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* Posts by The Mole

91 posts • joined 6 Sep 2007

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Vodafone does close-up magic on roaming charges

The Mole
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Good deal?

How can Vodafone justify charging double for using a dongle rather than a phone? It costs them exactly the same whether you plug a dongle into your laptop, plug your phone into your laptop or browse from your phone. Why do they charge more for a byte for one of these but not the others, if anything it should be the opposite and be chargine less for the laptop dongle as they are the people more likely to be buying in bulk!

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Patients gain right to scrub e-records from NHS database

The Mole
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Backups?

Presumably there will be backups of this data and presumably data won't be removed from these?

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Dell designs 10in netbook for Bash Street

The Mole
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@Why would you target netbooks at schools

Most primary schools don't have a spare romo available for a computer suite (or at the very least have ideas of much better uses for it) plus moving kids too and from a computer suite wastes half the lesson. Many schools already have trolleys of full size laptops which they take to the classroom and have the kids work at their desks on the laptops. Netbooks take far far less space (therefore much easier to store securely) and are safer for the kids to carry (they are less likely to drop a light weight netbook than a full size laptop). Also they fit on cramped desks much easier. The keyboard is also likely to be a much better size for childrens hands. All in all I can see many head teacher being pursuaded by the ease of storage, portability and price (compared to the price they would expect a normal laptop to cost) and I think that Dell may be onto a winner here (regardless of the ergonomic issues of children bent over a small laptop at ill suited desks).

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Ofcom works out why Wi-Fi doesn't work

The Mole
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It's true

It's true, I gave up with my (admitedly cheap) tv sender as neither it or the wireless could cope with each others interference, even after trying different combinations of channels.

As for microwaves while in theory they do interfere in practice they are generally reasonably sheilded and more to the point not used for more than a few minutes a day - in fact if these surveys were done during the daytime then there is probably a very good chance that none were used within the range of the detectors.

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Private ID scans leave fetish club-goers feeling exposed

The Mole
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Kept for three years

Huh, where in the data protection act does it say they have to keep the data for three years? In fact it says the opposite - data should only be kept for the reasonable period of time that it is needed. 6 months I could vaguely understand to give the police time to bother to investigate crimes. This is even more the case as attendence at certain events would give pretty good evidence for your sexuality and hence be counted as sensitive personal information (yes I know not everyone who goes to a gay disco is necessarily gay but it is fair to assume most people are)

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Google to fund 'video Street View' for Central London

The Mole
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Googles contribution

Presumably Google will be contributing the technology to blur everybodies faces and number plates so that it doesn't fall foul of the DPA and be a total privacy nightmare. What the benefit of it will be I don't know?

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Wacky Jacqui spanked by husband

The Mole
Joke

Research

I'm really surprised that she didn't try to claim that it was research into the adult entertainment industry!

But really why on earth can they claim any expenses for what they watch at home? Except perhaps to subscribe to news or entertainment channels?

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Wikileaks tells Aus censorship minister to rack off

The Mole
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Re: Extraterritoriality

I don't think they are quite going Extraterritorial though it's not very clear. I imagine they are aware that if the senator just investigated it in Australia they couldn't apply Swedish rules to him, but if he starts making requests in Sweden for information then those requests and the people making them would be under swedish juristriction - although I doubt the Swedish government would particularly fancy a diplomatic incident over it.

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BBC zombie caper slammed by security pros

The Mole
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Criminal Intent

My problem with the whole thing is that the BBC clearly stated in the versions already broadcast that "This isn't illegal because we are not doing it with criminal intent." Regardless of whether there were a public interest defense (or education research defense etc) covering the BBC, this strongly worded and definitive statement makes it appear that anybody is allowed to do this as long as they don't have criminal intent. The BBC giving legal advice in this manner is wrong particularly when people have been prosecuted for performing non-malicious actions such as typing "../../"

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'Ich bin ein storyteller', says UK taxman

The Mole
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But think of the children ...

But think of the children who instead of getting some nice story time to send them to sleep instead get tax software!

