* Posts by Peter2

1605 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Capita: B is for Brexit, C is for cutting costs. Stock exchange: Yay! You guys are awesome

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: It needs to stop


It is very refreshing to hear those comments on comment boards seemingly increasing in guardian commenters.

Most people only believe what they have been taught because they've been taught to believe it. Most people also learn basic reasoning at some point, so if you point out the obvious logical fallacies in what they have been taught then most people will at least consider that they might have been taught nonsense.

It tends to work better than just screaming at somebody that they are wrong without pointing out why.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: It needs to stop

If Margaret had been in charge, there would have been no referendum and Mogg et all would nursing bruises from the repeated handbaggings...

Well, she would still be dead now regardless...

But if a Thatcheresque attitude towards sticking up for UK Plc had been maintained by her successors then personally I think that the EU would look different today and we wouldn't have voted to leave.

Labour promised a referendum on the EU Constitutional treaty. This treaty was rejected by the voters of several different EU countries. It was then rebranded as the Lisbon treaty and signed into law without democratic consent despite being something like 99% identical to the EU Constitutional treaty.

Picking a single point; I rather doubt that Thatcher would have agreed to that being signed into law with the consent of the voters. She'd have fulfilled her promise and given us a vote. We'd have voted it down, and she'd have told them to go back to the drawing board and come up with something that could obtain the democratic consent of the people.

Had that have happened, then the widespread discontent reaching boiling point in almost every EU member state would have remained a small fringe movement instead of having reached boiling point and being about to take an absolute majority in the EU Parliament.

UKIP simply wouldn't have any significantly meaningful reason to exist and we wouldn't have had a vote to exit the EU because we wouldn't have needed one.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: It needs to stop

Thatcher inherited a economy where shipbuilding, aircraft manufacture, the railways, the post office (the GPO was also BT), coal mining, every utility, etc, etc etc had all been bought by the government and was in public ownership. Pretty much all of these industries were also loss making, and the country was literally bankrupt and had to go with the begging bowl to the International Monetary Fund in 1976.

A combination of the unions striking, only having electricity for 3 days a week and the winter of discontent in 1979 led to Labour losing the election in 1979 rather badly and the British public putting Thatcher in with a mandate to sort out the mess. Her solution was devastatingly simple, privatise everything and let it all sink or swim.

It's quite fashionable among the kids today to pretend that the country was a Socialist paradise which was working perfectly, only to be single handedly destroyed by Thatcher. It is rather rare for anybody to suggest any alternative course of action that Thatcher could have taken that would have been viable other than "privatise it all and let the public choose who they want to use".

Personally, I think it's a travesty that civil servants are giving work to companies who they know are going to subcontract it ten times and end up with a crap job done. It appears obvious that the job should be given directly to a contractor who will be responsible for the job, and frankly I think pretty much everybody would support this sort of reform.

I would also quite happily support a state sponsored company competing in an open market on fair terms. If that company is inherently superior, then it'd end up picking up most of the market. The only justification for a public owned monopoly though is a tacit admission that the state has been, is, and will always be crap at running a company precisely because knowing that you will lose your job if you do a sufficiently shit job compared to the competition tends to focus minds.

Knowing that you have a job for life no matter how crap a job you do has proven to be a dead end in this country when tried previously and I personally have no great desire to try it again unless somebody can explain (and preferably demonstrate in the marketplace) what they are going to do differently to the utter failures delivered previously at extreme cost to the taxpayer.

Bombs Huawei... Smartphone exploded in my daughter's pocket, seriously burning her, claims dad in lawsuit

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Original charger (or at least a good one)?

It can also be caused by physical damage to the battery such as bending it by putting it in a jean pocket.

And that is a fault of the designer of the end equipment; the battery compartment should be designed to provide adequate protection to the battery according to the Material Safety Data Sheets that I read for Lithium batteries many years ago.

One can argue that liability is shared due to the fact that the user (possibly) damaged it, but the designer/manufacturer has a good share of the responsibility.

2 weeks till Brexit and Defra, at the very least, looks set to be caught with its IT pants down

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Effects of food import tax

It is only luddite territory if farmers don't use the extra income to purchase the necessary equipment. Remember this equipment doesn't come cheap and its cost has to be found out of income, or are you suggesting that you want cheap food but are happy to pay big subsidies via your tax - ie. pretty much the current situation.

And yet, farmers aren't purchasing this equipment and as noted hardly anybody has heard about it, because newspapers no longer concern themselves with reporting and simple reasoning like "well, what does the rest of the world do?" followed by a google search.

Instead the newspapers are just saying that we need to import fruit pickers because British workers who have done their GCSE's, then their A levels before the first possible opportunity to leave the education system are overqualified to pick fruit in a field, and get paid more via the benefit system for sitting at home watching TV. Hence a need to import unskilled and uneducated labour who will work for the minimum wage. (often minus "accommodation" costs for a berth in a caravan, which is a quasi legal way of paying less than the minimum wage).

The other option of course is importing automation equipment, and then creating semi-skilled & skilled jobs in the operation of that equipment, and the maintenance and servicing of it which British workers do want to do.

