* Posts by Nick Kew

594 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Page:

Let Europeans sue America for slurping their data – US Senate

Nick Kew
Silver badge
Alert

Feed Our Lawyers

You and I might have a right to sue Uncle Sam. But who will sponsor it? A mere hundred million warchest would leave you entirely exposed to being bankrupted long before you got a result.

1
0

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

Nick Kew
Silver badge

ARM was trading in a range of about 80p-120p when the iphone first came out. Even for a while after, as Apple wasn't telling the City what technology they had inside (even if it was perfectly obvious to readers of El Reg that ARM must be in there). It only started shooting up when Apple let on.

So yes, the City has form on linking Apple and ARM, and we shouldn't be surprised if they keep doing it. I'm happy to hold stock bought at under 90p, and might top up if it wasn't already my biggest single holding.

0
0

SCO slapped in latest round of eternal 'Who owns UNIX?' lawsuit

Nick Kew
Silver badge
Devil

Dickens understated it

Jarndyce and Jarndyce finally ended when the legal fees devoured the entire Jarndyce estate.

SCO vs world+dog appears to go on long after death.

8
0

Microsoft buys SwiftKey, Britain's 'stealthiest software startup'

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: I think they cashed out at the right time

Makes for a nice dividend, due to appear in our accounts in late April. The principal VC backers are among those raising more funds right now, if you want your share of the action in the next story.

It probably is the right time for the founders to cash in: there's only so long a techie wants to work on a particular project before moving on. But (Ian 55) not sustainable? Isn't that comment premised on the supposition that they stand still and lack the imagination that built a successful product in the first place? In which case, it applies throughout the tech industry: you can't stand still.

0
0

GCHQ spies quashed this phone encryption because it was too good against snoopers

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Well I am really surprised

@Smooth Newt

That cryptic phrase is there to serve sympathetic politicians, journos, etc, looking to quote from an authoritative source in support of their cause.

4
0

Tell us what's wrong with the DMCA, says US Copyright office

Nick Kew
Silver badge

It's a weapon of terror

as documented in the story at DMCA: terror weapon

(yes, that's a pointer to my blog).

1
4

Flare-well, 2015 – solar storm to light up skies on New Year's Eve

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Never mind the US

Weather forecast surprisingly has us down for clear skies tomorrow evening. At least in this part of the UK. I might actually make the effort to go out there!

0
0

Beyond iTunes: XML boffins target sheet music

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: The browser is the least of the problems...

I'll second that MuseScore recommendation. And I thought MusML was working fine, having successfully exchanged music with a friend using different composition software.

But I have to take issue with what you say about the screen. Yes, it's limiting if you're trying to score for substantial forces[1]. But so is paper: composers through the ages have had to deal with the limitations of the medium! And the 'puter has all the familiar advantages: edit and zoom, to name but two of the most obvious. And then when you have a presentation copy, you export it to PDF.

[1] I've written for forces up to chorus and medium-sized orchestra using musescore on 13" macbook. Part of that was double-chorus, which tipped the screen size issue from an irritation to a serious pain, and I never finished that part.

1
0

EU privacy watchdog calls for new controls on surveillance tech export

Nick Kew
Silver badge

@DrSyntax Re: Can we export GCHQ instead?

I don't see it featuring in the EU debate. It's one of those issues where the EU is pretty consistently more aligned with the people than the UK government. Can't see any of them wanting to talk about it. Probably not even Corbyn, let alone anyone with the ear of the meeja like Cameron or Farage.

2
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Can we export GCHQ instead?

That's a separate issue. This particular story is about exports. Any comment they had made about GCHQ in this context would've had no more effect than Reg commentards.

The EU do also have things to say about domestic surveillence. Many of them do in fact try to clamp down on it, but it's one of those matters where our own political masters (whether Mrs May or, perhaps more to the point, her Sir Humphrey) won't let them stand in the way of anything they really want. But that's a whole nother argument.

3
0

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Star Wars Special Editions

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Am I the only one ...

... never to have seen Star Wars? There must be more of us amongst Reg commentards.

(My family wasn't *that* rich back in the '70s. I never even knew where the nearest cinema was, except that I couldn't have got there).

2
1

EE tops Ofcom’s naughty list, generates most fixed line broadband complaints

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Comparing ...

I got EE broadband as a backup on finding Virgin totally unreliable. EE is, far and away, the better of the two.

But that's their 4G offering compared to Virgin cable. I guess for fixed line, you really want to be somewhere BT and its resellers have a decent service. Or maybe the folks who just bought KCom's infrastructure. Or what happened to C&W's wires since Vodafone bought them?

