* Posts by Alan Mackenzie

79 posts • joined 11 Nov 2008


Bloke thrown in the cooler for eight years after 3D-printing gun to dodge weapon ban

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Because

So, in the USA, there's a right to own nuclear bombs, is there? Surely that is covered by the right to bear arms too.

Now, hold on. This may shock you... Oracle allegedly juices its cloud sales with threats and shoddy on-prem support

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Reap What You Sew

No, you _wear_ what you sew.

You reap what you sow.

Brit hacker hired by Liberian telco to nobble rival now behind bars

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Trial in the UK

The crime was committed in England, even if the effect was felt elsewhere. Therefore the English courts, correctly, had jurisdiction.

ICO has pumped almost £2.5m and 36 staff into its political data probe – but only 2 are techies

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Plenty of ways to interpret this

At least the said officer will be well protected against ionising radiation.

Microsoft: Come and play in our Windows SandBox

Alan Mackenzie


"Nothing is persisted".


Persist is an INTRANSITIVE verb. How about "Nothing persists"? Shorter and much, much better!

Remember Misco? Staff win protective award at employment tribunal

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Taxpayer?

Yes. The ex-employees of that firm are taxpayers too, and one of the things they paid tax for, along with millions of others, was a sort of "insurance" against unlawful dismissal by their employer.

That said, there was no mention of any sanctions to be taken against the ex-directors. That is worrying. Will they be free to do the whole thing all over again?

Expanding Right To Be Forgotten slippery slope to global censorship, warn free speech fans

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Extending national sovereignty is a terrible idea...

> This isn't International Law here. This is attempting to extend one particular country's law over other country's, in a de facto sovereignty grab.

No, not at all. Compare with the law of confidentiality: if you leave the country and divulge secrets somewhere else, then come home again, you'll be liable for penalties, whether civil or criminal. Is that also a sovereighty grab? If not, what's the difference?

PPI pushers now need consent to cold-call you

Alan Mackenzie

With a "British or Scottish" accent

With this sort of ignorant arrogance, who can wonder that around half of Scotland wants to revoke the Acts of Union.

Pluto is more alive than Mars, huff physicists who are still not over dwarf planet's demotion

Alan Mackenzie

Stop this playground spat!

Pluto is whatever it is regardless of whether one calls it a planet or a dwarf planet or anything else. Who really cares? It's a unique and fascinating object. So, all you astronomers, get out there, study and explore it!

Big Tech turns saboteur to cripple new California privacy law in private

Alan Mackenzie

Re: 'My hosts file is currently 12,492 lines long'

AC. there's a lot you can do about the slurpers of your online purchases: stop buying online! Go down to your local shop, like you've always done, up until recently, and buy things in cash. It's not difficult.

SUSE and Microsoft give enterprise Linux an Azure tune-up

Alan Mackenzie

At what cost?

We can be sure that if performance has gone up, and store usage gone down, by around a quarter in both cases, there will be some cost to be paid. Some features of Linux will be unavailable, or the security will be down, or something like that. Why didn't the writer of this article find this out and tell us?

Astroboffins 'sprinkle iron filings' over remnant supernova

Alan Mackenzie

Slack language

The supernova did not "explode in 1987". That was merely the date the supernova was seen. The actual explosion happened around 168,031 years ago.

The glorious uncertainty: Backup world is having a GDPR moment

Alan Mackenzie

Serve them right!

How come this is being presented as though it were a new problem? There's been a data protection act in Britain since, since, ..... was it 1983? I can't remember any more. That was 35 years ago, and it also contained the right to have false or outdated data deleted.

Organisations and manufacturers have been arrogantly violating this legislation for decades, since respecting it would be expensive and inconvenient, and the legislation was toothless.

Now I look forward to massive penalties to be suffered by those who've been holding unlawful backups for all these decades. It won't happen though. It never does with data protection. :-(

Openreach consults on shift of 16 MEEELLION phone lines to VoIP by 2025

Alan Mackenzie

I've been changed to VoIP, and the change most definitely isn't transparent.

Previously you just plugged a 'phone into the wall socket, and it worked.

Now, you have to buy a router, you have to _configure_ it, for goodness sake, and you have to plug the telephone into that. You also have to pay for electricity to run the router, 24 hours/day, 365.25 days/year. I doubt the telecoms firms give a fig about the excess CO2 they will cause to be generated.