The latter might need a few things to help it get started (government loans or grants to buy the equipment?) but why is this not being discussed in the media? It's like there is a conspiracy of silence over this issue but it seems pretty simple.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Effects of food import tax

Picking fruit without damaging it is way more difficult. I think the technology required to do that is about 10 years away.

You think the technology is ten years away? It was thirty years ago. Ten years ago this was winning awards:-


You can look at a wide range of mechanisation equipment on their website:-


How is that ten years away?

The reason Europe has to put large tariffs on to protect our farmers is that the rest of the world is using this stuff, and the EU tarrifs exist to protect the people picking by hand. This is Luddite territory, and absurdly indefensible in the 21st century. While I don't want to see British farmers go out of business and am reasonably happy to pay to maintain British farming I do expect that farming to be done on a modern commercial basis and not as a quasi heritage industry.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Effects of food import tax

Dude, speaking as an Irish worker, we might take your job, we might take your bosses job but we're not going to take the Romanian potato pickers jobs anymore,

The fact that in the 21st century that we are actually importing workers to pick things by hand is indicitive of a really, really serious problem as regards informed discussion of issues.

Nobody would even consider importing an army of foreign workers to harvest corn with a sickle- even heritiage museaums in the UK use steam engines for ploughing, threshing etc, the first combine harvester was introduced in 1835 and nobody alive has seen this done by hand. The idea would be completely laughable, and anybody advocating doing this would be openly mocked as a luddite for wanting to turn back the clock 200 years.

Yet people reading the newspapers think and really beleive that it's a remotely sensible idea to import tens of thousands of very low skilled people to pick potatos by hand instead of just using a potato harvester to do the job.


Picking potatos/fruit by hand is equally as absurd as cutting corn by hand, yet this is not seriously challanged anywhere. How good a job is your newspaper of choice doing on educating you on the issues involved?

NASA's crap infosec could be 'significant threat' to space ops

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Save some money now, we'll deal with it when we get breeched

Back to the real world: If you can somehow get across the message that over 99% of malware infections are caused by the user clicking on something clearly identifiable as malware (like: "Install our free pornvid viewer") then there is some hope of progress.

I personally think that IT staff have about 99% of the responsibility there when it relates to work computers. Software Restriction Policies have been (freely) available in Windows now since XP, which is what, eighteen years ago now?

SRP's allow an administrator to easily select what executable code a user can and cannot run. Changing the security defualt level from "unrestricted" to "disallowed" radically changes the security landscape. Instead of the user being able to run any program from any location the user is then only able to run programs from allowed locations, which by defualt is to only allow the windows system files to run.

If you lock the user to only be able to run programs from locations that they can't write to, then it becomes impossible for a normal user to run any form of unauthorised file containing executable code. (while still allowing them to open word docs, etc) Authorising files is easy, you can do it via a hash of the file or by path. Doing it by path is the easiest way of proceeding; just put policy rules for "unrestricted" to allow any programs to run from %program files% and from %authorised network share%

Hey presto, users can now only run programs that an admin has installed, assuming that you have taken the basic precaution of not letting the users write to the location they can run programs from.

Combine this with locking down other very notorious security holes (only run authorised signed macros) and lock flash down, set Adobe Reader not to download or run stuff via the GPO they provide that barely anybody uses and your attack profile starts shrinking. If you start systematically securing the remaining holes then it doesn't take long before the available attack surface becomes vanishingly small.

Uber driver drove sleeping woman miles away from home to 'up the fare'. Now he's facing years in the clink for kidnapping, fraud

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Wire fraud

I'm British, but searching it comes up with this as a definition.

financial fraud involving the use of telecommunications or information technology.

Which would appear to fit, given that information technology was used to change the destination to commit financial fraud.

From hard drive to over-heard drive: Boffins convert spinning rust into eavesdropping mic

Peter2 Silver badge

Not to forget being in a sealed box under a desk. A pro grade microphone would struggle to record audio under those circumstances.

There's no 'My' in Office, Microsoft insists with new productivity hub

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Why only now?

The LibreOffice is for the most part the OpenOffice crew, minus the oracle management.

Bored bloke takes control of British Army 'psyops' unit's Twitter

Peter2 Silver badge

Brought to you by the same military that pissed 4 Billion up the wall with the nimrod debacle..

To be fair, the Nimrod was in comparison to any of it's competitors (including the P8, which we are going to replace it with) a spectacular aircraft in terms of performance so it was quite reasonable for the RAF to want to keep it with a few improvements, especially if the quote was competitive for doing so. BAE screwed up the project massively, not the RAF.

The problem BAE had was basically modern assumptions and working practices versus the assumptions and working practices of the 1960's.

Modern working practices are that design is done in CAD, and the parts are produced with computer driven equipment to ensure that every two parts are completely, perfectly identical with literally inhuman precision. In the 1960's when the Nimrod was made somebody actually hand made these parts on a Lathe to a paper plan with a human degree of precision.

Back in the 1960's, If a part was a tiny faction of an inch off when it came to fit it then the designers working with a slide rule and a pencil knew that'd happen when they designed it, the fitters knew it'd happen sometimes when they fitted the part, and the fitter reached for a file and filed it down so it'd fit (or it went back on a lathe to trim a thousandths of an inch off) and nobody thought anything of it because it was accepted practice with a small scale production run and fixing little issues like that was part of the job.

