* Posts by Steven Roper

1805 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Shopkeeper installs forecourt khazi to counter mystery Dublin dung dumper

Steven Roper
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Maybe he pissed off a customer?

I only say that because once, in my misspent youth, I got ripped off by the local fish-and-chippery, who gave me change for a $10 when I'd given her a $20 (which was a lot to a lad fresh out of home in those days) - and then yelled abuse at me when I challenged her on it.

So later that night, I gave them back their very expensive fish and chips...in an organically processed state of course. Athough unlike this likely lad I didn't just dump it on the doorstep; I was a lot more diabolical than that. I did my business in a shopping bag and used the bag to methodically squish and smear the poo into the door lock, handle, and every hard-to-reach crevice I could find.

The smell hung around for days, and I dare say the cleanup and loss of business cost that woman a lot more than the $10 she filched from me!

So seeing this story of course immediately reminded me of that deed, thus it made me wonder if the mystery jobber thought he'd been shortchanged by the shopkeeper...

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'Faceless' Liberty Global has 'sucked the very soul' out of Virgin Media

Steven Roper
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No surprises there

This sort of thing is exactly why I've always refused to work in a corporate environment and spent my career in SMEs. I even turned down an $80k a year (starting salary) job offer with a multinational, for a much lower-paying position in an SME (plus shares in the company though!) because to me freedom and a pleasant, low-stress work environment are worth a lot more than money.

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Microsoft's maps lost Melbourne because it used bad Wikipedia data

Steven Roper
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Re: Absolute proof

"No negative sign... It was marked "South". But of course, Microsoft assumes numbers are always signed..."

I could have told them that within 5 seconds of seeing where Melbourne was on the map. Japan is directly north of Melbourne and Adelaide, in fact my house is less than 15 km west of the exact longitude of the summit of Fujiyama. The mountain is also about the same latitude north as Adelaide is south; in fact if my house swapped its latitude sign I'd actually have a spectacular view of Fujiyama across the bay south of Numazu from my bedroom window!

So the first thing I thought when I saw Melbourne in that position was "The stupid sods have swapped the latitude sign!"

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Sysadmin gets 5 years for slurping contractor payments to employer

Steven Roper
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Love the pussy pass

"Danielle Gillian Brown, 25, of Church Lane, N8 was found guilty of the same offence. She was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, suspended for one year."

Same offence, half the sentence, because vagina. And you people wonder why I bitch about feminism.

Go on, downvote me. I've been getting too many upvotes for my other posts lately anyway.

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Forgive me, father, for I have used an ad-blocker on news websites...

Steven Roper
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My adblocker policy

Sites that have hard blocks against adblockers end up in my hosts file, as do sites that let Google index their news articles but hide those articles behind a paywall. (Note: changing your user-agent to look like the Googlebot still usually only lets you see the headline and one paragraph, not the whole thing)

My hosts file is quite large.

Sites that ask nicely for a whitelisting without blocking access get considered. If their content is engaging enough that I return a second time I give them a free trial on my whitelist. If their ads are too annoying or intrusive (<cough>El Reg</cough>) the trial gets cancelled and they get blocked again. Such websites can get another free trial if they state that they have since taken measures to reduce the annoyance of their ads.

Otherwise if the site's ads aren't too annoying or intrusive I give them permanent position on my whitelist, so as to help them out and keep them going.

My whitelist is quite small.

Obviously, the advertising industry and overly pushy clickbait sites have quite a way to go before they get the message. I sometimes wonder if it will even happen in my lifetime. Somehow, I doubt it.

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Windows 10 backlash: Which? demands compo for forced upgrades

Steven Roper
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Re: Damage is done

"...because their critical, irreplaceable, custom application was built exclusively for Windows..."

Every day in my email I get at least a dozen messages from programmers and developers in places like India, China, Vietnam and so on, offering application-development services, often for rates ranging between $2 and $7 an hour. Some of them are dodgy, others are certainly competent. Quite a few are uni students doing their CS theses and looking for a real-world project to cut their teeth on, and these lads (and the occasional lady!) often do a very passable job.

At those prices, I would consider it feasible for a custom-application-locked business to outsource a testbed to one of these guys, if they're willing to take the risk of outsourcing to an unkown developing-country programmer over paying more for a local developer (a fair bit of our own business comes as a result of other companies not wanting to take that risk, so I'm hardly in a position to bitch!) Such a business wouldn't have to blow their custom app in one hit, they could develop a testbed and start doing some of their smaller, simpler jobs on it.

