* Posts by Stuart Castle

600 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007

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'Fix these Windows 10 Horrors': Readers turn their guns on Redmond

Stuart Castle

Re: Mandatory updates

"Without the ability to control updates, what happens when an update breaks an app and stops the business running? If I can't roll back an update, "

The business version of Windows 10 does allow a sysadmin to block updates. Not saying Microsoft have done this out of concern for the small business though, I suspect it was more that they didn't want to have to deal with the fallout when an enforced update takes out half the computers of a massive multinational company.

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The Breakfast (Table) of Champions: Micro Machines

Stuart Castle

I think it is the simple formula that makes MM so enjoyable, and I don't think any update (whether it has the Micro Machines licence or not) should tinker with it. Too many games have tried to add a back story and in the process messed up the simplicity that made the game so enjoyable.. Thinking particularly of Battleships here, although the story wasn't added for a game, more so they could get a movie out of it.

Don't get me wrong: I like a game with a good story, but I also like a game where you can just go in and do something, like race. I also like games where, if you are in the mood, you can totally ignore the story and just go in and blow shit up. GTA and Saints Row are particularly good for this. Micro Machines had no real story, it was was just about having fun.

I would like to see it with updated graphics though. I might check out that other top down racer mentioned in the article..

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IoT DANGERS: BYOD’s trashier cousin becoming a right tearaway

Stuart Castle

Re: Suggestion

" Why not operate two separate networks in a house with an IOT network and another for your computers etc were the more sensitive data is."

Some routers (e.g. the newer Linksys ones) already offer something that could be used for this. They offer a guest network on the WiFi, which is blocked from accessing resources on the main network.

This does have a couple of problems though. One being that not all devices have WiFi, and it can be quite an expensive add on.

The other problem is that some devices (such as Smart TVs and smart thermostats) need access to the main network. Lets be honest, a lot of people don't buy a Smart TV because they can look at facebook on it, or to watch Youtube. They will probably use the On Demand services (such as iPlayer, Netflix etc), but they are likely to be using it a lot to view the collection of dodgy copies of TV shows they have stored on their computer. The problem for Smart Thermostats (and other smart devices, such as smart plugs) is that they are often controlled by an app, which would obviously need a way to both find the devices, and connect to them. Neither of which is going to happen if one network is separated from the other, unless the device and the app both connect to an external webservice, in which case you lose the advantage given by separation..

0
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Sydney adopts 'world's first' e-ink parking signs

Stuart Castle

Re: Fantastic!

"The article says they are "equipped with mobile broadband", I'm a little surprised at this, I would have thought that zigbee/z-wave or similar would have been lower power or even better some kind of MW carrier because the data requirement is low and the update periods are probably very long.

"

The advantage, from a cost point of view, of mobile broadband (or even SMS which doesn't need broadband and would probably suffice) is that it's cheaper to install as the infrastructure is probably already there.

This, I believe, is why the "next bus" displays in London (which TFL call Countdown) use existing mobile networks rather than zigbee or z-wave. if they'd have gone for Zigbee, z-wave or MW, they'd have to maintain their own infrastructure and, in the case of MW, there may be licencing hurdles to get over. By using the mobile networks, they've bypassed all that as the operator has already installed the infrastructure and already has licences for the frequencies their network uses.

And, would the power savings be that great? Bearing in mind that a simple mobile phone (ie not smart) can run for several days on a small battery, the current used to connect a digital sign to a broadband network is likely to be a fraction of the current required to run the sign (or even light it at night).

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Want longer battery life? Avoid the New York Times and The Grauniad

Stuart Castle

Re: and the same tests done with

"would be great to see this as a little browser add-on, how power hungry is this website. scored 1-100"

It would be a good idea, but it may be difficult to get accurate readings unless the OS actually makes power consumption figures available to developers. I know OSX (recent versions) tracks this, but I don't know if the readings are made available to developers through an API. I don't know if Windows or Linux even track this, let alone make it available to developers. The browser would also need to enable access to this information but would also need to track what it is doing in each tab. For instance, looking purely at the power usage by each process (which is what the OS would see), you would not get accurate power usage information for a largely text based site if you had a browser window or tab open in the background showing a flash movie.

Don't get me wrong. This info may already be available via the browsers. If it isn't, it should be.

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Apple Watch is such a flop it's the world's top-selling wearable

Stuart Castle

Re: Who actually wears a watch anymore? And why?

I have a Pebble (the old black and white one).

I wear it because if you are seen with an expensive item (such as a phone) in some of the places I travel through, you are likely to be attacked.