In the modern day and age, when the chap tries to slot the parts together and they don't fit everybody involved has a meltdown. The issue gets passed to the line manager, who immediately halts work and passes the issue up to his manager, and so on until it hits the project manager. A cloud of recriminations then drops downwards. Eventually somebody suggests filing a bit off to fit, to somebody sucking air in through their teeth and wondering about the design risk of doing so. A full engineering and risk management review is then conducted, which comes to the conclusion that as long as the two parts meet correctly then it''s as much of an issue as it has been since the aircraft entered service in 1970.

The part is duly filed to fit, and things proceed for another twenty minutes until the next time that 21st century manufacturing practices meet 19th century craftsmanship practices that persisted into the middle of the 20th century.

Rinse and repeat until a handful of the aircraft have been delivered, but the project has overrun for a decade. What somebody ought to have done was come to the conclusion early on that you couldn't interface the new computer built parts with the handmade parts and just built the entire thing from new parts.

This isin't a new issue even in the 20th century, look at the production of the Bofors gun. The Sweedes handbuilt 18 of them for what they wanted, built another 10 for export before then getting orders for a few hundred. These were built with instructions labelled "file this part to fit" before British and the later American mass production started on a larger scale with improved drawings (building a few thousand) and then epic scale when the Americans built an entire industry (~2000 subcontracters) around knocking them out in the tens of thousands with a high degree of precision.

Pour $25m in its coffers and the local NAS box gets it. That's backers' hope for public cloud type Nasuni

Peter2 Silver badge

The storage company's pitch is that a fast access local cache with public cloud back-end object storage can provide local NAS access speed, the immense scalability that local boxes can't deliver

But isin't the entire point of having a NAS box onsite that it's free once for the decade or two after you've bought it?

as well as cloud economics.

Ah. I see why this is a think. So instead of buying a product that you can run until a part dies, you can move to renting it offsite perpetually, initially for a knock down price which is then stepped up considerably as time goes by.

What did turbonerds do before the internet? 41 years ago, a load of BBS

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Not dead yet

before I could get past the level one support, I had to explain to the level one support tech what usenet was. Even the knowledgeable ones said things like "oh, I know that, it's like a web board, right?

In the UK, 1st line on a helldesk used to be £12-£15k in government, with the 15k reached after several years of service. IIRC the ITIL recruitment chapter explicitly says don't bother trying to hire anybody competent because they won't work for the minimum wage, and they'd leave quickly if they are competent.

So if you got somebody who'd heard of usenet in an ITIL enviroment then the recruiter slipped up.

All first line is there to do is eliminate the most stupid of the calls coming in, or the ones that don't actually work for your company. Managing a servicedesk I was surprised that a good half of the calls were dealt with at the first line, either because the device wasn't turned on, the caller didn't work for the company etc and other easily thinned out calls with maybe a minute worth of troubleshooting. (5 minute call length in total; getting the user to give you their name and the asset number of the equipment can easily take 3-4 minutes if you are conversing with some users)

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Innovative sundials?

To be fair, analogue watches don't work in the dark either.

They came up with a solution to that 120 years ago.


When (through error via trial) Radium was discovered to be radioactive and somewhat harmful when the people painting were licking the stuff off the paint brushes, a variety of less lethal substances were used to replace it commonly known as glow in the dark paint, and more recently electroluminescent paint.

Take your pick: Linux on Windows 10 hardware, or Windows 10 on Linux hardware

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Year of the Linux desktop?

What's required is an end to the business agreements that force every PC buyer to purchase a Windows license. All Windows' domination flows from that:

Actually, no, it doesn't.

What it flows from is that practically every bit of serious commercial software that businesses need to be productive is written for Windows. While alternatives do exist, they are considerably less capable and productive.

The alternatives being less productive means that you'd require more people to do the same job, which is why people are willing to pay out significant sums of money for software. (ie, a bit of software costing £5k a year is still cheaper than hiring somebody for even £15k a year) If that software happens to run on Windows, then that OS is the one that's required.

For most businesses, the killer app is (still) Exchange+Outlook. Personally, I think that the web version of office 365 may well end up enabling killing windows on the desktop.

Ever used VFEmail? No? Well, chances are you never will now: Hackers wipe servers, backups in 'catastrophic' attack

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Backups?

Yes, they should have. However, it doesn't sound as if they had terrible security elsewhere, as they commented that the VMs had different authentication and different setups

They got hacked and had all of their data wiped; their security was inadequate to the point of being fair to describe it as "terrible".

Security is more an outcome than a process. Ticking every box and passing an audit but getting hit by something like this fails the ultimate audit called "real life".

Former DXC Technology veep accuses 'toxic' CEO Lawrie of bullying staff in lawsuit

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Welcome to the world of Corporate Exec bastards

The big clue to me is the charge of " insubordination " which is not a thing outside of the armed forces.

HR appears to disagree.

Insubordination in the workplace happens when an employee is disrespectful and defiant by refusing a direct order from a supervisor or entering into a confrontation with a supervisor. When an employee is insubordinate, it does not mean that the employee simply does not agree with the employer or supervisor, but that they are refusing to work.

