* Posts by Lee D

604 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013

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Ford: Our latest car gizmo will CHOKE OFF your FUEL if you're speeding

Lee D
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Re: My wife's car has automatic headlights.

If you need to be seen, sidelights.

If you need to see, headlights.

If you "don't notice" for several hundred yards, chances are you don't "need" headlights, as such.

That said, if your car doesn't put at least sidelights on at the first sign of dusk, you're going to be run into, and it's almost certainly a problem with your car. That you notice means that you are driving fairly responsibly, though.

I'm torn. I only buy cars that are almost entirely mechanical - it's impossible to get ENTIRELY mechanical nowadays. I just don't like the car second-guessing me. But I'm also one of the few people I know that would happily slap average speed cameras on every street corner, and tie them in to alert nearby police to cars with false/invalid/hidden number plates, so it would be almost impossible to speed without flagging up something somewhere with your name on it.

I don't speed. But equally I don't want the car DECIDING that I'm speeding when actually I'm not (how does it deal with, for example, side-road speed limits posted on the main road, "20mph limit in one mile" etc?). I work in IT and just don't trust the equipment enough here to let it do such things, even with an override - that just adds to the confusion in such situations where the pedals don't correspond to the driver's wishes and then - all of a sudden - do.

I implicitly trust ABS, traction control, engine management, airbags, seatbelts, etc. They are fabulous technologies that save lives in one way or another. But equally I don't trust the car to actually choose how to drive. If I brake, ABS ensures that my braking is as efficient as possible. If my wheels spin, traction control will manage those wheels to ensure grip on the road to try to conform to my desire to accelerate / brake / corner. If I hit something, seatbelts and airbags will perform drastic measures to ensure that the damage to myself is as low as possible in such an extreme situation but not active otherwise.

It's the parts where cars attempt to detect the situations where you DON'T take an action (e.g. automatic emergency braking, automated lane control, even cruise control) and do it for you that I don't trust. There might be a good reason not to (I'm heavily of the opinion that it's BILLIONS-TO-ONE against the human NEEDING to accelerate in an emergency situation unless they'd be an ABSOLUTE pillock of a driver just seconds before anyway).

Cars, like computers, should do what they are told. You can help me do what I've told you to, that's fine. But the second I stop telling you to, you shouldn't suddenly decide that you must anyway unless it's absolutely, and assuredly, life-critical (and that has an entirely different standard of testing).

I'm not a fan of the middle ground. Let me drive the car and take responsibility for it, or don't. Don't put me behind the driving seat, telling me it's all my fault if something goes wrong, and then take away control. Automated car or manual car, not the in-between.

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Lee D
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Re: Oh...

Indeed.

Most sat-nav apps and devices will switch to different sides of the road, speed units, settings regarding showing you messages on the screen, etc. as soon as they detect you are in a foreign country. If you're already on GPS, working out what country you're in is trivial.

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Ten things you always wanted to know about IP Voice

Lee D
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Re: Call centres.

Once had one calling to sell me telephony services (specifically VoIP).

Line was so bad, I made them call my mobile.

Line was still bad, made them call the workplace landline direct.

Line was still bad, told them I'd never touch their products if they can't make a coherent phone call themselves in order to sell it.

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Lee D
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Not all VOIP is exteranl.

I work in a school.

We put in a phone point in every classroom and every office. You have to be able to send calls to the teacher, the teachers need to call in assistance (in rough schools), emergency numbers, the office to check on children, the parents to see where the kids are, etc.

We have 4 outgoing ISDN lines. Everything else is internal, there is no SIP to the outside world so there's no IP traffic outside the local network (though when my leased line comes through, it's the first upgrade planned).

We also have gigabit-to-the-desktop.

Hint: Guess what was the first option we had to turn on once we had a normal amount of traffic on the network and 30+ phones? QoS. Because, although the outside lines were fine, after a certain number of handsets, and with day-to-day server replication etc. we were experiencing phone calls dropping because the network couldn't keep up. Even VLANning the phones off didn't help much because they still shared the same priority as someone downloading their roaming profile.

You HAVE to put QoS on after a while. And it cures the problem instantly. Haven't had a problem since and the effect was immediate (VLANning it off helped in that we QoS'd the entire voice VLAN rather than the individual phones, protocols, etc.). If I have to put QoS on in a small school with only 50 internal phones and all analogue outside lines, it's not something that you "only want to care about" in an extreme scenario. And I guarantee you that when we get our SIP outgoing, we're going to need to QoS them against the kids downloading huge videos even if that's only on our end.

QoS exists in every managed switch (and has done for, what, 10-15 years?), and is a commodity feature, because it's necessary. Not if you have two phones on an idle gigabit network, but any serious scenario of IP phone deployment requires it. Hell, we can do several gigabytes of voice data a day just on internal calls.