The Pebble enables me to see the time, and notifications from my phone while I keep the phone securely elsewhere.

Not sure I'd feel the same way about an Apple Watch though..

1
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Windows 10 Edge: Standards kinda suck yet better than Chrome?

Stuart Castle

Re: They should keep IE, but simplify it for its most common use

Or they could offer a choice, you know, like the Browser Choice screen? Not everyone likes Chrome.

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The roots go deep: Kill Adobe Flash, kill it everywhere, bod says

Stuart Castle

There seem to be a group of writers at El Reg who appear to have something against Flash Player. I see the same names cropping up again and again in articles condemning it as a bug ridden pile of hurt. I'm not saying Flash Player isn't a bug ridden pile of hurt. It is, and I would gladly get rid of it if I didn't have to use it to log on to the admin console for one of our VM clusters. Java, which seems to be largely ignored by the same people, is also a bug ridden pile of hurt..

I know that El Reg has never even pretended to be a balanced news source, but this is getting ridiculous.

And you are right. Mozilla have not announced they are dumpling Flash, merely disabling it by default, which is a good thing. Those who want flash animations to play can have them, but everyone else does not have to. I think other vendors should be doing the same, whatever product the flash movie is embedded within.

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Samsung, Oppo collared in smartphone bloatware probe

Stuart Castle

Re: I took a stand against bloatware a while ago

Sorry to spoil your sarcasm, but while Apple do include bloatware with their devices (thinking particularly of the Stocks and Apple Watch apps here), they include a lot less than most other companies, and also do not allow the mobile phone networks to include their own.

I still shudder when I think of the pink, white and grey colour scheme used by the dialer T mobile forced me to use on my old HTC tytn 2, and how long it took the f**king thing to respond when I dared use it to dial.

Even the Nokia N95 that replaced it rarely got updates as they had to be OK'd by the network before we could install them (which stopped happening once O2 had another phone to push).

That's a few of the things I like about my iPhone. I know that it's going to be supported for at least 2 years after release (my Nokia received updates for 1), and possibly more. I also know I will get those updates on the day Apple release them (no waiting for a network release that may never come) and I know that the network will not be allowed to install any bloatware on top of the minimal amount of bloatware already installed by Apple.

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'The server broke and so did my back on the flight to fix it'

Stuart Castle

"The system came up and said it couldn't find a boot disk, but hey, there's a hard drive here would you like to format it?"

Hmmm, I may be misreading this here, but I have several years experience with Mac, both on OS and OSX, and both Client and Server side. I've never once had a Mac offer to format the boot disk.In fact OSX will prevent you formatting the boot disk, at least from the GUI.

That's not to say you can't do some monumentally stupid stuff with it (mucking up the network connection while connected remotely is a favourite of mine, and something I've also managed in Windows).

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Setting up a new Mac (Apple ID, iCloud, spyware, etc)

Stuart Castle

You don't need an apple id to download updates for the OS and certain apps (e.g. Safari, Preview, iTunes). You will need it to download updates for other apps and suites, such as the iWork suite.

0
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Auto-playing video ads? People love auto-playing video ads – Twitter

Stuart Castle

While I realise they probably won't see this, I'll just say this:

"Twitter, if you are so convinced people will love to see autoplayed videos and ads, are you going to ask on first launch whether your users want the videos and ads to autoplay?"

That, to me, would indicated they actually do think people want it. If they just offer an option to disable it, even if they blatantly advertise how to disable it, that is, to me, implying they don't think people will opt to watch the ads.

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Fire, fire! Just move your data centre onto my lawn ... Oh rats!

Stuart Castle

Re: Power of Three

"All BC is a cost/benefit analysis. "

It is, and that is some a lot of people forget. How likely is a disruption? How likely is it that your primary systems will be disrupted at the same time as your backup systems? How much will any disruption cost? How will any disruption impact the business? How much will maintaining (potentially multiple) backup systems cost?

It reminds me of an old Jasper Carrot joke about a shop using £60,000 of CCTV and security equipment to protect £25 worth of Smarties.

The solution is easier if you are a massive international corporation as they are likely to know exactly how much they will lose due to primary systems going down, and it is likely to be considerably more than maintaining backup systems that may not be used 95% of the time.

I was talking to someone who manages security at a major bank (won't say which one, but they are large world wide, just not one of the big four here). In the last few years, they moved out of their old UK headquarters in to a new one. They are still maintaining their old UK headquarters though (even though the building is not used), purely as a backup so the bank can carry on trading in the event something happens that takes out their new HQ.

