* Posts by David Roberts

82 posts • joined 25 Jan 2007


Ad regulator pulls down Branson-backed magic undies

David Roberts

Other way round?

Tuck your phone into your underwear to go "off grid" and stop the spooks tracking you?

Stealth boxers could have a big market.

Are you stealthed?

No, just pleased to see you.


Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

David Roberts

Sad but true

I just bought a brand new Buffalo home router.

The administrator user ID seems to be hard wired to "admin" and the maximum password length is eight characters.

When alligator time reverts to swamp draining it is getting DD-WRT or similar.

Not the most secure set up I have ever seen.


Chromebooks to break out of US schools: Netbook 2.0 comeback not just for children

David Roberts

Difference from a Netbook?

My little EEEPC (recently retired) has about 16GB local storage.

Much smaller form factor than the 13" plus devices discussed here.

So what is the difference (demise of the netbook) - is it just a full sized PC with limited storage?

I am locked into Windows because of some specialised software (a lot of people probably are) but if I was not I do wonder what a Chromebook offers over a similar sized laptop running any Linux variant.

Cheaper entry cost, because they skimped on the local storage, but then CB defenders point out ypu can by external storage. In which case what are you gaining exactly?

Look like an excellent marketing strategy to get a non Windows OS out there but technically nothing special.


Chomp that sausage: Brits just LOVE scoffing a Full Monty

David Roberts

Carbs are the killers

A full English breakfast may well help you live longer - if you hold back on the bread and potatoes.

Weight loss diets based on fats and protein (look up LCHF) are surprisingly effective so a fried breakfast can turn you from lard back to slim.

It is the cheap bulk carbohydrate that generate the profits for the food industry and go straight into your fat cells.

Strangely, contrary to popular mythology, eating fat does not necessarily make you fat.

I'm looking at you Ancel Keys!


Your fitness tracker is a SNITCH says Symantec

David Roberts

Pi a red herring?

Seen this reported elswhere as well.

As far as I can see they built a blue tooth receiver using bits and pieces.

Nearly all mobile phones have bluetooth and smart mobiles can support scripting and you can write apps for them.

Or use a laptop with optional dongle if the BT chip isn't modern.

So what was the point of using a Pi?

Just to make the point that you didn't need masses of sophisticated spying equipment?

Or just because building something using a Pi sounds geekier and sexier than saying you wrote a Perl script for your Linux laptop? Or wrote an app for your Android phone or tablet?


Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart

David Roberts

Which devices are using resources?

A smart meter won't be able to tell you which appliance is using gas or electricity without either a massive infrastructure upgrade or intelligence associated with each device.

Obvious example - your gas meter just measures bulk flow and doesn't know if it is the cooker or the boiler using it.

So if you require intelligence at each device then once you know what each device is doing and you don't need intelligence at the meter.

Presumably all the fluff is just to conceal the fact that this is an installation of automated meter reading to put meter readers out of a job.

There is of course the issue of people who don't have an internet connection or a smart phone to enable one of the simple DIY home reading schemes, but this surely doesn't justify replacing every meter in the land.

Granted that it would be nice to include instant reading at the point of switching between suppliers, but simple add on devices could do that much more cheaply, as suggested in the article.

So time for a re think.


DAYS from end of life as we know it: Boffins tell of solar storm near-miss

David Roberts

Water supplies?

Just thinking - there was a time when water was mainly supplied by gravity from water towers.

Now AFAIK these have been mainly replaced by electric pumps.

So there is no longer a short term reserve if the grid goes out.

Bad planning?


Boffins build FREE SUPERCOMPUTER from free cloud server trials

David Roberts

Re: Maths failure?

You appear to be assuming one bot per service


YES: Scotland declares independence ... from the dot co dot uk empire

David Roberts

Another money earning scheme

Promoted by Registrars.

Most people use Gogle to find web addresses and only see the text extension to an email address so how important is the domain?

Unless, of course, you are protecting a valuable trade name in which case you are being held to ransom.


Amazon begs Feds for drone test permission slip

David Roberts
Black Helicopters

Looking at this the wrong way round?

Second attempt - damn Android pad ate my first post.

