* Posts by Ken Hagan

5252 posts • joined 14 Jun 2007

Your wget is broken and should DIE, dev tells Microsoft

Ken Hagan
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"Don't want wget to do what it currently does? Then change the alias which is a reference to .NET assembly entry point."

And then convince all of your customers to do the same.

You sound like all those people who say that <insert offensive desktop feature here> isn't a problem because I can change it. Yeah, but we aren't *all* hobbyists playing in our bedrooms, so the out-of-the-box behaviour matters. It is what our customers will be using whether we like it or not.

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Systemd adds filesystem mount tool

Ken Hagan
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The article goes into some detail about how the new command does dependency checking that "mount" never did ... and then uses the aforementioned to do the mount.

So it is a pretty good example of what you just wrote. Somehow though, I think you were being sarcastic. Unfairly in this case.

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DVLA misses out on £400m in tax after scrapping paper discs

Ken Hagan
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Re: CONGRATULATIONS

If it serves no useful purpose, it isn't work. It is just a way for some unemployed people to enjoy a higher rate of "benefits" than the rest.

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Microsoft promises free terrible coffee every month you use Edge

Ken Hagan
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I see no basis for that assumption. He is quite correct to note that an opt-in program for a service (bad coffee and worse search results) that most people probably don't want in the first place, is no big deal.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Wrong data

Android has only this year reached 80% market share. Windows had that share (or better) on the desktop for the two decades from about 1990 to about 2010. I'm not a lawyer (*), so I don't know what sort of market share you need to have before anti-trust laws kick in, but Microsoft's troubles began in the early 90s, so Google may soon face an attack.

(* Actually, I think there are at least as many answers to that question as there are lawyers, since there are several jurisdictions where the question might be asked and no fixed rules in any of them to define either "monopoly" or "abuse".)

On the other hand, apart from the legal costs I can't see much evidence that MS were actually inconvenienced by losing the case.

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Microsoft has open-sourced PowerShell for Linux, Macs. Repeat, Microsoft has open-sourced PowerShell

Ken Hagan
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Re: Microsoft Open Source ©

"Microsoft was doing open source back when I was a PFY. "

For a specific example, MS released ANSI C source for the compound file format used by OLE applications (such as the original Office apps) about 25 years ago. A number of FOSS packages use that source or something modelled on it for their own support of such things.

The Win3 SDKs also documented the WRITE document format and a couple of other applets as I recall. It was sufficient for me to produce .WRI files as an output option for a program back then. The WORD 6 and EXCEL file formats have also been open for a couple of decades.

These aren't *big* examples, but they are *old*. MS has never been 100% closed source.

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Intel fabs to churn out 10nm ARM chips for LG smartphones next year

Ken Hagan
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Re: StrongARM?

"Ask yourself which can do a better job of register allocation - a compiler that can take its time and do the job once considering the code as a whole, or a few transistors that have to do the job each and every time, in a matter of nanoseconds, and considering only a handful of instructions on either side? The answer is obvious."

The answer is obvious because the experiment has been done and OoO wins hands down because *it* has information about the actual data being used whereas the compiler can only guess. Intel bet the farm on your hypothesis with EPIC and Itanic. They spent *billions* trying to beat OoO and gave AMD their best years ever.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: StrongARM?

"$30-40K revenue per wafer"

I think that (with whatever numbers are now appropriate) is the key observation. Intel make most of their cash selling at the expensive end of the market. Anything that boosts ARM, which currently looks like an attractive alternative at the cheap end, damages AMD more than Intel.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: StrongARM?

"I've wondered for a long time what kind of performance you'd get if you exposed the raw RISC chip inside AMD and Intel's products."

I think you'd get exactly the same performance, but only after persuading everyone to recompile their binaries. Remember that only 1% of the die area actually does instruction decode these days and it is massively parallel and its output stream of micro-ops is then executed out-of-order. OoO execution is what (in the Pentium Pro and successors) delivered the death-blow to the RISC architectures of the 1980s. x86 as an ISA hasn't been significant for performance for over 20 years now.

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We're going to bring an asteroid fragment into Lunar orbit

Ken Hagan
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Re: Still doubtfull

"Beyond the sciency side of early solar system research, asteroid mining could be phenomenally useful either on the Earth side resources front or on the space bound raw resource requirements."

