* Posts by Dave Bell

1945 posts • joined 14 Sep 2007

Allow us to sum this up: UK ISP Plusnet minus net for nine-plus hours

Dave Bell
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I'm not sure how useful that map is.

The highest number of reports are where a lot of people live.

It does look as though London, for example, it getting hit worse than Birmingham, but none of use know enough about the Plusnet network to know what's different. In the past, I've often been told I am somewhere close to Milton Keynes, presumably because of the IP address, but the helpdesk staff seem to be based in Sheffield.

In the past, with other companies, I've known that a particular cluster of equipment had failed, but I wouldn't like to guess where my connection goes physically. The connection is working for me, but if it wasn't I doubt the red spot would show on that map.

Milton Keynes, incidentally, is legendary for having something falling down on it. There's a song.

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TfL to track Tube users in stations by their MAC addresses

Dave Bell
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Each MAC is supposed to be unique, so it's going to be hard for this not to be Personal Data.

It's possible that a different number could be assigned each time an MAC enters a station, and used in the tracking records, so that the tracking data for a device can't be combined across multiple visits. That might work and be legal without having to get permission.

As a very occasional visitor to London, I'm not that bothered. But anyone thinking an MAC address isn't personal isn't thinking this through. And that's what worries me. Just a hand-wave about de-personalising the data isn't enough. Did the people planning this know enough?

(I know enough about law and technology and stats to ask awkward questions around the intersection. It's a little worrying that I might know more about MAC addresses than the lawyer, and more about the law than the techie.)

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Facebook Fake News won it for Trump? That's a Zombie theory

Dave Bell
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Just what is Facebook?

While it isn't a universal, the idea of the "common carrier" as being a necessary protection for internet operations isn't a bad one. Here in the UK it is pretty weak in such contexts as libel. But a publisher isn't a carrier.

Companies such as Facebook seem to depend on being whichever needs the least work when the writ arrives, even when there is reason to think they're the other. What strikes me as making a difference is the way that so many news publishers on the internet use Facebook as a gatekeeper. If you want to comment on a story on a news site, maybe your local newspaper, you log in with your Facebook account, and there's no alternative.

This seems a reason to class them as a publisher. How is Facebook, thrusting "selected" adverts to you, different to one of those advertising monthlies, tied to a locality or to an industry, which is printed on paper and arrives through your letterbox?

And there are rules against adverts that look like "editorial" material.

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Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

Dave Bell
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Who will want to fly from England?

Are the people who can afford this going to be based in London?

Short answer is, we don'r know what Brexit will do. But I am not sure that there will be an airport sufficiently near New York with a local passenger pool that can sustain this. Paris, maybe, but don't forget that aircraft need reserve fuel for the unexpected, to get to an alternative destination, and the extra distance to, for instance, Frankfurt, might soak up that margin. And, even with TGV in mainland Europe, if total journey time matters, getting to the airport is critical.

It looks like all the eggs in one economic basket-case.

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WileyFox Swift 2: A new champ of the 'for around £150' market

Dave Bell
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A suggestion for a test

I know some of these things are getting a bit old, no longer the white heat of modern technology, but I like the idea of seeing what works. I bought a second-hand Google Nexus because there were non-obvious problems with things like the magnetic sensing, and controlling my cheap phone for Google Cardboard was a struggle.

Well, we're past the cardboard cut-out stage, and you can get decent plastic phone-holders that work for specific models. Though it looks as though the idea is starting to fade.

It would still be a good thing to know whether it matches the Google standard for the magnetism sensor. Does that magnet on the Google Cardboard holder work? Or does it match some other phone? Is the sensor in the right place to work?

Another test: I know Pokemon Go is past the peak, but does it work? Maybe you can think of some other augmented reality game that would be a better test, but look at what a smartphone has to be able to do to make that game work.

As it is, all we get are a few pictures. And, really, that's a pretty simple problem. I've gotten better results with 80-year-old technology. What do those pictures really tell you about the Smartphone?

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Portable drive, 5TB capacity. Hmm, there's something fishy here

Dave Bell
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I found a review from 2010, it was an easy search.

500GB or 320GB, there were two models, but USB2 so a bit slow for today.