This is exactly what we did: we started with just one Linux machine in my office until I could get my head around it all, and work up a changeover plan and staff retraining program (my experience as a college lecturer stood me well there.) Then we transitioned our staff one application at a time (e.g. LibreOffice Writer instead of MS Word, LO Calc instead of Excel, etc) then dropped Linux on them as soon as they were comfortable using the open source software.

During the transition we ironed out any hitches as we went. End result: Our graphic/layout designers refused outright to move off Windows 7 and their beloved Adobe-ware; so what we did with them was to airgap the design room from the Internet and told them if they needed Internet access to use the Linux machine in there, as well as the fact that there would be no more Adobe upgrades (we're still using the pre-CC versions anyway since I long ago convinced the directors that going cloud was a really bad idea.) There was some grumbling, but that was the line that got drawn. Everyone else - sales reps, management, front office, accounts - all made the switch with very little fuss.

Granted, we're not that big, so I don't know how well this approach would work in a corporate environment, if at all. But I'm sure any locked-in SME could work up a similar solution - outsource, test, transition, rinse and repeat. If they have an app that requires an old version of Windows to run they should really look at airgapping those machines from the internet anyway, otherwise that's a time bomb waiting to blow up in their faces, as someone else commented.

The key is not to blast it all through in one hit, I think the best method is to transition piecemeal. You still have problems, but in a piecemeal scenario they tend to small enough to be readily resolvable, and this allows you not only to build a more robust replacement but to spread the costs over a longer period as well.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Damage is done

"there is no appreciable migration to apple or Linux. "

Maybe not an "appreciable migration", but there is a continuous trickle, and a slow bleed in the right place can be as bad as an open wound. Our office has recently completed a Linux changeover on all but the design-room machines, which need Windows 7 to run Photoshop and InDesign (I did look at using VMs and Wine, but the performance hit precluded those options.) While we're looking at alternatives like Gimp and Scribus, shifting an MS Office user over to Libre Office is one thing, but shifting a rusted-to-Adobe graphic designer from Photoshop to Gimp is a very different breed of cat!

Nevertheless, we're now using Linux machines in the office with few or no problems. We would have had to retrain on Windows 10 anyway, so we decided while we're retraining we may as well retrain on Linux and break the vendor lock-in.

And we're not the only SME doing this. At least 3 other businesses in my area alone are undergoing their own Linux changeovers and I know of another whose managers are currently evaluating a Linux rollout. The acid test for us will be how much money this saves us over the coming years in software licence fees, reduced productivity loss due to things like antivirus maintenance and additional security measures, and improved performance. Once the numbers start coming in and our accountants have crunched it all, if there's a significant saving there (as I'm sure there will be once the retraining costs are recouped) you can bet the beancounters will spread the word through the small business community like a bushfire.

While the big corporate customers may be immovably content with their cosy MS deals and vendor lock-in, SMEs are in a different basket and will happily embrace any cost saving measures that come up. If Linux turns out to be the way that can be achieved, more and more SMEs will make the hop. And SMEs account for a larger section of the economy than most people think.

Will this destroy Microsoft? Very unlikely, as you say. Their corporate and government contracts alone will keep them afloat for the foreseaable future. But with a grassroots base of SOHOs and SMEs switching to Linux, it will remain an option that no sensible accountant or IT manager can afford to ignore.

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I want to remotely disable Londoners' cars, says Met's top cop

Steven Roper
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Re: If any bugger...

You're forgetting the police's buddies in the long house. You can bet that if any laws are passed allowing police to use destructive EMP in public places, then there's guaranteed to be a section in those laws indemnifying the police against any collateral damage, so if your equipment gets cooked during a police chase it's tough luck, Tommo.

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Microsoft deletes Windows 10 nagware from Windows 7 and 8

Steven Roper
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Re: Too little, too late

"all of you obvious user-writeable areas (such as /tmp, /var/tmp and /home) should be mounted with at least the 'noexec' "

Already done. Full-disk encryption, noexec and admin application whitelisting are all in place. I'm still looking at what other measures can be taken so that link you provided is very helpful, thanks for that.

I'm sure that the goofing around with email attachments will stop once the novelty wears off. It's just that we in the office have spent so many years being paranoid about never opening attachments, never clicking on links in emails, constantly updating antivirus (and never being sure that said AV can even catch them all) and generally living in fear, that the safety and security of Linux feels strangely liberating. I've encouraged it because it eases the transition for the staff and and creates a sense of camaraderie and fun that helps them cope with the stresses of the changeover. In addition it helps me to locate and plug any potential security holes. But once things settle down properly be assured we'll be as vigilant to threats as we've always been.