Everyone seems to be focussing on the 'push' model of delivery where you have to be home at the right time for a van/car driver to deliver.

Now if you order from Amazon you probably already have an Internet connection at home.

You may well have used a local store to hold your delivery for you until you are ready to collect.

Alternatively you may want to take a delivery in your lunch hour when around your work place.

So how about a local store with a drone deck?

You arrive home (prepare to leave work) and check your email and you have a delivery waiting.

You click on the 'send now' option, and go outside, turning on your Amazon Delivery Wand with your unique ID without which the drone will not release the package to you.

Urban dwellers can also go out into the back garden or yard.

City dwellers in multi-storey properties can go out onto the balcony or open a very large window.

Drone arrives, wand used, package delivered.

Better still, you have a Portable Amazon Drone Deck with built in ID which removes the risk of you getting too close to whirling bits.

This can be hung out of a suitable window if you don't have access to a garden. patio, yard, whatever.

Or permanently mounted on a wall like a Sky dish.

Or carried (rolled up?) under your arm if you are taking a delivery during the working day.

So now you have an on-demand delivery system which can do the final few miles at whatever time of day or night you are ready to accept the package.

Especially good with urban high rises where it cuts out all the stairs/doors/lifts to be negotiated.

Also wonderful, of course, for the illicit delivery of high value packages such as drugs and weapons.....

This assumes really good collision avoidance software in the drone which will allow it to land on a clear spot in a city park without slicing up passers by.

This also assumes reliable automation to load the drone, or the exploitation of minimum wage workers on zero hours contracts to load the darn things at unsocial hours.

Helicopter for cool technology and red triangle for associated risks from spinning stuff.


Top ten car gadgets: Get your motor running with new shiny-shiny

David Roberts

Re: iODB2 Engine Data Reader - Cheaper option

Just to check.......

I am looking at Bluetooth ODBII adapters on Amazon and eBay.

They claim to be for reading and resetting diagnostic codes.

Useful, but I would also like to see other information such as fuel flow, throttle setting and speed (to calculate MPG and work out an economical driving mode).

Do all adapters provide all the available information, or are some limited to problem codes?

An in car computer (Android phone, tablet or Windows laptop) with more functionality than built in displays (if the vehicle has one) could be very useful.

I note that Torque warn against cheap eBay Bluetooth adapters - anyone recommend a good one?


Oh SNAP! Old-school '80s Unix hack to smack OSX, iOS, Red Hat?

David Roberts

Show me the money

Just a bunch of chancers putting some buzz words together in the hope of getting some funding.

If they are lucky then they will be presenting to finance and marketing who aren't taking detailed technical advice.

Once they have the funding, just crib the answers from this thread and beers all round.


Windows 7, XP and even Vista GAIN market share again

David Roberts

W8.1 is gaining share

Nobody so far has mentioned that new laptops can ship with 8.1.

I know because I helped a friend migrate from ax XP tower PC to a laptop recently.

I was all geared up for a painfully slow update from 8 to 8.1 but it wasn't required.

I installed Classic Shell and she seems perfectly happy.

I am running 8.1 on an old Dell laptop because the initial offer made it a cheap option to replace Vista.

At the moment it boots faster than Vista did but then Vista booted quickly when we first got the PC.

The laptop has been running Ubuntu but Windows wins when you need/want to use applications which only run on Windows.

I also found Samba counter intuitive and a general pain when trying to network with Windows machines. I could fix it if I dedicated a chunk of time to the task but hey - it should just work!

I see nothing special in W8.x to justify an upgrade from W7 (which I run on one of the PCs) but again I see nothing terrible enough to justify installing W7 instead.


NASA: Satellite which will END man-made CO2 debate in orbit at last

David Roberts

On the gripping hand..

...nobody seems to be considering the possible case that

climate change is happening (as it has many times in the past)

it is being driven by changes in CO2 levels

these changes are NOT man made

we still need to develope strategies to deal with them.

Hopefully the measurements will cover this also.


What's it like using the LG G smartwatch and Android Wear? Let us tell YOU

David Roberts

Re: Sacrificial screen? - possible alternative?

In nearly all cases you can buy a separate piece of kit to replace each of the functions on a modern smart phone.

