* Posts by Nick Kew

620 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

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Are EU having a laugh? Europe passes hopeless cyber-commerce rules

Nick Kew
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Are you making problems?

If your spanish vendor won't ship to Poland, then they won't have Polish customers. That problem is theirs, and the remedy entirely in their hands. No business of the legislators: that's a complete red herring introduced in your article. No different to a Bristol vendor who declines to ship to Brighton.

If there's a point I'm missing, why not make it instead of introducing such feeble non-arguments?

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German boffins' clock drops 10 seconds in a billion-and-a-half years

Nick Kew
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Re: Not good enough

I'll sell you a clock with altogether less drift than that. Absolutely accurate twice a day, every day.

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Shared services centres supposed to save £128m saved £0... and cost £4m

Nick Kew
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Surely the Cabinet Office isn't the government, it's Sir Humphrey.

A man who shows clear leadership when it suits him, and not always in the direction of the government.

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They take to it later, but when women FLOSS, they mean it

Nick Kew
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FLOSS has older people, some of them grandparents.

But we didn't start as young as today's generations. We didn't have computers, let alone incentives like Google's Summer of Code. When RMS started in the 80s you had to be pretty well-off (or a kid with rich parents) to go anywhere near it. Even much later, getting online could be something of an adventure.

(Peak age 21 is plausible, as a direct effect of GSoC).

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Nick Kew
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Sample size is the least of their problems. Wouldn't be a problem at all if it were properly sampled.

But an online poll with self-selecting sample can never lead to meaningful results. Unless the study is all about bogus sampling methods.

I think most of us who've been doing open source for a while have also answered enough of those surveys for one lifetime, and just bin the requests to do yet another. Perhaps the results tell us that women have more patience with the d*** things and a higher boredom threshold, no doubt endowed on them by biology to deal with the endless repetition involved in caring for very small children.

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Sainsbury’s Bank insurance spam scam causes confusion

Nick Kew
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What's new?

All sounds perfectly normal to me. I get lots of such acknowledgements, and usually the most immediate indication that it's bogus is never having done business with the organisation in question.

Big-name online retailers like ebay and amazon seem to be regular favourites. Along with banks, airlines, etc.

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US work visas for international tech talent? 'If Donald Trump is elected all bets are off'

Nick Kew
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Don't get hung up on geography

Working for Silicon Valley doesn't require any kind of visa for anyone.

Just regular broadband.

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Must listen: We've found the real Bastard Operator From Hell

Nick Kew
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WTF?

Re: The Original song

Wow! It really is! So not the BoFH's own invention. Are they paying royalties, since it's not original?

Definitely sounds much better than the stuff they play in DIY stores, and distressingly often in supermarkets. Or indeed anything on the BBC's monument to mindlessness, Radio 2.

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Nick Kew
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Megaphone

Four Yorkshire Railwaymen

Just down the tracks from here is a maintenance depot. So at night (when there are long gaps between passing trains) we get the trains shunting out really slowly from the depot and stopping right here to go through quite a range of maintenance regimes. The noises have to be heard to be believed.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Am I the only one?

I've never heard X-Idol-Voice-Talent-Thing or Justin Beiber. At least, not knowingly: I wouldn't have a clue if I did.

But that track was a lot more entertaining than a lot of the pop that's all-too-regularly inflicted on us by the likes of the BBC. Most recently 'Prince'. When a star is celebrated, why can none of the fawning sycophants ever play us any track that varies in the slightest from a formulaic pop 4/4 allegro tedioso with all the musicality of a pneumatic drill? This track is rather fun by comparison.

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When to trust a startup: Does size count?

Nick Kew
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Um, a company of any size can lose interest, stop supporting whatever they've flogged you. Whether it's a tech that's failed in the market like betamax, or just a winding down as with windows versions reaching a certain age.

Open source offers some protection. Open source with a thriving and diverse development community is the gold standard for ensuring your investment won't prove a dead end. Invest in a startup delivering an Apache project and you have two layers of assurance beyond the company itself: the source to work with, and independent developers to give continuity if the startup itself dies.

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Barbie-brained Mattel exec phell for phishing, sent $3m to China

Nick Kew
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Cross-border cooperation

Sounds like it didn't take too much effort to persuade the chinese bank in question to block its dodgy client.

What's the chance a US bank would be so cooperative in response to a request from a Chinese victim?

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Internet users don't understand security or privacy, says survey

Nick Kew
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Thumb Down

I was about to post that. Though with the added caveat that this survey doesn't have to have been half so devious as Sir Humphrey to get the answers it wants.

The Reg should be ashamed of publishing vague articles like this. It's simply meaningless without telling us the actual questions asked.

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Confused by crypto? Here's what that password hashing stuff means in English

Nick Kew
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Re: "To obtain a certificate from a CA you have to convince them of your credentials"

The CA model is broken, as demonstrated by a fair few incidents reported in El Reg and other techie media.

In the absence of a WoT made simple enough for Joe Public, a move to a distributed trust authority is overdue. M-Pin gives us the framework for that.

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London's $40m 'flash crash' trader is to face extradition to the US

Nick Kew
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If there's a crime exposed by this, it's the bots that saw his orders and front-ran them. And the system that allows orders to be seen by third parties in time for that to happen! The fact he could make millions tricking them just goes to show how much those parasites bleed out of honest investors, such as our pension funds.

