* Posts by Phil W

817 posts • joined 10 Mar 2010

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EE looks at its call charges, hikes a bunch, walks off giggling

Phil W
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Not that big of a problem

As per title, I don't think this is really a big problem.

If you're making that many calls outside your bundle that the increased call charges affect you significantly, then you're almost certainly not on the best value bundle for your level of usage and should switch tariff to one that includes the volume of calls you make.

In terms of voice calls the only people this will affect are people who go very slightly over their bundled calls each month, and if they only go over very slightly the cost increase will be minimal.

As for the other stuff, like picture messaging, who actually sends MMS messages these days anyway?

I've stuck with T-Mobile/EE for a number of years now for only one reason really, the fact that their data usage is capped. You get what's included in your tariff and then you're cut off, unless you actively choose to pay to add more on. Admittedly their data add-ons are horrendously over priced, but at least I get to choose whether I pay it.

I find this far more preferably to many other networks, where they charge either a fairly hefty per MB rate (1p per MB sounds cheap, until you realise it's £10 per GB) or a daily rate (£1 a day sounds good unless you accidentally use all your data within the first week of your billing cycle) for any usage over your bundled data, which could potentially lead to some fairly inflated bills.

Of course most smartphones now have very easy methods to switch off or cap mobile data built right into the OS, but back in the days of Windows Mobile 5/6 devices and the like such an option was either third party or did not exist.

It only took one massively inflated bill from O2, after my Windows Mobile device had lost it's WiFi connection and had eaten through a GB or two of data, for me to realise having the network automatically cut you off rather than just keep billing you was the way forward.

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UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

Phil W
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Re: Report in every day?

Sounds good except that I suspect if he reported to police that he intended to have sex and then didn't actually do it, that the police would charge him with perverting the course of justice.

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Phil W
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Re: He's a liar

It may not be true but that doesn't mean it's a lie. It just means that the legal system that doesn't want to help him has told him that.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update completely borks USB webcams. Yay.

Phil W
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Re: Multiple steam...

Steamy webcams has always meant something very different to me.

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You shrunk the database into a .gz and the app won't work? Sigh

Phil W
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"We had an American colleague fly to Iceland instead of Ireland. Only realised it when he got into a taxi at Reykjavik and asked to be taken to Dublin city centre."

If he didn't notice until he was in the taxi and asked to go to Dublin city centre, was he phenomenally ignorant/stupid? To get that far surely he musn't have noticed:

- The fact it said Reykjavik rather than Dublin on his tickets

- The various signs in Icelandic (I suppose he could have thought it was Gaelic, but come on)

- The length of flight (you didn't say where he was flying from, presumably the USA. But we're talking about an extra hour or two or flight at least most likely, I would of thought it would be noticeable)

- The Captain announcing the destination as Reykjavik on take off, and before approach.

- How bloody cold it was! Either in the airport or when he went out to get the taxi. I know Ireland is not exactly tropical but the difference is usually fairly substantial I believe? I think Reykjavik peaks at about 13 degrees in Summer?

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Windows 10 needs proper privacy portal, says EFF

Phil W
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Re: Disk 1 of 2079?

"Trivial. Disk 38/38 is read and it asks for disk 39..."

Didn't that actually happen with Windows 3.11? I seem to recall it was something like after disk 12/12 it would ask for disk 13 which was actually an optional disk with printer drivers or something on that didn't come as standard. It wasn't actually required and you could continue without it, but still...

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Bees bring down US stealth fighter

Phil W
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To the best of my recolation...

Despite the fact it was almost certainly an error, given that the bees were together in space, separated during removal and then presumably put together (colated, in a sense) into a proper hive, they were both relocated and recolated.

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Brit network O2 hands out free Windows virus with USB pens

Phil W
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Re: A spokesman said:

Love the incredibly episode specific Voyager reference.

Go go gadget Warp10 drive.

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Broken BitBank Bitfinex shaves 36% from all accounts

Phil W
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Re: In God We Trust

"Because every other fucker is out to get us."

Nah, He's out to get you as well. But there's nothing you can do about that.

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Calling all Droids: BlackBerry’s giving away the Hub

Phil W
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Re: BBM

"Is it because I'm unlovable, or because I take care about how much of my contact information I allow the rest of the world to have access to?"

I assume it's the unloveable thing tbh, since I've never used BBM ever and it only exists for me because I have a Priv, I think my problem has nothing to do with my contact information being out in the world and more to do with foreign scammers randomly generating BBM PINs and adding them as contacts.

