* Posts by Simon Lyon

52 posts • joined 13 Nov 2007


That naked picture on my PC? Not mine. The IT guy put it there

Simon Lyon

About 10 years I was on the skeleton Xmas/Boxing Day IT day shift - major bank so a few guys and gals had to be there.

Since I was the email guy I had mail queue monitors running while I read a book - with a surprising number of traffic for countrywide empty offices.

Took a closer look and found GIFs and JPEGs flying everywhere with interesting names. Took an even closer look and found traffic was 90%+ doginess being flung around between colleagues over remote dialup. Probably about 50 different people.

"Favourite" - I use the term loosely - was someone doing something deeply unnatural to a stiletto shoe.

Nothing arrestable but alerted my manager. He said there was no policy against it so just ignore it. Obviously not going to tell you which bank doesn't give a toss about their user's use of company equipment for porn-slinging.

Poseidon's Wake, Naked at the Albert Hall and Farewell Kabul

Simon Lyon

Talking pachyderms ...

"The basic premise of talking pachyderms in space is not an issue that either science nor Mr Reynolds seems to have mastered yet."

Howard Tayler's been doing it for a decade and a half:


With better "hard science fiction" and much hilarity.

Makers of Snowden movie Citizenfour sued by ex-oil exec

Simon Lyon

That would be a little known suburb of Berlin known as "Hollywood" then?

The film was shot in Hong Kong, Western and Eastern Europe incl the UK, Brazil and a few other places. It was edited in, and released from, Berlin - where Laura Poitras now lives since she's gotten fed up with being harassed by US customs every time she flies back to her own country.

This long before she ever met Snowden - she's been targeted by the US government for years due to her habit of throwing light on their warlike activities in film. Which is of course why he chose to contact her.

I've liked every American I've ever met, truly, but it's a country of extremes. And that means that they unfortunately host some of the most idiotic twats on the planet. Case in point.

Misty-eyed Ray Ozzie celebrates 25th birthday of Lotus Notes by tweeting about it ...

Simon Lyon

Re: Still some good things

Oh yeah - forgot replication. Just stick an mailfile/database on any number of servers (and/or PCs and laptops) throughout the world with config docs for replication and it just goes ahead and keeps them in sync.

Microsoft and "replication" ... I don't think that word means what you think it means!

Simon Lyon

There's been a native Linux client since 2006, v7.0.3. Or you could just talk IMAP from your client of choice.

Current server platforms off the top of my head are Linux, Solaris and AIX, with an IOS client. And Windows of course if you want to take the performance hit.

A decade or so ago, the high street bank I worked for was supporting around 30,000 Notes users on just a single clustered pair of AS/400's (in the UK, others elsewhere). With failover to another pair at a recovery site. I personally built the first server in the domain and was the first user registered.

Remind me again how many operating systems you can run Exchange/Outlook on?

WWII HERO PIGEON crypto message STUMPS GCHQ boffins

Simon Lyon

The THREE sets of writing at 1522, 1525/6, 1625 and BTW lib1625 means "liberated at 1625"

Two people *plus* one of them using two pens at different times = confusion:

There are indeed two people involved but that's not indicated by the light/bold writing.

A little bit of this speculation but I reckon it'll hold up pretty well to examination:

The "To=X02", "Number of copies sent=2" boxes and the signature were written by the Sgt at the same time he would have filled in an accompanying form containing the *cleartext*.

The florid version of the number "2" appears nowhere else but the impression on the paper of the signature appears to match them - and the slant on the "T" crossbar is certainly different from the cyphertext.

All the rest was written by the same person (the coder/pigeon-fancier) since the form of the letters and numbers is identical *but* with two different pens (light/bold), at different times. Why?

It helps to understand that NURP = Non-Unit Related Personnel - one term used for the birds themselves!

Designations included (see below for full list of Dicken Medals awarded to pigeons), eg NURP.36.JH.190" - exactly matching the format on the form.

It's therefore obvious, IMHO, that after being handed the cleartext he filled out the "Time of origin" and coded the message - appending the time he carried out the coding at the end indicating that it had been dealt with immediately. Why 25/26? Maybe a stickler for being precise - it was 15:25 plus 20 seconds?

He then wandered over to his pigeon coop an hour later, not bothering to carry his pen with him, selected a couple of birds (two copies) and added both their IDs with a different pen.

Plus the time he LIBERATED them - "lib. 1625".

