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* Posts by Peter Gathercole

1732 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

I told you I'd be back: Arnie set for another career revival

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Hollywood producers clearly have way, way too much money.

I thought his first film was "Hercules in New York", although I believe his voice was dubbed out.

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Girls, beer and C++: How to choose the right Comp-Sci degree for you

Peter Gathercole
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"This weird new software was Unix"

Hmm. 1984.

You were a bit behind me.

I was introduced to UNIX at Durham University between 1978 and 1981 (V6 and V7 on a PDP11/34e, - and yes, there was one girl on the course in my year), and got a job needing UNIX in 1982. I admit that it was at a college (Newcastle Poly.), but I am still using what I learned, 35 years later, as a techie (not jumped to management, teaching [dallied with this for a year], or horror of horrors recruitment! [dig intended, in a light-hearted way]). Very glad I chose what I did as a career, and I'm one of the few people in my sphere who actually like their work, even after such a long time.

Strangely, I dug my copy of Lions UNIX V6 commentary out yesterday to check the way that Ancient UNIX did something that IBM, in their wisdom, choose not to document for AIX. Not sure whether it is still relevant, but it was a real nostalgia trip.

Just hoping there will still be a need for deep UNIX skills for the next 13 years to get me to retirement age. I don't want or intend to retire until I have to!

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PRISM snitch claims NSA hacked Chinese targets since 2009

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Another conspiracy theory for you... @YARR

It is not the case that anybody can commit code to an open source project. Open source projects to not run like open access Wikis.

Most projects are moderated, so any change has to be agreed by the moderator. For example, I challenge you to get a fix into the Linux kernel without having to convince Linus that it is worthwhile.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Conspiracy theoriest right all along @ AC 10:48

I have to agree with both sides on this, but I tend to support Eadon's point of view.

It is indeed only a possibility that the inspection would be done, but it can be done, and as all projects store their code in publicly available source code control systems (Git, Subversion, CVS or the like), it should be possible to work out when bits of code made it into the source tree. This is not a glib assertion, but a real possibility. Couple this with the fact that in order to have changes accepted to the primary code-tree of most OSS projects, any rogue must convince the moderators of the project to trust them in the first place.

The mere fact that there are these controls will dissuade some rogues from attempting it, although it is always possible for a skilled programmer to code something that looks innocuous to a cursory inspection that does something other than it's stated purpose.

I'm sure that if a back-door was to be found in, for example, the Linux kernel, that there would immediately be a rush of people and organisations who would commit serious effort into auditing the code, and anything found would be expunged very quickly, and the rogue exposed.

Contrast this to close source, and even if it were proved that such a back door existed in a product, any audit would be at the vendors discretion, and if they are complicit in the back-door, you haven't a chance in hell of doing anything about it.

It really annoys me when someone knocks back the "you have the code, so go fix it yourself" statements. OK, I know that not everybody has the skills, and often the statement is made in a harsh way, but at the end of the day, there is no compulsion on the code maintainers to do anything when there is a perceived deficiency. Often they are working on their own time and expense.

What is being pointed out by the "fix it yourself" statement is that maybe, just maybe, users should take some responsibility and contribute in some way (time, money, equipment etc.) to a project, rather than just whingeing. Too many users of Free software feel that the fact they are using it entitles them to some special access to the maintainers, almost as if they had bought it!

With the current state of Free Software, any free support you get will absolutely always be of greater value than the money you paid for it, even it it does not fix the problem!

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Microsoft botnet smackdown 'caused collateral damage, failed to kill target'

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Not so sure @khaptain

The article you reference does not indicate a Linux fault, but suggests that the servers may have either been compromised by Apache (not part of GNU/Linux) or through poor administration. All that shows is the weakest part

of any system is the wet-ware.

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MacBook Air now uses PCIe flash... but who'd Apple buy it from?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: And resemble... look like..

Is that title a Short Circuit reference to when No. 5 is doing a tomato soup Rorschach test maybe?

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Students outraged: Computer refuses to do any work for entire week

Peter Gathercole
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Re: The real problem is...

