* Posts by Paul Stimpson

81 posts • joined 30 Apr 2007

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Five ways Apple can fix the iPhone, but won't

Paul Stimpson

Re: Sound

I'm not sure I understand how that argument stands up. Sounds like they're saying "You can plug in better hardware so we're going to give you junk." If they gave us something better as standard, how would that change the ability to plug in something external if the user wanted even better? It sounds like they're kind of showing contempt for their customers in a "You probably couldn't tell the difference anyway so we might as well put more profit in our pockets" way.

A number of years ago, I was given a broken hard drive iPod which I fixed. I never liked the sound of it to the point where I bought a replacement motherboard off eBay because I assumed it must be faulty as I couldn't imagine it being that bad by design. Sadly, the replacement was either identically faulty or they were all that bad. That device's sole purpose was to play music and it had no option for an add-on DAC so what is Apple's excuse for that one?

I can truthfully say I've never heard an Apple device the sound of which I have liked. My Sony MDR-1000x headphones fed over Bluetooth with APT-X kick every one of them I've heard round the room. They don't sound great fresh out of the box on a shop demo but, after about 40 hours of gentle wearing in, they really start to shine. I thoroughly recommend them to you. I'm eagerly waiting for the arrival of Android Oreo which will bring Sony's high-rate lossless LDAC codec to the pairing.

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Guess who's hiking their prices again? Come on, it's as easy as 123 Reg

Paul Stimpson

I used to keep some of my domains with Supanames. The price was right and the service decent. They were bought by 123-Reg and it was downhill from there. The reliability was awful with more outages every month that I previously had in a year and terrible customer support who didn't even do me the courtesy of reading the tickets before sending me non-applicable canned responses.

I moved my 123 domain hosting to Gandi.net and the services I host myself to Bitfolk.com. All is well with the world again. I whole-heartedly recommend them to you. I have no connection with Gandi or Bitfolk other than being a satisfied customer.

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Brace yourselves, Virgin Media prices are going up AGAIN, people

Paul Stimpson

When I started with Virgin, I had their 50 Mbps service. It was really good. Until FTTC came to town, relatively recently, the best you could get from ADSL in this area was around 1Mbps so Virgin was really the only choice.

Over the years, the headline speed, and price, of my Virgin connection has crept up. I was also forced to take one of their Puma-based Superhub 3 modems when they told me the old modem that I had refused to let them replace because it was solid and I'd not heard good things about the Superhub would finally stop working if I didn't change it. Things have gone downhill ever since.

I'm getting 4 times the "speed" but 20% of the throughput on encrypted traffic now. Looks like the increased traffic management, which the person who forced me to take the new modem promised there wouldn't be any more of, is throttling everything it can't inspect down to 10 Mbps. Another price rise is just adding insult to injury.

I used to love IDNet when I could have ADSL that worked and I think, now I can have FTTC, I may be rejoining them soon. Their customer service is superb and there is a thriving and happy user community. Virgin just aren't giving me value any more.

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Virgin Media mulls ditching 1 in 3 UK facilities, starts £20m spend audit

Paul Stimpson

The thing is, prices have been rising. The amount I pay has been cheeping up for years. Until recently, when fibre came to my area, I lived in the part of town where ADSL services topped out at 1 meg and Virgin was the only option for anything that could be described as high-speed.

The price rises were justified by upgrades to my speed but each upgrade came with more traffic management, preventing me from using the speed for anything but a select range of activities including, strangely enough, testing the speed of my connection at popular speed test sites. With my new whizz-bang 200 Mbps connection, for the activities I perform, I now get less usable speed than I did on my original 50 Mbps service. I no longer consider that I am getting value from them and I can have a lower speed FTTC package from a premium ISP that will give me more useable bandwidth for less. It's time for a change.

"...this investment is not working hard enough for everyone at Virgin Media." The people it isn't working for will be the beancounters then...

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Canadian sniper makes kill shot at distance of 3.5 KILOMETRES

Paul Stimpson

Re: @patientone

Add to this the first rule of armed combat, "If the enemy is in range, so are you." (if you have equivalent weapons)

Also, "If the enemy has more capable weapons than you, them being out of range doesn't mean you're safe." example, You have a 5.56 assault rifle, the enemy has a .300 Winchester Magnum sniper rifle and is 1000m away. You stand no hope of hitting them but you're toast.

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Manufacturers reject ‘no deal’ Brexit approach

Paul Stimpson

Britain has always been the petulant kid in the EU playground that didn't want to have to obey the same rules as everyone else and threatened to take their ball home if they didn't get their way. Well, we've all seen that game and, eventually, everyone else gets pissed and tells them to bugger off and take their ball. When they come back, cap in hand, to rejoin the game, they will lose all their special exemptions to the rules, as will we.

This is absolutely the worst time we could invoke Article 50. With the French General and German Federal elections this year, we won't even know who we're negotiating with for at least 6 months. That leaves us with 18 months to get a deal sorted. In order to make sure the 2 years is up before the next UK General election, presumably so the next government can't step in and kill Brexit at the last minute, Theresa May seems to be doing everything in her power to sabotage it.

The EU don't want their club to fall apart. With the French and Dutch exit movements trying to gain traction, the EU will want to demonstrate to those countries that this is a bad idea and the easiest way to do that will be to show them what a crap deal Britain got.

The UK is a member of the WTO under the auspices of the EU, rather than in its own right. The WTO have indicated that the UK won't be removed from the WTO and have to reapply if we leave the EU. However, they indicated that the schedule of tariff rates will need to be negotiated with the other 168 countries. This isn't going to happen overnight and is likely to be from a point of weakness so the UK quite possibly won't get as good a deal we have as EU members.

