* Posts by Richard Cranium

109 posts • joined 8 Sep 2011

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At last: Ordnance Survey's map wizardry goes live

Richard Cranium

Re: What will it do to the other companies selling digital OS maps?

Been using the OS subscription service for a while (didn't realise it was Beta) but have a number if issues with it as compared to my preferred desktop OS mapping: Mapyx Quo. For example OS app is picky about GPX file formats. It even failed to read back in a GPX file I exported from the app.

BTW if you've looked at the digital maps in the past and balked at the cost, look again, I got all of UK 1:25k and 1:50k for £125 (from Mapyx on special offer). Quo isn't perfect but I've tried several alternatives and it's the most versatile, primary gripes are that some commands/settings are hard to find and there are still a few irritants if using it on Win10.

As my primary use is for off-road map updates are not a big issue. In practise I mostly use Quo for planning then print off the map(s) I need for the hike. An A4 sheet of today's route is a lot easier to handle than an OS sheet and I'm never going to rely solely on electronic navigation devices. (I often enlarge the print image too so I can read the map without my glasses).

Mobile phone battery life is a big issue (worse in the cold) so I use a dedicated GPS (basic, no in-built OS mapping) which has better antenna so captures more satellites faster than mobile. That runs for 18 hours on 2xAA batteries. I don't regard a mobile mapping app as being as good and reliable as hard-copy plus GPS location.

The focus of this article is on the mobile OS mapping app but the license also gives you desktop (web-browser) access and a big screen is an advantage to see overall image of an area/route.

Bottom line is I make little use of the OS app - but it's under 20 quid a year and it's sometimes a useful additional reference.

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Romania suffers Eurovision premature ejection

Richard Cranium

Put a rocket up the EBU accounts dept

How can you run a business and allow customers to ignore their bill for 9 years? I bin customers much sooner. One month late: polite reminder, 2 months late: overdue notice, 3 months late: disconnection notice with 10 day deadline and (expensive) credit plan option. That usually results in immediate payment, an apology and a plea to keep their services running. If they ignore the disconnection notice then after disconnection (at 14 days) restoring service comes with a reconnection fee.

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Ever wondered what the worst TV show in the world would be? Apple just commissioned it

Richard Cranium

Re: Many have tried...

"As a plot device, coding is useful but to watch someone write or test code - the best cure for insomnia known."

True. But then consider other TV shows involving professions: do detective shows focus on the boring tedious work of going through thousands of scraps of information to exclude the irrelevant? No they focus on the moments of discovery/enlightenment/insight (and chuck in some personal lifestyle drama to widen the appeal).

Do medical shows spend time looking at patients needing a couple of stitches in a minor cut or presenting with "an annoying tickly cough" or a minor rash? No, unless it turns out that a minor symptom was an indicator of a rare and hard to diagnose condition that can form the basis of a strong story.

Similar might apply to IT if a writer could get a handle on it. The trivial glitch turns out to be an indication that a system has been hacked or that there's an obscure bug that risks bringing the global financial networks grinding to a halt. The book Zero Day (the one by Mark Russinovich) might be a good starting point.

And don't forget that great TV series "The IT Crowd" - as far as I recall it didn't cover coding but IT support and it could have been a fly on the wall documentary from somewhere I once worked.

A job or profession is simply a hook to hang a series off - virtually anything will do, what about "Steptoe and Son" (for younger readers: a couple of scrap merchants) of "The rag trade" a sitcom based around a small clothing workshop. Surely coding, although in detail is (nearly) as boring (to an outsider) presents comparable opportunities.

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Virgin bins Webspace, tells customers they can cry to GoDaddy

Richard Cranium

Re: GoDaddy?

Maybe GoDaddy isn't very good (don't know, not used it) but in the context of users of VM's free webspace it may be an improvement. However surely people only used VM free for unimportant stuff, I had some family photos on there for a while (passworded) but commercial hosting got much better and cheaper. I'm using a decent alternative for £20 a year. So far that's proved fast, reliable and provides responsive competent tech support.

It's not hard to find small amounts of completely free webspace if £20 is too much. I'll not "advertise" here but I know of a fairly reliable host offering free 50MB disk (Same as NTL did), 100MB monthly traffic, email, MySQL - that's free as in future years too - or start paying but in exchange for more disk, bandwidth etc (and cheaper than GoDaddy).

Only the most naive will switch from free to £60 a year without checking alternatives

Doubtless VM will be getting a kick-back from GoDaddy

I use VM because I'm in a cabled area so their bundles are competitive: 200MB broadband (that's not "up to..." but actually delivered), better TV service than I got using an aerial (better quality, more channels, record programs while watching another etc), landline and mobile. Email and webspace were never very good and from their perspective just costs and support hassle with no benefit to VM.

