* Posts by Sirius Lee

431 posts • joined 14 Dec 2009

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Parliament takes axe to 2nd EU referendum petition

Sirius Lee

Stop whining

If the petition cannot stand on it own based on support by people who are demonstrably in the country (using a UK ISP) then the petition doesn't really have the support claimed, does it? If taking out 77,000 possibly dubious votes is a problem then no one should take it seriously. But since that is not the case, stop whining.

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Three non-obvious reasons to Vote Leave on the 23rd

Sirius Lee

Thank you

Andrew, I rarely agree with your point of view but as someone looking around to find a positive reason to vote one way or another before 10pm today, I thank you for your exposition. My wife (a leave campaigner) was at our local Surrey station this morning handing out leaflets alongside a clutch of middle-class women who called her and the mixed race man she was with racist. These are presumably acolytes of the Clerisy you reference. I assume they, or their kids or their partners have the most to lose from any change.

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Dr Craig Wright lodges 51 blockchain patents with Blighty IP office

Sirius Lee

Irrelevant

#1 You can't patent software or algorithms in Europe

#2 The prior art is open source

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Why you should Vote Remain: Bananas, bathwater and babies

Sirius Lee

You're not shedding any light

My summary of your argument is that because politics is a nasty, horrible, ugly business we should vote for the status quo. Not good enough. I'm typing this wondering which way to vote before 10pm today and have read your comments hoping they may have offered a persuasive perspective but, alas, from my point of view, it just another status quo argument.

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

Sirius Lee

That's paranoia

As dumb as the security services may be, I think even the wooden tops could use the pattern of embedded links to determine when a site was hacked. If the records of a lot people suddenly started showing content from nefarious sites after people had visited an otherwise innocuous site, it wouldn't take a genius to work out what had happened. They even be able to work out when the hack occurred and even, in your scenario, when the site was un-hacked.

Come on, think of some more plausible scenarios that can't shot down with just a nano second of thinking.

The the thinking part is important. If you put up nonsense objections like the scenario you've advanced, ones which can knocked back so easily, they will be used to demonstrate the objections to the proposed legislation is baseless.

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Model's horrific rape case may limit crucial online free speech law

Sirius Lee

Re: law enforcement?

This is not a new problem - difficult, yes, but not new. Social workers faces a similar dilemma daily. A young mum or dad is thought to be abusing their child but there is no direct evidence. If social services intervene and separate a family with good intentions but unjustly that is damaging to the family and especially the child that is the target of the protection. If they do not and a child is left to be brutalized the consequences may not be known until that child is hospitalized or killed. Sadly there have been a number of case in the UK - one that concluded just last week - of parents/guardians beating and killing their children.

Web sites are actors in our communities and we all deserve to be made aware of concerns about the behaviours of their members if the site provides a service if those concerns might lead to bodily harm. Of course there's a SWATTING problem. The answer is a process. Is it too difficult for a site to be able to present their concerns to a judge and obtain legal consent to alert other members to their concerns? May be not this exact process but it's not beyond the wit of man to devise a process that is able to increase our safety in this area.

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Get outta here, officer, you don't need a warrant to track people by their phones – appeals court

Sirius Lee

Re: "he"

Yes we do have a gender neutral nominative pronoun: 'one' which, of course, is derived from the French gender neutral pronoun 'on' which we used in verb conjugation in every French lesson at school. As in "one went to the shops'. It is correct and can be used whenever a gender specific nominative pronoun he or she might be used.

But this pronoun has committed an even more heinous crime in Britain history than being sexist: it was used by the educated and upper classes! Because of the ingrained class wars in Britain, if anyone uses the pronoun 'one' today they sound like a pompous ass and definitely not right-on working class (shudder). Think Jacob Rees-Mogg.

However, we don't have gender neutral objective pronoun. 'Lock him/her (or her/him) up!' 'Lock it up!' doesn't work. 'Lock 'em up!' implies more than one person.

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Geniuses at HMRC sack too many staff! Nope, can't do it online. FAIL

Sirius Lee

Get it right

The report points out that the waiting times increased because of increases *in the last week before the Self-Assessment deadlines*. Put it another way, HMRC is being criticised for not accommodating an arbitrarily large number of calls in those two weeks, at my expense, by people and their advisers who could have filed any time in the previous six months.

My experience as a business owner is that all my calls on PAYE, VAT and CT have been dealt with almost immediately. But then I'd never called in the week of the October SA deadline (paper returns) or the January deadline for on-line returns.