The times are Origin -> Coding -> Sending. Simple. The only other two numbers on the form - 27 - may be a one time code reference.

Another couple of points:

1) It seems a bit peculiar that there's no originator/date - possibly indicating that such info (if the bird fell into the wrong hands) would itself be of tactical interest and so also encoded. Or maybe the ID numbers of the birds were enough to keep the identity of the originator secret?

2) Two birds were sent, a sensible precaution. If the other one got through and these messages were filed and kept then a search for other messages sent by the same Sgt with a similar timestamp may turn up the decoded version.


A complete list of pigeons awarded "THE DICKEN MEDAL"

NEHU.40.NS.1 - Blue Cheq. Hen "Winkie"

MEPS.43.1263 - Red Cheq. Cock "George"

SURP.41.L.3089 - White Hen "White Vision"

NPS.41.NS.4230 - "Beachbomber"

NPS.42.31066 - Grizzle Cock "Gustav"

NPS.43.94451 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Paddy"

NURP.36.JH.190 - Dark Cheq. Hen "Kenley Lass"

NURP.38.EGU.242 - Red Cheq. Cock "Commando"

NPS.42.NS.44802 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Flying Dutchman"

NURP.40.GVIS.453- Blue Cock "Royal Blue"

NURP.41.A.2164 - "Dutch Coast"

NPS.41.NS.2862 - Blue Cock "Navy Blue"

NPS.42.NS.15125 - Mealy Cock "William of Orange"

NPS.43.29018 - Dark Cheq. Cock "Ruhr Express"

NPS.42.21610 - B.C. Hen "Scotch Lass"

NU.41.HQ.4373 - Blue Cock "Billy"

NURP.39.NRS.144 - Red Cock "Cologne"

NPS.42.36392 - "Maquis"

NPS.42.NS.7542 -

41.BA.2793 - "Broad Arrow"

NURP.39.SDS.39 - "All Alone"

NURP.37.CEN.335 - "Mercury"

NURP.38.BPC.6 -

DD.43.T.139 -

DDD.43.Q.879 -

NURP.41.SBC.219 - Cock "Duke of Normandy"

NURP.43.CC.2418 - B.C. Hen

NURP.40.WLE.249 - "Mary"

NURP.41.DHZ.56 - "Tommy"

42.WD.593 - "Princess"

USA.43.SC.6390 - "G.I. Joe"

Apple granted patent for ebook page-turning

Simon Lyon

Your typical employee of the USPTO appears to have one, and only one, single qualification ...

... wicked ninja skills in wielding a rubber stamp.

I'm genuinely amazed that Obama has been returned as the President of the US.

I would've thought that Apple already had a patent on "A Method and System for governing a group of federated states".

I suppose losing the leader of the COJ (Cult of Jobs) has put them off their stride.

Simon Lyon

badmonkey - The lawyers don't give a monkey's toss whether it's a "real" patent ...

... or a "design" patent.

Witness Apple trying to spin the original court-ordered apology they had to put up on their website.

Patents were created to benefit society by encouraging inventors to open up their creativity.

Now they're used (at massive expense and to the detriment of consumers) as an alternative to genuine competition. That's bad enough.

But whatever T*@ts came up with the idea of design patents deserve a massive and righteous shoeing!

Quoting badmonkey - "Moron"

Post-pub nosh deathmatch

Simon Lyon

British Black Pudding v one of the Spanish equivalents

From Wiki entry for Black Pudding, regional versions:


Spanish morcilla has many variants. The most well-known and widespread is morcilla de Burgos which contains mainly pork blood and fat, rice, onions, and salt. In Albacete and La Mancha, the morcilla is filled with onions instead of rice, which completely changes the texture. In Extremadura the creamy morcilla patatera includes roughly mashed potatoes. In the northern regions and the Canary Islands there is a sweet variety known as morcilla dulce. Other varieties introduce breadcrumbs, pine nuts, almonds and vary the proportions of the other ingredients or flavorings, some of them considered delicacies.

Comparison of whatever of the above is favoured in your region of Spain with the good old UK Black Pud?

Nobody knows what to call Microsoft's ex-Metro UI

Simon Lyon

Sadly for Microsoft they've already Vista'd themselves with Win8

Vista was, in actuality, monumentally crap - but it wasn't so much its technical issues that did it in but the in-your-face failings in it's UI that destroyed it's reputation before it even got any traction.