You want to re-read some of Tim Worstall's article on this site. On the Earth-side resources front, we are nowhere near short enough of anything to warrant mining asteroids and bringing bulk materials down to Earth's surface.

On the space-bound side, mining is an energy intensive business and unless you have plans to plonk a power station on the asteroid (briefly, because it can only generate electricity via some sort of thermodynamic cycle and so you'd be boiling off its limited stock of volatile compounds) I think you'd struggle to mine quickly enough to make it useful. Of course, you'd have to launch that power station from somewhere, too.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Giving Skynet an Asteroid to Drop on Us?

The link says that 2008 EV5 is 400m across. On the other hand, if we have the wherewithall to push it into lunar orbit, we probably have the wherewithall to push it onto the moon if it looks like we've computed its orbital parameters wrongly. Back on the first hand, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_event suggests that a 400m rock is a 1-in-100,000 years event.

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Intel teases geeks with 2017 AI hyper-chip: Xeon Phi Knights Mill

Ken Hagan
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Re: Er, I have a genuine question...

(Edit: in support of this, wikipedia reports that the thermal conductivity of silicon is 149 watts per metre-kelvin. I think this means you can pump 14.9 watts across a 1mm thick slice of silicon that is 1cm square with a temperature drop of only 1 kelvin. My estimate of 1mm thick for the RAM slice is probably generous. Presumably each layer is a *few* times thicker than the feature size, but the latter is measured in nanometres, so I think there are a few orders of magnitude to play with.)

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Er, I have a genuine question...

The RAM isn't an insulator. Even a 1mm thick layer of silicon isn't going to prevent the waste heat from the CPUs going straight through. Further, the multi-core nature of this beast means that the CPU heat is being generated fairly evenly over the whole die, so the thermal problem is probably easier than it was a decade or so ago when the CPU die probably had hot-spots.

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£11bn later: Smart meters project delayed again for Crapita tests

Ken Hagan
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Re: communicate with the grid... mmmmm

"Suddenly dropped load is ****ing terrifying."

But, but, but ... as I recall, one of the claimed benefits of smart meters to end-users was that they'd see their own consumption figures in real time and would be encouraged to adjust their behaviour accordingly. We were even promised that our white goods might eventually be smart enough to do this themselves.

I'm old enough to remember the attempt to break the grid during the miners' strike in the 1980s. That was a one-off attempt. It failed. If you actively encourage people (with high prices) to install domestic equipment that effectively *automates* this attack, it is only a matter of time before it works.

So have we just put 11 billion onto leccy prices in order to build the weapon that destroys our grid?

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Ancient radioactive tree rings could rip up the history books

Ken Hagan
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Wasn't this done decades ago?

I'm away from home at the moment, but I've definitely got books that explain how dendrochronology can be used to calibrate C14 dates, complete with graphs of how C14 levels varied across history, spikes and all, those graphs being derived from tree rings.

It is also, if I may venture to say so, pretty effing obvious that if you have two dating methods then you can use one to check the other and vice versa, so even if I didn't have the published evidence in my bookcase I'd be pretty gob-smacked to discover that people had omitted to do this over a period of several decades.

So what's actually new here?

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Physicists believe they may have found fifth force of nature

Ken Hagan
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I believe the pedantry is correct, but old habits die hard.

As far as I know, the unification between EM and weak is undisputed amongst those who can do the maths but any further unification between EW and strong is possible in several different ways and we haven't yet got the evidence to tell us which one of the candidates (if any) is the right one. (Isn't that why CERN keep looking for super-symmetric partners?) So there are (currently) 3 fundamental forces.

Despite that, I think it is true to say that everyone talks about the 4 fundamental forces, even if they are working at CERN and know full well that there are only 3. Based on previous physics-y threads on these forums I'm almost certain that there are regular commentards who work at CERN, so if I'm wrong then I expect to be enlightened about current practice.

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Microsoft to overhaul Windows 10 UI – with a 3D Holographic Shell

Ken Hagan
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Re: They have to be joking

The 3D apps that I've used have tended to make heavy use of modifier keys (like Ctrl or Shift) with the mouse and pretty much every app (even ones geared mostly at consumption like video players) use the keyboard from time to time. Virtual keyboards on touch-screen devices are pretty ropey -- those operated by Wii-mote are even more so. All in all, I'm not holding my breath. I think this has a very limited number of real-world uses.