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Steven Roper
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Too little, too late

Thanks to Microsoft's pushiness with Windows 10, the only machines facing the internet in my home and at the office now are all running Linux Mint with Pale Moon, Thunderbird and Libre Office. Only the design-room machines are still running Windows 7, and none of those are internet-facing any longer.

It's become our office pastime lately to open with impunity the malicious attachments on the spam emails we get, just for the fun of watching the Cryptolocker payload fall flat on its face trying to run on a Linux box...

No, we don't miss Windows in our office, not one bit!

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Zuckerberg to spend $3bn+ to rid world of all disease by 2100 (Starting with Facebook, right?)

Steven Roper
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Re: Yet another rich asshole's vanity project

"...to the mass vaxxers..."

Oh no, one of those...

Look, if you tinfoil-hat-wearing nutjobs want to expound on how our governments are secretly ruled by Illuminati reptoids that escaped from the hollow Earth through the polar holes suppressed by NASA and are brainwashing the masses with chemtrail-spraying airliners and mind-control rays beamed from communication satellites, be my guest, we're all entitled to harbour our pet whacky beliefs; that's what makes the world an interesting place.

But I draw the line when those beliefs start causing the deaths of thousands of innocent children whose lives might be saved but for anti-vaxxers citing long-debunked and fraudulent "studies" about vaccines causing autism and other such shit. The efficacy of vaccines in reducing the incidence of preventable and crippling diseases like polio has been emprically proven as fact time and again over the last century. That large greedy corporations profit from it is irrelevant to the fact that vaccines save lives.

Many diseases, such as polio and rubella, which we could have had eradicated by now, are undergoing a resurgence in the developed world because of the influence of anti-vaxxers. And for every child who will spend his or her life crippled by polio that a simple jab might have prevented, that's a tragedy that can be laid squarely at the feet of these tinfoil nutcases.

You aren't doing the world any favours by perpetuating such rubbish.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Nice

Given Zuckerberg's attitude (remember he called everyone idiots for pouring their hearts out on Facebook?) you can't really blame us for being cynical.

He isn't doing this to be altruistic or to advance humanity. He's doing it because it affords him even more invasive ways of getting inside peoples' heads and bodies so he can monetise their life data.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Why not cure entropy while we're at it?

"And the elephant in their room is senility - an average age of over 100 years is far less alluring if the final decades may be spent as a frail phantom"

I feel you on that one. I have many fond memories of my Nan when I was a boy, when I used to stay at her house in Reigate during the Easter and summer holidays, and then when we emigrated to Australia in the 1970s, a few years later she came out to live near us, so she was always a part of my life.

But in her last few years, she lost her memory and identity. One of the saddest moments of my life was when I walked into her room and she asked Mum, "Who is this?" She no longer recognised me, her own grandson. For me, that was the day she truly died, and I never went to see her again. Yet she "lived" another six years, and Mum would visit her every day, and in the end she couldn't even talk.

I would a thousand times rather die of cancer, or heart disease, or stroke, or even drown, even as young as 70, than die a slow lingering death of senescence in my late 90s like that. And yes, I've had friends and relatives die of cancer and stroke so that statement isn't hyperbole. Losing my marbles over years and becoming a breathing vegetable is the worst death I can imagine. I would rather be euthanased than suffer that. It's strange: when our pets get so old they find life unendurable we have the decency to put them to sleep and let them go peacefully, but we don't accord that same dignity to those we love the most.

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Steven Roper
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Talk about creepy

- AI software for mapping and scanning the brain for neurological issues.

- Applying machine learning to cancer genomes.

- Building an implantable chip for disease diagnosis.

- A tool for continuous blood monitoring.

- A map of human cells to aid drug designers.

Now why does all this talk of mapping and scanning people's brains, building implantable chips, and continuous monitoring, coming from the inventor and owner of the most invasive and Orwellian method of communication surveillance system ever devised, send shivers of horror down my spine?

Please, let me die of old age before any of this becomes reality!

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TV industry gets its own 'dieselgate' over 'leccy consumption tests

Steven Roper
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Linux

There is a simple solution

to all this test-finagling on the part of the private sector.

Pass a law requiring all software embedded in products sold to the public to be released open-source.

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TRUMP: ICANN'T EVEN! America won't hand over internet control to Russia on my watch

Steven Roper
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I honestly don't know who'd be worse

If Clinton gets in, woe betide the men and boys of the US, because she'll make "being male in a public place" and "unlawful possession of a Y-chromosome in the vicinity of a woman" federal felonies. You think feminism over there is bad now? Watch what it becomes under her!

Yet if Trump gets in, his rank idiocy will turn the entire planet against the US - such parts of it as aren't already hollering for their guts. He's shown he can't run a company, what makes anyone think this buffoon can run a country, much less the most powerful country on the planet?