50% would realistically be the upper limit, at least for HE leading to a degree.

A few years ago, I happened to note two stories on Radio 4 on the same day. One was that 50% of young people achieved 2 A-C grade A-Levels, and the other was that the government wanted 50% of young people to go on to University.

The way I looked at it in a tongue-in-cheek way, was that they could eliminate University altogether, and just award degrees to those who achieved 2 good A-levels, as that would be what was necessary to get both figures to agree!

It just reinforced my belief that having a degree structure has to be elitist in order to both work and be useful.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: The real problem is... @Tom 38

You've described something not too dissililar to the old grant system.

University places were restricted; A-Levels gave good idea of who was capable (fitted to the normal distribution curve, rather than skewed to thehigher grades), so University could offer places to students with good A-Level results.

For students who got offers, the family income was assessed (taking into account a number of factors including whether other childern from the family were at Uni. already), and a grant depending on income was awarded. Students from poor families got 100% grant, those from rich families got little or no grant with a sliding scale for those in between. The grant was arranged such that any student taking the piss, and not trying to pass the course could have been made to pay it back.

Thus we had a quite fair system, with those students who needed it most getting complete support. I got about 50% grant, and my parents made the rest up (my grant paid for the accommodation in full, and I got the rest in installments from my Dad). Of course, all students got their tuition fees paid automatically.

By keeping the number of places restricted so there was competition, a University place was valued by most students, rather than being taken as a right. I feel that most of my friends 35 years ago all felt privileged to be at University, and few of them wasted it.

And at the end, because there were fewer degrees awarded, they were valued by employers.

Politians still believe this is the case, even though pumping too many mediocre students through the system has devalued a degree to the point where 3 years in the job market rather than a degree will result in a higher paid job. This makes a mockery of degree students being able to pay back their loan and pay more tax.

The crass stupidity in assuming that if you increase the number of degrees awarded, that the country will end up with a more valuable workforce, rather than the reality of just having people with meaningless degrees not relevent to the work they end up doing is one of the classic errors from a left-wing political mindset.

Kids are not equal, and never will be even if you try to say they are (as in the failed Comprehensive system). The best educational leveler IMHO was the Grammar School system for kids with the right academic abillity regardless of background, complemented with streamed secondary schools to act as a catch-net for late achievers, followed by a means-tested grant system to pay for higher education consisting of University for academic achievers and good vocational courses in technical and art colleges coupled with apprenticeship schemes. With this, you end up with a balanced workforce. This is what was put in place in the 1950's and 60's, and probably produced the best education system ever seen in this country.

I admit that it singles out people who have the chance for higher education early, but you have to do this to get the best from young people. No system is perfect, but I believe that the current system is so broken as to not be fit for purpose.

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All major UK ISPs prepping network-level porn 'n' violence filters

Peter Gathercole
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Re: That's enough @Dave 15

Two points.

Porn is hugely different on the Internet than in H&E, Fiesta, Club or Playboy. Legal magazines were not able to show explicit sex, and the pornography laws were so poorly defined that mainstream magazines kept well to the safer side of what was acceptable. Moving images add a lot to the impact of porn, and many of the free sites do nothing other than asking that you don't enter if you are under the legal age in your juristiction. With magazine still photos, and story pages, you had to use imagination, which was (in my day) often just guesswork for virgin teenagers. Nothing is left to the imagination on the Internet.

Secondly, it is easy to find porn, even with quite innocent words, and very easy indeed if you really do want to find it. I grant that is has become less frequent that google returns such results than it used to be, but just think how many ordinary words have alternate meanings.

There was a time when a site could 'seed' their pages with lists of completely innocent words, normally in white-on-white and in very small characters, just to try to get random hits. Many years ago, I remember my daughter searching for "medieval castles", and getting hits from some quite unplesent sites. I think that problem has largely gone away now, though.

I do not agree with restricting the Internet by default, but I can see how horrifying it can be to some people.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: @Miek @D&C

It would be pretty easy for the ISP to put a block on all TCP and UDP access to port 53 to nameservers other than their own. Or one stage further, only allow a whitelist of known ports out. There's lots of things they can do to make your life miserable.