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Ding-dong, reality calling: iPhone slump is not Apple's doom

Sirius Lee

The problem Apple faces is one of its own making. Investors in most other companies may make a return by the increase in stock price but more usually through dividend distributions. It was a big thing when, back in the day, Microsoft started offering a dividend. For most companies offering a dividend keeps the stock price steady even when the company performance is not great.

Because Apple does not offer a dividend, the only way investors are able to realize a return is through increasing stock valuations which can only happen when more investors buy in. It's doesn't matter what the profits of a company are if investors will never see any of that value. Getting investors to continue purchasing stock so the stock price continues to appreciate is the only way for existing investor to make any return and this needs a constant supply of really, really good news. Good news is not enough to sustain this pyramid scheme.

Given their seemingly Byzantine off-shore tax structures and the prospect that a significant chunk of Apple's cash pile would be handed to Uncle Sam if it were repatriated it appears that investors are unlikely to be able to rely on a dividend payment any time soon.

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Official: EU goes after Google, alleges it uses Android to kill competition

Sirius Lee

They must know this is brain dead from the start

"alleges it uses Android to kill competition"

The market is mobile. The competition is Apple not variants of Android.

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

Sirius Lee

Yes, just whine at Google

The real European problem is that European investors do not invest. Why is there no viable competitor to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, VMWare, and many others? Why is it that EU regulators think the best way they can control Google is through restrictive legislation?

I'm sure the anti-Google commentards on here will be appalled at that idea that maybe, just maybe, the reason investors invest in US companies - that gone to abuse the locals - is because they have intellectual property protection. In Europe there is no protection for software and so no protection for investment. As a result there is no innovation worth the name and what little there is bought by US companies.

I know, I know, allowing software patents is a disgusting idea to many who haunt these forums, but the reality is there are no competitive EU services. A few try to make their mark in some dingy subset of Google's business but don't have the investment available to create the user base necessary to create a viable competitive business.

Translation is a great example. The EU is stuffed full of languages. But instead of seeing an opportunity, EU companies tried to charge high rates for (admittedly good) manual translations. But there was no coordinated research into automating the process leaving the gate open to Google, a US company. Now if you want translation that's good enough you go to Google and get it for free.

Sure, you are not going to win awards for the quality of the translation of your web site into Latvian but it doesn't cost anything and may you will gain some clients then pay for 'proper' translation if you know it's worth the cost.

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Vaizey: Legal right to internet access, sure. But I'm NOT gonna die on the 10Mbps hill

Sirius Lee

What's the point in the Luxembourg comment?

So because a country small than greater London and surrounded by 1st world countries is able to offer it's citizens a 1GB/s service it some how follows that the UK is a problem? Really? How is this relevant? I guess when you've an axe to grind anything looks reasonable even it's plainly daft.

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Oz uni in right royal 'indigenous' lingo rumpus

Sirius Lee

Re: To the victors, the spoils.

How do you know? Did you somehow have a learned conversation with one? Dig up and decipher some writing to that effect? For all anyone knows they may very well have believed themselves to be a superior civilization. After all, they came from overseas in boats with all the technology that implies just like the ones a couple of hundred years ago.

It seems to me that making convenient assertions about the motivations and behaviour of long dead people says more about you that any contribution it might make to any debate on the topic.

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Oracle v Google: Big Red wants $9.3bn in Java copyright damages

Sirius Lee

Microsoft must really be hoping this goes Oracle's way. Imagine the lawsuits they could bring against all other software companies for using their APIs, especially the ones that are not part of a published open standards agreement. And especially if this is retrospective.

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Amazon WorkSpaces two years on: Are we ready for cloud-hosted Windows desktops?

Sirius Lee

How is it different to collaborating with anyone else over the internet. Sure, if you are collaborating with colleagues in the next cubicle other the GHz local network, its not going to be the same. But if you are collaborating with someone in another physical location or in another company the experience is not going to be much different.

If security of the connection is the concern then you would need to access the remote machine via a VPN connection from your location.

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Sirius Lee

Other benefits

I've been using a desktop on an Amazon EC2 instance for over 2 years and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I've not used Workspaces because it's expensive. It's much cheaper to buy a reserved instance and use it to run Windows. The benefit is that you can us Windows 2012 instead of Windows 2008. Once you've enabled 'Windows Experience' you have a client look-a-like.

"WorkSpaces still does not offer any assistance with patch management." Huh? Didn't get this point. The Windows updater works for Windows instances on AWS like it does for any other machine. Most software developed for Windows has an update process. There is no difference between Windows applications running on an AWS hosted machine and any other.

The benefits not mentioned in the report include:backup, always on and always repaired hardware. Plus I can add/remove memory CPU power on demand.

