* Posts by Ken Hagan

5209 posts • joined 14 Jun 2007

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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Pokemon Go oh no no no, we're not reading your email, says gamemaker

Ken Hagan
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Re: How long

As long as it is just vendors capturing business, we'll probably cope. There are other possibilities, especially as we approach the season when kids are typically let off the leash a little and encouraged to get out and about.

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It's 2016 and Windows lets crims poison your printer drivers

Ken Hagan
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Re: Just because...

Just because it is obvious that MS are never telling the truth about how totally rewritten each new release is, doesn't mean we shouldn't pan them for it *every* *single* *time* we get *proof* that it isn't true.

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Rolls-Royce reckons robot cargo ships are the future of the seas

Ken Hagan
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Re: The staffiing costs of a large transport ship are fractional

An fully laden oil-tanker would be a slower disaster than a fully-fueled jumbo jet, but if steered to the right place the economic damage would be similar. Consequently, I imagine that no-one would be able to afford the insurance and Lloyds of London would be equally unable to find anyone mad enough to underwrite it.

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Prominent Brit law firm instructed to block Brexit Article 50 trigger

Ken Hagan
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Re: What a palaver. A whole lot of Jessies pratting about like pretentious fairies

I think the French were trying to copy the Americans, whose revolution worked out rather better. I would also note that in the American case, some in the North stayed in, which also appears to have worked out alright for them.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Reg readership

Those who didn't vote don't care and so be safely ignored. (Top tip for next time: if you care, vote.)

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Ken Hagan
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IT Angle

"the UK will be at the back of the queue"

What queue? Are you seriously suggesting that countries the size of the US and China can only muster one set of negotiators, so all trade deals have to be done in sequence?

Icon: we can do parallel now.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: From another angle...

Parliamentary Sovereignty stems from Cromwell's victory in the civil war. It isn't very different from William taking over "by Right of Conquest". However, times change. I doubt it has been true for a very long time that Parliament, or anyone else, could dominate this country by force. In practice, then, absolute power rests with the people as a whole and Parliament *remains* Sovereign because it suits us to delegate the job.

On this occasion, however, Parliament punted and gave us the job back. It would be unwise to turn round and tell us that we gave the wrong answer.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Bollocks

"We operate a one person one vote system here, "

Where's that then? Israel? (I *think* they operate a fairly pure form of PR. I don't think many, if any, other countries do.)

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Result not significant

With the exception of the recent coalition, no government of the UK has enjoyed anything close to 52% of the votes cast in a general election, so unless we view all the governments of the last 80 years as somehow illegitimate, I think 52% has to be regarded as "overwhelming".

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UK.gov's hated Care.data project binned

Ken Hagan
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"How can people's data be anonymised enough that they can stay private, but still be useful for research?"

Probably they can't. Whilst there may be things you can discover about broad swathes of the population, the majority of discoveries (especially as we get down to genetic medicine) probably are useful precisely because they identify a small subset of the population. There's a whole class of serendipitous findings that are particularly likely to be based on data that clearly identifies individuals, found by going on a fishing expedition in the national dataset.

On the other hand, any such discoveries are likely to be biased towards the people whose records were used in the research and the youngsters don't seem to give a toss about living their entire lives on social media. Perhaps *they* could be persuaded to opt-in.

It's a cultural thing, though. Iceland is a centre for this kind of research because they've chosen to allow it and deal with the consequences. Likewise, outside of the health sphere, some countries publish full tax records for the population whereas I'm fairly sure that the older generation in the UK think that's only one step away from publishing nude selfies.

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UN council: Seriously, nations, stop switching off the damn internet

Ken Hagan
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Re: World to UN:

"Putin's going to be quaking in his boots now."

I think the general opinion of Putin's predecessors and like-minded dictators elsewhere since 1945 is that the answer to "whose army" has always been Uncle Sam and his NATO friends. That's why they don't take too kindly to NATO expanding its membership in their general direction.

With reference to the topic of the article, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights) is *far* more than many countries have been willing to grant and it is hardly a modern creation. This latest vote looks like no more than a natural extension into the web domain of previously declared rights.

