* Posts by SImon Hobson

1721 posts • joined 9 Sep 2006

How many Reg columnists does it take to turn off a lightbulb?

SImon Hobson Silver badge
Pint

Re: Long way around the barn!

1) Insert keycard in slot beside door to switch on all lights

Ah, well there was my first stumbling point once, many years ago. I got sent abroad to one of a customer's foreign sites - in a place with lots of sun. Got to the hotel, got given a card for the room, went up in the lift and found myself in a corridor darker than the command centre of a submarine in night combat mode. After a few minutes in the gloom, I got enough vision to find my door, and entered the room.

Being a hot and sunny place they had full blackout curtains that were automatically left fully closed by the staff - so the room was even darker than the corridor, especially when the door closed itself behind me. By feel I managed to find what felt like some light switches - but they did nothing but make a quiet clicking noise. I managed to make my way across to the window by following the pinpricks of light that got through the blackout like a starry night and allowed some light into the room.

it was only then that I found this slot thing next to the light switches, and by experiment found that shoving the card into it made the lights work. Yes I know it sounds daft, but I'd never even heard of this sort of "feature" (I'd call it a bug myself) before - I'd always had hotel rooms with ordinary lights, the sort that come on when you switch them on, and go off when you switch them off.

I did however realise the value of the blackout curtains. Some years before that I'd found myself in a hotel in Stockport during some strange season referred to as summer - "what on earth is this hot weather ?" sort of stuff. Each day I got back from the course, I'd find the room doing a fair impression of an oven - with all the windows closed even though I'd purposely left them open. A little bit of exploration found that the only place in the hotel that was air conditioned was the bar - which made a decent excuse I suppose :-)

We'll help you get your next fix... maybe, we'll think about it, says FTC: 'Right to repair' mulled

SImon Hobson Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: If someone burns his house or is electrolocuted after his own repairs, what about the warranty?

Pedant alert ...

Anyway, we've had high voltage everywhere since electricity in the home

Actually, apart from inside things like valve TVs and radios, there isn't high voltage in the home - and I don't think there ever has been. The international standard sets "high voltage" as over 1000V for AC - and the nominal 110/220/230/240 (depending on where you are) comes in as "low voltage". The things most people refer to as low voltage (eg the 12V wall wart for the router) is actually "extra low voltage" (<50V AC and some other figure I can't recall for DC).

It may seem pedantic, but it can be rather important to get terminology right when talking about 'lectricery.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Why is voiding of warranty a problem?

There's another issue - where the warranty might only cover certain parts (or there might be different warranty lengths for different parts) which is common in things like printers with lots of moving parts. As an example, some years ago we had a few "not very cheap" label printers for producing the product labels to go on the stuff we made. The barcode requirements are quite strict - and if substandard, some large retailers will simply return all the stock to you. We even had to have different printers for different barcode sizes - it's to do with the elements*/mm in the print head.

If you've ever looked at a barcode label and seen white lines across it (normally in the same direction as the lines in the barcode run) then this is normally a sign that there's a broken element* in the printhead that made it. When you've a printhead something like 100mm wide, with 300 elements*/mm, then it only takes a tiny bit of grit to cut into one or more elements* and you need to replace the printhead. Even if you keep the place very clean (and this is in a factory), just the wear of the ribbon passing over the printhead will eventually start taking out elements.

We went through a bit of "discussion" with the printer supplier until they pointed out something they'd never mentioned when we were buying the printers - the printhead was explicitly excluded from the warranty (and no I don't recall whether anyone read the very small print). To avoid the man hours costs, we got one of our own people trained in how to replace and align the printheads - something that happened every 2 or 3 months IIRC.

So in this case, you've got a situation where there's a non-warranty part replacement required - and you'd not want the manufacturer disclaiming the warranty on the rest of the machine because you replaced the consumable part yourself. Note that the consumable part wasn't a "click out and click in" replacement - it needed partial dismantling of the machine and then careful alignment afterwards.

* For those that don't know how such things work ... These were thermal transfer printers, where a sandwich of backing carrier (waxed paper), label, and wax coated plastic ribbon passes under a printhead and driven by a rubber roller that both drives the labels along and applies pressure to keep the labels, ribbon, and printhead in contact with each other. The printhead contains lots of small resistors, which when powered will heat up enough to melt the wax so it transfers from the plastic ribbon to the surface of the label.