Microsoft can bang on from now to the heat death of the universe about how much better Win8 is from any OS they've put out before. And that may be true.

Doesn't matter. Win8 is going to go down the u-bend because the majority of the population of this planet are going to take one look at Metro and take their new PCs back to the store and complain that it doesn't have Windows installed.

You can experiment with smartphone UIs all you like - but normal sane individuals who aren't techies are not going to be interested in "defining new paradigms in how to interact with information technology" (or whatever other whalesong and bong-inspired nonsense got Metro built) on their PCs.

They (and myself when I'm not working) just want to be able to simply fire up a browser, download and play videos/music, play games and edit the occasional document.

"Live tiles" on a desktop PC are about as useful and interesting as the long forgotten and unlamented "Active Desktop".

Vista'd - why bother with it?

Simon Lyon

How about the "Win8 Phone Interface"?

Lampshading the fact that it may or may not be something that works for smartphones/fondleslabs but whoever greenlighted it for a desktop/laptop OS needs their meds adjusted stat!

Simon Lyon

Go with TIFKAM, with a standard cut'n'paste bootnote and graphic, or ...

... just keep calling it Metro. Everyone I know does.

Personally though I'd go with Vista 2.0.

Why the Apple-Samsung verdict is good for you, your kids and tech

Simon Lyon

Some good may come from this

The idiotic statements by the jury foreman ("We didn't need to read the jury instructions", "I'm a patent holder so I could explain to the rest why patents are so important", etc) means there's a possiblity of a mistrial or at least some of the findings being thrown out by the judge.

And there's many other grounds for appeal on individual findings that Samsung are strong on - for example the exclusion of prior art that shows Apple themselves slavishly copied others' designs but escaped being sued for it.

But the potential game-changer is what Samsung are leading heavily with and look willing to try to take to the Supreme Court:

"A patent on a round-cornered rectangle? Seriously?". Like the judge said in a different context: "Are you on crack?".

I expect they'll continue to hammer that point and try to take it all the way. It's the kind of simple, basic, one-issue legal point that can be taken up by the Supreme Court if they wish.

And if they do it could put an end to the ridiculous patents that the rubber-stampers at the patent office approve - while quite possibly also under the influence of the aforementioned drug.

There's nothing wrong with the concept of and law on patents - the problem is gross incompetence at the patent office in letting patent lawyers spin simple basic concepts into "innovations". And allowing software patents when the rest of the world dismisses them as non-patentable.

RIP Harry Harrison: Stainless Steel Rat scurries no more

Simon Lyon

On screwing bankers and their ilk as a benefit to mankind ...

“We must be as stealthy as rats in the wainscoting of their society. It was easier in the old days, of course, and society had more rats when the rules were looser, just as old wooden buildings have more rats than concrete buildings. But there are rats in the building now as well. Now that society is all ferrocrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps in the joints. It takes a very smart rat indeed to find these openings. Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment...”

― Harry Harrison, The Stainless Steel Rat

"I whistled under my breath as I went to work. This was by no means my first bank robbery, and I had no intention of making it my last. Of all the varied forms of crime, bank robbery is the most satisfactory to both the individual and to society. The individual of course gets a lot of money, that goes without saying, and he benefits society by putting large amounts of cash back into circulation. The economy is stimulated, small businessmen prosper, people read about the crime with great interest, and the police have a chance to exercise their various skills. Good for all. Though I have heard foolish people complain that it hurts the bank. This is arrant nonsense. All banks are insured, so they lose nothing, while the sums involved are minuscule in the overall operation of the insuring firm, where the most that might happen is that a microscopically smaller dividend will be paid at the end of the year. Little enough price to pay for all the good caused. It was as a benefactor of mankind, not a thief, that I passed the echo sounder over the wall. A large opening on the other side; the bank without a doubt."

Simon Lyon

Oh ballrocks!

The Rat books, alongside Zelazny and McCaffrey, I've re-read literally my entire life from the moment I was old enough to get a library card.

If you haven't read them then I'm fairly sure that as a Reg reader you'll probably appreciate them;

If you're a fan of the BOFH, you'll flip out over them;

And if you like Burn Notice - you'll feel at home.

Another great gone. I'm getting too bloody old!

Vulture 2 trigger triggers serious head-scratching

Simon Lyon

Micro Altimeter?



Username/Password prompt will probably pop up - just cancel it and the page will load anyway.