I can't see how this can go well for us.

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It's happening! It's happening! W3C erects DRM as web standard

Paul Stimpson

The thing that concerns me about EME is that it might be possible to use it to "protect" random assets on websites rather than just "streams." I can foresee companies like my bank holding a meeting where someone says "If we use EME on all the assets on our internet banking website, we can stop people cloning them to use on phishing sites." I don't find it hard to imagine legal and branding departments in large companies wanting to use EME for all elements of their corporate branding online to stop their logo being used in any way they don't like and insisting any site that uses their branding in any form of news also protect it.

Next thing I know, another site stops working on my open source machines. It doesn't matter that the copy of Firefox or Chrome/Chromium I have supports EME on Linux, if the particular plugin a site uses isn't available on my OS then the browser doesn't support it here.

Microsoft have a history of briefing large organisations (movie and TV content producers) that allowing the playback of their content on open source software is unsafe and will lead to their content being stolen because the OS and software are open source and any part of them could be compromised. At the time, this was clearly beneficial to Silverlight and their server products.

I'm not a tunnel-vision penguin-fanboy. I use both Windows and Linux in my business and at home; Each has its strengths and list of available software. I have helped a number of people embrace Linux when it fitted their needs. I've seen a lot of people invest serious numbers of hours in improving open source software and I think the competition if gives to proprietary vendors has improved the quality of both camps' offerings. I don't want to see EME used as a back-door way to hold the adoption of OSS back by denying access to things or functionality from users.

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Modular dud drags LG to first loss in six years

Paul Stimpson

I have a G5 too

I love my G5. I'm never going back to Samsung again. I found it really hard to find a phone because I wanted a memory card slot and that seems to be an unreasonable desire if you want a superphone these days. I also have the HiFi-Plus (audio DAC "Friend"). It is stunning, particularly when playing 96 kHz, 24-bit FLAC files. With the supplied set of headphones, it kicks the living poop out of my friend's Bose £300 APT-X bluetooth headset.

Down side of the HiFi-Plus: It makes the phone about 6mm longer and it no longer fits in the case, hence the broken screen I just suffered when I dropped it unprotected. Also the battery consumption of the DAC and headphone amp are something else. Book figure is 220 mA and listening to music comes in at about 1% of the battery per song. Keeps your hands nice and warm in the winter though. The DAC shuts down when the headphones are unplugged and it doesn't appear to have a negative effect on the battery life when it's not being used.

The phone UI is fast and fluid, with none of the crap and bloat that characterized my time with Samsung phones. It's an Android Nougat phone and has the new security features like optional boot locking to prevent the phone being hacked if someone finds it in a turned off state and tries to turn it on. The screen is excellent but a little fragile due to the curve at the top exposing the glass if you drop it. The fingerprint reader is fast, well-places and accurate. The three cameras are very good and the camera app is one of the most comprehensive I ever saw.

My verdict: Highly recommended, would buy again.

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Oh Britain. Worried your routers will be hacked, but won't touch the admin settings

Paul Stimpson

Most consumer ISPs and providers of any turnkey service have a problem: A significant number of their customers are of limited financial means and buy based on the advertising of how cheap they can have broadband for. If you're on a contractor daily rate, you are quite possibly buying on quality rather than price and can afford a premium router. I have many friends on zero hour contracts who are struggling to get by and for whom buying an expensive router isn't an option.

For ISPs engaged in the race to provide "the cheapest broadband in Britain" there is obvious pressure to keep their subscriber base up and overheads down. They don't want the support overhead of large numbers of support calls. Some, such as IIRC Sky, make it a condition of service that the subscriber uses their supplied router because the remote admin capabilities speed up fault resolution which, for the most part, gives shorter support calls and happier average customers. In this competitive sector, you just don't want customers writing all over Mumsnet/Facebook/Twitter how difficult it was to get your broadband working.

I bought myself a Netgear R8000 router to replace my aged one and the new-user experience was one I wish would be replicated by all makers. The router was turned on and connected to my broadband. The first time I opened a web browser and accessed a non-https site, I was redirected to the router setup web app where it looked at the incoming network to check if it was behind another router and set itself up with sensible defaults for the environment. I was then forced to change the admin password. It then invited me to change my wireless SSIDs and passwords. It was so easy.

The R8000 is a premium router with a lot of flash to put software in. It has room for all this stuff as well as being a good candidate for open source firmware. With the pressure makers must be under to sell bargain-basement ISPs their devices in bulk at the cheapest possible price, I'm not holding my breath for the day they start shipping more capable devices rather than cutting costs for something that the average customer won't notice, unless they are made to build to a security standard by law.

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Xmas software update knackered US Customs computer systems

Paul Stimpson
WTF?

Change freeze

My customers all have change freezes in place from the middle of December until at least the end of the first week in January. Similar, shorter change freezes cover the Easter break. No system or network changes, other than emergency fault remediation, are allowed during these freezes.

Who on earth does major change work on a mission-critical production system during a period when the availability of your own people may be restricted and it's likely that your vendor's A-team (or possibly anyone) won't be available in their support department to help you pick up the pieces if it all goes horribly wrong?

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SpamTorte botnet gets turbo-charged

Paul Stimpson

Re: Oh Dear...

You mean they're not real? They said I've become a lesbian and all these hot girls want me.

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User couldn't open documents or turn on PC, still asked for reference as IT expert

Paul Stimpson

Re: Bad references

Another good one is too much praise. "He's amazing. The best employee we ever had." If a reference is too good, most people start to wonder why you're so keen to make sure the person gets the job so you can be rid of them.

