* Posts by Alan Brown

10176 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Nosey ex-NHS staffer slapped with fine for illegally peeking at medical records

Alan Brown
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Re: allergic to penicillin

"A subcutaneous microchip with handy stuff on it maybe"

and more likely won't be noticed.

"certainly not anything visible that will need replacing constantly."

one word: Tattoo.

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Alan Brown
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Re: How many more ...

"I'd hope that anyone there with a current bonefide NHS id/smart card could pull up my GP records and see that I'm allergic to penicillin, that I'm already taking blood thinners, and any number of things that would increase my chance of survival."

Rest assured - having asked the same questions whilst sitting in ED and in consultant appointments - they can't. Make sure you tell them about that anaphalaxis.

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Florence and the Machines: Data centers brace as hurricane smashes into US coast

Alan Brown
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Re: Hate to point this out but....

"Those data centres are supporting business well outside of the storm zone."

This is why you have multiple data centres and migrate your stuff outside of the footprint of the storm before it arrives.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I hate to say it

"Imagine the outcry if government put 100's of people on stand-by, with more than needed fuel/water etc all placed ready to move at a moments notice and then the storm never hit, or was less than predicted."

It may come as a surprise to the average American (or Brit), but sensible governments do exactly that vs kneejerk reactions that end up being too little, too late and full of political posturing. It's called "preparedness" and in regions with a history of such events sensible governments spend some time building up stocks of the necessaries in a fairly relaxed fashion for when fecal matter hits spinny thing.

Sure, it doesn't make for drama-filled TV news and it's not a ratings winner - but it saves lives and is usually the cheaper option than paying inflated prices immediately before/just after a big event.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Forewarned

"but image the mess they'd make if they were doing storm planning and DR."

Imagine the bigger mess if the need for storm planning and DR (and scale of such requirements) passes outside of their sphere of awareness. Such things then become casualties of budget cuts as "frivolous things we can do without"

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Euro bureaucrats tie up .eu in red tape to stop Brexit Brits snatching back their web domains

Alan Brown
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"You dont need to be American to have a .com domain"

I should bloody well hope not. The gTLDs are international (even .mil, .gov and .edu used to have a bunch of non-US registrations)

On the other hand, if you want to register a .us, you'd better be prepared to prove eligibility.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Double standards?..

"You need a UK address (PO box not accepted) to register a .uk domain. "

However you can trivially get away with using a MBE dropbox or a serviced office block as your registration address because Nominet don't bother checking.

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Alan Brown
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"If we are not in the EU then no-one in the UK is entitled to have .EU - end of story."

It's almost as if those who cry "out" can't comprehend that "out" means "out" and they can't keep using the clubhouse.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Small minded petty eurocracy

"It's long since become pretty clear that the principal reason for a (tiny) majority¹ Leave vote"

Bearing in mind that the _real_ reason for the media blitz in favour of brexit was the impending introduction of tax laws which would effectively make tax havens illegal and badly affect the owners of said media, along with their chums:

It was one party's infighting that triggered it, one party's infighting that ended up with the results, one party's infighting which has made the last 18 months at Westminster look like an extended Keystone Kops screening and one party's infighting which is preventing anything meaningful being done in either direction (either making it an effective brexit or scrapping the whole deal as unworkable)

The legality of the referendum campaigns is about to go before the courts, with an argument that the entire thing be annulled due to the illegal activities of certain campaign groups. Which would put Cruella DeVille in an awkward position of having called article 50 without a mandate after all.

We live in interesting times and I suspect that if things carry on as they are now, cancelling brexit won't matter much as all the important industries will have already bailed out of the UK, along with an increasing number of skilled workers - 1970s style. How long will it take before you're restricted to carrying out a maximum of £50 when leaving the country?

How long before Poles and Romanians are complaining about the influx of British economic migrants taking their jobs? Think it won't happen? Look at migration stats when the UK economy was well and truely tanked, before the EEC lifted its arse out of a sling.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Couldn't have said it better myself

"But you can't vote civil servants out"

Perhaps not, but you can certainly expose them to the white hot disinfectant of sunlight.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Flame on peeps...

"Anyway yes there are too many civil servants in the EU"

If you look a little closer you'll find that this isn't a problem confined to the EU, nor to its consitituent countries. You'll also find that the same pattern keeps playing out repeatedly (lots of pen pushers of dubious utility coming up with rules and regulations to justify their continued employment, vs a dearth of actual staff needed to actually do things that matter, like cleaning the streets, keeping the lights on, protecting the environment and investigating/dealing with corruption)

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Security procedures are good – follow them and you get to keep your job

Alan Brown
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Re: Almost...