But you can store a huge amount of data in 500GB. What on earth is this guy doing that 500GB on a powered-down drive isn't a useful amount of backed-up data?

(If it's the only copy, it isn't a back-up.)

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Dave Bell
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It may be a typo, GB for MB, but only 6 years old?

500GB isn't ridiculously small, even today.

OK, what you're doing with your computer might involve far more data than what I do with mine but most new PCs I have seen are still using 1TB drives. I have a 2TB drive in mine. It wouldn't be outright silly to use this drive to store another copy of a back-up, and leave it sitting there unpowered. It's old enough that I wouldn't want to trust it for the sole copy of anything, but I wouldn't call it junk.

If it is a typo, and it is only 500MB, well yeah. And that size, the actual drive might be IDE rather than SATA, but typo or not, this whole thing makes me wonder how much I can trust The Register

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Pay up or your data gets it. Ransomware highwaymen's attacks on small biz octuple

Dave Bell
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How do the crooks get paid?

What puzzles me is that the ransom demands appear to require an electronic payment. (I have seen a couple of screen captures.)

How the heck can they get their money through the banking system without being tracked down?

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UK privacy watchdog sends poison pen letter to Zuckerberg et al

Dave Bell
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Re: Delete your account

Facebook have shown that they have no concerns about distributing lies and abuse.

While it's more common in the USA than in the UK, news media are using Facebook as the gatekeepers for comments on what they publish.

Facebook claim, with not much evidence, to only have accounts with real people, despite the lies and abuse. They don't seem to be willing to let real people adopt masks to hide from abusers, and if I were in that situation, could I trust them with my real identity?

People have been using UserIDs with no obvious connections to their real name since the earliest days of Usenet and email. That is not the same as being untraceable. That is part of why we have laws protecting personal information. I am not hugely bothered by Facebook selling a service that delivers an advert for a third party to one of their customers. They don't have to tell anyone else who I am to do that.

Unfortunately, they have lousy selection methods, and do tell other businesses who I am. Because they don't do the delivery, they suffer no penalty for incompetence. They can even get away with "killing" their own boss.

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Panicked WH Smith kills website to stop sales of how-to terrorism manuals

Dave Bell
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The truth

"Blue Peter" once explained how to make explosive from fertiliser and another common material, as used in quarrying. Getting the required kaboom required the use of a ready-made commercial explosive as a primer. The speed of the shockwave from the fertiliser-based explosive is pretty slow. You get rock rather than gravel.

The books you mention can not be relied on. Some of their sources have deliberate errors and omissions that could lead to the bomber experiencing a premature detonation.

One of the things we are losing is knowledge of what competent "Terrorism" looks like. Compare what is happening now in England with what happened to the French railway system in 1944. It wasn't just the Resistance (which was doing what "terrorists" do), there were air attacks as well, but it was shut down.

OK, we don't need terrorists to shut down the railways. we have the government for that, but we scare pretty easy. Go find "London Can Take It" on YouTube. "Some shops are more open than others."

There are days that I wonder why politicians want us scared.

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Brexit judgment could be hit for six by those crazy Supreme Court judges, says barrister

Dave Bell
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Can we trust Parliament?

I've worked most of my life in businesses directly affected by EU decisions.

Before they take effect in the UK, they have to be made into UK law by Parliament.

I really don't like the idea of Parliament free to act as it wishes. What sort of mess would we be in without the EU? Where would we be without the conflict? If EU law is so obviously bad, why has our parliament put into effect so much of it?

I know that in some cases, civil servants patiently explained why a particular implementation was silly, and our politicians went ahead and did it that way. And I had to live with the consequences.

It may be that the core of the problem is the cabinet ministers rather than parliament, but I cannot trust them to do a decent job

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What should the Red Arrows' new aircraft be?

Dave Bell
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Re: Hawk T2

The US Navy uses a Hawk variant, and the USAF is working towards a decision on its next fast jet trainer. A next-gen Hawk for RAF training is likely but not certain. And because the Red Arrows fly the same plane, with good reason, all we can do is guess.