For barcode applications, dimensional tolerances are quite tight - so you always try and print the lines of the barcode along the direction of travel of the labels. That way, the lines (especially the "cleanness" of the edges) is defined by the geometry of the elements and not by how fast or slow they turn on and off. If you print them the other way, the lines are not as crisp as the elements take time to heat up and cool off - and this can vary between elements as well which makes the lines slightly jaggy as well as fuzzy.

It may not be immediately obvious to those accustomed to (eg) modern laser printers which will scale a font to any size and print nice smooth text, but you can't do that with barcodes. Each element in the printhead must be either 100% inside or 100% outside of the line you want to print - if it falls partway then you end up with a line that is either too wide (element turned on) or too narrow (element turned off). This means that for each size of barcode, you must have a printer with one of a set number of elements/mm in it's printhead. IIRC we had a 208element/mm head machine for printing "80%" barcodes (that's 80% of the nominal size laid out in the specs) - with a 300element/mm you could only do a 75% barcode, and some retailers refused to accept that size even though their tills would happily scan them. "The spec says 80% minimum, so we're applying it because we can" mentality from certain buyers - we even had a case where a retailer had accepted 75% barcodes for years, then the buyer changed and refused to accept anything smaller than 80%.

Yes, being able to talk about EAN symbologies is a quick way to get labelled a geek at social gatherings !

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Those "gotten wet" sensors are knock to be extremely inaccurate

I don't own one, but were I in a situation where I wanted a repair and they said "no way, it's been wet" I'd turn around and say "legally imposed implied term of fitness for purpose - it's not been dunked or otherwise abused, so if the moisture sensor is a factor then it clearly wasn't fit for the purpose of being used as a mobile phone with all that implies (such as being kept in a pocket and subject to sweat, or used in British weather". In the UK the law is very clear on that - goods must be fit for the purpose for which they are sold and you cannot change that with any contract wording (any contract clause trying to would automatically be void).

In practice, what (anecdotally from what I've seen online) seems to happen is that if challenged they will offer a "goodwill" repair - for the simple reason that they don't want a public showing of how they are breaking the law and tip off the less knowledgeable/belligerent customers as to how to enforce their rights.

Facebook blames 'server config change' for 14-hour outage. Someone run that through the universal liar translator

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Not sure the comparison is valid

I'm very pleased to be off Faecebook

Oh you poor deluded soul. You can never leave FaecesBorg - like the Hotel California, you can check out, but you can never leave.

They will still be tracking you, they will still be holding and using all that information gained back then and since. Leaving is just an illusion.

Year 1 of GDPR: Over 200,000 cases reported, firms fined €56 meeelli... Oh, that's mostly Google

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Companies going too far.

After speaking to them, GDPR was blamed for being unable to communicate price changes to me.

Just another case of companies not knowing what the rules are - there's a long history of that !

One example I recall from a couple of decades ago was when I put all my employers numbers on both the TPS and FPS in an attempt to cut down on the junk calls/faxes. Not long after, I was informed that we needed to remove one of the numbers from the FPS because a service they subscribed to (a weekly market intelligence report by fax) couldn't send them the fax as the number was on the FPS. I responded "quite bluntly" that the accuracy of anything coming from a company which had so little knowledge of the rules regarding the TPS and FPS was of "questionable accuracy". When the jist of my response was fed back to the service provider, I believe they modified their systems and the information faxes from them started coming in again.

Just like your example, the company had failed to grasp the difference between unsolicited marketing communications, and those happening as a result of a contract with them.

Packet switching pickle prompts potential pecuniary problems

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Back in my NetWare days

one of the network printers

Ah yes, the joys of ISDN dial-on-demand :-)

Some years ago my employer opened offices in a couple of other European offices - well actually I think it was some form or either joint venture or merger, but that's not important right now. Anyway, I initially setup ISDN dial on demand - we already had ISDN in our main router at HQ so just needed an ISDN-2 line at each remote office. The application in use ran on a Unix (SCO OpenServer before SCO committed suicide) using text terminals and text printers. it worked fine, when someone accessed the system, the network dialled up and apart from a second or two delay initially no-one noticed what went on in the background.