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The watts in a box that kept West London's lights on

Stuart Castle

Do you have proof that they wouldn't provide any help if it had happened outside London? Bear in mind that if UKPN and the power companies do their jobs right, most people would not even be aware the problem was serious enough to warrant bringing in generators, assuming they are aware of a problem at all?

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Science teacher jammed his school kids' phones, gets week suspension

Stuart Castle

Re: Why not fix the root cause of the problem?

And when someone walks by needing to make an urgent call and is unaware the signal is being jammed? OK, you could put signs up in the building where the jammer is, but radio signals do have a habit of penetrating walls, so can quite easily leave a building. The jamming signal may stop at the building wall. It might also prevent mobile reception within a several hundred metre radius. It might even, as this jammer did, take out a cell tower, in which case, it will affect reception for (potentially) several miles. Would you be willing to cover half your town with signs?

Jamming is not a good answer. What is a good answer is to educate people to use their phones considerately.

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Stuart Castle

Re: In the 1970's

I had a teacher that could, without turning away from the board, detect almost any form of communication between pupils then throw a chalk at (and usually hit) the person who initiated the communication. In a way, it was almost cool as it was like a superpower, but we learned quickly to not attempt any communication as it was also painful.

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Stuart Castle

Re: Faraday cage...

Goot idea in theory.. In practice, there's the slight problem of planning permission and the cost of refitting the room(s). Not to mention permission from the school.

It would be something the school may be able to implement, but the teacher almost certainly wouldn't be able to.

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Elon Musk's $4.9 BEELLLION taxpayer windfall revealed

Stuart Castle

Re: Comparing with a 'competitive' project

I think the problem NASA has is that the US started it's space program as part of a huge, very expensive, cold war pissing contest with the USSR. The US government would throw any amount of money into the programme as long as it kept delivering goals before the Ruskies.

As such, when the USSR collapsed, so did the US government's interest in beating them, and a lot of the funding dried up.

In the meantime, the various companies involved in the space programme got used to being given massive amounts of money. Companies in this position tend to be a little more relaxed about cutting costs. A lot of companies also assume that because something is government funded, the government won't bother checking the figures, so charge what they want. Believe me, I have experienced this, having worked in our local hospital and taken an interest in actively checking the figures.

Don't get me wrong, I am not criticising the US Space programme. It helped pave the way for massive advancements in technology (including computers) that we are arguably enjoying the fruits of now, and I suspect that SpaceX are also able to use them to reduce costs.

On to Elon Musk, I think $4.9bn is actually relatively cheap when you consider the potential benefits to mankind of what he has already delivered. Tesla has made massive advances in Electric vehicles, and particularly battery tech, many of which they have effectively open sourced. They have also increased sales of electric cars, which should reduce the sales of fossil fuel based cars, and thus (assuming they are charged by electricity from a renewable source) reduce pollution significantly. He has also effectively rebooted the US space programme, or enabled NASA to do so.

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Creationist: The Flintstones was an accurate portrayal of Dino-human coexistence

Stuart Castle

How many sources?

"Ken Ham, an Australian young-Earth creationist, says he is on the verge of proving that dinosaurs and humans coexisted only a couple of thousand years ago."

This sounds like he has started the investigation by looking for evidence to prove his conclusion. This is not good science. For the science to be good, he would have to have started his investigation with (at least) the view he may be wrong, or (at most) a determination to look at the evidence to work out his conclusion based on that. Either way, he should have gone into it with an open mind.

Of course, a good scientist is also ready to have his or her conclusions (however they reached them) questioned and even proved wrong. This is something a lot of religious people are not ready for.

Be interesting to see what (if anything) happens when(if) the paper is published.

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Heartbleed, eat your heart out: VENOM vuln poisons countless VMs

Stuart Castle

Re: Remediate?

According to the OED, remediation is..

"the action of remedying something, in particular of reversing or stopping environmental damage."

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Ofcom: Oi, BT! Don't be greedy – feed dark fibre to your rivals

Stuart Castle

Re: How does this affect investment decisions?

"If any spare capacity that gets installed can be required to be sold at low cost to a competitor, it makes an awful lot of sense to no longer install spare capacity. The regulation acts as a disincentive."

Indeed. Even if the extra fibre only adds a few pounds to the install cost, why are any company going to spend that money just so the fibre can be essentially taken off them and sold for peanuts to a competitor?