You'd need a PIC, Arduinoor other micro-controller between it and the rocket firing mechanism. But weight should be less of an issue on the truss than on the plane?

And once you've got a microcontroller on board the truss there's lots of possibilities. Deploying the parachute shortly after launch, triggering a camera, more sensors for detailed telemetry, etc etc.


Altimeter Absolute Pressure Sensor MS5561


The MS5561 is a SMD-hybrid device including a precision piezoresistive pressure sensor and an ADC-Interface IC. It uses a 3-wire serial interface for communication. The module dimensions of 4.75 mm X 4.25 mm and a height of only 1.6 mm allows for up-to-date SMD design. It provides a 16 bit data word from a pressure and temperature dependent voltage. The MS5561 is a low power, low voltage decide with automatic power down (ON/OFF) switching. A 3-wire interface is used for all communications with a micro-controller.


Pressure resolution 0.1 mbar

Operating temperature -40°C to +85°C

Supply voltage 2.2V to 3.6V

Low supply current typically 4 µA and standby current <0.1 a="" li="">

Calibrated temperature and pressure sensor for 2nd order compensation

ESD protected, HBM 4 kV


Mobile phones

GPS receivers

Altimeter applications <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Personal navigation devices

Digital cameras with altimeter function

Java jury finds Google guilty of infringement: Now what?

Simon Lyon

Re: Groklaw has a few things in addition to comments

This is from filed briefs and orders not reports:

The judge instructed the jury to work on the *assumption* that the APIs were copyrightable and asked the jury if Google had copied them. The jury said Yes - because Google had never denied they had copied them.

However, it is the judge himself that will later decide if they actually are copyrightable as a matter of law.

But even if he did find they were copyrightable, the jury has not yet rendered a verdict on whether that copying was "de minimis" or inconsequential.

The only other thing they found Google had copied was 9 lines of code out of millions. When Oracles lawyer mentioned damages for those 9 lines the judge's answer was that that was "bordering on the ridiculous".

Plus Oracle's own expert witness on damages assigned zero value to those lines and in any case they were removed from the product long ago.

So thus far, from what has been decided to this point, Google are liable to pay Oracle precisely zero dollars and zero cents.

Hence the judge's comment about no finding of liability (yet).

Simon Lyon

Groklaw has a few things in addition to comments

Like the scanned PDF of the actual verdict form signed by the foreman of the jury.

Like an eyewitness account from someone actually in the courtroom reporting what the judge actually said. To whit: "There has been zero finding of liability on copyright, the issue of fair use is still in play”.

But why let the facts get in the way of parroting Oracles spin.

Oracle v Google round-up: The show so far

Simon Lyon

Re: Not the only Java implementation without a license

Apache have said that Dalvik wasn't "based" on Harmony.

But that's a wide term and (no doubt not wanting Mr Larry to add them to his list) I expect they meant it isn't a direct port, recompilation, cut-down Harmony-lite, etc, of their codebase.

What I believe Google have said (incl in court) is that when they wanted to figure out the best way to, and good practices of, creating a new Java Spec implementation they looked at how Apache had done it - not how Sun had built it originally. Incl no doubt the API definitions, yada yada.

Which (as an admin, not a developer) makes sense to me. Sun/Oracle's implementation has been built up over time, modified, upgraded, probably kludged here and there. Maybe got a bit flabby?

Whereas Apache took the resulting spec of that and built a much newer implementation from scratch - their code is bound to be a lot cleaner than the slowly evolved Sun version, is it not?

Simon Lyon

Not the only Java implementation without a license

Apache Harmony is a clean implementation of Java and they never paid Sun a thing - nor do they have to. And Harmony is what Dalvik is based on. You only have to pay for a TCK (compatility kit) if you want to actually call it "Java".

If you want a proper legal analysis try http://www.groklaw.net ...

Oracle Lawyer: What is the Java Specification License (JSL)?

Ellison: The JSL lets you look at all the design specifications. It allows you to build your own version of Java. After building your own version, you have to run and pass a compatibility test, called a TCK. Oracle charges money for the TCK. Once the TCK is passed (and accepted by the JCP), you are granted rights to the Java copyrights and patents. The JSL is free, the TCK is not.

Note that Ellison is mischaracterising the situation here - as noted you only "have to" pass the compatibility test to use the Java name. Google don't.

UK gov rejects call to posthumously pardon Alan Turing

Simon Lyon

Then since the crime itself is what we object to ...

