* Posts by Nick Kew

699 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

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Soon only Ticketmaster will rip you off: Concert scalper bots face US ban

Nick Kew
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With no touts, when you phone up you will get the tickets that they are no longer getting.

With no touts, the official promoters would have to build their profits into the official price. Or find some alternative way to reduce the amount seen by the taxman, and perhaps resented by the fans if faceless 'touts' aren't taking the blame.

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European Council agrees to remove geoblocking

Nick Kew
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Re: and what about VAT?

It's a while since I've charged VAT to someone in another EU country, but ISTR charging at my own country's rate. Are you saying that's changed?

My recollection is also that reclaiming VAT on cross-border transactions was something of a nightmare. Anyone know if it still is?

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UK's new Snoopers' Charter just passed an encryption backdoor law by the backdoor

Nick Kew
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Alert

Please sir. Point of order!

We have - and always have had - forms to fill for the US government whenever we release software with cryptographic capabilities. Just a box to check, alongside things like internal processes and intellectual property audit with any software release. I don't know about operating it for customers: that's not my field.

I wonder if this will look any different in practice? Maybe El Reg could commission your tame lawyers to give us an expert analysis?

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UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

Nick Kew
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Principle vs Practice

Our smart meters do have the appearance of a badly botched scheme about them. I'd want to escalate some questions above the level of the salesman before I'd accept one. The vulnerabilities (real or otherwise - I expect there's an element of both), the incompatibilities (strewth!), the bottom-line price comparison to France and Italy (insofar as that's like-for-like), and of course the failure to persuade the public.

On the other hand, I'm perfectly comfortable with the underlying principle of demand management. We've had a lower-tech version called Economy 7 for decades, and even though I'm not on it, I find it convenient to run the dishwasher overnight when energy is (or would be) cheapest.

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Inside Android's source code... // TODO – Finish file encryption later

Nick Kew
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Coat

On fire?

Hmmm, so when Samsung Galaxy 7 phones catch fire, is it in fact Google's pants, rather than those batteries that originally got the blame?

I'll get me coat (and un-burned pants).

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Pound's plunge opens UK's tech SMBs to foreign buyouts - analyst

Nick Kew
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Stop

Where's the problem?

Our listed companies are owned by shareholders around the world. Mostly the big institutions, such as our insurance companies and pension funds.

The foreign-listed companies who buy them are likewise owned by shareholders around the world. Want a stake in ARM? You can still buy softbank shares: just ask your broker. Or more likely today, just log in to your platform.

I note your list omits Autonomy, the company bought by a hubristic Hewlett Packard (to lots of scepticism from Reg commentards), and more recently re-acquired by Micro Focus, a British company that also owns quite a few former US software companies. Though your list does feature quite a few companies that were bust when taken over (some of them repeatedly bust: most notably the car makers that have been bailed out countless times by taxpayers, going right back to British Leyland in the 1960s).

Oh, and I don't think you're even factually quite right. Was there ever a business called EE that was under different/british-labelled ownership?

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Debian putting everything on the /usr

Nick Kew
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@Ken Hagan Re: only thing I ask

Live CD? Really? Can't remember the last time I had a 'puter with a working CD (or DVD) drive. Oh, wait, maybe that tower next door has one: guess I should take a look.

Surely what matters is whether you can rescue from USB. Don't some machines have security features in BIOS that might get in the way of that?

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Reg man 0: Japanese electronic toilet 1

Nick Kew
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Re: Come on...

Damn, I was using google translate on menus last week to make sure I didn't inadvertently order something with meat in, while eating out in Seville.

The image of someone using it for his enthronement is not a good association.

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Software biz boss on harassment charges represents himself, says I want a jury

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What went wrong at Tesco Bank?

Nick Kew
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That quote is attributed to Sir Humphrey (well, maybe once removed). You need to interpret it in that context.

(And who knows what he may know that we don't?)

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Trump's plan: Tariffs on electronics, ban on skilled tech migrants, turn off the internet

Nick Kew
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Who needs a visa?

