* Posts by JimC

1378 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

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BA's 'global IT system failure' is due to 'power supply issue'

JimC
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Re: Does that really prevent a cleaner

> pulling the plug, trying every which way to plug in the vac,

No, but it did preclude the supposedly intelligent IT staff from plugging the kettle, refrigerator, cooling fan etc into the smoothed clean power supply, which, in those days when a lot of IT equipment was rather less resilient than it is now, was in itself worthwhile. The most valued sockets in the office were the tiny handful, identities as far as possible kept secret, which weren't on the clean power supply but were UPS and generator backed :-)

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JimC
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Re: Really a power failure?

And the code monkeys could never understand why I got upset about them plugging things into the oh so-very-handy waist height sockets labelled 'reserved for vacuum cleaners'.

Funny how intelligent people had so much trouble grasping that the best way to avoid screw ups from minimum cost contract cleaners is to make it about ten times easier to do it right than do it wrong...

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Ransomware hits Australian hospitals after botched patch

JimC
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Re: Well duh

Many of the commentards never seem to have worked in an environment with more than a few tens of PCs, individually maintained, and a lot of the rest haven't worked in the sort of diverse enterprise where there have to be a few exceptions to abso-bloody-lutely every kind of standard you try and bring in...

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Republicans' net neutrality attack written by… you guessed it, the cable lobby

JimC
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OK lets analyse this.

- Politicians get briefings from interested parties.

- - - Well damn me, I'd never have guessed.

- Politicians reuse briefing material if they agree with it

- - - No s*** Sherlock. And there was me thinking they wrote every word themselves.

Now you may agree or disagree with this bunch of politicians about net neutrality. I'm kinda neutral on the topic. But I can hardly say that I'm shocked that politicians put their names to a paper someone else had written, and not bothered at all if it were to turn out that they had influenced its content.

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IT firms guilty of blasting customers with soul-numbing canned music

JimC
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In the days before internet based call logging systems one IT company I had dealings with might have hour waits to get to the right engineer to deal with your problem. They had a web based system which had all the hold music listed, and you could vote for the tunes you wanted to hear!

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'The internet is slow'... How to keep users happy, get more work done

JimC
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Re: What a wonderful world you live in...

I greatly fear that you're painting a picture of an organisation that needs to do some rethinking.

Why is it easier to phone the help desk than look up that guide? Could it be that no-one can find the guides when they need them?

Why are users so convinced that they won't have the access to do their job that its not worth trying?

Why are your communications failing? Could it be that you are burying users in too much to read, and you need to think of a single point message? My dream was a bullet point list that came up as the PC was logging in that provided click through messages. We got close to it... indeed it became so effective that senior company management hijacked it to use for every other damn thing they wanted to tell the users...

As for the synch, this is not really rocket science, I got it there for 80% of my company's systems years ago. Yeah its work sorting out the password rules that won't break somewhere down the line, but its not that hard work, especially once you've gained the acceptance that it doesn't really matter that the rules for x system downstream are looser than would be ideal if there is no straightforward way for the users to actually set insecure passwords on that system because they won't get through the gatekeeper upstream.

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JimC
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It is a strange phenomenom.

When I worked for a large organisation I agitated that we should produce a monthly list of the top ten root causes for calls to the help desk, and allocate some resource to dealing with those problems. Everyone said it was a great idea, but somehow it never happened.

But every call to the help desk means a significant loss of productivity. Obviously in many cases the root cause is going to be beyond the organisation's capability to fix, but some of them will be - or at least can be ameliorated by better communications, better training, something.

I could never understand why what seemed to me such an obvious way to improve efficiency never got acted on.

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Quick, better lock down that CISO role. Salaries have apparently hit €1m

JimC
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> After all you paid more for it.

Sadly true. Also, of course, the principle that keeps high cost consultancy organisations in business.

I do wonder whether any studies have ever been done to see whether mega bucks executives are worth the money compared to cheaper ones. I suspect not for obvious reasons.

The other thing that makes me wonder is that the chief execs deputy seems to earn about half what the chief exec does, yet must surely be competent to step into his shoes at any time. So are the deputies wildly underpaid or...

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Wannacry: Everything you still need to know because there were so many unanswered Qs

JimC
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SMB shares exposed to the internet. Just....... Why?

They don't have to have been exposed to the internet globally, just exposed to one external machine that itself is compromised. Management says give X access or its your ass, you lock down access so it is literally just to machine X, but if X gets hit then you're hit. It really is a case of just one weak link is enough. But management will never understand why security wants to be so doctrinaire and inflexible when its 'obvious' that one little exception, properly managed, will be OK... Really.

