* Posts by Dr Who

381 posts • joined 25 Oct 2007


The biggest uptick in demand for software devs by bosses is for... *rubs eyes* blockchain engineers?!?

Dr Who


Assemble a large number of blockheads, link them all together forming a chain of fools, then sit down and count all your money for nothing.

No fax given: Blighty's health service bods told to ban snail mail, too

Dr Who

Hancock's half hour

Once again, encouraging messages from Hancock. Open standards for interoperability of disparate local systems. Nice if it really happens. No more multi-billion failed attempts at monolithic NHS wide systems.

BUT - email for sensitive patient communications. That's got to be taking the piss (if you'll excuse the pun). If you need secure communications with guaranteed delivery then email is absolutely the last tool for the job. A smartphone app with end-to-end encryption giving access to a secure document store - that could work.

What a smashing time, cheer astroboffins: Epic exoplanet space prang evidence eyeballed

Dr Who

My teachers called me Kepler 107c at school. Well, they called me surprisingly dense at any rate.

The outfit where the NHS England Digital boss is headed? Turns out their code is 'not technically suitable' for the £6.4m NHS App

Dr Who


Phew am I glad we've got APIs these days so we don't have to resort to the bad old ways of app-to-app integration. And as for deferred deep links, well who'd want to use those anymore!

Chinese rover pootles about... on the far side of the friggin' MOON

Dr Who

Re: I can just imagine the timeline

There is no dark side of the moon really. As a matter of fact, it's all dark.

The eulogising of The Mother Of All Demos at 50 is Silicon Valley going goo-goo for gurus again

Dr Who

Re: Icon

So in terms of end user perception of computers, not much has changed then.

Expired cert... Really? #O2down meltdown shows we should fear bungles and bugs more than hackers

Dr Who

Re: Acronyms

Beat me to it

Total Inability To Support User Phones: O2 fries, burning data for 32 million Brits

Dr Who

An upvote for that but my theory is it's chinese hackers because everyone is removing their Huawei kit. Hua Wei and the Art of (trade) War.

Peers to HMRC: Digital tax reforms 3 days after Brexit? Hold your horses, how 'bout 3 years...

Dr Who

This is indeed shaping up to be a classic omnishambles.

For businesses not using a package that already supports MTD for VAT, building bespoke links into the HMRC API looks like it wouldn't be too hard, or alternatively for bridging software I've found this solution https://www.btcsoftware.co.uk/mtd-for-vat-software-solutions-2/ which looks pretty good.

HMRC bombard us with info about all kinds of guff, but nothing about this, which actually matters.

Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME

Dr Who

- We keep it because it works.

- We don't connect it to everything else in the world because it doesn't need to be connected to everything else in the world.

Excellent points which we all ignore daily.

Now excuse me while I go and reboot my IOT immersion heater controller with which I replaced the old electrical timer switch that worked perfectly. I'm not joking either, I'm a moron. It must have been a pissed Amazon purchase but I can't remember.

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Dr Who

Very funny, but the funniest bit is "a recent wedding reception to which I'd been invited". As opposed to the many he attends where he just randomly turns up I suppose.

Brace yourself, Britain: Health minister shares 'vision' for NHS 'tech revolution'

Dr Who

There is loads of room for scepticism here BUT hidden beneath it all is a crucial change of direction. In the past, and including NPfIT, the strategy has been to build a monolithic, centralised system to which every corner of the vast and disparate NHS would have to mould its operational practices. That, as we all know, is impossible even in a much smaller organisation and is a key reason for the failure of NPfIT.

Now we hear mutterings of data interchange standards, enforced use of the existing unique ID number, allowing local units to build IT systems that suit their operations, yet still be able to speak to other systems on the network.

This is how the internet was built. The "fathers" did not instruct us how to build an email server, they merely defined SMTP and told us that if we want to build an email server, this is how it's going to send messages to other mail servers. This model works and it scales well beyond the size of the NHS.

Ironically, given my example, most people on the planet now just use two monolithic email services, but don't get me started on that - it might lead to violence.

Hancock is clearly not someone who can deliver this, but parts of his plan are a very welcome change in emphasis.

JAXA probe's lucky MASCOT plonks down on space rock Ryugu without a hitch

Dr Who

Swing arm? Fly wheel? Roboteers stand by.

Brit startup plans fusion-powered missions to the stars

Dr Who

On the subject of wildly optimistic deadlines

New York Times 1989 : Dr. Emmett Brown has demonstrated his Mr. Fusion domestic reactor which he claims will be commercially available by 2015 (worst case).