Kwik-Fit hit by MOT fail, that's Malware On Target

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: re: Too bad they couldn't continue operating as normal with paper records,

Stock? On-site stock? That went the way of the dodo a very, very long time ago. Nobody other than used tyre dealers holds significant amounts of on site stock. Half the "stock" you might see stacked up against the walls in garages are used tyres and parts waiting for the scrap dealer.

Omnipart allows technicians to see both local and national stock levels, as well as price checks, in real time so that garages can have an indication of how long it will take for a part to be delivered. Each Euro Car Parts account customer gets their own Delivery Commitment Service Level Agreement, with stock held in local branches being delivered to garages in as little as 30 minutes or, if a part is stored at a regional distribution centre, within as little as two hours depending on a workshop’s location.


That's ECP. Also see Andrew Page for the other major competitor, with a wide variety of more specialist suppliers.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: re: Too bad they couldn't continue operating as normal with paper records,

The issue is the level of productivity enabled by IT compared to manual processes is on the order of 10x in many industries.

Reverting to a manual paper process therefore means that staff are at absolute best capable of running at about 10% of normal capacity. Using an unfamiliar process that a good three quarters of the staff need training on probably means they are running about a third to half of the speed that is theoretically attainable, so real world you'd probably actually be down to about 3%-5% of normal productivity.

Even if your in a low impact industry where IT has "only" doubled the productivity of all staff, your still looking at only being able to get one half of the jobs done.

For somewhere like Quack Fit the people looking at your car plug it into a computer, ask the computer what's wrong and then it tells them "replace part X92624510", the part fitters drive the car back into the carpark and get the next one while the admin types get the parts, and then when the parts come in the admin types tell the parts fitters and then they get the car and fit them.

When the computer doesn't work then they actually have to revert to skill and experience to debug the problem. As skilled or experienced staff are more expensive, experienced staff tend to end up working for an independent garage they as a general rule don't have either hugely skilled or experienced staff which means that all of the jobs take very considerably longer.

As their workload is based around not actually figuring out what the problem is, and just relying on the diagnostics being right they are buggered without the computers.

Now, my mechanic wouldn't notice his computer being down. But he wouldn't notice that because he doesn't need it for anything but printing the bill out nicely, and he's quite happy to do that on a sheet with a pen. I've driven up to the door when he's been expecting me before and he's just told me what's wrong with it by the sound the car makes, and 40 odd years experience.

But for some reason people would rather regularly pay parts fitters for perfectly good parts to be replaced than pay a mechanic an hours labour to fix the underlying cause of a problem.

Worried about Brexit food shortages? North Korean haute couture has just the thing

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Ahh...

65 million is less that 500 million.

It is yes, however this does actually present certain advantages. The EU has to accommodate the positions of dozens of different countries each wanting to protect their own industries against outside competition. This means that French farmers who are already getting significant amounts of cash via the CAP have really high tariffs to prevent competition.

For instance, while the UK does have a few vineyards most of them are in the southernish parts of Europe. There is a 40% external tarrif on some alcoholic products to protect french, spanish and italian vineyards. The UK on it's own however could happily negotiate this away in trade negotiations without actually incurring any noticeable trade loss. The EU however can't as it would seriously affect other areas of their economy.

Likewise with Chelsea tractors. Since the EU paid for the Land Rover factory to be moved from the UK to Slovakia we wouldn't have any great need to retain the existing EU 25% tariff on these. With a 25% drop in price, American imports become more competitive relative to the EU vehicles. No impact on the UK economy, and if the EU doesn't want to do a trade deal with us then problems it causes them are irrelevant to us.

So being a smaller entity doing negotiations does actually have it's advantages. Hence why the EU is desperate to tie us into a "backstop" with us tied into their rules until we agree a disadvantageous and unchangeable trade deal.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Ahh...

However, leaving the EU means we don't have to impose all those high tariffs on foodstuffs (11% atm).

An average of 11%, which can be from 4%-40% depending on what your importing.

Peter2 Silver badge

Not sure if it's comparable, but salads in the US can be laden with E. Coli :-

As can the ones in the EU, apparently:-


Same problem in both countries; people don't cook (or at least wash) veg before eating them. I'm therefore discounting that as a non issue. Next?

My basic point is simply that a different method of producing safe to eat food often is objected to simply as a barrier to trade rather than because it's actually going to do any harm.

For instance, the OP refers to the practice of giving chickens a mandatory wash with a water/chlorine solution to ensure with complete and 100% certainty that any bacteria is dead before the public gets the food. Is that dangerous? Well, since the water/chlorine solution used is less potent than that found in UK swimming pools one hopes not otherwise by this logic we're all going to die a horrible death. But that would seem a hit hyperbolic...

The EU stated objection to this practice is that it might encourage companies to be more sloppy with other areas of food safety, which makes zero sense. If your after ensuring a safe outcome you mandate minimum requirements and encourage rather than prohibit additional precautions that are taken.

The realistic reason that it's banned is that it's required in the USA, so it's an easy way of banning any meat products of this class from the USA from entering the EU. This is a good example of a non tariff barrier to trade that IMO could be dealt with quite simply by ensuring that things are labelled. That way if it bothers people they have the choice not to eat it.

