* Posts by Number6

2163 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

How Google lost the trust of Europe’s data protection authorities


Tea Parties

Whatever they may be doing wrong elsewhere, I can't fault their tax behaviour, because they're complying with what the governments of the world require them to do. UK/EU law lets them move money out of the country without paying UK tax, the EU positively encourages multinationals to have a single tax base in the EU and pay their taxes in that place (with the intention of encouraging countries not to set too high a rate of corporation tax) and there's an overall obligation to act in the best interests of the shareholders and no one else. Therefore, they're doing all they should and the government ought to be changing the tax laws if they don't like it, not trying to score cheap political points (of which all political parties are guilty).

New Google Play terms ban non-store app updates


Re: On the subject of the Facebook app

Usually anything that comes with the original phone is difficult to remove. Unfortunately the FB app is one of them.

A far better way (for consumers, not the companies involved) would be to receive the phone with the bare minimum installed, register the phone with the Android infrastructure and then either using a web browser on the phone or on a desktop PC, select from a pre-defined list of 'standard' apps. That way the carrier/Google could still extract money from companies who want their app to be on the list, and those of us who'd rather not have said apps can easily avoid having them on our phones.


Re: a plea

"Reached out" could be with a clenched fist. I'm sure there are many who'd like to use that definition.


Re: Instead of retro-rules that *seem* well-intentioned for the users

How about making carrier-locked phones become non-carrier-locked when our contracts formally expire? If we do not remain with the carrier, WHY the HELL should their custom ROM impositions remain in force on our phones?

This may be solving itself soon, with carriers separating out the phone cost from the airtime contract. I realised some time ago that it's better to get the phone unencumbered by a contract, although it's a big hit of money for some. I did manage to flash a manufacturer's image onto my Nokia E71 some years ago, over the carrier's image. It didn't unlock the phone (but then I didn't expect it to) but some interesting new menu options appeared.

And yes, it should be a default that if a carrier locks a phone for the duration of a contract, the unlock should be free and automatic at the end of that period without the user having to do anything. If anything, it's to the carrier's benefit that they do this silently, because then they'd be making money from people who haven't bothered to upgrade their phone.

Cat ladies turned brand-squatters poke fun at religious right



It's obviously all part of the master plan. Don't forget (the cats certainly haven't!) that cats were once worshipped as gods by the ancient Egyptians. Anyone know if the new Pope is pro-feline?

Ubuntu without the 'U': Booting the Big Four remixes


Re: Any distro recommendations for use on an old Thinkpad 365XD?

You could try Tiny Core Linux, as a stripped-down system to which you then add stuff, you can try things out and see what it's capable of.


Re: But I don't like Ubuntu stuff.

I switched from Fedora to Mint for the long-term support editions, after I got fed up with the forced upgrades at frequent intervals as each Fedora went end-of-life. I grew up with the RedHat way of doing things, so it was a big switch. I keep a Centos server as a virtual machine for nostalgia (and the fact that it's supported for many years...)

When it was just one machine, Fedora was OK, but with half a dozen or more it gets to be a bit of a chore.



I can recommend LXDE for anything more than a few years old, and especially netbooks. It's responsive on old graphics hardware, I've been running it on my Aspire One machines for over four years now.

I'd also recommend it for computer-phobic relatives if you get lumbered with tech support and helping them sort out their machine. It behaves enough like Windows that they can get to an Office suite, mail and web without problems, and it can be remotely maintainable over an ssh connection. It also seems to be harder to screw up from the keyboard than the fancier desktops.

Bogus gov online test tells people on dole they're just SO employable


Re: Fail yourself.

behaviourlibrary.com appears to be hosted in Atlanta, Georgia. It still doesn't tell you who the registrant is, but it does mean the data is available to the US government.


Re: Applied Placebo Effect?

Psychology only works on the unaware.


Positive Thinking

They have to be positive about it, imagine the effect if they did actually give an answer telling someone he was an obnoxious little shit and they fully understood why no one had employed him.

Black-eyed Pies reel from BeagleBoard's $45 Linux micro blow


Horses for courses

If I wanted to do something that needed graphics I'd probably choose a Pi. If I wanted something that either didn't need graphics or only needed a simple GUI (a lot of industrial controllers could come into this category) then I'd consider the BeagleBoard. As it is, my Pi has been commandeered and lives behind the TV as a media centre, so I need a new one to play with.

White House backs US web sales tax - eBay hits panic alarm


Sales Tax

Of course, one could take the position that the way to level the playing field would be to abolish all sales tax, not impose it on those who had previously escaped it.

Perhaps another way would be to require tax to be payable at the rate in the home state of the business and then forward that revenue to other states based on recorded sales, which would (1) give all mail-order companies an incentive to relocate to the cheapest state and (2) give states an incentive to keep sales tax down. Surprisingly, this is what the EU was attempting to achieve with its corporation tax (apart from the forwarding bit) to give nation states an incentive to keep corporation tax rates low, and is why all the multinationals don't pay much tax in the UK.