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Linux malware? That'll never happen. Ok, just this once then

Ken Hagan
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Re: How is this a Linux issue?

"try running it as a user and see just how easy that is"

Been using Windows NT and its successors with an ordinary account since version 3.1. No harder than Linux. (Specifically, you or someone friendly needs to have an administrative account for occasional use, like installing software or working around the incompetence of (mainly Microsoft) developers who *themselves* ran as admin and so don't know how shit their product is. That apart, the OS works fine. Never understood why MS have "pants down, bent over" as the OOBE.)

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Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that golden backdoor keys are a terrible idea

Ken Hagan
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Re: Maybe that's all we ever really needed?

If you only ever really needed a serial machine, von Neumann's model is sufficient. We're still waiting for something that is sufficient for the massively parallel case.

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Revealed: How a weather forecast in 1967 stopped nuclear war

Ken Hagan
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"the economy would be destroyed but people would survive"

So we'd be fine as long as the invading aliens have some sort of Marshall Plan to keep us fed for the several years until we've rebuilt enough of the economy to feed ourselves, and also to police the world against the inevitable nut-jobs who would reckon there was still something worth fighting for.

Edit: and those 1000-plane raids ... they were equivalent to *one*, *small*, nuke. There's a reason why the Japanese surrendered so fast. (They didn't know the US had run out of bombs.)

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Ken Hagan
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"90% mortality in one year"

Probably not in one year, but if you take away all the industrial infrastructure that keeps us going then I have to wonder what level of population is sustainable afterwards.

For most of history, world population has been stable. In particular, there's a stonking great flatline from the peak of the Roman Empire across to the Renaissance where technology didn't (much) improve and so the Malthusian limit remained stubbornly put. Going back even to early 19th century levels of *available* technology would take away a lot of our ability to grow, let alone distribute, food to an over-sized population.

On the other hand, we *have* the know-how, at least for a few decades, and that might be enough to bootstrap things. We don't have to repeat all the mistakes of history. (For example, we can get the frigging plumbing sorted without having to spend several generations puzzled about all the cholera outbreaks.)

It's an interesting puzzle, as long as it remains a what-if.

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London's Met Police has missed the Windows XP escape deadline

Ken Hagan
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Is this a problem?

I mean, *surely* police systems are kept behind some sort of air-gapped nuclear-bomb-proof firewall, no?

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Windows 8.1 is NOT an upgrade...

If you want timely and reliable patches, 10's the only version getting any attention and only the bleeding edge anniversary edition at that. MS never were terribly good at supporting anything except the very latest version of any given product. They are now officially not even doing that, since everything is now "rolling release" (or "beta as a service").

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update crashing under Avast antivirus update

Ken Hagan
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Re: Two questions

"What the hell is Avast doing..."

You should note that this was an MS patch to a previously working configuration. Avast did something that MS-in-the-future didn't like. Failing to test that scenario isn't quite as lax as you suggest. It depends on how fully-featured and documented are the kernel hooks that MS (presumably) provide for AV vendors.

"Why is Microsoft allowing kernel patching at all?"

Because third-parties like to install drivers for specialised hardware and don't like paying MS to write them? I know a fair bit of hardware can run in user-space once MS have provided a generic driver for the relevant bus, but not everything fits that mold. Notice also that if you have Administrative rights on a Windows machine in user-space it is only a matter of time before you can override any restrictions on kernel patching.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Ahh yess

You aren't. See the article the other day about drive-by installs? Notice how all the virus scare stories are about zero-days? AV doesn't work. It hasn't ever worked. It can't work because distinguishing "malicious" software from what comes out of big-name vendors just isn't possible, even for human intelligence after the event. AV is a gigantic scam. You are better off without it. Run as a normal user. Don't follow phishing emails. Don't install crapware you downloaded from a sharing site. In short, use Windows the same way you'd use Linux.

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Looking good, Gnome: Digesting the Delhi in our belly

Ken Hagan
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Re: So basically...

Red Hat management's plan (company revenue wise) is fairly obvious: turn Linux into a walled garden by making everything dependent on projects that only they can support because though notionally FOSS, *they* have all the key developers who can say "no" to anyone wanting to take it back in a more open direction.

Myself, I can't honestly see why someone would use Linux if what they wanted was to get shafted by a vendor with every new release. There are alternatives who shaft you just as hard but who are more compatible with what the majority of the world's users are using.