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Richard Cranium

"But I like ISP email...else pimp your privacy..."

Which assumes the ISPs don't pimp you privacy

"The alternatives are to pay for more than casual use really justifies"

So your privacy isn't worth £1 a week?

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Sir Michael Lyons tells .uk registry Nominet: Time to grow up

Richard Cranium

It's a scam

Query to 123reg:

My 123-reg invoice to renew one .co.uk domain for 2 years is £16.78 in 2014 the same cost £8.38 (inc VAT)

123reg response:

Nominet, the registry for all .UK domain names, has decided to increase their domain prices. Therefore, we are updating our prices in line with Nominet’s industry standard.

The new pricing structure standardises the price of all .UK domain names (including .CO.UK, .ME.UK and .ORG.UK) to £6.99+VAT a year, regardless of the length of registration period.

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ARM pumps fist as profits soar, warns of weaker hand in 2016

Richard Cranium

Linking ARM share price to Apple sales is a red herring. Apple has about 15% of the mobile market and mobile is less than half ARMs business so Apple might represent 3% of ARM revenue. So if Apple dropped by 20% ARM might lose 20% of that 3% (unless there is, as suggested above, a fixed price deal between Apple and ARM not linked to sales).

This is like the scare story I heard when Apple released their watch. I was told by someone I'd previously believed to have a functioning brain that the price of gold was about to take off because of the demand for Apple Gold edition watches (costing £8k - £13k and each containing about 1/2 oz of gold - current price about £850/oz, annual global gold production about 80million ounces).

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Virgin Media spoof email mystery: Customers take to Facebook

Richard Cranium

Re: ISP Email

"No matter how you look at it using an ISP provided email server is pretty silly."

I was about to write almost the same.

And Virgin's (old) gmail system wasn't the same as "real" gmail but some kind of older version, for example it didn't offer Gmail's two factor security. Presumably it was on an old codebase (on Virgin' servers?) and Virgin had to ditch it as I guess no ongoing maintenance from Google.

For ISPs the email offering must just be an expensive overhead - they're expected to include email with their broadband package but then get all the hassle of support calls from those so dim they actually use it in preference to a separate third party alternative. The economies they make mean the spam filters are often very crude resulting in false positives and binning some "good" mail (not even putting it in a spam folder). Their low budget for email provision means outages can be lengthy.

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Watch out, er, 'oven cleaners': ICO plans nuisance call crackdown in 2016

Richard Cranium

Re: the TPS is not worth the paper it is written on

" safe in the knowledge that you now have enough information to take to the ICO..."

Would be worthwhile if TPS would act on the information. They don't.

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Apple iPhone 6S: Same phone, another day, but TOTALLY DIFFERENT

Richard Cranium

Re: You forgot one thing...

Upvote. Yes I too get seriously peed off by this widespread form of misinformation $199+(small print: 2 year minimum contract). OK we expect advertisers to tell lies but surely the register can serve us better, I read the article, seeing the $199 price in the 3rd sentence thinking - gosh, I thought iPhone was way overpriced, have they finally come up with a Moto G rival? Scroll down a long way to get to the small print - but still no off-contract price quoted. Surely the true cost of any item is one of the most important metrics for a purchaser.

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Dell CEO: Very few will survive the PC bloodbath

Richard Cranium

More recent experiences with Dell have made me too go elsewhere. I expect corporates will stick with the big boys but smaller users are better served by fleet-of-foot smaller companies. The big boys currently have warehouses full of unsold old models. If I don't want "last year's model" but newest technology or something bespoke, the smaller guys win. On the same basis they can build an inexpensive box by buying last year's tech components at prices that reflect that it's been superceded. The issue for them is that the home user and SME markets are now much smaller with mobile devices nibbling away.

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They’re FAT. They’re ROUND. They’re worth almost a POUND. Smart waaatch, smart waaatch

Richard Cranium

Re: £400????

Me too - but only paid £109 - I guess the price drop reflects the fact that Sony have been doing an annual new version so v4 coming soon?

At that kind of price I'm happy, I wasn't ready to pay as much as a smartphone for a device with less of everything. It's worth £100 to help decide if smartwatch concept is a brilliant innovation or another opportunity to screw a few more quid out of the gadget freaks.

So far the experiment is a success, the only downside is the need to recharge every couple of days. The main benefits are the way it pairs with the smartphone - things like the vibrate alert for incoming messages & reminders (I find that better than a loud ring-tone or phone on vibrate). The "OK Google" Voice control is more convenient without the need to get the phone out. Watch proximity unlocking the phone is a easier than having to keep typing in an unlock code. I'm fairly sure that when it dies (I guess realistic life is comparable with smartphone: 2 or 3 years) I will look for a comparable replacement and will be happy to pay twice as much.