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JimC
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Re: Oh, the irony!

Which is exactly why perverting the patch process with the pushed Windows 10 upgrades was a mind bogglingly stupid and irresponsible thing for Microsoft to do.

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Julian Assange wins at hide-and-seek game against Sweden

JimC
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Re: did something wrong.

Or possibly because he did something he doesn't believe to be wrong, but knows is illegal. Not the first time.

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JimC
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Re: Does anybody else find it strange...

Its at very least an odd coincidence.

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WannaCrypt: Roots, reasons and why scramble patching won't save you now

JimC
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Lack of any finger pointing at the right people.

Exactly, and you are guilty of the same thing. Why on earth do we accept Microsoft (and every other vendor) declaring that their OS /software is not going to receive critical security patches within a reasonable lifespan of the hardware it supports and in the absence of 100% backwards compatability?

Microsoft knew about the problem, knew that many many thousands of users worldwide have little choice but to run XP, and *chose* not to release a patch until it was too late. There's the direction the finger should be pointing in. Not that they are the only guilty party... here am I running XP in a VM because I refuse to throw away a perfectly good scanner just because Canon don't want to release Win 8.1 drivers in the hopes that I'll throw it away and buy a new one.

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Faking incontinence and other ways to scare off tech support scammers

JimC
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If I'm reading a book I'll sometimes read them a few paragraphs of whatever I'm reading.

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EC fines Facebook €110m for 'misleading' data on WhatsApp deal

JimC
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The Village Idiot knew Facebook was lying!

For sure, but proving it against a thoroughly lawyered up US corporation is a tad more difficult.

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Uber red-faced from Waymo legal row judge's repeated slapping

JimC
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Re: How To Look Like a Genius

Equally though its an obvious precaution to have your code thief keep the stolen material off your systems and on a personal device. That way your company has all the benefits of having the stolen code available to refer to and also has a level of plausible deniability.

Have to admit though, there is something awfully ironic about Google getting upset about people plundering their IP for business advantage.

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UK General Election 2017: How EU law will hit British politicians' Facebook fight

JimC
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Data Gathering...

Every elector in my house recently received an individually addressed "survey" from one of the political parties recently at our house which superficially was asking for opinions on local issues. Name filled in so you would have to delete it if you anted to stay anonymous. In very small print in odd part of document was an authorisation for full reuse of all info in data processing etc which you had to check to *disallow*. And just in case you were tempted to anonymise yourself in even smaller print in an obscure corner was a number which turned out, by checking with the other copies, to be a unique identifier.

And they wonder why so few of us trust any of them any further than we can throw them!

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Opposable thumbs make tablets more useful says Microsoft Research

JimC
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Hurrah, I'm ahead of the game

the first time I designed a set of web pages to be reasonably responsive to screen size I designed the nav option for small form factors to pop up via an element located in what I thought was the most suitable location for hitting it with a thumb. One side of the screen for tablets, the other side for phones I decided...

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Agile consultant behind UK's disastrous Common Platform Programme steps down

JimC
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Re: all of the functional requirements etc etc to have been completed and discussed up front.

The trouble is, as has often been observed, in order to be able to generate functional requirements and all the rest to a suitable standard t reduce the chance of failure to something small, you need probably need a sufficiently capable in house IT service that you don't need to go out and tender anyway.

Managing such contracts is an art in itself. The demonstration I remember was many years ago when my then employer had in house IT in a competitive tendering basis with all procurement responsibility devolved to the departments. The, shall we say Wotsits department's IT 'specialist', whose enthusiasm exceeded his practical ability by a very considerable margin, devised a tender with an amazingly complicated multi level client/local server/central server setup that would have solved all sorts of problems if it could have been made to work properly. However the complexity was such that the chances of it working properly in a reasonable timescale was about zero.

The in house IT department, being a bit naive about such tenders, said this will never work, and proposed a solution based on a central server with some very small local boxes doing nothing more than caching static reports. ICL (that's how long ago this was) won the tender with a proposal that very closely matched the customer specification, and complimented the customer lead on his vision.

Having won the tender, ICL then carefully managed the customer to accept a few minor changes to the system design. What these turned out to be were to increase the power of the central servers an reduce the role of the local boxes to caching static reports...