Until that is, staff decided that the way to cancel a print job was to just turn the printer off. Being hung off a networked printer server using reverse telnet, all that happened was the Unix box back in the UK kept trying to send more data and getting told by the terminal server that it couldn't take it yet - all weekend ! I happened to notice on Monday morning, can't remember why, probably because I was having a poke around the network to see what was going on, or perhaps noticed the active print queue job.

After management were informed of the cost of the weekend long call (around £300 IIRC), staff at the remote sites were reminded (yet again) of the correct procedure for cancelling print jobs. When we got the proper network in place (Frame Relay, who remembers that !) it became mostly moot - except when one site regularly had to run over ISDN until the telco finally did some proper tests and found the split pairs causing failures on the FR connection.

Dear Britain's mast-fearing Nimbys: Do you want your phone to work or not?

SImon Hobson Silver badge

A while ago I went to a local community group meeting. The point of discussion I went for was something else, but there was a short bit before that about plans for a new mobile mast. It seems most were against it, and many would have preferred the operator (Vodamoan IIRC) to spend more putting in several much smaller installations.

It was hard work, but I managed to resist chirping up that those saying that Vodamoan should spend more than they have to have almost certainly complained about their mobile bills, complained about coverage, and "shopped around" for the best deal (or some combination of those). It seems that most people lack the ability to see a link between what a business spends (eg on multiple smaller masts vs one larger one) and what that business needs to charge it's customers.

For good measure, I see that it seems to be going ahead - several equipment cabinets have appeared at the site. However they are on the pavement rather than on the large grassy area where they wouldn't be in the way. Why ? I believe plans for the project (including putting the cabinets out of the way on the grassy bit) were vetoed by local politicians, but by putting the cabinets on the pavement the operator gets to use different rules.

When 2FA means sweet FA privacy: Facebook admits it slurps mobe numbers for more than just profile security

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: And they have all those phonebooks nice data anyway....

<emThere are zero provisions in GDPR that prevent a data grabber from obtaining people's information from OTHER people</em>

Wrong. Unless they have another lawful basis for processing (which would not apply here), then the data processor MUST have the consent of the person to whom the information relates. It does not matter where they get that data, they must have the consent of that person.

So if another person uploads their contact list with my details in, the data processor (in this case, FaecesBorg) would be breaking the law to use it.

If that wasn't the case, then it would be really easy for everyone to use these "got it from someone else" techniques to sidestep the law. But GDPR is clear on this - if a data processor gets information from a 3rd person, they must be able to show that they have the necessary processes/controls in place to be sure that that 3rd party did legitimately obtain the data and the data subject gave their informed consent for it to be shared.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Translation: "We hear you. We don't care.

Translation: "We need to hide things better in future". There, fixed it for you.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: And they have all those phonebooks nice data anyway....

How many data Facebook has about people who never accepted to have those data used by Facebook? Is it legal, especially under GDPR - a third party can't consent to have my data collected.

It wasn't legal before GDPR, GDPR hasn't actually changed anything in that respect other than the potential penalties.

Under GDPR and earlier UK & EU data protection law, you would need the informed consent of EVERY other person before uploading their contact details (via a phonebook slurp) to the likes of FaecesBorg. To think that FaecesBorg weren't aware of that but just figured the potential costs were less than the realisable profits would be naive to say the least !

Under GDPR the penalties are such that FaecesBorg won't be able to ignore them forever, and when they find that the law does apply to them then they'll find their business model is dead. There are already cases that have been started, but it'll take some time for them to work their way through the system of various tribunals, courts, appeals etc.

SImon Hobson Silver badge
Big Brother

Like the Hotel California, you can leave leave. Unlike the Hotel California, you can't even check out.

Sure, we've got a problem but we don't really want to spend any money on the tech guy you're sending to fix it

SImon Hobson Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Travelling to client sites

Ah yes, the "you MUST attend meetings.