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Google bows to inevitable, stops forcing Google+ logins on YouTubers

Richard Cranium

Re: As with all social networks,

"...its tumbleweed-tastic "social network" Google+..." with active user numbers close to those for those other dismal failures Skype, Instagram, Twitter and not very far behind LinkedIn.

"I class Google+ as the waitrose of supermarkets, and Facebook as the Asda."

With the associated jokes (or are they?) "I like Tesco because it keeps the riff-raff out of Waitrose" and "I like Waitrose because it keeps the snobs out of Sainsburys".

The bottom line is that G+ is for the grown-ups. Teenagers would class it as boring (along with just about everything else anyone over 30 appreciates), of course they're happier with the shallow trivia Facebook provides.

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Google dumps ISP email support. Virgin Media takes ball, stomps home

Richard Cranium

Virgin were locked in to an ancient version of Gmail (e.g. no 2 factor security option)

In any case ISP email has always been garbage. ISPs have to offer it as part of the deal, it costs them to do so. It results in a lot of ongoing end-user support costs with just a small benefit from the inherent "lock-in" and the customers email address "advertising" the ISP.

Were I running an ISP next time they're looking at hiking the monthly charge offer a "no frills" discount and gradually ease out of the free email (and some other add-ons) commitment. Similarly many ISPs provide some free web space and cloud storage - why bother to provide it? and as a customer why would you choose the potential lock-in and a (usually) inferior service.

As for other gripes here about Virgin broadband speed - no problem here I'm on the over 20 year old coax shared with half the street, I just ran a speed test 117Mb/sec download (upload 8Mb/sec, may sound a bit slow but I don't upload a lot)

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FEMALE BLOOD-SUCKERS zero in on human prey by smelling our BREATH

Richard Cranium

Re: Wildlife

BATS - the only UK mammal population infected with rabies...

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HSBC takes Twitter tongue-lashing over failure to offer Apple Pay

Richard Cranium

Re: Contactless/NFC overrated

"I did actually ask whether I could have a card without contactless because I was concerned about the security and was told this wasn't an option." You probably weren't persistent enough, most banks will reissue as contactless if requested but Plan B is to disable contactless by a small cut in the edge of the card severing the NFC antenna (Google for instructions).

Apart from that - why do we now appear to be run by the twitterati? It seems to me that a small vocal minority are getting disproportionate coverage. It would be interesting to see a venn diagram showing the overlap (intersection) of HSBC customers, iPhone users (just the NFC equipped iPhone model) and (active) Twitter users.

Of course organisations like Brandwatch will misrepresent a few thousand twitterers as somehow representative of the other 60million plus in UK but reputable polling organisations go to great lengths to get a true cross-section. And Apple will be very happy about the publicity. (Is Brandwatch in the pay of Apple - or hoping to be? or am I unduly cynical?). Were a polling company to ask, on a properly statistically balanced population sample "does it matter that if you bank with HSBC you'll have to wait a few more months before you can use Apple pay" - I suspect that 99.999% of respondents would either not know what you're talking about or would not care: don't bank with HSBC; don't have an iPhone; do have an iPhone but don't like NFC anyway; do have an iPhone but it's an older model without NFC; do have an iPhone but don't see any benefit relative to a contactless credit/debit card; do bank with HSBC & have an NFC capable iPhone but happy to wait a few months so everyone else can discover whether it's practical, safe, reliable and useful.

(BTW, why has HSBC been singled out? As I understand it Barclays, Lloyds, Co-op and Halifax were not ready on day one either.)

Personally I see no benefit compared with using an NFC enabled card and can see loads of negatives: flat battery,can't access my money; phone went flat or got stolen on the tube so I can't terminate journey and face a penalty; phone needs initial setup/configuration to validate card; more complex payment procedure - activate phone while close to payment terminal, select which card (discover that your choice of Amex is one the retailer doesn't accept?), validate with finger-print (is all that really practical at a tube station at rush hour?); the opportunity to wave your £500 phone in a crowded place (public transport) so the pickpockets know who to target.

I also wonder about the economic model of NFC in general. Many retailers won't accept credit cards for small payments (commonly a £5 or £10 minimum) because the minimum transaction fees they have to pay takes too big a slice of their revenue - does that mean those retailers will not accept NFC for small sums?

BTW some statements seem to imply that raising the payment limit from £20 to £30 is an Apple Pay thing, it's not, it's a change to NFC limits, card payments will also see the raised limit.

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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 john.smith+tesco@example.com 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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