Peter2 Silver badge

The US cavalry are here to save us: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47036119

lAll we have to do is accept hormone & antibiotic-laden meat & glyphosate etc in agricultural produce. Bleached chicken isn't specifcally mentioned but that's probably in there as well.

Meh, fine with me. Just mandate that any food gets a big sticker stuck on it with the food standards applied to it, and who certifies those standards are being met.

So one sticker for:-

"Organic" standard, EU Food Standard or US Standard

And one sticker for "Self certified to meet that standard, honest!" and another for "3rd party certified to meet that standard & batches randomly checked."

Then people can make a choice on what they buy. Then if you want to buy food self certified to EU standards, which lest we forget in recent memory has included gloriously non compliant beef horse meat burgers, hepatitis ridden sausages and Fipronil in eggs, along with eggs containing nicarbazin, lasalocid and dimetridazole then people can do.

I'd note that EU food standards have caused actual demonstrable harm (the hepatitis issue was discovered by the NHS frantically trying to track down a major public health disaster as an infectious disease spread like wildfire) whereas US food that we do currently import has yet to cause these sort of problems, and no comparable scandals seem to regularly reoccur in the USA. (unless anybody can correct me on this)

My opinion? I'd buy things certified by a third party to be to EU standards, and consider higher quality US stuff. Personally I wouldn't buy self certified EU products, or the cheaper end US stuff until i've done a good amount of research into what goes into them and I doubt that huge numbers of people would do either, but frankly i'd just let people do as they want to. I'm not convinced that the outcomes of food certified to US standards are worse than the outcomes from food (self) certified to be meeting EU standards.

Apple: You can't sue us for slowing down your iPhones because you, er, invited us into, uh, your home... we can explain

Peter2 Silver badge

Apple argued – successfully – in court that consumers can't reasonably expect their iPhone batteries to last longer than a year


It's pretty well established that almost any normal rechargeable battery cell will still provide >80% of the design voltage of the battery after roughly 750 charge/discharge cycles, and will hold >60% to about 1100 charge/discharge cycles before the voltage output of the battery cells starts to drop off on a very, very well understood (but somewhat sharp) curve.

Charged once a day it is therefore well known and expected that things like laptops will last three years (1095 days) in service before dying sometime afterwards. This has remained the case for about thirty years across three major different types of battery tech (Ni-CD, Ni-MH, Li-ion) with more different classes of electronic equipment than people can count. From professional grade walkie talkies to laptops, it's always been reasonably accurate rule of thumb that you'll get at least a thousand charge/discharge cycles from the battery before replacement. (hence 3 year replacement cycles being ubiquitous across many industries with portable equipment...)

So how is the iphone battery only lasting a third of that?

Either it gets three full charge/discharge cycles a day (which I guess is possible with some people?) or it's been specifically designed to become obsolete through an under-provisioned battery that provides insufficient voltage to run the device it's attached to at anything other than ~90% of the initially supplied voltage.

Intel boss: Expect chip shortages into mid-2019, stumbling server processor sales this year

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Expect chip shortages into mid-2019...

A 28 core 3.0 GHz monolithic die will have better performance than an AMD 28 core 3.0 GHz chiplet

. . .

Intel 28 Core Xeon Platinum 8180 Server/Workstation CPU/Processor

£9,508.49 each.

Item currently awaiting an ETA == vapourware

AMD EPYC 7601 32-Core, 64 thread Processor

£3,999.00 each

Released June 2017 == Buy it now. (literally; it's available on Amazon)

So Intel is hoping that their not quite released vapourware is going to be competitive with AMD's current 18 month old hardware with 4 cores disabled? Yep, sounds about right.

As does the fact that despite having superior and cheaper hardware AMD processors are almost impossible to buy through normal sales channels, which doubtlessly has nothing to do with Intel.

Fake broadband ISP support scammers accidentally cough up IP address to Deadpool in card phish gone wrong

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Dirty Scammers

About 45m was my record. I think they've put me on a "don't call this guy" list, I haven't had a call from them since.

The interesting thing is that they wanted to connect to my PC, so getting their IP would have been trivial. However, my phone was away from my computer, so I arbitrarily booted up an old computer in my virtual nightmares, which I decided would be running Win98 to present some challanges, wasted about ten minutes trying to let the person remote into my PC via terminal services (on 98!?) before he even asked which version I was using, which I feigned ignorance of. I actually had to tell him in the end, poor bloke didn't even have an option for Win98, told me that i had to be running XP, Vista or Win7 and refused to take the hint of "it says Windows 98 sideways up the left corner of the startmenu" even after being told. Ho de hum. (even the scammers run scripts?)

He then offered me a download of a different remote access tool, of which the page wouldn't load. Having done remote support for too long I know how bad users can be, so when he told me to type in page.com I typed in pagedotcom and then told him it 404'd. His resulting screaming rage down the phone at me when he realised after about ten minutes of debugging was quite funny, although I had to act out the hurt and distressed user and get him to calm me down and admit that his instructions could be better.