Some years ago the company I worked for managed to get a major retailer as a customer - and we (3 of us, representing 3 roles) had to go to a meeting at their headquarters in south Wales. So up very early for a long drive - which thanks to an accident on the M5 ended up at something like 10 hours. The meeting gets to my part (dealing with EDI) and the entire meeting which I HAD to attend consisted of just 4 sentences :

Do you already have EDI ?

Yes

What formats do you support ?

Tradacoms 9, or if you need it Tradacoms 8

Yes, those 2 questions, which could have been handled over the phone or by email required me to travel to the other end of the country for an 18 hour day of which most was spent in the car. All because the customer has this "if you want to deal with us, you must have this meeting face-face" rule.

So Windrush happened, and yet UK Home Office immigration data still has 'appalling defects'

SImon Hobson Silver badge

... must be presumed to be legally in the UK

Yes, in a just world anda country that prides itself on having a sense of fairness - that would be what happens. However, under the policies implemented during the reign of Treasonous May in hte Home Office, they have a policy of "you are an illegal immigrant, with no rights to anything unless you can prove you aren't".

In a fair system, it would be a case of at least giving people an automatically renewed, time limited, right to remain while disputes and appeals are worked out. But no, it's deport first, ask questions later. And if you avoid deportation, then you lose the roof over your head (thanks to the "right to rent" requirements that have just been declared illegal) and the money to put food on the table (because of similar rules on employment). Of course, after a few years (some people have been fighting Home Office incompetence for over SIX years) you may win - but you won't ever get back what you lost.

It's an embarrassment to everyone in this country with any sense of decency.

Ah, this military GPS system looks shoddy but expensive. Shall we try to break it?

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: waste

Ah yes, been on the receiving end of that at times ;-)

Many many years and several work hats ago we had a local part of the NHS as a customer. We knew that they were looking at a colour printer and that the year end was coming up. We'd recently seen a nice wax transfer job at a trade show and mentioned it to the customer - who found that they has just enough budget to be spent in the next fortnight to pay for one. This was back in the days when "colour laser" meant something like a £25k Canon CLC500 plus another £10k of image processor - so something like £4k for a wax transfer job was cheap 8-O

Phoned the manufacturer's agent to order the printer and they asked when we wanted a demo for the customer. It took a while of "no, no, we've already sold it" and "but no-one buys one without seeing a demo" conversation before we won and it was ordered - and delivered and invoiced to the customer with a few days to spare.

As far as I know, we only ever sold them one set of consumables as they'd decided it was too expensive to actually use !

But yes, the whole "spend it or lose it" mentality is crazy. Managing to not spend a full budget should get praise, not punishment. It may be, as has happened several times in less distant jobs, that a project has been put back - and so the expenditure goes back into a later finance year.

We're not throttling you, says Vodafone, claiming slow vid streaming is down to the 'cards'

SImon Hobson Silver badge
FAIL

At my last place they went with several FTTC lines from Vodamoan when we were decommissioning services that rellied on an old legacy circuit we'd had for years - started off with Yourcomms, then Thus, Then Clueless and Witless, and finally Vodamoan. With each acquisition and merger, knowledge would get lost, and service level would go down - and eventually Vodamoan announced that they were shutting down that legacy network.

To say the task of getting 5 FTTC lines installed and working "didn't go well" would be a massive understatement. By the time I left, one of the lines still didn't work - after something like 9 months ! In the meantime, as a "plan B" we got a FTTC line in from another provider we used - and despite several problems requiring 2 "cease and reprovide"s to fix, had a working line in about 2 weeks from ordering.

Add in some of the completely bogus carp they didn't tell us about - like "you can only use our router" (it's a pile of sh1t and many businesses have their own requirements) and "you can't have a single fixed IP, you have to pay extra for a block of 5", and "you have to phone the residentiall helpline and ask to be transferred to business" - and no, I couldn't recommend them for anything.

Oh, and don't get me started on their nationwide outage on business services which was caused by a catalogue of failures that could have been foreseen by anyone who'd skimmed through "networking and systems monitoring for dummies".

Icon says what I think of them.

Crowdfunded lawyer suing Uber told he can't swerve taxi app giant's £1m legal bill

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Downvoted because I don't think you read the same article I did.