Backup

The ability to take a snapshot every night means the whole machine is backed up. It costs $0.05/GB/month but I have peace of mind that I have a complete backup. Every morning I have an email letting me know if the backup was successful.

Always on/available

I can use any local device as a thin client and so access it from anywhere (anywhere I trust). The AWS firewall allows you to define the devices from which any EC2 instance can be accessed so the machine is available only via specified IP address or via a VPN connection.

Always repaired

The hardware is not my responsibility. I can use any local device as a thin client but apart from this, I don't have to worry about the motherboard, CPU, BIOS patches, disk drive failing and so on. AWS takes care of all this. This is a post on a geek site any many here like tinkering with hardware. I'm not one so being able to outsource this is great. In the 2 years I've been using a remote desktop, it never once been unavailable because of a problem with AWS. My internet service provider is another story but that's when using a phone as a WiFi hotspot come into it own.

Upgrade/downgrade performance/cost

AWS has always allowed users to change the CPU power and RAM capacity. So if there is a time that it becomes necessary to boost CPU performance or add more RAM you can do that for as many hours as is necessary then down grade again.

Same with disk capacity. If you need to expand an existing disk or add a new one, its just a few clicks away. There's no running down to the local computer store to buy a new disk then copy the contents.

To be fair, a remote desktop is not great for everything,. For example, its no practical to use the desktop to watch a video but then I can watch the video on my phone or laptop.

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Met plod commissioner: Fraud victims should not be refunded by banks

Sirius Lee

He's right...

..if we are told that we'd be responsible for all loses we would change our behaviour: we'd stop using banks and credit cards.

I'm sure Hogan-Howe is a nice chap but he lives in a world where we are perceived to be the problem and his words reflect that. Having people be better computers is not a solution to anything. History shows we are incapable of being more secure. Even those who are conscientious will fail some time.

Clearly the banks don't want us to walk away. Perhaps the other side of the story was not covered by Hogan-Howe or not so newsworthy. The other side is that banks also have options. One is to make it impossible for our accounts to be hacked or used fraudulently. However this is, at the moment, prohibitively expensive. It's much cheaper to have the actuaries work out the cost of fraud and set the cost against profits like any other business expense such as marketing or accounting. So that's the status quo. It exists not because we are all evil (stupid maybe) but because its the least expensive option that is also reliable and managable.

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Why should you care about Google's AI winning a board game?

Sirius Lee

Fifth game

At the time of writing this game has not been played. It will be interesting to see if Lee Sedol wins the fifth as well as the fourth game. Alpha Go has a specific built-in advantage: it has been able to 'learn' from the style of play used by Lee Sedol throughout his playing career. Sedol has not seen the style of play used by AlphaGo so maybe it was a style of play he'd not encountered before, a composite of his own and other successful styles. Maybe Sedol won the fourth game because he was getting the measure of the machine. If so, and if Sedol wins the fifth game, it will be important this contest continues to ensure the lessons learned from the series are correct and its not, in fact, an artefact of a built-in advantage. If Sedol wins the fifth (and any subsequent games) it will be important because *that* would exemplify learning.

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Nearly a million retail jobs will be destroyed by the march of tech, warns trade body

Sirius Lee

Shovelling shit

Imagine all the people who lost their jobs when farm mechanisation happened or people who lost their jobs shovelling horse manure of the pavement when the advent of cars. Change happens. There are gainers and losers when any change happens. Some retailers will adapt to sell products we value or in a way we value and some will not.

A bigger problem is the percentage of the profit from on-line sales that will to be going off-shore. But then EU has its investor community to blame. Investors here tend to see 'tech' as too risky so do not support start-ups and as a result we have no home-grown on-line retailers so choice but to use those from overseas. Yes, of course, some bricks and mortar outfits have grudgingly and slowly moved on-line. But not in any way that one could call innovative.

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European Patent Office heads rapidly toward full meltdown

Sirius Lee

Re: By schizophrenic...

"The article presents both sides of the argument."

I beg to differ. It certainly presents perspectives from both sides but that alone does not constitute balance. An organization like the EPO is not going to pitch up one day and decide to take employment action against staff for no good reason.

If the EPO has been under-performing, and seems from other El Reg comments that it has, one possible reason is because the staff are under-performing or unwilling to accept new practices that allow them to perform better. No doubt the leaders of any such resistance would be those involved in the union. So if the EPO needs to be reformed and staff working practices need to be reformed and there is resistance some action needs to be taken. And presumably after considerable consultation.