I wonder what the effect of Brexit and the slump of the Pound will be. It might mean BAe will be building a lot of Hawks. The original is old enough that it's not so different from starting from scratch. and that will be the big part of the bill.

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Half! a! billion! Yahoo! email! accounts! raided! by! 'state! hackers!'

Dave Bell
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Re: Have account from 2004.. or so...

I think they did. I have a Yahoo account for posting to a mailing list, and I changed passwords recently. There was nothing in the emails I got, but I had to change when I logged in recently to post something. There must be a lot of dormant accounts, and they must know it, but that huge total looks impressive.

I know other companies which pull that trick of never deleting an account, possibly to mask a falling customer base.

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Lenovo denies claims it plotted with Microsoft to block Linux installs

Dave Bell
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Re: I just got...

One of the interesting little things I came across is that the current nVidia driver, which I think is the ten-month-old one you mention (v352.63) is the same version number as a beta video driver for Win10 (and, of course, I have been told graphics problems are my own fault for using a beta driver).

What I have noticed is that Windows drivers get fairly frequent upgrades with settings tweaks for specific games using DirectX, and I can't remember the last time there was any reference to OpenGL, which made that helpful advice even more stupid, because the person giving it knew I was using an OpenGL program on Linux.

(I am running Linux Mint 17.3 and I cannot rule out there being a later driver version used by Mint 18.)

With Windows 10, I am told, nVidia lost its advantage on graphics, but that's down to the new DirectX version.

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Dave Bell
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The best upgrade to Windows...

It's not entirely wrong that the best upgrade to Windows is called Linux, but even companies which have supported Linux in the past are losing their enthusiasm. And it doesn't look like a coincidence when this happens at about the same time as the game engine they use is bought up by Microsoft.

And then, whenever you hit problems, the response from all and sundry is RTFM!

Unfortunately, nobody has actually written the manual. You get a mass of uncertain fragments on a Wiki somewhere.

That's an American company

If you want to see this stuff being done properly. linux support, documentation, and all, I commend to your attention Squad, the Mexican publishers of Kerbal Space Program. My personal network of acquaintances overlaps with software engineers in several companies, talented people, and most of them outside the USA.

It's possible that a lot of the people at Microsoft and Lenovo can talk to computers.

Perhaps they haven't noticed that we're not computers.

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Brexit makes life harder for an Internet of Things startup

Dave Bell
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Re: It may be better; or even worse.

"The main reason is not the CE legislation in itself but the way UK civil servants gold plate them."

The UK had problems when area-based farm subsidies were introduced. We didn't have a central tax record of who owned what. So some rules had to be set on the measurement and the use of records that did exist. Those rules set a higher precision standard than anywhere else in the EU, one that on real-sized British fields needed an precision of distance measurement of less than a metre,

What official figures that existed, from Ordnance Survey mapping, assumed a horizontal plane surface. A 5m height difference across a field led to a bigger error in those figures than was allowed if you measured the field.

People on the inside noticed, protested, and were ignored. It may have been part of the same pettifogging desire to be sure that nobody gets a penny more than they are entitled to which drives the current handling of benefits and state pensions.

So I reckon this happens at the Sir Humphrey level, where neither the civil servants nor the politicians are likely to have post-GCSE qualifications in science and engineering matters.

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Linus Torvalds won't apply 'sh*t-for-brains stupid patch'

Dave Bell
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There's a lot of it about

Over the years, I have come to see a pattern. The people who write code are good at communicating with computers, not so good at communicating with people. In the past, somebody with some skill at writing could produce an "unofficial" manual that usually managed to be well-organised documentation. Now we told to look it up on the web, and watch YouTube videos.

I don't really expect Linus to be subtle, and he is likely dealing with too many people for who subtlety is a waste of time. What I see of this "bad language" is more about intensification than insult, driving the point home.

He doesn't know all the tricks. He doesn't use dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes or satire.

Just using good English should be enough, but have you seen any recent documentation?

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Samsung's million-IOPS, 6.4TB, 51Gb/s SSD is ... well, quite something

Dave Bell
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There are so many choices within RAID. I have seen it argued that some styles of RAID don't make as much sense now, with huge drives, as they did a decade ago. If you're using RAID 5, how long will a faulty 2TB drive take to rebuild? Even simple mirroring takes time.