0
0

Help! What does 'personal conduct unrelated to operations or financials' mean?

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Where's Tom Sharpe when you need him?

The author of "Wilt" could surely have made something of this.

4
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: er ..... what poll ?

Still can't see it. Is it from a third-party site that might be ad-blocked or XSS/security-filtered out?

What page is it on, and what are the options?

2
0

Italians to spend €150m ... snooping on PS4 jabber

Nick Kew
Silver badge
Big Brother

Just a theory ....

If people with something to hide believe a channel is being watched, they're likely to avoid it. Even blacklist it, so dumber members don't stumble in.

So feed information that $channel is being monitored by $spook (of whatever country in the alliance), and that's one fewer place they're likely to use.

So, make announcements like this, and delegate someone to sample the channel in question a couple of times a year (and a dumb bot to run full-time). Repeat as necessary until they're channeled into somewhere you really do watch. Gotcha, for relatively little actual expenditure of effort.

No of course I don't know it's any such thing. But who's to say it's not?

0
0

Europe didn't catch the pox from Christopher Columbus – scientists

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Shakespeare was right ...

... when writing of the fourteenth century. Specifically, Sir John Falstaff: A pox on this gout. Or a gout on this pox.

0
0

ISIS operates a crypto help desk – report

Nick Kew
Silver badge
Holmes

Re: Smiley's People

Well, reports elsewhere suggest a double bluff, and that the Paris folks were talking unencrypted.

0
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge
Alien

Smiley's People

So, El Reg identifies exactly where to insert a spy and a trojan.

Should we infer anything from the fact of the story going public? Candidate explanations such as:

  • They already report to MI5?
  • Someone in the "ban encryption" brigade believes the story will serve their cause?
  • It's a double-bluff to try and send out a misleading message about the spooks' capabilities?

If it were any of my business, I expect I'd try harder to home in on it.

5
0

Roamers rejoice! Google Maps gets offline regional navigation

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: What?

Could it be that they subvert the new functionality by making it download the full satellite imagery and street view for an area? That's the only way I can see they could come anywhere near those figures.

Nokia maps work a lot better and require only very modest data volumes. Or at least did, in the days when Nokia sold some excellent phones[1].

[1] Talking about my beloved E71 there.

3
0

Linus Torvalds targeted by honeytraps, claims Eric S. Raymond

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Hang on a mo, Eric

Esme, while I can't fault what you say, you omit one crucial point. This extremist fringe has the ascendency in places where it matters in our society. Their voice is pretty dominant in our most influential media organisation (the BBC), among other places[1]. A lunatic fringe always feeds the opponents of any Cause, and when lunacy is also orthodoxy it feeds scepticism and resentment not merely amongst opponents but also neutrals. Hence the many women who, while believing in equality, want nothing to do with Feminism.

[1] By BBC standards I'm clearly a woman. That is to say, whenever they trot out the tired old stereotypes of men and how we club together to advance ourselves and oppress women, I recoil at their portrayal of men and identify with that of the women[2]. Not surprising really: the BBC's abstract male represents us about as fairly as as Vicky Pollard does the young, or Victor Meldrew the old.

[2] Yes, I confess to listening to far too much Radio 4.

4
1
Nick Kew
Silver badge
Coat

I'm torn ...

... torn between two opposing reactions ...

1. Stop feeding the BBC/Guardian line "see, they just belittle us and make the world a hostile place".

2. The world needs a loony to come out with things like this, so that we don't look like the loony fringe ourselves if we ever do gently question the most militant of man-eaters.

So here's a better reaction:

3. Why is the meeja (El Reg) giving column inches to this? ESR is just a Celebrity, not a real opensource leader like Linus.

Hmmm, on second thoughts, that's no better. I'll get me coat.

3
2

GCHQ's CESG team's crypto proposal isn't dumb, it's malicious... and I didn't notice

Nick Kew
Silver badge
Facepalm

Naïve optimism there

Having said that, motivation casts its shadow: why on Earth would someone conceive of such stupidity and devote time and thousands of words to propose that it should be a standard?

Don't laugh. Have you ever heard of RDF, the Semantic Web, and the W3C?

First you specify the concept of URI as globally-unique identifier, and try vainly to make a meaningless distinction between URI and URL. Then you start using URLs (sorry, URIs) prefaced with http://some-domain/ . But now you've got something recognisable: your URI maps naturally to a web address, or even a web page. So you can dereference it, and talk about web URLs in RDF terms.