But none of this type of history is apparent from the article. Instead it is presented as the President is the guilty party. Did the EPO President just decide to persecute some union supporting members of staff? If so, he deserves the censure but it seem unlikely that's the way it has played out not least because the executive will be staffed with capable HR types.

In the meantime, it seems very likely the union has co-opted its friends on the left of politics in the EU so take positions on the board so they can take the line they have.

The article make no constructive alternative suggestions so appears to me, a complete outsider, that the author could also be part of the campaign against the EPO president.

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Pilot posts detailed MS Flight Sim video of how to land Boeing 737

Sirius Lee

But how would this passenger get into the cockpit

Cockpits are now locked so if both crew members in their are incapacitated, how will a passenger or flight attendant gain entry?

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LISA Pathfinder drops its gravity-wave-finding golden boxes

Sirius Lee

Yes, replication matters

I was staggered to read in the detailed article published on arxiv (http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1602/1602.03837.pdf) that the claim to have found gravitational waves is based on one observation. The run was conducted when the observation occurred happened when German and Japanese devices that also aim to find these waves were not operational.

I'm sure the researchers involved have done an excellent job of eliminating other possible explanations but, really, one observation?

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Why Tim Cook is wrong: A privacy advocate's view

Sirius Lee

Re: Trevor's missing the point

Yes. And Potts has missed the point for years now.

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RSA: Fraud may double as 2017 Oz snap bank transfers cut safety nets

Sirius Lee

No balance

This a doom and gloom article. Where is the balance? The instant payments are intended to foster innovation, better use of capital but there is no mention of the scale of the benefits. Have there been no benefits in the UK? Sure there have. How many parents have help the last minute calls by their progeny to lend them funds to avoid overdraft payments? Just a very small example. Or holding on to assets rather than let banks retain them longer than is necessary 'to combat fraud'.

Even at it's peak 2014 (and bearing in mind the figures are for the *whole* of the UK banking sector) the fraud amounts to GBP60m. A drop in a vast ocean of profits never mind revenue. The actuaries are not going to be worried about 'spikes' like this when they've got losses associated with regular business practices like (mis)selling PPE insurance and libor to be concerned about.

Also, over this time frame banks will have been exposed to other means to defraud them like glaring holes in fundamental software components. Any word on how much of the recent fraud is due to these issues. The article doesn't even suggest such issues may even exist let alone contribute to the problem. No, everything is due to NPP.

So I'm not at all clear what the purpose of this post is. Just a bleat from some with a grudge maybe?

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Streetmap's lawyer: Google High Court win will have 'chilling effect’ on UK digital biz

Sirius Lee

Re: meh

@Gordon 10 Up voted because for me this is the most relevant comment. It seems to me that the law firm screwed up so wants to make the Judge the villain. No, my view, the finger of blame is pointing squarely at the lawyers.

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Depressed? Desperate for a ciggie? Blame the Neanderthals

Sirius Lee

There appears to be no review of the affects on humans with different ancestry. My impression from the articles and posts on human/neanderthal communing is that this was largely a European activity. Did the interbreeding with Neanderthals take place in Africa? If not, are modern Africans less likely to get addicted to smoking? Clot less easily?

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Scariest climate change prediction yet: More time to eat plane food

Sirius Lee

Re: False premise leads to false results

@disgusted

Absolutely. General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are two of physics most studied phenomena neither of which has failed a test in over 100 years (GR) and nearly 100 years (QM). Yet these are constantly tested for flaws. Meanwhile in climate change, anyone daring to suggest the climate models may be wrong are denounced as deniers. Whether you agree with the AGW hypothesis or not, surely any one can agree this is not science. This is religion.

If the figure of 97% agreement is true it's unhealthy. It probably illustrates a bias in funding. If the only organizations receiving funding are those that agree with the majority, there can be no scepticism. Funding by organizations with a different bias such as, but not only, the oil companies, are ignored.

This bias seeps into every communication, especially from the BBC. There's no program about nature that cannot end with a warning about climate changes. On Country File last week, a representative of the Met Office explained to Tom heap that the recent wet weather was a consequence of El Niño putting more moisture into the atmosphere. Pressed by Heap the forecaster had to admit that *if* the atmosphere warmed then it, too, would result is more moisture in the atmosphere and wetter weather in Britain. *if * not *when* but the implication was left there.

With scientists from the Met Office attempting to offer honest explanations for the weather, but not ones that accentuate the AGW story, perhaps its not surprising the BBC is ending there long relationship with the Met Office.