Then when I loaded the page he asked me to click on a button, to which I told him it wasn't there. Why not? I think Win98 came with IE4, and I decided that the website would object and give you a "use a different browser" screen. Que uncontrollable screaming in rage, a colleague at their end trying to calm him down while his manager took over my call. After calming me down from sobbing about how bad their customer service was, we had to download a different browser (on an arbitrarily assigned 56k modem...) then failing to install the remote access program as the AV blocked it, uninstalling the AV & restart, then it being blocked by the firewall, uninstall and restart...

Having almost run out of excuses I eventually "executed" the program in my virtual nightmare.

>pregnant pause<

Scammer> Has it got X displayed on the screen?

Me> No.


Me> Well, it's popped up a blue screen that says "This program has performed an illegal operation of OE at 0x02623154. The current application must be terminated".


Me slightly worried tone: Was it supposed to do that?


You know, if there was a batch of "poison pill" credit card numbers that automatically locked any activity on a merchants account until it's referred to a fraud team for a manual review of the account then it would be quite easy to make scamming rather painful for the scammers.

We did Nazi see this coming... Internet will welcome Earth's newest nation with, sigh, a brand new .SS TLD

Peter2 Silver badge

Except for .uk when ISO says it should be .gb

Yes, somebody there screwed up there in not knowing their British constitutional history/trivia, or looking up the name used internationally at the UN etc.

There are four countries in the UK. England, Wales, Scotland and (northern) Ireland.

England & Wales The Normans invaded England around a thousand years ago and took most of Wales at the same time, and their descendants kept successively chipping away at the increasingly small remaining bits until they basically ceased to exist, hence for constitutional purposes Wales is part of England.

Great Britain is a combination of England + Scotland, under the 1707 act of union.

If you don't abbreviate the UK's title then it's self explanatory without further explanation,The United Kingdom of Great Britain and (northern) Ireland, which came about in 1801.

Hence, if your from England or Scotland then you can correctly refer to your country as being England/Scotland as appropriate. You can also correctly say your from Great Britain, and you can also correctly say that your from the United Kingdom.

However, internationally speaking the UK is the name of our membership of the UN etc, not GB.

As I say, the ISO screwed up there, but it was then just quietly fixed it by assigning us the .uk domain name so life carries on without anybody caring about minor constitutional trivia.

Wow, fancy that. Web ad giant Google to block ad-blockers in Chrome. For safety, apparently

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Why cue the lawyers?

Then fork the bloody thing. This is typed and submitted through a forked version of firefox which was forked mostly because people didn't like the ongoing arbitary decisions about what the users would like. The users (and developers) were basically told "if you don't like it then make your own version", so they did.

It may well in fact be illegal, because they are doing a Microsoft and acting anti competitively.

French diplomat: Spies gonna spy – there aren't any magical cyberspace laws that can prevent it

Peter2 Silver badge

The simple point is that it's not outlawed because there is a fundamental need for countries to have information about what's going on. If it was illegal, then it'd be a universally flouted law.

Spying is basically just like war. Nobody actually wants war, but everybody recognises that it's basically impossible to ban. Hence, they put laws in place such as a requirement to inform countries that they are at war before attacking them, and laws of civilized conduct whilst at war etc.

In the same way, it's commonly accepted that spies will steal information to let politicians know what's going on. It's accepted that they won't then blow up the oppositions factories or arrange "accidents" for competing researchers etc.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Spying is OK as long as WE do it..

One of the causes of WW1 was that governments replied too much on newspaper statements and the public pronouncements of the madder politicians.

I'd disagree rather strongly.

Admiral Fisher retired on reaching 70 years of age in 1911. That year, he predicted that war with Germany would break out in October 1914, following the (then) anticipated completion date of work on the Kiel Canal to allow the passage of battleships.

He was wrong; The Kiel Canal was completed in July 1914, and war commenced in August 1914.

In short, WW1 started when it did because that suited the then German empire. They wanted to escape from being a powerful European power into being a great power with their own (expanded) overseas empire. The problem in this was that Germany was blocked in by the Russian empire to the east, the French empire to the west, and by Britain's Royal Navy by sea. It was also the case that everywhere was already a colony or protectorate of one of the existing colonial countries, so expanding meant doing so at their expense.

The German expectation was that they could have a short victorious war by thrusting into France and taking Paris, and then forcing France out of the war (Schlieffen_Plan) before turning on Russia and knocking them out of the war, and then doing a peace deal with Britain, who couldn't fight alone on land due to having one relatively small army, compared to Germany having quite a few field armies.

Presumably the plan would have been to have been to take colonies as war reparations mostly from France and Russia, and then just get Britain to agree to this so they could actually get to those colonies without being blocked by the RN.

This plan went pear shaped with the first battle of the Marne. Germany ended up trapped fighting a prolonged two front war against both France and Russia, with Britain imposing a naval blockade against Germany and busying itself taking all of the German colonies whilst training up and deploying a preposterously large armed force of ~8.5 million in France and introducing things like Tanks, which the Germans couldn't industrially manage to produce in worthwhile numbers.

So fundamentally, spying wouldn't have helped prevent WW1.

I say let them spy the hell out of one another, and let's have bigger and better Wikileaks.

I honestly doubt that it will make much difference. People only find about about these things when they are covered by the mass media, who are basically a political party in their own right these days and (attempt to) control the flow of information by lying through omission.