However after a while you end up having an awful lot of separate bits of kit.

Smartphones are replacing hand held and car mounted GPS units, timepieces, PDAs, mp3 players, dictation machines, cameras, portable games consoles...........

So I would view a "smartphone" as a portable sophisticated little computer which happeba to also do phone calls.

An extended choice of peripherals would be nice.

For cycling I would like a GPS display for navigation, plus track recording and upload to MapMyRun or similar.

I would also like to be able to chane or upgrade the navigation software supplier without replacing the hardware.

I would also like to be able to add new peripherals when they become available again from competing hardware and software vendors.

David Roberts

Sacrificial screen?

I am looking for a secure waterproof mount for my phone on my bike so I can use GPS functionality.

For each mount there is at least one review where the mount has failed and the phone has gone under a car.

So a remote display at say £50ukp would be much more practical and less financial risk than putting a £500ukp phone in harms way.

I could even carry it around on my wrist when I am not on the bike.

So far I can't see any must have function as a wrist mounted device, although a remote screen for GPS navigation might be nice but not essential.


Keep monopoly or make network expensive, NBN Co warns

David Roberts

Rural subsidy?

Just to check.

If the issue is that a previous Government decided to mandate broadband for all at a price which does not reflect the cost of provision, and decided that rather than subsidise it directly they will allow the Telco to redistribute revenue from "cheap to provide" areas, this might be a workable model.

Popular with rural areas, not popular with cities, but might avoid the traditional padding of costs where government subsidies are involved.

So on the face of it the current government removing the monopoly on the revenue generating part seems to scupper the whole idea.

Is this the intention, to remove an unpopular agreement made by a previous government?


FAA shoots down delivery by drone plans

David Roberts

Re: Beware of dog

Or the operator could sit in the truck and deliverpackages to several households at once.

Phone call - can you come to the door please our drone has arrived.


Russian gov to dump x86, bake own 64-bit ARM chips - reports

David Roberts

CPU the only risk?

All this talk about back doors in ARM code - are they also going to manufacture their own motherboards, graphics chips, network cards disc controllers etc both on and off board?

Plenty of scope for back doors and logging software apart from the CPU.


Wi-Fi WarKitteh and DDoS Dog to stalk Defcon 22

David Roberts

Re: Catspaw

Just get yourself a very large tomcat to maintain a cat and crap free zone around your property.

In the interests of communications security, of course.


Bitcoin ransomware racket makes bank

David Roberts

Air gap!

I wonder how many people who do backup their files also keep the backup medium disconnected apart from during the backup?

It just doesn't fit with any automated backup manager and overnight backup strategy.

It doesn't fit with any strategy using NAS.

In the "good old days" when you could fit your backup onto tape or CD you could have your rack of media and even an off site backup if you were really paranoid.

Now disc storage is so huge that old style backup strategies don't really work and I would guess that most people who back up regularly are still at risk.

Small businesses especially so where you probably don't get backups unless someone has automated the whole thing. Manual backup procedures are unlikely to be correctly followed until after the first big disaster.

Finally, if you improve your backup strategy the malware will just wait a bit longer before attacking to ensure that it has had time to infect all your backups, or at least infect enough crucial current data that you have to pay.


Tech talk bloke compares girlfriend to irritating Java tool – did he deserve flames?

David Roberts

Should have said his boyfriend

Then nobody would have dared complain.


US bloke raises $250k to build robo-masturbation device

David Roberts

Personally I think this sucks.


Feds hunt 30-year-old alleged to be lord of Gameover botnet

David Roberts


All the information seems to be about removing Zeus.

If you have a Cryptolocker infection does this mean you have to wait two weeks before you can ransom your system?


Chip and SKIM: How dodgy crypto can leave shoppers open to fraud

David Roberts

Physical security?

What I think I am reading is that the problem is a partial implementation of the standards coupled with weak physical security.

Upgrading and or changing the standard isn't going to solve this.

Security standards have to be coupled with robust implementations and strong physical security to work.

Of course, this takes time and effort and money.


BBC hacks – tweet the crap out of the news, cries tech-dazzled Trust

David Roberts


As far as I know most mobile devices do not easily support Flash content.