This isn't about shady practices like Crossley was found guilty of, it's about someone standing up for "right" and big business using massive legal bills to try and stop him taking it further. Uber's business model relies on ignoring laws or at least applying "interesting" interpretations - no the drivers aren't employees so we can skip all those employer costs and obligations, no we aren't providing the services so we can ignore that pesky VAT, and so on.

This guy is trying to get a ruling on the VAT - and if he wins it sounds like Uber could be on the hook for a very very large amount of cash. It sounds like they are deliberately loading up the legal fees - nah, one barrister isn't enough, lets use 5, sort of thing - in an attempt to frighten him off. In the subject of this article, he was trying to get a court to limit the costs that he'd face if he loses - and he's failed to get that.

Techie in need of a doorstop picks up 'chunk of metal' – only to find out it's rather pricey

SImon Hobson Silver badge

In school metalwork classes we had a soapy liquid that we applied liberally when using vertical drills. Think the lathes had a supply too

Yup, standard option on metalworking machines - often referred to colloquially as "suds".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutting_fluid

When I started as an apprentice at a large engineering firm <cough> decades ago, part of one of the safety lectures was about the risks from cutting fluid - referred to as Gluta which I suspect was a trade name at the time. It was white and looked like milk - so one trick that had been used before then was to replace someone's milk in a carton with Gluta, which the target would then drink by mistake and get very seriously ill.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Cyanide salt solution by themselves are not dangerous

Ah, that's good to know .....

Many years ago, with a different work hat on, a colleague and myself were involved in moving all the IT when one of our remote offices (part of another company ours had acquired) to a new location. My colleague was at the old site busy packing stuff up, and I was at the new site unpacking it as it arrived - and getting the networking stuff setup in preparation.

My colleague left the other site when he'd finished, and we heard that had he been another 5 minutes then he'd have been stuck there for some time. Someone had found a large bottle labelled Cyanide in the cellar of a house and the Police had locked down the area while the nasties clean up squad removed it.

Granddaddy of the DIY repair generation John Haynes has loosened his last nut

SImon Hobson Silver badge

I gave up once I got a car that was all electronics ...

For me it was not the electronics, but the slide into "too technical for a mere amateur" territory. Back in the day, they would have instructions for a (say) full gearbox overhaul - complete with all the settings/measurements/etc. I mostly gave up on them some time ago when the (for example) gearbox section comprised of words to the effect of "not a DIY job".

Fun fact: GPS uses 10 bits to store the week. That means it runs out... oh heck – April 6, 2019

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Ephemeris data required

But won't that also be using the same length of week number ? At least, I'd have hoped they'd be consistent.

If they didn't do something stupid and use different formats, then the device would just think it's at some time in the past - and so are all the satellites. The time of day may be wrong (not sure why as it would only be the week that's wrong) but the position should still be correct. Might be some problems around rollover time if the GPS uses a different format internally - but that's likely to just cause it to have to do a completely cold start and find a satellite to download data from again.

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

SImon Hobson Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Backups?

That, and I've never had trouble getting a customer that has previously lost data to budget for one to do them properly.

Over the years, with various hats on (variously in house and providing services to clients) there's always been the notion that the easiest time to sell backup to [the client|manglement] is when lack of a proper backup has caused data loss. At my last job I did my best with the budget allowed to me (zero, just what I could scavenge as other stuff got upgraded) - I had rolling multi-copy backups but was never happy that while they were on separate disks, they were in the same box as one of the VM hosts. Unfortunately I never managed to scrape together the hardware to replicate the backups to another site I had available to me - and even then it would have left us open to this sort of thing.

But it does look like it was a really deliberate job if the criminals (lets call them what they are) were able to compromise a range of systems with different authentications.

Cheap call? Hardly. GSM gateway judicial review to settle whether UK Home Sec can legally push comms watchdog around

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Opportunist litigation.

every SIM card used in a GSM gateway was a breach of the T&C’s and explicitly not allowed

But that's a contractual matter between the litigants and the mobile network operators. This case is about a government minister explicitly "outlawing" their business even though the law as laid down by parliament says otherwise (according to the litigants).

I think that if you had a business that was legal, regardless of what anyone thought of it, you'd be a bit peed off if a government minister "just killed it" by signing a letter ordering a regulator to change the rules.