Re: There's sales tax for second hand goods?

I suspect that if eBay didn't charge commission and offer some (however vague) buyer protection then they'd have a stronger case to argue for tax-free status. After all, Craigslist is still tax-free for private transactions, but it's very much caveat emptor.

The usual rule about second hand goods is that if sold by a business then taxes apply, if sold by a private individual (who is not taking the piss) then they don't. This is to stop the blatant abuse of the process whereby I could go into a garage and choose a car. The garage takes a couple of people on a test drive in that car so it's no longer a 'new' car and I save a fortune in tax by getting it 'second hand'. Obviously this could be applied to other goods too.

Eric Schmidt defends Google's teeny UK tax payouts - again


Company Obligations

As I understand it, under UK law a company is obliged to do the best for its shareholders. Many of them would probably consider intelligent tax planning as part of that, to maximise the income for shareholders (given that money is the measurable part of 'best for').

Therefore, not only are they not illegal, they're positively obeying the law as it stands.

As others have said, if we want big multinationals to pay more tax then change the law to make it so, whilst noting that getting it wrong may cause said multinationals to choose to do business elsewhere.

How much will Google pay to bring fiber to Provo, Utah? Try $1


Activation was how much?

If people were ripped off for $700 just to get the service then I'm not surprised it was making a loss. I wonder what the take-up is, and how much it will bump up when the up-front fee comes down to something more reasonable.

If it really does cost the city that much to connect someone then they've done something wrong.

Malwarebytes declares Windows 'malicious', nukes 1,000s of PCs


Why apologise?

Unless it was for not nuking Windows much earlier?

More Brits ditch Apple tablets for Amazon, Google, Samsung kit


Take the money and RUN

Saw a fascinating article on Groklaw about the Apple-Samsung spat


Apple are trying to get the current infringement lawsuit through to the point where they've been awarded damages and the appeals process has been exhausted so they get to keep the money. The rush is that there's a parallel process which may end up declaring the patents invalid, which they acknowledge might not finish its appeals process until 2017. Under the broken US system, if they win damages from Samsung before the patents are declared invalid, they get to keep the money.

T-Mobile UK ordered into humiliating Full Monty strip


Re: Running your own server?

As mentioned above, the standard port for mail submission is 587. Sendmail/Postfix and other common mail agents mention it in their config files. Just set it up to use TLS and authentication so that others can't use it to send spam.

The alternative is to try to pick an ISP that doesn't block traffic, but expects its users to be competent enough to run their own security. I agree that this is not always possible when it comes to mobile operators, but then you might just need one that allows you to run a VPN and connect to somewhere else that does allow you to do stuff.

O2 tries something completely new: Honesty


Re: Still no good with custom firmware and locked bootloaders

I suspect this is one of those things that many people have to learn the hard way the first time. The lucky ones get to read about it in the comment section of El Reg and revise their target spec for a phone accordingly.

My HTC phone can be rooted with the manufacturer's 'blessing' (can be done via their website), at the expense of voiding the warranty. I guess I ought to get around to that now it's over a year old :-)


If you do the same level of business with them as your company does, yes. They probably qualify for a quantity discount, so you'd probably get charged at least a tenner for a one-off version of the same deal.

The bulk deal probably works on the principle that the average amount of data used is below a certain limit, but some phones will be using a lot and others hardly any.


Re: Sim Only

Yes, same here. I figured out quite some time ago that it works out cheaper buying the phone outright and having a SIM-only contract that can be terminated with a months' notice. I remember with a previous phone getting hold of the manufacturer's latest release and flashing it over the telco's version and seeing all the interesting settings and features that suddenly appeared.

Based on past history, I seem to get a new phone every four years or so on this model, so it definitely works out cheaper than upgrading every year or two and paying the higher prices.

CISPA cybersecurity legislation vote due in next 48 hours



There should be a requirement on any legislation of this nature for the government and companies to disclose to those whose data has been shared, within a specified time period, exactly what information was passed and to whom.

Part of the problem with laws of this nature is that we have no idea of how much they are used or abused, so having to admit it either after prosecution or after two years if there has not been prosecution, might make the government think more carefully about how and when it asks for information.

Of course, none of the above detracts from the fact that it's bad legislation to start with, but at least it may provide the public with evidence as to exactly how bad it is.

'Charge memory' boffins: Hungover Li-Ion batts tell fat whoppers


Re: I wonder if it is charge memory or something else

That can be a function of the charge algorithm as much as anything else. The battery get to 100% and the charger cuts out. It then waits for the battery volts to drop slightly before attempting to recharge. If you take it off charger just after it cuts out then you do have 100% charge. If you take it off the charger just as it's about to turn on again, you might only have 98%. NiCads usually ended up on trickle charge, and so were always at 100% once it had been reached.