I've never seen the left-vs-right political divide this deep or extreme. Either way, the US is on the brink of a civil war the moment one or the other wins. If Clinton wins, the gun totin' hayseed Trump supporters will declare war on the nation's police and military the moment she tries to take their guns away. Yet if Trump gets in, the loony left will start screaming for re-elections and shifted goalposts, just like the Remainers did after Brexit. So between the extremists of the loony left and the rabid right, it's going to be all the moderates in the middle who pay for it.

And the moment the US tumbles into its next civil war, there's China, waiting patiently in the wings behind their "nine-dash line"...

The future doesn't look bright.

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Asian hornets are HERE... those honey bee murdering BASTARDS

Steven Roper
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Haha... except that dogs, cats, pigs, goats, deer, sparrows*, mynah birds, pigeons* rabbits** all preceded cane toads - by many decades!

*Migratory birds can reach the continent on their own, we're not to blame for those!

**We didn't import the calicivirus, we invented it to try and get rid of the rabbits. It seems to have a reasonable job, considering my mate's farm has been relatively rabbit-free for the past decade or so; what few rabbits remain are readily sorted out with his .22 rimfires ...

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Steven Roper
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Looks like you chaps in the UK need to take a leaf out of our books here in Australia, and enact yourselves some decent quarantine legislation.

We learned our lesson with cane toads. We aren't letting anything else into our country after that!

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Lethal 4-hour-erection-causing spiders spill out of bunch of ASDA bananas

Steven Roper
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Re: "So how long will those spiders be able to live outside their natural habitat?"

The spiders probably do have four hour erections, and I believe it is also a fact that male spiders tend not to survive the act of procreation, so death after erection doesn't really matter for them.

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Official: Cloud computing is now mainstream

Steven Roper
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What a load

"Cloud" simply means "storing your data on somebody else's computer" which means it's not secure, no matter what the snake oil salesmen pitch. The only reason cloud vendors want this so much is so they can profile and monetise other people's data, or hold your work and data to ransom for monthly payments.

Which is why I've never stored anything important in the cloud, nor used cloud-based productivity software, and never will.

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Australian universities drop tech services to dodge metadata retention obligation

Steven Roper
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Almost everyone I know uses a VPN these days, precisely because of this metadata retention law. All that fuckhead Brandis has achieved with his meglomaniac idiocy is sending the entire country underground. Good luck trying to profile everyone with a lack of metadata because of extensive VPN usage, that's most of the country now by the looks of things.

Notwithstanding all this, I'm already onto that possibility. I use a VPN service (Private Internet Access) for most of my browsing but I disable it when using my bank*, online grocery shopping and ordering food from EatNow. I also have a set of sites, such as the Bureau of Meteorology, ABC News and SmartTraveller that I regularly visit sans VPN, specifically to create an innocuous metadata trail for the spooks to hoover up. But all my politically incorrect commentary, and various other interests are all masked by VPN.

Likewise, I run two sets of emails; one lot "public" that I use for business, and another lot "private," hosted on my own server that I use for friends and family. Since said friends and family also have addresses on my server, and everyone connects to it via their VPNs, there's zero metadata (or even email interception or scanning) relating to emails passing through that server.

So I actually have quite a sizeable "metadata footprint" - enough that my VPN usage can be readily explained as business-related activity.

*My bank doesn't like PIA's VPN, as it complains and starts sending me warning SMSes about my account being hacked if I try to log in with the VPN active, so I have to use my bank without it.

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Google's become an obsessive stalker and you can't get a restraining order

Steven Roper
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Big Brother

Re: It will continue for a while longer

"So, one day, people will get fed up with this, just like one day, people will vote intelligently."

"Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious." - George Orwell, 1984

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Sorry Nanny, e-cigs have 'no serious side-effects' – researchers

Steven Roper
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Re: Who cares if it isn't harmful? some pople do

"I can tell there's a smoker in the car in front of me by the smell."

This is something I always found fascinating about anti-smokers - they can walk unfazed through an intermodal with locomotives and semi-trailers belching diesel fumes every which way, yet somehow possess the olfactory senses of emperor moths when it comes to tobacco smoke - able to detect a single particle from 10 miles upwind. With said single particle subsequently causing a raft of allergic reations when inhaled.

Although I myself am an ex-smoker of many years, unlike many of my ex-smoking compatriots I never let it get to me when someone wants to have a durry, mainly because I knew how it felt to be subjected to such psychosomatic overreactions when I did smoke. The only time I can't handle cigarette smoke is if it's in a closed room or vehicle with little ventilation. If there's a bit of breeze a whiff of tobacco smoke now and again doesn't bother me!