I am not a massive fan of BT (quite the opposite, actually), but I don't really see how this is going to benefit anyone apart from other ISPs, and I think this action will actually negatively impact the consumer in the long run as it will dissuade ISPs from investing in their networks in the long term. After all, why bother to invest in brand spanking new hardware, and running new fibre everywhere when they can just bitch to Ofcom and get the fibre for next to nothing? Also, it will no longer be in BTs interest to invest heavily as they know they'll just get slapped for it by Ofcom before they can turn a profit on it.

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World of the strange: There will be NINE KINDS of Windows 10

Stuart Castle

Re: how many?

This is what I read once they call "Simplification". Windows 2000 was released and had four versions. Pro, Server, Advanced Server and Data Centre Server.

then the Server and Client lines were split.

XP had four client editions (Starter, Home, Pro and 64 bit) or 5 if you include Windows Fundamentals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Fundamentals_for_Legacy_PCs) which was designed for thin client work.

Server side, Windows Server 2003 was released a couple of years after XP, and had 6 editions. If you count Server 2003 as the server version of XP, that' already 10 or 11 editions.. Then add in Server 2003 R2 which came with 8 editions..

Vista also had four client editions, but Windows Server 2008 had 10 editions.. That's fourteen editions between the client and server versions of essentially the same OS. Server 2008 R2 had 12 editions..

In fairness, with Windows 8, they are reducing the number of editions, as the client for both 8 and 8.1 has 3 editions, and Server 2012 has five, where as Server 2012 R2 currently has four.

Who knows what they'll do with 10 and whatever the server version of 10 is called.

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Windows 10 bombshell: Microsoft to KILL OFF Patch Tuesday

Stuart Castle

Looking at this from a business point of view, I suspect "Patch Tuesday" was started so that Sys admins could actually set aside some time in their potentially busy schedules so that they could test patches both adequately and quickly.

You say that business can and should be implementing their own patch schedule. They should, but when Patch Tuesday started, Microsoft did not offer a coherent way for ANYONE to do this, and only started offering them two years later. Even now, they only offer a way to do this if you have a Windows Server available on the network. Something which is not cheap, and may not be feasible for small businesses, who may have a few PCs but don't have someone they can dedicate to running a server.

For these people, there may also be the problem of link usage. If they know that all their PCs are going to be using the link to the internet at a given time on a given day, they can schedule anything time sensitive (such as IP based telephone calls) so it does not happen at that time. They can, if they are savvy, also set up their PCs so that they power up at this time, thus enabling the company to save power (and therefore money). OK, so Windows Update will check when the PC is powered up anyway, but this might still cause problems with Link use..

I think Microsoft are going about this the right way. Consumer get the updates whenever they are released, but businesses have a set schedule that they can use. I suspect Microsoft have been a bit slow to introduce this because it is quite a massive change for Windows Update, and if it goes wrong, the effects will be felt world wide. I also suspect that they introduced the fast and slow tracks in Windows Update on windows 10 to test the backend changes required (the Consumer edition being the fast track, and the Business edition being the slow).

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Stuart Castle

Re: Microsoft taking a swipe at another company

Judge Microsoft by what they are doing now, not what they have done. If you judge them by their past, it makes you look bitter, and also slightly stupid when Microsoft consistently does well in security tests now.

Remember, back in the dark old days of XP SP1, Microsoft regularly got their Ass handed to them security wise by the hackers. So much so that they spent a lot of money on their "Trusted Computing" initiative and substantially changed Windows XP with the release of SP2. They also (apparently) deleted a lot of the Vista source code and rewrote it using the recommendations of the Trusted Computing initiative, which is why Vista was late, and delivered a fraction of what they had promised. One major (but actually relatively simple) switch made was to ensure that the Server version shipped with virtually everything disabled, thereby ensuring the sys admin is required to enable the services he or she requires from the machine. This even extended to limiting what the browser could display.

Sure, Windows, along with any reasonably sized to large sized software product has bugs. Some of which are serious, but the security on Windows has been hardened. This is why the hackers are increasingly going for other software such as Java and the various Adobe plugins. When Sun and Adobe get their act together security wise, hackers will move on elsewhere.

BTW, I am not a Microsoft fanboi. Not by a long chalk. I am not a fanboi of any particular platform. I believe in using the "tools for the job". If a platform fits my needs, I'll use it, be it Linux, OSX or Windows.

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Stuart Castle

Re: Remember when...

Read the article. Microsoft is splitting Windows Update into two editions. One, the consumer edition will have the continual roll outs they are talking about. The other, the business edition will run slightly behind the consumer edition (to give sys admins a chance to look for bugs and test each patch) and will still have a monthly patch cycle.