... *everyone* convicted of that crime has to be "forgiven".

Turing was a great man but an unjust law is unjust whether it causes the death of such a man or someone (during the war) working in a munitions factory, or serving on board a ship, or flying a bomber.

Some sort of posthumous repeal of law itself is what's needed - if that's even possible. The guy who set up the original petition for an apology himself rejects the idea of a pardon - because that insults every other poor sod who was persecuted under the same barbarism!

Simon Lyon

With regard to soldiers with shell shock - different concept and situation

Those soldiers were tried and convicted for "showing cowardice in the face of the enemy".

When it was shown that they were in fact suffering from mental trauma/PTSD - no cowardice involved - they were found factually innocent of the crime of which they had been convicted and properly pardoned.

In that case the crime itself still stands and in some countries still conceivably carries the death penalty in time of war. It was the convictions that were unsound not the law itself.

In Turing's case we're talking about the law being invalid, not the conviction.

Apples and Oranges.

Simon Lyon

A posthumous pardon proclaims someone innocent after death ...

... unlike a pardon to someone stil alive/serving a sentence which is instead a total commutation of the sentence to "no penalty".

Therefore, I regretfully have to agree that it's inappropriate because Turing was in fact guilty of the barbaric and inexcusable laws in place at the time.

So the government probably have made the right decision to apologise for those laws being in place and acknowledging that he (and thousands of others) should not have been prosecuted.

The only way a pardon could possibly work is if *everyone* ever prosecuted under those laws was pardoned as innocent of a crime - on the basis that the law itself was in some way (constitutionally?) invalid.

That might work - and be very worthwhile campaigning for if it can be stood up - but a single pardon for a single person just doesn't fit into the concept of posthumous pardon in our justice system.

Gay-bashing cult plans picket of Steve Jobs funeral

Simon Lyon

I lack the words to describe how worthless these individuals are

At least on this forum.

The Reg moderators are fairly relaxed but I couldn't possibly expect them to post what I actually said when I read this article!

Taxmen extend biz record check pilot

Simon Lyon

@ Just Thinking

I'm not advocating ceasing of all taxes - eg National Insurance reverting to its original purpose of funding the health service would be reasonable. Nor am I adverse to local taxes paying for services actually delivered to people and a sensible sales tax.

My point is that many more billions than the debt we currently face are squandered, every year by politicians or stolen by financiers or crooks such as the rail companies.

In such circumstances the government has no moral right to a tax on my income and I will avoid it wherever and whenever possible.

Simon Lyon

While their boss "Hospitality Dave" Hartnett continues to lunch expensively and well while making sweetheart deals with the likes of Vodafone and brokering misleading nonsense like the recent Swiss banking "deal".

While this exercise will no doubt help businesses produce apparently "adequate" records I suspect that increasing numbers of those records will continue to be entirely false.

HMRC have lost any credibility they may once have had and have demonstrated once and for all that the UK government has lost all moral standing to levy taxes on the general population.

People forget that income tax was only reintroduced in 1842, following its initial introduction and later abolition by Pitt the Younger in 1798 to fight a number of wars.

If the war-mongering filth running this country would stop spending billions blowing up other people's countries then perhaps - just as back then - income tax would not be necessary.

Two Larrys to go head-to-head in Google-Oracle case

Simon Lyon

From a lawyer at Groklaw

"I can tell you from personal experience in mediation the last person you want in the room is the CEO. That is a recipe for disaster. For a mediation to have a chance, the representatives need to be able to check their egos at the door, listen to the other side and the mediator, and provide the CEO of the company the flexibility to make a call on settlement without having to be personally present. Unfortunately, with this move Judge Alsup and the magistrate have almost assured another failed mediation."

Also, unless the two parties agree otherwise (unlikely) the mediation will be completely confidential - so no opportunity to read about entertaining bustups between the two I'm afraid.

So, what's the best sci-fi film never made?

Simon Lyon

The Rat would be great ...

... and hilarious with a droll voiceover a-la Michael Weston in Burn Notice.

Some of the best stuff in the books is his internal musings on bureaucracy, the police, the ultimate good his scams do for society and the taxman.

Traffic-light plague sweeps UK: Safety culture strangles Blighty

Simon Lyon

Fred Dibnah

I wasn't there so I won't contradict your belief that your helmet was useful.