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Andreessen stokes the Facebook Free Basics ‘colonialism’ row

Sirius Lee

Well done, AO

I was dismayed to read of the TRAI position and even more dismayed to read comments on El Reg backing that position - because it was Facebook offering a 'walled garden'. It's striking that for some, *no* information for those who cannot afford to pay is better than *some* information that may have been filtered in some way - as if all the information we get is pure an unadulterated.

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It's official: India bans Facebook's Free Basics

Sirius Lee

Stop with the bullshit analogies

@Simon Hobson Your sleight against Microsoft is not really well founded though it is a popular view. Back in the late nineties the development of standards for browsers was woefully slow and businesses, like Microsoft, needed to do things to make the browser a usable tool. Navigator was not usable meanwhile Microsoft wanted to baked the browser into the Windows operating system where it still is today. The notion that IE did somehow languished is risible except and until the DoJ got involved.

In IE 5.5, released on 2000, Microsoft introduced the collections of tools we now called AJAX. It did so because it needed this type of functionality to create Outlook Web Access, the web version of Outlook, Microsoft's mail client. This was adopted by all the main browsers of the day and we've not really looked back. Where would web services be without AJAX? But of course no self respecting Microsoft basher can accept that so later it was repackaged as AJAX (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajax_(programming)).

In the meantime, at the behest of Netscape the DoJ got involved, Microsoft was forced to back off. Then IE languished not because Microsoft wanted that but because the courts said it must. As a result of that, we went back to the standard stalemate and we had to wait for over decade for HTML5.

The reason your comments are bullshit for me is that your reasoning is that any private enterprise is inherently evil. Sure, they are going to do things in their own interest. But not doing things is often in someone's interest as well. In this case, the established telecoms and digital service providers in India.

The losers are poor people who have no access to information because people, like you, with a specific view of 'fairness' are complicit in preventing their access.

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Alphabetti spaghetti: What Wall Street isn't telling you about Google

Sirius Lee

Actuarial

Andrew, has you actually talked to Martin Sorrell about this issue? Quoting a 'warning' isn't quite the same thing. Sorrell is an accountant by training not a marketing guru. A bloke that lives by numbers. You have demonstrated that in an imperfect world, he has good data on which to model his business. If he knows 52% of adverts are never seen by humans, he knows 48% are and can adjust his model accordingly.

Like many of your posts, this one indicates you want to live in a perfectly fair and honest world. We all do but sadly other humans are not so obliging. In the absence of a perfectly fair world, honest and reliable data about its unfairness is very helpful.

Interestingly you don't quote the same statistic for last year or the forecast for next year. If the number of ads seen by humans will be 48% today, 90% tomorrow and 20% the day after that will be a problem because these numbers are not useful for their predictive value. However if the numbers are 48% today, 47% tomorrow and 46% the day after, then fluctuations can be accommodated.

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Safe Harbor ripped and replaced with Privacy Shield in last-minute US-Europe deal

Sirius Lee

These comments missing the point?

The comments here seem to have gone off at a tangent focusing only on any potential monitoring by the US government. The safe harbor statement was intended to cover the processing of EU citizen's data by US companies. Whether it applied to the US government (or any EU government) was never clear. Do we think EU governments do not spy on us?

Schrems case was not against Uncle Sam's processing of his private but against Facebook's processing of his data. The question that is not addressed in the article because it, too, starts (and doesn't stop) swinging at the low hanging fruit of processing by the NSA, is how this shield allows an EU citizen right of redress if *Facebook* is accused of abusing personal data.

It's equally disappointing that Schrems is not quoted on whether he thinks the shield will offer any suitable protection. He is quoted commenting about the US government. But maybe the author is cherry picking quotes to suit a perspective.

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Bigger than Safe Harbor: Microsoft prez vows to take down US gov in data protection lawsuit

Sirius Lee

Re: If Microsoft really cares about people's right NOT to be snooped on...

I down voted you because its a moronic comment. This is a big issue for privacy because the US government wants access to our data on whichever platform it exists if it is ultimately owned by a US company. Microsoft has decided to fight this but could have rolled over much as other companies have done in China. Your response is to have a cheap shot at Microsoft without even bothering to balance it by citing common examples in Android, iOS and others. Pathetic.

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Google's head in the clouds: Cut, cut as fast as you can. You can't match us, AWS plan

Sirius Lee

They maybe cheaper like-for-like but who chooses to use AWS in the way that makes Google look good? Google is a cost per service platform where on AWS you can pay for a machine and do what you like on the machine - which maybe offering yourself several services for the price of one. Sure, paying an hourly rate for a specific service - a database for example - is convenient but its also relatively expensive when you can host a database and other services on the same box. At the top end, perhaps service model works because there is enough work to fill any service purchased. At the lower end its a waste of money because machines are barely occupied leaving plenty of cycles to do other things.

