* Posts by Alan Mackenzie

59 posts • joined 11 Nov 2008

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Mumsnet ordered to give users' real life IDs and messages to plastic surgeon they criticised

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

Re: Errm ...

No, there is no such thing as "UK libel law". It's English libel law. Scottish libel law is quite different.

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Outage-hit Lloyds Bank in talks to outsource data centres to IBM

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Licence not license

> Sorry to be a pedant ....

Why are you sorry? You don't need to be! You've just educated me about those two words' spellings, for which, thanks.

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Facebook hires Hillary Clinton to lead assault on fake news*

Alan Mackenzie

What about the mainstream media?

Suddenly Facebook, Google and so on have caught up with the mainstream media in fake news stories. And the MSM do not like it, previously having had a monopoly on such "news". There is little doubt that the MSM's lies have influenced elections, and politics in general, to the detriment of democracy (or what now remains of it).

If you have any doubt about the MSM's lies and distortions, just read Stuart Campbell's blog at http://www.wingsoverscotland.com for a few days.

So, when are we going to get a facility for flagging up fake news in the Daily Mail, or the Daily Express, or even the Guardian?

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How-to terror manuals still being sold by Apple, Amazon, Waterstones

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Half assed measures

For some reason, I read that as "Theresa Mayhem". Not sure why.

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Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

Re: WTF

> "It is illegal to carry any sharp or bladed instrument in a public place (with the exception of a folding pocket knife, which has a blade that is less than 7.62 cm (3 inches))."

I think not. People regularly buy knives at kitchen shops and carry them home. For that matter, I routinely carry hypodermic syringes. Or is it one of these ludicrous laws that everybody breaks, which the police can then use to harrass people they don't like?

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US Treasury to launch pre-emptive strike on EU's Ireland tax probe

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

> ".... unless the assumption is that The State (or at least one of them ,if not several) owns your goods, your work and your arse."

No, that's not the way it is. All people (and companies) based in a civilised land benefit massively from that civilisation: the infrastructure, the education, the policing, .....

The other side of that is that everybody is bound, both by duty and by law, to give a certain moderate part of their earnings and/or wealth to maintain the civilisation which sustains them. The fact that large international companies and many rich people evade this obligation is a large part of the reason why so many countries have a massive national debt and why so many people are so poor.

I hope the EU authorities are thorough in their investigations, and that if Ireland and Apple have been guilty of transgressing such piffling regulations as do exist, they will both be punished suitably. Some hope!

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Microsoft promises free terrible coffee every month you use Edge

Alan Mackenzie
Headmaster

International customers?

Most people I know restrict themselves, whether as customers or otherwise, to a single country at a time.

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Falling PC tide strands Seagate's disk drive boats. Will WDC follow?

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

Re: OT but you started it

"Strand" is the German word for beach (noun). The English verb "strand" might well originate from the notion of your boat being stuck on a beach at Aberystwyth harbour for lack of water (but I'm too lazy to investigate this).

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In mourning for Nano, chap crafts 1k-loc text editor

Alan Mackenzie
Happy

Re: "did not want to assign *copyright* to the FSF for his contributions"

> Why does it [the FSF] want copyright on someone else [sic] work?

Because only then is it in the legal position to defend a work's copyright. I look at it this way: having assigned my copyright to the FSF, that is one burden lifted from me should some nasty person violate my copyright. I am in no position as an individual to initiate legal procedings.

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'I urge everyone to fight back' – woman wins $10k from Microsoft over Windows 10 misery

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Now the precedent has been set ...

Most people aren't interested in "kicking MS in the nuts in a very public way". They just want to get their work (and/or play) done. Downvote from me!

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France POPs €800k fine on 'illegal taxi service' Uber's windshield

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

A piddling little fine?

When are some of these overpaid law-breakers going to end up in prison? An 800,000 Euro fine is just normal working expenses to them.

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'UnaPhone' promises Android privacy by binning Google Play

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Or you could just have a good MDM

You mean something like MDMA?

(What's an MDM anyway, when it's at home?).

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Dropbox gets all up in your kernel with Project Infinite. Cue uproar

Alan Mackenzie

IIRC, the term "PC" was in use before the IBM PC was released. It simply meant a "personal computer", of which there were quite a few types around. IBM purloined the term.

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Magnetic memory boffins unveil six-state storage design

Alan Mackenzie

Re: A six-state memory element? Oh dear.

If you please, 1A * 1A is NOT 5A4. It is 2A4.

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Uncle Sam tells Verizon and worker unions to settle spat

Alan Mackenzie
FAIL

This article is, shall we say, a bit light on substance. Like, for example, what the two sides disagree about. I read the whole article through, waiting to get to this substance, and it never came. Maybe it's a secret which neither side is prepared to divulge.