"some aren't very sensible"

The motorists or the speed limits?

The twats doing 60-90mph past my house at any time of day or night (30mph zone) are a good advertisement for automated and immediate enforcement systems (occasionally there's a messy crash, or pedestrian death but that doesn't discourage the speeders)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Do as I do

"They are too easily used in court as evidence that you're doing something dodgy"

Has anyone actually made that stick? Recall what's happened to Prenda Law and the other copyright trolls, along with rulings that an IP is not personal identification.

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HTTPS crypto-shame: TV Licensing website pulled offline

Alan Brown
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"I've emailed them again pointing out the risks and await a response."

No need for that. Just let the ICO know - and when they don't bother responding, make the media aware.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Airline / Travel HTTP Crimes

"That can even just be a random 3rd-Party site (again over HTTP only)"

Any of this is grounds for a complaint to the ICO and making sure that El Reg (amongst others) has enough detail to make it impossible for the airlines to brush off or the government numpties to sweep under the carpet.

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Alan Brown
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"Well, if you're not using HTTPS, you wouldn't be aware of it, almost by design."

It would be "very good" if the ICO (or the EU privacy oversight watchdogs) declare that it's a prima facie data breach to use http for ANY kind of entry of personal data, regardless of provable data breach - and if there is a subsequent data breach then failure to use https adds a multiplier to the fines.

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Alan Brown
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Re: scrap tv licence

"scrap tv licence

Simplest answer"

Yes, but not for the reasons you're pushing.

Radio licensing was scrapped in the late 1960s for the simple reason that with the advent of transistorisation there were too many radio sets to keep track of and the licensing income wasn't worth the hassle. TV licensing was kept because TV sets were large, cumbersome and easy to track.

Times and technology have changed and now TV sets are as ubiquitous as radio sets were at the time their licenses were scrapped.

The assumption since the 1970s has been that "every house has a TV set and every one without a license is a dodger" - with "TV detector vans" mainly being minibusses and the "detectors" being people looking for aerials or the telltale signs of a TV in use (flickering lights and the warbling sounds of coronation street coming from premises which supposedly had no TV)

You'll notice that receiver licensing is no longer a radio regulatory job: that should give a big hint as to its actual necessity.

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Alan Brown
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>> "I presume the BBC is responsible for the infrastructure?"

> Why would they be?

Because TV Licensing _limited_ - the privately owned company which is responsible for actually collecting TV licence fees - is a wholly owned subsidiary of the BBC which then contracts operations out to Crapita and IBM.

It's a nice incestuous little circle jerk when you start digging into it.

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A basement of broken kit, zero budget – now get the team running

Alan Brown
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"Seems he had got conned sometime around 1975, signed a spares contract, and had a large store room full of replacements; enough for about another 200 years of this power hungry crap."

I've run into that kind of shit before.

The solution is to add up the power costs, demonstrate that it's cheaper to dump the contents of the store room and jettison the numpty manager, then make higher ups aware of the situation.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I had a sort of similar experience

", and I needed to explain myself or I would be fired on the spot."

I would have responded with "I can do with the six-figure unjustified dismissal finding and the very public bollocking you'll get in employment court."

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Alan Brown
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Re: HMSO

"Ended up spending the rest of both shifts watching TV"

Which is as it should be. With the grunt work out of the way you're now free to deal with what comes up. IF it comes up.

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Probably for the best: Apple makes sure eSIMs won't nuke the operators

Alan Brown
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Re: From that 2003 article

"In order to cover a city, you need a million sites; we actually did an analysis of that. And every one of them has got to have backhaul. So it turns out it's neither economical nor practical. "

The same applies to mobile cells at the kinds of densities 5G envisages. The difference being that cellular systems have more frequencies available than Wifi and the built-in ability to turn down the transmitter power to a gnat's fart or less instead of blasting out at 100mW regardless of link strength.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I can see some of the US networks

"Then AFAIK, one US network charges $80 to unlock the phone at the end of the contract."

So did several UK networks - until that was declared illegal by the regulator

The difference being that the regulators actually have some cojones in Europe

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Russia: The hole in the ISS Soyuz lifeboat – was it the crew wot dunnit?

Alan Brown
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Re: Zero G

"it's the amount of mass which matters."

Not the moment of intertia?