I am really not sure of my sources on this, but I am almost glad that this is so far out of my budget.

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Making us pay tax will DESTROY EUROPE, roars Apple's Tim Cook

Dave Bell
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Re: I don't get it.

I don't disagree with that, but I would rather not be living in a country that conducts such an experiment.

There are signs that British governments are OK with the proles being experimental subjects, without asking for formal consent.

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Dave Bell
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Re: I don't get it.

There are several big, questionable, deals in the EU. And every country in the EU is supposed to at least stay within the rather generous lower limits on tax rates, both VAT and corporation tax.

Apple, Paypal, Amazon, Starbucks, Google, they all take advantage of the tax differences and other details of international tax law. Until there was a recent change in VAT rules, those ebooks you bought from Amazon were taxed at a special, low, VAT rate. Now, for virtual goods, it's the country of the buyer which counts.

There are local taxes in the USA too, and it can get complicated. They affect where big businesses have their warehouses. Customers are expected to pay the tax on "imported" goods in some states, but enforcement is patchy.

What we're getting from the EU looks more like the Rule of Law than what has been happening. You have to wonder just what some British politicians are running away from.

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Having offended everyone else in the world, Linus Torvalds calls own lawyers a 'nasty festering disease'

Dave Bell
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Re: So, to sum up...

I expect to be dealing with a lawyer soon.

Her family has been working with my family for generations. She knows her stuff. We meet to get specific jobs done. It's likely to be another will. It's something essentially routine.

This instance does sound more like an outsider trying to stir trouble. It needed lawyers to make the GPL. and I have seen enough cases of tech-industry lawyers straining to understand what they are dealing with. At some point there will be a test case.

Linus may be right about this lawyer, but if he thinks he doesn't need a lawyer at that discussion, he's dangerous too. Law and computer programming each have their own jargon, and I have certainly come across computer programmers with a strange idea of what the law says. You can see the same with other specialised areas. It is perhaps the biggest problem in politics, finding somebody who really knows what they're doing, who you can trust to give you advice.

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Breaker, breaker: LTE is coming to America's CB radio frequencies

Dave Bell
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Re: errr cb band ?

That's the classic CB band. It also has the range to be useful for truckers. There was, for a few years, also a UK band somewhere just short of 1 GHz, but it flopped.

I suspect few writers for The Reg are old enough to remember, and they were possibly playing Elite at the time. CB does things that mobile phones do not, mostly because of the one-to-many aspect combined with the range. It isn't so good for the things you do with a telephone. Even in England, mobile phone coverage, whether voice or data, can be patchy.

I don't remember CB ever being the miracle it was being sold as, but maybe it was useful on heavily-used roads. It seemed to sell more on the gloss of being something American and "sexy", and I think they were showing The Dukes of Hazzard on TV.

You haven't lived until you have heard a Yorkshire farmer pretending to be one of the good ole' boys.

4-10, Good baby...

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Apple beats off banks' bid for access to iPhones' NFC chips

Dave Bell
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Re: Confidentiality and NDA's

I remember some of the people worried about contactless payment with credit cards, and I think some of the fears are relatively simple to deal with. I suspect the fear of illicit card scanning is greatly exaggerated, but a screened card case is a simple fix. (They still look overpriced.)

Some of the technical details just don't get reported, but we do get warned about interference between cards. How much of that under-reporting is down to lazy journalists, and how much is down to confidential information?

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Dave Bell
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If it's true that one of the banks involved won't sign up to confidentiality, why should I trust them with my money.

Yes, there is the security-by-obscurity argument, but it looks as though Apple are willing to talk, just a bit picky. And, after that SWIFT story this week, I think it's good that they are.

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UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

Dave Bell
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Re: "He was found not guilty, therefore he is innocent"

The concept is there, but it's not simple. Sometimes a pattern of lesser offences is significant, but it isn't easy to present them to a jury as evidence. It will be argued about in each case where it comes up. And sometimes it gets argued several times, in different courts. In this case, this is the first step of such a chain of arguments.

Anyway, I knew a few magistrates. Apart from anything else, the police were known to have a list of favourite magistrates. I could see why. Some could have been more sceptical.

