, make 'em worthwhile and relevant - ie set up an automated bridge between the "comment" link at the foot of the article and a new thread, created automatically on the forum, which contains either the entire article or at least the first two paragraphs and a link to it on the main site. Make it as easy to comment on the forum as it currently is on the front page. And don't use restricting an existing facility as an "incentive", because all you do is irritate people by foisting something they can't be arsed with for no obvious reason.

3
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US gov SMASHES UP TVs and MICE to nuke tiny malware outbreak

Captain Underpants
Boffin

Re: WOW !

@malle-herbert:

The sad thing is, there is a limited case to be made for scrutinising HIDs as possible malware vectors or security concerns (see for example this story from a couple of years ago).

I don't for one second believe that the idiots responsible for this could even spell HID, though, much less explain why you'd need to check whether they were possible attack vectors...

5
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'The Apprentice' is a load of old codswallop, says biz prof

Captain Underpants

Re: And it's taken how long to notice this?

@Anonymous Custard:

Well, if you're going to assume that the spouse should have no ambition beyond sitting around at home alternating between Raising The Kids and Cleaning The Home (with occasional forays into Spending Your Hard Earned Cash, Grumble Grumble) then yeah, I guess you might run into trouble. That doesn't mean it's how everyone does it.

@Lallabalalla:

Retiring at 35 to arse about on a beach is all very well, but the shortening of your life expectancy resulting from the kind of stress usually involved in the relatively few jobs that can actually pay that well will mean you're not necessarily doing well compared to those who decide that Loads Of Cash + Early Retirement isn't the goal. Horses for courses, of course, but there's no one right answer that applies to everyone...

0
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Brits' HSBC bank cards, net access goes TITSUP

Captain Underpants

Re: Less than ideal

@g e

I sympathise (not least because I'm with HSBC too and have seen the flakiness of their normally-robust online service today) but, playing Devil's Advocate with your choice of title, I don't think there's ever a good point for banks to be out of service or offline, is there?

This sort of thing neatly demonstrates the most compelling argument to be made in favour of keeping some cash about your person, IMO. Cash has a number of problems, but "sorry, your bank is currently unavailable" is not one of them!

1
1

We want to put a KILL SWITCH into your PHONE, say Feds

Captain Underpants

Quite aside from the obvious "what a remarkably shoddy idea that provides the end user with nothing they need, while providing operators and government bodies with convenient new powers" comment, I'd like to highlight the following:

"The purpose of stealing the handset and then discarding it is to delay pursuers, thus providing more time during which stolen credit cards and other spoils can be turned into cash."

Is there a basis for this statement, or a citation from the police? Because on the face of it, it sounds like nonsense to me - if my wallet and phone are nicked, I'm cancelling the cards ASAP regardless of whether I think there's a chance of getting the phone back.

The reason I say this is that I also call Great Big Hairy Nadgers on your assertion that thieves don't want the phone when mugging someone. A new iPhone 5 or equivalent-level smartphone, unlocked, costs around £500. You're smoking something fun if you think muggers and thieves don't want in on that action, even if the resale value of a hot one is only a fraction of the full retail price.

1
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BBC's Digital Moneypit Initiative known to be 'pile of dung' for years

Captain Underpants
Meh

Oh, is it time for another "SCRAP THE BEEB! DOWN WITH THE LICENCE FEE! LET THE MARKET DECIDE!" thread already?

On the one hand - *facepalm* says it all, really. Textbook project management fuckuperry of the highest order.

On the other hand - if you can't see the potential benefits of an organisation-wide system to allow production teams to share their footage and material, you've not engaged your brain. The Beeb, as with any sufficiently large organisation, has the twin problems of first usefully storing all the masses of information generated by its various teams and departments and secondly making sure that it's indexed documented in such a way that individuals can discover the existence of and then request/gain access to relevant material.

It's possible that this problem has already been solved elsewhere, but I'm not aware of that being the case. And that's important - given the way that the Beeb's iPlayer project was what led the way to the UK's TV channels providing streaming access, we shouldn't just assume that any big BBC project is a guaranteed waste of time and money.

Thus far, it sounds like DMI was, in practice, a total balls-up. That doesn't mean the goals weren't worthwhile, or that they won't have produced some useful bits and pieces along the way. In a way it would be quite impressive to spend £100M on a project that yielded nothing of any use whatsoever.

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