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Lee D
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"Incidentally, I have had many clients and users moan over the years that the phone has been slowing down the PC. They were all wrong so don't fall for it."

I find the suggestion to just dismiss their concerns pretty amateur.

Login times, just for things like roaming profiles, etc. will be reduced BY A FACTOR OF TEN on gigabit. You don't need to have buckets of high-res video, just an ordinary press officer or marketing person will be dealing with gigabytes of photos in their average day.

100 is bare basics nowadays and covers all the bog-standard stuff, access control interfaces, etc. but Gigabit to the desktop is the norm an expected. If your phones can't handle it, it's time to junk the phones or run other ports - as suggested above - not ignore it.

I work in schools, most of them are VoIP-only, and I absolutely minimise the number of "passthrough" sockets I deploy precisely because it DOES affect the speed of login times etc. And in a school, you might have 20-30 people log onto a machine in the course of a day. A login being just 1 minute (and that's optimistic at best!) instead of 6 seconds makes for half-an-hour of wasted time over a day just through logging on.

100Mbps is NOT acceptable on new hardware. Legacy hardware, outliers on your IT plan (e.g. putting a phone in an out-of-the-way cupboard that only one person uses, etc.), maybe but not part-and-parcel of your desktop rollout.

Run more ports. Always run more ports. Don't "passthrough" anything unless you're sure it's going to last you.

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Apple is picking off iOS antivirus apps one by one: Who'll be spared?

Lee D
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They pull this stuff but:

I have a few hundred iPads in a school. If we want to roll out apps without getting them all in and doing them manually, we need the Apple MDM function of "allow installing apps". Doing that with kids means we need to be able to restrict things somehow, even in a BYOD situation. So we enforce age ratings on apps and deny other content entirely.

Apple, however, allow free VPN apps that are sold as "bypassing filters" to be tagged as 4+. And REFUSE to change the rating even after many heated requests. They say it's up to the app author to change the rating. The app is *marketed* as being able to evade filters and age restrictions for Internet access, however, so the app maker has no interest in doing so.

And that's it. One kid installing one free app, and all your web filters, logging, security, email/web scanning etc. are useless.

Yet, Chrome - that they put an 18+ rating on without warning because "it allows unrestricted access to the Internet".

Honestly, Apple have NO CARE for the use of their products in business or education, so long as they make the initial sale.

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Microsoft gets data centres powered up for big UPS turn-off

Lee D
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Re: not enough runtime

The end conversion is more efficient but you're still pulling DC voltage from somewhere at some point - so you have to weigh up - efficiency when you're running on battery versus day-to-day efficiency. AC is, I believe, more efficient to transport around a building.

However, some datacenters and telephone exchanges have been on (as you point out) -48VDC for years. The hardware is available. Nobody uses it because it's not that much better than just a cheap PSU on a 240v line. And any electrician can come in to sort out the 240v, not all of them will touch deadly voltages at DC (hint: the reason we use AC is that, if it contacts you through Earth, you have a good chances of being able to let go as your muscles spasms rather than contract tightly as they do under DC - My father worked in garages that service lorries for decades, it's common practice to have a large piece of wood "on standby" should someone bridge the (DC) lorry batteries, because you literally have to whack their body away from it).

The fact that what you suggest doesn't happen en-masse and automatically everywhere tells you that there are problems with it. The circuitry to generate 240v AC from 12v DC is actually commodity hardware. The circuitry to distribute and step-down huge DC voltages is not.

And PSU UPS aren't unusual. Hell, you can get ones that go in empty drive bays and all sorts (don't Argos sell ones in the extension lead itself?). The "simplest" solution is often the best, even if it's the most technically complex. And 240v AC works everywhere and is available everywhere and doesn't require specialist rack units and "just works" and UPS to generate it are bog-standard.

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Lee D
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Re: Wow!

It's the same whatever you do, on average.

Centralising, decentralising.

Nationalising, privatising.

Thin client, fat client.

The cycle is endless as you can always find a benefit in one that doesn't exist in the other and so, over time, your prime perceived weakness appears to be addressed by the alternative - and it is. Until you then see that what wasn't a weakness before now is a weakness and, hey, that other alternative doesn't have that weakness... repeat ad infinitum.

Central UPS means greater efficiency and everyone gets the same crack of the whip but is large, specialised and can be a single point of failure. Distributed UPS is less efficient but cheaper with a higher maintenance cost as you run around random machines whose batteries die at random times. And so on.