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Encryption backdoors? It's an ongoing dialogue, say anti-terror bods

Paul Stimpson

"It's not going to be resolved with this administration ... The American people will have to weigh in ... The problem is big and broad..."

In other words... "We're going to keep priming the press with news stories on how terrible tech companies are for 'helping terrorists' until the average member of the public believes it and they shout down the experts so the laws we want get passed."

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Paul Stimpson

Re: What could be done to counteract terrorist groups

People did vote like that. My mum voted leave because she was convinced it would stop Syrian refugees coming to the UK stowed away in trucks. No amounts of facts or logic would convince her that what was in the Daily Mail was manifestly untrue.

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UK nixes Land Registry sale

Paul Stimpson

Re: Sensible

AH, so this explains why there is a £75 "retrieval" fee for the deeds of my home when I mortgage is finally paid off but the bank will "store them for free" if I wish them to hang onto them for "security."

I really don't like the idea that there are no ownership documents for my largest asset that, should the Land Registry be he victim of some cyber-crime, could be called upon to resolve the matter if my home suddenly and mysteriously belongs to someone from Estonia who spells their name with 0s and xs...

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123-Reg has another PITSTOP

Paul Stimpson

Supanames - We miss you

I used to be a customer of bargain provider Supanames. I never had a single outage or a day's trouble with them. Then they were bought by 123-Reg.

Since becoming a customer of 123, outages have been more and more frequent. It's now a weekly event that my email credentials are rejected and I can't access my mail. They don't reply to customers on Twitter and their support is dismal. The last time I raised a ticket I got a response with an irrelevant document attached that made clear the person hadn't granted me the courtesy of reading what I wrote.

One of my users interacted with them without my knowledge and they told her to change from POP mail to IMAP so, when her credentials became compromised one day and they arbitrarily deleted the contents of her mailbox, several important emails were lost because local copies no longer existed.

I do not recommend this company.

I'm on a long deal and I'm kicking myself for being away and having missed the renewal date to migrate the services last time. I won't miss it the next one.

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Label your cables: A cautionary tale from the server room

Paul Stimpson

Policy

We have a policy here:

We make clear to the users that we have no interest in belittling them or getting them into trouble; We want to get the problem fixed as quickly as we can as we need user honesty to do that. If you call us and, when asked, tell us truthfully what happened/what you did then you will be treated nicely and offered honest advice. In most cases, this takes disciplinary action off the table. If you disrespect us by ignoring that advice or wasting our time by hiding facts you should have known might be relevant, we will be far less understanding and may seek disciplinary resolution for what you did.

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Brit censors endure 10-hour Paint Drying movie epic

Paul Stimpson

Re: I doubt the BBFC have a frame differencer to hand,

They might have a product akin-to "Flash Gordon" or "HD Gordon" to check for photosensitive epilepsy issues that might affect their staff. I don't know if that can be set to detect individual flash images.

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Paul Stimpson

Re: Subliminals

How about an extra long version of something that would really grate after a while like "Je ne Regrette Rien" in about 15 different languages, all of which they will have to find a translator for to make sure the soundtrack doesn't contain any obscenities in any language.

Prize for the most obscure language people can find...

It would be so tempting to put one verse in a made up language like Na'vi to make them try to find someone who could identify and translate it.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller special: The WHO bacon sarnie of death

Paul Stimpson

If you want to shift your creation to the next level of culinary lushness and from the WHO's heath-concern list to the UN Nuclear Weapons list, may I suggest adding a smidgen of Dr.Burnorium's Psycho Juice to the sauce? The Chipotle Ghost Pepper should do nicely.

Disclosure: I have no connection to this company other than being a satisfied customer.

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Furious LastPass fans fear password wrangler's fate amid LogMeIn's gobble

Paul Stimpson

I just looked at 1Password. It looked quite good except there is no Linux version (I need support on Windows, Linux and Android to cover all the machines I use regularly). I asked if they had a Linux version on their roadmap and they responded "Thank you for your interest in this, but we don't normally discuss future plans."

I'm not inclined to enter into a trust relationship with a company that won't be open and honest about something as basic as whether or not they are contemplating supporting a platform I want to use it on.

Will be looking at Keepass and Password Safe next.

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Linus Torvalds drops F-bomb on NVIDIA

Paul Stimpson

I can only speak for myself here. Having been a Windows administrator for nearly 20 years and a Linux admin for around 10, I switched my small business from Windows to Linux several years ago.

My experience has been that, in our applications, Linux takes much less looking after than Windows and we get to spend more time doing things that make us money. In addition, there's no need to spend money on anti-virus products. We now use one OS across all our desktops and data centre servers. I even have Linux on my mother's home PC and she gets on fine with it.

The largest thorns in our side are the closed source programs we deploy: The binary nVidia drivers and Flash are implicated in over 90% of desktop crashes we experience. We consider the nVidia driver to be one of the most unreliable pieces of software we have and it's been our experience that it tends to fail under heavy load, particularly if Flash is in use. I don't remember the last time one of our ATI desktops crashed. Unfortunately, my main machine is a desktop-replacement and doesn't have a removable GPU otherwise that nVidia card would have come out a long time ago. We now consider "nVidia inside" as a negative when making purchase decisions.

I do care about the about the freedom of the source, not from an ideological point of view but because I think it makes better sense to work with software which lets me contact the developers, look at it myself or pay someone else to than with programs that are closed and I am at the mercy of a development team. As I said, we are a small business, yet I've had many productive interactions with the developers of the software we use that have made a positive difference to us. In contrast, my largest customer has tens of thousands of Windows licenses and even they can't get hold of the team that developed the code or feed in change requests.