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Phil W
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Re: Meh

"some really important stuff mixed up in the dross"

Obviously your experience may vary depending on circumstances, but for email from important contacts I just have separate folders for each person/organisation and server side rules filtering messages from them into those folders. Then when I look at my email I can largely ignore the inbox when checking for important messages and look at the unread message count against each folder.

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Phil W
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Meh

As per the title meh.

I have a Priv so have all these things, however I don't find the Tasks and Notes apps useful, the launcher is perfectly serviceable but nothing to write home about, the Hub is something I have actively turned off as it's next to useless.

It's not that the Hub doesn't work, it's just that it doesn't really seem to serve any real purpose.

Sure you can read all your messages in one place, but it's not actually an email client or and SMS app, it's simply pulling in content from the apps you have for that already.

So you can read all those messages in one place but should you try to reply the Hub simply launches the app the message belongs to. Particularly for email this achieves nothing since I have all my email accounts in a single app anyway, and when I reply to a message it doesn't require another app to be launched to do it.

RIM's own messaging service BBM is even worse, once a day or more I get a notification that some random foreign sounding name has added me as a contact. Or at least I did until I disabled the app, I can't remove it altogether since it's a system app.

Stick to hardware RIM, you do that quite well. Software not so much.

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The developer died 14 years ago, here's a print out of his source code

Phil W
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Limits

I am by nature helpful, and enjoy problem solving, so if presented with a challenging problem that requires certain quirky things to be fixed before you can get down to the main issue that's fine.

But there are limits, and frankly this guy spent far more time on the work than I would of done.

At the point where it turned out that both the old and new servers were all fried, and that even the "new" server was ancient I would have been declaring the situation 99% likely unrecoverable and telling the company to find a plan B.

Sure it may have been possible (as indeed it was) to get a new server and configure Netware on it.

It may even have been possible to type in all 2000 pages of source code by hand, to recompile the software. But even then there is no guarantee the data is still intact.

Sometimes, regardless of the money on offer, it simply isn't worth the time or psychological trauma to put that kind of work in for people who have no concept of how to run a business properly.

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Milk IN the teapot: Innovation or abomination?

Phil W
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Re: Earl Grey?

"Horrible, soapy muck."

If you've had Earl Grey that looked/tasted "soapy" I can't even begin to imagine what kind of shite it was. I presume by soapiness you mean that it was excessively oily?

If it came in a paper tea bag then it was utter shite for certain. Paper tea bags are only acceptable when you're making bog standard tea brewed to within moments of stewing which is so strong you can't taste the paper anyway.

Also some of the supposedly "good" tea brands are still crap when it comes to things like Earl Grey. Twinnings for example make bloody awful Earl Grey.

I can highly recommended Tea Pigs or Whittards.

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Phil W
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"I probably just use twice as much clotted cream though."

This is probably an acceptable reason not to use butter.

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Phil W
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Re: No milk-?

"That is fine (and good) for those forrinn teas!"

You mean "forrinn" like Earl Grey? One of the most quintessentially British teas there is?

If you'd consider putting milk in Earl Grey I'm afraid it will be absolutely necessary to have you killed.

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Phil W
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"Does the anonymous staff member also add ketchup (or, shudder, mayonnaise) to chips before serving them? What about cream - (s)he doesn't add it to the crumble before it gets to the table, I presume? Jam on scones likewise - what sort of cafe would sell scones with the condiments pre spread?"

I was with you until the crumble. Crumble, especially of the apple variety, should be served with custard surely?

Also as for serving scones with condiments pre-spread, while it does seem odd I have been to at least one or two establishments where they do exactly that. My theory on the reason for this is that it prevents them becoming offended by your choice of order for the jam and clotted cream. I'm a butter/jam/cream sort of chap, but I understand there is a bizarre fashion for butter/cream/jam or in acts of clear insanity just cream/jam or jam/cream and no butter at all.

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Microsoft wins landmark Irish data slurp warrant case against the US

Phil W
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Re: Common sense prevailed?

"Put it this way, candidate A and candidate B are absolutely matched for a job vacancy, one candidate, however, does not know the difference between "have" and "of". Which one would YOU give the job to."

The one that didn't feel the need to point out someone else's single misuse of those two words in a tirade of expletives, when the conversation in question didn't call for it and didn't necessitate perfect syntax. More specifically, not you!

