* Posts by Paul Stimpson

97 posts • joined 30 Apr 2007

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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.

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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?

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Paul Stimpson

Re: TL;DR

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...

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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.

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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.

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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

DROP TABLE Ale;

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

Outsauced

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.

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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.

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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

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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."

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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

Elsevier

HarperCollins Publishers

Media Do Co

The Motion Picture Association of America Inc

Movielabs

Netflix

Penguin Random House

Recording Industry Association of America

Sony Corporation

Sport Total AG

The Walt Disney Company

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

0
0

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?

0
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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.

1
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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.

2
0

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)

5
1

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.

2
0

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.

0
2

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.

2
0

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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