Incidentally my own experience is that the best way to stop smoking is to come down with a two-week bout of the 'flu. It makes it impossible to take even one puff and by the time the 'flu passes enough for you to light up again, the physiological nicotine addiction is long broken and all that remains is to drop the habit.

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UK Science Museum will reconsider its 'sexist' brain quiz

Steven Roper
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Ooh, another buzzword change

"Out of date" - is that the new euphemism intended to replace the now old-fashioned "Triggering", which had so long ago replaced the appallingly stone-aged "Offensive"?

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Ad flog Plus: Adblock Plus now an advertising network, takes cash to broker web banners

Steven Roper
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Re: Harrumpf

"AB+ together with NoScript have kept me happy to date."

The bugbear with NoScript these days is the tendency for sites to fetch javascript from 50 different domains, all of which have to be enabled for anything to even display. Coming on to a new site with NoScript running goes something like this:

- Blank page or a message that says the site needs Javascript to work properly.

- NoScript->Options->list of domains 3 screens high appears.

- Scroll through list of domains to find maindomain.com and temporarily allow it.

- Nothing happens.

- NoScript->Options->list of domains is now 5 screens high because the bit of javascript you've allowed wants to fetch more javascript from another 20 domains.

- Get frustrated and go NoScript->Options->Temporarily allow all this page.

- STILL nothing happens because all that javascript you just allowed wants to fetch more javascript from even more domains to get anything to display.

- Give up and go elsewhere or just go NoScript->Options->Allow scripts globally (not recommended) to let the entire internet run javascript as the site wants.

I used to just walk away from sites that did this shit but since EVERY FUCKING SITE on the internet now seems to be doing it, my options come down to: put up with it or stop using the internet.

So now I just do all my internet and email on my Linux Mint box, and my Windows boxen don't see the internet at all any more. Since there's no real malware for Linux (and what little there is relies on social engineering to try to trick me into installing it rather than doing drive-by downloads) I can safely browse the web with javascript on and the browser set to clear history and cookies at end of session, and get my internet experience back.

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Steven Roper
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Not completely.

I don't like advertising but I understand that businesses need to be able to promote their products and services, that running websites does cost money and website owners are entitled to some renumeration for their costs and efforts.

Its the advertising industry itself, with it's philosophy of "how do we get inside people's heads and make them want to buy the product" that I find unacceptable, not the web site owners trying to scratch a living with a few ads on their site. So my criteria for acceptable ads are:

1. No tracking or profiling of my online activity. This is non-negotiable. If you want to serve "relevant" advertising, base it on the page content, not what you've gathered about the person viewing it. So if a page is about cars, have adverts for cars or car parts. If the page is about home improvement, have ads for hardware stores and such. If I'm on such a page long enough to read it all, I'm more likely to be interested in an ad that relates to that page, and there's no tracking or profiling or "personalisation" necessary.

2. No obscuring or blocking page content. That not only includes scroll-overs and popup divs obscuring the page, it also includes "click-through" pages requiring me to click off a dozen or more "offers" before getting to the content. Have the ads in a sidebar or split in the article or similar, not as an obscuring invasive block getting in my face.

3. No animation or sound. If your ad is a constant distraction from my ability to focus on the article I will block it so I can concentrate. So bouncing monkeys, jiggling credit cards, cycling colours and waving girls are not acceptable. Neither are sudden voices or music interrupting the music I'm currently listening to while browsing the site. It's not going to make me buy your product, it's going to make me hate you.

4. Preferably text-only, no imagery. Advertisers tend to use distracting, vivid images to try to pull your attention off the page to the ad. In some cases that can be as bad as animation for distraction, so a Google-style text-only ad is a better way to go. (An example of this is Jim Wales' "puppy-dog eyes" guilt-trip banners on Wikipedia during their funding drives. Those get blocked the moment they come up.)

5. Adverts must be clearly marked as such. This means that it's not sneakily made to look like part of the article, it has to be clearly captioned as being sponsored or an advert. It also includes deceptive ads made to look like Windows error dialogs and similar things to try and fool people into clicking on them, which is something I think should be charged as fraud or misrepresentation.

I think a majority of ad-blocker users would agree with me that if the advertising industry conformed to these five criteria, most of us would be willing to unblock ads. All the advertising industry has to do is take some social responsibility and understand that people are not robots to be programmed. But sadly I feel it'll be a cold day in hell before anything like that happens.

Wherefore I will continue using an adblocker.