Come on, Register, you can do better than this.

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Computer Science grads still finding it hard to get a job

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Thirty-five years ago...

That would have been the summer of 1980. I actually started with ICL then, discovering a week or two later that all new graduates who hadn't started yet would not start at all. ICL's wonderful management had apparently been unaware that they had been losing money for years, and had suddenly found out.

They even had two mainframe operating systems competing with eachother (VME/B and VME/K), allegedly one being for big machines, the other for small ones (a big one having, say, 8MB of RAM). In a way, ICL was more like a civil service branch, those being the days when all government contracts simply went to ICL, the home producer. The market in Britain then was mainly about mainframes, and it was carved up approximately 50% each for ICL and IBM, though DEC with its minicomputers had quite a business too.

I stayed about 3 years at ICL, then moved to a smaller company that paid me more.

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Safe Harbor ripped and replaced with Privacy Shield in last-minute US-Europe deal

Alan Mackenzie
Alert

Fifteen years worth of illegally collected data.

I Can't hear anybody talking about having this deleted.

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Boffins unwrap bargain-basement processor that talks light and current

Alan Mackenzie
Unhappy

Thousands of picojoules....

Must you? It's Christmas!

(and several thousand best milliwishes to everybody, too!)

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Emacs gets new maintainer as Richard Stallman signs off

Alan Mackenzie
FAIL

RMS wasn't the maintainer, hasn't been for around a decade.

I'm afraid you've got it wrong, Reg.

The previous maintainer of Emacs was Stefan Monnier, who did a tremendous job. He stepped down from the maintainership on 21st September, after single-handedly managing this complex project for several years since his co-maintainer bowed out.

It's worth mentioning that John Wiegley, the new maintainer, has not up till now been prominent in the core Emacs project, but has contributed to external packages. He commands the respect of the current Emacs contributors.

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Connected kettles boil over, spill Wi-Fi passwords over London

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

100℃ ??

100℃ may be a fine cut off point at sea level. Move to a higher altitude, and the atmospheric pressure drops, and with it the boiling point.

For this idea to work properly, you'd need a barometer built in to the kettle, feeding it's output to the off switch.

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VW’s case of NOxious emissions: a tale of SMOKE and MIRRORS?

Alan Mackenzie
Pirate

...due to the actions of some lone shark at VW. ????

In the automotive industry, EVERYTHING is specified, designed, signed off by lots of senior managements, both before and during implementation. During, and after, implementation, every functionality is rigorously tested at several different levels (unit tests, ..., system tests). After all, a defect found after manufacturing, even if not dangerous, is expensive to fix.

There are lots of ECUs ("electronic control units") in a car, each performing a single function. partly for reliability, partly out of common sense. They communicate over CAN busses.

In the current scenario, VW's engine control ECU must be receiving lots of signals from other ECUs (e.g. a steering ECU) for which it has no legitimate need. Rather, it needs those signals for detecting the car's being tested. It is probable that some of these signals are properly private to a single ECU and wouldn't otherwise be broadcast on a CAN bus.

There will be several ECU development groups which will have to have co-operated over these illegitimate signals, lots of test engineers will have tested them. They will all be documented in design documents. The development of the cheating function will have consumed several man years of engineers' time.

This was NOT "due to the actions of some lone shark". VW's senior management could not possibly have been unaware of this development. However I expect, as is usual in these circumstances, management will deny all knowledge, get away with it, and manage to scapegoat a few unfortunate engineers. VW's ex-chief Winterkorn has already got away with a multi-million euro payoff.

It stinks.

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Handing over emails in an Irish server to the FBI will spark a global free-for-all, warns Microsoft

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

What I don't understand is .....

.... why the Irish legal system has not got involved. The data are stored within the Jurisdiction of Ireland, and Irish data protection laws apply to it, not USAmerican ones.

So why hasn't somebody taken out an injunction against the surrender of data in an Irish court?

Also, why haven't the USA legal officers simply gone through the usual channels (whatever they are) and made a request to the Irish authorities for the data?

I think there's a lot we don't know about this case.

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IBM tries to dodge $1bn sueball for deal won with 'ethical transgressions'

Alan Mackenzie
FAIL

For a payroll project?

One billion dollars, even of the Australian variety, for a payroll project?

Just how difficult can it be to pay the right amount of money to the right people at the right time, regularly? Even with a lot of people, gruesome tax laws, and so on?

Spaceprobes have been sent to Mars for less.

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You gotta be in it to win it: The Register presents its official Programming Competition

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

It's a bit vague, isn't it?

What language are these exercises to be coded in? Assembler (for speed), or what?

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Germans in ‘brains off, just follow orders' hospital data centre gaff

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Probably air con fear

> Although I've never managed to elicit exactly which illness that is.