In-computer UPS isn't new. Google have been doing it for years (but not on all of their machines). You can buy them for desktop PC's that go into the drive slots. Laptops effectively ARE their own UPS (and I've often used one just like that, powering down the other hardware knowing I have 2-3 hours of good charge before I need worry about the machine I'm doing it from).

All that changes here is a small standards-compliant version.

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Opera buys mobe friendly VPN app bods SurfEasy

Lee D
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Codebases.

The "old" Opera codebase has been squeezed out. All the developers have gone on to other companies (e.g. Vivaldi browser). There's nobody left at Opera who can manage that code, so they basically started the rewrite that has been released as the new versions of Opera (anything past the 12 series).

That's why the new Opera's are junk. That's why they can't put back in old features into the new Opera.

That's why they can't manage the Opera Mini code that hasn't been updated since. That's why they have had to buy another company out, to buy the talent back in.

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Lee D
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You used to have this, Opera. Before you sacked all of your developers and built yet-another-Chrome-clone with no distinguishing features.

You used to have Opera Mini, and that used to have this technology, and it was tied into the desktop browser too so you could do image size reduction, etc. if people wanted to save bandwidth or use it as a VPN. And it was all integrated into the browser and worked perfectly for years, even on SSL sites.

Now you've had to buy a company to do what you ALWAYS USED TO DO for several major versions of the browser on every platform.

Roll on the Vivaldi browser - made by the former Opera devs and using the Chrome engine, but designed to have all those features that, apparently, Opera can't even keep running on their own any more.

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There's gold in dem hills: 1000s of two-byte domains hit market

Lee D
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The domain name was:

localtownlocaldistricttypeofschool (.mobi, .info, .whatever).

If someone cyber-squats on TLD's like that, it'd only take a second to kick them out as "passing off".

But, no, the alternative is to buy EVERY POSSIBLE TLD? Sod that. We gave up after two and just made it clear which one was us.

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Lee D
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A1.lawyer - yeah, there's a guy that I'd trust to handle my legal affairs.

Vanity plates for marketers, in effect.

I never understood why my former employer ever bought the .info, .mobi etc. of their domain anyway - they never had a site on them in all my time there and the main website was mobile compatible anyway.

Sad, really, that it's possible to make money by selling arbitrary strings, in effect.

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Web geeks grant immortality to Sir Terry Pratchett – using smuggled web code

Lee D
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Re: El Reg has jumped on the bandwagon

Don't want to crow about this (well, actually I do, but saying that excuses the following) but it's not that huge a deal to roll out a Beta site that does this.

I mean, really, IPv6 Day proved that you won't break anything just by enabling or pushing an AAAA record. From there, it's just a case of opening up port 80 and 443 on IPv6 IP's. From there, you have a beta copy of the site from the same Apache servers. From there, it's just a case of asking us to trial it so we can break it while you fuddle around with scripts and logs and all those nasty hard-coded things.

While there, a cert from a CA plugged into the Apache config would at least enable it, and securing, say, just the login form would be a welcome addition.

I realise you may have cloud, failover, load-balance, etc. on such a site but, really, it's not like a 5-year-plan kind of thing so much as a couple-of-weeks to start a Beta and the year following to check it isn't going to fall over and you have hardware to cope with the strain. And we've (I've!) been crowing about this for a bit longer than 5 years now!

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Lee D
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Re: I guess you parents failed your first 7 years

Sorry, I happen to be with you on your response to the first two points but they are COMPLETELY irrelevant here. Bringing them up is a nonsense, to be honest.

"Respect for ... other people['s choices]" is the only one that matters.

If people want to do this, it's not hurting YOU. Nobody asks you to participate. Nobody cares if you do or not. But to suggest blocking on it is to say you'll actively HINDER the operation. (In real life, nobody will care about your site doing that, sorry but they won't - they'll just tell you your site is broke like those old sites that used to block Opera and then tell people Opera isn't supported because nobody using it appears in your web logs). That's just being a pillock. You've gone out of your way to actively interfere in something that didn't affect you one bit.

So you don't like it, fine, don't participate. Don't encourage. Air a reasonable opinion on it and leave it at that. You disagree with us, we disagree with you. But don't be a pillock. Your actions will have zero effect on anyone else, in all probability, so it really doesn't matter (and applying my philosophy expressed above, you're not hurting me or anyone I know, most likely, so my caring stops there).

There's disagreement. There's condemnation. Then there's trying to prove some kind of point that nobody really cares about anyway.

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Lee D
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Re: Unexpected benefit

Not silent.

Merely the sound of no clack clacking.

Could be worse. It could have gone through silence and out the other side into anti-noise.

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Lee D
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Re: I believe you're wrong, read it again. I plan to.

Why include the N?

Surely not logging it means that it won't be written down as much?