My ISP says I have to use their ADSL router in their Ts&Cs. I don't, because I don't trust their customised firmware to not snoop, UPnP or backdoor my network (and I've a firewall there anyway).

Not having reasonably unfiltered access would be a real deal breaker for me.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Fortunately....... @Jame Jones

You've missed one of the next steps, that of locking down the OS such that end-users (all end-users) are unable to change these settings 'becuase ordinary users don't understand enough about computers to make sensible decisions'.

Sorry to bring Microsoft into this argument, but creating an OS that encourages users to use admin or admin-enabled accounts should (and was by those in the know) have been regarded as a stupid move way back when.

I used to set up the WinXP machines that my kids used when they were younger so that they were not using admin accounts. Caused some problems with some games, but prevented the computers from being fiddled about with.

Now they all have their own machines they have admin accounts, but regard their machines much more carefully.

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Pen+tablet bandwagon finally rolling, Nvidia leaps aboard

Peter Gathercole
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Restive touch screens

As Palm used for years. I still am disappointed by the poor results of using a 'capacitive' stylus on any of my Android devices. I remain sceptical about this 'new' technology.

My daughter has a Wacom tablet, and this technology is excelent, because it uses active components, and picks up power from the screen itself through inductive coupling (I took the pen apart to fix a problem).

Older stylus's had AAAA batteries in them, so were more bulky.

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Fedora's Schrödinger's Cat Linux gives coders claws for thought

Peter Gathercole
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Unhappy

Re: Don't mean to nitpick, but...

Much as it pains me to say it, I think that the days of UNIX being the yard-stick for OpenSystems are long gone.

With only AIX (and maybe Solaris if Oracle are still interested enough) receiving anything like new features, and every other Genetic UNIX reaching legacy status or worse, we are going to have to accept that Linux now rules the roost of how non-windows systems should look, however badly it does this. I know that there are flavours of BSD still out there, and OSX can still be called UNIX, but I cannot see there being any new UNIX customers.

What we can now look forward to is a decade of Linux distros that are sufficiently different so that they cannot be treated as a single platform, which will pose a significant barrier to supplanting UNIX in existing environments. And if they don't get their act together with something like LSB, they could lose it completely.

I'm just hoping that ARM servers get enough traction with a dominant distro to appear in the server space and shake things up a bit. Otherwise we will be looking at Windows on Intel for customers who need vendor support, and a plethora of 'propriety' (I use the term very loosely to mean different distros) Linux boxes for less critical systems.

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BOFH: Go on, beancounter, type DROP TABLE asset;

Peter Gathercole
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Did Simon forget

the off-site DR copy? Or does he manage that 'facility' (i.e. his garage) for a fee as well?

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Windows 8.1 Start button SPOTTED in the wild

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Bunch of nancies

Ahh. But it's a POS that most people recognise and understand.

Oh, by the way. Using the window key and the first few letters does not present you a menu of what's installed in the way that the old start menu did.

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'Secret Pentagon papers' show China hacked into Patriot missile system

Peter Gathercole
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Re: hacking required

Generally speaking, export variants of Western weapon systems are downgraded, such as having less powerful engines, or not having the latest avionics and weapon system capabilities.

This has even affected the UK. I understand that some of the VTOL technology in the F35B is so secret that the design details cannot leave the US. Which is strange, as we gave most of it to the Yanks in the first place!

The list of technology designs being reported as stolen is a bit strange however, because F/A 18, Patriot and Blackhawk, must all be regarded as mature technologies now, and aren't particularly bleeding edge.

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Peter Gathercole
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Probably stored in 'the cloud' to save money.

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Qualcomm app 'extends battery life' by analysing fandroids' privates

Peter Gathercole
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Don't think it will help me

I turn off WiFi, Data Services and GPS when I'm not using them. Or, to put it another way, I only turn them on when I need them. Doesn't everyone?

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Review: Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch Ultrabook

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Can someone please enlighen me @AC

I don't doubt that you think that you can tell, especially if you use a magnifying glass. After all, the marketing people say it is better!

