* Posts by David Roberts

163 posts • joined 25 Jan 2007

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Boffin finds formula for four-year-five-nines disk arrays

David Roberts
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Some wierd assumptions

Firstly the apparent assumption that arrays don't carry spares.

I worked with RAID5 arrays in the '90s and there was always at least one hot spare.

Secondly (as already pointed out) using the cost of replacing a single disc vs. leaving the array untouched for 4 years. No apparent consideration of someone popping in once a month to replace failed drives as a bulk process.

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Sleepy Ofcom glances at Internet of Things, rolls over, takes nap

David Roberts
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Upvoted for the NAT comment.

If/when I start getting smart devices I expect to have them tucked away on an internal network.

I see no reason for each device to have a globally unique IP address.

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SURPRISE! Microsoft pops open Windows 10 Preview build early

David Roberts
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Re: Read privacy statement

Looks pretty mild compared with all the apps on an Android phone.

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Want an Internet of Stuff? Not so 4K-ing fast ... yet – Akamai

David Roberts
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WTF?

Why the 4k?

All this seems solely to relate to the streaming of 4k content.

No figures on the availability of 4k content.

No figures on the uptake of 4k capable TVs and other devices.

No mention of other options such as downloading before viewing.

Is all this 4k stuff just another desperate attempt to promote a new TV format after the spectacular failure of 3D?

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Ski MOUNT DOOM or take top coffee to the beach? Your choice

David Roberts
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Re: Just don't ask about the cheese

The comment was a bit tongue in cheek :-)

We even found a place south of Auckland which made local Dutch style cheeses which were very good.

With respect to pay (l know a couple of IT people who moved out a year or so ago) if you move from outside London then pay and life style can both improve considerably. Perhaps they were lucky. Perhaps their IT skils weren't quite as bad as another poster suggests?

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David Roberts
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Just don't ask about the cheese

Tasty or sharp.

That's it, move along, nothing more to see here.

That said, love the place.

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Crap broadband holds back HALF of rural small biz types

David Roberts
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FAIL

Still using dial up?

That won't be poor benighted SMEs hunkered down in their rural idylls.

That will be the SMEs (and quite a few large enterprises) in all towns throughout the UK who won't cough the dosh to upgrade their point of sale terminals from dial up to broadband.

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DANGER: Is that 'hot babe' on Skype a sextortionist?

David Roberts
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Picture or it didn't happen?

Mine's the one with the smutty postcards ---->

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What will happen to the oil price? Look to the PC for clues

David Roberts
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IT Angle

Re: PERSONAL computer!

O.K. - perhaps I should have another go.

The oil industry started out small and distributed with a low entry cost.

Much like the PC industry alluded to in the article.

All you needed was a wildcat rig and a "nodding donkey" and (with luck) you were an oil man.

All Texans were millionaires and fuel costs were so cheap that cars were made with huge engines and bodies because why not?

Since then the industry has followed the model of most major industries.

Over time the big players have swallowed up the small players maximising efficiency and productivity with ever larger plant and distribution networks.

Over time the "low hanging fruit" has been picked and each new major oil field required more complex and expensive equipment to begin extraction, and more complex and vulnerable distribution networks. Increasing the efficiency of recovery from older fields has also required more expensive technology.

Oh, apart from the Saudis who did the wildcat and nodding donkey thing back in the day and now just sit on the oil fields turning the tap on and off, and the price up and down, to match the production costs of the non-Saudi producers. No major new investment required as far as I am aware.

So as far as I can see all the investment in extraction technology required to recover more from old fields and remote recent fields has turned up a method of extracting crude using affordable plant from resources which are easily accessible - so much like the early days mentioned above.

So the clock has been reset back a few decades and oil can once again be extracted without having to pay governments with potentially dodgy backgrounds (hang on..) and always having to consider being held to ransom over our energy needs. We now start climbing the same slippery slope as the easily frackable resources are exploited and the cost and sophistication of the technology starts climbing again - just like in the old oil days. A reprieve, nothing more. Once again "peak oil" is just a spike on a jagged but steadily climbing graph which has a big dip at the moment..