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Lee D
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Re: El Reg has jumped on the bandwagon

They can mess about like this, but can't add IPv6?

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Fatally flawed RC4 should just die, shout angry securobods

Lee D
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Re: RFC 7465 - Prohibiting RC4 Cipher Suites

RFC is a request for comments.

Not a standard. Though it might evolve into one.

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Cisco posts kit to empty houses to dodge NSA chop shops

Lee D
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"We're going to announce what measures we're going to take to the world's press so the NSA can carry on doing what they're doing because they know exactly how we're working around them, but it looks like we're doing something about it".

Sorry, if you don't want the NSA intercepting shipments then you need to build in-house. If you ship and you CAN'T tell if someone's tampered with your kit, there's a problem whatever fancy system you use. It takes ONE rogue employee, and this is a major spy agency we're talking about.

But, easier, just move abroad and claim the NSA has destroyed your reputation by tampering with your commercial products, potentially illegally, for its own gain, and your taking your thousands of jobs with you when you leave.

You're not small-fry. You run half the Internet. If YOU can't stop the NSA tampering with your own kit, than we can't trust you, and we can't use you. And we will struggle to have any kind of Internet at all either way.

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Big Data shocker: Over 6 million Americans have reached the age of 112

Lee D
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I've seen the California driving licence. "Federal Limits Apply" is (not exactly, but is well known as) the code for "Illegal Immigrant" there. In fact, some of the more unscrupulous work party collection mobs will check the ID for that line to make sure you are an illegal before they pick you up...

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-opens-drivers-license-applications-to-illegal-immigrants/

This guy did it 5 years ago, I didn't know him 15 years ago. However, it may have been longer than a year, I did just guess at that, but he went around the world for years anyway before going back. The story may be exaggerated but is not "untrue" - the guy was variously arrested for going up the down escalators and down the up escalators, and "looking at the white lines in the middle of the road", etc. so it's not prima facie evidence.

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Lee D
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Re: There can be only one.....

For sure, that was the best standalone movie.

Along with The Matrix, if only they'd made a sequel.

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Lee D
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I know someone who went to work in the USA.

They walked into first place to offer them a job.

A year later, they were asked for their SSN. They did not have one. In fact, their official US ID clearly stated "Illegal Immigrant" (which is an official status in the US). Nobody ever cared, even the police officers who nearly arrested them several times over the years (for being a pillock, mostly, nothing dangerous or causing harm, distress or inconvenience to others). They made up an SSN, put it on the form and it was NEVER queried.

Years later, they left the country and were asked not to return for a year. Still, the SSN was valid when they went back.

SSN is the most stupid, pointless waste of time I've ever seen and consists of precisely ZERO checks against it.

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Authy 2FA app popped by simple, secret, code

Lee D
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Sigh. Security 101.

Sanitise your inputs.

Do not act upon the data as if it's a filename, program name or anything else.

Don't pass off unsanitised data to other programs.

Don't allow directory traversal.

This isn't just "a slip", this is just atrocious coding. Stop using this program, because god-knows-what other basic security mistakes have been made elsewhere in its coding.

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Data centre dangers: Killing a tree and exploding a UPS

Lee D
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Not "on-call" as such but I work support for schools.

Interesting events have included the main server room and IT suite dying - the complete power-down. And the UPS on the racks giving up almost instantly and cutting out immediately. Really weird. Got things back up and it still happened several times. Replaced the battery. Replaced the UPS. Still kept happening.

Eventually traced it to a upstream mains circuit where someone was plugging in a heated serving table (the kind of thing you get in canteens). We thought it was just overload because it was rated at some silly wattage. Except it still kept happening even with nothing else on.

The serving table had two plugs on it, one for the heated base, one for the heat-lamps in it's hood. And they plugged them into two separate plugs. Which, it turned out after I asked for it to be looked into, happened to be on entirely different phases. No wonder the UPS gave up! Had the electrician re-wire and that stopped the UPS blowing even if not the circuit getting overloaded. Am now waiting for the electrician to return to run a separate power feed to the IT that's unconnected to what the canteen want to do.

Just glad I never did anything cocky like say "Oh, but the power's out so doing THIS should be safe..."

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RIP Sir Terry Pratchett: Discworld author finally gets to meet DEATH

Lee D
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Re: The last books and testament

Like Japanese TV series, try to end on a high. Don't drag it out, eeking every ounce of nostalgia out of it until the series is over half junk. Let it go, let it finish, and then enjoy what it was forever. Rather than wishing for what it could have been "if only".

Some things OUGHT to come to an end. I'm sure Sir Terry had at least one thing he wanted to see end, himself. Let it finish, be magnificent and the work of a genius front-to-back forever more, not some watered-down sequelled-to-death money-grab.

