* Posts by Paul Stimpson

112 posts • joined 30 Apr 2007


It's 2019, the year Blade Runner takes place: I can has flying cars?

Paul Stimpson

Re: I have written to my bank

Looking back on it, what I wrote was an over reaction. I apologize and have withdrawn my comments.

London's Gatwick airport suspends all flights after 'multiple' reports of drones

Paul Stimpson

Re: I wonder if...

Didn't Boris Johnson buy one or more water cannon trucks to use against protestors in London, in full knowledge that it's illegal to deploy such things in the UK. If he did, I wonder if they are sitting parked up and might have been borrowed.

Paul Stimpson

A duck and a drone of the same mass, traveling at the same speed have the same amount of energy. However, in a collision, they disperse that energy very differently. One goes splat, the other crunch.

Staff sacked after security sees 'suspect surfer' script of shame

Paul Stimpson

Who watches the watchers?

A friend of a friend was charged with monitoring web access, viewing questionable material to verify it was a breach of company policy and collecting evidence to initiate disciplinary proceedings at a major banking company.

One day he told my friend that he'd discovered a prolific offender. "I can't believe this person. They spend over 6 hours a day surfing porn and don't seem to do any legitimate work. They're done as soon as the request to return a user name for the IP address comes back."

The next day, he was much less excited. "You know that person who was surfing porn 6 hours a day?" "Yeah..." "It was me."

Paul Stimpson

Re: And that's why...

I'm pretty sure either the Palo Alto or Bluecoat firewalls we have at work check SSL sessions for validity and detect VPN traffic masquerading as SSL. The Infoblox DNS servers detect and report VPN DNS tunneling.

London Gatwick Airport reopens but drone chaos perps still not found

Paul Stimpson

Such ID transmitting devices already exist. They are, however, obscenely expensive (at least 2-3 times the cost of most craft) and fairly battery hungry. They also require an ID number which would mean having to go through the costly process of getting formal aircraft registration. Their weight and power draw would also affect the performance and flying time of, particularly lighter, craft.

Part of the problem faced by drone owners is the success of DJI. They have become such a market leader that their products, particularly the Phantom, are what the public thinks of when drones come to mind and their capabilities are assumed by the public to apply to all UAVs.

The heart of any drone is the Flight Controller (FC.) It manages the craft and converts the control inputs from the sticks into control signals that direct the motors. Unlike a model plane, where the stick movements can be directly translated into movements of the control surfaces, a drone can't fly without an FC.

Not all FCs support geofencing around airports. In fact, most non-DJI units don't. Not all FCs have GPS as standard or at all. It's not desirable on grounds of weight or battery life in some applications such as drone racing which is performed with small, very fast craft where agility is much more important than stability. Not to mention a lot of drone racing being done indoors.

Would any legal restrictions require onerous technical inspections to check the capabilities of craft? How do they know that my GPS-equipped FC isn't running old firmware from the pre-restricted days or I haven't unplugged the GPS cable? Would I need to have it re-inspected every time I did significant work on it?

As a user and author of open source software, I have concerns about where this might lead. If GPS and geofencing that couldn't be defeated were to be made legal requirements, that would effectively constitute a ban on all of the open source FCs as they either wouldn't have geofencing or any miscreant could edit the code or the no-fly-zone list to remove the restrictions. I'd hate to see a precedent set and it become normal for open source to be banned from whole classes of products because of what someone might modify them to do.

Paul Stimpson

Re: How hard is the approximate localization of a 2.4GHz sender operating in or near an airport?

The autonomous flying of any model aircraft is already banned in the UK. All operations must be below 400ft (125m) and within visual line of slight (VLOS.) The operator must be in full control of the vehicle at all times.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

Paul Stimpson

Re: 6. There were no drones

I also have doubts about what "industrial specification" means and what this craft might have been. If the person writing the statement knew their drones, it's fairly specific and there are a limited number of craft that such a description would cover. I suspect, however, that the person making the statement probably didn't know the subject and "industrial specification" probably means anything larger and more imposing looking than a DJI Phantom rather than a professional-use craft.