Good news: Sub-surface life on Mars possible, moons from big impacts. There is no bad news

Dr Who

after a powerful collision event

There it is again. It's not a collision event, it's just a collision. Why does everything have to be an event these days. Extreme weather event (storm), seismic event (earthquake) etc... etc... Just stop it everybody.

Fallover Friday: NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank go TITSUP*

Dr Who

Re: Back now

Agreed that it's good to have an effective rollback procedure. That said, five hours seems like a long time to roll back a firewall change and in terms of PR, the status page seems to have been behind the borked firewall and therefore unavailable and the customer support bods didn't seem to have a clue what was happening either.

Brit airport pulls flight info system offline after attack by 'online crims'

Dr Who

Re: The weakest link....

I'd venture a guess that in this case the displays were attached to Windows XP machines, which have been the weakest link in a majority of the recent spate of ransomware attacks. That would also explain why they could only recover the displays incrementally instead of all at once. Rebuild the PCs driving your most important displays first.

'World's favorite airline' favorite among hackers: British Airways site, app hacked for two weeks

Dr Who

Re: First large scale test of GDPR legislation perhaps?

Data protection and information security are two slightly different things.

A good lawyer will show that BA only stored data it needed for the purposes of transacting its business with the customer and further that BA took reasonable steps to control access to and protect that data. The lawyer will show that this was a particularly skilled compromise of BA's information security measures, but not a breach of its obligations under GDPR.

Thunderstruck: Azure Back in Black(out) after High Voltage causes Flick of the Switch

Dr Who

Someone misread the design spec and implemented clusterfucking.

Excuse me, but your website's source code appears to be showing

Dr Who

at effected sites

Really John Leyden?

Can a script kiddie pwn your SD-WAN? Better check the config, friend

Dr Who

Not really an SD-WAN issue

You will almost certainly find that most of the routers, firewalls etc... in the world are missing crucial software updates. It's a network admin issue not an SD-WAN issue.

I feel a plead... a plead for speed: FastMail naps amid network blunder

Dr Who

Re: nice outage

Running a mail server is relatively easy (although as you say costs a good deal more than $30 per year in time and infrastructure). Where the pain and the cost really kicks in is with maintaining decent virus and spam filtering, and reputation management.

Brit web host biz UKFast gears up to IPO on London Stock Exchange

Dr Who

Something doesn't add up

Turnover £39.6m, profit after tax £9.47m, and they want to raise £350 million from equity investors. Even if they're selling 100% of the company, that's a ridiculous mark up.

Only if you're losing £50 million a year selling Beta versions of IOT fitness monitors disguised as fluffy pink cats can you get that sort of valuation.

BBC websites down tools and head outside into the sun for a while

Dr Who

It's the end of the world as we know it

and I feel fine.

Oracle cuts ribbon on distributed ledger service

Dr Who

The fog has lifted

"for building prototypes for documentation processes in 12-week sprints"

I see. At last it's all perfectly clear.

Dudes. Blockchain. In a phone. It's gonna smash the 'commoditization of humanity' or something

Dr Who

Like many Reg readers I've been around a while and have seen my fair share of hype cycles, but the one surrounding blockchain is the biggest and the worst yet. Never in the field of tech has so much bollocks been spouted by so many. I have it on good authority that things ending in gasm are supposed to get smaller with time, but hypegasms just seem to get bigger and bigger.

PS Mildly bitter as I seem to have managed to miss my ride on the gravy train of pretty much every single tech hype cycle.

'Coding' cockup blamed for NHS cough-up of confidential info against patients' wishes

Dr Who

Online Opt-Out

To opt you out, the NHS first has to know what data it is holding on you. I will offer you even better odds than England losing on penalties that the NHS hasn't got the foggiest what data it holds on you, where it is, or what it is being used for.

Amid 'idiotic blockchain phase,' EY and Microsoft tout smart contracts

Dr Who

Exactly. We are left guessing what EY's five qualifying questions are and there are some key details missing from the article regarding voting nodes and who controls them, but almost certainly this should be handled by a conventional database. Nothing is gained in this scenario from using blockchain - except of course a shed load of PR column inches.

Accountants HATE them: Microsoft's Xbox harnesses blockchain to pay games publishers

Dr Who

Classic case of a problem that could (and should) be addressed by a conventional database. The only reason to use blockchain is where two or more parties who don't trust each other need to agree on a version of the truth. Traditionally this problem is solved by using a trusted intermediary such as a bank or land registry. With the blockchain the issue is resolved by having multiple nodes a majority of which must agree to validate a transaction AND where no single party controls a majority of the voting nodes.