We do have one Windows machine left (a dual boot with Linux) for dealing with firmware updaters for some of our customer hardware. This machine was recently updated to Windows 7 and, in my opinion, 7 is the best desktop version of Windows to date. However, the Linux desktop experience is now so good that we're not tempted to switch back at this time. I'm not saying that Linux is the right choice for everyone but I still believe it was, and still is, the right one for us.

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Lesser-spotted Raspberry Pi FINALLY dished up

Paul Stimpson
Happy

Multi-player Elite

The closest thing I've seen to Elite on a modern platform is Vendetta Online. It's pay to play. It's multiplayer and it is what I wish Elite had been :)

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Trustwave to escape 'death penalty' for SSL skeleton key

Paul Stimpson
Boffin

This kind of thing has been going on for a while

Two years ago, when I was on Blackberry, I stayed at a cheap hotel, owned by a well-known chain, in Southampton. I connected my Blackberry to the free wifi offering and it instantly popped up a whole-screen critical security warning that that SSL fingerprint of the Blackberry server didn't match the certificate RIM had issued and warned me that all my traffic was at risk of interception if I allowed the connection.

I don't know if a regular browser would have picked up this MitM attack as I don't know who the signer of the bogus certificate was. I really think Mozilla and Chrome need plugins to detect dodgy/changed certificates.

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BlackBerry stumbles to feet, full of apologies

Paul Stimpson
FAIL

I'm a mobile worker and for a lot of the day, my mobile device is my office. I know things go wrong and I don't hold that against anyone. The thing I'm unhappy with is that their failover didn't function and they didn't have a working disaster recovery plan.

"Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested." From this I would infer that one or more of the following could be true: 1) The testing wasn't adequate. 2) RIM's change control isn't being properly enforced, somebody changed something after the tests and didn't retest. 3) Some resource the failover required failed, their monitoring wasn't up to the job and they didn't notice until it was too late.

I don't really care which of the above is true; Whichever it is, it makes me question the quality of their systems and procedures. The lack of a prompt and efficient DR plan kicking in negates the trust RIM had built up with me over the last 4 years.

I came out of contract last week and I'm due a device upgrade. The Blackberry Torch just got removed from the short list. I'm just hanging on for the HTC Sensation Beats Edition to become available on my carrier. If that isn't going to happen, I will either go for the regular Sensation or the Samsung Galaxy S2.

So long RIM and thanks for all the fish.

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BlackBerry BBM, email downed in epic FAIL

Paul Stimpson
Facepalm

Unimpressive performance from RIM

@David 155: Most traffic from my Blackberry proxies via their server. On the up side I believe this means that everything I do is protected by their encryption if I'm on public wifi or a dodgy mobile network. On the down side, it means I suffer a greater impact if they stuff their server or network infrastructure.

"... due to the upgrade of the BBM backend to handle external Android apps in a few months time..."

Please tell me they didn't... A wise man once told me of system maintenance and DIY, always do major work on Friday night or Saturday morning as you've got the whole weekend to fix it before Monday morning if it all goes horribly wrong.

Does anyone know if this affected BES (Enterprise) customers (who have their own servers) too or was it just BIS (the general public running on RIM's own servers) that got the shaft?

In light of this and other things RIM have done recently... My next stop will be Android.

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Windows 8 secure boot would 'exclude' Linux

Paul Stimpson

Apple have messed with their firmware for a long time to prevent stuff they don't like running. With them, however, it's old versions of their own OS that are the enemy. Every time a new version of OS-X comes out a few months later boxes leaving the factory come with new firmware that won't let you install any OS-X older than the current version.The first Macs that will only run Lion and higher have just been spotted in the wild.

I'm a certified engineer for the Avid professional video editing platform. Avid is engineered and tested to provide guaranteed performance and due to the level of testing, Lion isn't a certified platform to run it on yet. Not-certified = no support from Avid if it doesn't work. This is a royal pain in the arse for the Avid channel as there's at least a month every time a new OS-X appears when it's not possible to buy hardware that can be used for a certified install until Avid's testing program and any bug fixes catch up.

So far, I've not found a competent Windows PE environment that MS roll (all our PE discs are from 3rd parties [thanks BART] so won't be signed). We use PE and Linux discs extensively in preparation, imaging and fault finding/disaster recovery of machines. To lose those would be a real blow to us. I assume this would also mean it wouldn't be possible to slipstream drivers into older Windows CDs any more (like I've done to help my friends upgrade from Vista to XP) when the XP CD suffered some fatal exception, like not being able to see the HDD controller or drives.

I don't think MS are that worried about people like me running Linux on premium hardware. What I think they would like is to make it difficult for the Linux community to install it on ordinary people's budget machines and thus slow down its spread. We've already seen this kind of behaviour with Windows Vista and 7 putting the immovable MFT right at the end of the boot drive so Windows can't shrink the boot partition to create a dual boot and if a 3rd party tool is used Windows becomes unbootable and needs repair

Another possibility is that this is politics in the mould of Britain's New Labour: They suggest something so bad that everybody is up in arms then they offer a "compromise" (read "what they really wanted to do in the first place but would have been unpopular.") People are so relieved the first proposal has gone they swallow the new one without a big fight and the proposer gets what they really wanted. If this is the case, what are they really up to?

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Dropbox security fubar infuriates customers

Paul Stimpson
Coat

Failbox

First they admit their staff can access our files (but won't because the rules say not... honest) and now they open password-free access to my data for a night. I'm off...

...Mine's the one with the Spideroak logo on the pocket.