So it probably won't change much in the short term, but it is nice to have the principle explicitly re-stated.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware goes FULL SCREEN in final push

Ken Hagan
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Re: It's those nasty penguin people

"they can have good stuff FOR FREE"

Sorry to get all foss-tard on you, but I find it hard to parse that except in the sense of free-as-in-beer, but I'm pretty sure the revolt against Microsoft's dickery is largely based in a (long overdue) realisation by ordinary people that what they want is "free as in speech". That is, even if Linux cost a small amount and Windows was free, people would pay for the OS that behaved as though *you* owned the computer.

So, yes, it is those nasty penguin people but, no, giving Windows away won't help.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Your Mac's what?

"Since "Mac's" is actually an abbreviation of Macintoshes, I don't believe it is incorrect."

No. "Mac" is an abbreviation of "Macintosh". Having abbreviated it, you make it plural by adding an s. There are no newly-missing letters. For similar reasons, we don't write "laser's".

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Updates off

I also have several Windows 7 machines. I let them patch every month. I haven't been forced to upgrade any of them to 10.

I am prepared to believe that other users have had different experiences, but my own experience is that I ticked the "No thanks" box about 11 months ago and haven't been bothered since.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: MinWin.

I think it has happened, twice: WinPE and Server Core.

Oh, sorry, you meant as an option for normal customers. Well, where's the money in that? Worse, by cleanly separating a minimalist core from packages that run on it, they would have spent time and money simplifying the task of the WINE developers.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Advantages to Windows 10

Over 8.1? The Metro crap is much easier to avoid. Other than that, I'll grant that it isn't at all obvious what's changed.

Over 7? The support for modern hardware is better. USB device support is noticeably less buggy, in my experience, though USB3 still needs work by somebody (either MS or the hardware vendors). Conversely, support for non-modern hardware might be patchy because of evil-or-incompetent driver vendors.

Over either? I don't personally believe that MS are serious about security patches on anything that they call a "legacy OS". Their almost-insane attempts to push 10 on everyone suggests active hostility to the idea of supporting these systems in future. 7 is out of mainstream support and 8.0 is already officially dead. (I suppose they might retro-fit the spyware at some point, if they haven't already done so...)

Over Linux Mint? It does a vastly better job than WINE of running crappy old Win32 software. You may not have any. Many domestic users don't or could find reasonable Linux alternatives. (I'm one such.) But if you do, good luck running it on WINE (https://appdb.winehq.org/), good luck trying to persuade the authors that they have any support obligations on that platform, and especially good luck if it is an in-house "app" and you aren't the manager of the software team that "developed" it.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: A final throw of the dice before

"Stop paying and lose access to your data"

My data is stored on my hard drive. If MS manage to stop me accessing it until I pay them a fee then I will be informing the police.

Those who have punted data into the cloud? Well, they've probably already lost it. It's just that they don't realise that yet.

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Verisign keeps its dot-com cash cow until 2024

Ken Hagan
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Re: Greed

Is this a big deal? The people who need a dot-com are those with a reasonable fear that someone else might register the name and steal their customers through impersonation, so that's basically companies with international sales. They can afford 10 dollars.

For everyone else, the dot-ru (or their national equivalent) will do fine. Real people use search engines to discover addresses, not guesswork, and the whole dot-words scam is predicated on non-com addresses, once found, being perceived as perfectly OK.

The only flaw in this argument that I can see would be if some legal insanity (regarding disputed names) made it difficult to hold onto the dot-ru without also registering the corresponding dot-com. The dot-com registry would then morph into an inaccurate copy of all other registries, which would themselves be unable to register names that had been registered by another other registry, and the $7.85 would be a tax on being on the internet.

But that would require truly superhuman levels of legal insanity. We're not there yet, are we?

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Facebook crushes Belgian attempt to ban tracking of non-users

Ken Hagan
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I think "serve" probably comes to English either directly from Latin or through French. Online dictionaries mention "servo" as a Latin root and Modern French has "servir". Both are obvious cognates.

The same online sources suggest that "browse" is Germanic (the roots apparently something like "brout" and our "sprout" may have come the same way). With this being a linguistic discussion, Germanic may actually mean Scandanavian once you start to consider the route by which it passed into English.

Bootnote: the Normans were Vikings, so one could mischievously claim that pretty much all of English came into the language via Scandanavians. :)

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You know how that data breach happened? Three words: eBay, hard drives

Ken Hagan
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Re: 10% ?

My initial reaction was that if the figure was 10% then "FORMAT C: must have been counted as a secure data erasure method.

On the other hand, perhaps the only people who think it is worth trying to sell old (and therefore slow, small and knackered) hard drives on eBay are bean-counters and *they* actually do have access to people with the necessary skills. Perhaps 10% is really true.

