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* Posts by Richard Cranium

93 posts • joined 8 Sep 2011

Page:

Milking cow shot dead by police 'while trying to escape'

Richard Cranium

Time to cut police budgets...

Hourly cost of manpower & 15+ police vehicles plus a 'copter?

On the other hand I read that one escapee cow jumped over the moon, they'll need a bigger budget to tackle that one.

Other responses seem split - broadly speaking those with agricultural experience think the cops were grossly over-reacting while the townies seem happy with a bigger show of force than for a mad-axeman on the loose. I'm guessing it was a nice sunny day, the cops were getting bored sat at their desks or, heaven forbid, dealing with crime and fancied an excuse to get out and wave their guns around.

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Lib Dem manifesto: Spook slapdown, ban on teen-repelling Mosquitos

Richard Cranium

coalition is what people want

How many times do you hear vox pop complaining that politicians should stop shouting at each other and work together to fix the problems.

Of course LibDems with 50(ish) seats with tory on 300(ish) didn't mean Torys would decide to follow LibDems manifesto but LibDems have exerted influence - placed a bit of constraint the loony right of torys - to the extent that some of them buggered off to UKIP.

Lib-Lab pact would have still been short of a majority. The coalition was truly representative with around 60% of votes, when did we last see a government with that kind of representation?

I'm old. I remember that Labour spells in office invariably end in economic near collapse. They can be guaranteed to max out the nations credit card. Think what better ways there are of spending the £50bn(ish) a year we're currently paying as interest on the national debt.

Labour's promised end to boom-bust was an acknowledgement of that dismal record ...and then they delivered boom-bust yet again. Milliband says that's because of the unexpected global recession and the banking crisis - but all "busts" are unexpected, the solution is not to hope the unexpected won't arise but to have some cash down the back of the sofa as a contingency against unexpected problems. In any case global recessions are a fact of life - we don't know when it'll happen again but we can state with certainty that it will.

We need Government finances to be subject to the kind of "stress testing" the banks are now subjected to.

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Bradley Horowitz on ailing Google+: Islands in the stream, that is what we are ...

Richard Cranium

A friend who works in broadcast media says of all the social media comments they receive in response to their programming, those using G+ are the most likely to provide intelligent and considered feedback.

Sure there's scope for improvement but G+ has been described as "facebook for grown-ups" and facebook as "where you go to spy on your kids".

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Pass the Lollipop: Google creepily warms to body contact with Android lock function

Richard Cranium

but surely part of the purpose of locking is to stop the phone "doing its own thing" in your pocket - used to be just random dialling but on modern phones there's rather more scope. This may explain why my Android 5 unexpectedly emitted a burst of unfamiliar music from my pocket last week.

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Google cuts Microsoft and pals some slack in zero-day vuln crusade – an extra 14 days tops

Richard Cranium

missing the point...

...arguing about how long is reasonable. My issue is: just who appointed Google as the global security patch police force?

We could end up with a tit for tat battle, Microsoft might find a problem with some Android code and declare that they consider it so serious that in their opinion 30 days should be long enough for Google to fix it so release exploit code on day 31.

Arbitrary timescales are no benefit to anyone - if a serious zero-day exploit crops up, Google's 90 days is inappropriate but by all means publish exploits for the "2038 Unix Millennium Bug" or the Y10K bug and if anyone has failed to patch over the next 23 years subject them to as much criticism as you like - but don't chastise them for not doing it within 90 days.

IMHO publishing details of a potential exploit before a patch has been released is irresponsible (I'll make an exception for the Unix Millennium Bug!). I'd like to think that any organisation which then suffered a successful attack using an exploit prematurely publicised would have a legal case for liability against the leaker upheld.

How long is reasonable to fix a problem depends on the problem. Some are trivial to fix others may have repercussions elsewhere in the codebase and need extensive effort and regression testing.

Some issues will be easy and damaging to exploit others are so obscure that the real world risk, even if details of the exploit are published, that the bad guys won't find it worth their while to utilise.

We've all seen bug fixes that result in an unforeseen side effect. We've seen fixes reverted. Many adopt a policy of not implementing (non-critical) patches immediately preferring to wait for others to deliver feedback on effectiveness. We may choose to hold-off Windows 10 but await Windows 10.1.

I don't want developers pulled off a serious problem to focus on an obscure exploit that a competitor has chosen to publicise because they've known about it for nearly 90 days.

By all means pressure developers who appear to be dragging their feet on patches but there are safer ways. How about publishing a simple graphical representation of known bugs by age, perceived severity and company without identifying the actual exploits. And how about that being done by someone without their own agenda of covering their own shortcomings while trumpeting those of their competitors.

This shouldn't be about corporates point scoring over each other, it should be about keeping your and my computing environment safe.

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First look: Ordnance Survey lifts kimono on next-gen map app

Richard Cranium

Re: For what it's worth, my hiking map solution:

Agreed - *done properly* lamination should be watertight. Still costs more than a sheet of A4 (also, not tried print on Toughprint waterproof "paper", about 70p/page - any views?).