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Major London rail station reveals system passwords during TV documentary

Stuart Castle

The old acronym.. PEBCAK. Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard.

This shows the trouble with humans and security. You can have the best, most advanced systems in the world protecting your computer, but as soon as you involve humans, they can blow the system wide open.

3
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Intel has ambitions to turn modems into virtual servers and reinvent broadband

Stuart Castle

Re: This matters for the future of video delivery

"I'm sure Microsoft will try to insert themselves in there somewhere, and insist there's a reason we want to run full Windows on the gateway or something ridiculous like that. Had this happened 15 years ago they'd probably have succeeded, and we'd all have to have a WMC PC as our gateway."

Microsoft have already had several attempts at this (and probably spent the equivalent of the GDP of a small country in the process), but only seem to have had limited success..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_TV

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Oxford chaps solve problem in 1982 Sinclair Spectrum manual

Stuart Castle

Re: Wham!

I deal with students learning programming day in and day out, and while we have a lot of excellent students who are producing some interesting things, I can't help thinking, as they moan that their dual, quad or six core PCs with state of the art graphics cards, many gigabytes of RAM and many terabytes of storage (be it HDD, SSD or a combo) are not powerful enough that they would produce far more efficient code if they were required to code something on what we had access to in the 80s (Spectrum, C64, CPC etc). Hell, my Pebble smartwatch has an order of magnitude more computing power than any of the machines I started learning programming on.

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Stuart Castle

" the rubber keyboard Spectrums, as well as the ZX80 and ZX81, all came with decent ring-bound, (normally - I have a rare copy which is not ring bound), full manual, which not only explained BASIC programming in considerable detail, but also basic triganometry, and even a bit about the hardware of the machine,"

True, and something that doesn't happen any more.. How many modern PC manuals (assuming the PC even *comes* with any documentation beyond Windows help contain details of pinouts for the various interfaces.

OK, so if you buy a motherboard, they do sometimes come with manuals that contain pinouts (although increasingly rarely), but what about pre-built PCs? I have quite a few friends who grew up building unusual, and often interesting peripherals for their computers purely with the aide of some chips, a blank PCB and a soldering iron. One of our ex technicians here even built a complete patch panel designed to provide a rudimentary form of networking based entirely on RS232 Serial interfaces.

Don't get me wrong, the PC architecture is open enough that the info is freely available if you know where to look, but that doesn't really encourage experimentation. Having said that, how likely are most people to try something that if they do it wrong, may blow up their PC which may have cost anywhere from £700 to over £1,000? At least the Spectrum was a lot cheaper, and it's relatively easy to toast a motherboard simply by sending a voltage up the wrong line.

Still, there is always the Raspberry Pi.

2
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Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

Stuart Castle

"The problem with such a claim is "at some point", which is a weasel phrase (even more so than "the bulk"). At some point? Well, sure, because everything's connected to everything else at some point."

When I say "at some point" I mean that C++ was used either in the implementation of a given product, or the implementation of one or more of the components or tools that contribute to the design and implementation of that product. I said the bulk because, as you said, exact figures are actually hard to come by,

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Stuart Castle

Re: “Goto statement considred harmful”

"It would be much better in this case to use a 'goto' to jump immediately to a critical error handler rather than having to propagate the error condition through a potentially complex control flow graph."

Indeed, if the software you wrote was controlling a nuclear power station and an error occurred, the extra time spent propagating the error through a potentially complex control flow graph would probably be better spend initiating and monitoring the shutdown of the reactor. The delay may only be a few milliseconds, but in that sort of situation, even milliseconds could mean the difference between a safe shutdown and a disaster.

My own opinion is that like (say) a knife, goto is not intrinsically good or bad. A knife can be used to kill someone (arguably bad). It can also be used to help feed someone (arguably good). The same with Goto. Used correctly, it can be good. Used badly, it can be very bad.

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Stuart Castle

I haven't heard the programme, but I find it odd that C (and particularly C++) seemed almost to be glossed over. I'd argue that the bulk of the world's computer systems and applications rely on C++ at some point, even those designed using other languages such as Java. After all, the compilers, interpreters and virtual machines in use for those other languages have to be written in something. In the case of Java, the VM is written using a combination of C++ and assembly.

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Got iOS 8.3 installed? Pssh, you are SO last week… version 8.4 is out

Stuart Castle

"Every iOS release to date has been a beta test ."

"Every OS release to date has been a beta test ."