I would ask you to consider something though. While, as I said, I've never been in an accident involving other vehicles I have of course come a cropper in similar situations to yours. I've injured my arms like you, and my knees. But my head has never hit the ground, because the reflexes we all possess have put my arms in the way of that happening (to their detriment).

However, while your body knows where your head is it doesn't instinctively know where a two-three inch thick contraption strapped on top of it is.

So are you certain that your head would have hit the ground if said contraption wasn't there?

BTW - to be fair, I have no faith in the standard go-faster, "streamlined", standing on top of the head bits of tat with airholes in them.

A round helmet however, fitting close to the head and following it's shape, which are available, is inarguably better protection than going bareheaded. But very few people choose such real protection because they don't look cool!

I don't wear either because of certain training that makes it instinctive to tuck my head in and roll on my shoulders if I find myself unexpectedly airborne! But if helmets were compulsory I would certain choose the latter.

Simon Lyon

Let's deal with a few more fallacies regarding bikes

1) Everyone who has ridden a bike in London for more than a day knows not to ride up to lights next to a lorry that may be turning left. Every time I've been in this dangerous position the lorry has drawn up next to me! If this happens then I WILL turn left before the lights go green. I will not apologise for this and the only people who get killed in this situation are those who don't have the good sense to put their life and welbeing before misguided laws. Suggesting that training and road tests for cyclists will resolve this is foolish at best and insulting at worst.

2) Helmets are bits of plastic-covered foam that are not built to withstand the shock of a fall from the height of a bike - they are a con job. The vast majority of cyclist fatalities are from injuries to the body. Every country that has introduced compulsory helmets has seen a *rise* in cylist injuries. Some studies suggest that wearing a helmet and cycle-specific clothing gives motorists the impression that the cyclist is "professional" or "experienced" and can be passed closer to and given less room than "amateurs" in normal street clothes. The most common injury from coming off a bike where a car is not involved is to the knees and palms due to the riding position.

3) Red light sequencing in London is designed to control motor traffic - not for the benefit of pedestrians or other road users. I was told last year by a police officer that the aim is to control the flow of traffic to a specific speed (think it was 16mph) and if you stay at that speed you should see a sequence of green lights. This is why pedestrian crossings will go red often even if no-one is crossing. Unfortunately, 16mph is somewhat higher than most cyclists ride at comfortably. If I encounter a red light, with no pedestrians and no cars I will go through it and I will not apologise. It takes a tap of the right foot for a car driver to get back up to the speed he was going before being forced to stop. I have to put sweat and muscle power into it.

4) Much is made of cycling tests and cyclists being forced to respect the Highway Code. The writers of said book have clearly not been on a bike since they were 3-years old and had stabilisers and have been on occasion threatened by both cycling and motoring organisations with judicial review for certain new and mindlessly stupid proposals that they've had to withdraw or rewrite. A bike is not a car. It is not a slower version of a motorbike. Being muscle powered it has absolutely nothing in common with other traffic. Until the people who right the laws of the road get this into their head I have no respect for them or their publications.

5) I have been cycling in London for 20 years. During that time I have seen 11 fatal accidents. In every single case the cylist was doing everything by the book and had no culpability for the accident. I have never been in an accident because, as previously noted, my safety v the law - the law loses. Note that does NOT extend to causing difficulty or harm to other road users, just to getting myself out of trouble withouty *anyone* getting hurt.

Simon Lyon

Bristol Dave

As I pointed out above - most road building and repairs comes out of council tax.

You pay VED and all the other taxes to the pestilential treasury for the privilege of owning a car.

Very little of that money is ever spent on the roads.

We all pay council tax equally therefore we all pay for the roads equally.

It may be highly unfair that you have to pay all that tax *for owning a car* but it doesn't have anything to do with road building and repairs or your rights to them.

Simon Lyon
Thumb Down

Motorists do not pay for the streets and roads

"This might justifiably annoy motorists, as it is they who pay for the streets and roads."

It's regrettable that this fallacy is still constantly promulgated in the press (paper and online).

The Road Fund Licence" was abolished decades ago and replaced by "Vehicle Exise Duty". It is an (arguably unfair) tax on owning a car but has nothing to do with building and repairing roads. VED goes directly into the general taxation pot and is in no way ringfenced.

Road building is funded (often these days by PPP ripoff agreements) mostly from central government funds. Road repairs are generally the responsibility of the local council, paid for out of council tax.

In short, the fact that a car driver has been taxed for owning a car gives him or her precisely 0% more right to use the roads than anyone in or on any other form of transport.