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Richard Cranium

For what it's worth, my hiking map solution:

I use Mapyx (OS 1:25k sometimes discount whole of UK to £120) on PC. Software is a bit quirky but my end result is better than Memory Map (who screwed me once too often).

I print out the walk area & route on laser printer (ink doesn't run if it gets damp), carry in a loose-leaf plastic folder-page so I have my route on one or two sheets of A4 folded in a back pocket, very light/compact. I often print a blown up image so it's easier to see detail & read the small print.

Lamination is relatively expensive, can still suffer water penetration, doesn't fold well. May be OK if you repeat the same routes a lot but I don't.

As back up I have the route on a basic GPS (no mapping) and I turn on track recording so if I vary the route I have a record.

The main value of the GPS is getting a grid reference. It has advantages over mobile phone: waterproof, 18 hour AA battery life, better satellite reception, attached with a lanyard, more robust.

I carry, but almost never use, the relevant OS 1:50k full sheet of the area - that's like carrying a basic first aid kit: hope never to need it but stupid not to have one. Similarly, always carry a compass.

For planning purposes Google maps satellite view can reveal paths (especially on open access land) not shown on OS or clarify some tricky navigation areas (e.g. around farm buildings, where field walls have been removed). Street view can be useful when planning a route which might involve a stretch of public road, possibly to preview where the footpath leaves the road and to check how safe the road might be for hikers (busy, no verge and tight bends - best avoided). Also if you need to go through a housing estate, satellite and/or street view can help pin-point features like alleyways between houses.

I tried mobile phone for rural route finding. Dismal battery life (GPS and the phone continually searching for rural network connection seem to gobble power), need to pre-load walk area (as likely no signal), in grim weather had to keep it inside my clothing and it got condensation inside the screen.

How fortunate we are in UK to have such high quality rural mapping.

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ICANN CEO criticizes domain 'hoggers'

Richard Cranium

There is a solution

More TLDs does nothing useful. What do you think would happen if you registered microsoft.archi (as an example new gTLD, available now for USD119...) Would their lawyer keep quiet and say "fair enough, my bad for not getting in first"?

In any case what's the recognition factor? If Google returned two search results: microsoft.com and microsoft.archi which would you choose to click?

There is a problem with domain name squatters and I have a solution. At present we pay an annual fee for use of a domain. I'm not altogether sure what happens to that fee, the amount of work involved for the registrar is small. Compare .co.uk fees with .com - why is .com about 3 times the price for doing essentially the same task?

Anyway: how to solve the problem. Do away with the annual fee. In order to "own" a domain the registrant should make a loan to the registrar of a substantial sum, lets say USD1000. There is no need for any annual billing process so the cost of providing the service is lower and would come from interest on that $1000 deposit. The registrant can choose to relinquish the domain at any time and will get his $1000 back.

How many squatters would wish to lock up a million dollars in their "investment" of 1000 domains? Some no doubt, but surely even they would cast a critical eye over their holdings and weed out the less attractive names, freeing them up for others to use.

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DAMN YOU! Microsoft blasts Google over zero-day blabgasm

Richard Cranium

Google were grossly irresponsible but...

I find myself in the most unusual position of condemning Google and praising Microsoft! Ouch!

Google know MS release schedule, MS know Googles 90 day bug fix deadline and had asked for a couple of days extension to fit with that schedule. Who benefits from Google disregarding that request? Google (score points against MS) and the hackers (get a couple of days to break my system). Who benefits from a couple of days delay? You, me and every other Windows user less at risk.

Yes, MS could patch more frequently but that is disruptive to users, monthly is normally fine. And I often put my PC into sleep mode rather than shut down overnight just doing a full shut-down 2 or 3 times a week on main PC, less frequent on always-on but less used Laptop. I know about Patch Tuesday and take care to shut down then as the patches only get installed at shut-down and reboot.

I would expect MS to do an out-of-band update if a vulnerability is being actively exploited - and they do. That's the responsible approach and I commend them for it. Suppose they decided to bring Patch Tuesday forward a couple of days in the face of Googles intransigence? (BTW did Google just go ahead or tell MS first?) - I'd probably not reboot 'till Patch Tuesday anyway so I'd have been vulnerable

But: should MS go public with their complaint about Google before the patch has gone out? Surely that just advertises the bug more widely in case any hacker missed Google's announcement. I guess there may be an argument that if Joe public knows there's an un-patched vulnerability he can do something to protect himself - good luck with that...

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Upchuck nation: Half a million CHUMPS now own Google Cardboard VR gear

Richard Cranium

No. I made a choice. A UK computer mag published a DIY kit: buy lenses from one place, magnets from another, velcro, (and maybe buy and program an NFC tag but commonly sold in packs of 10) source suitable cardboard, and cut it all out and assemble. I started to investigate, download the PDF plan, etc then tripped over the option of "send $20 and get the full kit of parts" probably saving a couple of hours faffing about and postage from 2 or 3 different suppliers. But if you object to paying $20 go for the DIY option (BTW, don't bother with the NFC tag). It's your choice.