But, to be honest, I couldn't even stand the TV adaptations.

Some things should just stay in books. And some books should come to an end. Hell, some books shouldn't ever finish completely (good and bad).

Let it die with Sir Terry, and be his.

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Lee D
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Re: I Aten't Dead

This.

For any past / present / future children of mine, this is going to be on my headstone. Or I will come back as a swarm of bees and chase you...

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UK call centre linked to ‘millions’ of nuisance robo-calls raided by ICO

Lee D
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Cold-calling sellers will dial 110% of the numbers their staff can handle at any one time. This is so that there's ALWAYS a live call waiting to be dealt with no matter what. They will not waste a second of their call centre operatives time waiting for another number to dial up. Like overbooking on plane seats to ensure you always have a full plane.

This results in silent calls when there are too many live calls and not enough operators taking them. And rather than leave you hanging, put you on hold, or put you through to someone, they will just cut you off after a time because that way they "spread out" the annoyance they cause with them so no one person complains about dozens of phone calls. Below a certain amount per day, this is actually still legal to do (as stupid as that is).

It just means that the call centres break down their operations to many tinier call centres, such as the ones in the article, so they can get away with 10 companies making phone calls constantly and making a thousand silent calls each, rather than one making 10,000 silent calls.

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Lee D
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Re: What really annoys me

One of many reasons that I disable voicemail on a mobile.

Sorry, but you're on a phone, and you're ringing me, and I don't answer. If I know you, I will call you back when I see the missed call. If I don't know you, and it's in any way important, you will have other ways of contacting me.

And if you're a friends who's changed number recently and don't get a call returned... send me a damn text, which I can read and delete at my leisure and which costs neither of us anything (P.S. if you genuinely still pay for texts, get WhatsApp and apply the same principle).

Voicemail is very, very, very, very old hat unless it's an internal business line. And, you know what, I'm still not there to answer the phone so if it's anything vaguely important people will still contact me on other numbers, send me an email, etc. anyway. The day where the VOICEMAIL is the most important thing in the world to check constantly and first in a crisis is hopefully way, way behind us.

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Lee D
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"Hello. Is that X? How are you today?" - Tell me who the hell you are and why you're calling, then we'll discuss my health (P.S. All genuine callers ring and when I answer they say "Hi, I'm X (from Y). I'm just calling today about Z." - even my friends (without the company name, and a little less formally, obviously)).

"I'm not selling anything". Then why say it? Because the only people who ever say it ARE selling something. And if you lie like that - within the first few seconds of a phone call - guess who I'm NEVER going to buy from in a million years.

"A minute of your time" - Nope.

"Survey" - Nope.

Discussing the weather, the football, a guess at a nationality from an accent, etc. - Nope. I don't even consider those topics of conversation with my friends, let alone banal sales pitches.

Do it to me at work and see yourself on not just the phone blacklist but the purchasing one too.

Suitable punishment for these people: You have to publish your HOME PHONE and MOBILE numbers to me, and I can call you any time of the day or night and you are court-obliged to personally answer the phone every time and stay on the line until I say you can hang up. Even if it's several dozen times a night.

Suitable punishment for the telcos who DO NOT enforce proper CLI information on all lines - their own and the ones that come in to them - and/or offer a free CLI-based blocking service for all customers phone lines: The same, for every customers of theirs.

The alternative? I just STOP using the phone as a phone and use Skype, WhatsApp etc. instead.

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An uncomplicated Buffalo in SOHO: The LinkStation 441D 4-bay NAS box

Lee D
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In answer to my own question, having purchased a unit, it's no noisier than 4 hard drives and a fan is normally.

However, if you buy one, keep this reference to hand:

http://commonmanrants.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/buffalo-linkstation-partition-not-found.html

The machines DO NOT like disks with existing GPT partitions and seem to store their firmware on the array somehow. I've had to wipe all my disks back to zero to get it to recognise them to boot up initially and even then it was a massive faff involving the above because of the dreaded "emergency mode" that it shipped in.

Other than that faff, it seems to be quite good value.

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Lee D
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Re: Stop. In the name of love.

WTF is it with 'The Register' and Apple/Cloud Providers/MS/NetApp/etc.. Every week there's an article titled 'X has a terrible 0-day flaw', followed by another titled 'Here's a great cheap X', followed by someone in the comments saying get your arse to X and then go to X.

They're a tech-site. At one point I complained about a single writer who was putting nothing but Apple-crowbarred topics into the front page (and half the time Apple weren't even the point of the article at all but somehow worked in a mention), but you can't really complain about a NAS box advertisement.

LWN.net at the moment is running a series of articles on free NAS software, so are they equally to blame? Maybe NAS is the new Personal Cloud?