"Der Kreislauf", surely? :-)

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YOU! DEGRASSE! It's time to make Pluto a proper planet again, says NASA boffin

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

This isn't science

Pluto is a particular lump of rock and ice in orbit around the Sun, and whether we classify it as a planet or a dwarf planet makes not the slightest difference to what it actually is. I'd be happier if the alleged scientists would just keep themselves out of such an inane and fruitless debate. Lets instead enjoy our increased knowledge about Pluto and the outer Solar system.

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UK.gov makes total pig's ear of attempt to legalise home CD ripping

Alan Mackenzie
Headmaster

"... you either buy a CD and rip or just buy digital ....".

Sorry, but that is ignorant. CDs _are_ digital. Vinyl records and cassette tapes are analog.

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Why OH WHY did Blighty privatise EVERYTHING?

Alan Mackenzie

Re: But public money...

> It would have made sense to keep infra-structure separate but to allow multiple operating companies to run competing services over them.

That would have been the worst of all worlds. Railways have a certain limited capacity, and there are only so many passengers. Typically, an (open) ticket is valid on any train on the route. If you had several companies operating the route, that ticket would only be valid on every nth train. That would have been dreadful for passengers.

> It would have made even more sense to have done the latter but split the infra-structure into regional companies so as to concentrate each management's attention on getting its own bit right.

Such fragmentation would have lead to horrendous interface problems at the boundaries. Infrastructure progress (new signalling systems, increasing speeds on long distance lines) would have been inhibited. Cross-"border" tickets would have become much dearer.

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That DRM support in Firefox you never asked for? It's here

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Good stuff

"Netflix and similar services need a way to protect their content."

Rubbish! Their "content" is not in any danger. And in so far as it is, the way to protect it is by backing it up, just like you do daily with your personal stuff at home. ;-)

What you really meant was Netflix et. al. want a way to RESTRICT people's use of "their content". That's an entirely different matter.

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Scot Nationalists' march on Westminster may be GOOD for UK IT

Alan Mackenzie

Re: "... would not seek another referendum ..."

"[Ian Hamilton,] the man who led the project to recover the Stone of Scone in 1950. By recover, I assume you mean steal?"

Not at all. To steal means "to permanently deprive the rightful owners of [property]". The Stone of Scone was looted in 1296 and reset[*] in Westminster Abbey. Who is the rightful owner of looted property? Nothing could have been further from the minds of the project members than theft - a short time later, Hamilton freely returned the Stone to the authorities.

[*] Scottish legal term. Look it up!

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Alan Mackenzie

"... would not seek another referendum ..."

You wrote: "After last September’s rejection of independence, the SNP said it would not seek another referendum for a generation."

This is entirely untrue. What the SNP, Alex Salmond I think, said (I don't have the exact quote) was something like "This is a once in a generation opportunity.". It was not a pledge, it was a warning: "If you vote no now, you'll not get another chance in a long time.".

Of course, Scotland did indeed vote no last September, to a large extent on the strength of "the VOW" for devolution-max announced by Gordon Brown on behalf of the unionist parties, and surprise, surprise, that now looks unlikely to materialise to any notable degree. As Ian Hamilton, the man who led the project to recover the Stone of Scone in 1950, once wrote: "I did not, do not and never will trust an Englishman in political office. Nice people as they are, they carry power as badly as a Scot carries drink.".

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NASA's Messenger craft SMASHES into Mercury: See ya later, alien crater

Alan Mackenzie

Ran out of fuel and crashed?

I don't understand that bit. If it ran out of fuel, surely it would stay in orbit round Mercury for ever, Mercury having no atmosphere to drag it down. We got past the notion of continual force being required for motion back in Isaac Newton's time.

Or did the controllers of the probe decide that they only had just enough fuel left to de-orbit it, and did that, probably according to plan?

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Audi TT: It's NOT a hairdresser-mobile, the dash is too flash

Alan Mackenzie
Happy

a combined consumption figure of 47.1mpg on the optional 20-inch wheels

Just think what the figure might be without this option.

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German court slaps down Uber's ride-sharing app

Alan Mackenzie

Re: No, you ignorant arse, not money…

"The problem is taxis live in a pampered world of regulated profit."

Oh, yes? You should try making your living as a taxi driver in Germany. On my last regular taxi ride, in Schweinfurt, the journey of ~5km usually took 10 minutes, for which I paid a mere 11 Euros (including tip). Given that it's going to have taken another 10 minutes for the taxi to get back to the town centre, that works out at around 30 Euros per hour in the best case, when the driver gets another passenger immediately.

From that <30 Euros per hour, the driver's got to buy and maintain his vehicle, pay for fuel and insurance and if he's lucky, there'll be a bit left over to pay his food and rent. No wonder they all work long, long days (and frequently nights). The service they provided was superb.