Hopefully this will give us more time to develop alternative resources. More likely it will destroy all the current business cases for alternative energy such as wind and solar which seem to depend on an ever increasing oil price to justify the expenditure. The West will just coast along with a warm and toasty feeling that all is well again and all that green stuff can be safely ignored because we are more or less energy self sufficient. Watch out for changes in the requirements for new gas fired generation plant.

So I don't see any parallel with the mainframe/PC industry which started out high technology and horrendously expensive per unit of computing and then gradually cost reduced and became ubiquitous.

I see some parallel with the immense increase in the technology to produce computers coupled with the massive reduction in the location and number of producers. I wouldn't like to see fracking following this model because if a flood in Thailand crippled the global industry we would all be very unhappy.

Equally I don't see any major change in the technology basis of crude oil extraction - just a re-emergence of small distributed extraction plant where small onshore distributed resources in temperate first world locations are once more available and economically viable.

So the overwhelming impression is that this article has no real relevance to IT but has mainframe/PC shoved into it to shoehorn it into an IT rag - which I think is probably the aim of the original report the article is based on

Fracking is always interesting but ------->

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David Roberts
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Re: PERSONAL computer!

O.K. Elucidate.

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David Roberts
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PERSONAL computer!

The big feature about the personal computer is that it is personal. That is, you have your own device in your home.

Unless everyone can have at least one fracking rig on their property then I don't think the analogy works.

At most you have a switch from a few large global production sites to a local production industry with small plant and low start up costs. A bit like coal where there are small deposits all over the UK. Oh, hang on.....

...perhaps like dairy farming where you have a local dairy farm so you small production unit is close to the consumer. Oh, hang on....

So the model is that lots of small production units can change the way that oil is produced? Of course, it has to be refined so you either need lots of small local refineries or you need to transport your local small scale output to a big central refinery.

No, still not working for me as a conceptual model of a radical change in the production dynamics.

It may bring a few more large players in, though, and put pressure on OPEC.

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BAN email footers – they WASTE my INK, wails Ctrl+P MP

David Roberts
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WTF?

Illegal?

Did I miss something, or is the proposal to make it illegal to add these footers?

If so, how do the authorities propose to enforce this?

Seems like a mandate to read all emails to check for illegal content.

If this was the USA it would also be a mandate to persue anyone in the world who emailed a US recipient - even though you cannot tell this reliably from the email address.

Saving paper is just fluff and misdirection.

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Makers of Snowden movie Citizenfour sued by ex-oil exec

David Roberts
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Coat

Traitor to the USA (not America)?

....but hero to the free world?

Hang on, I'll get back to you whem I can confirm exactly where the free world is.

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Sony Pictures hack is Hollywood's 'Snowden moment' say infosec bods

David Roberts
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Get the picture?

I liked the bit about "looking for bad actors on the network"

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Armouring up online: Duncan Campbell's chief techie talks crypto with El Reg

David Roberts
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Asymetric key?

I may be well out of date now but I thought asymetric key cryptography was slow and relatively vulnerable if used with large amounts of data.

Isn't it mainly used for the secure exchange of one time symetrical keys which are used for bulk encryption?

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TALE OF FAIL: Microsoft offers blow-by-blow Azure outage account

David Roberts
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Thumb Up

Re: eh?

Oh, I don't know. I quite liked the picture of a knock down drag out bare knuckle fight between developers and system testers that this conjured up.

Even more so between the project team and the customer.

"Here you are - it fully meets the signed off requirements and test specifications."

"Oh, no, we've changed our minds. And the colours are so last year."

{sound of jackets being removed, sleeves being rolled up, and lengths of metal pipe being slipped out of waist bands}

Sigh.....a man can dream.....

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Singapore startup does an Uber on tech support

David Roberts
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2-3 hours?

It will take at least that long to run a full virus scan on most older kit.

I assume that the geek will have an investment in infrastructure such as a home office with fast broadband and all the latest Windows Updates held locally. Also insurance cover.

Working at the customer's home is a recipe for trouble as a lot of the work will be starting a job then waiting for 2-3 hours to finish and any downloads will be constrained by the customer's link speed.