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Movie-goer punts 3D-to-2D cinema specs

Paul Stimpson
Thumb Up

Great for special needs

My kids have autism and the family is active in the local Autistic Society. A fair number of the children can't cope with 3D movies but some others can. I was about to make a pair of these glasses for someone to try and fix the problem that one of their kids wants to see 3D and the other doesn't. Their whole family will be able to go and see the same film.

I agree it's not for everyone but this does solve a real problem we have.

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TomTom sorry for giving customer driving data to cops

Paul Stimpson

The TomTom "Live" experience

TomTom collect anonymous data about the speed of users of their "Live" online navigation products. IIRC I was asked by the device for consent for this the first time I used it. Older devices will do this through a Bluetooth tether to the user's phone and the new, higher-end devices have a mobile data module and SIM card inside and don't need a phone.

If you have one of the "Live" devices, the data collected from other users provides you with a number of benefits:

1) "IQ Routes" (what happened in the past). Route planning is done using historical data of drivers' speeds on these roads at this time of day rather than the posted speed limit. This means my TomTom knows, for example, that using Hanger Lane to get to Park Royal is a good idea at 1900 on Saturday but a really dumb idea at 0800 on Monday.

2) "HD Traffic" (what is happening now). If a user is travelling at significantly less than the speed limit on a stretch of road that stretch is automatically added to the traffic information as a delay and propagated to other users so their units can replan round the hold up. If I drive through an area with a hold up marked and I make good time, that delay is automatically deleted from the traffic information. This information also serves to provide more accurate arrival time estimates ("There's nothing we want to call a traffic jam but your journey is going to take 4 minutes longer than it would on clear roads.)

Overall I believe these are positive things for me.

The allegation here I believe is that TomTom sold the HD Traffic data to a party involved in law enforcement who used it to work out where people tend to do more than the speed limit so they could put speed traps there, not to point the finger at individual users. This still makes me think badly of TomTom and I hope they won't repeat this behaviour or will modify the data so any readings above the speed limit will report at the speed limit (so if someone does 80 on the motorway the speed will be reported as 70)

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Cute download Firefox, 'treat a cub' vid downed by IE glitch

Paul Stimpson
Badgers

Sounds like an IP camera

I work with IP cameras from the likes of Axis and Sanyo and most of them use IE ActiveX controls to control the camera and render the video. I'm guessing the cameras in the enclosure are from a manufacturer that works in this way and they've been forced to use IE to get the video into a PC then have re-encoded it for distribution.

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Microsoft sends IE9 'do-not-track' tech to W3C

Paul Stimpson
Boffin

Will any of these approaches make a real difference?

I think savvy users with strong opinions on tracking will generally find ways to stop it with whatever combination of settings and plugins they find effective. My first impression is that the downsides of these mechanisms will be felt by people like my mum.

My mum likes the Internet and has absorbed enough to know not to click links in emails or download software from pop-ups on web pages. I've moved her over to Firefox but would never dream of switching cookie control to "Ask me". She doesn't understand the technology well enough for me to explain when to say "allow", "allow for session" or "block" and I'm sure it wouldn't be long before I got a call saying X website doesn't work any more because she's said "block" to some cookie it needed. She will be at the mercy of the default (or my) settings. If I didn't tell her then I doubt she would come across the "click here to enable" button for do-not-track.

I don't think any of these approaches is perfect. Google's seems to rely of the advertiser being a member of one of the self-regulation schemes (I'm sure every advertiser has joined... not). Mozilla's tells everyone but I'm not holding my breath for offshore advertising networks to take any notice. Microsoft's system relies on block lists (of which I'm sure the majority of users will just go with the MS default). I can just imagine all the pressure from large MS customers saying "We're reputable advertisers and our model isn't strictly 'behavioural'; We shouldn't be on the default list. BTW, have you met Lisa? She's in charge of our Linux server evaluation project. We're deciding on which OS to use for our next generation platform."

Will these new rules apply if a US company uses an advertising network based in Guatemala? If a US brand outsources its website to another company incorporated in the Camens? To visitors to US websites if their IP address geolocates outside the USA?

I'm just asking questions. I don't pretend to have the answers.

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BA slams stupid security checks

Paul Stimpson

Consistency would be nice...

@Owen Sweeney

I can better that...

I had 3 boxes of batteries confiscated at an airport on the Indian Subcontinent on the grounds that they could be used to power a bomb. The security screener told me I could keep all the rechargeable batteries I had because they were too expensive and he wasn't allowed to confiscate them. I guess they haven't thought of terrorists using NiMH/phone/laptop batteries...

At a Middle-Eastern airport a screener took the Kensington lock for my laptop off me on the grounds I could use it as a noose. I kicked up a stink and he said it was the airline's policy, not the airports. I persuaded him to give it to the flight crew so I could collect it from them when I got off the plane. After a long flight I forgot the lock. I put in a lost property report to the airline and was told they had it. I was flying the next week and they said they would return it to me at the airport. I called and a nice guy brought it to the terminal and proceeded to hand it over to me at the airside customer service desk. This kind of makes a nonsense of the airline saying I shouldn't have it on the plane.

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Want to use WD diagnostics? Buy Windows

Paul Stimpson
Badgers

It's not about being a fanboi

I run Linux and WIndows and I'm quite happy with the diagnostic tools I have. I'm not asking any hard drive manufacturer to produce a specific utility for "my" OS. I don't think Keith was either.

The problem I have here is that WD are choosing not to make an OS-independent bootable disc that can do low level diagnostics on a drive and tell me whether it's sick or not. I don't care what the codebase of such a disc is as long as it's consistent and reliable. I'd rather not have to have a machine with any OS on it as a prerequisite of doing a test.