There. Fixed that for you. While it may not be accurate to state every OS is a beta release, every OS does have bugs, a lot of which need to be fixed. Personally, in this day and age, I would rather have an OS that does have patches from time to time than one that never has any, because the one that is never patched will still have bugs and will be insecure. Not a problem if you aren't connected to any networks, but Mobiles tend to be.

0
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El Reg chefs whip up Post-Pub Noshographic

Stuart Castle

Re: The most astonishing thing about this series is ...

In some companies, getting plastered almost seems to be the rule. Makes it especially fun if you are called in to work again.

Still, that's probably a good explanation for TFL's Oystercard website.

Seriously, I work in IT, and while I do try and eat healthily I do like to let off some steam on Fridays and usually end up at some pub someone, and, on occasion, a club afterwards (although I am a little too old to do that regularly).

That does not mean do not know how to feed myself. Besides, what's the point of being healthy if you have to stop doing the things you enjoy to do it?

0
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Dell System Detect update vulnerability exposed

Stuart Castle

"I am getting rather fed up with these silly little start-up security firms blowing their own trumpets and trying to look impressive by finding security issues that, whilst they technically exist, are usually PEBKAC issues."

Instead of criticising F-Secure for finding security issues (which is their job), how about you criticise Dell for not ensuring that the affected software updates itself with little or no user intervention. After all, F-Secure noted that the problem they found was fixed in a later version of the program, it's just that the later version has not been installed much because it requires the user to update it.

Before you say a Sys Admin should be managing the updates, home users are not going to have a Sys Admin to update their computer for them. Sure, they may have a family member or friend who does it. The same with a small or medium size company. They may have someone in charge of the computers, but he or she is likely to be doing it on top of their other duties. Large companies should have sys admins for this kind of stuff.

4
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Are you sure there are servers in this cold, dark basement?

Stuart Castle

Re: Something else is happening here

"Every field has its share of people who are disturbed, distraught, or jut plain jerls, including IT. In this instance, if it wasn't the leaving sysadmins, it was someone else with the access and the knowledge of what was valuable."

This, combined with the access they have to potentially important systems is why it's important to do what they told us to do in my degree when firing contractors and sysadmins. Put simply, if you need to fire one, disable all his or her accounts, cancel his or her access cards (assuming your building uses them) and find a couple of burly security guards to escort them off the premises. All of which happened within 20 minutes of an ex-colleague at another company being fired, and the only reason it took 20 minutes was that his line manager needed to question him first.

0
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Popular crypto app uses single-byte XOR and nowt else, hacker says

Stuart Castle

Re: Get a grip!

Would you feel the same way about, say , a front door lock that appears secure because it appears to require a key then you discover that using a certain sequence of knocks, you can open it?

It's the same principle, appearing to be secure.

The fact is that this company are selling a product that appears to offer a secure storage system, and it seems it does not offer what they are selling. Personally, I don't feel the need for these security systems (and, TBH, find them to be more trouble than they are worth), however some people do. Regardless of whether you or I feel we need secure storage, if this product is not secure and they are selling it as such, the company are wrong, and probably liable under the Sale of Goods act.

10
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Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email

Stuart Castle

Re: Holy whitepace, Batman!

"It seems the more pixels we get on our devices, the harder the UI designers work to waste them."

On the other hand, a nice, usable interface might be a little more useful than a 240*135 character text screen that has a a 6 inch diagonal, assuming your device 1920*1080.

0
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Virgin Media takes its time on website crypto upgrade

Stuart Castle

Re: And they have a ludicrous mandatory weak password policy too

"Yes - El Reg, you should be pursuing them about this too - trivial to lift those restrictions."

When you are dealing with a service that has millions of customers accessing it, no change (however trivial it might seem) is trivial.

That doesn't let Virgin Media off the hook though. If parts of their web infrastructure have potential security problems, they should be working to resolve them as quickly as they can.

0
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Taylor Swift snaps up EVEN MORE pr0n domain names

Stuart Castle

Re: You have to wonder.

In fairness Taylor Swift's music is marketed at teenagers (whether you like her music or not, it is a fact that it's marketed at the young). As such, she (or her management) has to protect her image. This is probably why while you will see her in a (seemingly) carefully orchestrated relationship with another pop star, you probably won't see her falling out of a club at 4am off her tits on Coke.

Websites associating her name with various hardcore porn acts will damage the image and often the easiest (and cheapest) way to stop them is prevent them ever being registered.

3
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Data centre dangers: Killing a tree and exploding a UPS

Stuart Castle

Love these threads..

As for my experience, it is a little limited compared to some commenters, but here goes.