In this case all the nodes belong to Microsoft and the blockchain is simply being used as a database to allow developers to view their royalties and how they were calculated. Should've been a normal database.

On the issue of GDPR it is prefectly valid to store data that is encrypted with someone's public key within the blockchain so that, in this case, a developer could only view the details of their own royalties. Transparency in the context of the blockchain is the ability for all nodes to view and agree on the integrity of the chain. It does not mean revealing private data that is not actually part of the chain's proof of integrity.

Ex-CEO on TalkTalk mega breach: It woz 'old shed' legacy tech wot done it

Dr Who

The digital deficit is coming to get us

Banks, telcos, healthcare you name it are all reaching the tipping point where a head in the sand approach to legacy tech has finally come home to roost, as we the illuminati all knew it would. Now that the costs of doing nothing are beginning to outweigh the costs of doing something, we should finally start seeing some action on all those things we've all been telling "them" about for all that time.

Trouble is, before things get better they will get worse. There is going to be soooo much pain as the band aids are slowly peeled off to reveal the festering decay beneath.

VMware declares energy-guzzling blockchains 'immoral'

Dr Who

Save the best to last

"We've known for a long time that installing and patching our software is painful ..."

" ... but this is one of the first times we've really felt that pain ourselves. ...The challenge of upgrading every quarter at scale is immense."

That is very funny, except if you're a long standing on prem VMware customers.

Zuckerberg gets a night off: Much-hyped Euro grilling was all smoke, absolutely no heat

Dr Who

Playground bullies

This bodes well for GDPR - not. The smaller you are the harder they'll hit you.

Openreach consults on shift of 16 MEEELLION phone lines to VoIP by 2025

Dr Who

In countries where they've already pretty much completed this (Switzerland for example) the biggest headache has been elderly customers. It takes a lot to convince them that :

- If they haven't got it yet, they will need broadband.

- They will keep the same number (they never believe that bit - how can it possibly move to the internet?)

- No that favourite telephone they've had for the last thirty years definitely won't work any more1 but the new ones are very nice

- The anxiety attacks they are having about possible disruption to what is often their main link to the outside world will pass in time

These are all serious and genuine concerns, and the answer has been to deploy very expensive teams of support staff to go and visit this segment of customers to help reassure them and handhold them through the transition. Warning, costs will go up as well as up.

1) without some additional non-standard equipment at at significant additional supply and setup cost.

Whoa, Gartner drops a truth bomb: Blockchain is overhyped and top IT bods don't want it

Dr Who

Most blockchain use cases can be achieved with conventional databases. It is specifically where issues of agreeing a version of the truth (attaining trust) between multiple parties, without the use of an intermediary such as a bank or a land registry, where blockchain comes into its own.

This video of a talk by Gideon Greenspan, who is a blockchain architect, brilliantly debunks all of the hype and explains very clearly exactly where blockchain is better than a traditional database, and where it is not. I've never heard a more lucid, less BS explanation and no I have nothing to do with his company.


TSB outage, day 5: What do you mean you can't log in? Our systems are up and running. Up and running, we say!

Dr Who

Yes, but did he make the error pacifically to piss people like you and me off?

IETF: GDPR compliance means caring about what's in your logfiles

Dr Who

Given the level of understanding and quality of questioning we saw from US law makers when failing spectacularly to bring Facebook to heel, I'm not too worried about this.

"So, why do you keep logs on your computing device?. Do you burn them to provide sustainable energy to run it? Or is it more to hold the device down in case it gets windy?"

"No sir, it's so we can track visitors."

"Ah I see, so each visitor leaves a stick or a log as a kind of thank you gift. Very good. By the way, my grandson has a computing device. Do you think he would be pleased if I left a log on it?"

"Yes sir, I'm sure he would."

"Thank you. You are free to leave".

Guess who's still most moaned about UK ISP... Rhymes with BorkBork

Dr Who

Re: Zen

HashMeToo as they say these days. It's not just about speed, it's worth paying a bit extra to Zen for the service you get when it goes wrong (even when the bit that's gone wrong is a copper connection a few hundred metres up the road).

GCHQ boss calls out Russia for 'industrial scale disinformation'

Dr Who

"satellite office in Bude, Cornwall"

Hmmm. Maybe time for a career change. "The Russians are cracking our nuclear launch systems!" "Who gives a shit dude ... surf's up. Oh, and pass me a roach."

British government to ink deal for yet another immigration database

Dr Who

Too many chiefs?