The original Azure platform was service only but had to change when anyone who gave it a moments throught realized that a bit of effort made Azure look ridiculously expensive - plus it didn't support Linux.

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Half of UK financial institutions vulnerable to well-known crypto flaws

Sirius Lee

It's fashionable to be a bank basher...

Imagine you are an executive in a major bank, responsible for many billions of pounds. Sure you have one eye on your pocket but also an eye on your reputation. This is not a black and white issue. If a bank used stronger/better certificates, does that mean there will be no more hacking? Of course not.

So its a numbers game and banks are good with numbers. A bank will now have a good idea of the type and volume of hacks to which they are exposed given their current set of technology. When a new exploit becomes available, they will be able to see the impact on claims against their systems. This information will be handed to their actuaries who will provide statistics about and forecasts of likely losses. These can then be factored into the business plan.

Change the technology too soon and the statistics on which to base actuarial forecasts are not available. That's risky for the bank and for us. We don't want to have our accounts hacked but nor do we want the back to fail because the technology was too new to provide reliable hacking statistics.

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Amazon: Hey pal, since you're shifting all your IT over to AWS, why not that email server, too?

Sirius Lee

Because...

...it's too expensive.

The pattern of AWS releases has been to be disruptive but there is nothing disruptive about WorkMail. The best AWS can do is price the per user at a few cents below more established offerings.

Who needs 50GB of storage per person? My small business has 10 years email history for all 10 of us and the nightly backup uses a little over 4GB. Why would I want to pay for 496GB I''ll never use?

But its worse (though GMail, Yahoo! and Office 365 suffer the same problem) because we use many non-user email addresses for marketing and support etc. The cost of these services is prohibitive because in a small company, non-user accounts are the majority of accounts used.

We satisfy our needs by running hMail in a t2.micro instance along with ClamAV and SpamAssassin. The annual running cost is $45 for a reserved instance plus $32 in hourly charges plus $40 in storage charges. That's the cost of 2.5 WorkMail users.

A concern over WorkMail is that it signals the end of AWS forging the way and is instead using MBAs as product managers who apply the same thought processes and formulas as everyone else.

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Linode: Back at last after ten days of hell

Sirius Lee

Re: Curious

Probably because they can. I have a very small and inconsequential site and I block all access from IP addresses associated with China. If I don't, it is hit constantly with attempts to sign in - hundreds per second. If I block one IP address, the attack comes from another IP address. So they are all blocked. I block many Russian IP address ranges for the same reason. Attacks still come from Turkey, Brazil, Ukraine (mainly the east) but are less coordinated.

Maybe the attacks from China are with a purpose. If the response of sites in the west is to block IP addresses associated with the middle kingdom the PRC doesn't have to do any censorship because we are doing it for them.

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It's amazing the UK Parliament agreed to track 22bn Brits' car trips. Oh right – it didn't

Sirius Lee

Being too literal?

The thrust of many comments on here is about the police using a specific record to convict someone of some crime. Perhaps such use is inappropriate. However, it does take much thought to see how it can be used in other ways.

Suppose likely lad claims he was in Penzance when a crime in which he is a suspect was committed in John O'Groats. If the database includes a series of records showing likely lad's car on the M1 then in Edinburgh and then Aberdeen on the day of the crime, the police have grounds to ask why his car was going in the direction of the crime. Of course, the lad may rock solid alibi or implicate someone else and it may be correct. But then the police are then able to question that person who may be in a position to show how they could not have been driving the car.

The data does not need to be presented in court, it can instead be used as a tool to help eliminate implausible defences or confirm genuine ones.

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Apple on the attack against British snooping bill. Silicon Valley expected to follow

Sirius Lee

Important to be precise?

Of course no one wants a police state but reporting the IPB using, as you do, a phrase like "...access to the records of every UK citizen’s internet use without the need for judicial authorisation..." is surely pejorative. The bill proposes to make it possible for warrant-less access to the sites you visit but it stops short of allowing unfettered access to all the pages you see.

I'm not arguing that even this is OK. I am arguing that going for the hyperbole, implicitly claiming a much wider reach than is proposed makes the reporting look foolish. You can do better and, so, make a stronger argument.

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Former security officials and BlackBerry CEO pile in on encryption debate

Sirius Lee

Re: in free society..you accept a "less-than-perfect ability to detect people who do bad things"

Who asks for perfect safety? Only those in the media looking to fill column inches or screen minutes.