When I was a student, our Unit had a nice, shiny new(ish) building right on the banks of the Thames. The main computer room, along with the inlet for the electrical supply for the building was in the basement. Which, being next to a river, flooded regularly.

We also had a lab in the basement of another building on that campus. That wasn't on the banks of the Thames, but still flooded whenever it rained. Probably not a good idea to put Tower PCs in that lab, and we spent many hours cleaning motherboards and repairing PCs that had been in a flood.

My best one though was I was called in by a friend and ex-colleague to advise his directors on video streaming. The only time available for me to go see what hardware they had was a Saturday, so we went in to his work on a hot Saturday. Unfortunately, their server room was two 8 foot racks packed with servers, and a few assorted PCs in a tiny room with no windows and a small Air Con unit that failed. I have no idea how hot it was, as the thermometer in the room maxed out at 40 deg. C, and the mercury had gone past that to the top of the tube. What I do know is that the bulk of their hardware had overheated and shut down, and the couple of servers that were running had overheat warnings on their LCD displays. I also know that we were sweating like crazy almost the instant we went in there, and the only option available was get every fan in the building, take it to the server room, and try and get some cooler air in there. After two hours, the room was merely uncomfortably hot (as was the rest of the building), but it was cool enough we were able to get the servers restarted. On the plus side, that two hours did give me a chance to go into the local O'Neills with my friend and his then girlfriend, have a Full English and essentially get paid for it.

On the plus side for him, he suddenly got all the funding he needed to install the monitoring and alert system he'd requested a while before and was denied.

Where I am now, I'm not too involved in the server side of things (although I do get involved if needed), and the few times we'd had electrical problems, the UPSs have enabled the servers to shut down gracefully. Having said that, one time it happened, National Power had been drilling in the road outside and put a drill through our mains. That was fun for me. I was in the lift at the time, with four women. Something which isn't as fun as it sounds as one was slightly claustrophobic and I spent my whole time trying to stop her mild anxiety turning into a full blown panic attack. There was also another time when another colleague was working in our main server room, and one of the phases blew.. Apparently, he has never heard such a loud explosion. After his hearing returned, he (and his team) spent the next 3 days determining what machines we needed, testing them and plugging them into the other circuits.

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And the buggiest OS provider award goes to ... APPLE?

Stuart Castle

My old Software Engineering Management lecturer told us something I think is very true. He said that if you developed a perfectly secure system, you would become very wealthy very quickly, as such a thing is virtually impossible to achieve.

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Windows 10 heralds the MINECRAFT-isation of Microsoft

Stuart Castle

Re: We have a winner

Depends what you need from a PC. If you need a basic browser, office application or low or medium end game, you can get by on a mobile phone or tablet with external screen and keyboard (I frequently work like this) or some sort of virtual desktop system.

If you want access to high end games, running at high resolution (I know a few PC gamers who consider even 1080p to be medium resolution and every streaming game service I know of struggles with 1080p), 3d graphics or video editing software, you need a machine with a decent graphics card that can run at high resolutions and has lots of CPU power.

As an experiment, I installed Premiere on a VM running on our VM Ware cluster at work. Even running over PCoIP (which is supposed to reduce lag), and running on a gigabit network, there was a 1 to 2 second lag between any action the user took (including moving the pointer) and the results of that action appearing on screen.

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You'll NEVER guess who has bought I Taught Taylor Swift How To Give Head dot-com

Stuart Castle

Re: TS went down on me

And if she's pre-op, that little thing with the two objects either side dangling between her legs?

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RM has been schooled: Sales fell by over £69m in fiscal 2014

Stuart Castle

Re: Hardly surprising

I work for a Uni. We used to have some RM ones (see http://www.mapleuk.co.uk/refurbished-rm-one-computer---ascend-1010b---17---grade-b-925-p.asp for an example).

My boss called us in the office saying he had found an all in one P.C. that was as near as an iMac. Then the RMs arrived. I have happy memories of the RM Link machines (showing my age there) so I really wanted to like the machine. Then I saw one and my heart sank.

The Monitor is clearly bought in as it had a VGA cable in the connection bay on the back of the machine, as well as a separate power button and input selector (although only the aforementioned VGA cable was actually accessible). The other problem with the monitor was that the graphics card (the motherboard had no on board graphics) only had a DVI output. This was also in the connection bay, so the machine needed a VGA/DVI adaptor to work. Space in the bay was already limited by the bloody great bolt the machine needed to be used if you wanted it secured, so space for the other connections (keyboard, mouse, USB, power), and while none of these connections required a lot of space, the design of the PC made it fiddly to fit these cables.