So are WD saying I need to buy another drive so I can install an OS on it in order to run the diagnostics on this one? If a machine is new are we supposed to waste time building an OS on it then run the utilty only to find out the drive is suspect and we need to do it all again? Isn't boot CD, test, pass then install the OS more sensible?

I won't be buying WD again until they provide me with the means to test the drive I buy on a new machine before using it. I can't think of another manufacturer that doesn't give me this.

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RIM Blackberry Bold 9000

Paul Stimpson
Happy

First impressions of the Bold

I got a pair of Bolds 3 days ago on Vodafone for my business with their branded version of the 4.6.0.126 firmware. It is my first BlackBerry handset and I love it. Every day I find something new and cool it can do. I've used the iPhone too and I wouldn't even be tempted to do a swap if someone offered me one.

I run Facebook and JiveTalk IM on my handset and use it as a phone quite heavily. Network coverage isn't excellent where I live (despite what Vodafone tell you). The reception is better than my Nokia but I leave 3G enabled as the 3G is marginally better than the 2G coverage. I have WiFi switched on and most of the email and IM is done over it when I'm in my home/office. I'm just about getting a day out of it (much less than the 216 hours promised in the brochure.)

I'm wondering if battery life is related to firmware. I would find it interesting if the posters above, both good and bad, would post again with which network they use. I wouldn't be surprised if a pattern emerges between the network and firmware version and who gets decent battery life.

The stills camera is pretty good for a 2mp but when using it for video I found the artifacts to be very unpleasant, totally chalk and cheese with the included sample videos that looked great.

The most disappointing thing about the Bold for me is the Blackberry Desktop Manager Windows software. I find it brain damaged in comparison with the software for my old Nokia 9300i. It can backup and restore, install/remove applications and sync with Outlook but not much else. The Nokia software could send and view my messages, edit my contacts and ringtones... Enough things that I never used them all.

I also find the Desktop Manager software very unreliable at the things it does do. I've had to reboot my Windows PC on a daily basis to get it working when it decides it won't recognise the handset. The main OS in my business is Linux and I run Windows XP SP3 virtualized with Virtualbox on my main machine. The Blackberry software sees the handset in this environment but won't play nice and hangs up whenever I attempt any transfer of data to/from the handset. I've found many reports on the net that it doesn't work with virtualized Windows on other virtualization platforms either. I'm going to take a look at Linux software projects for it.

On the subject of email privacy, I don't have any particular problem with RIM checking my mail for me. I don't think anything really bad is going to happen (if RIM got a reputation for that then it would be very bad for their business.) If it's the spooks you're worried about then if the US or Canada want to read my mail I'm sure the UK Security Services would go to my ISP who would just hand it over so I don't think I've really lost anything.

0
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Skype ignores PayPal siphoning hijack scheme

Paul Stimpson
Pirate

Paypal protection

I recently received some good advice never to use debit cards with a Paypal account. In the UK the Consumer Credia Act protects you if you use a credit card and your card company must refund any fraudulent transactions. Debit cards do not enjoy this protection and if your PayPal account or something linked to it gets compromised and your debit card gets raped the cash has already gone, your bank does not have to refund you and your only remedy is to try and get the money back from whoever took it.

0
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Swiss start-up re-broadcasting UK TV channels

Paul Stimpson
Thumb Down

I tried Zattoo

I just tried Zattoo on the road. The quality and robustness was quite good and, to their credit, I could download client software for both Linux and Windows and it all worked.

Unfortunately I found the "Zattoo experience" not to be worthwhile overall. They use IP-geolocation to determine which programs you should be allowed to watch in a very simplistic manner. As their FAQ says, "You can only watch Zattoo in countries that have already been opened for service. Also, in these countries you can only watch the channels that have been cleared for these countries." I am currently in German working and this policy means that all I could watch on Zattoo was exactly the same channel line up I have on my hotel TV (in a language I don't speak well enough to watch TV in.) If I go to a country that isn't cleared (or in the case I have here, the IP-geolocation of my address is wrong and it says I'm in an uncleared country) then I can't watch anything on it al all.

My main reason for wanting Zattoo was that I hoped I would be able to watch TV from my registered country wherever I was, in addition to local TV for the country I was in. I would have been really happy if I had been geolocated when I registered to determine my home and that used to set my entitlement to my home TV. I still pay my TV license when travelling so why shouldn't I be able to take my TV channels with me? I travel frequently and spend a lot of time outside cleared Zattooo areas and therefore will either have exactly the same TV I can already get or (more often) nothing at all and no TV from home. Their service is therefore about a much use to me as a chocolate teapot.

It's a real shame as the actual application works really well.

0
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Welsh student exposed to nude webcam operators

Paul Stimpson
Flame

Grow up!

Dear Ms. Ellis-Jones,

Sex Worker is a job title, not a character flaw. I find it offensive that your attitude seems to denigrate all the honest people working in adult industries worldwide. Should everyone, female and male, not have the right to decide how they wish to express their sexuality? Why are you seeking to take their rights away from them? Please be an adult. If you don't like the idea of sex work then don't apply for the job but don't try to take the opportunity away from others just because it's not right for you.

The advert clearly states that the position is not open to under 18s. Your statement about this being a child protection issue is therefore just plain wrong. Can I take from it that you think all sexually explicit material should be banned to protect children? People have sex and many of them enjoy it. A healthy and honest attitude towards sex important for individuals' development, mental well-being and to protect them from exploitation.How many children have been abused for years because they thought sex was dirty and that they couldn't tell? May I suggest you develop a more grown-up attitude towards sex?

