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* Posts by browntomatoes

40 posts • joined 8 Dec 2009

A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally

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Re: Happens to me

Yep, sadly they shut it down last year due to costs apparently. It would have made much more sense to keep it open while charging say £100/year for the privilege. The best thing about it, really, was the fact that so few people were registered (and all of those were frequent travelers so could use the system very quickly/efficiently) which meant that there was almost never a queue for it. It was also much, much quicker than the new epassport readers (the human border agents are significantly quicker than those I find).

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Re: I would make use of this or similar tech

For larger/more expensive equipment (eg camera equipment which is too big to put in hand luggage) I think people end up using dedicated shippers like UPS or FedEx to take care of it rather than checking it on commercial flights (except in certain situations where it's not possible, eg film crew dispatched to breaking news event). The shipping companies are just much, much better at this than airlines and at some point the additional cost becomes a small expense worth paying. No thieving/careless baggage handlers to worry about, you can put it all in a proper sturdy box without worrying about size/weight limitations, they take care of customs issues for you (you can get something called a carnet - sort of like a passport for goods - which means no awkward conversations about paying duty) and they'll give you guaranteed arrival timescales. Plus the benefits of "traveling light" at the airport.

For the average holidaymaker, the best advice is pack less stuff and put your valuables/breakables in hand luggage (go hand luggage only if you can) plus one change of clothes. Then it gets reduced to an insurance exercise.

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Re: Too the all the why questions...

Yes. Go and watch Baggage Battles. And then learn from the experience and buy something which actually mitigates this potential loss, which the product under discussion will not - insurance coverage (and also learn not to put anything which you want to retain for non-financial reasons in your checked luggage).

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Re: Happens to me

27 seconds? I've done it in 5 seconds when IRIS used to work (I miss IRIS!). My personal best is probably less than one second though, in the days when all you had to do was flash the photo page and they waved you through.

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Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app

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Re: VK dropped support for Jabber about 9 months ago

XMPP is still working fine for me on facebook chat, and I'm not sure they've said they're planning to drop it either (though I could have missed that). It's just their own mobile apps they are dropping chat support from in favour of the other separate app.

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Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data

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Simply parroting what he's been told by the heads of the agencies

How do we actually know he (or the other oversight authorities such as the Intelligence and Security Committee, another rubber stamp) is even being told about everything they do? Why wouldn't they simply cover up what they do without lawful authority and only report what they did have authority for (along with a handful of 'blunders' to make it look like they aren't fabricating it)? It's not like these agencies don't have a history of applying the "shoot first, ask question later" mentality (police included, remember Jean Charles de Menezes?) after all...

I find it amazing that he seems to think (for he has not indicated to the contrary) he is adequately resourced to do the job he has been given in the first place when that is plainly untrue.

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Torvalds rails at Linux developer: 'I'm f*cking tired of your code'

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Re: my 2 cents

/dev/kmsg is writable as well as readable. This is useful sometimes for debugging situations but was rarely used by anything until systemd came along

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And more importantly

Issue 4. systemd should not be writing its debug logs in the kernel dmesg ring buffer to start with

The decision to do this is simply bewildering. Nothing else does it.

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Google confirms Turkish ISPs 'intercepted' its DNS service

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Re: What is there to intercept?

DNSCrypt (and to some extent DNSSec which aims to prevent a MITM NXDOMAIN via NSEC/NSEC3 records) would go some way towards fixing the MiTM vulnerabilities of DNS; but that's not really a meaningful workaround to this sort of situation as one can easily imagine that if they had been implemented and MiTM became too difficult to do, Turkey would have simply outright blocked routing to the IPs of the alternative resolvers instead. Tor (or something similar) would seem to be a more durable technical workaround here.

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Life support turned off: NHS Direct dies silent, undignified death

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I miss the phone service, the website not so much

The NHS direct phone service was MUCH better than 111. The two times I've called 111, they spent 15 minutes asking me to spell my address and tell them who my GP is etc etc etc before even asking why I was calling. They then went through what was very obviously a script the computer was prompting them to do and appeared to have zero medical knowledge (despite apparently being "staffed by nurses"). Now we just call the out of hours GP directly instead who will do a telephone consultation in half the time.

However, BOTH websites are/were useless. The online symptom checker seems to have one answer whatever you do which is "call your GP" (unless you tell it something like you accidentally cut your own head off in which case it says dial 999).

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TV sales PLUMMET. But no one's prepared to say what we all know

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Re: Buying less because what they've got lasts longer?

Very true. I feel obliged to point out though that you MUST discharge the large capacitors in any switchmode power supply (with an appropriate resistor/other load) and not just disconnect from the line before you do anything else though. A broken power supply (or even a working one without working bleeder resistors) can often mean potentially lethal levels of charge persisting in them for long periods. This is especially true for CRTs but really for anything with a SMPS.