You call it the Semantic Web, and make grand claims for it. You can start talking about the web page dereferenced by the URL. Except, you're in cloud-cuckoo-land. All that you say in RDF is predicated on the properties of the URI as a globally-unique invariant. But you're using the language to talk about something that may change at any time (e.g. El Reg front page), or according to metadata in the HTTP headers (e.g. what I get if I try to post this when not logged on). Result: gibberish.

Think it couldn't happen? Think someone would notice before it went public and got widely promoted? Just look at the history of W3C Annotea, which does everything I just described. And when I was on the working group for EARL, it was a lot of work and some Heath-Robinson constructs with time and metadata to allow us to avoid the same howler.

2
1

UK's super-cyber-snoop shopping list: Internet data, bulk spying, covert equipment tapping

Nick Kew
Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: Cautiously optimistic

king_tut: I'm slowly working through it

You got a lot of downvotes for refusing to pre-judge the bill. Evidently a bunch of commentards would like to insist on a set of prejudices.

8
4

China's glorious five year plan will see 'online environment cleaned up'

Nick Kew
Silver badge

We could do with that ...

If pollution levels in our homes feed into a GIS, we could have a map showing serious pollution, and perhaps catch some of those nasty fads like the wood-burning fires that are our generation's big carcinogens.

0
3

We can't all live by taking in each others' washing

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: It's not fair!

Neil, of course I was speaking only of a micro-economy, which seemed somehow relevant. In the real world we have specialisation of labour, and so long as I'm not destitute I can buy all these fruits for no more effort than having to traipse round the shops and carry them home. All the hard work is done by people with specialist skills and equipment.

Actually that's a kind-of measurable effect. There are still blackberries around, but it's been a few weeks since I picked any: they're a pale shadow of peak season. Yet when I was genuinely destitute in 2003 I was still gathering them - the last dregs of the season - into late November.

p.s. I don't cook (or eat) jams and jellies, but I've made a delicious chutney from some of those blackberries. Where's the El Reg icon for nomnomnom?

2
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge

It's not fair!

I give my friend blackberries I've picked, and take his apples. So we both have some of each delicious fruit. So far, so good (and true in real life).

But gathering the blackberries is hard work, and leaves my hands pretty-well shredded. Blackberries are relatively small, so picking them takes time, and of course those brambles, and the nettles that usually accompany them, fight back. Whereas apples have no thorns nor stings, and are so big that you have a decent bagful for a couple of minutes work.

My friend, being richer than I am, has an apple tree in his garden, and so gets to do the plum job (sorry about that - neither of us has enough plums to trade). That's capital.

2
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: The last one?

Damn. There was me hoping he'd tackle the topical matter of the Chairman's state visit. How it does or doesn't make sense for China to lead big investments in the UK, when we're supposed to be the world's financial capital and good at raising private capital (er, no pun intended).

That way I as commentard could've bemoaned Osborne providing financial support to a mature industry (nuclear power - which I support and would be prepared to invest in if they were raising capital from investors) yet dragging its feet so horribly over supporting the fledgling industry that is this country's best potential: namely, clean and reliable tidal power.

5
1

Internet daddy Vint Cerf blasts FCC's plan to ban Wi-Fi router code mods

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Software vs Firmware

The article says firmware. You talk about software.

I can see many good reasons to customise one's software. Firmware seems less clear: I'm prepared to accept there could be good reasons to hack it, but I don't see them in my life.

0
31

Dry those eyes, ad blockers are unlikely to kill the internet

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: People who use adblockers...

Exactly.

I'd be happy to see ads. I just object strongly to things that move on my screen without my asking for it.

Sadly that applies just as much to a scrolling news ticker as to a tasteless animation advertising games or sex. So adblock is only a partial solution.

Oh, and to ad-flinging sites like El Reg. If you got rid of the animations, I'd be happy to unblock your adverts. Indeed, not merely happy but keen, as your articles occasionally feature media I might choose to see! Now, bear in mind, that's coming from a geek: I expect I might be core target audience for some of your (currently blocked) advertisers.

41
0

OH GROSS! The real problem with GDP

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Goodhart !

Thanks for that. It's a phenomenon I regularly comment on (sometimes here on Worstal's articles), but I never knew it had a name. Have an upvote!

1
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: GDP corrupts

Only changes in asset prices that feed into those are part of GDP.

Yes, changes in asset prices. So whenever a transaction occurs, the capital gain feeds GDP. Which would be just fine and non-corrupting if capital gains reflected the actual value of an asset - so for a house that might reflect a new roof or installation of modern plumbing and wiring, but not just value-free rises.