0
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In-flight calling given lukewarm reception

Paul Stimpson
Thumb Down

Call quality

It's not much wonder the call quality sucks. The hardware on the plane will probably be using the Inmarsat M1 (Mini-M) network or the M1 codec on one of the other products. "Mini-M quality" voice calls run at 2400bps and sound just about OK (=better than nothing) but the codec interacts very badly with the standard GSM codec (twice if you call another GSM phone.)

So it may be the skimping on bandwidth that saves us from having to listen to people shouting into their phones.

0
0

Miserly marks get smart to UK phishing fraudsters

Paul Stimpson
Paris Hilton

Banking security

My bank used to have the best anti-phishing protection going. You could only pay money to people or companies you'd already set up. If you wanted to pay money to someone you'd never paid before you had to ring up and talk to a person to set it up.

Now "for our convenience" (more likely to save them money) they've made it so we can set up new payments ourselves. Now any phisher logged in from abroad can set up a payment to one of his mules easily and quickly. The bank don't seem to understand that this has actually harmed security.

My ex-credit card company is worse. I tried to place an order at a big-name website. They declined it on a whim because it might be fraudulent. I then got a phone call from a computer telling me "This is not a marketing call, it's an important call from your bank." The recorded message asked me to enter my card number, dates and the 3 digit number off the back. I didn't and called the bank to report a potential fraud. The person in the fraud department berated me for not answering the computer's questions, was rude, patronising and couldn't understand why I wouldn't enter my details to an unsolicited phone call from a computer when the bank had told me never to give them out in case of fraud. She also told me I was being unreasonable to be angry because the the item I'd ordered was low on stock and the last one had gone when by the time I realised my bank had declined the transaction.

I'm just waiting for someone to download the sample transaction recordings from the company that makes the computer that called me (they are on their website) and write a piece of voip-phishing software using the real voice.

These people wonder why their customers are becoming the victims of fraud...

Paris, because she knows more about security than these people.

0
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American ISPs already sharing data with outside ad firms

Paul Stimpson
Thumb Up

@Alex

There are still good ISPs out there who will provide a premium service with no traffic management for a fair price rather than cutting the monthly price so low they have to resort to things like throttling and Phorm to stay in business. I'm with IDNet and I'm happy. I pay a bit more a month than I did with my old ISP but I get what I pay for.

0
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BT and Phorm secretly tracked 18,000 customers in 2006

Paul Stimpson
Coat

Spin, spin, spin...

"The current version, being promoted to BT, Virgin Media, and Carphone Warehouse customers as "Webwise", does not use JavaScript in this way. BT's report identified that it makes consumers more likely to be aware that they are being profiled as they browse."

Why would it be a problem that users could detect that they were being profiled if Phorm is an opt-in system? They agreed to it; They already know. It would however make it simple to stop the system from working by disabling JavaScript.

"121Media [Phorm] will take action (both technical and public relations) to avoid any perception that their system is a virus, malware or spyware and to show that in effect it is a positive web development,"

'In effect'... That does tend to imply that isn't the purpose of it.

"BT also refused to reveal where in the national broadband network the thousands of guinea pigs were sourced from."

No **** they wouldn't! In order for someone to bring a criminal complaint someone has to be able to prove they have been the victim of a crime and when that crime occurred. BT and Phorm are relying on people not being able to bring complaints because they can't prove they were victims. The last thing they'll do is hand 28,000 (assuming the 2006 and 2007 victims were different people and every account was only one victim) the bullet to shoot them in the a*** with.

"...owing to the legal position, direct cookie dropping could not be trialed and should be verified once the legal position is clearer." = We know what we're doing is dodgy and could land us in a world of trouble.

Watkin wrote:"Targeted online advertising services should be provided with the explicit consent of ISPs' users or by the acceptance of the ISP terms and conditions." = We don't give a flying **** about the privacy of the public. Just send out a 4 page update to your Ts&Cs (which most ordinary people can't/don't have the time to read and understand), hide it in there and we won't touch you. In fact we may even want to buy the data in future to help us identify terrorists/kiddie fiddlers or anyone else that we may decide is undesirable or might stop us getting re-elected.

"We think it is unethical of the Register..."

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." –Mahatma Gandhi. Looks like El Reg is progressing nicely down that path then,

0
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Creative threatens developer over home-brewed Vista drivers

Paul Stimpson
Thumb Down

Who next?

I too have used Creative cards on and off for over 20 years. My first ever soundcard was a genuine Soundblaster.

This guy _may_ have used code from an official driver, he _may_ not have.If he didn't and Creative regard the method of communicating with their hardware as their "property" how long will it be before they start looking at Linux and BSD drivers as "infringing" products? How much of this is due to their desire to conform to Vista DRM and not have their card "cracked" into working as the user wants?

I use Linux for almost all my machines and I'm not prepared to take the risk that a card I paid good money for will suddenly become useless because Creative decide to attack the driver developer. Two fingers to Creative; I'm not going to be buying another card from them unless they apologise to this guy and start appreciating their community. The easiest way to protect my investment is to just not play.

0
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Reviewer puts prototype Nokia N96 to test

Paul Stimpson
Thumb Down

Battery guys...

Unfortunately Nokia don't seem to have fixed the one thing about the N95 that really needs fixing: the battery. The N95 is a great phone but the battery life is abysmal. If you use the camera or music player as well as the phone it's very rare, in my experience, that the battery will last the whole day. If I don't charge it every night and I might get a call then I don't dare use it on the second day so the battery might last until I get home.

I don't give a flying about DVB-H or the bigger screen. Nokia, please give me an N95 with a decent amount of flash, a card slot, buttons I can fit my fingers on and a battery that lasts me at least 3 days of reasonable use including a few photos and some music for on the train.