And for anyone who's not tried it - well everyone I've shown it to has been blown away - to the extent that a couple of them have decided it's time to upgrade their mobile phone to one that works with google cardboard.

Sure there's limited content just now and some of it is a bit quirky but as a technology demo its a success. More content has already arrived and I'm sure there'll be plenty more on the way.

The cardboard implementation is intended to be cheap and simple. Users will be looking for a more robust and versatile upgrade, will gladly pay more and those are coming along too.

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Plusnet customers SWAMPED by spam but BT-owned ISP dismisses data breach claims

Richard Cranium

Re: Multiple addresses are a doddle

Not entirely without merit but a word of caution: I once had a catchall address until the day I came back from lunch to find my mailbox had maxed out (32K emails) because a spammer had come up with the idea of sending to thousands of guessed names (fred, john, julie, mohammed, jacob, sales, enquiries@ etc) to the domain in the expectation that some would reach a real person.

Currently I maintain a secondary email account for unimportant contacts (forums, retailers etc) and use that with the [email protected] syntax someone mentioned. If one contact gets too spammy I can set a filter to bin their stuff. If things were to get really bad I could drop that entire account completely with no tears.

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Google's Chrome to pull plug on plugins next September

Richard Cranium

Re: Wow, I'm way out of touch...

@as2003: (*Netflix was the only one that sprang to mind, but apparently they ditched it earlier this year)

I signed up to Netflix free trial a couple of days ago. It promptly requested that I install Silverlight.

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Why can't a mobile be more like a cordless kettle?

Richard Cranium

Wife has a Doro phone with a drop-in charging dock which seems even easier to use than my Nexus5 with Qi plate (because with a cover on the phone, correct positioning on the plate needs a bit of care)

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EU Ryanair 'screen-scraping' case could affect biz models

Richard Cranium

What use is listing Ryanair on comparison sites? Book for Paris expecting to arrive at CDG? or maybe Orly or Le Bourget? No, Welcome to "Paris" Beauvais.

Then if Ryan lists a price of £1 so you go for it then find that if you don't use all the complicated techniques to avoid extra charges you end up paying as much as for a better carrier but as you are then subsidising the successful freeloaders the overall experience is garbage.

Even if the price comparison site I use listed Ryan I'd disregard their offerings.

Having said that, my first flight to "Paris" about 50 years ago would have made Ryan look like a luxury. Coach from London to tin shack terminal at (not sure Lydd, or Lympne) very short flight, just over the channel to a similar one man and a dog airfield and coach to Paris. (Don't tell O'Leary, we don't want to give him ideas.)

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Online tat bazaar eBay collapses in UK

Richard Cranium

Not exactly world shattering news. Below I list all the household name organisations that have never experienced an internet service outage:

.

.

.

That's it

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Mozilla promises browser just for DEVELOPERS3

Richard Cranium

When I investigate the cause of my rather too frequent FF crashes the problem seems to comes down to the add-on developer tools I use. The vast majority of users don't need them so it makes sense to provide a developer-centric FF and stop even trying to support the developer tools in standard FF.

Sounds like that could mean both consumer and developer versions of FF could end up more stable, smaller, faster than the current chimera.

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Swedish 'Future minister' doesn't do social media

Richard Cranium

Good call, minister

Like myself it seems the minister has in the past taken a look at T and F as evidenced by the existence of old and barely used accounts and had made the right decision, just as I did with Myspace, Geocities and other failed platforms. And why just mention T&F what about the hundreds of others some of which may indeed turn out to have a future? Is the minister in fact an avid user of LinkedIn, G+, runs a blog or prefers some other communication channel?

The problem here is those T&F users too lazy to grasp the concept that there may be other valid communications channels. If the minister caves in to them THEN Persson loses my respect. (And I suspect that like many other celeb/politicos the T&F accounts will be serviced by assistants anyway).

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UK.gov pushes for SWIFT ACTION against nuisance calls, threatens £500k fines

Richard Cranium

Re: The problem with blocking international and number-withheld calls

"Block international and number withheld" - no use with a widely scattered and travelling family and friends. Some temporary phone card services to allow travellers to make inexpensive calls home show up as number witheld. My solution is as soon as I hear an Indian accent the phone goes down. That gets rid of most of the scams but one does need a Bank that hasn't off-shored their call centre! It does pose a bit of a quandry for the Indian government, doubtless keen to get all that call centre employment but at the cost of the reputational damage of "indian accent = scammer".

The UKs TPS is run for the benefit of the marketing sector and our legislators are also beholden to them. Can't find the reference but within the last year one was was quoted with words to the effect that "telesales perform a valuable service of bringing opportunities to the notice of a wider audience". I believe it was in relation to those who use "government grant incentives" to hook mug punters to sign up for an overpriced scheme. For example there is grant aid for fitting a replacement energy efficient gas boiler. Our best known national Gas company used this hook to quote me nearly 3 times the price charged by a local contractor.