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Re: "Lightbulbs, nylon tights, razor blades, can all be made to last years or decades"

Sorry, but straight ("cut-throat") razors can and do last a lifetime when properly cared for (with the occasional honing etc), offering a massive TCO advantage. It's not metallurgy or cost (although you can argue about the benefits of carbon steel vs stainless steel) but convenience which is key. Cartridge razors are evidently highly valued by consumers for two reasons. Firstly, they are easier to use (and importantly have a much shallower learning curve). And secondly, they are quicker to shave with and take a lot less time/effort to take care of (no stropping, honing, etc).

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MPs urge UK.gov to use 1950s obscenity law to stifle online stiffies

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Re: So...

I agree (despite being a parent - albeit one who won't benefit from any of the above schemes). But you forgot the two biggest subsidies (as a whole) from non-parents to parents - which are publicly funded schools and the NHS (children and older people are rather disproportionate users of health and social care compared to non-geriatric adults). There's also housing benefit (ie cost of providing larger homes for those who qualify) as well as a few other smaller costs.

I'm not sure the married persons allowance is really relevant though (after all plenty of people get married and don't have children, and still more have children but never marry).

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Headmaster calls cops, tries to dash pupil's uni dreams - over a BLOG

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Re: Truth or consequences

I'm not a lawyer but as I understands it defamation claims are the primary risk but not the only one - e.g. various protections against discrimination/victimisation exist in employment law which could apply, as could the Protection from Harassment Act, or more unusual things like malfeasance/misfeasance and Human Rights challenges (e.g. I would have thought the right to a private life could be argued) where there is public sector involvement and so on.

Defamation claims are not something you want to be on the end of though. They are expensive (and often difficult) to defend and potentially expose you to a huge award of damages.

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UK mulls ban on tiny mobiles to block prison smugglers

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Look up something called the "ThinCharger" (awesome for traveling light within the UK). A UK plug-based charger doesn't need to be that big.

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British spooks seize tech from Snowden journo's boyfriend at airport

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Re: He was lucky :-(

Voting isn't the only option you have in a democracy. You can also stand for office yourself.

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

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Re: This molehill is dressed up as a mountain

If you'd said that 12 months ago I'd have agreed with you. However the false positive rate on gmail's spam filter suddenly jumped a LOT about 9 months ago (though false negatives are still pretty rare) - so much so that I had to work out how to disable it so I don't lose emails as messages in the spam folder get automatically deleted after 30 days (and if you fetch your email via POP3 to store locally and only rarely use the web interface as I do, it won't retrieve the spam folder so you won't even know). It wasn't just me either - several family members started missing important emails due to this at around the same time.

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US feds: 'Let's make streaming copyrighted content a FELONY'

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Angel

Re: Bonkers

This was the system in the England & Wales as well before 1967 so it's not really an "American term". Felonies were originally offences for which those convicted were subject to forfeiture of land and property (really this was part of the feudal system) although this was abolished during the Victorian era. Eventually the main distinction became the rules and mode of procedure for trials which made things unnecessarily complicated so effectively felonies were abolished in 1967 and all previous felonies became misdemeanours (which were then renamed).

In the same way, some American states and the Federal government retain certain other now-obsolete aspects of the English legal system - e.g. juries for civil trials (still technically available but almost never used in England except in defamation cases), the division of civil courts between courts of Equity and courts of Law (abolished in the Victorian era but still around in some US states to greater or lesser extent, notably in Delaware) and the idea of indictments being handed down by grand juries (abolished in 30s/40s in England but actually required and not merely optional for any Federal offence in the US).

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Facebook: 'Don't worry, your posts are SECURE with us'

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Re: Don't worry!

You obviously haven't been paying attention. What they mean when they say "if you select this option then what you say will stay private" is "... for the next 3-4 months before the next UI overhaul when we're going to reset everyone's privacy settings for the nth time to 'all public'". Based on repeated past experience, if you put it on facebook, it's best to assume anyone in the world will be able to see it at some point in the future

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Linux 3.11 to be known as 'Linux for Workgroups'

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Re: Windows 3.x was never an Operating System

I can't believe noone has mentioned Xenix 386 - which came years before Windows 3.0 and was 32-bit... although it perhaps has a questionable claim to be a "Microsoft" product as the 386 version was produced by SCO (based on MS's earlier work which was in turn based on AT&T's code), as well as the fact that MS sold Xenix to SCO around that time (not sure if this was before or after Xenix 386 was released).