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UK's mass-surveillance draft law grants spies incredible powers for no real reason – review

Dave Bell
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Re: Hiding messages is easy....

Good encryption is hard.

At the moment, using encryption is in two classes. There's the automatic "secure sockets" stuff that might be analogous to putting a letter in a sealed envelope, and is used for stuff like your internet banking. It's like the sealed envelope because it takes effort to open and read without being obvious. And that's why people such as GCHQ target their bulk collection.

Then there are the more personal systems. If it's detected, it's very likely to be attacked. It will be seen as a strong factor in filtering systems. Something is being hidden. Some ciphers, even a Caesar cipher or ROT-13, are trivial to break but they deter a casual reader. The Telegraph Codes of a century ago kept privacy, the telegraphist couldn't just read the message, and they reduced the number of words needed. In the World Wars you could use them, but only a limited set were allowed. One spy ring used tobacco orders to send counts of battleships in port. They got caught.

And at the other end of that range are the codes and ciphers used by governments. You know where they're coming from. And some are mathematically unbreakable. But there are problems in using them. A one-time-pad needs keys to be distributed which as are as big as the message traffic, and sometimes silence is a message in itself.

Probably reading this website makes us all a little bit more interesting to GCHQ, all these stories about hacking and nuclear war and encryption.

Do you want to play a game?

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Penetration tech: BAE Systems' new ammo for Our Boys and Girls

Dave Bell
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Re: Amazing the amount of research and design...

The British Army has long had a preference for soldiers hitting what they shoot at. Some of it has taken on an element of myth, but even something such as the "Mad Minute" was judged by counting hits on the target rather than shots fired, and the soldier could get extra pay.

And part of why there is all the fuss about getting the ballistics the same is that it lets the soldiers keep hitting the target. You can get more penetration by increasing the velocity, but that changes the path of the bullet. And that means new sights, and makes the stocks of old ammunition less useful.

Most of the effect of the new round has to come from the difference between steel and lead when it hits armour.

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Dave Bell
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I have seen WW2 figures for how much brick is needed to reliably stop a bullet. People were told that they needed four bricks thickness, a bullet would go through the equivalent of a cavity wall. At least walls were often corbelled out at the base, partly because of the different building of foundations.

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Dave Bell
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Possibly "bulleted blank", a wooden bullet to increase the gas pressure so something such as a Bren gun could operate, giving the right shape to reliably feed into the chamber, and depending on a muzzle attachment to shred the bullets.

One of the factors in all this is the cost of making the steel bullet. Casting lead is an old and fairly cheap technology. The steel bullets will need totally different machines. Even the gilding metal stage will need some changes.

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Oculus Rift will reach UK in September – and will cost more than two PS4s

Dave Bell
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Re: Google Cardboard

Ever driven a 2CV? For many things it is sufficient.

You don't need to buy a Rolls-Royce to be comfortable.

I am not sure that the Oculus Rift is going to be all that significant, certainly not when it's tied to one specific type of computer by a fixed connector.

Ten years ago, Charles Stross was writing "Halting State", which involved commonplace virtual and augmented reality. You can see these gadgets as faltering first steps. but we do have augmented reality now, computer data overlaying the real world.

It's not the 2CV, or the Rolls-Royce, that matters. When do we get the Pokemon GO?

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Vodafone: Dear customers. We're sorry we killed your Demon

Dave Bell
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Re: Just goes to show....

I went onto Gmail while I was still a Demon customer, and set up my own domain name, which has an echo of my Demon domain name. The domain name is still running, and it forwards to the gmail.com address. no problems. When broadband came to the district, the choice of sources was limited, BT wasn't quite so open to competing ISPs as it is now. I kept up my personal domain because it was cheap, and I was never quite sure the ISP would continue. I am on my third different broadband provider.

Demon was a slightly geeky provider. It surprises me that the customers still using the name have apparently never done something as simple as get their own domain name. And we don't know how many of the residue addresses are just there to catch ancient references. (You see it with Linux, advice on problems that was written a decade ago and invokes software sources that don't exist any more)

I can't really say that I am sad that Demon is vanishing, but I know people who worked there in the early days, and sang scurrilous songs about elves and veterinarians with them. In it's way, it is as significant as the last flight of an RAF Harrier, the end of an age, for reasons which may have nothing to do with the viability of the machines.