Done any direct comparisons without being told which is res is which? I would use the term 'blind' comparisons', but I don't think it is appropriate. I would suspect that you would flag a 1680x1050 with a shiny screen as being clearer than a 1920x1080 with a matt screen.

You must face the fact that at some point there is a cut-off where more does not really mean better. I just think we have already passed that point. And if having such high resolutions drives up the price or power consumption, then I would dispute that it does no harm.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Can someone please enlighen me @David

Umm. Text DPI? everything non-textual?

I'm assuming that you mean that you are shrinking the page down, keeping the relationship between the text and graphic sizes the same. Yes. But at the point it will really makes a difference, the text will be too small to read. 13.3" diagonal is really not that big.

Also 'lovely and sharp' is subjective. I seriously doubt that you can really tell much of a difference between what this ultrabook can do, and what full HD provides on the same sized screen.

I would also seriously doubt that a graphic designer (like my daughter!) would use this sized screen for their primary workstation. They really use large 26"+ screens running at HD+ resolutions. I say again that 13.3" is too small for that type of work. It might be what they visit customers with, but I bet they plug it in to a bigger screen whenever they can.

BTW. I do command line on laptops all the time. I'm a UNIX sysadmin. I had an IBM T60 with a 1440x1050 resolution 15.1" laptop, and I could quite easily shrink down the text such that it was clear but too small to use without a magnifying glass.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Can someone please enlighen me @James 51

With smaller text fonts (like I said)? The only way to get more information on a fixed sized screen is to make the words smaller.

Whilst I admit that you can do this with higher resolution, you end up trying to read characters that are 2mm or less in height. It just doesn't work beyond a certain point.

Example. HD on 13.3" at 16x9 equates to approx. 165 vertical pixels per inch. Nowhere near a Retina display, but assuming text at 10 pixels in vertical height, that would make each line of text about 1/16th of an inch in height (about 1.5mm). Now I'm not sure I really want to be reading characters that small on a screen at just less than arms length. It's just too small.

So it is not the resolution that determines how much you can fit on a screen and still use it, it is the size of the characters. I don't dispute that at smaller character sizes, higher resolution means clearer text, but again, it is a matter of degree.

I also dispute image quality for video. You're being sold a lemon. I really don't believe that you can see pixels that small on a moving image, and even if you can, it's a mobile device, not your primary entertainment device.

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Peter Gathercole
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Can someone please enlighen me

What do you use full-HD resolution in a laptop with a 13.3" diagonal screen for?

Do you run your text with ludicrously small fonts? Is the text so much clearer. Does colour saturation matter so much for a device that, unlike a TV or large monitor, is likely to be used in non-optimum light conditions?

I know I am a bit of a Luddite, but it does strike me that it is merely 'my number is bigger than your number', because honestly, I cannot really believe that it makes a huge difference. But then I started using terminals with fixed 7x9 pixel character cell where you could still see gaps between the scan lines, so I may not be qualified to judge!

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Forget tax bills, here's how Google is really taking us all for a ride

Peter Gathercole
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Re: A free €100bn @Thomas 6

Except that you (probably) buy your apples at Tesco or ASDA, who funnel the profit out of your local area. OK, you have some minimum-wage jobs in your locality, but the major benefits do not stick.

I would much rather have locally owned and run shops, but unfortunately, I also need to keep my expenditure under control, and big businesses make it hard for them to compete on price.

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Fedora cooks up new Linux for Raspberry Pi

Peter Gathercole
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Boffin

@Jake

My journey was V6->V7->SVR2->SVR3 and onwards, so I was mostly isolated from BSD (I did have a BSD 2.3 or 2.6 distribution for my non-I&D PDP11 running V7, for Ingres, and it did have vi on it, but it would not compile in 56K, even using the experimental overlay loader that was also on the tape (this used one segment register in the PDP11 to switch different 8K pages into the process text address space to allow you to have more than 56K of memory in an executable, and it required a new system call to be added to the kernel to allow the dispatcher routine to request that the correct page was mapped in to the process before actually calling the code).