On a related note, how do we account for stockmarket gains/losses on companies listed in London but whose actual business is predominantly not in the UK?

1
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge

GDP corrupts

It seems to me that a key characteristic of Osbrownomics is an unhealthy focus on GDP as a "good news" story to tell the electorate.

You touched on the problems with this in your final paragraph about higher pay for bureaucrats enriching us all. But surely where this corrupts all the more is in asset prices. Each time a government succeeds in pushing house prices higher, GDP rises and they claim economic success. Yet we're not richer overall: we've just transferred wealth from the productive to the rich. Rising dot-com stocks or tulip bulb prices would likewise feed through to GDP Feelgood, but house prices are the most effective of all because it's harder to opt out of housing so everyone is involved, like it or not.

I suspect a key reason for the UK productivity gap is the amount of our GDP that actually represents a zero-sum game where no value is actually produced.

3
0

How long does it take an NHS doctor to turn on a computer?

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: In the old days...

How old days?

In my first professional job in 1983, we sometimes had to 'phone the sysadmins, nearly 200 miles away. In fact, we had to 'phone them to arrange it if we wanted more than 2Kb (yes, kilobytes) of mainframe RAM to run a task.

3
0

What is money? A rabid free marketeer puts his foot in lots of notes

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: So, what's the next step?

Sorry, mate. If you want to survive into that kind of bunker, you want serious money.

Your personal bodyguards won't come cheap in the intermediate ("somalia") phase, when society has broken down but dollars or gold are still the widely-accepted currency.

1
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge

Claims

Methinks we're straying off the topic, but the big debts that matter are claims.

The big one for all of us is our claim to a state pension one day (or even many years, if you're lucky). That alone is worth quarter of a million in today's market. Arguably much more, if you treat the state's promise as better security (and therefore worth more) than an equivalent promise from a private-sector provider like the Equitable.

You have other entitlements, which will depend more on your circumstances. Which ones involve a chunk of someone's debt can be left as an exercise.

1
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Whose fiat?

Um, they can print someone else's. Google for "Operation Bernhard". Or consider regular forgery.

As for world government, we have dollar hegemony distorting the modern world economy. But that's a whole nother argument.

0
1
Nick Kew
Silver badge

Flawed Premise

Your very first premise is flawed. Money in the real world is a medium of exchange, but can only ever be a short-term store of value. In the medium to longer term, debasement means you can save more yet buy less.

I use "debasement" rather than "inflation" here, because the latter word has itself been corrupted by association with meaningless price indexes, and esoteric arguments over different but equally-meaningless indexes. In a world where the only Big Thing you expect to save up for is a house, the kind of massive debasement we saw in about 2000-2005 or 1983-89 (and apparently right now in London) simply robs you of those savings and hands them to people richer than you, while not even showing up in the price indexes.

3
5
Nick Kew
Silver badge

The Devil's Work

In Goethe's Faust (published 1831), one sub-plot is about the emperor's troubles with the economy. Mephistopheles saves the day with promissary notes on future wealth. Result: big boom, leading to bigger bust when people realise there simply isn't the wealth to meet the promises.

For the classic example affecting us today - pension promises from 1945 to the Equitable bust in 2000.

Corbyn's "peoples QE" is another manifestation of that. But then, so was its predecessor PFI, especially when taken to vast excess by NuLab. If you're the government and can print yourself money for free, it's not long before you yield to temptation to upgrade the palace to marble and solid gold, and use real diamonds for the chandeliers. Regardless of good intentions, jobs administering such pots of money are naturally huge corruption-magnets.

Applies also when the private sector is given licence to print. Hence what's happened in the banks, and doubly so when underwritten by taxpayers.

5
1

FATTIES have most SUCCESS with opposite SEX! Have some pies and SCORE

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Sir John in Love

How come noone has yet mentioned that great archetype of the huge fatty who gets plenty of ladies, Sir John Falstaff?

1
0
Nick Kew
Silver badge
Pint

Re: BMI

My BMI is over the threshold and into obese, and the paunch confirms it. So when the ladies admiringly note how much I'm not wearing ("aren't you freezing?") I just point to my healthy layer of natural, organic insulation.

What was more surprising was when they tested my body fat and found it firmly in the healthy range, or what wikipedia describes as "fitness". Seems the insulation layer really is healthy.

3
0

Dear do-gooders, you can't get rid of child labour just by banning it

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Child?

When discussing provision for children, perhaps one should take the trouble to distinguish between actual children, and strapping teenagers classed as children under first-world laws and conventions. I understand the Indian law mentioned applies to kids below 14.