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If we can't find a working SCSI cable, the company will close tomorrow

Phil W
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Re: Always check the hardware as well as software

"But what if it's locked down and you lack the key?"

Presuming it's your kit (or you can get permission to cause cosmetic damage)

Option 1: If it's a padlock break out the bolt cutters, If it's a key lock built into the case see if it can be jiggled around/forced with a screwdriver

Option 2: Drill out the lock, or cut out the casing around around the lock.

If it's not yours and you can't get said permission, declare it not your problem and walk away until the key is produced.

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Theresa or Teresa May? Twitter confuses nude model and new PM

Phil W
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Gaping chasm

Left leg is called "wealthy London" and right leg is called "rest of the country" ?

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Philando Castile death-by-cop vid mysteriously vanishes from Facebook

Phil W
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Re: Moderation

"Children need to be educated to the fact that our police must be viewed as incompetent, armed and dangerous."

Yes maybe they do, but perhaps not by psychologically scarring them for life?

You want your children to be aware of things like this? Fine you can tell them, if you want you can even find the video to show them, but do you really want unsupervised kids of any age able to find it on one of the world's most popular websites.

"But beheading videos are ok Phil?"

Nope, certainly not, and while some idiot at Facebook thought that they were a few years ago they were overruled a short time later and that video was removed.

The argument for removing these videos from a freely accessible platform like Facebook has nothing to do with their specific content, but to do with the suitability of various types of content for an unknown and unrestricted audience.

If you think it's ok to have videos of real life murder, and the aftermath thereof, freely available on Facebook then let's allow hardcore pornography to and while we're at let's put the violence and porn on prime time TV since we're not worried about the kids seeing it.

There is a world of difference between censorship to protect the young (and/or those of a sensitive disposition) and actively removing all traces of some material from the media to prevent the public knowing about things.

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Phil W
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Childcatcher

Moderation

So far the two explanations commonly put forward for the removal of the video are that it's a technical glitch (Facebook's explanation) or that the police/government are trying to suppress it.

While I'm all for shedding light on police misconduct, brutality or even murder, it is not unreasonable to think that someone at Facebook thought that video of the bloody aftermath of such a murder should not be readily available on their platform which is commonly used by all kinds of people, including children.

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Why you should Vote Remain: Bananas, bathwater and babies

Phil W
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Re: YMMV

"the cultural effect of having sizable numbers of people in the country who clearly reject our laws, customs and mores and wish to impose theirs on the rest of us aren't helping matters"

Not sure how much this is true or that I agree with it, however the groups that this is mostly associated with are the Middle Eastern refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan etc. Primarily Muslim (not that I have anything against peaceful Islamic beliefs) countries, whose entire cultural history is quite different to ours, unlike the EU member states (like Poland where most of the EU economic migrants in the UK come from) who's cultural backgrounds are to some extent similar to ours.

Refugees coming into the UK from these Middle Eastern countries have very little to do with the EU, although we have an agreement in place with the EU to take a certain number of them this is to ensure that they are spread fairly across the EU member states and other member states actually take in as many or more than we do, if for no other reason than that their country is physically larger.

If we were not in the EU we would still be taking in these refugees, possibly in even greater numbers, because we take them in out of a caring and humanitarian nature (after bombing the shit out of their countries) not because we have to because the EU makes us.

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Phil W
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"prefer to be ruled by unelected bureaucrats than by an elected government"

@Tom7, which unelected Bureaucrats do you mean? In the three tiers of EU government, only one of them is unelected and that's the EU commissioners who have no power at all and only exist to come up with ideas to pass to the EU Parliament.

The EU Parliament is made up of MEPs from each country, who are elected by the public of that country. We actually have more MEPs in the EU Parliament (73 I think it is) than any other country besides Germany and France, because the number of MEPs you get is determined by population (and also previously the founder members got extra I believe but I think that has been balanced out since).

The fact that only 20-30% of UK voters actually bother to turn out to vote for their MEPs probably makes you feel like it's undemocratic, but it's not the EU's fault that you choose not to engage with it. The low turnout is also why we have a number of UKIP MEPs who don't want to be there and don't bother to turn up some of the time.

The EU Council makes all the major final decisions anyway, and this is made up of the leaders of each member state. Since all member states are democracies all of these people are elected by their countries to, just like we elected Cameron who represents us in the EU Council.