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You'll never guess what you can do once you steal a laptop, reflash the BIOS, and reboot it

Alan Brown
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"Surely a $5 wrench?"

Rubber hoses leave fewer marks.

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We've found another problem with IPv6: It's sparked a punch-up between top networks

Alan Brown
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Re: IPv6 was released 22 years ago

"6) VLANs and subnetting in IPv4 are easier, as you often assign a subnet to a VLAN for easier management. In IPv6 everything becomes blurred and more complex, especially in the beginning."

Running too many machines in a single segment doesn't work terribly well. If you start approaching the same numbers as the limiits of a /24 at gigabit speeds then you're going to have trouble coping with broadcast and multicast traffic, despite IPv6 being somewhat better than IPv4 on that score.

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Activists rattle tin to take UK's pr0n block to court

Alan Brown
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Re: What could possibly go wrong,..

[savvy kids]

The ones savvy enough to bypass the blocks aren't the one they're aiming to protect, but there's a strong smell of overreach on this, especially when the IWF and friends have claimed immunity from FOI laws on disclosing the banlist.

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PPI pushers now need consent to cold-call you

Alan Brown
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Re: chain of command

"Does the buck stop at the PPI company, who (unlikely but possible) might not know how the leads are being brought in?"

IIRC the ICO has gone after a bunch of PPI companies who were buying leads from the spammers.

*Checks* Yup. Section 21 of the PECR has language which can catch the hirer ("Instigate or make calls") as well as the caller and the ICO has gone after the hirers on a few occasions.

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Alan Brown
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Re: 0845

"i used to have an 0845 number that I would give out to any non friend / family member."

I have a 070 number (£1.50/min) that I still have and use for the same purpose. It gets a few scam calls and it's quite easy to get them to stay on the line for 20+ minutes.

I don't get any revenue, but the telco I get it from makes sure they collect.

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Alan Brown
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"make the company who hires them responsible for their actions."

THIS, in spades. Joint and several liability, per call statutory damages, multipliers for willful violations (as in, breaching the DNC lists) and the right of private action is the key to stopping the illegal calls.

A company hiring a spammy marketer will shrug and move onto the next one if the spammer goes under. If the spammer's activities have a direct impact on the bottom line, they won't do it again.

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Alan Brown
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"IME an increasing number of hospital departments have a departmental mobile due to an increasing number of patients not accepting callers who withhold their numbers"

It's a _legal requirement_ in the UK that outbound callers on a PABX be able to uncloak their numbers if caller-ID is suppressed by default. A lot of outfits don't comply, but complaints to Ofcom are worthwhile.

For the most part all you need to do is tell the doctor surgery, etc to add 1470 before your number - and hope they add it to the phone number in the system.

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Alan Brown
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Re: It's a start

> I've found that a few minutes spent filling in your details on their website will spare you from a boxful of nasty threatening letters.

Or not. I've been getting them for the best part of 20 years despite having a valid license the entire period.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Administration is frustrating

> You can be disqualified from being a company director, but only briefly for a first offence, and since you only need one person to set it up for you the assorted friends, relatives and the like can keep you going through a good few million nuisance calls.

Of course, should the law notice that the phoenix companies are being "fronted"(*), the orbital anvil delivery system tends to get locked and loaded.

(*) Dodging a ban by fronting someone else as a director is a serious criminal offence in most countries, usually with jailtime attached for all parties. The UK prosecutes and jails a few people every year for this and tipping off Companies House about this is always worthwhile.

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Alan Brown
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Re: If anyone

> the ICO has in the past been clueless enough to believe them.

As I understand it, the ICO staff concerned got educated with a fairly hefty cluebat.

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Alan Brown
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Re: If anyone

"I do have one 'confirmed kill' though: a solar company in Orange County. I got the Better Business Bureau involved"

The apology letter was them being thankful they'd dodged a $1500 bullet of small claims action under TCPA and the PACER record to go with it.

($500 violation, tripled by being wilful as you're on a DNC list - and notifying the FCC would put them in the firing line for $11,500 PER CALL fines - the TCPA dumps the liability jointly and severally on the caller AND the hiring company.)

BBB's are a uniquely american thing and they have little to no traction on a wilfully rogue player.

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Alan Brown
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Re: If anyone

"Yeah, fully agree, especially when most of the calls originate offshore (even if they do spoof a local number)."

Worse, they tend to spoof valid and assigned local numbers. At least one I checked on belonged to a Manchester dentist who was wondering why they were getting hate calls.

However when it comes to PPI and injury claims, the money traces back onshore.