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London cops waste £2.1m on thought crime unit – and they want volunteer informers

Dave Bell
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The story misses so much of the context.

There is a lot of abusive commenting on social media, much of it repeated and directed at particular people that may well be a breach of the particular site's Terms of Service. And the companies seem to do fuck all to enforce their own rules.

This isn't one guy saying something rude. These are sustained verbal assaults by relentless mobs.

There's a problem. I know people who have been victims, the blatant cases have a scale and level which goes way beyond what most of us would say. The fears of intrusion are based on these misconceptions.

I am not sure the informants are a good idea. It would be better if the police took steps that gave victims confidence that the law would be enforced, and encouraged these assaults to be reported.

Do some research: take a look at the case of somebody such as Milo Yiannopoulos, treating both sides with a degree of scepticism, as the Police should do in a similar case. Judge it on the evidence, not on your fears or wild claims of censorship by the state.

I am not sure I trust The Register on this, their story seems conveniently ignorant of such cases. And I am not sure I trust the Police. But having them move in may have a lot to do with the failures of the company and the community. Billions for capitalism. Not one cent for civilisation.

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The curious case of a wearables cynic and his enduring fat bastardry

Dave Bell
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Re: Fat chance: women's or kids jeans

I have to shorten the legs on my jeans. Duck''s Disease waddles in the family.

I can use my late mother's sewing machine. There's a simple trick to it that keeps the look of the hem. There's a "magic seam" video on You Tube.

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Dave Bell
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Re: Do you even lift?

There's several distinct elements to fitness, and some medical professionals are barely competent to judge. For instance, the Body Mass Index is OK as a starting point, at a "do I need to ask more questions" level, but there are people who don't bother to ask the questions. Some athletes have a high BMI, but the mass is muscle, not fat, which has a higher density, and there's a better correlation of poor health with excess fat rather than excess weight.

When I worked on a farm I was heavier than I am now, and the extra weight was muscle. I sometimes had to handle 50kg sacks of wheat seed (and you really need to know how to do that properly). When I fractured my spine, all that extra muscle helped me avoid the need for surgery.

Anyway, the one simple trick to losing weight is to eat less. Exercise helps change the ratio between fat and muscle, and we all need some fatty tissue, Most of us have too much.

Weght training can focus the exercise. As mentioned, running does more for the legs, and weight training can fill the gap. But weight training isn't as good for the heart and lungs, and that seems to be an important aspect. They call it aerobic exercise, and it matters because for a short burst of exercise the muscles use internal resources. At least, they did according to my school biology lessons.

In the end, it's about keeping a good balance, the right mix of food in balance with the exercise. And, while you don't need to be a weightlifter, there are things in the computer business that are heavy enough that you need to know how to use your muscles.

Incidentally, it helps to know how to cook. There are ways in which cooking can really mess with good nutrition. My mother did manage to get away from overcooking cabbage and brussels sprouts.

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Revealed: How a weather forecast in 1967 stopped nuclear war

Dave Bell
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I remember seeing RAF-operated ballistic missiles on their launch pads, ready to fire. I didn't really know what they carried. then.

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UK local govt body blasts misleading broadband speed ads

Dave Bell
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Is raw speed everything?

One of the things I used to see is the "contention ratio".

It's not mentioned any more. Internet use has maybe changed, from just web pages, which can more more-or-less intermittent, towards streaming video.

The advertised speed is about what the connection to the exchange can physically deliver. How the ISP can deliver data to the exchange matters too.

Maybe it matters how much data per person can get to the customer, I am not sure that the upgrade from basic ADSL would make all that much difference to me. What I see suggests that the next step to the internet is my real limit. Performance suffers when the kids are home from school, for everyone in the village, whether that have anyone else in the house or not.

I am apparently getting worse ping times to the USA than I was getting via a dial-up modem. There's only so much an ISP can do about the speed of light. Yet one site I connect to, purportedly providing me with an international service, warns me that my ping time is too long. Their physical servers are in Arizona, and I suspect that;s a little bit too far from their head office in San Francisco for their own staff to get the recommended ping time.