However thr BBC seems determined to ignore this.

Could this be one reason the under 25s largely ignore the BBC?

As for dumbing down, most news media these days seem to have realised that it is cheaper to surf Facebook and Twitter for trivia than employ investigative journalists.

Have you noticed how much news at online sites for newspapers and in print is a rehash of another newspaper's story, with a credit?


R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph

David Roberts

At least we now know that the dark side of the moon is covered in LADEE bits.


Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED

David Roberts

Acting in the public good?

Perhaps he should try the white hat defence?

I was sending a 64K heartbeat full of zeroes and only asking for 2 bytes back so I was minimising network traffic whilst sanitising your memory buffers for you.


O.K. - oops - rookie coding error........


Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style

David Roberts

New feature - thermometer?

On the subject of new features - the S3 is generally great outdoors for GPS, mapping etc. but although I can find out how high I am above sea level I can't tell what the ambient temperature is.

Granted that much of the time a thermometer would be recording the temperature inside your pocket, it would still be nice to have a digital thermometer built in.

Even nicer to have an IR thermometer for spot readings :-)

Oh, laser tape measure? Hmmm...possibly need a bigger handset :-(


Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed

David Roberts

That is what you get for using Windows

Oh, wait..........

Well, someone had to say it :-)

I've just bought an old Cisco router to try and get away from the bulk Soho consumer routers because Virgin Media won't fix bugs in their supplied product.

Now I have to go back to school to learn how to configure the blasted thing.

Oh, and given that it runs IOS how come Apple haven't sued Cisco yet?

Mine's the one with the infinite pockets to hold all the CLI manuals.


Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50

David Roberts

Re: The first clones...

Beat me to it with the RCA reference.

In fact the first few System 4 systems were RCA Spectras because the System 4 production line wasn't up to speed.

First mainframe I ever saw when I started out as a Cobol programmer.

On the microcode emulation - I think you will find that it was DME (Direct Machine Environment iirc) not DMA.

Emulators for ICL 1900 and LEO 326 were also produced and allegedly the 1900 emulation had to be slugged because it was faster that VME/B on the 2900 series for a long time, which was seen as a disincentive to upgrade to the new systems (does this have a familiar ring?).

So these VMWare people were late to the game :-).

Oh, and can we have a Modified Godwin for anyone who mentions XP end of life when not directly relevant?


Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'

David Roberts

Due Diligence?

I wonder who did the 'due diligence' prior to the purchase and where they are working now?

Not good to buy a company only to be told by the USSS that your brand new acquisition has been flogging data to an offshore person with criminal tendencies.

Difficult to beleive that this only came to light straight after the purchase of Court Ventures.


US to strengthen privacy rights for Euro bods' personal data transfers

David Roberts

Small Businesses???

"However, Munich-based technology law specialist Christian Knorst of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that an 'IT Airbus' in Europe could cause competition issues and that the best way to challenge more established US rivals in the market was to improve funding for small businesses to help them compete on privacy."

Given the Patriot Act et. al. surely the only way to keep the data out of the immediate grasp of the US is to host it on EU located servers run by EU firms with as little US involvement as possible (given that AFAIK any US owned firm can be made to hand over any non-US data to Da Guvmint by law).

Which will not be done by "small businesses" but would require companies the size of BT to build and run the data centres.

Implementing the router infrastructure to avoid any data tromboning through the US is kinda minor in comparison. Light up some dark fibre and go for it.

Oh, and

"Only a handful of countries, including Argentina, Canada and Switzerland, but not including the US, are deemed by the European Commission to provide adequate protection."

Strangely no mention of India and other major hosters of call centres for the UK financial and telecoms industry.

Anyway, relying on promises today and then giving the US all your data in no way protects you from a (nominal) change in government and in government policy.

Stable door is flapping, horse already long gone, EU government as a whole addicted to Facebook and especially Twitter. Data privacy??

Oh, and at some point the various EU policy makers will realise that any EU-centric infrastructure is going to cost far more than the ever competing cloud providers in the US.


They want me to install CCTV to see what YOU did in the TOILET

David Roberts

Re: Better use for CCTV at work


Surely this could be a chace to develope a camera which you could use via a Web page to see if the coffee machine or vending machine was empty before you set off on the long walk.