More tellingly than all this other stuff, the thing which stopped cold calling almost dead in the USA's 1995 Telephone Consumer Protection Act was defining statutory per-call damages (to prevent what's happened here, where damages claims have been thrown out as unprovable) AND explicitly allowing a right of private action in small claims courts against the caller AND the company that hired them, with triple damages for wilful violations (caller-id spoofing/blocking, or calling anyone on a Do not call list)

It's easy enough to fly under the ICO/Ofcom's radar or evade them when targetted, but the death of 1,000,000 papercuts is much harder to dodge.

Naysayers have claimed this would paralyse the small claims system entirely - if that's really the case then the problem is so bad that SOCA should be looking into the scale of calls and telco collusion(*) as a matter of urgency.

(*)Telcos make money from terminating these calls. It's not in their financial interest to block them(**)

(**) Unless the call routing information is forged, which only tends to happen on the outright scam calls.

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A boss pinching pennies may have cost his firm many, many pounds

Alan Brown
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Re: Developer PC

"When all the terminals were in use a 100-line Pascal programme could take 30 minutes to compile."

Those old systems could be made to effectively stop with a nested for loop printing asc(N) on one terminal.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Imagine...

> No switches... because 'manglement' decided "we don't need those"...

Imagine all that on 10Mb/s HUBS - because manglement decided - after being told in no uncertain terms that they had to sort it 2 days into the first term where noone could do anything - that switches were too expensive and it's only a student network.

Cue the entire thing going titsup when 36 students startup office simultaneously (and multiply by N classrooms all doing much the same thing at the same time).

Now connect that into the admin network (also hubbed) with no isolation between student and staff systems.

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A flash of inspiration sees techie get dirty to fix hospital's woes

Alan Brown
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Re: Noisy phone lines in building

"The hut was without phones and PCs for a couple of weeks whilst everyone scrabbled around for more budget to purchase a switch and fibre GBIC for it..."

It must've been more than a couple of years, given that 1GB/s SFP GBICs run about $5 each and switches to plug them into about $60 - and have been around that figure for a decade.

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What's AI good for? Industrial or consumer tech? Meh. Airliners? AHA, says UK.gov

Alan Brown
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Re: Small point

"Ice can form inside the fuel tanks"

Generally as a result of insufficient quality control. Although in that particular case it built up as slush at low temperatures and ended up dumped onto the heat exchanger plate when there was a fuel demand during the landing process.

Running the engines up at the top of the descent might have avoided that being problematic(*), as would changes to tankage practices (fuel is constantly being moved about between tanks to alter trim and CG) to avoid slush buildups occuring.

(*) The problem wasn't that the engines became uncharacteristically slow to spool up/almost flamed out so much as the aircraft was close to the ground when it happened, with no safety margin for recovery.

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Activists raise alarm over insidious creep of surveillance in the UK

Alan Brown
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Re: "With the rise of the far right,"

"Criticism of the Israeli government and/or support for the people of Palestine is not Anti-Semitism"

But apparently comparing the ghettoising and villification tactics(*) used by the Israeli government against Palestinians to similar tactics used by a certain european government against a certain etho-religious group during the late 1930s _is_ - and that's the contentious part that's somehow been slipped into the "International definition of Antisemitism".

(*) If the methods walk like a duck and quack like a duck....

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Make BGP great again, er, no, for the first time: NIST backs internet route security brainwave

Alan Brown
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Re: As an aside

>>Their router, their security << but who ends up taking the hit?

This is why you make sure you've documented that they've been warned and acknowledged receipt of the warning.

That way if the splash zone includes you, you have an audit trail - and if it gets messy, passing that information to their public liability insurers can result in an interesting wakeup call.

Failure to mitigate this kind of threat would invalidate most liability insurance in the event of the ISP being hacked and facing civil litigation from aggrieved customers - it's usually liabliity insurers footing the bill when companies end up defending civil cases like this.

There are ways of naming/shaming the ISP in forums where they'll get a good hard kicking without compromising your anonymity.

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Alan Brown
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"good chaps"

"The ancient protocol was written with the “good chaps theory” as one of its fundamental assumptions "

Which was a proven fallacy even then.

At least one set of naval war games in the late 1970s/early 1980s ended within hours after Red team accessed Blue team's systems, downloading all their plans and intercepting orders, etc. They paralysed Blue team's deployment ability and "killed" them where they sat, in several cases by causing "self detontations" of Blue equipment without a Red team member in sight.