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Texas profs use AI news-ware to ID terror groups

The Mole
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How do they know

Sounds like a nonsense claim to me. I'm pretty certain that the spook responsible for India probably said immediately that this is probably Lashkar-e-Tayyiba as soon as they heard the reports and details. They probably even told their superiors their gut feeling. They then would have gone to work colloborating and finding evidence for what they thught they knew in the first few minutes of the attack before publically giving the terrorists publicity (last thing you want to do is give the credit to the wrong group and look silly)

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Storm worm smackdown as researchers unpick control system

The Mole

Consent for consent pop-up

Unfortunately you'd have to somehow gain consent to run code on the machine to display the consent popup.

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Asus Eee keyboard opens CES

The Mole
Go

Re: Dai - num pad

Dai you said shame it doesn't have a keypad but it does, the screen located where the keypad should be is touch sensitive and therefore could be used as the missing keypad, would probably want the key imaged to be translusent or something so that you can see what you are entering it onto but presumably it will (or could) be there if you want it)

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Microsoft search bribery machine in Black Friday breakdown

The Mole
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Never lose notebook data ever again...

Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

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The Mole
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Getting better

Well the good news for Microsoft is that el Reg think it is getting better - it was a third rate search engine in the ebay cash article now it is only second rate!

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Lapdancing 'not sexually stimulating', MPs hear

The Mole
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Flawed argument

"We are not saying there are not bad clubs. There are bad drivers. But you do not change the way that you licence drivers."

Yes you do, there used to be lots of bad drivers so we introduced a driving test which led to less bad drivers. We then introduced the driving theory test which led to even less bad drivers. We then introduced the hazzard perception test which led to even less bad drivers. Some people have suggested forcing drivers to get retested every x years with the aim of having even less bad drivers and I imagine that there is a fair chance that will happen too. So by the same logic looks like we should be changing the way we license clubs.

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NASA space tests 'interplanetary internet' protocol

The Mole

Delay tollerence

TCP/IP has timeouts in it to allow it to detect dead connections. In fact the linus tcp code actually has the following comment in it highlighting the problems of talking to mars:

From tcp_timer.c:

/* Increase the timeout each time we retransmit. Note that

* we do not increase the rtt estimate. rto is initialized

* from rtt, but increases here. Jacobson (SIGCOMM 88) suggests

* that doubling rto each time is the least we can get away with.

* In KA9Q, Karn uses this for the first few times, and then

* goes to quadratic. netBSD doubles, but only goes up to *64,

* and clamps at 1 to 64 sec afterwards. Note that 120 sec is

* defined in the protocol as the maximum possible RTT. I guess

* we'll have to use something other than TCP to talk to the

* University of Mars.

*

* PAWS allows us longer timeouts and large windows, so once

* implemented ftp to mars will work nicely. We will have to fix

* the 120 second clamps though!

*/

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Ofcom's pilot starts seeing signs

The Mole
Black Helicopters

Cumbrian transmission

Is it directed at a secret government satellite by any chance?

Black helicopter for obvious reason...

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How the gov's child protection database fails to add up

The Mole
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Never lose notebook data ever again...

Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

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The Mole
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Teacher figures look too low

At the risk of repetition of my comment in the other article those teacher figures look way too low to me. For at least primary schools I'd imagine that practically all class teachers (ie practically all teachers) would need access to the database. My wife is a simple primary school teacher and it is her who has to fill in reports for and attend inter service meetings between social services and medical staff etc. It is her that needs to keep an eye on that "at risk (of abuse)" children as she is the person most likely to see problems and most likely to get the blame if she accepts the "I fell over" story not knowing that they were at risk. Obviously the senior management team also take part in this sort of stuff and so would need access to.

At secondary school it might not need to be all teachers, just the senior management team, all head of years and form tutors, though I'd imagine that in many secondary schools this again is probably likely to be most of the teachers.

Then there are the 'senior' office staff preparing reports, tracking attendance, the heads are likely to want them to have access rather than having to do that work themselves. That or 'lend' their access details ignoring the security issues which are just getting in the way.