TPS intentionally makes it difficult to file a report and until very recently had NEVER imposed any penalties. I made an FOI enquiry a few years back, the response (paraphrased) was "Persistent offenders are sent a warning to stop".

Legislation needs to be targeted at the telcos, if they were subject to a penalty for every complained-of call to their subscriber's line and a 1471 style reporting system was put in place I suspect they'd find a solution.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s

Richard Cranium

Re: @ Tim 69

Choice is one aspect, free is another but my experience when visiting the USA was being overwhelmed by adverts. The problem has a subtle effect on UK originated programming too. Even those BBC programs which have an aim of selling to US appear to make provision for the insertion of ads and ad-breaks with padding at start and end (often used here to trail other BBC progs) and strange continuity artefacts which I assume to be potential advert break insertion points.

There are multiple aspects to the current state of TV. Yes the interface has got complicated, I have 3 remotes (TV, Cable and DVD - plus tablet/phone to operate Chromecast) but as I'm the only one in the household who knows which ones to use and how that does have the advantage that I get to choose what we watch!

More of a concern to me is the quality of the content. When we only had 4 channels, the fight for airtime was such that garbage programs rarely made it through. A science program would get 30 minutes, often not enough to really do the subject justice. Now the same program would be allowed an hour but on the same or smaller budget so the same (or less) content is padded out to an hour, no "added value" is derived from the extra time available. And that's just the quality programming. The price pressure means there's an awful lot of low budget, low aspiration, garbage programming like reality shows, chat shows which are primarily just a self-promotion opportunity for those with a book, a movie, or a music performance to advertise.

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Hacker crew nicks '1.2 billion passwords' – but WHERE did they all come from?

Richard Cranium

Re: Practical action?

The problem for mail filters is that it can be very difficult to distinguish spam from "good". Indeed we, as individual recipients, aren't good at it. For example I had a double opt-in * bulk newsletter mailing list of a few hundred and despite following all best practise I'd still find one or two recipients labelling it as spam rather than use the unsubscribe link in the email # or on the web site.

* double opt in is where after requesting to be added to the list a "please confirm" message is sent to that email address, if the recipient doesn't acknowledge they they'll not be added to the mailing list

# some advice is NOT to unsubscribe by clicking a link in the email because if it was spam you've just confirmed to the spammer that the address is live and actively used.

The fix for form-spam is in the hands of the guys whose form it is. They need to use good validation of the input - a form validator I've used in the past with some success is from tectite.com

I have met people who assure me their ISP has really good spam filters, they never get any junk. That's worrying. Spam filtering is not an exact science, zero junk implies a high probablility of false positives. There is a risk of some "good" email being wrongly flagged as spam for reasons like inclusion of a trigger word like the name of a medication gentlemen may find beneficial in connection with their relationships with ladies. It's 99.999% certain indicator of spam but there remain 0.001% of legitimate use in emails, perhaps a correspondence between an individual and a medical professional.

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Richard Cranium

@ Pascal Monett:

"I'm guessing that, in a majority of those 400k+ cases, the website is for a small company..."

True but a small minority of 400k is still a lot and the article says "... included Fortune 500 organizations..." and there are only about 50,000 stock exchange listed companies globally so the 400k could (hypothetically) include all of them.

Maybe the biggest risk is from things like the vast number of insecure blogs that people sign up to in order to comment. The blog owner won't have a clue about SQL injection but in any case may take the view that for just posting comments to his blog security isn't a big concern. It's common practise to use a common login (email) & password for those and that could be used to aggregate everything an individual had posted anywhere and build a useful identity theft profile for example. And some users will have used the same login credentials for more significant sites/services...

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MYSTERIOUS Siberia CRATER: ALIENS or METEOR not involved, officials insist

Richard Cranium

Some uneducated reasoning...

The ejected waste we can see looks far less than the volume of the hole.

The distribution of the waste doesn't look much like that left over from an explosion, it's all very close to the hole. So try this for a hypothesis:

Forget about explosions, a relatively slow acting underground force has forced a body of ice to move upwards pushing aside the topsoil. Once exposed to warmer temperature the ice has melted leaving the lake at the bottom (and doubtless some water escaped hence the loss of volume). The "missing" material from the hole is just ice.

Perhaps it was historically a lake, not unlike some of those others in the area but froze and became covered in topsoil but recently something has caused the ice of that frozen lake to move upward.

Either that or when the aliens landed they needed a source of water so they dug a well.

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Remember when Google+ outed everyone by their real names? Now Google's sorry

Richard Cranium

I like G+

Unlike facebook and linked in I have a reasonable degree of control over who sees what and I don't get loads of emails suggesting I link with the distant aquaintance of someone I linked to ages ago and can't remember why but am now able to view their drunken photos.