I've worked as employee for two Silicon Valley companies in my time, from right here in Devon. Not to mention the US companies I've done contract work for! Who needs a visa?

Let's see if he can do the world a favour. He's sent out a signal about not wanting to fight foreign wars: that could lead to relative peace in Syria within a few months!

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McDonald's sues Italian city for $20m after being burger-blocked

Nick Kew
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@JR Hartley Re: TTIP

Something's wrong. Changing it must be prevented at all costs. Because the anti-TTIP propaganda (which may or may not look anything like the reality of it) looks like this.

(This is happening without TTIP.)

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Teen in the dock on terror apologist charge for naming Wi-Fi network 'Daesh 21'

Nick Kew
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Hmmm .... just speculatin'

Should I name my wifi AlQaeda or somesuch? Can't see plod taking any notice.

On the other hand, call it Lolita2002 and one could be stuffed for life.

Maybe I'll call it UpTheTrump and see what anyone makes of that. Or on second thoughts, that has a rather short shelf life, regardless of the outcome of their election.

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Stiff upper lips and sun glasses: the Chancellor bets on Brexit feeling

Nick Kew
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Re: Reflecting on Britain's legacy of Alan Turing

The irony of that is, he'd be treated more harshly today (AIUI the chemical treatment was his choice, as an alternative to prison).

His conviction was for Gross Indecency, which is no longer an offence. But a forty-year-old caught having sexual relations with a youngster below the age of consent (21 at the time) is harshly penalised.

(Unlike a pair of mature homosexuals, even in Turing's time. Britten and Pears were tolerated as a couple, for example).

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Nick Kew
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Excuse the rant ...

Rome? Pah! Clearly Athens is the centre of the known world.

No, wait, Euclid was from Alexandria, Eratosthenes moved to Alexandria for a good job. Archimedes was from Syracuse, Zeno from Elea, both in what is now Italy. Dammit, the STEM community has been globalised for a long time! Athens was more the world centre of luvviedom. I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere.

Anyway, why Turing in particular? He's just one of many distinguished mathematicians, scientists and engineers in our history. His role in winning The War ... again, one of many, and who remembers R J Mitchell these days? Oh, right, Turing is beloved of the Chattering Classes for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with his work.

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Obey Google, web-masters, or it will say you can't be trusted

Nick Kew
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Re: The whole mechanism sucks

Yep. Every CA is a single point of failure.

So it's time to upgrade the Web to use distributed trust authorities. No single point of failure, the attacker has to compromise more than one independent trust authority to impersonate a site.

That's a central pillar of the M-Pin protocol (currently an IETF draft) and Milagro project (in incubation at Apache). Get on board and secure the web. And (by the way) secure the IoT!

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Microsoft's Cognitive Toolkit on GitHub in all its speech-recognising glory

Nick Kew
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Brewing for 20 years?

Computer speech recognition had been brewing for about 20 years when I worked (in academia) in the field. That was the early 1990s.

One of the conclusions of my work was the meaninglessness of percentage accuracy figures as a measure of performance. They're about as useful as measuring lengths in pieces of string. Information-theoretic measures (entropy) do an altogether better job.

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This speech recognition code is 'just as good' as a pro transcriber

Nick Kew
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Re: Dodgy numbers?

11.3% errors for a human transcriber is appalling!

You can see it in real life, where transcribed text is shown to the public. For example, look at the details at rightmove or zoopla, transcribed by some numpty at an estate agent. Some agents seem to specialise in entertainment value.

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British jobs for British people: UK tech rejects PM May’s nativist hiring agenda

Nick Kew
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Big Brother

Glad to be an old codger ...

... who had the opportunity, in my time, to work in other European countries without excessive red tape. Escaped destitution in Blighty twice in my time by moving abroad.

Shame about the next generation.

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BT will HATE us for this one weird 5G trick

Nick Kew
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Don't ghettoise cyclists.

Pavement cycle lanes have a long history of being ill-considered, poorly implemented, and rather worse than useless. Not to mention much more dangerous than the roads, according to accident statistics. Please don't wish more of them on us!