As already stated upstream it is hard to justify paying a decent price to cover several hours of skilled labour when the capital cost of the hardware is around £300. Back in the day when a decent PC could cost £2,000 paying

£200 to fix it looked reasonable. Try charging that today.

This also explains why small businesses tend to use low skilled support because the cost looks unreasonable when you have bought a couple of XP machines 10 years ago and can't move because your business specific software package won't run on W7 or W8. The perception is that if the suport costs more than a new machine then it isn't good value. At the price point they are comfortable with they can't afford marketable skills.

Seen that with a local business I know.

So who are these geeks who can offer a quality service at a low price?

Retired and bored ex-IT professionals who are time rich but cash poor?

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Deprivation Britain: 1930s all over again? Codswallop!

David Roberts
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Re: 1930s

So if she was born in 1936 the radio would have been available in 1956 when she was 20.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

David Roberts
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Time for a poll?

I recognise that a change in anything can be uncomfortable for long time users.

However there seems to be a common thread to most of the complaints.

At the moment I read El Reg using a 10 inch tablet in portrait mode so most of the site is ignored. I just resize the screen so only the text is visible and both old and new sites work much the same.

So my two main complaints are large pointless picures (as others have said, Daily Mail??) and the lack of cleat distinction between read and unread articles. I like to be able to skim through the main page and easily see where I got to last time I looked. This is now much harder.

I haven't used a high res monitor on the new site yet so I haven't seen the reported vast waste of space but surely the main aim of the front page is to allow the reader to see as much information as possible as easily as possible?

So, how about a poll to get up/down votes on the top 5 or 10 complaints to gauge the level of feeling.

One thing which would make the site truly flexible and also assist in validating a new design would be a "preferences" option linked to a commentard profile where things such as fixed vs. variable width format and colour settings could be individually selected. Then people could switch between views until they found the best fit for them and you could aggregate the settings to see which were most used. In fact, kind of like a poll.

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Your data: Stolen through PIXELS

David Roberts
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Missing something?

I assume the whole point is to capture data without saving it to a file on the client, and thus leaving an audit trail. Also no software to install. Also no problems getting the data off the client if USB ports have been quite reasonably disabled.

So running software on a PC to capture the video stream and then copy/email it wouldn't meet the undetectable requirement.

This seems to be a fast and easy method of capturing data displayed on a screen without having to record it via a camera or plain old paper and ink.

However it is a niche attack - the client is locked down to prevent USB drives being attached and is audited and email is also scanned. However physical security is lax enough that you can connect another computer to the video hardware to record your sessions and then remove the hardware afterwards (or leave it there under the desk and regularly swap out the SD cards with the captured data).

I am assuming that the device uses a spare HDMI port on the graphics card instead of being inserted between PC and monitor on the main graphics output but I may have missed that part.

If it is feasible to have a device recording the HDMI output then this puts the mockers on any Digital Rights enforcement preventing copying of programs from e.g. Virgin Media Tivo boxes in full HD. So is it a media copying device which could also be used for spying?

All in all an interesting spy device to plug into a tower PC under a desk. Who would notice it?

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Parliament face-sit-in to spark mass debate on UK's stiff smut stance

David Roberts
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Coat

I've been invited to a sit down slap up meal.

Is this now illegal?

Long brown dirty one, of course.

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.Bank hires Symantec to check credentials

David Roberts
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WTF?

Policed by ISPs?

Now if ISP mail servers would only accept mail signed by the bank from an authorised mail server we might at least have some confidence that the originator was correct.

Oh, hang on, that doesn't require a special ".bank" domain, just a certificate.

So what exactly does this offer beyond a nice little earner for the owner of the TLD?

Oh, yes, a whole new flood of SPAM with spoofed originator addresses.

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Mom and daughter SUE Comcast for 'smuggling' public Wi-Fi hotspot into their home

David Roberts
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Joke

Class action, you say? Paralegal?

Just checking, but which ever way this goes somebody is going to fill a pocket or two with cash for all the legal work.

So, is fronting a class action suit a nice little earner whichever way it goes?

Or am I just being cynical about US lawsuits.

They don't seem to be really trying anyway as they don't claim that the roaming wifi actively encourages terrism, and helps anonymise pro-choice activists.