My facebook and linked in profiles are as locked down as possible and state that I am not active there and prefer other channels of communication.

I welcome quality control, I welcome the attempt to make people stand behind their online rantings by providing identity information. I use all kinds of pseudonyms on various forums etc or choose to post anonymously in some situations. In some situations that is useful, perhaps allowing me to be a little more frank about my employer than might be wise were my real name attached. There are plenty of places on the internet where I can do that, what's wrong with having one we can choose to use and where we must behave like grown-ups?

An editor I know said they gather loads of feedback via social networks, most of it is garbage, the exception is G+. It will be a pity if it does end up as just another stinking pile of dross.

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YES: Scotland declares independence ... from the dot co dot uk empire

Richard Cranium

What does it cost ...

to set up a gTLD and then what are the running costs? There's a USD185,000 application fee but I saw an estimate of total year one cost being USD1M. If that's right, who's footing the bill?

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France frostily foists flat fizz fear on ICANN's .wine plans

Richard Cranium

I just don't get why anyone would want a gTLD. For example why would UK supermarket Tesco buy tesco.shop? It's a well known name, everyone knows it's a shop tesco.co.uk at least tells people it's a UK shop (they do have shops elsewhere with relevant country TLDs). co.uk means its (very probably) a UK company, that implies governed by UK law, prices in GBP, local shipping (no high international shipping costs or complications with taxes and customs duty). Were I to buy the tesco.shop domain (hypothetically, I expect Tesco will have got there first) I'd expect to hear from their lawyers soon after. I had a domain name which included the word technik, Panasonic's lawyers wrote to me claiming that the similarity with their brand name techniks would be an issue potentially causing confusion and diluting their brand.

As far as I can see the only beneficiaries of gTLDs are domain name registrars and scammers (same thing?)

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Fed-up bloke takes email spammers to court – and WINS PILE of CASH

Richard Cranium

Why does the DMA even exist

The suckers who do business with these companies are ultimately paying for the junk email/telesales/post and encouraging the bastards to do more.

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100% driverless Wonka-wagon toy cars? Oh Google, you're having a laugh

Richard Cranium

Weather conditions

As I understand it part of the technology is "white line detecting cameras". If that is the case how do they cope with snow, of for that matter bright sunshine reflecting off a wet road? (and of course: http://www.crankycreative.com/sandbox/blog/bid/20272/Canadian-Speed-Control-Illusions-Using-Repositionable-Graphics)

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Still using e-mail? Marketers say you're part of DARK SOCIAL

Richard Cranium

Re: Telephone Tracking

Googling for: "Your website is currently under construction, please check back later." (WITH the quotes) leaves no doubt in my mind.

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Feature-phones aren't dead, Moto – oldsters still need them

Richard Cranium

Re: Discovering texting at 92

Absolutely right. Got the same for technology challenged wife except her model does have a camera. Docking charger is great too, much better than faffing around with tiny plugs. Hangs on a neck cord. My only problem was trying to conceal the fact it's intended as a "granny phone" big text, loud, easy to read tactile buttons. The SOS button is a bit of a giveaway but I got away with it.

There is a good reason why many of the old simple Nokia phone models sold over 100 million, far more than any iPhone or Android. I have an antique nokia as a spare but the battery has died - in its youth it could last up to 3 weeks between charges, I bet if someone made a truly minimal phone with current technology they could get even longer battery life - or use an even smaller battery (mine is 700mAh my Android phone battery is 3 times the capacity, allegedly lasts 12 days on standby but in use, because of the wider range of power consuming hardware and software components, maybe a day.)

There's a place for a £10 phone, it's not the same place as the £500 phone but if you just need phone calls and SMS, save yourself £490!

There's a parallell with the Swiss Army knife, do you need the one with every imaginable "blade" http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wenger-Giant-Swiss-Army-Knife/dp/B000R0JDSI 1.4kg GBP880 or will this do http://www.amazon.co.uk/Victorinox-0871000-Army-Knife-4-25in/dp/B0001P15C6

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Richard Cranium

Chopin's Funeral March perhaps?

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You'll hate Google's experimental Chrome UI, but so will phishers

Richard Cranium

Re: @PaulR79 "Never click links for banks etc in emails"

You are right but in effect the (some?) banks do this when they phone you.

My bank has called a couple of times to check "suspicious activity" on my account (usually it's legitimate activity but outside my normal spending pattern). First thing they do is ask a question to confirm they are speaking to the right person - a scammer could use that approach to harvest details from you. In reality it is I who should be asking a question to confirm who they are, and that's what I do. Even then their standard answer is problematic: "call back using the number on the back of your credit/debit card and quote reference..." If it is a scammer they don't put the phone down so you "redial" but the line hasn't dropped and you are still connected to the original caller. If you are alert you can check, if you've not got a dialling tone the line is still open.