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UK's 'secure' child protection database will be open to one million

The Mole
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No Rubbish

"Not all staff in educatiuon will have access, not all teachers in a school, only the child protection co-ordinator will have (normally just one or two teachers)"

In a primary school at least I'd assume that have to attend interagency case conferences (ie between teachers, social services and medical staff etc) would require access to the database as presumably this is where the rssults of these meetings will be documented and tracked. Even if they don't have to go to the meetings but review and fill in paper work would presumably need access. My wife is a primary teacher and I know that she attends these meetings for the children in her class. Obviously the head and deputy will need access as they too deal with interagency meetings as will the Special Educational Needs coordinator. Optimistically it may be limitted so that class teachers only gain access while they have a pupil on the list but realistically (at least in my wife's school) that is likely to be all the teaching staff. I'm guessing in a secondary school it may 'just' be limitted to heads, deputies, head of years and form tutors.

The current system doesn't work, my wife has only just found out that one of the children in her class is on the At Risk Register (meaning that seeing the child daily she should be watching out for suspicious behaviour, bruising etc and potentially if she failed to spot and report 'obvious signs of abuse' she'll probably be the sacrificial goat after the great newspaper inquisition after a child abuse death). The only reason she found out was through an accidental comment. If this (massively intrusive and over reaching) database existed at the start of each year (and probably throughout it) she'd need to check every child in her class to make sure they weren't on the database, that or risk being on the end of a headline "Teacher failed to protect child".

I don't like it, she won't like it but if we have the database practicioners will have to use it or be accused by the public (and lazy headline writers) that it was them who failed to do their duty and they let the child die.

Just one million? I can see that figure rising personally.

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Of Dell's self-encrypting laptop

The Mole
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Never lose notebook data ever again...

Unless you forget your password..

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Hotmail users bitch and moan about new interface

The Mole
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Load times?

Which fool decided that page load times are the essential measurement criteria. It doesn't matter how quickly the page loads if it is slow to actually process the contents and navigate round the site.

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IPS dismissed 14 over data protection

The Mole

Not caught

The question is how many people weren't caught? 1? 10? 100? 1000? 4000?

No one knows. It may be there systems have got better and they should be congratulated for catching more people, it may be their staff have got thicker and are more likely to be caught or it may be their staff have realised the potential profit and are more likely to do it.

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Group Test: Universal Remote Controls

The Mole
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Timely

Thanks for the timely review - I was just in the process of thinking of getting one and up pops this review. Personally I think it is good it concentrates on the realistically priced models and not the ones which cost as much as a new entertainment system

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Microsoft faces second 'black screen' lawsuit

The Mole
Stop

License or Purchase

I'm pretty sure that it has not been legally settled whether the clause in the license agreement that states that "the product you just purchased from a shop isn't actually a product you purchased but just a license agreement for the perpetual use of said software" is actually legally valid in most juridstrictions.

While it is clear that if two parties have come together and negotiated a contract whereby they agree that there is a license to use a product for a period of time (or even indefinitely) is valid either for software or indeed for a car.

What hasn't been clearly estabilished (in most juridstrictions at least) is whether the purchase of a software package in the shop has any of the essential elements needed to form a contract (eg some form of negotiation and the coming together of two parties) and so hence whether a valid contract has been made or whether instead you have done what you thought you did and gone into a shop and brought a copy of windows and not a license. In particular it should be noted that in all the advertising and box the manufactors always talk about buying XYZ or purchasing XYZ as if you were buying or purchasing it.

Imagine what the world was like if you found out that the car you purchased from Ford wasn't actually a purchase and was in fact just a license to use the car on the roads that they had decided you could use it on and you have no right to resell the car when you no longer want to use it.

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Is Amazon censoring anti-DRM reviews?

The Mole

Duplicates?

I've not bothered to look but if I were writing a site like Amazon I'd make an attempt to filter out duplicate/substantially similar reviews to stop people gaming the system by posting multiple reviews from different accounts. If all these reviews are just focusing on complaining about the DRM then I'd imagine that a large proportion of them would be very very similar to each other and so may full afoul of such a filter even if they were in fact written by different people.