Then everyone could use it?

Yeah - you could call it a Web Cam, perhaps?

Mine is the one with the Web history book in the pockrt.


This changes everything: Microsoft slips WinXP holdouts $100 to buy new Windows 8 PCs

David Roberts

Lifetime free support?

Not that I'm a massive MS fan but everyone seems to be asuming that a one off payment years back entitles you to lifetime free support.

How does that work, then?

Where does the money come from to maintain XP?

Run XP at risk for free.

To work with all that unsupported hardware and software you bought back in the day.

Just accept that if something goes wrong you have to fix it or pay someone.

Your choice your risk.

I assume that MS discounted a serious paid support option because of the ease of one person buying updates then redistributing them.

Or more likely corporate religion issues.

Then again if MS offered a $£€10 a year "relicensing" fee for each copy of XP for continuing support on your existing hardware would you pay to keep XP?

It would fit the business model of selling a new version every few years to keep revenue flowing.

10 coins a year isn't a major hit.

When the hardware dies you move on.

If you want a free operating system with long term support then go to Linux or similar and join the "Freetards" (I include myself in there).

Just don't keep whingeing about not getting free support for life for a commercial product.


MtGox finds 200,000 Bitcoin in old wallets

David Roberts

Turn them upside down and shake them

Then see what else falls out of their pockets.

[Looked for suitable Biblical lost+found quotes but gave up.]

Oh, how about:

Luke 11:9

"King James Bible

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."


5 Eyes in the Sky: The TRUTH about Flight MH370 and SPOOKSATS

David Roberts


Having been told that I was barking up the wrong tree (or words to that effect) in previous MH370 comments when I suggested that someone should have found signs by now using the much vaunted spy satellite technology, all I can say now is:

(1) Nyah!

(2) Hope that they have really found the wreckage if the plane has gone down. At least the relatives will get some kind of closure.

Beer just because it is Friday.


BLUE BIRD DOWN: Turkey wipes out Twitter 'scourge'

David Roberts

Preparing to join the Eu?

This should bolster their case no end.


Tech giants KNEW about PRISM, web snooping, claims top NSA lawyer

David Roberts


Am I the only one wondering what Snowden is finding to do to occupy his time, all alone with a load of source data and a copy of Powerpoint?

Unless all the data is in escrow from day 1 he could presumably keep on rolling out slideware for years.


MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide

David Roberts

Re: Spy satellite? ATC hand over

"'I'm pretty sure that the Vietnamese ATC was well aware that they would be receiving a standard airline flight from Malaysia at that time. It was a scheduled flight and I'm sure the timetable would have been agreed months in advance. They would surely know about all flight plans routed through their airspace."

Just to confirm, are all ATCs en route notified of the actual take off time of the flight?

Flights rarely leave exactly on time.

Also, long haul flights are very dependant on wind strength and direction for the flight time, so it must be very difficult to predict exactly where a plane SHOULD be at any time during the flight based purely on a routine flight plan filed months before. Especially if the pilot has a hot date waiting and is 'pedal to the metal'.

"There are lots of reasons why the Vietnamese would not have immediately escalated a warning. But the most obvious is that they were busy and had no time to go making extra work for themselves..."

So they have more important things to do that control air traffic?

It doesn't seem to require a vast amount of high tech kit to perform a simple hand off of flights between ATC areas - as I said phone lines are generally available.

So 20/20 hindsight but a simple protocol would have quickly identified that something was amiss.

I assume that after this incident work will be done to improve this.

David Roberts

Re: Spy satellite?

"Re positive control, if you can figure out how to actively monitor the airspace more than ~200NM from land so they can do that then I suggest you patent it before going public. Once you're out of radar cover it's procedural reporting of the airliners position by the crew. "

I was thinking more of Malasian ATC phoning their opposite numbers in the next airspace over and saying "We just relinquished control of flight XYZ at location+date+time. According to the flight plan they should contact you in X minutes time."

With swift escalation if the flight does not register by whatever means with the next ATC.

As far as I can tell by the reports/comments I have seen so far it just waved goodbye to Malaysian ATC and nobody got at all worked up when it didn't register with another ATC in a few minutes time.