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Richard Cranium

Re: Anti-phishing could be done in other ways

@TestMan

Well I'd not noticed 'till today, both FF and Chrome show the domain in solid black and grey the rest. (Apparently other browsers are available for the less tech savvy who would benefit most so I checked MSIE10 YES! and Safari (Windows vsn) NO!)

Now surely someone can find a tweak buried somewhere in FF/Chrome to make domain bold red.

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BT snatches crown: Soars to top of complaints list

Richard Cranium

Re: @ Fiddler Crap Service is the Norm

Some businesses have realised that a small % of customers demand a disproportionately large amount of support effort. One of the most cost effective ways to reduce the cost of your support operation is to give those awkward customers the worst possible experience so they defect to your competitor - a double success, you save costs while at the same time increasing your competitor's costs.

As customers we bring this upon ourselves to some extent. We seek out the cheapest service then expect the highest standards. As ISPs go I believe Zen Internet is highly regarded for taking ownership of support problems and getting them fixed - but they're also towards the higher end of the price range.

And, as a customer, the best solution is invariably NOT to go for the biggest or the "household name" provider. To a small provider every customer matters, they are less likely to offshore their helpdesk, less likely to put support calls into an interminable mess of phone menus and call queues, less likely to rely on script following minimum wage help-desk staff.

Phone menus and call queues mean they value their own time more than yours. Compare your hourly rate with that of a minimum wage offshore call centre worker: they're saving pennies and costing you pounds. When you're choosing a supplier and you get put into a call queue for pre-sales enquiries what does that tell you? If pre-sales was OK then try routing your next pre-sales call to their help desk instead - less well resourced? What does that tell you?

In my business we have neither phone menus nor call queues. If the line is busy you get answerphone. When a customer leaves a message we call them back, usually within minutes and to the evident surprise of new customers, more used to answerphones being used as a black hole. I have customers who can be a serious PITA, in reality some of them understand that and the time we spend helping them is not wasted. We rely heavily on recommendations/referrals from existing customers for new customers. If a customer leaves for a cheaper provider they come back when they let them down.

It's widely acknowleged that First Direct have got this right - so why is that tried and tested way of getting the reputation of "best phone support" not widely replicated?

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Dell charges £16 TO INSTALL FIREFOX on PCs – Mozilla is miffed

Richard Cranium

A while back I ordered a Dell and ticked the "no crapware" box (they described it differently).

The result was that "crapware removal" made the machine "a custom build" and while they could hardly charge me for the service they punished me with a 2 week delivery delay whereas "standard build" complete with crap could be shipped for next day delivery.

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'No, I CAN'T write code myself,' admits woman in charge of teaching our kids to code

Richard Cranium

Don't teach, inspire.

It seems like a weekly event for a politician or self proclaimed "expert" to propose we solve a problem by adding it to the school curriculum.

My proposal, is that in order to fulfil all those aspirations, we expand the school week to 168 hours.

That may hit the odd stumbling block so let's take another look at the situation.

None of us can be an expert at everything. The interviewee naively suggested that if she knew a bit about programming she could save money by creating her own web site - that's exactly why there are so many rubbish websites out there. The good ones are created by a team each member of which will be an expert in their own aspect of web design, css, javascript, jquery, PHP, graphics design, copywriting, SEO, legal issues and much much more...

Better to explain to that there are experts, use them and choose your own field in which to become an expert (and perhaps command a good salary). I could do that appendectomy for you, I've got a sharp knife, needle and thread, I know roughly where to cut and what I'm looking for (dissected a rat at school, anatomically quite similar) - no takers? You'd prefer a trained experienced surgeon? Yes but in the USA the cost ranges from USD1500 to USD180000, I'll only charge USD100. You still aren't convinced are you?

Many experts started out on their subject as the result of some kind of inspirational moment, event, person, teacher. We need to expose kids to the widest range of stimuli with the aim of inspiring some. Ben Garrod was interviewed on the radio today. When he was a kid an art teacher gave him a sheep's skull to draw. He was so overwhelmed with its beauty, complexity, function that he didn't draw it but spent the time examining it. That set him on a course to become an expert in bones and skeletons. Don't miss his TV series starting on BBC4 8:30pm Tue 18 Feb.

The world doesn't need many bone experts. We do need plenty of computer experts but how many? I have no idea but let's say 1%? So we bore the other 99% with enforced lessons on something they'll never need? We'll not get those future experts by school lessons taught by a teacher who's read a book, had a one day course but has no real life IT experience or skill and scant understanding. We could get them by exposing them to inspirational expert practitioners who give them a whiff of the possibilities - that will stimulate those with an interest and aptitude to quickly streak way ahead of what any school teacher could ever hope to achieve - just as happenned with the Sinclair and BBC computers in the early 1980s.

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Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it's serious

Richard Cranium

Re: About time

Nostalgia corner: Yes I evaluated CP/M & MS-DOS on the Victor 9000 (ACT Sirius in UK market) and my employer (one of UKs biggest businesses) bought dozens (for, in todays money, over £4k each ). They stood up very well in comparison with the IBM PC but that was only available in USA at the time anyway. If I recall they used 2x5.25inch floppy disk drives 128K RAM. Later some lucky power users got an external hard-disk add-on with a massive 10MB.