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Dirtbags dressed up malware as legit app using Sony crypto-certs

David Roberts
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This used to be a tick box option in IE IIRC. Is it automatic now?

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US Ass. Commerce Sec hits back at claims global DNS is DOOMED

David Roberts
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Re: Trust the USG?

So you are saying that ICANN is basically like FIFA except it currently has government oversight?

Which they want removed.

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Stupid humans and their EXPENSIVE DATA BREACHES

David Roberts
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Encryption?

O.K. This is a bit of puff for an encryption firm.

However nearly all the reported problems are due to the information being sent to the wrong person.

Inside the business with encryption if you send information to the wrong person then you also encrypt for the wrong person.

Sending to the general public you decrypt first.

So how does encryption help?

Surely encryption can help with a data breach but not human error in sending to the wrong person.

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Not sure what RFID is? Can't hack? You can STILL be a card fraudster with this Android app

David Roberts
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Re: meanwhile...Noone does physical imprint

So the carbon that I have I have from the Calmac ferry to Islay is a figment of my imagination?

Granted that anything remembered from the return trip after visiting all is the distilleries may be open to interpretation.

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ICANN and co U-turn on permanent seats for 'net 'UN Security Council'

David Roberts
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Should I apply?

Still some spare seats, and I'm not doing anything important right now.

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Randall Munroe: The root nerd talks to The Register

David Roberts
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A whole new generation??

Since when did it become "generational" to enjoy XKCD?

I think XKCD is great but I thought the interview was a bit lame.

I got the impression that given Randall didn't seem to want to talk about personal stuff and everyone reading here probably already knows about XKCD then there wasn't a lot to report back.

Apart from "Hey - I met Randall Munroe!! How cool is that?"

However really no need to go down the "Whole new generation" route as if only people the same age or younger can relate to XKCD.

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TalkTalk email goes titsup FOR DAYS. Cheapo telco warns: Changing password WON'T fix it

David Roberts
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Password prompt?

It isn't clear from the report, but one symptom of a handshake timing out when an email client (not web browser) is fetching mail is a request for the password.

I see this now and then from the various mail servers I use, but mostly from BT.

If this is the problem, and you can only change the password by logging into the web site, then it should (but probably doesn't) ocur that if the password works for the web site then it doesn't need changing.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Masala omelette

David Roberts
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Grill

To finish the cooking off properly, slip the frying pan under a hot grill.

Cooks more quickly and ends up much fluffier.

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Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix

David Roberts
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Italians pay Italians?

I think that I just read that Italians collect a levy and give it to Italian artists.

That doesn't seem equitable as there must be a percentage of music purchased in Italy which is not by Italian artists.

So are UK artists getting their cut of all the money currently levied within the EU?

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IDC: iPad sales CRASH incoming ... Win 8 killing 2-in-1 typoslabs

David Roberts
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Hardware architecture

Tablets are stalling because in general the architecture on affordable tablets doesn't support a true mult tasking OS. That is, Windows/Linux/Unix etc.

The vast majority of tablets have a software base for "big phones" not small computers.

I am typing this on a tablet, which I bought to replace a netbook and to use when travelling.

I have since bought an 11" laptop to replace the tablet for that use - i.e. a more recent take on the netbook and at around the same price point as the original

The tablet software to support two of my main uses - email and Usenet - is just not as mature as the Linux and Windows versions.

Low power Intel/AMD x86 chips which can provide the same range of OS and applications as PCs could give the market a new boost.

It isn't the form factor it is the software.

I can use my tablet with the available software and I don't gain anything appreciable by upgrading.

Give me Thunderbird and Pan and you might see a tiny uptick in sales.

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You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes

David Roberts
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slow download and install?

I have recently updated three W8.1 systems, which use Windows Defender, and the updates have been very slow for no obvious reason.

I did have a look at the performance monitor and there seemed to be a lot of disc activity and quite a bit of CPU but very little network.

So the slow installs are not necessarily tied to Avast.

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The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS

David Roberts
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Joke

Anti rejection drugs?

Gives a whole new take on transplant anti-rejection drugs.

You're going to do what???

Here, try some of this.

WHOAH! Heavy - let's eat some shit!