In the '80's early 90's my wife and I worked in Great Peter Street in London which is not far from Downing Street, close enough to hear the IRA bomb that went off. At that time, the trains would be regularly stopped or delayed because of a threat. Everyone I spoke to was of the mind "bring it on" just get the trains running, anything else is giving the terrorists what they want. The reality is that you are many times more likely to be knocked down by a vehicle on the way from/to the station than be taken out by a terrorist device - which of course were all hoaxes.

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'Powerful blast' at Glasgow City Council data centre prompts IT meltdown

Sirius Lee

business incontinuity

"All our data was backed up and the business continuity plans in place meant those services were manually delivered."

No, business continuity means business continuing not stopping and hoping the backups worked. Here's a design based around a single point of failure. A second room with a copy of the kit too much to afford? A backup system on AWS or Azure or Rackspace or anywhere that can be enabled on-demand? Let's hope the architect's other designs are being reviewed.

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EU mobile roaming rules to save customers billions in bills

Sirius Lee

Such a bean counter perspective

The problem with the thrust of the post and the report on which it purports to report is that it assumes the view that everything else will be the same only there will be a loss of revenue. A bean counter's perspective: change is always to be resisted because we lose.

Another perspective is that things will not remain the same and people will increase their use of mobile phones. I would not and never have used my mobile outside the UK except in exceptional circumstances because of the additional costs, costs I can avoid with only modest effort (finding a WiFi point for example). If people like me know there will be no further charges for the privilege of making mobile call while in another EU member state, traffic may increase, perhaps to a level that compensates for the loss of roaming charges.

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Silicon Valley's Congresswoman comes to the defense of Tor

Sirius Lee

Re: Mea Culpa

Your post rests on the assumption that SA Squire was communicating as a private citizen. Do you know this for certain? If so, perhaps you can provide the source of information that allows you to arrive at such a certain conclusion. Are you in fact SA Squire?

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Microsoft wants to be your phone company, at least for voice

Sirius Lee

No hint on the costs of connecting to the regular phone system then. My business has used open-source VoIP since 2005 and since then never paid more than 1p per minute anywhere in the world and usually considerably less and has had the benefit of local point of presences.

When Office 365 was originally launched it offered connections to the telephone system. I was staggered to find that as a UK business the only options offered were the likes of BT at 10p per minute. Extortionate pricing and only a UK point of presence. What a disaster.

So with these credentials and given the list of 'partners' listed in the article I have little confidence that Microsoft has upped its game. My expectation is that Microsoft and partners like BT will want to turn the clock back to a time when phone calls were outrageously expensive and inflexible. Microsoft has to recover the $8.5bn it paid for Skype some how.

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Uber wants UK gov intervention over TfL’s '5-minute wait' rule

Sirius Lee

Re: Bunch of communists

@Mark 65 No, first they did not come for the taxi drivers. You are commenting on an article in post on site focused on a market that it in many ways has been outsourced to India. My guess is that being under cut is the name of the game for many of the readers on this site. Has adding more competition been terrible for UK IT? For some individuals the answer is definitely 'yes' but the UK economy probably does better because of the use of outsourced IT skills.

Has the economy benefited from by cheaper good from China or Bangladesh? Probably yes and again to the detriment of some individuals here. Are we better off as a result of farm mechanisation though many individuals were affected at the time? Definitely, yes. So why should London taxi cab drivers be immune from the winds of change?

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Prudish Indian censors cut James Bond Spectre snogging scenes

Sirius Lee

The producers could have cut that whole Monica Bellucci bit without losing anything from the film. Don't get me wrong, she is beautiful but what did that romp offer the plot of the film? And it was very realistic: a grieving widow who knows her life is in peril has a quick romp with 007. What else would she do?

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Behold, the fantasy of infinite cloud compute elasticity

Sirius Lee

Another perspective

That the cost of computing resources we have been charged for the last n decades is far in excess of their actual cost making it possible for Microsoft, Amazon and Google to create vast server farms with the excess capacity needed and still make a profit.

My guess is the OP doesn't like cloud computing and want's to rail against it. In my view, the only thing exposed is a lack of knowledge of the economics of cloud computing. I don't have any better insight but it take only the time to read the post to poke holes in the OPs line of reasoning.

Not everyone will want to start 10K servers at once or even at the same time. Nor will they want to run them indefinitely (they will run out of cash fairly quickly). Suppose the cloud platform already supports 1 million virtual servers. I run 4 instances in the AWS US-East availability zone and I don't think I'm alone so I think 1 million is not a fantasy number. 10K instances is 1% of that number. So, yes, I think a service providing 1 million instance will have many more than 10K instances in reserve.