David Roberts
Black Helicopters

Spy satellite?

Given that we have been told (fact and spy fiction) for decades that orbiting hardware is capable of counting the pubic hairs on a field mouse in pitch dark, can we not assume that the entire surface of the globe has been scanned several times now in fine detail looking for traces of the plane?

So either someone knows where it is or it has been hidden with exceptional care.

However as I have as yet seen no mention that "satellite surveillance has so far failed to reveal any trace" I must suspect that there are reasons not to mention where it is (or isn't).

Oh, and isn't it about time ATCs performed a positive handoff (I am passing control of flight ABC to you - do you confirm?) instead of just saying "Byebye" and assuming the next controller in line will automatically pick the plane up?

I had assumed that long haul flights were carefully planned and monitored - I am now wondering how lucky family and friends have been to turn up when and where expected.



David Roberts

No default privileged user?

Not been around that long, then?

'root' was always the default sysadmin user on Unix installs and other users were created later if you really had to share your toy.

However sysadmins were trusted to manage systems and they didn't have these new fangled Internet connections - fancy systems had UUCP over dial up, of course.

Hardware costs put Unix systems far beyond the reach of most home users (mumble Xenix mumble).

Of course, with free Linux downloads measures had to be taken to protect naive users from themselves.


MtGox allows users to see a picture of their money, but not have it

David Roberts

Re: Interesting times ahead

Lender's balance?

Another thing not absolutely clear to me in this whole sorry saga.

People keep talking about Bitcoin exchanges as if they were banks.

I thought an exchange was a public wallet where you could trade Bitcoins inluding converting them to cash.

Do the exchanges lend out Bitcoins in return for interest, invest them and otherwise use them to increase their capital holding?

Do they pay interest to depositors?

Is, in fact, lending involved?

Or is the exchange just supposed to be a "swap shop" to facilitate the use of Bitcoins to directly purchase goods or currency?

In which case you would expect the displayed balance to directly equate to stored Bitcoins.

In fact, if you depoit (store?) a Bitcoin in an exchange do you not store a unique chain electronically?

I am sinking deeper into the mire here!

I thought the scam was using a bug where a single unique chain was used several times to generate modified chains where it should have been only able to generate one.

Which can't be true otherwise there would be a number of counterfeit bit chains in circulation, the total number of Bitcoins in circulation would be higher than expected, but the depositors would still have the original unique chains which they deposited.

So in hopefully simple terms Is it like a box full of dollar bills - you throw in you bill with a unique serial number but get back whichever bill first comes to hand?

And the scam involves someone getting a bill, saying "didn't get that" and being given another? A bit like a faulty ATM dishing out more notes than requested?

Again I don't see traditional banking analogies holding true because there are never as many dollar bills as there are dollars but I thought each Bitcoin was unique so there was a one to one mapping between Bitcoins and the total Bitcoin world wide holding.

Perhaps a non-banking terminology is needed to clarify?


They ACCUSED him of inventing Bitcoin. Now, Nakamoto hires lawyer to CLEAR his name

David Roberts

10 Years?

If he hasn't been able to get an IT job for 10 years then his financial loss can't be that great.


Blimey! ANOTHER Bitcoin bleed brouhaha

David Roberts

Re: Whereas if it was a bank doing these transactions

Not many banks these days lose a significant percentage of their total holdings in one robbery.

Can you imagine someone getting away with 50% of HSBCs total holdings? (..ummm...didn't something like that happen to a bank or two a while back...money just 'vanished' and turned out not to have been real...?)

Anyway one of the problems IMHO is that most of these exchanges were set up on a shoe string when a Bitcoin was worth only a few dollars and the whole capital structure was relatively small.

Suddenly the 'value' has soared to ridiculous heights and tiny outfits with no real funding apart from their own Bitcoin holdings are suddenly holding 'millions' in Beta software repositories with no investment in electronic or physical security.

Surely a much more tempting target than trying to scam a few 100 $/£/whatever by drive by infections and encryption.

Reminds me of the Wild West when small banks held all their deposits in the vault on site and a single robbery could wipe a bank out.

Darwin is at work - grab some popcorn and sit back and watch the natural selection.