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BIG FAT Lies: Porky Pies about obesity

David Roberts
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Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

I was with you up until your last paragraph.

Yes, fats don't make you fat per se - fats can limit appetite and a high fat diet can be effective in weight control. So taxing fats as high calorie food may be counter productive. Butter and cream are good for you.

Yes, carbohydrates can encourage you to over eat and store the excess calories as fat. So potentially taxing sugars may be too simplistic. Taxing at two rates "carbohydrates of which sugars" might be more effective.

Granted that roughly 80% of over weight+ people don't get diabetes, around 80% of newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetics are over weight+.

Further, rapid weight loss after first diagnosis has shown good rates of at least temporary reversal.

So a statement that obesity causes diabetes may not be 100% correct but it is hard to deny the very strong linkage.

Even by the those with admittedly degraded brain cells (whoever these people are).

I hope you meant to say that eating fat doesn't cause diabetes.

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David Roberts
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Intersting argument, but it does seem to give too much weight (sorry) to the whole life medical costs rather than the rolling costs year on year.

It may be some minor consolation that a 30 year old obese alchoholic smoker may only be a burden on the health service for the next 30 years instead of 60, but the health service does need the funding for the shorter term higher cost support.

Agreed that the report is unlikely to be supremely unbiased.

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Google Contributor: Ad-block killer – or proof NO ONE will pay for news?

David Roberts
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Aimed at tablet and phone users?

On my tablet the most useable browser is Chrome.

It handles tabs so much more nicely than Firefox.

On Firefox you can install adblock plus.

Strangely, on *cough* Google *cough* Chrome there doesn't seem to be the same option.

I read that you can side load an ad blocker for Chrome, though.

If you are happy side loading.

Fortunately if you resize the screen the side bar ads are no longer visible.

So perhaps this is Google offering a limited ad block for mobile users of Chrome, and not really relevant to you hairy arsed PC fettlers?

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Hey, it's ... Gecko man, Gecko man, does almost whatever a GECKO can

David Roberts
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Joke

Personal risk?

Just had an image of needing a piss whilst wearing the gloves.

Some significant time later having to say

"No, no Officer it is the Gecko gloves - I just can't let go...."

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You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES

David Roberts
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I assume that prior to the gleeful spin, what he meant was that individual departments using the Governmemt cloud may not always know the geographical location of the servers holding their data.

I hope.

With him that relying on fragmented Government IT procurement and deployment can leave the whole cloud exposed by one poor server/site.

My cynical side thinks that the Government wants to push loads of money to cloud providers to get infrastructue off their capital budget and ditch some expensive skilled personpower.

Sound familiar?

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GOTCHA: Google caught STRIPPING SSL from BT Wi-Fi users' searches

David Roberts
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Analytics and filtering?

Just checking.

Using SSL will stop any intermediate network hops to your target snooping on your content (such as your ISP for security or profit).

However Google as the end point of your search request will legitimately decrypt your search request before executing it.

As far as I know Google routinely passes back a URL which contains not only the target web site but also a string of search terms used (presumably to show the target that they were found via Google and aren't they lucky).

If the URL returned is to a dodgy site with loads of pron which also supports SSL this is surely where the problem starts if you want to monitor content to protect the kiddies.

Google can presumably implement a Safe Search policy at their end, but this would require you to log onto Google before you could search? Ah, it is an option in Google which doesn't requie you to log in so presumably a cookie.

So - why does encrypting your search request prevent Safesearch from working?

Are they filtering the search request on the fly before it hits the search engine and so working on the encrypted data stream?

Sounds like a quick fix solution without any proper system design if it needs encryption turned off at source for it to work.

Likewise harvesting search terms - if the eventual target of the search gets the key words tacked onto the URL then the only people to gain from the search being in clear are intermediate snoop points.

Supplementary - if Internet Cafes have to suborn SSL sessions to filter for bad stuff then presumably you should always use a VPN when surfing away from home.

Supplementary 2 - presumably the padlock doesn't show if your HTTPS session has been redirected?

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Microsoft exams? Tough, you say? Pffft. 5-YEAR-OLD KID passes MCP test

David Roberts
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WTF?

Biased?

Suppose he had passed a GCSE at 5 years old.