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A robot kitchen? Whatever. Are you stupid enough to fall for this?

Nick Kew
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£80k

In the crowdfunding pitch, someone asked about the cost and got a reply from campaign director Olga Nasalskaya:

"The kitchen system will retail at around £80k initially, falling over time to £40k and less through modification of the system"

The adjoining campaign is called "Jet Pack Aviation", and features a sci-fi pic of a flying ... damn, I so want to say pig.

Neither campaign tempts me, though I do occasionally take a flutter on crowdfunding.

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Nick Kew
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Re: £100 a week for a year with Tesco's delivery service comes in at about £26,000 cheaper

welllllllll, bear in mind...

Actually we do have as near to facts as we're ever likely to. The Ombudsman has reported on Tescos treatment of suppliers, and was on the Today programme just a few days ago reporting that the era of sharp practice is indeed behind them.

As for dairy farmers, that's deeply misleading media spin. Several supermarkets were fined for overpaying them in response to that campaign.

And in any case, Unilever is far too big to be bullied by Tescos.

I wonder if the fact that Tescos current CEO was recruited from Unilever has any bearing on it?

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'Please label things so I can tell the difference between a mouse and a microphone'

Nick Kew
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He then moved the mouse about some more, saw the cursor was doing the right thing, said "that fixed it" and left with a sense of achievement.

If I'd had an audience when I gingerly played with my first mouse, I might easily have done the same. As it was, it just took a couple of simple moves to figure out which way to hold it.

This thread is clearly the place to post the essential helpdesk video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_p3TYXmJFk

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UK will build new nuclear bomb subs, says Defence Secretary

Nick Kew
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Black Helicopters

A ploy to retake Scotland?

This is a spectacularly expensive stunt just to wind Corbyn up. They must be more worried about him than anyone admits!

But what if it backfires and ends up making him look like a statesman? Aha, got it! This is aimed at Scotland. Antagonise them sufficiently and maybe enough of them will vote Corbyn to weaken the SNP!

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Lenovo denies claims it plotted with Microsoft to block Linux installs

Nick Kew
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Re: "To improve system performance, Lenovo is ... adopting RAID on the SSDs..."

@ Alan J. Wylie: yes, I was kind-of wondering whether El Reg was channeling MJG.

No idea why you get a downvote for posting the link. I would've posted it myself if you hadn't.

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WTF is OpenResty? The world's fifth-most-used Web server, that's what!

Nick Kew
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WTF?

tengine

Once upon a time, taobao took the lead developing an nginx-based platform with some juicy extras. The one that originally drew me was loadable module support (albeit still very limited compared to Apache). Lua is another - though of course Apache also has lua, and I rather thought nginx did too. It was called tengine, and has a website here.

Now we have a new name, which may have been the suggestion of an english-speaker with a rather cruel sense of humour. But what's the relationship to tengine? Is this an attempt to throw it over the wall to the English-speaking world or something?

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Brits: Can banks do biometric security? We'd trust them before the government

Nick Kew
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Pirate

A rational explanation ...

Surveys rarely ask exactly the question their published results suggest. Even if they do, there's likely to be a subtext.

A very plausible explanation of this survey result is that the measured difference actually represents fear of abuse by an organisation. That is, not incompetence, but malice. A bank might spam you with unwanted crap, but isn't going to send the spooks or the taxman to blight your life. And if the banks mess up, you probably stand a better chance getting redress than if government thinks you've been visiting the wrong websites.

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Petulant Facebook claims it can't tell the difference between child abuse and war photography

Nick Kew
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Big Brother

Re: Just a thought...

Powers-that-be already deny them and other big internet companies "common carrier" status when it suits them: see for example this story. And when someone has submitted a complaint of "naked child pic", there's no common carrier case: they know it's there.

Besides, isn't the story here that they've deleted facebook profiles? Not the same as editing them, and less sinister than doctoring someone's work behind their back.

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Nick Kew
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Big Brother

Are you, or have you ever been, a child?

It's more than just that ...