As a member of the multirotor (drone) flying community, I'd like to say the person doing this isn't representative of us. I don't know of anyone in our club who wouldn't grass the offender up if they knew who it was. I hope they are caught swiftly, made an example of by the law then sued into oblivion by the airport and airlines for their commercial losses. A court injunction prohibiting the person from owning or flying any kind of drone or model aircraft for life would also seem appropriate. The last thing that we, as a community, need is some knee jerk law passed because politicians and the Daily Mail think something has to be seen to be done. The things this person has done are already illegal under multiple laws. Those laws now need to be enforced severely and publicly.

Paul Stimpson

First thing I would do is get a drone video receiver. If the person doing this is hiding and doesn't have line of sight to the craft, they will, most likely, be flying by video. If they're using off-the-shelf kit (likely) it will probably be on one of the standard 5.8 GHz video channels. Watch (and record) the pictures from the drone and follow it home. If the perp is careless, you may even get a pic of them.

Blighty: We spent £1bn on Galileo and all we got was this lousy T-shirt

Paul Stimpson

"Simple answer, no access, take £1Bn out of the devource payment, what is the EU going to do ?"

Then countries all round the world will see we don't stick to our end of the bargain when we make an agreement and no longer consider us a good-faith negotiating partner. Just what we need when we're trying to negotiate trade deals for "Global Britain."

Paul Stimpson

There is no "punishment" being handed out here. If you join a club, that membership comes with costs and benefits you receive in return for your membership fee. If you decide to cease being a member, you stop paying those costs and you cease receiving the benefits. Would you complain you were being punished if you decided to cancel your gym membership and they wouldn't let you continue to use their Jacuzzi? If you stopped paying for health insurance after years and thousands of pounds of membership, would you consider it unfair or disrespectful they wouldn't give you treatment if you got sick after you left?

We were instrumental in writing the Galileo rules. We knew they contained a provision that non-EU members can't have military-grade access to or perform work on the service. When we triggered Article 50, it was entirely predictable that we would lose access to the system as non-members. Those of us who repeated pointed things such as this out were howled down as "Project Fear" or "unpatriotic."

This whole "punishment" argument makes me quite angry. Vocal parts of the Brexit movement told the people that we were so special that the EU would bend over to give us a wonderful deal when the EU, quite honestly, said from day one that no non-member deal could ever be as good as a member deal. I have had to close the business I spent 25 years nurturing because I can't get anyone to sign contracts for performing work on the continent when I can't promise I will be able to fulfill them going forward and the customers were looking for long term business relationships. The orders dried up as soon as the referendum result was announced. I am angry that those who convinced the people that a better deal would be available are now using talk of "punishment" to try to avoid responsibility by effectively saying, "It's the EU's fault they won't give you what we said you could have. Not ours."

Business moves cost money and take time. Big businesses, unable to get the certainty they wanted that they weren't going to be hugely impacted by Brexit, have already started moving jobs and the money that goes with them abroad. It's the sensible course of action for any large company faced with a significant business threat. They need to make moving decisions in time to get the move done before the threat materializes. Because of the time and money moves cost, once those jobs are gone, they're not coming back.

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg can't remember smear firm, but 'some of their work' crossed her desk

Paul Stimpson

"a fraction of work"

Any percentage can be expressed as a fraction. 1/100, 99/100, 100/100 and the word "small" (or similar) is conspicuously missing from that statement.

I hope you can forgive that my "spin bullshitometer" is indicating a non-zero value.

Virgin Media? More like Virgin Meltdown: Brit broadband ISP falls over amid power drama

Paul Stimpson

Re: Should they email you notices

In addition to developing the system, that requires them to pay for all the text messages. I used to work for a cable company and I know just how resistant to systems that can run up unpredictable, potentially-large charges they are...

Microsoft yanks the document-destroying Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Paul Stimpson

Not the only thing it broke...

I had this update auto-apply to a home version of Windows on one of my laptops. I don't use OneDrive (machine only has a local account) so, as far as I can tell so far, I've not had any files disappear into the ether.

The update did break something else though. It brought in a bad version of the Atheros Killer 1525 driver and hosed the WiFi and Bluetooth on the laptop (error code 10, device cannot be initialized). This is clearly a not-uncommon problem as there's a page in the Killer Networking Knowledgebase describing it and how to fix it.

I acknowledge QC is hard in a product this widespread that runs on thousands of different pieces of hardware but I am surprised that a bad driver for a network adaptor from a major maker, like Atheros, wasn't picked up.