To say nothing of your 'phone not working when the electricity in your house fails. Great for emergency calls.

AWS won serverless – now all your software are kinda belong to them

Alan Mackenzie


"Serverless"? "Lambda"?

What on earth is the article's author talking about? There's little intrinsic evidence that (s)he understands this h{im,er}self.

You have GNU sense of humor! Glibc abortion 'joke' diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed

Alan Mackenzie

Re: info

I disagree with you profoundly. Info is likely the most useful and user friendly doc system there is. What it isn't is beginner friendly; being a sophisticated system, it takes time and effort to learn and get used to. Examples of its features include typing "i" followed by a word to look up that word in the index/indices, moving directly to the page where it is defined; "u" to go to the heierarchically containing page. There are hyperlinks and search facilities.

Indeed, it is hard to believe that Info is older than HTML, given how many of its features are missing from HTML.

OK, this time it's for real: The last available IPv4 address block has gone

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Compatibility

128 bits for an IP address? No wonder nobody wants it. That's more addresses per person on the planet than there are cells in her/his body with a lot left over. You can be sure somebody, somewhere, somehow, has worked out how to use these redundant bits abusively.

I can remember the 32-bit IP address of my ISP. Comes in handy for connecting when there's no DNS available. No way would I be able to memorise a 128-bit address.

How many addresses do we actually need? Clearly 4G of them aren't enough. But ~100 addresses per person would surely do. That's an extra 8 bits. Add on a further 8 bits for a bit of slack, and we'd end up with 48-bit addresses, what the 6 in IPv6 suggests.

Who on earth thought that 128-bit addresses was a good idea?

BT pushes ahead with plans to switch off telephone network

Alan Mackenzie

Who's counting carbon dioxide emissions?

Yes, I've been through this process already, in Germany.

When I last changed my setup, I was informed that VOIP was all that was available. That means that tens of millions of households have to leave routers uselessly burning electricity 24 hours a day, on the off-chance somebody might call in the next few minutes. That must be quite a few power stations worth of juice.

And then there's the degradation in setting up. Previously, you just had to buy a handset, plug it into the wall, and it worked. Now you've got to _configure_ something, namely a router. No problem for me, but it "earns" the telecom compainies a fair bit from those who can't do it themselves. And those handsets weren't, in the main, crackable over the telephone network. Who'd say the same about their router, these days?

WhatsApp agrees not to share user info with the Zuckerborg… for now

Alan Mackenzie

It'll be a win for the data protection of UK customers when ....

... the responsible executive at Facebook spends a couple of years in a UK gaol.

Until that's a possibility, they'll continue to giggle at what passes for "data protection".

Thomas the Tank Engine lobotomised by fat (remote) controller

Alan Mackenzie

Just as a matter of interest, the U-Bahn lines 2 and 3 in Nuremberg are entirely automated - there is not even a figurehead "driver" in the train. The doors are opened and closed on a timer. There are sensors to detect anybody falling off the platform at stations.

It works well. For example, short trains run every three minutes rather than longer trains every six, given that there is no shortage of drivers. It still doesn't prevent the trains being sardine cans, though, in the rush hour.

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

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Errm ...

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

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.

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?

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.

Alan Mackenzie


> "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?

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

Alan Mackenzie

> ".... 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!

Microsoft promises free terrible coffee every month you use Edge

Alan Mackenzie

International customers?

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

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

Alan Mackenzie

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).

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

Alan Mackenzie

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.

'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!

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

Alan Mackenzie

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.

'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?).

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.

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.

Uncle Sam tells Verizon and worker unions to settle spat

Alan Mackenzie

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.

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.

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

Alan Mackenzie

Fifteen years worth of illegally collected data.

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

Boffins unwrap bargain-basement processor that talks light and current

Alan Mackenzie

Thousands of picojoules....

Must you? It's Christmas!

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

Emacs gets new maintainer as Richard Stallman signs off

Alan Mackenzie

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.

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

Alan Mackenzie

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.

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

Alan Mackenzie

...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.

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

Alan Mackenzie

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.

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

Alan Mackenzie

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.

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

Alan Mackenzie

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

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

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? :-)

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

Alan Mackenzie

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.

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

Alan Mackenzie

"... 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.

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.

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.

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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