0
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Hannaford cc data thieves planted malware on 300 servers

Paul Stimpson
Boffin

Tunnelling data

Unless they were very careful with their security or have a shit-hot IDS firewall access would not be a definite requirement for this hack. The data could have been smuggled out of the company using a technique like DNS tunnelling.

Terminal sends off a set of carefully crafted DNS queries that contain the data to be smuggled encoded into the hostname. The hostname isn't found in the local DNS cache so the resolver goes back to the authoritative DNS server for the domain, which stores the query for decoding. No reply is necessary so even if the company have used something like DNS resolving on the proxy for the public internet the data will still get through.

0
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Adobe to remove Photoshop pic pimping clause

Paul Stimpson
Coat

@Morely is going?

"No more bullshit postings about how linux is ready for the average users desktop with no support and you NEVER have to drop to a command line"

What do you mean "no support" please? I've had some of the best support experiences of my career with Linux products. Please show me a how, as a small user, I can get hold of the developers of part of Windows and discuss a bug with them or how it could better meet my needs. We're talking about the company the majority of whose OS installs are shipped with a note that basically says "If it doesn't work go to the people that sold it to you as we won't support it." Since the vendor didn't write Windows their ability to support it is limited and if they can't fix whatever is broken quickly you'll probably get told to reimage the machine from the original discs (if they actually gave you any.) The majority of support for both OSes comes from the communities.

Bugs can creep into anything. As a user, it's getting those bugs acknowledged, taken seriously and fixed that's important to me.

"NEVER have to drop to a command line..." Of course, Windows users never need the command line. All that time I've spent having to use it to scrape malware off my customers' fully-patched Windows desktops was clearly a figment of my imagination.

To continue your example, I'd love to know who thought the Windows registry was a good idea. "Let's roll up all configuration data into a monolithic mass, the corruption of which is likely to cause mass system breakages. Let's make it so the system will parse a key with a null in it but make the editor unable to change it and make it non-human-readable so if something gets broken it can't be checked and fixed by hand."

0
0

Caribbean firm circumvents BD+ copy protection

Paul Stimpson
Stop

Region coding is racism

If I opened a DVD shop and put up a sign that read "DVDs - £10 (American customers), £20 (Europeans), Africans and Asians £30 come back in 6 months." I would, quite rightly be prosecuted for racism if I hadn't been lynched by the public first. Why should large companies be able to do this if we can't? Not only are they allowed to but this racism is protected by law and we can be prosecuted for fighting it.

This geographical racism has no place in the modern, connected world. It's time we stood up, named and shamed these big corporations for their racist behaviour.

0
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Phorm agrees to independent inspection of data pimping code

Paul Stimpson
Go

@Well VirginMedia.....

Please will you describe the tests you did so I can replicate them before making a formal complaint?

Thanks.

0
0

Scotland Yard criminologist: DNA-print troublemaker kids

Paul Stimpson
Coat

@Gregg Iceton

Dear Gregg,

Do you habitually offer over-simplistic opinions based on a 5-second scan of the paper without thinking them through?

"As for those who will bleat about invasions of privacy, you haven't got a point. How is someone knowing the structure of your DNA invading your ability to maintain a private life?"

OK, we all get sampled and out on the database. At some time the profiles should become available to the medical profession to help in our treatment. Researchers start to analyse the data and find certain patterns. Let's say:

A pattern is found that suggests paedophiles are 9 times more likely to have a certain gene variant. You have this gene variant but you're one of the 10% that's not a paedophile. If you get barred from ever working with children and have any kids you have forcibly adopted at birth that would be OK as long as one child is saved, right?

They find another gene with a high correlation to cancer. As part of applying for life insurance the company you have to sign a waiver that your insurance company can make enquiries into your medical records (fairly standard now.) They discover you have the cancer gene and have 19 times the normal chance of suffering from cancer. You now can't get life insurance or it costs £1000 a month instead of £50. The reason you wanted the life insurance was that you were buying a house and needed it for the mortgage. Guess you won't ever be buying a house now. You die in your 70s of a heart attack, in bed in your rented accommodation because you could never buy.

Researchers discover a "thief gene." Having it makes you vastly more likely to be dishonest. You're one of the percentage that has it but has worked hard to lead an honest life. You have to waive access to your medical records as well as take a mandatory drug test to get a job. I hope you didn't want that job in the Police or that bank.

@Mark

"Is Tony's DNA on the database?" - Yes, he made a public gesture of voluntarily submitting it to show that he has nothing to fear cos the police would never dare come after him.

Everybody that has spoken in favour of this idea has made one important, but possibly flawed assumption: That this only affects "them" and there's nothing in _your_ DNA that would ever have you discriminated against. Of course there isn't. I mean, only poor people have the thief gene, right? Please forgive me in advance when I laugh if I meet you at the bus stop one day and you're complaining you can't have a car as you can't get insurance because you have the thief gene and are an "unacceptable insurance risk" and "something must be done about it."

0
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BT admits misleading customers over Phorm experiments

Paul Stimpson
Thumb Down

Cookie sham

Opt-out cookies are a sham anyway. Sure it would be trivial for the cookie to be read by the ad server and for it then not to serve ads or, more likely, not targeted ones.

In order for the cookie to be read when the information is gathered something is going to have to be sitting in the middle of all connections, editing the HTML to query the cookie then deciding whether to profile the page. Unless, of course, the ISP and Phorm think it would just be easier to profile everything then sort it out later. Forgive me for not believing that "opting-out" will stop Phorm from seeing my data and IP address.

Nine more days until my new IDNet broadband goes in. Virgin, I'm going to miss you like a hole in the head.

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