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PEAK iPHONE? Apple mobe growth slumps to ‘lowest in its history’

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Re: 1/3 of their market value as cash

It's very easy to forget what was arguably the most revolutionary feature of the (original) iPhone - the data tariff. The hardware (and OS) as you say were the result of a longer process of evolution (and convergence between mobile devices and computers) but leveraging the expected popularity of the phone to force AT&T (and later the other networks) to offer 'unlimited' data (or at least, a lot more data for a lot less than they previously had done) was what allowed the smartphone industry to take off. An iPhone-like device on the data tariffs which existed before the iPhone would have simply been too expensive for most people to really use.

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Londoners can bonk their way to work without Oyster cards TODAY

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Re: And while I'm on a rant...

I think this is aimed at tourists really.

Oyster is not really that inconvenient even in pay as you go mode since you can set it up to auto top-up if you register online - whenever the balance drops below a certain level you can set it up to automatically add more credit from your credit or debit card (and that includes Amex whose NFC payment mechanism isn't mentioned in this article and doesn't appear to be very widely supported)

Also if you lose your Oyster card and it was registered, they're good enough to refund you the deposit you paid on it and transfer the funds to a new card (although it's a bit of a pain to get the refund bit since it only credits when you also buy some other new credit, ie not an auto top-up credit or a season ticket; but the funds transfer is automatic), so the only loss is the difference in the deposit for a new card if it's gone up in price in the mean time, plus (potentially) whatever someone managed to spend on it before you reported it lost/stolen.

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UK climate expert warns of 3-5 degree warmer world by 2100

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Re: Shirley not that meme again

@NomNomNom: I'm sorry but you're wrong about what the confidence intervals represent.

If X is the "warming rate" in 2012 and Y is the "warming rate" in 1970 then what you are trying to say is that since we believe that P(a<X<b)=P(c<Y<d)=0.95, with c<b, we can reasonably conclude that P(X<Y)<0.05. This is not true; you'd need to do a different statistical test to conclude anything about the relationship between X and Y (you haven't even told us what P(X>c) or P(Y<b) are, for example). That analysis is complicated by the fact that (i) we shouldn't necessarily expect X and Y to have normal distributions and (ii) X and Y cannot be considered independent.

The data you've presented simply doesn't allow us to conclude anything about the relationship between warming rates historically and now - whether they have fallen, risen or stayed the same on any level of confidence.

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Google, Amazon, Starbucks are 'immoral' and 'ridiculous' over UK tax

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Re: Bleurgh

Quote: "we'll end up moving to a model where there is a sales tax (on top of VAT), only the companies won't pay that, you will!"

And who do you think pays gives companies the money to pay corporation tax? They just raise their selling price to cover that the same as any other cost of doing business.

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FOlA judges: Secret 28 who made the BBC Green will not be named

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Re: TV licences aren't exactly compulsory.

(Almost) all taxes can be avoided by simply not participating in the activity which is being taxed - including income tax. That doesn't make them "not taxes" or "not compulsory" and I don't see why the licence fee is any different.

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Education Secretary Gove: Tim Berners-Lee 'created the INTERNET'

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Re: The Distinction....

I think it would be more like confusing "using a car" with "using the road" (or even "inventing cars" with "inventing roads").

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Virgin Media's 'bye-bye to buffering' ad nuked by watchdog - AGAIN

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Re: As punishment

I find that even in modem mode, it still requires rebooting once a day otherwise it decides to randomly slow everything down (though in fairness this could be the network's fault too). Funnily enough the most noticeable symptom of this is that if I try to watch something on iplayer then it wont start for about 30 seconds as it is "buffering".

VM is really very poor at customer service, despite being more expensive than Sky. For example, they randomly and deliberately (by means of checking User-Agent and equivalent in Flash) dropped support for Linux from the "VM player" service without telling anyone. This service is already worse than the Sky equivalent since it only works on your home connection vs Sky which works anywhere. Then there's the fact that you can't get Sky Atlantic on VM. And that the price of a package without phone service is no cheaper than one with phone service (despite their product being priced to be slightly more expensive than Sky TV+BT line rental+a decent xDSL ISP). And they will offer you a "loyalty" discount if you complain, but only if you sign up for a new 24-month contract.

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Canon PowerShot G1 X compact camera

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Re: "Once the novelty of an interchangeable lens compact has worn off"

Based on anecdotal evidence (ie friends who have bought them), I think the G-series is largely sold to people who like taking pictures and want to do it "more seriously" but are scared off buying a DSLR by the perceived "complexity" (or to some extent the cost). This is in contrast to EVIL which tends to be bought by people who would have bought a DSLR before EVIL existed but prefer the form-factor. That is a market which Canon does not serve at present.

I do agree about the S-series though. Awesome cameras - true compacts but with full exposure control and the ability to shoot RAW. The sensor size means quality will never be as good as a DSLR but then a DSLR will never be as good as medium format for the same reason - photography is always about compromises.