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Three times as bad as malware: Google shines light on pay-per-install

Ken Hagan
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Re: Not malware?

Absolutely correct. Delaying installation is clear evidence of malicious intent. Any AV package that doesn't detect this is *manifestly* broken beyond repair and you should ditch them in favour of either something that isn't utter shit or nothing. (Either would be better than something that just sits there telling you how great it is whilst letting obvious malware through.)

What's that you say? NONE of the commercial AV packages detect this? Gosh! Colour me surprised...

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Understand...

Have you heard the phrase "free as in speech, not as in beer"? Your cynicism suggests that you've been exposed too much to the latter rather than the former. Yes, we boring FOSS enthusiasts actually *do* enjoy something that is really "FREE", as you put it. The people who face endless disappointment in life are those who chase the free beer, only to discover that it is someone else's piss.

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Classic Shell, Audacity downloads infected with retro MBR nuke nasty

Ken Hagan
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Re: More reason to use Linux

"Can Microsoft really put GPL applications in their 'windows store' without breaking the GPL ?"

I don't see why not. They aren't offering as part of their own product. It's just a transfer of data. Last time I downloaded some GPL-ed code, the bits passed through a number of commercial operations, such as my ISP. Even RMS doesn't have a problem with that ... surely?

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Ken Hagan
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On paper, MSIEXEC could do all of that. The MSI file that you feed it could be just data and the operations that it requests on its behalf could be sanity checked and classified for end-user (well, Administrator) approval.

In practice, MSIEXEC lets you do anything that can be written as an MSI and MSI files can contain custom DLLs that do anything you want as the running user. To add insult to inury, there's an instance of MSIEXEC that runs as SYSTEM, in case Administrator isn't sufficiently god-like.

All this has been true since MSI debuted almost (?) 20 years ago. MS has never felt it necessary to add these features. There *may* be an option, buried deep inside some Group Policy template, to disable custom actions. Or there may not. Since it isn't enabled, or advertised, by default it hardly matters whether it exists or not.

Tl;dr: the Windows Installer is utter, utter loathesome crap.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: UAC limitation

Had it been signed by Ivan Beltchev, would you have installed it?

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Ken Hagan
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Re: UEFI affected as well

"Surely it's not that hard to intercept disk writes to the boot sector and partition table and ask the user for approval first?"

I had a BIOS that did that, about twenty years ago, so it's not that hard. However, I haven't had a similar warning anytime recently, so apparently it isn't something that modern BIOSes bother with.

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OK, we've got your data. But we really want to delete it ASAP

Ken Hagan
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Re: Verification

The same way that you "verified" that you didn't need it anymore.

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Android's latest patches once again remind us: It's Nexus or bust if you want decent security

Ken Hagan
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Perhaps Google should re-architect Android so that it is a set of applications that run on top of an OS. The OS would, obviously, contain device specific code, so it would be up to the hardware vendor to maintain that bit. The Android bit would be just algorithms adhering to open standards. Google could update that on any device whenever they pleased.

But a Mongolian clusterfuck is just so much easier for all the developers concerned.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: the combined clusterfuck of manufacturers and carriers

In the MS case, they've issued guidelines for at least twenty years (basically following on the tradition set by IBM who documented what the PC spec was) and any OEM who doesn't produce a compatible machine can't sell it to customer because Windows won't work properly.

So if the OP had said designer rather than manufacturer, they'd be basically correct.

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You think Donald Trump is insecure? Check out his online store

Ken Hagan
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You realise this makes you a terrorist, Reg

Does this mean there is a way of selectively targetting Trump supporters for wallet-emptying shenanigans?

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Someone (cough, cough VeriSign) just gave ICANN $135m for the rights to .web

Ken Hagan
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Re: in the other auction...

I don't think I can buy a third level domain for $1, so getting a whole TLD is quite something. Leicester City fans must be shaking their heads in disbelief and thinking "we're not fit to lick their boots".

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Russian spy aircraft are flying over Britain – and the MoD's cool with it

Ken Hagan
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Re: UUVs

So by the time any Trident replacement has been built, it will be no less detectable than a land-based silo and (being in the middle of an ocean, rather than, at most, a few dozen miles from a population centre) rather easier to take out without anyone actually able to prove what happened.

Yes, I can see how some vested interests on this side of the pond might want to keep that quiet.