European Commission orders mass recall of creepy, leaky child-tracking smartwatch

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Also if this is an old product and it's not on the market anymore, why are the backend servers still running?

Perhaps "not on the market any more" =/= "no longer used by anyone". Or put another way, you don't shut down the required infrastructure when the last unit goes out the warehouse door - unless you're Google and have just "terminated" Revolv hubs.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/04/06/nest_kills_revolv/

Our vulture listened to four hours of obtuse net neutrality legal blah-blah so you don't have to: Here's what's happening

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Thank you

Here is what we all want :

We pay $x for x speed at x reliability at less than x latency.

... If they slow down another providers content, it is a breach of contract and theft. Sue them. ... Class action lawsuit and BAM problem solved. And not just with AT$T, the other carriers did not try it after that either.

Big problem with that, all the provider has to do is sell you a target speed 100Mbps service - but only guaranteed to be minimum of 10kbps; and with latency target of <1ms - but only guaranteed to be less than 10s; and with target availability of 99.999% but with no guarantee of any availability.

Great you say, no-one would sign up to that rubbish. Correct, in most of the UK we have a choice of real providers and someone trying that crap would find few takers. But AIUI the state of internet provision in the USA, people would still buy it on the basis that it's better than no connection at all - having the choice of one incumbent since the cable industry did such a good job of carving up the market into several monopolies.

So having signed up to such a service, you are not going to be able to sue because it's unlikely that they'll fail to provide what they guaranteed.

This is where Pai's arguments fall down - backed up by the FCC's blatantly false reporting of the market situation to the government committees that oversee such things. If there's no market, then simply requiring transparency won't help - all it means is that the local monopoly would have to describe their bad service accordingly while people would still be forced to buy it. If there were a true market then it would deal with the situation - the cable co's would find themselves competing with providers who didn't throttle (eg) Netflix, and losing. But there isn't, so they won't.

Jammy dodgers: Boffin warns of auto autos congesting cities to avoid parking fees

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: I said that!

... also double as charging stations for the people who can't charge their car at home

Two problems with that :

The first is purely practical - at the moment they don't have automated plug-in and unplug. Though I guess that could probably be solved.

The other is a bit more difficult. Work out the power requirement of a large scale car park with lots of charging stations - and you're looking at MASSIVE investment in getting the power there. And lets not mention the need for a sh*tload of additional low/zero carbon generating capacity which in practice means a good few new nuclear power stations ...

In both cases (robotic connections and the power supply), that massive investment will need to be recovered - so these will not be inexpensive car parks to use.

UK spy overseer: Snooper's Charter cockups are still getting innocents arrested

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: meanwhile elsewhere

It's the same here in the UK - except that they don't actually have locks, just a standard triangular key. Manholes (pits) just need standard manhole cover keys - which isn't a key (as in security), just a tool for lifting the cover.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Wrong IP? Pah - Try Plusnet!

... and are keeping the password in plaintext/reversable enc ...

IIRC the plaintext password is needed for CHAP - and CHAP avoids the need to send the password across the wire in plaintext. While there are probably better ways of doing it, they have to support what is actually supported in routers.

Trying to log into Office 365 right now? It's a coin flip, says Microsoft: Service goes TITSUP as Azure portal wobbles

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Century Link

That wouldn't be an excuse.

One of the great claims for "cloud" is the ability to have stuff in different locations etc. MS have enough scale for the loss of "a link" to perhaps cause a slight blip while the system reconfigures - but having an outage like this because of "a link failure" would imply a complete noob approach to networking resilience.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Fragility of DNS

... why Google is trying to move Android users over to Chrome and their own DNS so that Android users can survive some imminent DNS apocalypse?

Nah, if there is such an impending apocalypse (which I doubt) then it's only incidental if Google's DNSoverHTTPS avoids the issue. One real reason is to make sure that your DNS goes via Google.

The claim is that it avoids people seeing your DNS queries - but of course we all trust Google with our information don't we ?

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

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Attitude

Actually the only limit is the 6 year statute of limitation for civil cases - the law specifies "reasonably durable" without specifying what that means. Clearly if you paid a fiver for a second hand phone off a market stall then your expectations might not be too high; but when you've paid perhaps getting on for a month's take home pay then you'd expect it to last pretty well.