Re: The widespread belief that lithium-ion batteries don't suffer from “charge memory”

Li-Ion batteries suffer a loss of capacity over time, and that loss is worse at 100% charge than at lower charge levels. Most batteries are shipped with about 40% charge because that gives a good compromise between shelf life and loss of capacity. If the battery manages to fully discharge it can start gassing and explode/expand, so it needs to start with enough charge for a six month shelf life.

Leaving your laptop plugged in and sitting at full charge is going to cause it to lose capacity at a higher rate than leaving it at 80%, so certainly Sony have that right.

Internet Explorer makes modest gains against Google Chrome



I run Adblock Plus and NoScript, and I have Statcounter in the block list. Does that mean they don't see my web traffic and browser choice?

It might have changed, but last time I looked, useful add-ons weren't available for IE, so one assumes that all its users were recorded, but for Chrome and Firefox, a proportion of users are supposedly invisible to the stat collectors.

Google's 'power to switch off the lights in Europe' has 'chilling effect' - rivals


Re: tricked into installing toolbars

I've accidentally installed the Ask toolbar that comes with Java updates before now, thought "oops" and gone back and uninstalled it. Now I know it's going to try, I go much slower through the update process. However, expecting a user to click 'cancel' to continue is definitely out of order, somewhere on a par with clicking the Start button to close down a computer...

I don't want any add-on toolbars on my browser.


Re: "Microsoft has a diametrically different view about verticals than Google,"

Sometimes I would welcome Google having a tick box to specifically remove price comparison sites from search results. If I'm after information and specs on a product, especially if I already own one, the last thing I want to have to do is wade through several pages of price comparisons to get to sites that might actually have the information I need.

Microsoft are only moaning because it's not them in the driving seat. They had plenty of years in that position with their own dodgy business practices to put down the competition, now they're on the wrong end of the boot.

Ofcom: Parents, here's how to keep grubby tots from buying Smurfberries


An App opportunity

I don't know how much of this is technically possible, but a filter app that checked the phone number against a list of dial prefixes before allowing it to be called would be good. Even better if it had an option to override a block with a PIN, so that should the phone's owner actually want to call a premium-rate number, it would still be easy to do so.

No doubt someone will point me at a bunch of apps that do just this.

Even better would be for telcos to allow us to associate our phones with a customised filter list, or even a few standard filter lists that took out all premium-rate calls, or all overseas calls (except for one or two designated countries), then we'd have recourse for any failure of the system. I'd also like to be able to put my phone number on a list where it cannot receive expensive chargeable text messages, because I would not knowingly sign up to receive these.

The Man Who Fell to Earth: Plane plummet plod probe phone


Re: Could he have survived the flight?

There are three things against survival. Lack of oxygen is one, low temperature the second, and the third is the fact that there isn't much spare room in a wheel well, so being crushed is highly likely as the wheels are retracted.

That and I suspect that unless you're ready for it, the lowering of the undercarriage happens rather suddenly and there's a good chance of falling out even if you were still in a condition to care.

ACLU documents shows free access to emails for IRS tax police


Re: Ouch!

I assume that by 'on the server' means 'on a public server' rather than my personal server on my machine. Yet another reason not to use cloud services, at least if it's on my machine they either have to break into the premises or come and ask me first. It's definitely not in the public domain if it's in my possession.

Don't send your tax information to people with gmail or yahoo accounts...

NASA-backed fusion engine could cut Mars trip down to 30 days


Re: Vaporware

If they got it wrong then it, and some of its surroundings would definitely be vapourware.


Fastest Trip

For the fastest trip you wouldn't coast at all, apart from a short period in the middle where you changed the way your ship was pointing. Accelerate to the half-way point, turn round, and then decelerate to the destination.

Of course, the downside is that you'd be going quite fast at turnover, and if there was a failure, you'd be leaving the solar system at quite a speed. You'd also get perforated by a lot of micrometeorites. You'd also need quite a bit of fuel for a continuous drive.

Patent shark‘s copyright claim could bite all Unix


Not Quite

Ah well, nearly caught by the timezone thing, given that it's still 31st March here (3/31 for the natives). Reading quite credulously until I got to the bit about the lawyer's name and I stopped to laugh, thinking that El Reg had decided to just publish his name anyway for a ridiculous lawsuit. Then the penny dropped.

Paying a TV tax makes you happy - BBC


Re: TV Licence

Except that you can access BBC services except TV without having to pay the licence fee. Even the TV services are accessible without paying the licence fee if you don't watch live - iPlayer is pretty good, although ISP bandwidth charges might end up costing more than the BBC fee.