Our CP/M vs MS-DOS choice was primarily influenced by the availability of applications, initially we used both but MS-DOS ended up the winner for giving us more/better apps.

Later I got to evaluate the Apple Lisa and decided it was an overpriced novelty (so in 3 decades nothing has changed at Apple!). Not long after that the Mac came out, more affordable but with a tiny built in screen - not much use.

0
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Elderly Bletchley Park volunteer sacked for showing Colossus exhibit to visitors

Richard Cranium

Practical help...

Clearly the objective of Iain Standen is to erode the income of TNMOC to the point at which they cannot afford their £100k annual rent they pay to BP. That would raise the issue of the fate of their prize exhibits - and I'm sure he'd love to get his grubby hands on them...

This is one of the longest threads I've followed on The Register and the vast majority are critical of BPs actions. Sacking Tony and Standen's attitude to that in the BBC interview should be grounds for at least a strong reprimand and a public apology to Tony.

Grumbling on here will achieve nothing - so what can be done?

Lobbying the Bletchley trustees might be a good start.

Get more coverage in the computer press.

Lobbying the known benefactors of the BP trust to exert their influence - and perhaps transfer some of their generosity to TNMOC.

Is there a way to feed back to the Lottery fund that their donation is being misused to the detriment of another deserving cause?

Lobby Gov't for an MBE for Tony

Lobby owners of exhibits on loan to BP to ensure they are aware of the situation with TNMOC and Tony's public dismissal

Do something yourself - become a member of TNMOC £45 p.a. - that's a bit steep for me especially living a few hours drive away (and never been) so not likely to get much personal benefit - but I'm sending them a £10 donation (gift aid eligible).

From what I read about BP and TNMOC (and as an aging computer geek) TNMOC is a greater attraction to me than BP, I really will have to make the effort to visit sometime.

2
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Margaret Hodge, PAC are scaring off new biz: Treasury source

Richard Cranium

Re: "without contributing to its upkeep"

If Starbucks need not pay a fair share of corporation tax on UK generated profits because "they create jiobs" then why should the small business cafe owner pay his share? And of the jobs the multinationals are providing, a large percentage are at or near statutory minimum wage so generate little contribution from tax and NI.

Any business that wants to come here to trade on equal terms with local entrepreneurs is welcome, those who just want to exploit our system and workers is basically asset stripping the UK economy and they can go hang.

1
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Google, Netflix ready next weapon in net neutrality battle: The fury of millions

Richard Cranium

"The tragedy of the commons"

If you're not familiar with the phrase google it.

Why should my moderate internet usage be slowed because some customers make huge demands on the system. If the answer is "the ISP should invest more so they can give an all you can eat service to everyone, including the resource hogs" then I can expect a price hike in order to pay for the hogs excess usage.

I would prefer an ISP that works more like an electricity supplier. A quarterly base charge for service provision (based on bandwidth provided - 20Mbit delivered at the premises charged higher than a line providing 1Mbit) then a cost per gigabyte of actual traffic used this quarter. If I want a continuous stream of cat videos why shouldn't I pay more than the guy who just deals with a couple of emails a day?

0
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Candy Crush King went 'too far' when it candy crushed my app – dev

Richard Cranium

It should not be permissible to claim ownership of a dictionary word or a common phrase. It's just a way for guys with deep pockets to get lawyered up in order to screw individuals and small businesses to remove trivial competitors and block innovation.

I think my proposed "Easy i-Virgin apple leaf candy" product is doomed. (In case anyone misses the references :ownership of the word Easy is claimed by Easy Group easy.com, Virgin by Virgin.com and Apple and the letter "i" in front of anything by some guys who sell overpriced low spec computers dressed up as expensive fashion accessories, they also claim ownership of "leaf" - http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2012/12/10/apple_applies_to_trademark_the_leaf/#c_1656721). If our political classes weren't in the pocket of big business they'd legislate to prevent this theft of our language.

1
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App to manage Android app permissions

Richard Cranium

uninstall...

To be fair: I did find how to uninstall from their website, fairly deep in there but go FAQs>Knowledge base>Why is the uninstall button greyed out?

To be fair (again! I must be in a good mood today!) - we've all read the stories of "I wrote an app one afternoon and now I'm a multi millionaire" but also the far more prevalent stories of folk who've invested months of development time and $$$ in creating and promoting an app only to find that sales are approx zero or that the app store (apple anyone?) takes a dislike to it, or that the idea is good so dozens of "me too" similar apps rapidly emerge to compete for the limited market. So a new entrant may be desperate to recoup his investment and consequently go about things the wrong way. That may be the case here - in respect of policies (not making it sufficiently clear that free is limited version, not making uninstall info easy enough to find), promotion (like not paying due regard to El Reg T&C, positive reviews that are perhaps not from disinterested parties) , pricing and perhaps a naive atitude to permissions "trust me" - although that stance seems distressingly common and users distressingly accepting of it - which is why there's a need for an app like this in the first place...