As others have commented, I;ve had phones last "a long time" - so long in fact that I really can't remember how long. I think I used my Treo 650 for over a decade and only upgraded when I just couldn't get by without "modern" features like WiFi, larger screen, web browser that can cope with modern web pages, etc. I've had a Moto G (early model) for a good few years, and only replaced that (I've still got it and still use it for some things) because one of the lasses upgraded to an S8 and I got her S6.

I hope the appellants' lawyers pick up on this "can't expect it to last more than a year" and (metaphorically) really run Apple's nose in it.

Gripe to UK, Ireland, Poland: Ad tech industry inhales, then 'leaks' sensitive info on our health, politics, religion

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Actually I thought the action to be taken would be "tell the outfit to hide their activities better".

Facebook didn't care if your kids ran up gigantic credit card bills – lawsuit

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Facebook didn't care if your kids ran up gigantic credit card bills

if they were knowingly ... providing services to children via credit card, which children cannot legally own, then they are knowingly processing unauthorized transactions

Technically they were authorised - because the parent/whoever put the card details in and authorised purchases. Where it probably gets grey is whether Faecesborg made it clear about the implications (ie "enter your card details, we'll take whatever any user spends forever") and whether they provided any meaningful controls (eg setting a spend limit, or otherwise restricting spend).

It will probably be this latter area that gets examined in detail.

Stage fright or Stage light? Depends how far you dare to open your MacBook Pro's lid

SImon Hobson Silver badge

There are laws to cover this - what used to be (in the UK) the Sale of Goods and Services Act which has (IIRC) been replaced with something very unmemorable. TL;DR version, any item sold must be "reasonably durable" and the fault described does not meet that definition. As it's a widespread problem, then it's clearly a designed in defect - so no problem demonstrating that it was present when bought.

There is no time scale in law - so since this is supposed to be a quality product, there's no excuse for it not to last a good few years. The main limitation is that under civil law, there is a limit of 6 years from when the breach occurred (which would be the date of sale, when they sold you the faulty goods) in which to start legal action.

So simple course of action - take it back to where bought and insist on repair or replacement without charge. If it was from a dealer then I pity the dealers who are going to have to swallow the costs and then argue with Apple. From teh sound of things they've only gone downhill since I dealt with them (as an independent dealer) many years ago - and they weren't exactly good then !

Different countries will have different consumer protection laws, but under EU directive, all are obliged to impose a minimum 2 year warranty - Apple were found guilty in court in Italy over this. So 18 months old, no problem, it's Apple's cost to fix. After 2 years, depends where you are.

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

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: De minimis non curat lex

Wasn't it wearing a loud shirt during the hours of darkness ?

Not to mention, possession of thick lips and curly black hair.

Looming EU copyright rules – tackling Google news article scraping, installing upload filters – under fire from all sides

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: ....unless they can prove its not copyrighted

so I can properly weep for those poor, poor Creators and seventh sons of their sevenths sons deprived of their rightfully inherited luxury jets, jumbo yachts and private islands.

Err what ?

You seem to have fallen into the trap of thinking that all creators are wealthy. Some are indeed wealthy, and that wealth may or may not have been inherited. But MOST creators certainly are not.

I know a few creators who, simply by lacking that "got discovered by the masses" lucky step, need a day job to pay the bills. Some were indeed fortunate in "hitting the bullseye" and became wealthy - but they started out very much not wealthy. Take J K Rowling for example, when she started writing Harry Potter you could not in any way call her wealthy - and in fact she was living on state benefits at the time. Not to mention, the first twelve publishers the manuscript was offered to turned it down - I bet all of those regret that ! So yes, J K Rowling is now "quite wealthy" and can in fact afford to give away a lot of money. But ponder this, if copyright had not protected her work, then everyone could have just ripped it off and she'd probably still be on benefits - that's the purpose of copyright, to give creators protection for their works, so they have an opportunity to profit from them, and hence an incentive to create them in the first place.

We can argue about whether "death + 70 years" as it stands in the UK for written works is right - but I think it's hard for anyone but the most hardcore freetards to argue that copyright is wrong in principle.