Then I used one. There was no problem with RM bloat as we replace any OS on the machine with our own image anyway, but the machines were not fast, not nice to use and failed staggeringly regularly. With or without the correct drivers.

Say what you like about Apple, but the iMac is a very neat (and well designed from a usability point of view) all in one machine.

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Switch it off and on again: How peers failed to sneak Snoopers' Charter into terror bill

Stuart Castle

The problem with the bill as I see it..

The problem with the bill is not so much that it allows the security services to monitor the internet, more that it allows the security services to monitor the internet *without* passing the checks required by other communications methods. You can't (in the UK anyway) start listening in on someone's phone. Even if you managed it without being caught, any "evidence" you obtained would probably be inadmissible in court.

Personally, I have no problem with the certain users of the internet being monitored, provided the authorities have demonstrated that they have reasons to be suspicious of those users, in much the same way they are required to do this to tap phones.

The problem I have with this bill (and the actions of the security services in general) is that they are eroding everyone's right to privacy, including tens of millions of innocent people, with the promise that they are keeping us safe from a threat that they seem unable or unwilling to define. This is bad, partly because it is affecting 10s of millions of innocent people, and partly because the only thing the bill will actually achieve is to drive the terrorists they know are presenting an actual threat on to communication systems that can not be so easily monitored, such as Tor. Even if they don't move to any secure internet connections, it's easy enough to download an open source Instant Messaging server to install on your own machine, or open source forum or email server software. While the same IP would show up in any logs kept by the ISP, using Tor or a VPN would mask that.

What are they planning to do next? Restrict our rights to install our own IM or Forum servers? Ban us from installing our own email servers? Restrict VPN access? There are perfectly good legitimate reasons to use all of these.

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Welcome to Spartan, Microsoft's persuasive argument for... Chrome

Stuart Castle

Re: "having to build for not one but two Microsoft browsers"

"You shouldn't have to build for anyone's browser. That's what standards are for."

True. You shouldn't. And you should especially avoid proprietary stuff, such as Active X (which, from a security point of view, is bastard anyway), but what if you are having to maintain a legacy system that uses some of the proprietary stuff in a given browser (usually IE)? You may need to rewrite at least the interface of the system just to bring it up a snuff standards wise. This may not be feasible.

Don't get me wrong. I prefer standards compliant browsers (both developing for and using), but I also know that there is going to be some techy somewhere trying to get an ancient enterprise system that no one has done any serious coding on since the 90s working on Spartan because someone higher up has read it is a new browser, thought new browser = secure, and secure = good and decided to update the workforce. I've worked for bosses like that and spent many a sleepless night at work trying to get their latest idea working.

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FBI boss: Sony hack was DEFINITELY North Korea, haters gonna hate

Stuart Castle

Re: Pardon me while I laugh until I piss myself

Bearing in mind the norks block internet access to 96% of their population, and those 4% that do have access have a heavily censored internet (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/23/technology/23link.html?_r=0), how many open proxies or VPNs are likely to be using nork IPs?

I am not saying that the it's impossible for a hacker to appear to be attacking from North Korea, and I am not saying that the US Government would not use hackers for this sort of thing, but I think they would only do this sort of thing if they gained in someway, after all, any act like that could be considered an act of war, and while the norks would probably lose in a conventional war, they do apparently have the Nuclear option, and a leader that is, I believe, mad enough to use it.

Sony, on the other hand, have a movie that is currently making far more money than it probably would have had the hack not happened, and conveniently still had access to enough computing power (and the old Blackberry system they used to use) to keep them going.

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THREE MILLION Moonpig accounts exposed by flaw

Stuart Castle

Re: Depends

"Depends on whether you go the whole hog and give them all your details or not.

(similar to people moaning about FB when they have added thier entire life story to personal info.)"

You are right, it does depend on whether you go the whole hog and give them all your details or not. Like facebook (it is possible to give Facebook enough information for your friends to identify you without giving them any real personal stuff). One major difference. See how far you get with Moonpig without entering at least a credit/debit card and address.. With Facebook you don't have to produce either.

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Microsoft's Azure goes TITSUP PLANET-WIDE AGAIN in cloud FAIL

Stuart Castle
Thumb Up

Loving he sponsored link at the bottom..

" Featured Webinar: Active Directory integration and extending on-premises identities to the cloud", at the bottom of an article about a lot of people losing Active Directory access due to their cloud provider going tits up.. Well done El Reg!

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