The majority of EU Council decisions require a unanimous vote, effectively giving the UK a veto over decisions we don't like, such as the formation of an EU army, Turkey (or anyone else) joining the EU, increasing our EU budget contribution or reducing/removing our rebate.

So basically if any of these things happen while we're in the EU it's because the Prime Minister you voted for agreed to it.

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Phil W
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Re: @Custard Fridge: Cracking article

"the Euro simply does not match their economic requirements"

This, so much this! I'm very much in favour of remaining in the EU, because while it does have a myriad of problems, none of them are insurmountable with the right legal and political reform, except the Euro.

The single currency is the biggest problem with the EU, you can not have a single currency and interest rate for so many countries with vastly different economies in terms of both their size and strength as well as in nature in terms of service vs manufacturing etc, that will actually work.

By their very nature the stronger and larger economies in currency will tip the trade value of the currency and interest rates in their favour, not intentionally but simply by the weight of their economic effect on the currency.

The required political reforms will inevitably happen for the EU to survive, and in fact to some degree already are.

Despite what the Leave campaign say about Cameron getting nothing from his EU negotiations he actually got a lot more than some expected and the fact that he got what he did has really paved the way for more reform in future.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, was recently quoted as saying the EU needs to abandon it's ideal of ever closer union due to the tide of eurosceptic feeling not just from the UK but in other major EU countries such as Germany as well.

Change in the EU is not only coming, it's already started.

Could it all go wrong and make the EU even worse than it is? Yes.

Could it all go well and make the EU more like people really want it to be, a close political and trade alliance that keeps like minded countries united in the face of destabling forces like Russia and China (and even the USA, in a different way)? Yes.

N.B. If I hear one more person say we have to "take back control" from the unelected EU commissioners I have shall have to beat them to death with a beginners guide to the structure of the EU government.

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Pressure mounts against Rule 41 – the FBI's power to hack Tor, VPN users on sight

Phil W
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Bad I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.

"America, fuck yeah!

Comin' again to save the mother fuckin' day yeah!

America, fuck yeah!

Freedom is the only way yeah!

Terrorists your game is through, 'cause now you have to answer to...

America, fuck yeah!

So lick my butt and suck on my balls!

America, fuck yeah!

Whatcha gonna do when we come for you now?"

Seriously though, when has jurisdiction, international law or sovereignty ever stopped USA law enforcement and intelligence doing whatever the fuck they want?

America is the land of the free, where the government are free to do whatever the fuck they want to whoever the fuck they like. For freedom. Oh and money, definitely for money.

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When DIY is not enough: Web-snack firm Graze has an offline awakening

Phil W
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Re: Spreadsheets used for critical functions?

"Spreadsheet use in critical functions is usually seen as a danger signal"

I think it really depends how you're using the spreadsheets. Using an Excel workbook to do all of your accounts and customer data handling and saving it in an xls file on a hard drive is not a suitable way to run anything other than a very small business.

However Excel is a very capable and user friendly tool from the point of view of actually manipulating data for analytical purposes, and using Excel with and ODBC connection to an SQL server as a way to access and present your data for particular purposes is a perfectly legitimate business process.

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Your new Android Smartwatch? Dead!

Phil W
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Re: Expectations

"By making the phone and wearables market just like the PC market the OS makers and manufacturers have pushed the notion that Mobiles and Wearables are mini-PC's and users have been able update the OS and get updates every week/month for a long time."

I agree with as far as phones are concerned, however to some degree smart watches are still a different market, there's only so many new features that software updates really add to them unlike phones where the hardware is starting to plateau and most of the major changes are in software at the moment. Also in most cases, and definitely in the case of the G Watch, the device has limited connectivity and data handling so there is a less pressing need for security updates unlike with phones.

It's not like LG have not provided any updates to the device at all, the device is now 2 years old but has been updated as far as Android Wear 1.4/6.0.1 Marshmallow, that's two or three major OS updates since release, and is in fact the latest version.

The fact they have no plans to update a 2 year old device yet again, to an OS that hasn't actually been released yet anyway, is really not a big deal.

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Phil W
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Expectations

Frankly I don't see the problem. These days people seem to have the unrealistic expectation that their device will forever be supported and updated with the latest and greatest features, yet even 10 years ago this was not something that was expected or considered normal.