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It's time for a discussion about malvertising

Ken Hagan
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Re: Agreed

Perhaps they need a "donate" button.

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Microsoft adds useful feature to PowerPoint. Seriously

Ken Hagan
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Re: "a single paper [..] plant starts by burning down 5k+ square miles of forest"

Perhaps it is an example of “structured, safe and credible information from the web”.

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Tinder porn scam: Swipe right for NOOOOOO I paid for what?

Ken Hagan
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Re: As a rule of thumb...

"I suspect this was to avoid paying for any decent certificates etc."

More likely to avoid having to meet the (fairly detailed) requirements for handling payment card details. For a small company that doesn't do much business over the web, these requirements are more cost than they are worth. The downside of out-sourcing that facility to a third party is (as you've observed) the unprofessional look.

In contrast, someone like Amazon that keeps (across independent transactions) not only your card details but the verification code, to make 1-click purchasing possible, probably has to prove that its IT security is better than the average bank.

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MS warns of ..WSF file worm

Ken Hagan
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It also made it possible to have several files in the same directory with the same name. I've never understood how that makes things easier for the less experienced users to get their heads around.

Presumably the idiot manager who forced that one through is still working for the company.

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Ken Hagan
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Not sure how this changes anything

They still display as ......wsf in the zip listing, they still only arrive on your system if you unpack a zip that came from who-knows-where, whereupon they are still described by Explorer as "Windows Script Files" and still only run if your further double-click on them, and only deliver their payload if you are dumb enough to do all of the final step with administrative privileges.

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BOFH: Free as in free beer or... Oh. 'Free Upgrade'

Ken Hagan
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Re: Only have one printer for every 100 employees.

I expect that if you take their computers away you'll "find" that they don't need those either. Accurately measuring the effect might be harder. It might be a benefit, reducing waste, or it might be a cost, reducing effectiveness.

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World religions stake out positions on Pokemon Go

Ken Hagan
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Almost certainly true. Add to that the probability that your local criminal and paedophile communities are trying to work out how best to use this "opportunity", plus the fact that the children in many countries are just starting on a 6 week break from the usual levels of parental supervision and ...

...perhaps I'll give the News a miss until September.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Star Trek/Red Dwarf - Priot Art!

Yes, I do, and if I'd read down the comments a little further then I wouldn't have replied to the post about a dozen above this one. I'd forgotten the Red Dwarf version, though. I wonder if there are other precedents? Perhaps we could, er, make a collection...

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Ken Hagan
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There was a Star Trek TNG episode where pretty much exactly that happened. (Naturally it was the entire crew rather than the entire world, but that's just nit-picking.) Maybe Niantic got the idea from that.

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Free Windows 10 upgrade: Time is running out – should you do it?

Ken Hagan
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Re: Ahem. Actual real user here....

"Still, like every MS OS upgrade, it does tend to crash more or less daily."

Something wrong there, matey. If you're referring to the OS then I can only recall perhaps half-a-dozen BSODs on NT-family Windows in the last 25 years, and those were all due to physically failing hardware or dodgy drivers (usually ones produced by graphics vendors who had a choice between benchmarks and correctness).

If you are talking about apps, I've seen rather more, but that's equally true of apps on Linux. (Case in point, I'm currently typing this on a Linux box where both Firefox and Thunderbird crash on startup, but have dependencies on other libraries that mean I can't easily roll back.)

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UK gov says new Home Sec will have powers to ban end-to-end encryption

Ken Hagan
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"banning the commercial use of the internet"

If you say that, they'll think online shopping. Instead, say "shutting down the City of London as a financial centre". Post-brexit, they might pay attention to that.

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Ken Hagan
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"Can't pass? Don't get the job."

I think the problem is defining the job.

For civil servants, requiring some sort of qualifications in whatever it is they are administering sounds like an excellent idea, perfectly consistent with normal employment practices, the only barrier is that all those PPE and Classics graduates would have to retire because there are no jobs for those, ahem, skillsets.

For politicians, getting elected pretty much *is* the job. Sadly, with party structures being what they are, that's a terrifyingly low bar. Perhaps we need to re-think what their role is once they get into office. I like the principle that we can put *whoever we choose* into a position where they have oversight over everything the experts do. I don't like the fact they tend to grab hold of the reins of power and start telling the experts what is and isn't possible.

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