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Delete Google Maps? Go ahead, says Google, we'll still track you

Steven Roper
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Re: Not just google

Regarding PAYM - that still seems rather invasive as well as a rather roundabout and potentially insecure way of making payments to me. When I need to pay someone, regardless of whether I know them or not, I login to my bank's online service, select Make a Payment, and enter the amount, BSB and account number of the person I wish to transfer money to.

The service then offers me the option of storing those details in its own database in case I want to make another payment to that person later on. In this way, the bank builds up its own "contacts list" which relates to people I have paid, with no reference to people I just "talk to."

I would prefer my bank to store its own contacts list instead of using the one on my phone, because it has dedicated PCI-compliant security measures to protect that data. My desire not to give my bank access to my contacts is not about me worrying that my bank manager might find out I've been bonking his wife or something, it's more that my phone contacts list is not as secure as a banking system and could be compromised by malware or other form of intrusion, such that a payment I intend to make to a friend gets redirected to a scammer instead. At least with a contact list maintained by the bank under their own system, they have better control over who can access it and how it gets used, which is simply better security all round.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Not just google

"it's completely obvious why your banking app would like access to your list of contacts."

Sorry, my sarcasm meter must be broken. In what way is it obvious that a banking app requires access to one's contacts list? My business with my bank is managing my money, not my dealings with others.

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NASA wants to sell International Space Station to private enterprise

Steven Roper
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Re: OK. So...

In other news, obscure aerospace outfit Drax Industries expressed a "strong interest" today in purchasing the ISS.

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'Oi! El Reg! Stop pretending Microsoft has a BSOD monopoly!'

Steven Roper
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Re: Technically...

BSOD equivalent on a C64 was usually a screen full of garbled characters. Or the tendency to respond with ?SYNTAX ERROR to everything even when preceded by line numbers, as when typing in a BASIC program. But since the C64 had no DOS and therefore instant-on booting, it wasn't really an issue in the first place. I wore out numerous pushbutton switches I'd hooked up to my C64's user port as reset buttons as my standard response to this.

A closer analogy to a BSOD would be the infamous Guru Meditation on the Amiga platform, aka the Black Screen of Death. At least you knew when it was coming, when you saw the power LED flashing (or brightening/dimming on later Amigas) you'd usually reset before the Guru put in an appearance.

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Self-stocking internet fridge faces a delivery come down

Steven Roper
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Re: On the plus side on holiday cat feeding sorted.

"Once the bag was opened, it would take one sniff and decide that it doesn't eat that brand anymore"

My two have finally settled on a brand and flavour they've been happy with now for over a year. With them the feline idiosyncrasy is the arrangement of the food in the bowl. It must be piled as a perfect cone, like a scale model of Mt Fuji, in the exact centre of the bowl, before they will consider eating it. If the food is pushed to the sides of the bowl, with the centre hollow (as it gets after they've eaten from it), that's an empty bowl as far as my cats are concerned, even if there's still plenty of food there. A quick repiling of the food back in the centre is all that's required to get them to continue eating it!

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Petulant Facebook claims it can't tell the difference between child abuse and war photography

Steven Roper
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There is a P2P social network where you control your own content, and it's free (as in beer as well as speech) and open-source.

It's called Diaspora. Look it up.

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Dodgy software will bork America's F-35 fighters until at least 2019

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Steven Roper
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You forgot

Corporate social-justice policies that prioritise diversity over competence.

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Hackers giving up on crypto ransomware. Now they just lock up device, hope you pay

Steven Roper
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Re: So has anyone...

Bypassing the Great Firewall of China and similar restrictive measures imposed by totalitarian regimes, whistleblowers, exposing human rights atrocities, corporate corruption...

Of course, many of those things are also against the law in the jurisdictions they cover. But if you believe that standing up for freedom and justice is subordinate to blind unquestioning obedience to the law then I'm afraid we're on opposite sides of a very ugly battle.

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Microsoft's equality and diversity: Skimpy schoolgirls dancing for nerds at an Xbox party

Steven Roper
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Re: @ Steven Roper (was When I was at school ...)

Pompus Git: Jeeze, how times have changed! A teacher doing that to a student these days would end in a public lynching of the entire school faculty...

Another thing I recall from about 1980 or so, was a craze the girls had for wearing black, very brief knickers called "bumhuggers." They favoured these because the dark material was visible through the gingham dress, which of course attracted attention. It didn't take long for the teachers to cotton on to it though and the school soon banned them, although I never saw the teachers go to the extremes you describe; any girl who came to school wearing black bumhuggers was simply sent home to change.

I suppose by the 80s the anti-corporal-discipline malaise was setting in. I remember in primary school in the 70s getting the cane for misbehaviour was a very real threat, but by the time I reached Year 10 it had pretty much been phased out.