It was a lesson in the vital importance of customer management I've never forgotten. But think about how high risk it was. If the customer hadn't been sweet talked into, without realising it, completely abandoning his high risk design in favour of something practical then the whole project would have gone comprehensively and spectacularly pear shaped.

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Sorry, Dave, I can't code that: AI's prejudice problem

JimC
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Re: There is a flip side...

More than that, people actually *want* biased results. I saw an interesting set of observations from someone who was working on targeted advertising. He said they had a horrible problem with racist results.

What seems to have actually been happening was that his software was identifying that individuals with string X set to W were more likely to click through on one set of ads and individuals with string X set to B were clicking on a different set. So they eliminated string x from consideration.

Next the software identified individuals with at least two of strings A, B and C set to one value as being more likely to click through on one set, and vice versa. And guess what, there was a strong correlation between having two of those 3 set and having string X set to W, and so it went on.

Gradually they eliminated every decision point that could be said to be racist. And their click through rate plummeted.

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Australian Taxation Office named as party preventing IT contractors being paid

JimC
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Re: The contractors here are in the last category

I suppose that's the point: contractors don't have unpaid wages, they have unpaid invoices. This seems to have implications for the likes of Uber and the 'gig' economy, and maybe another reason why pseudo self employment should be dealt with.

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US copyright law shake-up: Days of flinging stuff on the web and waiting for a DMCA may be over

JimC
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So... big advertising has to be protected from penalties for copyright material being posted all over their sites, and the much smaller content companies have to play whack-a-mole, because its just too expensive for big advertising to police their cash generation?

And the content owners have to spend a fortune doing the policing big advertising says is impractical, and cop fines if they get it wrong?

Are we quite sure this is balanced?

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Fortran greybeards: Get your walking frames and shuffle over to NASA

JimC
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Re: addicted to having a continuous supply of disposable students and postdocs.

> Only a handful of them had any hope of landing an academic job, ...

> yet this was pretty much the first time anybody at the university has actually told them so,

Can anyone capable of getting a reasonable degree from a reasonable establishment really be so dumb and naive as not to realise that if there are, say, 100 students a year coming through your college, and ten staff members who will hope to have a 40 year career, then jobs in academia are going to be few and far between? None of us were in the slightest doubt about it in biological sciences at Imperial in the 70s. Hell, the not really very funny joke was that you needed a phD to wash bottles at the top establishments in zoology.

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JimC
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> will run 10 times faster on the new faster computer

Or, maybe even more to the point, will be able to handle jobs that are ten times more complicated in the same time. It doesn't matter how fast your hardware is, complexity of CFD work can always be increased to overwhelm it, so more efficiency is always beneficial.

And you know there are always folk who fancy a very different project in their spare time, and if it brings in a few quid that's nice too. Someone who works on high frequency trading might fancy a bit of part time hobby work on a project that actually benefits humanity instead... Or for that matter someone burned out from working on that stuff who is sitting around getting bored.

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JimC
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Re: addicted to having a continuous supply of disposable students and postdocs.

Quite true, but isn't that the way its supposed to work? Disposable students and postdocs b****r off to industry and make decent living with far better fundamental training and breadth than industry would/could give them, whilst miniscule number of really brilliant people stay in academia doing pure work, and a slightly greater number stay in academia to train the next lot of bright eyed grads? That is, after all, what Universities are for - provide an endless supply of trained people.

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It's Russian hackers, FBI and Wikileaks wot won it – Hillary Clinton on her devastating election loss

JimC
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Re: The locals would vote for a stuffed teddy if it wore a red rosette.

And judging by the way they stick to the party line, most MPs (of all sides) could be replaced by a stuffed teddy with little change to the business of government...

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Gig economy tech giants are 'free riding' on the welfare state, say MPs

JimC
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Re: Its... starting to care about this

Exactly. And rightly so. State security as Attlee intended it was kinda like a bloody great friendly society. People who aren't in need put money in, people who are in need take money out. The relatively small number of self employed put less in and got less out, but there was a kind of balance, and the numbers weren't big enough to care about. Eighty years on the self employed are vastly greater in number and taking far more out when they get old and sick, so there's less balance and thanks to the abuses the numbers *are* big enough to care about.

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JimC
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Re:all have to look good until polling day.

Abosolutely not. Because here is a policy change that looks good socially and increases the tax take. Every politicians dream.

The down side is that self employment is going to get more and more heavily cracked down on. IR35 will be only the start.

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KickassTorrents kicked out again, this time by Australia

JimC
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Re: Piracy funding 'organised crime'?