I only really came across vi when I moved on to SVR2 (I had used an Ultrix machine before, but not too much). Up until that point, I had been using ed almost exclusively (although I did also use an extended ed editor called em, tagged as Editor for Mortals which I believe came from Queen Mary College in the UK [hint - watch you don't mistype the "e" as an "r", very annoying])

For some time, I worked for what is now part of Alcatel-Lucent (then AT&T and Philips Telecommunications), and became the terminal 'expert' in their UK system support team, so was intimately acquainted with terminfo (it was SVR2&3 after all), and to a lesser extent termcap (some of the AT&T exptools packages used termcap, even though terminfo was available on almost all systems), and I looked after many different terminal types including AT&T 4425, 5620 and 630, HP2932, adm3 and adm5, Wyse 30 and 50s, almost all DEC terminals from 52s to 420s and compatibles, and even on ibm 3151 (yeugh). I missed out on the days when you had to encode time delays in the various commands, however.

While there, I also had a source-code license for Gosling Emacs, which had it's own (buggy) termcap.

The youngsters of today really don't know what it used to be like. I still get really annoyed when I see people hard-coding ANSI escape sequences into programs rather than using termcap or terminfo, or even Curses. It's just wrong!

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: joe vs. vi

It does not show your age, as vi preceeded wordstar by at least half-a-decade.

What it does is to indicate that you learned computing on some piddling little micrcomputer, rather than a mini or a mainframe running UNIX.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: VIM @FrankAlphaXII

If you want to get the best out of Emacs without learning all of the meta key combinations, you need to learn the Electric modes. Once you get the hang of them, Emacs can be a doddle.

The reason why vi (pronounced vee eye, not vie or six according to the yellow book) is a little hard to use is because it dates back to a time when the only keys that you could guarantee were on a terminal keyboard were the alphabet and number keys, a limited amount of punctualtion, as well as an ESC key and a control function. As long as the terminal had a program addressable cursor, and a small number of other features (and really not too many of those), and a termcap definition (yes, termcap in the original BSD, not terminfo), vi would work.

There were some terminals that were too broken, however. I remember comments in the original BSD termcap about some beehive terminals, and a Ann Arbour Ambassidor that were deemed just too brain-dead to be able to write a meaningful termcap entry.

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Peter Gathercole
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Boffin

@Jake

Come on Jake.

Hardcore UNIX users use ed!

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Woolwich beheading sparks call to REVIVE UK Snoopers' Charter

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Right. @Peter Gathercole

"Alternatively just maybe knowing what internet sites these two had visited which had caused them to be radicalised could provide a list of possible other fanatics in the UK"

I will concede that this could be useful information, but it is likely that this will be obtained after the fact, as I'm sure that all their possessions are now evidence. I would be very surprised if the sites they were reading weren't already known. What you consider subversive information may be perfectly acceptable to other people in the world. As you said, what the security services would like to be able to do is identify everybody who is reading those sites, not necessarily the sites themselves. But this may still finger people who are just curious about such rhetoric.

"If they had posted their intentions prior to just maybe they could have been tracked down via IP information?"

Well. Did they? There is an "if" in your statement. I think that you would probably be surprised by how many people post such statements without any intention to actually carry anything like that out. I have said many times that I would like to drop a bomb on a certain campus in Redmond (there, I've done it again), but I will never really carry that out. If the police reacted to every casual threat that was tweeted, mailed or blogged, they would be very busy indeed.

My comment about porn was to try to show how little people understand our laws. I Am Not A Lawyer, and I certainly don't think I know everything that is illegal (like photocopying the Queens Currency, selling Creosote to individuals who are not in the fencing trade, or allowing ragwort to grow in your garden - all of these are against the law).

My list was intended to be wide but not so wide it would not cover everybody.

You've still missed the point that if they are allowed to do this without proper supervision, at some point they will in a way that is likely to be objectionable to everybody.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Other soldiers @MJI

I out to point out that I was referring to UK military bases in the UK.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Other soldiers @MJI

Most military bases have unarmed civilian security (I kid you not). There will be military armed guards somewhere on the base at any time, but every soldier checks their weapon in to the armoury when they are off duty.