$1.5k per complaint. Up to 1,900 gTLDs. Brand owners, prepare to PAY


Re: Money... That's what they want....

For those at the top of the gTLD pile, "money" is a decent reason.

MasterCard tries to zap PayPal with own-brand mobe wallet


Re: Flat broke

The way I'd do it is to have a barcode as part of the receipt that can be scanned by the security guard to confirm that it's valid. That would make it harder to fake one, you'd have to be able to generate a barcode that referred to a recent transaction in that store. If numbers were allocated sequentially across all stores rather than just local, you'd have a hard time guessing a valid one for the store in which the thief was operating.

'Seriously Kelly? I may as well call YOU the unelected networks tsar'


Joe Public

Icaza seems to be missing something. How many of us recompile the Linux kernel as often as every three weeks anyway[*]? Is he the IT equivalent of the HiFi fanatic who hears all the distortion and none of the music?

Perhaps if he didn't keep tweaking, it would just work, it's pretty good on most bits of hardware I've tried, so once he's got it stable there should be no need to change. My main desktop machine just sits there and works, with the occasional upgrade check, but that's no worse than dealing with the update mechanism on Windows or OS X. The laptop/netbooks I use are similar, although I've disabled the hibernate/suspend on the netbooks.

[*] OK, I do occasionally, but that's because it's for an embedded PC that needs a small, custom kernel.

BRITAIN MUST DECLARE WAR on Cervinaean menace


Earning their keep

I've yet to work out how they manage it, given the fences and brambles, but I occasionally get muntjac in the garden. So far they've confined themselves to eating things that I'd otherwise have to cut back so they're being helpful. One day I'll accidentally let the dog out before noticing one (they're a lot smaller than our dog) and it might get interesting. At least I'd find out their entry point.

Arise, Lord BONG


Lords of Shoreditch

Given that there's a Lord Wei of Shoreditch, I don't see why we can't have a Lord Bong of Shoreditch to go keep him company. The rules of the peerage do not prevent this; there are four peers resident in Richmond, after all.

Top tools for junior Linux admins


Simple Text Editors

I'd vote for nano as a really useful tool. It's a bit less obscure for a quick tweak to a config file than vi or emacs.

The awk and bash HOWTOs have been very helpful in teaching me script programming, I even managed to type a one-liner without looking anything up and had it work first time the other day.

In fact, the tldp.org website is a great help in understanding all sorts of Linux things.

Ubuntu? Fedora? Mint? Debian? We'll find you the right Linux to swallow


Re: "Comfortable with the terminal"

Or accidentally uninstall all the kernels and rebooting before realising this. I managed that, it's an interesting exercise getting the system back.

Bootstrapping oneself out of a cock-up is a great way to learn things, even if it's only "don't do that again".


Re: Mint is great but ...

Mint dropped support for LXDE as a direct-install option, unfortunately. It was my solution of choice for family machines and netbooks.


Re: Mint is great but ...

I've done in-place upgrades before now, but it does involve a bit of hacking that might unsettle a newcomer. I assume Fedora has improved since I last used it then, that was regular upgrades, whereas with something giving long-term support, such upgrades are minimised (Mint 9, 13, and also a bit of Centos 6 here).

Firm moves to trademark 'Python' name out from under the language


Re: Dumb ways to die?

You missed:

* getting crushed and suffocated by an angry mob of Python developers.

Psst, wanna block nuisance calls? BT'll do it... for a price


Re: Some oversights in this approach

Provided they give a consistent caller ID they'll consistently get the answerphone. Or I'll add them to the blocked list and they'll get the Asterisk "Weasels" message and a dropped call instead.


Re: I'm not sure what country you guys are in.

I used to get sales calls from BT, which I generally treated with amusement because my home phone seems to be one of those that's avoided being in databases so it was a relative novelty.

It all came to a head the day they called me up and tried to flog me Home Highway (remember that). I politely observed that I already had it, and if their database was poor enough that they didn't actually know which services I already had, then perhaps they ought to put me on their Do Not Call list, and I never got another call from them.


Re: International CLI and BT

From memory, the original reasons they gave were (1) they couldn't determine the reliability of the information provided and (2) they didn't trust all overseas telcos to reliably send the state of the withheld flag, so they might accidentally release CLI when someone had requested anonymity.

Even if they were valid at the time, I'm not sure that's true now.


International CLI and BT

I think we need a campaign to get BT to provide international CLI, even if all they send is an 00<country-code> if the rest really isn't available. It can't be any less accurate than a spoofed ID, and for those who get legitimate calls from one country and junk calls from another, it's a quick easy way to tell them apart and ignore the unwanted ones. Other telcos can manage it, so why not BT?


Re: Blocking caller ID

So if you find a call from a withheld number on your home caller ID box then either someone's breaking the law or your partner has the clap.

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