Usual sort of point missing argument. Sure the odd celebrity has a few quid less to spend, and sure who cares. But the people in the middle, the ones who were making enough of a living to pay the mortgage and feed the kids, are utterly wiped out.

And actually there are in fact a lot more of them, and they are producing all the most interesting art.

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JimC
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Big whatsit

I get very bored with people talking about Big content, when actually the content companies are tiny compared to the internet advertising companies who are trying to destroy their rights to charge for what they create.

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Come celebrate World Hypocrisy Day

JimC
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Re: It ought to be.

Why is it right that if I die young, and leave a widow and something wonderful that the world wants to buy for the next 70 years, that the only person who *doesn't* benefit from the something wonderful is my widow?

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Don't listen to the doomsayers – DRM is headed for the historical dustbin, says Doctorow

JimC
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Re: Here's to hoping Britain does become a major anti-DRM supplier.

I can see no reason why Britain would want to. the UK is a big exporter of intellectual property, and I don't think we have as big a lobby in the opposite direction as the US has with the bizarre unholy alliance between the megacorporations who want to abolish creators rights so they don't have to pay anything for the material they sell advertising with, and the doctrinaire political anti copyright types (useful idiots?) who give the mega businesses greed a veneer of public interest. DRM in its current form is a pretty poor way of reducing piracy, but even a 20% improvement is probably worth having.

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It's a question worth asking: Why is the FCC boss being such a jerk?

JimC
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Big Cable

"with its army of lobbyists and"

whilst on the other side we have tiny boutique operations like, err, Google...

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Boffins supercharge the 'hosts' file to save users plagued by DNS outages

JimC
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Pre DNS concept?

The principle resembles some setups I used to see in the days when people used to find DNS too hard and created scripts and goodness knows what to replicate zone files between their hosts and even clients. Hard to believe now, but I had a considerable struggle to get all of my organisation, which was highly devolved at the time, to accept that DNS was the way to go.

'Course we now have the problem that DNS, like so many of the early protocols, is a bit too keen to assume good faith on the part of every administrator on the internetwork.

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Uber sued by ex-Lyft driver tormented by app maker's 'Hell' spyware

JimC
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Re: paperboy (was ...serious driver retention problem)

Although at least when I was a paperboy I had a defined shift and a guaranteed wage...

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JimC
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...serious driver retention problem

In this grave new world of deskilled jobs and casual labour masquerading as self employment, I wonder if the likes of Uber really care about retention, just so long as the supply of new peons is adequate to replace the ones who give up. I forsee a world where increasingly impoverished workers migrate from casual job to casual job in utterly different industries, desperately hoping that one or another might turn out to bring home a living wage.

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Peer pressure, not money, lures youngsters into cybercrime – report

JimC
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> Peer pressure, not money, lures youngsters into cybercrime

I don't think that sentence really needs cyber in, judging by my experience of kids who get themselves into trouble.

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New MH370 analysis again says we looked in the wrong places

JimC
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> searching in the wrong place on the grounds they haven't found it.

Well yes, that's how they know it was the wrong place. With careful reading it does seem as if new "most likely places" indeed have the subtext "bearing in mind it wasn't where we looked. The drift analysis is very interesting, but I don't know that I'd want to devote many hundreds of thousands of my taxpayers dollars to a search based solely on that evidence. There are just too many variables.

The marker idea works OK over short distances and short timescales, but this involves neither. Markers that are almost completely submerged or floating flat on the surface drift in one direction driven by currents, markers that have a significant part of the structure in the air are blown by the wind in quite different directions, those that are betwixt and between do something between, its all horrendously complicated.

Most probably what will be needed for a new search is evidence that is really compelling as to location. Drift studies and the like add data, but aren't that compelling. A whole load of quite different studies all pointing towards the same small area might be. It hasn't been abandoned, after all the Aus government was prepared to pay for this new experiment using a genuine flaperon not a model as in earlier experiments.

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'We should have done better' – the feeble words of a CEO caught using real hospital IT in infosec product demos

JimC
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Its not the clearest of articles, but one interpretation of it would be that they were doing their demos on a demo environment on the live network, and possibly a demo environment with poorly anonymised data, which is bad enough in all conscience, but maybe not as bad as the headline.

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Nuh-uh, Google, you WILL hand over emails stored on foreign servers, says US judge

JimC
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Re: Terms of service

> ... I doubt T&Cs would be able to overrule the provisions of local statute law and that

> includes the local Data Protection law...