Linux because such obviously poor software must be running under Windows.

[Where is the icon for a penguin getting his coat?]


Retiring greybeards force firms to retrain Java, .NET bods as mainframe sysadmins

David Roberts

Mainframe Sysadmins?

Is it just me?

I though mainframe *programmers* wrote in COBOL.

[Which used to be at least partly self documenting because of the 'simple everyday words' syntax.]

Sysadmins often have to know more arcane stuff - although it is {mumble} decades since I was system support for ICL mainframes.

Just out of interest I Googled 'IBM Sysadmin' and found

"The IBM DB2 System Administrator job role skill set specializes in problem determination and problem source identification of DB2 Databases and Instances, issues on Unix, Linux and Windows operating system. Skills and Responsibilities include: Technical knowledge of DB2 Engine commands and their applications on system level , Unix, Linux, and Windows Operating System commands, functions and capabilities; ability of addressing technical aspects of DB2 engine issues. Experience in iSeries/DB2 developer/DBA, iSeries operating system and architecture knowledge, Command Language Programming (CLP) on the iSeries, Implementer (iSeries change control tool), DB2 and SQL."

No mention of JCL or COBOL.

Perhaps the DB2 malarkey doesn't run on mainframes?

Then again

"Must know COBOL, JCL, CICS , Db2. Experience in Unix, MF Cobol (execution of COBOL programs in UNIX environment) is preferable."

So exhuming crusty old COBOL programmers with a smattering of CICS and JCL may not be the full requirement (unfortunately, should I ever get bored of retirement).

Still, no explicit mention of .NET and C#.

Anyway, nearly time for my warm drink and nap.

Beer, because that is what being retired is all about :-)


Ill communication delays NHS England's GP data grab for six months

David Roberts

Which third parties?

It would help a lot if the government gave some clearer indication of which 3rd parties would be allowed to see the data.

I volunteer to work with a UK charity and we do get to see some data from GP surgeries - collected with full agreement not stealth slurped - and the data controller is HSCIC.

In my experience HSCIC has been a tough data controller very aware that data has to be anonymised before passing out of its direct control.

So if, for instance, the aim was to provide a cancer research charity with data on how effectively recommendations were being followed at the GP level for the treatment, support and referral of newly diagnosed and long term cancer patients then there would probably be general support for a data extraction exercise.

This could be used, for example, to identify 'postcode lotteries' and build a coherent campaign.

Pick your own chronic disease and charity - you can usually see major benefits for patients in the medium to long term when interested campaigning bodies get carefully anonymised data from GPs, A&E, specialist clinics etc.

Pick your own bad example - much quoted is the Insurance Company which wants data which can be reverse engineered to identify individuals and then asses them for long term risk - and you can easily see that there is no way that this data should ever be released.

So an open and honest government would publish a list of all recipients of the data alongside a charter to HSCIC which ensures that the data is always anonymised before being released to outside parties.

The list would be rigorously maintained and audited.

This would go at least some way towards building confidence in the safety of releasing your personal data.

Of course, you would also have to trust current and future governments not to change the rules.

Best to have the data held by a trusted third party not directly under government control, but not under commercial control either - possibly a charity.

However, once the data is out there and aggregated it cannot be recalled which does require an enormous amount of trust from the UK population.


Top Brit docs wade into GP data grab row, demand 'urgent' NHS England talks

David Roberts

Presumably if you are away (gap year) or moved areas or abroad and haven't told your old surgery then your records will be slurped?

I do hope that records at the old surgery when you have moved to a new surgery will be marked as such and not extracted


Tales from an expert witness: Lasers, guns and singing Santas

David Roberts

Re: My 2p reverse gear synchro

A tip from the time when there wasn't synchromesh on 1st gear in most cars:

Assuming second gear is opposite 1st, with clutch disengaged pull the gear lever half way back into second, then push forward into first.

This seemed to work when the car was still rolling - allegedly the synchromesh on 2nd gets everything synchronised up for first gear.

Back in the day, older cars tended to have worn synchromesh on all gears anyway so it did encourage you to learn to double de-clutch.

Don't think this trick works for reverse, though, but I could be wrong.