And so, dear reader, my own unique and mind-blowing app ideas remain unimplemented because the statistics indicate too small a prospect of a positive ROI.

0
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Kerching! Nominet preps for cash AVALANCHE from shorter UK domain names

Richard Cranium

More to it than that. Suppose a Google search returned amazon.co.uk and amazon.com, amazon.scammersdomain.com, amazon.de, which one would you click? Hopefuly not the third but then if you are in the UK you'd choose.co.uk because you anticipate more likely to be governed by UK legislation, in-country shipping will probably be cheaper and faster, prices will be pounds not dollars, no risk of import duties, the site more likely to use English (the .de site is in german)

0
0

Coroner suggests cars should block mobile phones

Richard Cranium

Re: How about...

In UK if police have suspicions they can check the mobile phone company billing records which show when and where a phone was being used. And the phone itself can provide info hence guilty drivers have been known to try to wipe the "last call" info from the phone.

1
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TalkTalk to block nuisance calls with no help AT ALL from Huawei

Richard Cranium

Not all MPs are useless

A LibDem MP seems to be the instigator of this: http://www.no2nuisancecalls.net/news and has set up an All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuisance Calls which has just issued a report - inevitably a bit wordy and includes the likes of BT contributing feeble excuses for doing nothing (no surprise there) and the DMA trying to make out that unsolicited marketing calls provide a valuable service to consumers (my arse they do).

But it is at least good to see Talk Talk and Parliament doing SOMETHING about the problem. Lets hope it's not as utterly useless as the TPS set up in 1999 as a response to consumer pressure. Those registered with TPS now get MORE unwanted calls than unregistered users, the monthly crop of thousands of complaints to TPS are a monumental waste of time, just not worth making the effort, the total number of prosecutions after 14 years of operation is still in single figures.

Don't waste any effort on the clever tricks to waste the callers time, they are earning peanuts, your hourly rate is higher than theres especially the off-shore callers who can be on under a dollar an hour.

What I do is let all calls with an unrecognised CLI go to answerphone. Currently running at around 10 a week.

If TalkTalk were willing to be a load more aggressive I'd switch to them. What I mean by more aggressive is if I could make a callback (like the mobile phone text scam number) to say "I want no more calls from the number that just called". I don't want them to be overriding my decisions about what is legitimate and what I consider a nuisance. As it is their offering is a positive step but still feeble.

1
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Richard Cranium

Re: Will they block themselves?

"Is there a pre-filtering device ... How about someone develops such a device using the popular Raspberry Pi..."

There is such a system that runs on RaspberryPi (or other linux system) Google for "raspberrypi asterisk"

0
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Digital radio may replace FM altogether - even though nobody wants it

Richard Cranium

The only reason I use DAB is because it can usually get usable quality reception on the domestic mains sets - but only with that awkward antenna extended. Living in the forgotten North of UK we've always suffered poorer coverage.

I had to abandon Radio 3 when it left AM, FM was unusable, at least DAB remedied that but then I committed the horrendous mistake of moving to the hilly Peak District (the clue is in the name). AM signals were good at "bending" over hills, FM/DAB aren't. Listening in the car is a lottery, numerous places on A roads where the signal deteriorates from OK to static.

1
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Buy a household 3D printer, it'll pay for itself in MONTHS!

Richard Cranium

Re: Does this use the same plastic that everything seems to be made of these days?

Can I put in a good word for Sugru too (pity about its short shelf life tho'). And there's always used chewing gum...

0
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Microsoft introduces warning on child abuse image searches

Richard Cranium

All Google need to do is make safe search setting the default at http://www.google.com/preferences I set that anyway simply because it delivers fewer unwanted results for my searches.

In addition to that I use OpenDNS settings in my router with preferences set to block several categories of other stuff I might prefer my kids not to be looking at - drugs, alcohol, gambling, weapons.

0
1

Dubya: I introduced PRISM and I think it's pretty swell

Richard Cranium

In recent months there have been US originated scare stories about the possibility of back-doors in network equipment from Chinese manufcaturers such as Huawei. The cynics may have thought tis was to protect the commercial interests of such as Cisco. In view of the Prism revelations perhaps it was to ensure friendly nations installed US manufactured kit which might allow NSA back-door access.

Maybe the security analysts examining Huawei network gear should test their expertise on Cisco too.

0
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Nominet resurrects second-level namespace plan: 'Before you say no...'

Richard Cranium

Re: Commercial Blackmail

As the owner of hamstertunneler.co.uk we are writing to inform you we have reserved your .uk equivalent. You have a period of 6 months to cough up the money... during this "sunrise" registration period for a substantial premium after which we'll let the first con man to come along buy it for a fraction of the price and you'll be well and truly screwed.

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