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Virgin straps on phone masts for the flying upper classes

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BA

It's a bit cheeky calling themselves the "first British airline" to do it. For one thing, as others pointed out, planes have had phones on them for years (since the early 90s I think). For another, BA has had this tech installed for a while on their City Airport-JFK flight but disable the voice part of it so its data-only (and they don't provide Wifi data which is a bit weird). Apart from anything else there is so much background noise on a plane I can't imagine that using a phone would be particularly great anyway so seems quite sensible to me.

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How are we going to search our hard disks now?

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Paris Hilton

Recoll FTW

Agreed, recoll is awesome... indexes contents of files and can handle quite a few file types. Also does a very good job of appearing to use next to no resources. My only complaint is that it doesn't work on Windows. Combine it with "locate" in regex mode and you have a very effective search solution.

I find Everything (http://www.voidtools.com) is a good alternative to "locate" on Unix (for searching by indexed file name) but I haven't found a decent program which will index file contents yet on Windows.

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'New laws not needed' to block / censor Twitter et al

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1967 in England and Wales, 1973 elsewhere in the UK

I believe the confusion may be that it was repealed earlier in England and Wales than the rest of the UK. According to the 1967 Criminal Law Act it was repealed as of the passing of that act; however the section containing the repeals language did not appear to apply to Scotland or NI.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1967/58/schedule/3

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CPS: We won't prosecute over BT/Phorm secret trials

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British subjects and British Citizens

We've been citizens of one sort or another since 1949, and most of us haven't been subjects at all since 1983.

See Wikipedia on this here: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/British_subject

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BT could face criminal case over Phorm trials

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FAIL

Don't forget Drax

The biggest power station in Britain is still British-owned (well, listed on the LSE which is what people usually mean by that). As is National Grid; and (technically) British Energy, the largest generator in the UK, is 20% owned by Centrica (though I'll give you the other 80% is owned by the frogs).

And then there's the fact that we have British companies like International Power which own foreign power stations which must have some sort of "offset" effect in your measure of Britishness...

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Extreme Pr0n - One Year On

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Legally held

AFAICR, although his *guns* were legally held, the guy who committed the Dunblane massacre used Hollowpoint bullets which were *not* legal at the time in the UK, unless he had special permission for their use in the humane dispatch of deer or other vermin.

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Verified by Visa bitchslapped by Cambridge researchers

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Go

Easy way to avoid 3D secure

Pay using an American Express card. You can get 1.25% cashback from Amex by doing so as well. The one time my Amex card details were stolen and used for fraudulent purchases online, they were very efficient at getting me a refund and a new card too.

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UK.gov uses booze to lure London kids into ID scheme

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FAIL

Really?

If a tenth of half of all passports equals 15,000 then this would imply that there are a mere 300,000 total passports in issue in the UK. I rather doubt that that figure is correct.

I thought the government was at least insisting on some basic numeracy amongst its employees these days.

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French culture minister flames Google over book scan plan

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Nothing more than slavish copying

From what I understand, case law varies in different countries as to whether a copyright can even exist for this type of thing - in the US, it is not possible as it is deemed to lack originality, whereas in the UK (and possibly France?), it IS possible to copyright a copy.

So one possible solution would be to amend French law to align with US case law (Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.) on this aspect. So the French ensure that Google's scans are not copyrightable in France, and then agree some sort of partial exclusivity (maybe a right of first refusal for Google to scan books?). Result - the books are free for everyone to access as anyone can simply copy Google's version without issue, but Google still gets what they want

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Judge blames RealNetworks for DVD-ripping ban

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FAIL

Question

If a hardware DVD manufacturer signs up for a CSS/BluRay/whatever licence and *then* breaks it (e.g. by accidentally leaking the keys or making their player not region-compliant), are they then breaking the DMCA (and thus liable for criminal penalties and enhanced damages) or simply in breach of contract (thus liable for civil penalties of actual damages only)?

Seems to me like it *should* be the latter, but probably *is* the former.

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National space agency for Blighty, says Drayson

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FAIL

UK car industry turnover

According to http://www.autoindustry.co.uk the UK car manufacturing industry had turnover in 2004 (the most recent year that they show figures for) of £49bn, and the motor trade nearly £134bn, giving a combined total of c.£183bn, and that's excluding petrol stations/fuel.

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China executes securities trader over $9.52m fraud

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@Paul Charters

If you think prison's so great, why don't you go and commit some crime deliberately to get sent there? What, you don't want to? Maybe that's the point.

Since I find corporal punishment and other types of maltreatment almost as morally repugnant as prison itself, I can't think of an acceptable punishment I would personally hate to be subjected to more.

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