Blue team cried "foul" and tried to have this kind of thing banned, but it marked when the US military became interested in cyber warfare.

Academics getting onto DARPAnet brought a lot of that blind trust back, but those in the know were preaching security from the outset.

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Premera Blue Cross hacker victims claim insurer trashed server to hide data-slurp clues

Alan Brown
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Re: Am I missing something?

"He probably did, but some C or D level PHB knew better and had it quietly EOL'd on the sly"

If that really was the case, then Enron springs to mind - the penalties for the original crimes were pretty small. What got people actual prison sentences was deliberate destruction of evidence (and ordering same)

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UK.gov: NHS should be compensated by firms using its data goldmine

Alan Brown
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Re: NHS data supposed to be confidential

"They don't care, no MP or rich donor uses the NHS anyway"

Actual quote:

"Do you think the NHS would be in that state if our children were using it?"

Never mind that in the UK, private hospitals/practitioners which fuck things up or end up out of their depth dump the results on the NHS as emergency cases.

Banning _that_ particular scam(*) would probably be a wakeup call for $RICH_BASTARDS when they found their private medical costs rising to USA levels.

(*) Privating the profits, socialising the costs.

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Alan Brown
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Re: NHS data supposed to be confidential

"The data was collected with the promise that it was confidential"

Yes, and if the ICO doesn't have the balls to step up to the plate, then going straight to the EU privacy Commissioner(*) for an egrarious breach by the government seems to be the correct course of action

(*) Due to the government having undue control over the national privacy commissioner.

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Alan Brown
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Re: How about...

"What is the NHS getting out of it, not what benefit is there for the patients."

NHS: Nothing,

Patient benefit: probably negative

Benefit to mates of politicians running companies: High.

Backhanders/brown envelopes: Probably

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Hundred-million Kiwi Oracle project on hold after Deloitte review

Alan Brown
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Prebb's book.

I was there for the tail end of that one.

The software was indeed good and thirty-seven million was probably an underestimate(+), but it was a little like making sausages: what comes out has hardly any resemblence to what went in.

(+) That was mostly spent before NZ's currency took a massive nosedive and would be equivalent to USD250million now.

As with the DHBs, the software suffered every manager and his dog piling hundreds of conflicting demands into the spec _after_ purchase (shifting goalposts) forcing continual rewrites.

I'm not privy to the DHB stuff(*) but in the case of the Post Office even this wasn't where most of the money went - the vast majority was soaked up in exorbitant consultant fees(**) and managerial international trips - where the manager concerned would take his family along (all flying first class) and spend a couple of weeks of that trip at various 5-star mediterannean resorts far from the software houses - all paid for by the Post Office (at that point, meaning "at taxpayer expense")

A transparency activist recently described NZ as "Having a perception of innocence, whilst actually being a nasty banana republic without the bananas" and many in the know have been calling it "The Banana Dominion" for decades.

WRT bringing in external consultants: Nice idea, but the first thing that happens is that foreigners (or long-term returning expats) who who might show up the locals are ostracised (whilst those who play the game are loved) and anyone who dares point out the emperor has no clothes usually ends up tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail - anyone considering moving to NZ should spend time looking at http://e2nz.org/ and the "migrants tales" sections in particular.

(*) The DHB I was dealing with in the last 1990s early 2000s was running their entire financial system on Excel - yes seriously, including a number of hospitals. These was an outfit handling budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars per year, paying managers enormous figures whilst at the same time saying there was no money to replace creaking hardware (including a server room in the main hospital with a leaking roof and failing aircon)

(**) It shouldn't come as a surprise that the consultants were either close friends of senior management or were ex-management, being paid around 10 times what you'd expect as consulting fees. The building where all this was centred on in Wellington was known to most in the Post Office communications section as "Bullshit Castle" due to the antics going on inside.

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Cock-ups, rather than conspiracies, top self-reported data breaches

Alan Brown
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"a copy of his resignation with apparently the damning evidence is in the hands of a solicitor. "

Which means that not only the ICO would have fun, but the company will find that its liability insurers can (and WILL) wash their hands of the whole damned mess and the main insurer may cite fraudulent misrepresentation as a reason for dropping them as a customer.

You don't need to get regulators involved to fuck up companies (and executives) that put their necks on the block like this. A quiet word to the insurers can be far more effective,

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Roskosmos admits that Soyuz 'meteorite' hole had more earthly origins

Alan Brown
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Makes me wonder

What would happen if a similar hole was drilled in the Bigelow module

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