Would you have mocked all GCSE qualifications?

Sadly, probably yes.

Consider the possibility that he may just be a genius.

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Walmart's $99 crap-let will make people hate Windows 8.1 even more

David Roberts
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WTF?

Hang on a minute?

So we have Intel based hardware which ships with a fully functional multi-tasking operating system which in turn can be replaced by other fully functional multi-tasking operating systems. All for under $100.

ARM and Google should be crapping themselves big time.

Instead all I am seeing here (apart from the occasional rational post which seems to be mainly ignored) is loads of W8.1 hate mail from people who haven't even seen the product.

At sub-£100 I would be seriously tempted.

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Mastercard and Visa to ERADICATE password authentication

David Roberts
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Re: Stop with the mobile requirement already

When I go abroad to visit family I go for a while.

When in country I expect to be able to shop on line even when I have popped a PAYG SIM in my phone.

I could be booking hotels, motels, camp sites, ferries, flights using the new SIM either directfly on my phone or tethered to laptop or tablet.

I may even want to click and collect at stores.

For this to work in the age of the global traveller you would need to be able to switch phone numbers quickly, easily, and repeatedly from abroad.

Given that proviso it doesn't seem quite as secure.

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Patch Windows boxes NOW – unless you want to be owned by a web page or network packet

David Roberts
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Just checking

EMET is softwate specifically designed to protect you from dodgy software running on your PC.

It isn't installed as standard - you have to install it and configure it.

It is blocking IE.

Job done?

Noted that it should be included in optional updates because of the dependency.

Question - how many people have actually installed this?

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Vodafone's 4G investment is beginning to pay off

David Roberts
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Switch don't bitch?

See title.

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Someone has broken into your systems. Now what?

David Roberts
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Re: Honeypot should already be in place

Simple prompt like the "cookies" one.

"Are you a bad person?"

If Yes, route to honeypot.

Alternatively "Do you like honey?"

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Reg mobile man: National roaming plan? Oh UK.gov, you've GOT to be joking

David Roberts
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Flame

Bring it on

I sometimes wonder where these article writers live and which networks they use.

As I have stated in a similar thread, I recently spent some time in the Inner Hebrides and with two mobile phones, one on O2 and the other on 3, we spent most of the time on "Emergency Calls Only".

i.e. there was mobile coverage but not for us.

I live most of my life in a small town. Therefore I go for the best deal in the small town.

For most of the population (95%+?) there is a choice of network at their home location because of population coverage targets by the major networks.

As stated, we have phones on two networks. They both work.

One of the reasons for two networks is because it increases the chance of coverage when we travel, so purchasing behaviour might change if there was national roaming, but that is by no means certain. The purchasing decision is derive by the best deal available at the time of renewal.

What we seem to be hearing in these articles is that it may be what the customer wants, it may be achievable (because foreigners can roam) but the Telcos don't want to do it.

Well, make them!

Could be one thing to influence who I vote for at the next election.

Edit: just let us use the existing mobile network. This would be an enormous step forward. Then worry about the Telcos not wanting to build any more masts because they might have to share them.

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'Tech giants who encrypt comms are unwittingly aiding terrorists', claims ex-Home Sec Blunkett

David Roberts
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Black Helicopters

Full marks for misdirection

The message is that the tech companies {Google and the like} are championing the protection of data against the government snooping.

Bad techies.

Hey, the tech companies must be on our side and are protecting our data against the bad people.

Our data is/are safe!

Alternative theory - we are so pissed off with the tech companies that we are starting to encrypt our own data before transmission/storage.

So the tech companies can't read it.

So they can't use it for commercial gain.

So they can't aggregate it to make life easier for the security services.

So the security services say let's do this "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing and stop them using personal data encryption.

Paranoid?

Or not paranoid enough?

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Danish lit star Helle Helle, Marianne Faithfull and Jim Al-Khalili on Quantum Biology

David Roberts
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WTF?

Terry Pratchett?

He has the charming habit of explaining away stuff as "quantum ".

On the subject of birds, magnetic fields and fridge magnets.

I navigate using the earth's magnetic field even when I am nowhere near a fridge magnet.

Does this make me quantum?

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