500 x Immigration Technology Portfolio project delivery managers on £1000 day rate

5 x junior developers on £150 day rate

1.5 BEEELLION sensitive files found exposed online dwarf Panama Papers leak

Dr Who

Re: Just goes to prove

To be fined you have fist to be prosecuted, as is the case now. The fact that the level of fines will be bigger does not mean that the level of prosecutions will be higher.

The new rights revealing the data held, the authorisation thereof and the right to be forgotten do not imply that the thousands of businesses who currently don't know what data they hold on you will suddenly know. Maybe some large enterprises have got a grip on this but the majority of SMEs have not.

I'd maintain my position that the new rights and fines will not substantially improve the situation in the real world. We may see some spectacular headline events with the likes of Facebook et al, but lower down the food chain not a lot will change.

Dr Who

Just goes to prove

DPA, PCI DSS, GDPR blah blah blah. These all amount to nothing when the expertise is not there to implement them (and there is a good argument that PCI DSS amounts to nothing even when it is implemented properly). GDPR in spite of the heavy fines will not magically make businesses who've never even taken data protection measures under existing legislation become compliant.

The accountancy micro-business I use is very good at accountancy but I have no faith whatsoever that the copies of my passport and other identity paperwork I am obliged by law to supply them with are secure. Multiply that up by the thousands of accountancy firms, solicitors etc... who have had copies of your identity paperwork and rather than hindering the fraudsters it becomes an invaluable stash of material to promote the fraudsters' success, as admirably demonstrated by this article.

GDPR has primarily been a gravy train for FUDster consultants and will not go very far at all towards improving the protection and usage of our personal data.

Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg has flunky tell UK MPs: Nope, he's sending someone else

Dr Who

Rule Britannia!

Thank god we're leaving the EU. Once we return to being a small isolated island on the edge of a huge economic zone, instead of being a leading member of that huge economic zone, it'll be back to the glory days of the Empire.

No longer will Putin be able to poison people on our soil and then give us the bird. When our defence secretary says "go away and shut up" they'll take us seriously instead of laughing their pants off - oh yes indeedy.

And as to upstart heads of global tech giants, the only question they'll be asking when we summon them to Westminster is "how fast should I run?". You just watch, once we're out it'll be like Sampson growing his hair back. People will take notice again -you just wait and see.

User asked why CTRL-ALT-DEL restarted PC instead of opening apps

Dr Who

Re: Feeling Old...


device=emm386.exe noems





Happy days spent crafting config.sys

BOFH: Give me a lever long enough and a fool, I mean a fulcrum and ....

Dr Who

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

F-35B Block 4 software upgrades will cost Britain £345m

Dr Who

Re: and Pigs might fly a.k.a F-35

What? The Jensen Interceptor can go faster than sound? That's not what my Supercars Top Trumps said.

MailChimp 'working' to stop hackers flinging malware-laced spam from accounts

Dr Who

So, I integrate my in house systems with the Mailchimp API. My in house system security is a pile of shite and we get compromised, giving the attacker full control over my Mailchimp account without needing to log on to Mailchimp directly (so the 2FA thing is actually irrelevant).

Defra to MPs: There's no way Brexit IT can be as crap as rural payments

Dr Who

Re: With the rise of the city farm...

So an IT system to cover it might therefore be abbreviated to CRAPIT, the first version of which might reasonably be entitled CRAPIT_A. What could possibly go wrong?

Suspected drug dealer who refused to poo for 46 DAYS released... on bail

Dr Who


The guy is obviously a pro. Getting arrested and chucked in a cell would scare the shit out of me.

123 Reg suffers deja vu: Websites restored from August 2017 backups amid storage meltdown

Dr Who

Re: It is safer to presume

Agree with Jason. @adnim, at some point you have to trust others with stuff that you don't want to or can't do. Most self employed people will relatively blindly trust an accountant to compile and file all the correct returns and keep them out of trouble with HMRC. If you've ever bought a house, did you make sure you fully understood every last legal technicality of the conveyancing process, or did you trust a solicitor to ensure that the property was legally yours and unencumbered at the end of the process. There are many things that need to be entrusted to others, including rock solid backups if you're not technically minded. The art is choosing good suppliers.

So the suits swanned off to GDPR events leaving you at the coalface? It's really more IT's problem

Dr Who

B2B vs B2C

Much of the advice, scare mongering and FUD about GDPR focuses on consumer data. One thing I can't find a clear answer on is the impact of GDPR on B2B businesses. Say you run outsourced IT support for other companies. On your help desk system you hold personally identifiable information on all the employees of each of your customers. Do you need to get explicit consent from each of those employees to hold their data? Do your customers' employees have the right to be forgotten with respect to your help desk system?

Has anyone seen an authoritative legal opinion on this specific issue?


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