I don't think any single number is useful, it can be a bit complicated for adverts, which assume a somewhat less intelligent audience (They're legalised con games.), and too many things keep changing.

(I have mised feelings about your reference to farmers. The government expects farmers to have internet connections to do business, and then does sod all to make their systems usable with slow internet connections. How would you feel if you couldn't fill in your tex return because your internet is too slow? Do you want HMRC breathing down your nexk like a rabid werewolf?)

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BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

Dave Bell
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Re: Hardwired connection

Not iPlayer, I think, but a lot of the streaming video boxes are WiFi only.

On the other hand, the ancient idea of the detector van depended on the signals emitted by an old-fashioned CRT TV, such as the frequency generated in a superheterodyne frequency, and the scanning signals needed by the CRT technology. All that has changed.

Wifi is at a frequency which doesn't need so big an antenna for the same directional resolution. Many of the image of detector vans go back to the days of 405-line black-and-white, which needed an aerial some fifty times bigger. A simple stick antenna, totally non-directional, could have been a metre long. It couldn't be something compact.

Now it can be.

I suppose there might still be some radiated signals from some of the display electronics, but can you tell what is being shown on the screen? How do you tell the difference between a live picture and a computer game or a movie on recorded media?

I don't have much confidence in the sources for this story. And, to be honest, I sometimes have doubts about the ability of specialised technical journalists. But I think you are at least asking some of the right questions.

One thought: does this mean that WiFi security can be broken in real time? Is it as safe as we think?

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Android's latest patches once again remind us: It's Nexus or bust if you want decent security

Dave Bell
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So what do the phone networks have to do with code patches that Google don't have to deliver as mobile data? The last one I got came via the free Wi-Fi in the pub

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123-Reg goes TITSUP – again

Dave Bell
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12:08 BST

I am confused by the various time-stamps scattered through this report.

The DDOS seems to have hit a couple of hours ago, but The Register reports what may be earlier problems. Either 123-Reg didn't notice, or something else has been happening.

Neither is good.

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Giant Musk-stick test-firing proves a rocket can rise twice

Dave Bell
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Re: And again again

And they will be having a good look for anything obvious between each firing. They're testing their instruments too, and if something does fail, they might have an "if you see this, don't launch it" rule to use

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Windows 10 pain: Reg man has 75 per cent upgrade failure rate

Dave Bell
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Re: Linux system upgrade may not be much better

Linux Mint derives from Ubuntu, and is based on the latest Ubuntu LTS version. Mint 17.x versions do have changes, they're in the same territory as a Service Release. The new Mint 18 should last as long as any version of Windows.

Windows gets awkward over hardware failure-and-replacement. And upgrade versions of Windows had led me into a chain of sequential installs from whatever the last full version had been. The hard drive had lasted a long time. Either find a whole series of Windows install disks, or install Linux.

I switched to Linux. It was Mint 17.2 and the upgrade to Mint 17.3 went well. I have Mint 18 waiting. There are programs I use which don't have Linux versions, but they run fine with the WINE package.

I can see how software that messes with partition tables might be a problem. I am not sure I would want to take the chance.

A few months back I has the hard drive I was using under Linux start showing failures. New drive, install same Linux version, temporary hook-up of old drive, copy stuff over, it all worked.

One thing to be careful of: there are some very old, effectively obsolete, answers out there to some common questions. And there are a lot of Linux distributions. I don't want another Windows monoculture, but a bit more support competence all around would be A Good Thing.

This post now comes to a .

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Cats, dogs starve as web-connected chow chute PetNet plays dead

Dave Bell
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Emergency cover

Because of my dodgy health, I doubt I shall start keeping another animal, with or without the emergency cover something such as this could provide. And this particular approach, depended on the continuing Internet connection to a server, is just plain stupid design. Automatic feeder systems have been used in farming for over thirty years, part of stand-alone, computer-controlled systems that support human management.

A typical example was in dairy farming, where the cattle wore an identity tag collar, the system could record an individual cow's milk yield, and the feeding could be matched to that.