When you buy your device you buy it as it is advertised, and expect to it perform the functions it was sold as performing. Unless the device was sold with a stated promise of future software updates for a particular period, the only software updates you are entitled to are those that may be required to fix any problems with the advertised features, anything else should be considered a bonus.

Aside from not having any obligation to provide it, the new OS is almost certainly more resource hungry than the old one and providing an update to it on hardware that is not sufficiently capable may potentially cripple the device leading to far more outrage than not providing an update customers perceive they are entitled to.

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If The Register made reality music TV, this is what it would look like

Phil W
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Choices

It's hard to pick from the available options.

While Radio Shed is an amusing concept in principal, it was spoiled for me by the specification of DAB. Given how long Radio Shack/Tandy have been out of business (and more specifically out of the business of selling electronic components) it seems unlikely the necessary components for more modern DAB technology could be found there. Personally I would amend this idea to say that they have to build a functional and reasonably powerful analog two way set, the effectiveness of which would be tested by dumping them on a desert island with their hand crafted radio kit as their means of calling for help.

Tinie Tempah's Tiny Temper I'm pretty sure is already being made in the form of the new series of Top Gear where he has been inexplicably recruited as guest.

Hugh Grant's Huge Grants was actually by far the best idea, possibly only topped by the similarly alliterative idea's of my own.

Hugh Laurie's Huge Lorries, where Hugh Laurie attempts to drive HGVs of increasing size along improbably difficult routes with no experience or training.

Hugh Laurie's Lewd Lollies where Hugh Laurie reviews and consumes various suggestive or obscenely shaped/themed frozen treats, possibly with the assistance of long time friend Stephen Fry.

If the above two series were both made a further spin off could be made of Hugh Laurie's Lewd Lollies on Huge Lorries, where Hugh attempts to drive HGVs of increasing size along improbably difficult routes while also reviewing and consuming suggestive or obscenely shaped/themed frozen treats, with Stephen Fry in the passenger seat as his navigator co-driver (possibly using some sort of navigation technology which he could utterly fail to correctly explain the operation of to the audience).

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Bin Apple's $500m patent judgment, US DoJ tells Supreme Court

Phil W
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"I like my phone case to be triangular with spikes at the corners."

It would certainly make those cases of celebrities throwing phones at their spouses/PAs far more interesting.

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Brexit: UK gov would probably lay out tax plans in post-'leave' vote emergency budget

Phil W
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Re: So basically...

Being compared to Sir Samuel, high praise indeed.

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Phil W
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Re: So basically...

"Me? I want democracy."

I don't. Democracy sounds like a great idea, until you realise that it means everyone has an equal say, and then you look around you a realise how many complete fucking idiots there who get to vote.

That is the scariest thing about this referendum, and the only reason it is so close in the polls, there are so many people who completely misunderstand which issues relate to the EU and which don't or any of the reality of how international politics works, and don't read any further than newspaper headlines.

I have spoken to several people now who firmly believe that Syrian refugees coming to the UK is purely an EU related issue which will suddenly go away if we leave, and that the EU wants to ban all British made kettles and toasters and are therefore convinced that these are important reasons to vote leave.

Social media is also interesting, in a cursory glance over Facebook comment threads on the referendum you will see many clear and cogent arguments from those on the Remain side, some from those who are undecided or don't care and a mere handful from those on the Leave side. What you do see a lot however is those on the Leave side posting short one word comments of "Out!" and "Leave!".

The whole Leave campaign, both officially and unofficially seems to be largely comprised of shouting loudly and catchy headlines that are either exaggerated or fundamentally untrue.

Personally I'm in favour of staying in, however I'm also sure a clear, reasoned and sensible argument based on accurate factual statements could be made for leaving. I'm equally sure that no-one in the Leave campaign has done that yet.

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

Phil W
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Design flaw

"When I got to the exit however, my access card wouldn’t unlock the door."

I find it very frustrating when i encounter doors to rooms like this that require a card for both direction through the same door, when the room in question has no other exits (besides fire exits which can't be opened from outside).

Knowing who entered a room and when is very useful, but it is very rare that it is actually truly necessary to know who has left a room and when, a simple push to exit button would be more than sufficient in most cases.

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Samsung: Don't install Windows 10. REALLY

Phil W
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Re: If proof is needed...

Except for when that doesn't work because despite being a perfectly normal AMD/Intel/Nvidia chip that may well work with the chipset OEM's driver, the hardware IDs of the chipset have been slightly altered so that they aren't included in the driver INFs from the chipset OEM.