If anything, I think they are too many opinion puff-pieces and stock-market reports on companies and not even tech stuff on this site, so personally I'm not that bothered about the occasional tech review actually making it to the front page.

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Lee D
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Is it noisy?

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Malware uses Windows product IDs to mix mutex

Lee D
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Re: VLK

Who cares?

What it's saying is that to know if it's already running on a computer, it makes a mutex called by something (similar to, but probably a hash of) the GUID of that computer. It might end up with the same mutex on two machines, but who cares about that? All it needs is to know if it's running on THIS machine already without giving the game away with VIRUS_MUTEX_1 showing up in its code.

And, sorry, but any decent install with a VLK should still be giving unique GUID/SID's - that's what sysprep.is for.

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Redmond's Patch Tuesday to kill off the Windows FREAK show

Lee D
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Re: Whoa

Sigh.

Yet another morning where I have to warn my users about 30-45 minutes of downtime if they dare to reboot in the middle of the day or turn off their PC at night (which I've asked them to do).

Time to start cherry-picking the important ones to make a week of tiny updates instead of one globular mass that's likely to take out every PC on site.

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Ex-cops dumped on never-hire blacklist for data misdeeds

Lee D
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Why would an employment blacklist be illegal?

The employer chooses who they hire and in this case they have employed these people, had their trust breached, and then refused to ever hire them again.

Schools, police force, army, hospital, politician, law, you name it, there are "blacklists" all over the shop and all legal.

What you can't do is discriminate on certain grounds (colour, age, ethnicity, gender, etc.) but if you've employed someone, found them inadequate, and then refuse to employ them again in any of your branches, that's up to you. And the police force, as a whole, are one of the places where you WANT a blacklist because you don't want them going to another police force and doing exactly the same thing.

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EU court: Mobe makers not liable for users' copyright badness

Lee D
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Pity, however, that the actual art vs cost value of them is diminishing rapidly.

I don't get the copyright extensions, the "Disney" laws, etc. at all. The only explanation is lobbying and pandering to the industry.

Working in schools has shown me some light, however. If anything, we are teaching children to grow up in a world where content-sharing is the norm and anything and everything is available for download for free. I can't think of a better justice for all the years of copyright heaviness than an entire generation of people who are STILL surprised that you are supposed to pay for using a font, for example, even if you can download it for free.

Copy-and-paste from Google to Word for use on a poster is seen as the norm, now, for images and text. Nobody bothers to police it in schools any more because it's just become ordinary.

Go into any school, look at the displays. If you don't spot a copyright violation (maybe you could claim fair-use or educational-use for some things but I bet the copyright holders would disagree if you were to ask!) in five minutes, I'll be amazed.

Hell, have you SEEN what it costs to comply with some of the licence requirements for putting on a simple school play from a known text? Time, effort and money.

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Égalité, Fraternité - Oui, peut-etre. Liberté? NON, French speedcam Facebookers told

Lee D
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Stop speeding and stick to the driving laws of the country you're in. Pick another country if you disagree with them.

Why, when it's driving, do we all suddenly feel the urge to break the law but NEVER campaign to, for example, raise the limits (the 80mph on motorways proposed in the UK was shot down due to complete lack of interest) if we want to drive that fast? What is it about cars that makes us magically want to break a clearly set-down, long-established number?

Stick to the limit. Then it doesn't matter if you have a speed camera every foot of the road that's entirely invisible and you're not allowed any devices at all. Or the complete opposite.

Honestly, people, I'm not a goodie-two-shoes but every time I discuss this, people take offence at the suggestion that they should just keep it under 70 rather than bitch and moan about what colour the pole was that the camera which caught them was attached to.

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Fareit trojan pwns punters with devious DNS devilry

Lee D
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Re: A Web Site To Check Your Own DNS Settings?

Exactly.

There's a few reasons why, when I deploy a web proxy in a workplace, it sits as a bridge and transparently proxies all web AND DNS to only its proxy server or a preferred DNS server.

This way, such things cannot be messed with. Even if you change your client DNS or decide to use OpenDNS or WHATEVER you decide to do, web access (and, optionally, all DNS access) is automatically caught at the default gateway and redirected to a filter that makes sure it ONLY goes to the authorised server.

I've had similar setups in several schools now. Doesn't matter what you do to your device to change the DNS servers you're trying to use, you end up using the ones I set and no others. Doesn't matter what tricks you try, if you go out on port 80 or 443 to ANYWHERE, I know about it, can record it, modify it (not without SSL noticing or trusted client certificates, of course), and block it.

And this is just another reason for DNSSEC.