Edit: And if bean-counters are the only people selling then (for the same reasons) perhaps data thieves (and researchers) are the only people buying them.

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Gartner: Brexit to wipe $4.6bn off tech spending in Blighty

Ken Hagan
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Re: In truth they haven't a clue ...

I can't remember any they've ever got right, but I expect that's selective reporting. I'm *assuming* that the ones we read about here are wild and wacky ones they issue to keep their profile up (a case of "there's no such thing as bad publicity"), and that the more boring reports that make their money (and which are only released to the people who paid for them) are sane.

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Intel's Knights Landing lands

Ken Hagan
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Re: Threading model is the biggest difference

Upvoted for managing to stay on-topic despite the splendid trolling.

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Non-US encryption is 'theoretical,' claims CIA chief in backdoor debate

Ken Hagan
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Re: Hardware

"Both Intel and AMD current x86 chipsets are backdoored"

Let's assume that is true. Does it matter? If the chips continue to give the right answers to numerical problems, they can still be used to break your encryption, and they can still be used offline to encrypt stuff without you ever knowing. (Yes, you don't *have* to be connected to the internet to perform arithmetic.) IOW, that back-door opens out onto a brick wall built by your enemy.

Back-dooring a chip to the extent that it gives all the right answers *except* when fed problems that you don't want your enemies solving sounds like it will take more transistors than Intel have ever manufactured -- and I don't mean on a single die.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: What's an encryption product (in this context)?

I was thinking a bit more tinfoil than that. I was wondering to myself if a sufficiently clever intelligence organisation couldn't sneak in a bug in a FOSS offering that would weaken the product in ways that only they were aware of, for however long it took before others spotted it. No, it's not a back-door, but it might be worth the effort anyway.

Note also that it wouldn't have to be in an obviously sensitive place. It might suffice to fiddle with the memory allocator (which may not seem like it is even part of the product) or make a trivial patch to remove a compiler warning.

But although this will probably be upvoted by the paranoid wing of El Reg's readership, I must say it seems a bit unlikely to me.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: What's all this then?

@RIBrsiq: But Occam's Razor applies and on any matter requiring understanding of law, economics, science or technology, the politician is out of their depth and probably motivated far more by what they want to be true than by any advice they might have had from experts.

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Ken Hagan
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What's an encryption product (in this context)?

Because I'm pretty sure that things like OpenSSH would be Hard for the US to stick a back-door into. (Not impossible, looking at recent history of subtle bugs, but certainly Hard.) IOW, the man is clearly an idiot who thinks the people he is trying to talk to are also idiots. (If I were one of the people he was talking to, I might take umbrage at that.)

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Friends with benefits: A taxing problem for Ireland in a post-Brexit world

Ken Hagan
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Re: Amsterdam...

"I can hear Nigel Farage now "We'll build a wall and make the Scots pay for it""

Why would it just be the Scots paying for a wall round the Home Counties? I'm sure the rest of England and Wales would want to chip in.

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Ken Hagan
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"no one can provide a good reason to stay in the eu. Just lots of FUD about leaving."

You don't need to believe that option A is good, just that it is better than option not-A. It's like running away from a crocodile.

Quite a few people have said to me that they'd like an option C of "an EU not run by clueless twats". These people tend to have a fairly dim view of Westminster as well. Perhaps we all do, and simply disagree about whether A or B is more likely to get to C in the end.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: parliamentary sovereignty

"Yup, that's long puzzled me too."

Here's the explanation. The Leavers actually believe in democracy, not parliamentary tyranny sovereignty, and so a referendum result clearly overrules any vote in parliament.

Leaving may be the wrong choice, but it is internally consistent.

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E-books the same as printed ones, says top Euro court egghead

Ken Hagan
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Re: Not translaed into English

"the UK does not own the English language."

But ... but ... but ... we nicked it fair and square from a whole shed-load of other people.

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Boffins decipher manual for 2,000-year-old Ancient Greek computer

Ken Hagan
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Re: Does it start with

"However I'm still at a loss to discover why he was called 'Top Thinker' from birth!"

He invented a time machine, came back once to change his own name, and came back a second time as a Roman soldier to dispose of the evidence.

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Admins in outcry as Microsoft fix borks Group Policy

Ken Hagan
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Re: Testing?

"Their argument is that the latter introduces too many unknowns."