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Steven Roper
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Re: When I was at school ...

"When I was at school ... the girls didn't dress like that."

Wrong school, wrong country, or wrong era perhaps?

I went through two diifferent high schools in the late 70s/early 80s, in Adelaide, Australia. Girls back then did wear school uniform dresses, which were generally some variation of a gingham or checkered style pattern; I don't recall any being tartan or plaid for any of the schools in my area.

The length of the dress depended on the time of year and the girl wearing it. In winter, dresses tended to be half-calf length to knee length overall. In summer, the "geeky" girls tended to keep their hemlines below the knee or at most only just above it. But the "popular" girls, on the other hand, wore their hemlines as far up their thighs as the school would allow - generally revealing between 1/2 to 2/3 of the length of the thigh while standing, and a lot more than that when sitting down!

Then there were the PE outfits we wore for sports: T-shirts on top, boys generally in footy/rugby shorts that left most of our legs exposed, girls wearing netball-style short skirts that revealed about 2/3 - 3/4 thigh length standing.

It appears, from the occasions I've had to pop into my local shopping centre after school lets out, that high schools today have much more conservative standards than they did back then.

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Steven Roper
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Re: OK, Micros~1...prove it!

"...fire the responsible party(ies), already!"

Sigh. Typical SJW torch-waving vigilante, always roaring for a witch to burn. Somebody offends your delicate little sensitivities? Sack them, smash them, ruin their lives, so you can rub your smug little hands together in sanctimonious self-satisfaction that others have been forced once again to grovel to your ideology.

My consolation is that idiots like you will be the first victims of the hell you seek to create for others, the moment you make even the slightest mistake.

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How Microsoft copied malware techniques to make Get Windows 10 the world's PC pest

Steven Roper
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Re: Aesop's Fables: The North Wind and the Sun

While we're on Aesop's Fables, my favourite one is the shortest in the collection, but to my mind the most profound in its simplicity:

A Vixen sneered at a Lioness because she never bore more than one cub, while she, the Vixen, boasted she could whelp several at once.

"Only one," the Lioness replied, "but a lion."

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Millions menaced as ransomware-smuggling ads pollute top websites

Steven Roper
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Re: Firefox and NoScript @Steven Roper

"I have almost exactly the same experience but I've never yet managed to unblock enough shit to get Disqus to work."

That's different to what I've often seen. I mentioned Disqus because in my experience it's usually the first new thing to appear once you allow javascript for the primary domain. Its plugin requires you to inline its javascript in your page's HTML, so allowing javascript for the primary domain usually enables it.

One possibility is that since I have a Disqus account I've got disqus.com whitelisted in my NoScript. If you haven't, then it would no doubt be buried in the list of domains you haven't allowed yet which might explain why it hasn't appeared for you?

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Steven Roper
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Mushroom

Re: Firefox and NoScript

The biggest problem with NoScript these days is lazy web developers who just fetch scripts from 50 fucking domains to build the page. This practice should be regulated if not made outright illegal on the grounds of facilitating malware distribution.

We've all seen it: you go to a site, only to be greeted with a blank page or an unreadable pile of text and colourbars splashed all over the place like a dog's breakfast. So you click NoScript's Options button, only to be confronted with a list of domains two screens high asking to be allowed to run javascript. Even worse, those domains run scripts that fetch more javascript from even more domains, so after you allow example.com, exmplimgs.com, exmplcdn.com, googletagmanager.com, googleapis.com, jquery.com, wordpress.com, joomla.com and gofuckyourself234567.cloudfront.net, you still have an undiminished list of domains asking to be allowed, that weren't there before, and the only change that's happened to the scrambled mess on your screen is that the Disqus comments are now visible and 3 images have appeared.

After which your site gets nulled at my router and I never go back there again.

I would love to skin alive every fucking idiot who does this. I can understand the need for javascript on today's interactive web apps, but FFS put your javascript on ONE domain. If you need to use cloud load-balancing then USE ONE GODDAMN SERVICE. I can go with allowing two or three domains at most, but this insane mess requiring me to incrementally enable javascript for the entire fucking internet just to read one bloody article that could easily be displayed by simple HTML has got to fucking stop.

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2016: Bad USB sticks, evil webpages, booby-trapped font files still menace Windows PCs

Steven Roper
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Re: @Same old/Life is good

I've completely disabled Windows Update on both my Windows 7 machines. Both are used for 3D modelling and rendering, video work, graphic design, gaming and testing my websites to make sure they work on Windows.

Neither one has internet access any longer. Neither one will ever be updated again.

The only machines on my network that see the internet are Linux Mint boxes - one of which is being used to post this comment.