But the beneficiaries of those keep the judiciary in their pockets, both sides of the atlantic. This poor bugger failed to grease the right palms.

Once upon a time, I heard a story of someone who had baited a 419 scammer. He could help a fellow-member of his church and suggested the scammer join and he'd help. So he got a joining fee out of the 419-er. Seems to me what this guy did is morally much the same as that!

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Hands on with the BBC's Micro:Bit computer. You know, for kids

Nick Kew
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Re: The same memory as the BBC Micro Model A of 15 years ago...

But will it still run Elite?

I want The Valley!

(seriously, I'd love to play with that again, if only to see how something that looked so infeasibly huge to have fitted into 32Kb then looks in an era of gigabytes).

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Mystery Kindle update will block readers from books after Wednesday

Nick Kew
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Re: Not very user friendly

Damn, I can just see the headache as I sort my dad out, while he moans on and on about technology never working.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Non-cloudy thinking

Cloud is extra specially pointless for books. You could carry all the books you'll ever own on one microSD card.

Yeah, I love having my precious collection all on a single point of failure.

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HERE: We're still, er... HERE

Nick Kew
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Re: Quite an uphill battle on iOS and Android

Google maps are still at best a pain forcing you (at best) to jump through hoops if you want to use maps without a data connection - and a huge bill to use them internationally.

I'd call that a killer advantage for Nokia maps as was. I still have an old Symbian 'phone which I take with me abroad just to have decent maps which I know won't slurp data unbidden. Using it on the android 'phone would leave me vulnerable to launching google maps accidentally in a "senior moment".

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Snowden WAS the Feds' quarry in Lavabit case, redaction blunder reveals

Nick Kew
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Big Brother

Scope for conspiracy theory.

Failure to run that search until it returns a blank ... implausible.

A fat-finger final search for Snodwen. Or an over-used search function in Word/whatever failing silently with EALLOC after the previous ten thousand searches in the session. Don't say there isn't a second person to double-check something like that independently? Oh, right, the PHB checked it, found the error, corrected it, then published the uncorrected version.

Or a false flag? Give the world what it expects to find so they won't look deeper and just possibly stumble upon .... [fill in the blank]. Smiley would see that as perfectly mundane.

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Rocky times for startups: Mutual funds devalue and VCs turn off money hose

Nick Kew
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Re: "But the bluster of Silicon Valley, combined with the fact that no one loses and everyone gains"

So you have a touch of the London sickness, but is it anything new there? It's fully 30 years ago I was dangled the promise of north of $150k for an assignment elsewhere in California (OK, JPL in Pasadena) and told I'd need it to cover the rent. Never happened 'cos the company in question messed up, but I still recollect the staggering money.

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Nick Kew
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Just a month ago ...

Just last month, the headline was Microsoft buys Swiftkey, with nice profits for its VC backers.

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Crap IT means stats crew don't really know how UK economy's doing

Nick Kew
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Goodhart's Law

This is the time-honoured tradition of fiddling the books. Goodhart's law applies, and measured GDP has long-since passed its use-by date, and reached a peak of systematic bias in the Blair Feelgood bubble of a decade ago when it was massively overstated.

Now it seems we're going to leverage up the con. Put the whole bias on steroids; create a new Derivative product from Goodhart. Could this be a panic response to the apparent ending of the bubble in Prime London property sales to the foreign super-rich that has served as a crutch to the stats since the big crash?

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We’re so over Uber: Italy ponders slapping taxes on workers in the ‘sharing economy’

Nick Kew
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A Big Issue.

Indeed, if you accept the principle of taxation in the first place[1] then the rules should apply to everyone. Including Uber drivers. And Big Issue sellers, ebay traders, et al. If their overall income falls below the threshold for tax then they pay nothing, but that's a different issue.

[1] I do, in principle. Just not the way they spend most of it in reality, nor the way they penalise hard-earned income compared to unearned income or - worst - rentierism.

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Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

Nick Kew
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Orwell said it (more or less) ...

All sexes are equal, but some sexes are more equal than others.

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Global crypto survey proves govt backdoors completely pointless

Nick Kew
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1999 vs now

Actually even in 1999 crypto solutions were widely available to anyone who cared enough to download them. The main difference was the historic exclusion of the US from much of the community because of the legacy of silly export laws.

Then as now it was trivial to a geek. But now as then, there's a big non-techie public who will only get crypto by buying a product that supports it. That's the public some politicians expect to control.

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Let Europeans sue America for slurping their data – US Senate

Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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It's a weapon of terror

as documented in the story at DMCA: terror weapon

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

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

Nick Kew
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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!

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Beyond iTunes: XML boffins target sheet music

Nick Kew
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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.

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EU privacy watchdog calls for new controls on surveillance tech export

Nick Kew
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@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.

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Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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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).

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

Nick Kew
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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?

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

Nick Kew
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Where's Tom Sharpe when you need him?

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

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Nick Kew
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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?

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

Nick Kew
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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?

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

Nick Kew
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Shakespeare was right ...

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

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ISIS operates a crypto help desk – report

Nick Kew
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Holmes

Re: Smiley's People

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

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Nick Kew
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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.

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Roamers rejoice! Google Maps gets offline regional navigation

Nick Kew
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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.

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Linus Torvalds targeted by honeytraps, claims Eric S. Raymond

Nick Kew
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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.

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Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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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.

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

Nick Kew
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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.

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