* Posts by Nigel

158 posts • joined 4 Jun 2008


Canada moots tough sanctions for DRM flouters

Jobs Horns

Devil in the detail

The devil is in the detail (and in the courts' interpretations).

What is "circumvent"? Is DRM circumvented if one sticks a microphone to an earphone and tapes what comes out of an iPod? Or uses a cable to connect the headphone output to a recording device (for personal replay on some other player, of course). Or opens a DVD player and moves the region jumper?

At the other extreme is someone cracking complex encryption schemes and then selling keys to unlock (say) encrypted pay-for movie channels, for personal gain.

I'd like to see a definition that notwithstanding anything else, no circumvention ever takes place when a person causes a signal intended to emit from one device to emit from a different device, provided that he has the legal right to listen to or watch the source and the legal right to use both devices, and is using his chosen output device personally and not for profit. IANAL but I think that covers most "fair use".

Hacker cops to $70k botnet rampage

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Two years not enough?

Get real, folks. This chap didn't kill anyone, wound anyone, addict anyone to hard drugs, put anyone in fear for their life. That's the sort of scum that ought to go to jail. He didn't even steal for personal gain. Assuming this is a first offence by an irresponsible youngster, he deserves to be given the rope instead of hanged with it.

He has talent, though he's mis-applied it. He should probably be sentenced to work minimum-wage for a non-profit organisation that he can sympathise with. Turn the poacher into a gamekeeper!

Worth remembering that Richard Branson admits to starting in business as a VAT fraudster. I wonder how many more are like him, but too embarassed to say (or worse, haven't even voluntarily settled up with the authorties).

ASA slaps down Vodafone 'unlimited' data claims


My sympathies with Vodafone too

A bit harsh, methinks, although they asked for it using too-small small print. Why not just say "Any website, any time. 120 Megabytes for £7.50 a month. Make the most of now. " (or even "What more do you want? ")

Now I've heard the offer, I'm quite interested. No such thing as bad publicity?

Tux, because Vodafone actually offer some Linux support for their dongles.

TfL hands out contracts for congestion charge tags


Re: false charging

The London C-charge is a flat rate per day, however many times you travel through the zone. So you could sneak in another car using a tag that had already been scanned (unless the system was reading plates as well and associating plate numbers with tag numbers).

You never have to do a U turn to avoid entering the C-charge zone accidentally. The zone starts at junctions where you have an alternative (left or right), and is signed well in advance of getting to that junction.

Dead Vulture

False charging?

The tag is usally a device stuck inside the windscreen. They're commonly used on toll roads and bridges.

It probably makes very little difference if it's stuck permanently or not. You would have to be pretty dedicated or have unusual circumstances to cheat the system. Drive in. Remove the tag. Take public transport out. Attach tag to another car. Drive second car in. Later drive one out. Take public transport back in . Retrieve other car. No, I don't think it'll be a majority sport.

As for just passing accidental charging? The enforcement point is usually a good few yards past the C-charge past here sign. And microwave radio is pretty directional. So I don't think it's likely. Also, the one I remember (from NYC? A long time ago) went beep when it was scanned. You'd need to know if the scanner didn't work, because the penalty for not paying on time is horrendous.

Dead Vulture roadkill, because it was too stupid to realise that humans are so stupid they'll pay £8 to drive in instead of £4 on the tube to get in twice as fast.

New Microgeneration report - what it actually says


Solar power works well but not in the UK

The UK is about the worst place in the world for Solar power.

1. We need most electricity in Winter, but because we are a long way North we have short daylight hours and the sun low in the sky at that time.

2. We need least on sunny Summer days. Few houses have (nor need) air-conditioning, and a minority of workplaces.

3. We have a high average cloud cover at all times of year.

4. We have a high population density (translation, more people living under smaller areas of roof, less space for solar generation per capita). Also we have no large cheap areas of desert wasteland that could become solar farms.

5. Because of 1 and 2 the monetary value of electricity supplied to the grid in summer is lower than in winter, which further increases the payback time for UK solar.

My point in posting this is to say, do not write off solar electricity. Elsewhere in the world where it's always sunny, or where electricity demnd peaks during hot sunny summers, it is a great idea with good economics (which is why solar is popular in California and Australia, and even Dubai).

The UK government should consider building solar power stations in Southern France, Spain or Morocco, to claim the carbon credits and sell electricity into the EU electricity grid at the south. Then build some more capacity on the cross-channel interconnector and buy electricity from France. You can't say what electricity is generated where, but the effect would be a South-to-North transfer of power through Europe. (And yes, we would get back less than we put in, but it would be 100% green).

Smiling Sun face. It's that or "Mad Max".

Breach disclosure laws have 'no effect' on identity theft

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Making laws won't help, period.

Once your personal data is in a database, it'll get out. This is as much a truism as saying that a flat roof will, sooner or later, leak. Laws telling database owners that they must work in accordance with best practice wil only slow down the inevitable (and probably not by much).

Suppose you could prevent every instance of non-encrypted backups or reports going astray. Prevent every instance of external hackers getting into a server. Prevent every theft of the database hardware itself. The data will still be vulnerable to a corrupt employee authorised to access the data. If it's worth £x to a criminal, it's worth £x/2 to bribe him. Of course, blackmail probably works even better, and organised crime has very good sources of info about things people don't want their partners or employers to know.

Once your data is out, there's no way to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Think very hard about what you tell people. If a retailer asks for too much and you can't just leave the fields blank, tell them that their intrusiveness lost them a sale. But the worst offender by far is the government. National ID database. Everything a criminal could concievably want to know about everyone, all in one place, with tens or hundreds of thousands of corruptible civil servants having access.

Be paranoid. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Acer punts £199 Linux laptop

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Again, shame it's Acer

Having had experience of Acer's warranty service, I really couldn't recommend the brand to anyone. That said, it's a £200 machine with no moving parts (Linux version) and a low-wattage CPU designed to not need much cooling. And with Linux it's very little hassle to rescue your system i(both config and data) if the non-storage hardware croaks. Mo MS Anti-copy bollox to get around.

But ideally it'll just force ASUS up make some price cuts, and I want to see an Eee 1000 before settling on a 900.


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