If these ratbags Uber get their way, it will be a race to the bottom. The already marginal livelihood of taxi drivers will be crushed out of existence by illegal competition from those who hold laws and social order in total contempt. I'm behind the German courts and taxi drivers all the way.

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Win Sun, lose Sun: How Larry's bet on old-world systems hurt Oracle

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Was this article paid by the world?

.... By the word, perhaps? Even the Reg doesn't have such pretensions.

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Wall St wolves tear chunk off Microsoft: There goes $30bn!

Alan Mackenzie

Price of everything, ....

Can we have a little less of the nonsense "....wiping $30bn off its VALUE", please? What has had that sum of money wiped of it is merely its (share)PRICE. Microsoft's value is its ability to produce nearly working software and (to a lesser extent) hardware, and this will be only very slightly different after that announcement (due to random variation).

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Windows 7 MARKED for DEATH by Microsoft as of NOW

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Year of Linux on the laptop

Everyone is indeed different. I've still got a desktop, but the last MS Windows I had was 3.1.

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Denmark BANNED from viewing UK furniture website in copyright spat

Alan Mackenzie

Protected?

Please, no more of this "protected" by copyright nonsense! The designs in question are not being protected - they are not in any danger. They are being _restricted_.

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Harassed Oracle employee wins case, cops huge legal bill

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

$224,000??

How on earth did her lawyers manage to run up such a huge bill? It seems like an "ordinary" sexual harrassment case, not a round of Apple vs. Samsung.

Even if the lawyers were charging $500/hour (which seems excessive to me), that would work out at ~450 hours of work. What, precisely, did her lawyers spend several hundred hours doing?

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Nokia: OK, Q1 has been weak, but there's 'underlying' profit

Alan Mackenzie
WTF?

ASP? non-IFRS?

Any chance of an article written in English?

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Six things a text editor must do - or it's a one-way trip to the trash

Alan Mackenzie
Go

Speaking of Emacs, ....

,... Emacs 24.3 has just been released. It satisfies quite a few, but not all, of Verity's criteria.

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The universe speaks: 'It's time to get off your rock!'

Alan Mackenzie
FAIL

Re: Call the sub-editor!

Not forgetting "global warning wouldn't have been such a major issue any more.", too. Aren't global warnings exactly what the article is about?

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Wind farms create local warming

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

Re: Earth's Rotation?

On the contrary, the Earth's tides, generated by the Moon (and Sun), are causing the Moon gradually to move away from the Earth. It's being pulled much the same way as a rope is, when swung around ones head.

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Ye Bug List

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

Missing word in the comments guidelines.

"We don't the forums to turn nasty and uncivil." is missing the word "want". Please fix it!

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Big stars give birth to little stars in new WISE pic

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

442 interlocking tiles?

That's a square, 21 x 21 tiles, with one left over. I wonder how that fits in. Hmm.

Or, maybe the tiles are "rectangular" with an array of 26 x 17 tiles.

Seems wierd.

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EU recording copyright extension 'will cost €1bn'

Alan Mackenzie

Sheet music goes out of copyright 70 years after the composer's death. There are some exceptional rules about "scholarly editions" in some places (Germany), but basically, 70 years and that's it. After that time you may photocopy even recent editions. If you want to play a Mahler symphony, download the parts from http://imslp.org/.

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Insulin pump attack prompts call for federal probe

Alan Mackenzie
Boffin

@cornz1 - The basics of diabetic control

I'm sorry Mr/s. Cornz, but you could hardly be more wrong on just about everything you've written.

The diabetic herself decides, from day to day, even from hour to hour, how much insulin to inject/pump. This varies around an "ideal" dose, and depends massively on what is eaten, degree of exercise, degree of stress, etc. The amount of variation can easily be as much as 50%, or even more whilst suffering an infectious disease.

The doctor does NOT decide how much insulin should be given, except by giving individual guidelines.

The whole idea of an insulin pump is for a diabetic to be able to adjust the dose of insulin easily and rapidly, and to give boosts just before (or after) meals.

I sincerely hope you never have cause to discover these things for yourself.

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Digital singles all the rage in Europe

Alan Mackenzie

Digital?

For crying out loud! Please don't say "digital" when you mean "online". CDs are digital too, remember.

For an analog recorded medium, you have to go back to records or cassette tapes. These media, for some reason, don't appear in your graphs.

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Google urges background tab websites to throttle themselves

Alan Mackenzie
Alert

Banking on good luck

You do banking with 150 tabs open? Is that wise?

Hopefully not with MS's browser!

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Mac OS X Lion debuts in July as $29.99 upgrade

Alan Mackenzie
Trollface

A new Mac capability

I didn't know a gang of Macs could shred disk images. You learn something new every day.

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