In some cases, such as AMD and Nvidia graphics drivers this can be worked around by adding the correct hardware IDs to the INF, but this can be a bit fiddly to get right.

With Intel you're mostly stuffed as their chipset setup utility doesn't actually contain and drivers and just downloads the ones it decides you need, which with altered hardware IDs is none at all.

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Got a Fitbit? Thought you were achieving your goals? Better read this

Phil W
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"This is not a valid defence, because YOU'VE never used medical grade ECG test gear either."

Eh? How do you know I haven't? I haven't (though I could probably get my hands on some), but what's that got to do with anything? I also don't own an Apple watch.

Also I have nothing to defend, I didn't make any point, I enquired as to how the person claiming his Apple watch is totally accurate knows that that really is the case.

If I'd said "my Xioami Mi Band 1s is more accurate than your Apple watch" you'd have a point, but I would never make that claim, especially as my device cost £20 and I don't expect supreme accuracy from it.

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Phil W
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"Why medical grade when you can easily count it with a finger and another timer?"

Yes that's just fine when you're sat still or just walking along but I'd be beyond extremely impressed if you can accurately count your pulse with your finger while engaged in strenuous exercise that has got your pulse into the 130 or 140 range, even more so if you could do it while comparing it to the read out on your watch.

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Phil W
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"And my Apple Watch is always dead on."

I would genuinely like to know how you know that. Have you conducted rigorous testing at rest, during moderate activity and during strenuous exercise while wearing the Apple Watch and hooked up to a medical grade ECG?

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Your next server will be a box full of connected stuff, not a server

Phil W
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Modular

I'm not really sure how this is wildly different from the way things are now?

To me it sounds like someone who doesn't know what they're talking about describing the way servers (and even desktop PCs to some degree) are built.

If you're buying say a 1U rack mount server, there are a whole variety of configurations, your front end drive bay module and backplane can be 8x 2.5" drives or 4x 3.5", the backplane they connect to can be either SATA only or SATA/SAS, you can have a PCI-E SAS RAID card or just use onboard.

The description holds even more true for blade centers, where each bay can hold either a traditional server with CPU, RAM and local storage, or have a disk storage blade installed to be attached to other servers, as well as other options like GPUs and tape drives.

In either case you pick the parts that suit what you're building for, and in theory you could get new parts and change them around later if the workload changes.

However in reality you don't because for the majority of the type of people who are buying servers in any scenario outside of being a cloud host, you have a specific workload in mind when you're buying with a specific budget related to that workload.

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The ‘Vaping Crackdown’ starts today. This is what you need to know

Phil W
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Re: So the bar is now much higher for e-cig makers

No, it really really isn't.

A hard hat is a piece of safety equipment whose only purpose is to prevent you sustaining head injuries in a dangerous environment. Any negative side effect a poorly made hard hat might have (such as your mention of scalp disease, if such a thing exists), is still infinitely preferable to a fatal head injury.

Consequences of wearing a (scalp disease causing) hard hat vs not wearing one?

You may get scalp disease but you're alive.

Consequences of inhaling tested and regulated chemical formulation vs untested and unregulated ones?

Your fluids might cost more, but there is now a much lower chance of you inhaling something with dangerous or even life threatening properties.

Despite the endless amount of positivity E-cigs have towards them from many quarters, they are still essentially a device design solely for the purpose of taking potentially toxic substances into your body. They are not, unlike a hard hat, a device with a safety or health purpose in mind that might have unintended negative side effects. All they are is a "possibly" safer, that is safer not safe way of doing something which is known to be harmful.

The "possibly" there is important because while many government bodies will accept that e-cigs are in the short term clearly less harmful (and it's important we use the phrase "less harmful" and not "better for you", they cannot and will not comment on the long term effects of e-cig the technology simply has not been around long enough for anyone to know if there are any serious side effects from substantial long term use.

On top of that up until now there has been no regulation of the substances you're choosing to inhale, you have no assurance as to content and safety of the liquids you are inhaling.

Are E-cigs a good way to get off cigerettes and then tape off smoking/vaping altogether over a short term period? Absolutely.

Are E-cigs better for you if you just replace your heavy smoking habit with a heavy vaping habit for the rest of your life? No-one knows, it could be, but equally it could turn out that long term inhalation of vapourised nicotine and other chemicals has consequences we don't yet know about, particularly if those chemicals are untested and unregulated.