Is it? Surely the killer argument is the combinatorial explosion. Win7 had hundreds of patches over its lifetime (perhaps over a thousand, I don't know). Factorial 1000 is a *very* big number, implying a prohibitively extensive/expensive testing program.

As the other guy said, eventually you have to start relying on structure within your software to isolate things that *shouldn't* depend on one another, so that you can cut corners in your test cases.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Testing?

It's probably safe to assume that it was tested and didn't show up because of some obscure difference between these customers and the MS test setup.

Testing is hard.

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Microsoft releases open source bug-bomb in the rambling house of C

Ken Hagan
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Re: ASN.1 and PADS

The experience with parser generators in the 60s/70s was that languages that were originally designed in the "hand-crafted era" were a real bitch to write a grammar for and the real power and convenience of these tools was only seen with languages where the convenience of the grammar was influential in the language design. I imagine you'd see something similar with PADS, so you'll find that most of your existing protocols are a nightmare to specify.

But interesting, nonetheless. In the long run, these more declarative approaches to programming are usually far less buggy, far easier to write in the first place, and amenable to formal analysis in the long run. (I wonder how many of the security holes found in SSH over the years could actually have been found by an automated tool if you could have described the protocol to it.)

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Ken Hagan
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Re: C is not an applications programming language

"As a sidenote, I'm wondering of a lot of the Windows/IE issues stem from this. "

Unlikely, since Windows and IE are almost certainly written in C++ and whilst you /can/ write push old-school C code through a C++ compiler (*), you don't have to because bounds-checked and non-leaky alternatives exist.

(* Bootnote: MSVC is a C++ compiler and, much to the annoyance of C fans, MS don't actually *do* a C compiler, so it is slightly odd that MS Research are issuing tools aimed at C code.)

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Linux devs open up universal Ubuntu Snap packages to other distros

Ken Hagan
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Re: It's a stupid idea

"Anybody running "apps" from untrusted sources probably deserve whatever mess they end up in."

Yes ... but no. Snap makes it more likely that the app will work, so it lets the (clearly naive) user get further into trouble before the symptoms start showing.

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The Microsoft-LinkedIn hookup will be the END of DAYS, I tell you

Ken Hagan
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Re: Just closed

I'm sure they will reckon that the list of people who closed their accounts after the take-over was announced is a particularly interesting dataset.

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Microsoft buys LinkedIn for the price of 36 Instagrams

Ken Hagan
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Re: How much !!!

"I can't even remember how many times I created throw away accounts because I wanted to look at someone."

Conversely, there are certainly people out there whose "links" have been accumulated purely because their real job is the sort of public-facing activity where it is helpful to have a significant presence in social media. It's not *used* for anything. It's just something that people in certain professions need (apparently) to have these days.

Like all social media, the data in LinkedIn is worth what the people who contributed it have spent gathering it.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Money burning a hole in your pocket Sat Nad?

Well, to be fair the article did mention that ... "Microsoft’s investments haven’t always paid off."

Actually, can anyone here think of one that did? I'm struggling to think of anything that MS have ever bought that wasn't just money down the drain. I'm sure that there were some products that they bought and re-badged which have earned nicely in the years since. (I think SQL Server was originally bought in and I think it makes money for MS these days, so I'll allow something like that.) However, these are all surely ancient history by now and several orders of magnitude smaller than the cash-spunks we've seen since billg stepped down (and MS lost its way).

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NHS e-prescription service goes TITSUP: Problems since Monday

Ken Hagan
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Re: Patient? What patient?

That might be partly because it is almost infinitely easier to get the opinions of the clinical staff than it is to get the opinions of patients. I'd also take issue with the 9/10ths estimate, since (echoing a previous comment) there does also appear to be a significant problem with "assuming that all will go well, all the time".

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FFS, Twitter. It's not that hard

Ken Hagan
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Re: The B Ark isn't going to be big enough ...

The B Ark doesn't have to get off the ground. It can be as big as you like and Oooo! What's this? A vast entrance hall with a blue ceiling! Awesome, darlings!

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Brexit threatens Cornish pasty's racial purity

Ken Hagan
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Re: Trademarks?

"Trademarks are for large companies not regional dishes."

I think the FairTrade mark demonstrates that you can use trademarks to protect pretty much anything you want, just as (obligatory IT reference here) the GPL manages to use copyright law to protect a lack of protectionism.

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