I believe that there have to be specific orders in order to allow weapons and ammunition to be issued for use off-base, and that would not have happened (in the British Army) for an incident like this. Even if it were protecting a fellow soldier, off base it is the Police's responsibility. British soldiers are in every way professionals.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Right.

@Titus

I deliberately made the list as wide as possible so that most of the readers would fall into at least one category.

I know I have latent consistency theory tendencies, so may be slightly paranoid about these things. The point I am trying to make is that if they use something like the list I presented as the initial trigger for monitoring, they may well end up seeing other things that you do that are less acceptable. I am pretty clean (in fact I only fall into one of my own list categories - I'll let you guess which), but will definitely be on their known list (for good reasons only, I hope).

I do nothing that *I* feel is worthy of their attention for bad reasons, but that does not mean I am happy for them to monitor my Internet traffic. I think that if you take the defence that "I do nothing wrong so I have nothing to fear" ignores the fact that you don't know what *they* think is wrong, and there is nobody to challenge their view.

(BTW. If one of the three that you do is porn, then I suggest that you restrict yourself to sites that certify that all their models/actors/actresses/participants are over 18, because if you have images - photographs or other types - of people engaged in sexual acts who are or appear to be (in the eyes of the investigator) under 18 cached on your computer, even as a thumbnail in your browsers image cache, you almost certainly are guilty of infringing the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, sections 62-68).

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: How?

Chances are that if you have an IP6 address, then you are probably much more identifiable than if you stick with IP4. This is because it is less likely that an IP6 address will be re-allocated. You will either have it forever,, or at least for a good long time.

But even if you are using a temporary IP4 address with NAT, your ISP will probably be able to identify the account holder and probably the physical location of the point where it touches their infrastructure, just as long as they take account of timezones and DST correctly!

Although I don't agree with it, the presumption is that they could profile a person who was becoming a risk by reading their blogs, forum posts, browsing history, email, IM and SMS messages and even purchasing history (how did you buy your machete), and once identified, single them out for even greater surveillance. Once under surveillance, they can be caught before doing any damage.

But this effectively means that they will need to watch all people who match certain criteria, including many who aren't, and never will be, a threat to society. It's a really difficult problem which will always upset some people on one or other side of the argument.

My view is that as soon as government agencies have the ability to look at what people are doing without sufficient safeguards, they then will eventually abuse that ability, and look for things that have not been sanctioned by this legislation. Anything. Being a member of a particular political party or religious group. Or an anonymous blogger about personal freedoms. Or an infrequent copyright infringer. Or harbouring anti-AGW thoughts. Or being upset with your local MP. Or a consumer of legal on-line porn. Or an objector to HS2. Anything.

Is everybody who supports this charter sure they are squeaky-clean?

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Right.

Someone being 'known' to the security services does not mean that they are a risk.

The security services will know something about everyone who has ever held security clearance or who has physically visited one of their location. They know something about people who have visited countries in the Middle-East, Asia, or the Ex Soviet Union countries. They know about anybody who has held public office, especially if that office manages sensitive data. There are probably any number of demonstrations or events where they will identify the people who attended, and keep a record of the people, so know about them too. Any of you reading this could be known to them in one way or another.

Just because you are known to the security services does not mean that you are automatically a terror suspect. Sometimes people are known for good reasons. Sometimes they are known but not judged to be a risk worth pursuing. Sometimes they get it wrong. Sometimes they have not got the correct resources.

@Titus. If you were to say that one in a hundred of the people who fit a particular profile that they know about may be a risk (and I emphasise that this is a number plucked out of thin air), then that means that 99 completely innocent people may end up being monitored.

So if you (for example), were next to a group protesting about Margaret Thatcher, took part in a Student protest about fees at the Houses of Parliament, were a member of CND, went on holiday to a former Soviet country, the Middle East, East Africa or Pakistan, and regularly use TOR or encrypted Bit Torrent, you may be on their list. How does that make you feel. Good? Still want to give them the power to look at what you are doing online?