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Northrop scoops DARPA laser RIFLe cash

The Mole

Damage

So how much damage could a 3KW laser actually do and from what range?

I'm guessing blinding your enemy is feasible but how long would you have to aim it for to do something more lethal?

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Dutch court orders Google to reveal Gmail user

The Mole
Go

Impressed

Have to say I'm actually impressed by Google for once, they appear (in these cases at least) to be standing up for the little guy and ensuring due process takes places as opposed to caving in the instant they get a friendly letter from a lawyer.

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Ofcom denies lifeboat spectrum squeeze

The Mole

Skewed argument

I disagree, I don't see why it is unrealistic to expect that parts of our national infrastructure (be it voluntary or government) should have to pay a fee to use a national resource held in trust by the government for the people. Why is it unrealistic for the government to lease for free something they get for free when there are significant social and even economic reasons for these organisations to exist. (If there weren't volunteers willing to risk their own lives and save lives for free then our taxes would probably have to go up to pay people to do the service instead).

When it is a government agency like the MOD then it is just a book keeping exercise shifting money from one treasury budget to another and is an effective way to allocate the resources. When it is a charity providing an important national service payed for donations then it is a tax on the charity for providing a service that the government should probably be funding anyway. Allocating the frequency doesn't cost the government anything it just fails to gain them more money.

Perhaps the best solution is for OFCOM to come up with a price for the licenses and then for the government to 'pay' for the license with conditions attached such that if a substancially and financially viable new system was developed then the government could force the organisations to move over if the cost benefit analysis was strong enough.

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Lights out for Microsoft 2.0?

The Mole

Upgrade cycles

I imagine what will bite microsoft the most isn't a consumer downturn but when companies suddenly start realising that they don't need to upgrade their 3 year old machines and that the existing versions of office work just fine. Companies have already delayed in upgrading to Vista and this downturn is likely to be another good reason not to bother upgrading.

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Berners-Lee backs web truthiness labelling scheme

The Mole
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Undeserved?

Why when I read the following did it take me a couple of reads to realise it didn't actually say "undeserved"?

"It plans to pursue its goals via technological innovation, web science, and projects targeting underserved communities."

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Web designer sues Brat City for assaulting hyperlink

The Mole

Copyright URL

An interesting question could be whether a URL can be copyrighted. If some creative effort has gone into the creation of it (ie not just an automatically created number by your website management system) then it could be deemed a creative work protected by copyright. The defendent though could then argue it is fair use of a url to use it to link to the site. Would also be hard to draw the line of when the URL is a creative work and when it isn't

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British boffins perfect process to make any item '100% waterproof'

The Mole

Breathability

With clothing and footware particularly making something waterproof isn't that hard. The challenge that GoreTex has managed is to make it waterproof and breathable. The advantage of breathable fabrics is that sweat can evaporate from your foot/armpits etc and pass out through the material while rain can't penetrate in through the material. If the material is not breathable then you will still end up with soggy (and very smelly) sock after a long hike just from sweat.

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US cyberspying fears hang over Beijing Olympics

The Mole

Seems fair...

... as long as they clearly point out to the world at the same time that America allows it's border guards to copy the content of travellers laptops as well.

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Google will anonymize YouTube data before sharing with Viacom

The Mole

@Alex

Generally copyright law is interpretted as saying that if copyrighted information is in transit then you aren't infringing the law but if it is stored for a period of time then you potentially are. When playing content out on your computer your computer is storing a copy of the content firstly in ram, and then secondly in the video buffer, you may not have a long term persistent copy but you have still made a copy. Some judges in some countries (can't remember the exact details) have decided that because internet routers use "store and forward" (ie they receive a packet into a buffer then send it on after it has all been received) then they are in fact copying the packet rather than there is a small but measurable period of time where the packet is not in transit and is in fact being stored.