Images of naked children are a huge taboo (look at what happened to Wikipedia a few years back - and it's got much worse since then). The default expectation of any website today must be that if they fail to take down such an image, they're likely to be prosecuted. Not to mention subject to all kinds of vigilante attacks, including the risk of violence against personnel.

Much as I hate to defend Facebook, in this instance their behaviour seems entirely rational. The underlying problem is the mad witch-hunt against people taking an interest in any child.

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EU 'net neutrality' may stop ISPs from blocking child abuse material

Nick Kew
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FAIL

Re: And the monthly award

I can't even see it. Adblock kills Reg images, 'cos some of them move (animations or scripted) and it's not (yet) smart enough to give me the inoffensive ones while cutting out the crap.

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French, German ministers demand new encryption backdoor law

Nick Kew
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Politicians and Crypto

Forever talk. Get slightly worked up. Someone explains a few things. Rinse and repeat.

It's kind-of a lingering bad smell. Ignore if you can.

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MySQL daddy Widenius: Open-source religion won't feed MariaDB

Nick Kew
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Re: poor dude

I thought it was $two billion. But what's a billion between friends? It's not as if one could take a profit of that kind and then bankroll Ubuntu .... oh, hang on ...

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Nick Kew
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He has form

MySQL had a commercial element before Sun overpaid for it. Let alone Oracle's time.

Sun paid handsomely for MySQL, and would doubtless have been happy to go on paying His Lordship a very ample salary while also having a leading say in ongoing development. One might suggest, a happy and successful outcome to someone wanting to do open source and make a living from it. Yet he not merely turned down that opportunity, but savaged the hand that fed him.

Only with an opensource project could he have his cake again having already eaten it. IMHO you need a lot of ruthlessness and brass neck to do both. While I respect mixed business models, I think on balance I'd sleep easier with Larry's MySQL than the serial teaser-merchant.

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Corbyn lied, Virgin Trains lied, Harambe died

Nick Kew
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Where's his missus?

Corbyn was on the wireless this morning 'clarifying' the situation by saying what he actually looked for and couldn't find was two seats together for himself and his missus.

OK, fairy nuff, though it's more usually youngsters who prioritise keeping a group together over getting seats. But it begs the question: was his wife sitting with him on the floor? His own video should show that. If she's with him, that supports his story, or at least today's version. If not, then he pulled a stunt, and is now in a hole and still digging.

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Nick Kew
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Re: BEARDGATE!

Isn't it actually a joint venture, with Stagecoach as lead partner and majority owner?

As a very small stagecoach shareholder, I don't think I'll lose sleep over this. Strikes are (potentially) more of an issue if that situation were to escalate.

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False Northern Lights alert issued to entire UK because of a lawnmower

Nick Kew
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Hancock rides again

Radio 4 recently broadcast a reconstructed episode of Hancock's Half Hour, where he gets himself a telescope and starts seeing things. This story could so easily have been one of his.

BBC website isn't responding just now, so I can't follow/confirm the link from google, but the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society's website lists it as Series 3, episode 7.

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Nuclear fallout shelter becomes cloud storage bunker

Nick Kew
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An increasingly popular model

Thebunker hosting here in Blighty has been around quite a few years, on similar sites acquired from the military. I daresay they'd be happy to explain the advantages if asked. I understand security features quite prominently in the business case.

Coincidence? Or is the acquisition of military sites by hosting companies a match made in heaven?

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If this headline was a security warning, 90% of you would ignore it

Nick Kew
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Re: Perhaps popups aren't the way to communicate this

"Bad at multitasking" here presumably means "don't want some idiot interrupting uninvited".

I do often take notice of popups. Just enough notice to adblock the buggers and get rid of them for good.

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VMware survives GPL breach case, but plaintiff promises appeal

Nick Kew
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Red herring

Much GPL software is likewise pretty much a copy

If that claim is true, and if it applies to code in question here (two big assumptions), then it would be a defence for VMWare to say "no, we didn't copy the GPL code, we copied the similar BSD code".

Was that defence used? If yes, then I'd expect the report to comment on it. If no then your claim is utterly irrelevant.