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'You've been hacked, pay up' ... Ransomware forces your PC to read out a hostage note

Steven Roper
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Mushroom

Re: Hey NSA/GCHQ

"Track down these ransomware peddlars and shut them down by any means."

Such as peeling the fuckers' skins off at a rate of one cubic centimetre per hour and streaming it live as a public warning to other sociopathic ransomware vermin that doing this to people carries the direst of consequences.

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How exactly do you rein in a wildly powerful AI before it enslaves us all?

Steven Roper
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There's a simple solution

No matter how superintelligent an AI is, there's one infallible method that works on all of them; it's called "pulling the plug."

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Third of US banks OK with passwords even social networks reject

Steven Roper
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Re: Accept? How about demand?

"And yes, the challenge question when you phone them is still my mother's "maiden" name."

With my bank the question is my date of birth. I don't know which is worse as a "security" question, but those are the two most common ones!

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Google robo-car backs into bendy-bus in California

Steven Roper
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Joke

Re: Meatbags and bendy buses don't mix

"Cysylltu pobl a Chymunedau" - I can translate that for you; it means "Shagging sheep on this vehicle prohibited during school hours."

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Steven Roper
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Re: Blind-sided?

You can bet Google's programmers will be going through that vehicle with a scanning tunnelling electron microscope to find the answers to your question.

I'm actually quite impressed; if a minor bit of boof-tinkle-tinkle, of the sort that happens every day between meatbag drivers, like this is newsworthy, the driverless cars must be doing something right. Especially given that the technology is in its infancy, it's amazing that nothing has gone seriously wrong, to the point where even a little fender-bender like that makes the news!

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Law enforcement's next privacy overreach will be the metadata of things

Steven Roper
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Re: Cabin in the woods anyone?

Nope. Anyone trying to escape the All-Seeing Eye by going innawoods will be rounded up and returned to the fold. All in the name of "preserving the environment" of course. Can't have all these Grizzly Adams wannabes cutting down trees to make log cabins and preying on the local wildlife now, can we?

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Reinvented ransomware shifts from pwning PC to wrecking websites

Steven Roper
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Re: "Victims...

Or don't use Wordpress.

Customising Wordpress is a nightmare. Masses of indecipherable CSS and PHP files all over the place like a dog's breakfast, directories within directories containing bits and bobs and god-knows-what, it's an utter pile of trash.

Write your own code you lazy bastards. Then you know exactly what does what and where it's supposed to go. I can set up an easily maintainable small-business ecommerce website with protection against SQL-injection and XSS attacks, full CMS, invoicing and inventory management system, with at most 20 or so PHP files, 10 or so Javascript files, 3 CSS files and a single MySQL database with 28 tables. Why all this piles upon piles of crap in systems like Wordpress? With custom code you can strip it down to the bare bones required for the specific site and its needs.

Further, it confuses casual intruders. I know security through obscurity is not a good rationale for a high-profile site, but for a small-business mum-and-dad online shop it does add a layer of protection; if an intruder comes by and spots a Wordpress or Joomla install, they're more likely to exploit its known vulnerabilities, whereas fingering through an unfamiliar pile of custom PHP+Javascript for such a small site isn't worth their time and bother for the returns they'll get. These crooks look to strike in volume over hundreds of sites, because they know small-business site operators can't pay much, so they'll focus mainly on sites they can attack en masse for aggregate returns.

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Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

Steven Roper
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Re: So ...

You might be surprised.

In my dealings with confronting feminists over the years, I've often found that, head cases like Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem aside, most female feminists are primarily concerned with women's issues and women's rights, and don't give two shits about what men do or don't do. Most of the directed misandry, and the weasel sophistry and goalpost-shifting surrounding the concepts of "privilege" and "patriarchy" is driven mainly by male feminists - sociopathic little political climbers like Michael Flood, Michael Kimmel and Allen Johnson, all of whom are "professors" in what I call the Socjus Triad - sociology, psychology, and gender studies. A surprising number of men take these courses, and they all consign other men to the misandrist yoke with their hypocritical rhetoric. This is why I rate male feminists somewhere between hedge fund capitalists and child molesters in the human shitpile rankings.

Interestingly, many of the men's-rights organisations are strongly supported, and in many cases even founded and helmed, by women - for example Sue Price, who founded Men's Rights Australia. Unlike their male-feminist opposites, who do it for social brownie points and to advance their political careers, the female MHRM supporters do it because they've recognised the systemic misandry present in most establishment policies and are concerned about its impact on their male children and relatives, and far from advancing their political careers, these women face considerable social and political ostracism and even harassment for their support of the MHRM.

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