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If you've bought DRM'd film files from Acetrax, here's the bad news

Peter Gathercole
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Re: illegal download sites @Ed_UK

This happens with a lot of car insurance policies. I paid for my daughters car insurance one year because her money was in hard cash, and she needed to renew over the phone. She asked for them to not auto-renew the next year, but they did, from my card again. This is despite the insurance being in my daughters name, and the card being in mine.

This was despite my daughter previously phoning them and saying that she didn't want to renew with them. They would not cancel the policy nor refund the money until she could prove that there was another policy that covered the car (presumably because of insurance fraud).

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: illegal download sites

Termination of payment does not equal termination of contract.

You have to let Love Film or whoever know that you are doing this, and you have to abide by the termination clauses of the contract that you entered into (for example, Sky want a month's notice).

If you do not do this, expect threatening letters from a debt collection agency for the notice period that you did not give them, or, in extreme circumstances, ever increasing amounts of debt if they attempt to continue to charge you because you've not gone through the correct process. It all depends on what you agreed to (or not) by 'signing' the contract (clauses like "...using this service implies acceptance of these terms and conditions..." come to mind).

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The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex

Peter Gathercole
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Re: "watch a Russian Bear bomber go overhead"

I was on the deck of the Audacious class Ark Royal in the '70s at Navy Days when an F4K came over and did the climb with after-burners on. Flat metal surfaces and the flight deck reflecting the sound, it was deafening.

I think it was the same visit that we took one of the Drakes Island boat trips, and saw Eagle (the Ark's sister ship) mothballed and anchored just off the Island. There's something strangely disturbing about such a large warship with nothing happening on it, although it was not as bad as watching the follow-on episode to the BBC first series of "Sailor", where they took the Fleet-Master-At-Arms who had served on the Ark for 20 years on-and-off to the graving dock where they were pulling her to pieces. Seeing such a 'hard' man crying was terrible to see.

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Word 2 to Office 365 and beyond: The good, the bad and the Ribbon

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Office... @dogged

When WinME was around, the product was called IBM Lotus SmartSuite, and (IMHO) WordPro was better that Word, Lotus123 was missing some of the charting features of Excel, but was still pretty good, and Approach was streets ahead of Access. I also preferred Freelance to Powerpoint, although they were pretty comparable.

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Intel's answer to ARM: Customisable x86 chips with HIDDEN POWERS

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: We need fewer registers not more!

The days of significant difference between RISC and CISC processors is long past.

What you might call RISC are gaining more and more instructions (see the ISA for both Power and later ARM versions), and what you might think of as CISC are often built using microprogrammed RISCy cores (intel since 486's and even IBM zSeries).

Almost all architectures have many, many registers, and often use techniques like register renaming to allow fast context switches.

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Last time CO2 was this high, the world was underwater? NO, actually

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Scientific Theory @AC 08:01

Your two camps of scientist are wrong.

In general, all scientists from most related disciplines agree that climate change is happening. What is in debate is whether this change is caused by man, or whether it is natural, and how far/fast it will happen.

I'm not a climate change sceptic. Climate change is happening, because it's always happened since the Earth formed. But how much change is caused by human impact, I'm not qualified to judge. It is probable that some is caused by us, but some is certainly natural.

It's the people who think that the just pre-industrial age climate should be taken as a benchmark for the rest of time that get me annoyed, because they just don't understand anything. And the people who think that a statement like "well, the weather wasn't like this when I was young" means anything in regard to climate change need educating, preferably with a large learning-bat!

I just wish that this debate was purely a scientific one. Once politicians got involved, it was always going to get messy and uncertain.

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IBM gives a cloudy outlook for COBOL

Peter Gathercole
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Re: COBOL ain't going nowhere soon.

Fortran is still alive and well in the scientific and engineering worlds.

Where I work, most of the HPC workload is coded in a hybrid of Fortran77, 95 and a smattering of 2003 (with small bits of C glue code to do some of the things that are difficult in Fortran).

Because of the relative simplicity of Fortran, it generates very predictable code that the clock-cycle counters trying to get the maximum from their extremely expensive systems still like quite a lot. It's also pretty portable across architectures.