UK.gov plans £2,500 fines for kids flying toy drones within 3 MILES of airports

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Droning on

Slightly related, I believe that all these high-profile IT ‘failures’ by Big Corp are no coincidence either. There’s something going on but I can’t put my finger on it. Some sort of agenda or plan or something.

Reducing the IT wage bill by firing anybody trained or experienced who knows what they are talking about to be replaced with somebody in India who doesn't know what they are talking about and who has barely got the competence to read off a script but whom is cheap to employ? It's not exactly a state secret.

Oh, and reducing capital expenditure on servers by putting all servers "in the cloud", which results in operational expenditure of about 3x the cost of running services on site through life. It also means that when something breaks then your at the mercy of an external supplier who you can't affect or put any pressure on, because they aren't your customer.

Holy crappuccino. There's a latte trouble brewing... Bio-boffins reckon 60%+ of coffee species may be doomed

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Yawn

But if there aren't diseases then why would you go hunting for wild coffee plants?

I have a sneaking suspicion that if there was a multi billion quid economic incentive to do so then an awful lot of wild coffee species might be discovered in a hurry.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Temperature?

Unless you do an Israel, build desalination plants and create your own river from seawater and then export the surpluses that you don't need.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Isn't this old news?

News organisations get more page views ( and more page views, more advertising revenue) for stating that the end is nigh. People are also quite likely to pay attention to dire warnings, because it's evolutionary beneficial; people who ignore danger tended to die in ye olde days. A news story stating that "companies profit margins could be hit by having to replant different crops" gets less views than an alarmist headline about "you won't have coffee in a few years time".

When I was at school, I was told that the worlds fossil fuels would be completely depleted by 2020 and we'd all be stranded without fuel for the cars, might starve as transport collapses and that we'd all freeze to death without heating. This year, I think everybody would agree that's not likely to happen next year (or in the foreseeable future) as a result of depletion of fossil fuels.

French data watchdog dishes out largest GDPR fine yet: Google ordered to hand over €50m

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Wishful thinking

I do.

In about twenty years, after two hundred separate appeals have made their way through the courts despite every delaying tactic available to the legal system.

RIP 2019-2019: The first plant to grow on the Moon? Yeah, it's dead already, Chinese admit

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Bad planning

So, use a Tesla again, and then use an Orion drive? Obviously a very early proof of concept wouldn't need the pusher plate or shielding just to see if it works. :/

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Cotton, really?


But if you were going along the route of self sufficiency on survival needs then it would run:-








Clothing is last on that list. I'd have thought that the first priority would be getting enough plants growing to be able to use simultaneously as Co2 sinks and a food source. (with the added criteria of using as little water as possible, since presumably shipping water (or recovering moisture from the air) would be expensive.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Bad planning

I'm not sure that such a small number would really give a scientifically useful result. I mean, you have one control in there but he's widely suspected to be a fruitcake, and you know how long your grans inedible fruitcake lasts. I'm sure that would survive being frozen and baked without becoming less edible.

Clearly the control group needs to be of a reasonable size. So, the entire commons, plus any member of a political party sitting in the house of lords?

Diplomat warns that tech industry has become a pawn as politicos fight dirty

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: National Champions

. . .

History lesson: Thatcher inherited a economy where shipbuilding, aircraft manufacture, the railways, the post office (the GPO was also BT), coal mining, every utility, etc, etc etc had all been bought by the government and was in public ownership. It was also all loss making, and the country was literally bankrupt and had to go with the begging bowl to the International Monetary Fund in 1976.

They imposed conditions upon the loan, ie sort out the fact that the entire country was in public ownership and loss making. Labour tried to sort out the problems with these industries as hard as was politically possible. The unions responded with mass strikes and in the winter of discontent in 1978 the country had a 3 day working week and only had power for parts of the day.

The country was tired of the unions and the entire mess generally, and put Thatcher in with a strong mandate to sort the entire mess out in 1979. There was frankly fuck all anybody could do in this situation but the course that was picked; sell everything loss making off and let the industries sink or swim.

There are four sets of people that have a fair share of the blame here.

1) The people who bought companies/industries for UK PLC to start with (most of which were at least breakeven when they were bought, to be converted to loss making entities when owned by UK PLC)

2) The unions who prevented the loss making industries from being reformed to profitability, which enmasse actually bankrupted the country.

3) The people who privatized the entire sorry loss making lot.

4) The people running those businesses who then went bust.

If you think that only one of these groups was responsible; why is that? Have you been the victim of propaganda filled stories? Additional exercise for the reader; what are the people lying about it hoping to gain via those lies? Public support for buying up every industry again, by any chance?

This must be some kind of mistake. IT managers axed, CEO and others' wallets lightened in patient hack aftermath

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Seems legit

Most British people (even in IT) wouldn't know what the N3 is either.

Simplistically*, it's the NHS National Network. The connections don't connect to the internet directly, but to the NHS national VPN. Thus, connections between two NHS sites are secured by the national level VPN, even if they aren't secured directly at the sites.

There is (obviously) a connection to the internet via N3, however it's secured against the internet being able to directly access things on the N3.