Government defends need for census

Simon Lyon

Pete 2 - subjects, electorate, customers - understand the difficulty with terminology

Perhaps "shaftees" might work - because whatever the dicks in Westminster say we really are going to be royally ...

Simon Lyon

Re: France

It's a government database, containing vast amounts of personal information, accessible to an army of bureaucrats.

Overwhelming evidence over the last 10 years thus shows that unanonymised data is likely to be:

a) abused by those in power;

b) misused by pandering to corporations (the official Census site even trumpets this as a benefit); and

c) left unencrypted on a laptop on a train bound for or leaving Waterloo. Or Vauxhall if the laptop belongs to an MI5/MI6 spook.

But this database is different. We can trust them. Honestly. It won't happen this time.

Go ahead, trust them.

Simon Lyon

Pete 2 - strike out "subjects" as well

In as much as it's relevant anymore we are subjects of the Queen. We are also citizens of the United Kingdom.

We are NOT subjects of the government - said bar stewards works for us, not the other way round.

Regrettably both they and a vast proportion of the population constantly forget that MPs are public *servants* (employees of the state, not rulers of it) - which is why they, whatever party they belong to, keep getting away with so much.

Which, by the way, is also the sole solid argument for maintaining the Monarchy in this country. Prime Minister Anthony Blair did enough damage. Can you imagine what *President* Anthony Blair might have "achieved"?

Top execs fly from Alibaba after supplier frauds

Simon Lyon
Thumb Up

This often happens in APAC firms when a screw happens ...

... and is to be applauded, even if it may seem a little over the top if the people concerned were genuinely not directly culpible.

When was the last time anyone in a US or EU company demonstrated they'd even heard of the word "honour" when things went the way of the pear on their watch?

Ecstasy doesn't make rave-goers any stupider - official

Simon Lyon

Paul 172 - OJ

Freshly squeezed orange juice has a lot of vitamin C which is good for most over-indulgences.

Also known (don't know the chemistry) to counteract the effects of some psychedelics. That's why you see juicing machines in many coffee shops in Amsterdam.

Simon Lyon

Medical students - not shocked ...

... just proves the point of most of this thread.

Most med students I've known are complete nutters in some ways but they've got first-hand experience of people who've screwed up their bodies/heads and the horrors that can ensue.

They do weed and pills and maybe occasionally coke - if they're serious about their career then they don't touch anything else.

Simon Lyon

Aftereffects from even half-decent pills ...

... should be no more than feeling a bit "faded" from endorphin-depletion or, if it was cut with speed (not uncommon), feeling a bit more shagged out.

Latter is easily dealt with by the universal cure of a good fry-up accompanied by freshly-squeezed (not reconstituted) orange juice and a coffee.

The former (contrary to scare stories) your body will happily replenish in 24hrs or less.

One of the risk-lowering properties of pills is that very few people (repectfully disagreeing with Thomas 18 above) wake up the next day feeling like popping a few more pills right away is a good idea.

For the simple reason that they've generally found that pills don't work that well unless they've got a high energy level already to work with.

With regard to the study and the standard "all pills are cut with who knows what'll kill you" disclaimer at the end:

Anyone who buys from the guy working the queue outside instead of a reputable dealer* they know well deserves what they get!

Though certain more enlightened countries offer free testing to double-check what you've got before popping it.

* For the non-cognoscenti reading this the words dealer, pusher and crap-dealing-scumbag are NOT the interchangeable words the media use them as.

Google remarkets behavioral ad eyeball creep

Simon Lyon

What's a web advertisement? - I've forgotten

Firefox + Adblock Plus

It's quite a novel, not to say shocking, experience when I see a web ad. Happens about once a month.

Google's ad technology only matters to people who don't know how to configure a browser properly.

IBM snubs OS/2 open source plea

Simon Lyon

Seconding, and thirding, Fraser above ...

When I left it, about three years ago, every single terminal in every single branch of the bank I worked for (one of the "Big Five") was still running OS/2.

Maybe, and I stress maybe, excepting the Manager's PC. But more likely that PC would still be an OS/2 box but running a Citrix ICA client to get a remote Windows session.

Given that the speed of any significant technological change in said bank makes the geological progression of glaciers look positively whizzy! - I suspect that the planned replacement (by web-based front-ends) is still proceeding at a leisurely pace.