Do we still have child labour in Blighty? Or have we banned things like the paper-round and the weekend work at the market garden that my generation did to earn a bit of pocket-money? As you say, the real consideration is yes-to-school rather than no-to-work, and there are valid questions around how much of each are healthy and indeed mutually compatible.

As for dealing with poverty, the one thing that really matters is to bring birth rates down.

20
1

Crash Google Chrome with one tiny URL: We cram a probe in this bug

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Dear Coders - Rules You Learned in Kindergarten

I once worked for a company that believed in exhaustive formal unit testing.

I was the maverick who questioned the utility thereof. And I kept finding elementary bugs in that code. Furthermore, fixing them was often hard, as it would cause the unit tests to need fixing too, and that was more red tape than the code itself. A typical example would be an off-by-one index error that caused an incorrect numerical interpolation. Something that could matter a lot when the software controls satellite orbits.

The problem was the human factor. When the hard part of the job is not hacking it but getting it through the tests, that becomes the programmers' goal in life. They no longer see the wood for the trees (or bugs for the tests, if you prefer). And when the tests are more work than the code, they are also more complex, more error-prone.

Like red tape everywhere, the process had strangled itself. And when a two-minute fix requires several days work on the red tape, it drives programmers away, too.

21
0

As we all know, snark always comes before a fall. Mea culpa

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: And then there are Aspies and Neurotypicals

Methinks the pompous git[1] may be doing exactly what Worstall just owned up to. Jumping to conclusions on the basis of less-than-complete information.

[1] His description, not mine. And yes, I can certainly identify with the description.

5
0

GCHQ wants to set your passwords. In a good way

Nick Kew
Silver badge

It's a balance of harms. Whatever good periodic change might do has to be set against the harm of people who struggle with it. Not to mention consequences such as the risks of Password Reset processes, or the extra opportunities to try social engineering on a helpdesk fed up with problems of password reset.

The sooner we can rid the world of passwords (as we know them today), the better.

6
0

End mass snooping and protect whistleblowers, MEPs yell at EU

Nick Kew
Silver badge

toothless

Isn't it basically toothless precisely because any attempt to give teeth to the (democratically elected) parliament - as opposed to the political appointees and civil servants - gets scuppered? Not least by British politicians and press who have long been determined not to allow it democratic legitimacy.

12
0

‘Dumb pipe’ Twitter should sell up and quit, says tech banking chap

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Only to the idiot masses

It's Enclosure of the Commons. No more, no less.

(But it's a shame El Reg missed the Long View in the article itself).

3
0

Amazon, GoDaddy get sueball for hosting Ashley Madison data

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Anonymous Plaintiffs?

Get outed doing something bad ...

... so do something worse under the cloak of anonymity.

What's that phrase? Once bitten? Fool me once? And when it's just the three a***holes, no need to host a database or even a data dump anywhere to out them.

1
0

Laminate this: Inside Argos' ongoing online (r)evolution

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Ten years ago ...

Argos was far-and-away the best online retailer when I moved house back in 2005. A website that worked nicely, backed by a system that never screwed up over inventory and fast, efficient delivery. When you have to equip a place from scratch, you really notice who is or isn't any good at it, and one thing I won't forget is being without a fridge-freezer until I cancelled my order with AN Other who had messed up and placed one with Argos instead, whereupon it arrived first thing the following morning.

How could they improve on that? What a shame the market punished them for a perception of that tired old catalogue rather than rewarded them for getting things right, so now we get a whole bunch of superfluous gimmicks.

20
0

So Quantitative Easing in the eurozone is working, then?

Nick Kew
Silver badge

Re: Blind spots...

Keynes must be spinning in his grave at some of what's been done in his name in recent years. Remember it was a dose of Keynesian (or should I say Ballsian) stimulus around 2004/5 (in the world's #1 Financial capital - so it spread far and wide) that transformed what could've been a regular recession into a couple of years of continued bubble followed by an almighty crash. Go back and look at Gordon Brown's rhetoric: the clue lies in the subtle addition of the phrase "over the economic cycle" to words about government borrowing.

China's stimulus looks more like legitimate keynesianism, but I'd be out of my depth trying to say anything meaningful about it.

7
2
Nick Kew
Silver badge
Facepalm

Grinding axes ...

Someone spotted grinding axes in a Worstall article a couple of weeks back.

Now if Worstall occassionally grinds an axe, AEP runs a FTSE-100 business grinding axes for every woodcutter and dwarven warrior in fantasyland. I have only to see his name on an article (especially one on Europe), and I don't bother reading it because I already know what it says.

8
5

Page:

Forums