Don't even get me started on the quality of the electronics in these devices causing fires etc...

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World goes SIM-free, leaving Sony and HTC trailing behind

Phil W
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Payment options

I bought my last handset SIM Free, simply because it was marginally cheaper to buy it with a credit card that had 27 Months interest free on purchases and set up a direct debit to pay it off over the same period, alongside a cheaper SIM only tariff.

I'm now not tied in to a contract and can chose to pay off the credit card whenever I like.

The moral of the story is, it's not that SIM Free is better but that selling handsets with little or no upfront cost and paid for as credit which is rolled into a high line rental tariff on a long term contract is a terrible and out of date model.

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Ofcom serves up an extra helping of airwaves for Wi-Fi

Phil W
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Re: Weakest Link

"Surely the speed of the broadband connection is a determining factor."

Not neccessarily. I've got a fairly consistent 200Mbps down from Virgin none of my wireless devices can fully take advantage of that for one reason or another be it signal strength or just the chipsets in the devices, my laptop's built in WiFi is actually only 802.11n 150Mbps compliant.

Cat6 to my PCs gets me the full 200Mbps to all of those wired connections though.

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No story today on Netflix blocking VPNs?

Phil W
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Re: No story today on Netflix blocking VPNs?

Most likely it is as you say, that they're just blocking IPs known to be VPN endpoints. Since this is most likely an exercise in satisfying the licencers of content, it could well be that this is all they're doing in the same way that ISPs only block access to file sharing sites when asked and don't actively look for sites to block themselves.

There are plenty of other methods they could be using as well, but I'd be a little surprised if they were using them since they're not especially reliable and would require a substantial effort on their part, but if it were me I'd design a scoring system to flag addresses as potential VPN end points in much the same way spam scoring is done using something like this:

Some statistical analysis on the number of connections coming from each IP that is streaming content, ignore any addresses with less than 10 connections to rule out individual users, multiple devices in one home, shared Internet connections in flats/appartment buildings. You could also factor in data on IP ownership to allow for traffic from Universities etc with high numbers of users behind a NAT pool. Anything that's left gets a score based on the number of connections per IP.

You could also do some slightly deeper inspection of the packets looking at MTU size and MSS settings, although these can vary substantial depending on the nature of the connection, lower MTU and MSS sizes can indicate that the traffic your receiving has previously been segmented to be encapsulated within VPN packets. Since there are legitimate reasons these can vary, and there is no single size that can be definitively associated with VPNs again we could assign a score based on what the MTU and MSS sizes are compared to what we could see from a connection passing through a VPN compared to one that doesn't.

If an IP address scores too highly it could either automatically be blocked, have the number of stream connections allowed from it capped and/or be flagged for manual review.

Of course there are companies out there who specialise in doing exactly this sort of VPN detection work and sell blacklists, so it could also be Netflix just buy in one of those.

IPv6 could of course make this whole situation more difficult since the VPN endpoint could potentially provide a new IPv6 address for every client. But the slow uptake of IPv6 will limit the impact of this problem for some time to come yet.

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Stop resetting your passwords, says UK govt's spy network

Phil W
Silver badge

Re: Stop blaming the users

DNA, fingerprints and other biometric security are actually terrible ideas. Entry level to mid level fingerprint scanners are unreliable, and prone to getting dirty and being inaccurate and/or are easy to fool, anything decent is expensive. DNA is impractical as with current technology and anything we're likely to have in the foreseeable future it would simply take to long to authenticate.

Some fingerprint scanners can also be fooled with fingerprints copied onto paper or other material, do you know of any good mechanism for resetting your fingerprints once they've been compromised like you would with a password?

Putting aside the practicalities of implementation for a moment, do you really want to secure valuable things using your DNA or fingerprints? If it's valuable enough you're just encouraging someone to remove your fingers or blood which is both bad for you and not terribly secure since fingers are far more easily broken than a complex password.

Also at least with passwords you can either hand them over and potentially not be harmed, or lie to the person trying to get it from you (not necessarily a good idea but it's an option).

Reliably extracting data from someone's mind is next to impossible, as much as the security services would like you to be believe torture (sorry, enhanced interrogation) is effective it often isn't and could easily lead to death before the correct information is retreived.