You probably already have to do DNS proxy anyway if you're a commercial place with VLAN's, so why not just ensure that all DNS is proxied only to your internal servers, and that your internal servers are only allowed DNS out from them to their chosen DNS servers.

Seriously, you don't want to allow someone to forge DNS on your networks, especially if TLS etc. are dependent on DNS being authoritative. In my opinion, nowadays that's worse than a bucket of rogue DHCP servers... at least the tools to just block those from ever working are in every managed switch.

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Lee D
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Re: Flash Why Bothrer?

Never got the "remove Flash" fuss, because such a lot of stuff demands it in everyday use (and if you browse without Flash, Java, video plugins, etc. then the web is a boring and horrible place).

But why people do NOT use the Click-To-Play functionality for all plugins, I've never worked out. Hell, it's been in Opera for YEARS and now virtually every other browser has caught up.

Then if you don't click, the plugins can't load. If you need them, it's one click and ONLY the one you want will load. It doesn't get much simpler.

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Top Euro court ends mega ebook VAT slash in France, Luxembourg

Lee D
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Re: VAT Fraud!

I didn't make the rules, or claim they are perfect, and there are so silly exceptions.

But all fuels and energy supplies are at a reduced rate of VAT. Plus, there are specific benefits that counter-act such things. So it's certainly RECOGNISED as not being a complete luxury or it would be at full VAT. Energy for business use is full VAT, for example.

All gambling is exempt, for instance, but that's charged much more duty elsewhere. I believe that's an administrative issue where it costs more to mess about working out the VAT reliably than just making it exempt and charging other tax elsewhere on the same thing with something that's more easily calculated.

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Lee D
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Indeed, the account's billing address (as verified by card) is likely to the be universal indicator.

While in Italy last Christmas, a relative bought us a lot of Google Play credit.

Because it was bought in Italy, we could only claim it on a Google Play account registered to an Italian address. And now we can't change it (without losing the credit), choose or download any movie for it without being in Italy, or use it to buy from anything but the Italian Google Play store.

We told them that we very much appreciated the gift, and it SHOULD have been a wonderful idea, but not to bother next year.

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Lee D
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"What if I'm on a French beach near the border and happen to have an Italian 3G connection at that moment?"

Then the EU has recently seen to it that it will cost you more than the book's worth to do this, and they can tax that too.

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Lee D
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Re: VAT Fraud!

VAT is a luxury tax.

Hence biscuits in general are not taxed, but chocolate ones are.

Basic essentials aren't taxed (not completely true), optional luxuries are taxed.

Also, don't forget, to actually USE an ebook, you require a VAT-liable "luxury", such as a smartphone or computer anyway.

It's slowly getting out of date, yes, but VAT is not a tax on the lack of value to society. It's a tax on "luxury" items.

When we can argue that Internet access is a legal necessity, then we can argue that PCs aren't a luxury, then we can argue that eBooks shouldn't be a luxury either.

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Super SSD tech: Fancy a bonkers 8TB all-flash PC?

Lee D
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Please note: I do have 30-40Gb images running every user in an entire school, with every driver and every piece of software on them, on 320Gb hard drives to give people a bit of leeway on profile size etc.

My C drive on a machine I imaged for myself last week is using 60Gb already.

Install a couple of games and you can add 20-30 Gb EACH for some of the AAA titles.

But you know what something like 70% of my active storage is comprised of? Photographs. 18Mpixel huge damn JPEGs in their thousands, thrown into a folder.

Two years worth will fill up any 320Gb drive that our computers come supplied with by default (and we buy low-to-mid-end business machines for clients).

On Amazon, you can get a 1Tb external drive for about £50. I do not know of a single computer user that does not have one "to put their photos on". And there's a reason they have them - they fill up their machines with them.

We're not talking power users, gamers, or anything else here. We're talking using the computer as your first go-to storage for anything. Sync an iTunes library and you can end up downloading 10's of Gigabytes. You don't need to be a power user to easily fill up a few hundred Gigs of machine within a year, and power users are more likely to know how to properly manage storage than any.

Sorry, but my latest batch of machines comes with 1Tb drives by default for a reason - even on low-end hardware. For business purposes, our databases are in the 10Gb or so area with a few terabytes of total storage for hundreds of users. I have MORE than that at home just in photo and home movie archives. People's personal storage is HUMONGOUS nowadays, far exceeding anything they'd have or need in work which tends to pertain to... well... only work, and they don't realise they are syncing their entire photo store with cloud providers etc. all the time and then syncing that back down to their PC's.

And my biggest storage users are people bringing in photos, syncing their Google Drive, DropBox, iCloud, iTunes etc. accounts and accidentally bringing down their entire dozens-of-gigs home photo archives.