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IBM to push Linux apps on Power iron in China, then elsewhere

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

@TPM

I wish you would stop trying to suggest that lower cost Linux on Power is anything new. IBM has been selling Linux only Power systems at a discount for close on a decade, and Linux has been supported by IBM on Power for a few years more than that (but you had to buy the hardware at the same cost as an AIX or OS/400 system).

It's true that they did refresh the offerings and maybe tweak the prices of Linux-only systems in the last 18 months, but it was not completely new. See the IBM OpenPower 710 and 720 systems announced in 2004.

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PayPal security boss: OBLITERATE passwords from THE PLANET

Peter Gathercole
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Headmaster

Re: Leaks? @Me

I MUST MUST MUST proofread my posts better. I meant to say "You leave your fingerprints everywhere...."

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Peter Gathercole
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Leaks?

You leave your password everywhere, unless you are like Michael Jackson, and wear gloves all the time.

As soon as someone finds a way of lifting your fingerprints off the glass you drank your last pint from, and sorts out a method for creating a facsimile/feeding the correct hash from that into an authentication system, it will be busted wide open. And if there is a single hashing method, that will not take very long. Sounds soooooo secure to me!

If you are going to use biometrics, use something that is not generally available! But as soon as you do, the data from that biometric will leak (your iris or retina data is only safe now because you have never had a reason to have it scanned. As soon as you do, it will become generally available).

I'm also a little unhappy about putting my eye up to an optical device in a public place, because it would be possible for such a device to be hacked (like bank ATMs are now for card skimming) to do irreparable damage to my eyes (scenario, use a pulsed solid state laser to burn some small random patch of the eye. No immediate symptoms, so device may not be spotted immediately, but repeated use would degrade sight).

So, possession of a physical token, plus a changeable secret, with additional further authentication to resolve conflicts, which may include biometrics used at some trusted local identity broker (physical presence required) would be my preferred solution.

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New Ubuntu for phones due 'by end of May' – usable this time

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Unix phone @Ken

Not necessarily. It would be perfectly possible to write the command line phone interface to take the last group of numbers on the command line a single phone number. Not normally the way you would write a UNIX-like command, but possible.

What I would say about the OP is that I would not want my phone book installed in /etc. That is for non-personal, system configuration files owned by root. Maybe something like ~/.phonebook instead.

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HP knew Autonomy was a duff buy, claim HP shareholders in $1bn suit

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Winners? @Don

It's not HP that is being sued. It's the named parties, "HP's current CEO Meg Whitman, her predecessor Leo Apotheker, former HP chairman Ray Lane and Autonomy founder Mike Lynch, along with other senior execs and HP's banking aides, Barclays Capital and Perella Weinberg Partners."

If the defendants lose, they will personally (in the case of the individuals), or the companies named, have to find whatever the court deems suitable recompense. It should not cost HP anything, so the only damage will be reputational. That's the problem of being a senior officer in a US company. You have a fiduciary duty to the shareholders, which puts you on the spot if they are not happy.

I don't know about the US, but I believe that it is pretty difficult to make anything stick to the auditors, because they are acting as agents, and unless negligence or deliberate fraud is proved, can absolve themselves of blame.

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TV gesture patent bombshell: El Reg punts tech into public domain

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Sod all these gestures.

Give me a voice activated TV! Say what you want done.

Probably cheaper to implement as well (microphone, noise discrimination circuit to avoid feedback from the TV sound, Google voice recognition, job done).

Scotty: "Computer.... Computer"

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Adobe kills Creative Suite – all future features online only

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Rip-off UK pricing @An0n C0w4rd

But the cloud service will probably be paid direct to Adobe US, and bypass the UK company completely. Remember, the Internet is international!

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Thousands rally behind teen girl cuffed, expelled in harmless 'explosion'

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: What I'd Like.

Soduim. My chemistry teacher did this in a large pyrex bowl. Said he had done it many time before. This time, the sodium ball stuck to the edge of the bowl, and caused the bowl to 'explode'.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but it did shake everybody up, including the teacher.

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