It's expensive because the NHS is the worlds 5th largest organisation by number of staff, beaten only by the US & Chinese armies, McDonalds and the Wallmart group. Out of those, only the US military has a secured physical network along the lines of the NHS and their network would crash and burn under the traffic loads on the NHS network.

*Please note the setup has been simplified for clarity to the point it's accuracy could be challenged by an pedant suffering from OCD.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Seems legit

I read that as in "why does an end user need full unfettered internet access"?

To which the answer is "they don't".

From there the question is how much restriction you do. Pretty much every firm in existence is running a small blacklist of sites end users shouldn't be accessing. (eg, porn sites etc) some other firms have a larger blacklist also containing sites that aren't work related but that people spend time on during working hours.

I don't think many firms identify specifically which websites employees need to do their jobs and block everything but those sites on the employers network though, if that was what you meant.

Army had 'naive' approach to Capita's £1.3bn recruiting IT contract, MPs told

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Lieutenant General Tyrone Urch

This is not a historically quiet level of military deployments. This is a historically normal level.

Look at the years Labour was in power and the number of times they deployed the military. Now, go back through the British military history. Find another period (excluding world wars) when the military had been deployed as many times on different operations in such a small time period.

I'll save you the trouble if you like? Last time would have been over 200 years ago during the Napoleonic wars. The Napoleonic wars truthfully should be a world war given that it makes the much later first world war look like a minor border skirmish.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Lieutenant General Tyrone Urch

The real killer in this article that most people seem to be missing is that it reveals the entire reason recruitment was outsourced to Capita.

Lt Gen Urch added that the contract had released 900 soldiers back to the front line back when the UK was still heavily involved in Afghanistan

So, an overstretched and under-resourced army was committed by our glorious political leaders to fight a war with objectives beyond it's ability to achieve. To make up a growing shortfall of soldiers when it's numbers were being cut the army was forced to gut core activities such as recruitment to put an additional ~1% on the frontline by outsourcing a core function to Capita.

Forget Finding Nemo: This AI can identify a single zebrafish out of a 100-strong shoal

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: sometimes humans have to manually label the pictures

You wouldn't. It's called "finding nemo" because "Nemo" means "nobody" in Latin.

So it's not following the fish. Says so right there in the title. ;)

Huawei sales director nicked in Poland on suspicion of 'spying'

Peter2 Silver badge



"newsflash: polish citizen arrested in China, following the recent arrest of a Canadian citizen following well publicised arrests of Chinese citizens"

"newsflash: expat workers leaving China as quickly as contractually possible. One worker commented to imaginary news "i'm not doing 20 years in prison just because somebody got arrested on the other side of the planet, I can get the same pay in other countries!"

"newsflash: China hit by massive skills crisis as foreign workers flee China"

"newsflash: China economic growth drops sharply, amid skills crisis."

"newsflash: Chinese government launches a study to consider factors that may be driving foreign workers to leave China, promising to discover and resolve factors driving away workers. Asked if this represents a change of policy towards prosecuting random foreign workers in China when their governments upset the Chinese government the spokesman said "no comment" but off the record senior sources say that they recognise that "it was a serious mistake made by a junior staff member without adequate supervision"

SpaceX sends Iridium-8 into space while Musk flaunts his retro rocket

Peter2 Silver badge

To be fair, have you ever worked in or otherwise heard of any organisation of ~six thousand employees without a few hundred people who could fairly be described as "dead wood" where the more competent and productive staff end up having to spend time fixing the work done by the incompetent?

Amazon exec tells UK peers: No, we don't want to be dominant. Also, we don't fancy being taxed on revenues

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Tax allowance for costs is a grace

Personally, I think that the entire tax system needs a radical revamp. However, absent of that happening the companies abusing the existing system need to be hammered sufficiently hard to recoup the lost revenue and discourage other companies from playing the same games.

Lest we forget, that lost tax money is contributing towards an financial crisis in public sector finances.

Peter2 Silver badge

Re: Tax allowance for costs is a grace

Not to mention the chaps other argument:-

we invested £9.3bn in the UK in the last eight years and obviously that has an impact on profitability in the short term."

In other words, we made 9.3 billion profit in the last eight years, but spent that 9.3 billion on buying other companies that actually pay tax which results in that cost as being counted as an investment. We've converted the tax bill to investments in buying other companies that were paying tax too and repurposed that expenditure towards tax evasion too. Everybody wins, our management get bonuses, the tax lawyers make a lot and we give the workers and extra pea at Christmas so we don't look too scrooge like.

So everybody wins, except the tax payer who loses about £1.2 billion short a year. And they are only having to borrow £1.9 billion a year to keep the hospitals etc open. After all, it's not like we're the only company doing this, lots of companies are at it so it'd be unfair to single us out!

That revenue tax can't arrive soon enough as far as i'm concerned.

Senator Wyden goes ballistic after US telcos caught selling people's location data yet again

Peter2 Silver badge

Yes. Law enforcement isin't paying them for it and wants it for FREE. The warrant forces the provider to provide the information without payment.

No doubt a sufficiently large cash payment would result in the same information being handed over. I'd suggest crowdsourcing a few million and buying the information of people in your government and start publishing what they do and where they go, laws will be passed to deal with the problem very, very quickly.

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