So the answer is yes if you are watching content on you tube then you are infringing copyright. (By buying a newspaper or having an article published on el reg there is a legitimate expectation that you have permission to view it (and make any copies necessary to do so, you don't have a reasonable expectation of that on you tube). The key thing to remember is that copyright infringement is NO theft. None commercial Copyright infringment is a civil infraction not a criminal case so you can only be done for damages. While copyright holders can easily argue that by sharing content they get lost sales with a value of XXX it is a lot harder to argue that the individaul person would have paid to see it and even if they succeed they can only claim damages for a relatively small amount (although they can also try and claim for costs which won't be so small!)

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Report fingers prints as ID scheme's point of failure

The Mole
Stop

Recreation

Surely you don't need to recreate the entire finger print anyway? If the fingerprint readers are identifying based on keypoints all you need to do is generate another pattern that matches with the same keypoints. It doesn't matter if the rest of the area is blank or straight lines as long as the scanner comes up with the same results as the original result. The readers also have to provide a high level of tolerance if they want to ensure that superficial injuries like cuts or burns don't immediately give problems.

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Research: Wind power pricier, emits more CO2 than thought

The Mole

Car battery problems

The problem with using car batteries to help boost the load is that the peak time of load (5-6pm) is also probably the peak time for cars to be out driving around and not be plugged in!

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ICANN approves customized top-level domains

The Mole

Missing the point

People seem to be missing the point, other than for a few big companies (such as ibm, cisco etc) ICANN aren't expecting or wanting consumers to be buying their own Top level domain name, they are expecting registras to buy them and then resell them. The domain name isn't any use to you if you also don't have the domain name servers to host them in a reliable manner. The higher the price the better as it limits the number of top level domains and the impact they have on the infrastructure.

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Spain plans 'human rights' for great apes

The Mole

I for one ...

welcome our new Great Ape overloads

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RFID could kill you

The Mole

Not Fit For Purpose

Surely if life critical hosptial equipment is this susceptable to interference then the equipment isn't fit for purpose and the manufacturers should be forced to fix there machines at their own costs

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London hospital loses 20,000 unencrypted patient files

The Mole
Go

".. and we have reminded our staff not to store this kind of data on laptops in the future."

Instead they will use desktops, as we all know that those can't be stolen or anything, can they Blears?

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MoD proposes Salisbury Plain spy-plane droid playground

The Mole

DPA

You are right James it does, unfortunately there are the usual get outs on national security grounds and I'm sure they'll say that relasing the photos would give intelligence on the capability of the cameras on the drones. (Even if those capabilities were already in the public domain from other sources)

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Navy sonar dolphin 'massacre' - the facts

The Mole

Other submarine

Any chance that there was another nations sub in the area using low frequency sonar to watch the exercise?

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Afghan cellco accuses rivals of funding Taliban

The Mole

I wonder.......

Which network the spokesman phone was on?

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Online ID checks to limit teen booze and knife purchases

The Mole
Stop

Parents credit card

And there was I thinking that most kids likely to be doing this were also likely to be using their parents credit card, and if this were passed into law there ID card too.

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FIPR: ICO gives BT 'green light for law breaking' with Phorm

The Mole

Re: DPA != RIPA

The first message is slightly wrong, you don't have to store personal information for something to fall under the DPA you simply have to processes it. Further more if the personal information you are processing is sensitive (health info, religious or political views, sexuality, trade union membership etc) then you require explicit rather than simply implicit consent

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Final beta of Firefox 3 available now

The Mole
Heart

RE: J Thompson

I'm with you on this one, Opera may not be perfect but I'm going to stick with it for now

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Google hippie code trip delayed again

The Mole

Deadlines

Surely they just understand that most students leave stuff to the lass minute and constantly miss deadlines?

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Apple forbids Windows users from installing Safari for Windows

The Mole
Go

Original Software License

Everybody seems to be missing the statement "Use of this software is subject to the original Software License Agreement(s) that accompanied the software being updated,"

As apple are claiming this is an update rather than a new install there must have been some original software (else they are being misleading) this original software must have been a software package containing no files or anything else (afterall there is no signs of this original software existing with any size) and the original license must also have been empty. This empty license applies which means you can do anything you want with it...

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