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Funny story, this. UK.gov's 'open banking app revolution'. Security experts not a fan of it

Nick Kew
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Re: Am I the only one?

Who said anything about smart meters? I was referring to the energy regulator's proposals to circulate your details to every spammer and his dog if you decline to play their game and stick with a single provider for three years!

Thou shalt be a whore or face the consequences!

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Nick Kew
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Am I the only one?

Am I the only one to think that, compared to what the Energy Market folks are proposing, this is a thoroughly Good Thing?

Energy market: we WILL circulate all your details to lots of spammers. You need to jump through hoops if you want to opt out.

Banking Market: it's all in a smartphone app. So the opt-out is obvious.

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China forms 27-strong alliance to grow silicon standards

Nick Kew
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No mention whether this builds on ARM or from a clean slate, or may have projects in both camps. Does this have potential to lead in due course to an ecosystem to rival ARM?

Not saying it's likely: the market remains ARM's to lose. But if a realistic challenge were to arise, it would start with a technology consortium that might just possibly look something like this. And coming after ARM appears to be turning Japanese, an event that might just have rung alarm bells in China.

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BlackBerry: Forget phones, Lawsuits In Motion is back – and it's firing off patent claims

Nick Kew
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@bazza - chicken or egg

They rested on their laurels in the first half of the 2000s,

Yes, I know.

But what came first? Stagnation or lawsuits? My impression was that the trauma of the NTP nonsense was a trigger for a change in corporate culture that stifled innovation. But that's not based on any real knowledge.

Any reg readers who were RIM engineers in the '90s and/or '00s, your insights would be great!

Oh, and none of those keyboard 'phones you pointed at would be a substitute for the E71. Too big to fit comfortably in the hand or pocket.

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Nick Kew
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Hmmm ...

I thought the story was one of the NTP pirates turning a former innovator into a company driven by lawyers. Kind of, bitten by the undead, and you become them. But if they sued someone else as early as 2002, that suggests they may not have been innocent victims even at the start of it all.

Does El Reg have the journalistic resources to give a decent history of how, when and where it really started going wrong? I mean, with a bit more meat than this little list, and with a timeline comparing the decline of engineering and innovation to the rise of lawsuits, and such things?

And with both Blackberry and Nokia down the plughole, where can I get a phone with decent mini querty keyboard? I still *really* miss the Nokia E71!

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Email proves UK boffins axed from EU research in Brexit aftermath

Nick Kew
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Re: Thank you Mr.Farage

My guess would be that Moedas regards funding as a privilege and not a right.

Erm, are you suggesting he was less than sincere?

All he can do is (re)state EU policy. He can't micromanage individual decisions by individual teams. He can't even hear appeals: that would ultimately be for a court, not a civil servant.

Academics are concerned with planning their projects. One element of that is to deal with risks. Those risks have just changed, and we shouldn't be surprised if that affects planning decisions. Nor if those adversely affected are unhappy.

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Ofgem sets up database so energy companies can spam Brits

Nick Kew
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Petition?

Has anyone started a petition against being put in a government-sanctioned spam list and having (at best) to jump through hoops to opt out?

Where do I sign? Or if it doesn't exist, where do I go to create it?

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Got a genius enterprise tech idea? Tell the world about it

Nick Kew
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Re: You've got less than 24 hours

RoseRoss, you're not damned for doing a deal with El Reg and getting them to publish. It's the timing that's an issue. If the publication date was out of your control, move the bloomin' earlybird deadline instead and you'll still come across as honest!

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Nick Kew
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You've got less than 24 hours

The classic con-man line. No pressure there then.

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Fork YOU! Sure, take the code. Then what?

Nick Kew
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Re: Forking Debian...

Quod erat demonstrandum.

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US standards lab says SMS is no good for authentication

Nick Kew
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They're behind the curve

The BBC's investigative department has run a number of articles about criminals hijacking a phone number to get through a victim's SMS authentication. Fairly recently they persuaded one of the main banks (I forget which) to drop it after several verified cases.

That's why we have better technologies, going back as far as PGP, and forward to Milagro for the next quantum leap.

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