You'd have to be an idiot to rely on an unsupervised fully automatic system, and doubly an idiot for something like this with a off-site server. Robot milking systems exist, and allow more flexible timing that can better suit the cattle, but they can't do everything, and skilled human staff aren't going away any time soon.

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Dave Bell
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Re: More dead cats :)

The big complications with cats come where they are pretty recent introductions, such as New Zealand. Here in England it's a bit late to do anything, and, anyway, our wildlife mix isn't that old. We had something called an Ice Age. The New Zealand glaciers were never quite so overwhelming.

So there are some unique species in New Zealand, while the UK is similar to the rest of Europe.

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Pokemon GO-ZILLA: Safety fears after monsters appear in Fukushima danger zone

Dave Bell
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I can see how some places can slip through in the initial set-up. I have seen stuff on how the pin-point locations can be amended, but it will take time for the reports to be checked and acted on.

This is more complicated, because it's about how Pokemon appear. I have no idea of how that's controlled.

It is less that two weeks since the game went active in the UK. Half the local Pokestops are churches of one sort or another. There's some sign that one or two locations are affected by more than random GPS error.

Pokemon GO has some of the same strange location fixing that can be seen on web-based business directories, which seem to get their money from general advertising rather than delivering customers to businesses. If anyone is trying to link a new Pokestop to their business, I think they need to take care with a GPS fix. Just clicking on your phone could be misleading. As I recall, it's worth averaging the GPS reading for a location over a good long time, maybe a full 24 hours.

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Nintendo to investors: Pokémon Go won't make money come

Dave Bell
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I do find myself wondering just how many shares were traded to produce the huge market price, and how many more are being sold now.

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Pokemon Go DDoS claim

Dave Bell
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Here in the UK, school holidays are starting.

That may have been a deadline for them.

The weekend was already bad.

Servers are expensive, and they won't want to have a surplus when the is summer over. But will they have paid the capital bills by then?

It's not a bad excuse for a walk, but I wonder if they could have done a better job of providing the data. I get the impression that they don't cache the Pokemon. They're always being uploaded.

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Gaming apps, mugging and bad case of bruised Pokéballs

Dave Bell
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Re: Journalism?

If you want to look like an ill-informed idiot, you'll get the comments you deserve

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Dave Bell
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Re: What's wrong with cartoons?

I once quoted Miyamato Musashi on that movie, and some of the other things that Manga Entertainment did. It comes across as a story told with a blunt instrument.

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Dave Bell
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Journalism?

I am a little disappointed by this.

First, Pokémon GO is now available in the UK, and it is free. Yes, you can make in-app purchases which effectively buy you success, but nobody is forcing you.

Second, the location database is based on that from Ingress, which means the locations have been tested. And since the only places you can fight are the Gym locations, I am a bit doubtful about the stories of muggings. It looks as though game locations are visible from about 500m away, and you get a picture and a name for the place.

Third, the permissions problem seems only to have occurred with the iOS version. I have seen no sign of it with the Android version.

Niantic may have been a bit careless about some things, repeating a few misjudgements they made with the Ingress game. Last year they used a Nazi death camp as a location, but quickly dropped it andapologised. They seem to have done it again, with a different museum. I reckon that should have been avoidable, but the locations where in a far away land of which we know nothing.

I am not sure of its merits as a game. It seems to have the same effect as Ingress, getting people out and walking, but it's aimed at the different market. The original Pokémon was popular in its time, and this well be triggering pleasant memories for some.

I need an excuse to get some exercise. It seems to work OK for that, but I can see how Ingress may suit me better, and a completely different game-story might suit you.

You're getting too many hard facts wrong, and using those errors to support what amounts to saying the game isn't to your taste.

So what?

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BOFH: I found a flying Dragonite on a Windows 2003 domain

Dave Bell
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I think I'd lift a scenario from Charlie Stross. In "Halting State" there is an augmented-reality spy game which is actually run by real spooks, so when the game has you follow somebody, presented to you as "another player", it's for real.

Getting the boss into a game like that, and arrange for him to carry a package that isn't an innocent dummy. And maybe put the game server onto the computers of that other company.

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