The car rental fleets are several times the number out on hire because they know they need cover and customers want their choice to be available on-demand. It's not unreasonable that the cloud platforms do the same. If there are 1 million active instances having a spare 1 million available only seems unreasonable if the cost of providing the hardware is the same as you and I will pay. But if the cost to the cloud platforms is a fraction of that, then the economic concerns expressed in the post do not apply.

The spare capacity does not even have to be switched on until required so the only consumption is space which in many parts of the world is not at a premium and, anyway, the hardware will be stacked vertically.

Finally, the number of times 10K servers (or any other number) are fired up is probably well known and the statistics analysed constantly. Wouldn't you?

So I think the post illustrates a lack of knowledge on the part of the OP rather than anything that merits genuine concern.

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UK citizens will have to pay government to spy on them

Sirius Lee

Why are the ISPs making such a fuss?

The IPB is calling for ISPs to retain data about the sites we visit and hold it for a year. This is a small subset of the data they already routinely collect and store for much, much longer (and who knows what use the ISPs make of that data).

ISPs operate what amount to proxy servers. The are well known bits of software used in most companies to make sure the company knows what staff are looking at and are not giving away the crown jewels. Just like web servers these routinely log the IP address and page request of user requests for a benign reason: to be able to trace technical issues if they arise. These logs can be text files or database but whatever form is used, the logs will be scooped up and added to the long backup as part of the standard disaster recovery process.

The IPB doesn't ask for all the detail already, and routinely, stored. Instead it asks for the IP address. Put this into context. When you visit a site and your browser renders a page it may in fact be the result of tens or hundreds of requests as the browser separately retrieves images and other components needed to be able to render the page. All this detail is stored by the ISP *for every component*. You may remember that exploiting this information was at the heart of BT's 'Phorm' project a few years ago. By comparison, the IPB requires just a tiny fraction of this information is retained.

The information required to be stored is my IP address and the IP address of the web site. An IP (version 4) address stored as text is 15 bytes so that's 30 bytes per visit. Say I visit 100 sites a day. That's 3K per day or 1MB per year or substantially less than size of a smart phone picture to hold my site visit information for a whole year. Lets suppose there are 40 million UK subscribers. That's a storage requirement of 40TB per year. The cost of a 4TB disk is now less than £100 so that's £1000 to cover the storage requirements for the entire country. Now I know the ISPs will use much more robust storage so lets say the cost is, really, 100x this amount £100K. That's across *all* ISPs. Its a trivial amount.

Now the ISPs will know this. So the question is: why are they making such a fuss? Maybe there's concern that if they capitulated too easily it may provoke someone to ask why are they not making a fuss because it may expose the extent of the information about us the ISPs already hold and use in ways about which we have no idea.

The US government is pursuing a case against Microsoft requiring they disclose email information held on a server in Ireland. A US Judge has agreed and Microsoft's appeal has been heard and is being considered now. The basis of the US government demand is that data held by any US company anywhere in the world can be requested by the US government - remember this has been approved by a US Judge. Virgin Media is owned by the US company Liberty Global. If Microsoft loses the appeal, it seems that the US government will be able to access all the browsing habits - not just the IP address - of all all Virgin Media customers because VM is, in fact, controlled by a US company.

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Amazon's chomping at the Brits: UK to get AWS data center region

Sirius Lee

Referendum hedge?

Another possible motivation for putting a data centre within the UK is a hedge against the UK opting out of the EU.

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Sirius Lee
Unhappy

Re: Really handy

Dull comment. If you are going to add snide comments, make them original or failing that, at least funny.

If you want to secure your data on S3 and in your instances, use a certificate. Sure, you will have to provide it if required by a warrant but your data will be secure from casual viewing even by the NSA and GCHQ.

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HMRC 'reluctant' to crack down on VAT fraudsters – tax ace

Sirius Lee

Re: Small deals

Your comment may not be relevant in this context. Any businesses with a UK registered company or an individual can hold stock in the UK and not have a VAT number because companies are very cheap to setup (~£30) and HMRC allows up to 85K of sales of physical goods in a year before VAT registration is required (the rules for digital goods are different and require VAT registration if there is even one to a buyer in another EU member state). If a registered company is reaching its limit the owners can transfer the on-line 'brand' to another registered company and carry on. End users will probably see no difference. It's a hole that can be exploited but it comes with it's own costs because, for example, even dormant companies have annual costs such as the need to file an annual account.

So back to your point. It's relevant if Hong Kong has a similar threshold for its sales tax and foreigners are able to register and run a local business at virtually zero cost. Is this possible?

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