As for a "quantum approach" , what form do you envision that taking? Sure quantum computing could open up some more advanced avenues of encryption but strength of encryption is rarely the main security issue these days, but the nature of the key used to unlock it whether that be a password/passphrase or physical key of some sort. These can all be cracked/lost/forgotten/stolen etc.

The real future (and even present) of secure authentication is two (or higher) factor authentication, whether than be multiple code entries or physical factors like RFID/smartcards.

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Phil W
Silver badge

Simple choices for complexity

I often hear complaints from users, both where I work and elsewhere, about how much of a pain password complexity rules are and how difficult it is to come up a new password regularly.

These complaints are annoying, not because the users don't appreciate the value of security but because using sufficiently complex passwords that are hard to guess and reasonably hard to brute force is actually not that difficult, unless you work in government or high profile business that's likely to come under a well resourced/state sponsored cyber attack you don't need a totally random sequence of numbers, letters and special characters as a password just one that moderately powered cracking won't break in a short amount of time.

You can simply construct a password out of numbers and words that have meaning to you but are not related to the system the password is for and wouldn't be immediately obvious to others.

For example the name and extension number of someone you call regularly at work, maybe your boss, might well be quite memorable giving something like Richard8417. While it would make a terrible password for work systems wouldn't be too bad for an unrelated personal email account or bank login. At work perhaps your father's date of birth and your mother's middle name giving you something like 2608Nancy.

For an extra bit of complexity throw an exclamation mark, 2608!Nancy would be relatively difficult to crack but have significant meaning to you to make it memorable and unless the person trying to crack your work account has detailed personal background information on you to help the process along this should be secure enough.

If you can remember them, post codes (zip codes) can be useful password components.

Passwords made of memorable components can be secure enough for most purposes as long as you pick ones that have no relevance to the system the password is for or better yet are quite obscure, such as the phone number/post code of somewhere you used to work 10 years ago, or your old school, house you grew up in but haven't lived at for some time etc.

This level of complexity, combined with a password lockout policy to prevent sustained brute force attacks, should be more than enough for most purposes.

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Suck on this: White hats replace Locky malware payload with dummy

Phil W
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Practicalities

"If this happens it’s normally impractical to recover scrambled files without paying crooks a fee"

Unless, you know, you take regular back ups of your valuable and irreplaceable data like a sensible person. Unfortunately when it comes to the security of their data far too many people are not sensible, but in an ideal world the only data lost should be that created between the last backup and the time the ransomware hit.

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I am Craig Wright, inventor of Craig Wright

Phil W
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I am Satoshi Nakamoto and so is my wife.

Alternatively for the older generation...

You are Satoshi Nakamto and I claim my five pounds.

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A perfect marriage: YOU and Ubuntu 16.04

Phil W
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Re: UnUnified

"While it's true that a simple package install from a fully configured desktop gives you a new desktop manager option on the login screen, you could also simply download and install from a choice of..."

Well yes, that was my point, installing the distro with your preferred GUI in the first place is massively easier than adding it afterwards (especially as adding afterwards often leaves you lacking themes etc). Personally I rather enjoy the installers for Fedora and similar that give you a choice of desktop environment as part of the install process. Maybe that's something canonical should do?

"If you are knowledgeable enough to already know this or know what you want, ignore the advice, it is often advanced in the spirit of trying to be helpful."

Quite true, and the Ubuntu forums themselves are actually quite friendly in terms of advice, unfortunately other places are not so much. I've actually encountered people who insist, regardless of others opinions, that the only real way to install Ubuntu is to install a server/mini install and add all the relevant packages for your chosen GUI from there.

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Phil W
Silver badge

UnUnified

I enjoy Ubuntu (or rather the various spin offs), but I despise the Unity desktop, as well as GNOME from 3 onwards. The shiney new launcher bar and loss of the old Applications, Places, System menus in the traditional drop down style were absolute deal breakers for me. Simple things seem much harder to find and do in both Unity and GNOME 3.x

Mate on the other hand is wonderful, and now that there is a pre-spun Ubuntu with Mate as the desktop, that may well be my distro of choice. It may even be enough for me to stop picking Mint by default.

N.B. Also, yes for you Linux/Ubuntu zealots who feel the need to point it out, I am fully aware that I could install Mate on vanilla Ubuntu or any other spin off, I just don't like having to go to that much effort immediately after install to get to a GUI I feel is usable.

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Edward Snowden sues Norway to prevent extradition

Phil W
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Freedom

Perhaps the Principality of Sealand would grant him asylum?

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