If Google's multi national games put them in a place where two countries laws apply and contradict each other, I'm not sure that politicians in either country will be that bothered unless they've been very well 'lobbied'..

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So, you're 'ISO 27001 accredited', huh? Just saying so doesn't cut it

JimC
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Re: Standards are biased towards large companies

I understand the point you're making, but I'm not comfortable with it. After all we wouldn't be saying "oh well, they are just a small company, they shouldn't have to adhere properly to the standards for tcp/ip packets" would we?

But if I've got a 5 person business I probably don't employ an accountant full time, and I don't stop running the business and train to become an accountant myself. Instead I probably have someone skilled coming in one afternoon a week to do my books, who is also doing another 9 companies' books on the other mornings and afternoons. Maybe something on the same lines is needed?

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JimC
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The basics of ISO 27001 Security...

> The basics of ISO 27001 Security is an inherent consideration in the way you work,

> not something you look at every few months when an audit is due.

So utterly different from the way ISO9000 works then?

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US military makes first drop of Mother-of-All-Bombs on Daesh-bags

JimC
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Re: just a nicely painted version of something called a Grand Slam

It really isn't. The MOAB is a relatively light cased bomb containing a lot of explosive - 18,700 lbs out of total weight around 22,600, and is not designed to penetrate the surface. The Grand Slam had a much heavier case and contained 9,100lbs explosive from around 22,000 lbs, and was designed to go deep. Very different concepts.

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JimC
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> You could pay every member of Daesh

The trouble with bribing the ideologically motivated not to fight is that they have a tendency not to stay bribed, in which case all you have achieved is to finance your enemies.

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No more IP addresses for countries that shut down internet access

JimC
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Precedent...

Whatever I might think about the Governments involved, I like the idea of an essentially self appointed group trying to dictate policy to them even less.

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An echo chamber full of fake news? Blame Google and Facebook, says Murdoch chief

JimC
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Re:There is no advertising on Wikipedia, so what the hell you on about?

FX: sigh. Wikipedia is a prime example of amateurs giving away content for free, which content appears on search result pages alongside the advertising.

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JimC
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Re: Luddite Whining

No, you miss the point completely. Old media was always about content. The quality of the content varied, but it was always about content. Sometimes it was low quality, semi fictional, sometimes it was regurgitated press releases, and sometimes it was genuine high quality journalism, but always real content was generated, which in turn meant overheads. Then the media firms competed with each other primarily on their content. The public being what they are high quality content attracted a lower market than, shall we say mass market content to be kind, but it was always about content.

Mega advertising corps, on the other hand, don't give a flying **** about content. Instead they leech off content creators, and where at all possible get useful idiot amateurs to create the content for free - Wikipedia being a prime example, and Youtube another with its original mix of pirated content and amateur tosh.

And the other problem is that the net has turned out to favour monopoly. The long tail has turned out to be a myth.

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Startup remotely 'bricks' grumpy bloke's IoT car garage door – then hits reverse gear

JimC
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Re: There are a number of options which require neither

I didn't find any that would interface with the existing boiler and its control. All the ways of doing so seemed to involve enough complexity and/or expense for the FTFAGOS flag to be set....

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JimC
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Re:Sounds completely - completely - pointless

Well, the user requirement is to turn the heating down when she goes to bed, which is randomly any time from 10:30 pm to 1:30 am, so its kinda tricky to schedule on a timer. You may think that's an odd requirement, but trust me, you don't want to argue the point.

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OK... Red wire or black... *Clickety* You've emailed the schematic? Yes, got it! It's opening. And... WHAT? NO!

JimC
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> There is nothing more annoying than your internet cutting out​ when you're streaming your favourite

> programme​, ​or ​when you’ve spent ages filling your online ​shopping​ basket but your connection is too

> slow to get you to the checkout

Well,I'd say there are a lot of things more annoying than that, starting with power cuts or people crashing into your car/bike, or even major health problems, but who minds a bit of ridiculous hyperbole eh?

> Ofcom has introduced new rules to allow consumers to more easily switch provider

> if they have failed to provide an acceptable level of service.

Wonderful. How on earth did we get this idea that supplier churn is an efficient way to do anything? Because its really going to help to deliver a better service to your existing customers if the technical staff are spending all their time connecting new customers and disconnecting old ones... How about a regulation that if there's any break in service during a month the supplier has to refund say a week's charge. Two breaks, two weeks and so on...

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