UK.gov finally adds Galileo and Copernicus to the Brexit divorce bill

Paul Stimpson

Faithful negotiating partners

It's my view that the EU "divorce bill" should be separated from the outcome of the current negotiations. These are things we already agreed to fund at the point we entered into them and I see our current attempts to use them as leverage in the negotiating process as very damaging to our credibility on the world stage.

How will any other country view us as a faithful and honest party to enter into any long term agreement with in future if we don't honor existing agreements and demonstrate that we have no issue walking away leaving unpaid bills if we don't get what we want at the end?

Paul Stimpson


Yeah. What has the space industry and the technology that trickled down from it into wider use ever done for us? It's not like people have benefited from technology like the microprocessor, inertial navigation, priority-based task scheduling, satellites, earth observation, GPS, insulation materials, scratch resistant lenses, CAT scans, LEDs, water purification systems, memory foam...

Paul Stimpson

Re: Neverendum

I take issue with your assertion that this referendum was "free and fair."

In the UK, it is illegal to tell lies about a political candidate during an election campaign in order to sabotage their candidacy. There is no similar law that makes it illegal to tell such lies in a referendum campaign.

The EU referendum campaign was, in my view, defined by people telling the public whatever they wanted to hear to get the result they desired. I don't think that any democratic process can be defined as "free and fair" or even genuinely democratic when significant campaigners set out to spread misinformation so that the voters weren't making a genuinely informed decision.

Golden State passes gold-standard net neutrality bill by 58-17

Paul Stimpson

Re: Ah, Californian Wieners

You make it sound like ISPs and transit providers are operating as charities...

As both a content producer and an Internet user, I pay my ISP and hosting provider for the service I receive, including the bandwidth I consume. They use some of that money to pay their upstream providers who use some of that to pay their transit providers and so on. Everyone is getting paid. If I pay for bandwidth, I expect to be able to use it and, provided I'm not using it for any purpose that compromises network integrity or brings law enforcement to their doors, what I do with that bandwidth should be none of their business. I paid for it. It should be mine to use.

How is it possibly anti-consumer or anti-competitive to guarantee that I can use the bandwidth I'm paying for to consume the services I choose? On the other hand, I would see it as massively anti-competitive for my ISP to push me towards a content provider they have some paid prioritisation deal with by making competing services perform so badly in comparison that I give up on them. It would be like the parking provider in town making me use only one entry and exit lane and park in the crappy spaces on the 5th floor unless I was going to the supermarket in town that had paid them.

From my point of view, this whole thing is about corporate greed from the ISPs, particularly the cable ones. Not content with the fee they charge me for the service I bought, they want to double-dip the content providers. Now, I do see this as anti-consumer. If content providers have to hand over huge chunks of money to ISPs, they will want to get this money back. They will do this by taking it from me, directly or indirectly. Things that were free will suddenly cost money. There will be "premium" access plans to things that were free. Paid sites' prices will go up, they won't buy as much content or they will end up plastered in advertising to recover the charges. All of these things will take away from the Internet experience of consumers, particularly those on restricted incomes.

What happens if transit providers see the ISPs get this and decide they want a slice of the action? Will ISPs who don't engage in prioritisation end up with it by default when Netflix pay their upstream provider but Amazon don't? I'm starting to feel like this is the thin end of a very large wedge. Hey, why shouldn't Cisco have a slice too? Their gear is switching it all.

What if tech moguls brewed real ale?

Paul Stimpson

Suggestions from the night shift

Torvald's Expletive Laden Rant - Finnish craft export bitter

DHCP - Distinctly Hoppy Craft Pint


USB - Universally Stout Beer

Ankles Tangled & Twisted (AT&T) - Outsourced IPA.

Core Dump - Late harvest cider

PoE - Pint of Excellence

Asterisk BoIP (Beer of India Pale)

SaaS (Sauce as a Service) - Golden ale, provided by someone else


Git Push - Strong ale; a real fighting drink

Facebork - Another strong, dark ale.

Turing's Bombe - Finely crafted tribute to Alan Turing. It's not quick but the results make it worth the wait.

Code of conduct claims new Texas Instruments CEO after just six weeks

Paul Stimpson

Re: That's young for a CEO

He had been with the company 22 years, not he was 22 years old.