My dad is a complete non-techy. His computer doesn't even have office as he never writes a letter, he just uses it for browsing. He's not a photographer, or a videographer, and doesn't have any fancy photoshop or anything like that installed. He's bought two external backup drives to my knowledge, because he filled up the laptop to the point nothing would install, and then filled up the data partition on it that he didn't know he had, then filled up the first external device he bought.

Home movies every time you have the grandkids in the park, and a thousand 18Mpixel images from every trip you go on will push you into the 1Tb territory in NO TIME AT ALL.

I'm honestly surprised at the response. I thought I was doing well to only have 2Tb of live storage. I know techy people with 24Tb RAID arrays in their houses who curse that it's so expensive to go any higher.

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Lee D
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Get me a reliable 1Tb SSD at a price that isn't a significant fraction of a new laptop, and we'll talk.

More than happy to jump on board, but prices are prohibitive for any serious use at the moment.

That said, there are some cheap junk for £30 each on Amazon that are in the 32-64Gb range which is perfect for client machines for me.... that's the size of the image I put on them and all other storage is network. And £30 per machine is do-able, even factoring in a shed-load of replacements. It'd cost me that for new replacement hard drives of any size.

But for actual STORAGE, I have 2Tb just in my old laptop (two drive bays, essential!) and that's feeling the strain with only a few hundred gig free. Replacing that with SSD is £400-500 of upgrade before I start any kind of expansion.

SSD will kill hard drives, but not before the price per terabyte comes into the same order of magnitude.

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Apple Pay a haven for 'rampant' credit card fraud, say experts

Lee D
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Re: Liability?

As I've had to say to people several times: You are not liable for fraudulent charges on your card. Ever.

When the bank question it, you tell them it was fraudulent.

It is then up to them to prove otherwise. If you're lying, and caught on CCTV buying those goods, or whatever, they can charge you with intentional fraud, etc. as well as theft of the money/goods.

But once you've said "I did not authorise this transaction number 12854738", that's the end of it. Refund me (and all incurred charges because of it) or take me to court and prove otherwise.

Sure, it's hassle. But never pay a charge that you didn't authorise, not even for a second. Doing so could even be taken as an admission of your part in a fraud, or even that you were present at a certain place at a certain time when you weren't.

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Lee D
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Re: 2 factor authentication - 'Are you you?', 'Really?'

Or, you know, those Visa and MasterCard SecureCode things where only the cardholder you reasonably can provide the second factor? But ApplePay / Amazon choose not to use them and absorb the liability.

Or, you know, texting you when a transaction occurs on your card like EVERY BANK IN EVERY OTHER EU COUNTRY DOES, for free.

Hell, I was able to tell the woman in B&Q that they'd double-swiped my Italian relative's card because he got two text messages from the bank before we'd even finished bagging up. And that's across international borders.

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Lee D
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Re: @Steve I: Well, actually old chap, now that you mention it................

Although the banks are playing their part, Apple Pay is allowing a photo of a credit card to be used indefinitely as a payment option.

The banks shouldn't be allowing it, but Apple Pay isn't being blocked by the banks either - so presumably Apple Pay are doing something in order to allow this situation to occur.

If Apple are relying on the banks to authorise the transaction, they are still storing all that data and - presumably, like Amazon - taking the liability on it to an extent. Notice that Amazon don't put you through the Visa/MasterCard secure schemes where you have to type in codes and verify to the source bank - they are storing your information for 1-click and then taking the hit on fraud themselves.

Presumably, Apple are doing the same here OR have negotiated their way out of liability with the banks.

Seriously, people, all that Chip-and-PIN stuff that the EU fought for for years? It's worthless here. We're still doing transactions with just the card number. Do they even use the CCV code on the back of the card?

If the number is enough (and it appears so for Amazon and Apple Pay) then the Chip & PIN stuff is worthless, even if the liability is shifted from the card issuer to the retailer. If the number isn't enough, Apple Pay wouldn't be able to operate as they are doing - and nor would Amazon. If the number is enough but liability is pushed to Apple, then it's partly Apple's fault for allowing this to happen for the sake of simpler business processes.

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Errant update borks Samsung 850 Pro SSDs

Lee D
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Hacking your SSD because you didn't update the firmware?

You have bigger problems than just your SSD then.

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Lee D
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Simple IT rules:

1) Don't have automatic updates turned on. Let some other poor sod guinea-pig things for you. Press the button at the end of the week if you absolutely must (and if the drive was working, and the firmware has no release notes affecting yourself, why would you press the button?)

2) Don't update without backups. Because, you know what?, any update can break your machine.

3) Don't update without backups.

4) Don't update without backups.

5) Don't store all your data in one place anyway.

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