And even then it may very well be running in IBM's own OS/2 port of Mozilla/Firefox, on the same old kit, even where it has been rolled out!

Furthermore, the same bank [appears to] staff its IT Security dept solely with people who have been turned down from jobs as traffic wardens, wheel-clampers and tax men - on the basis that they're too paranoid , obstructive and just plain ornery!

I'd pay my life savings to be in the same room as them if IBM made the hoped-for announcement!

Simon Lyon

If they could do it for less than $1m then I'm sure they would ...

... it'd be worth that purely for PR value, given how firmly they've pinned their business model to the Open Source mast.

But no one can blame IBM for looking at the multi-year due-diligence exercise they'd face and saying "Sorry guys, not in this lifetime!".

Given their shared parentage, there has to be swathes of code and patents shared between OS/2 and Windows.

Some of that may be owned by IBM and licensed to Microsoft (maybe exclusively). Or the other way round. Or jointly owned by the two of them.

But even if someone from IBM was to get Billy G and Steve B high as a kite one night and persuade them to sign away all possible claims over OS/2 in perpetuity - I'd bet big money that there's code in there licensed from dozens, possibly hundreds, of other third-parties as well.

Remember what Linus Torvalds has said about trying to move the Linux kernel from GPL2 to GPL3:

Regardless of his own (admittedly somewhat negative) opinion on the new license, he also really doesn't want to go through the nightmare of contacting every single person who's ever contributed code to it to get their agreement.

And that's something that's already open source!

Rather than trying to get IBM to throw the whole thing wide open, I'd say OS/2 die-hards should concentrate on a more modest goal:

Ask IBM what help they could give them in running it on more modern systems - maybe they could open up some of the hardware/driver levels of the code without too much grief.

As for the rest of it - I'm sure that the really useful stuff will make it into the open at some point or other.

Can't quite remember what bit of technology it was, something file-system related I think, but:

Some months ago IBM depth-charged yet another of SCO's wild allegations that something they'd contributed to Linux had been pinched from Unix - by pointing out that it was actually a subsystem that was developed for, and lifted from, OS/2!

So they're doing it - just a bit at a time!

Senior officials now in frame for HMRC data fiasco

Simon Lyon

May not have been MS databases

On the one hand, take this with a pinch of salt because it's second-hand info.

On the other, like many governments and security forces around the world, HMRC do (as far as I can tell from some Googling) use Lotus Notes/Domino. Because out of the box it's roughly 1000 times more secure than anything MS have ever produced - ** when the database is on a server ***.

I'm told (as I say, second-hand, mate of a mate who works at HMRC) that the disks had two Notes databases on them.

Now, if you encrypt a Notes database when you replicate it locally and then send on the ID file that was used, or generate one-off encryption keys and send them on to be imported into the recipient's ID file then you have one damn secure database. Current version supports 2048-bit keys.

If you set "enforced ACL (access control list)" then you have something that looks secure but can be opened with a little effort by anyone with a Lotus certification.

If you don't do either then your last best hope is that the crims in posession of the disks don't know what a .nsf file extension is and/or don't know where to get a copy of Notes from!

Take this as I do - To Be Confirmed - but adds a little interest to the mix.

How HMRC gave away the UK's national identity

Simon Lyon

Could've been worse - no, sorry, it WILL be worse ...

Skip forward 5 years. The NAO asks for a dump of the National Identity Register ...

Anyone here think that procedures at HMRC, the Passport Office or any other government dept will have changed in any useful fashion by then? Anyone?

[sound of crickets chirruping]

Simon Lyon

The APACS "reassurance" is bogus

A friend of mine (over retirement age) was stuck up a mountain in Spain recently, with weather causing power cuts and an intermittent phone connection.

He'd never set up phone or internet banking with his bank but it was desperately urgent that he arrange the transfer of some funds to someone else via BACS.

I was able, on his behalf (posing as him in an entirely innocent exercise), able to transfer over 500 quid with only the following information:



Sort Code/Account Number

Date of Birth

Branch account was opened at (correctly guessed it was the one closest to his address)

Last transaction (as it happened I'd myself just sent him some money - wouldn't be hard for a scammer to pay a tiny amount in to the account and then quote it as the last transaction to get much more out).

I only did this because we were both pretty sure that my saying that I was doing it on behalf of someone else wouldn't get anywhere. And I wanted to see what would happen, as an academic exercise.

But I was amazed and fairly shocked that it actually worked!



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