Paul Stimpson

Not sure what he did. I can't seem to find any leaks.

Few additional possibilities that come to mind:

(j) Brought alcohol/drugs into the office.

(k) "Inappropriate" personal web surfing.

(l) Did a "Papa John"

(m) Used company resources to further outside interests

Go away, kid, you bother me: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla kick W3C nerds to the curb

Paul Stimpson

Sadly, these non-technical management types believe the Sales Account Manager when they tell them their encryption is "military strength and would take someone 8000 years to crack with a super computer."

No sales person is going to tell the CTO that their product is "a bit crap and, in a couple of years, some kid in their bedroom will be able to crack it in less than a weekend using a couple of CUDA graphics cards."

Paul Stimpson

Taking a quick glance down their membership list, I'm sure I've missed some but the ones that jump to my eye are:

ActiveVideo Networks LLC (Charter)

Association of American Publishers

Book Industry Study Group

BookNet Canada

Cable Television Laboratories Inc

Comcast Corporation

Digital Comic Association

DRM Inside Co Ltd


HarperCollins Publishers

Media Do Co

The Motion Picture Association of America Inc



Penguin Random House

Recording Industry Association of America

Sony Corporation

Sport Total AG

The Walt Disney Company

AI software that can reproduce like a living thing? Yup, boffins have only gone and done it

Paul Stimpson

“self-replication occupies a significant portion of the neural network’s capacity.” In other words, the neural network cannot focus on the image recognition task if it also has to self-replicate."

The software can't get any work done while thinking about sex. They've created an artificial man!

Five things you need to know about Microsoft's looming Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

Paul Stimpson

I'm really pissed with Windows 10. Since the last update, I can't see my NAS any more and none of the guides on the net have brought it back. Booting Linux on the same machine shows it fine.

The only things I use Windows for now are games, my photography software and the programming software for my two way radios. Every new major Win 10 update forces more privacy invading features on me that I often can't disable. I can't wait to seen the back of it.

I'm even starting to feel happy about work's declared plan to switch us all over to Macs.

Chilly willies: Swedish nudie nightclub opens in -11°C to disgust of locals

Paul Stimpson

"We believe in sexual purity and that sexuality needs to be protected through marriage."

Ah, puritanism... That terrible fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.

Oi! Verizon leaked my fiancée's nude pix to her ex-coworker, says bloke

Paul Stimpson

I'm going for finger trouble

My first suspicion in a situation like this would be that the initial recipient of the message may have inadvertently shared the folder. For example, by sharing the folder's parent or grandparent folder without realising that sharing action would cause the folder's children to inherit these same options from their parent.

+1 on the "staff will look and may leak" theory too. I had a friend who worked in a photo lab in the old wet film days. The company had a policy of not giving adult prints to customers so any such prints were removed from the packs of photos at the quality control stage. The removed prints were, however, not destroyed. The staff used to pin them up on the wall for their own enjoyment. The best advice was always "If you want to make images that wish to remain private, get your own darkroom gear and make them in an environment you control."

So you accidentally told a million people they are going to die: What next? Your essential guide...

Paul Stimpson

one more thing...

Who on earth puts in a wide-area disaster warning system that doesn't have an "All Clear - The danger has passed" indication to tell the public they are no longer at risk and can go about their business? Such an indication could have been sent to put a false alarm to bed relatively quickly.

I used to live near a chemical plant that had a siren to warn the local residents of a chemical leak. Continuous siren = Close all your windows and stay indoors. Intermittent siren = Incident contained. Go about your business.

Paul Stimpson

I'm not so sure that Jeff/Jane is the target or only target here. It could possibly be their manager, the one who was late / off drinking coffee / attending to their bathroom duties at the time of the incident who is in the firing line.

This is an admission they have a 10 year problem with one of their employees that their manager has failed to improve or move them to a role they're better suited to / the unemployment line. It's an admission that not only has their manager not been properly managing them, the manager went on to give someone with performance issues charge of a responsibility where they could do actual harm.

The slipshod manner this system has been implemented makes me wonder if the department takes this threat or their charge of the system to warn of it seriously.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Xmas software update knackered US Customs computer systems

Paul Stimpson

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?

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.

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.

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."

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.

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...

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.

Label your cables: A cautionary tale from the server room

Paul Stimpson


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.

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.

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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