And of course, many people put just as much effort in, but don't get that lucky break. My mother spent years writing, and people have told her how much they've enjoyed reading her books. But it's just as well she didn't need any income from them, since she's made "b***er all".

German competition watchdog toys with ban on some Facebook data-slurps

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: About time

Facebook has only the data you and your friends willingly input ... plus a "like" button on only the most questionable websites ...

What rock have you been living under for the last few years. Faecesborg harvests far more than you seem to think here - carefully harvesting whatever they can, correlating with anything else they have, and building a shadow profile. Lookup Max Schrems and his case against Faecesborg.

Germany has a problem with the entire point of Amazon's daft Dash buttons – and bans them

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

You can't re-order until the order's been dispatched

With a system like Amazon's, that could mean ordering several times in a day, and before there's any warning by something arriving at the front door (if you aren't the sort that checks their email every few seconds)

Begone, Demon Internet: Vodafone to shutter old-school pioneer ISP

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Oh another one gone under the Thus -> Clueless & Witless -> Vodamoan transitions. Reg, please note correct spellings of their names !

Vodamoan are utter **** to deal with, even for business services at business service prices. Went through something similar at my last job, having to migrate away from the leased line and class C address block we'd had since ... well before I joined the company. Trying to get something as basic as a FTTC connection working was beyond them - I left the company before they got one of the lines working (it had been something like 5 months IIRC).

Oh yes, and another one who got online thanks to Demon's tenner a month service. RIP

SImon Hobson Silver badge
Coat

Re: sniff!

Aye, nostalgia isn't what it used to be

The D in SystemD stands for Dammmit... Security holes found in much-adored Linux toolkit

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Whatever happened to Upstart?

Couldn't decide whether to upvote you for Yes, I will never forgive Debian for that. or downvote you for At least they still provide a means to avoid it, though. !

They don't provide a means to avoid it though - all that exists at the moment are few packages that won't work at all without it. Since systemd is the default, and supporting non-systemd systems is not mandated, over time it will get harder and harder to duct-tape a non-systemd Debian together.

That's why Devuan was born, to ACTIVELY maintain non-systemd package status - forking Debian packaging for those packages that need modifications, and providing replacement for a couple of irretrievably borged ones.

Despite vows to spend more with smaller firms, UK.gov sure does seem to love legacy lock-in

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Well, there's no excuse for not having the technical skills ...

All they need is a few technically qualified contractors on the procurement team to hold their hand. Plenty of those about ... ah, except they've done their best to p**s them off with taxation bull manure imposed by people who lack the technical skill to see that it's bull manure.

Attention all British .eu owners: Buy dotcom domains and prepare to sue, says UK govt

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Don't worry, it's only money

Since when has the EU given any thought to how much its bureaucracy costs the member states?

More to the point, it looks strongly like "the EU" (or at least, certain high ranking people) are keen to make life as hard as possible for the UK regardless of the cost to the EU. If we leave without it being very visible painful for us then it opens the floodgates for other countries to leave. And lets be realistic, there are other countries that would be better off out of it.

I'm just not sure the computer works here – the energy is all wrong

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Memories

Autopilots are great at controlling a fully functioning aircraft, and can do so better than a human pilot. But are not designed to react correctly to a myriad of abnormal situations which ...

I recall watching a program on the gogglebox some years ago that was talking about the issues faced by pilots when "something's broken". For example, in the Sioux City DC10 incident, the pilots ended up flying he aircraft with just the two remaining engines - they were fortunate in having a training captain on-board who managed this for them and took some of the pressure off the situation.

Anyway, modern airliners can use alternatives to the traditional control surfaces - eg some of them use spoilers instead of the ailerons. There has been talk of training computers to use "whatever is working" - and I recall them saying that some simulator trials had shown that the computers would often manage to fly an aircraft that the pilots couldn't fly.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Memories

Aircraft autopilot is actually an almost trivial task since it's going to be flown in known conditions where ATC (normally) takes care of avoiding banging you into another aircraft. It would always be monitored anyway, so the pilots would not allow it to (for example) autoland on an obviously blocked runway without ATC permission to land. And for that autolanding, it doesn't have to try and figure out where the runway is by analysing pictures from a camera - there's an expensive, complicated, and continuously monitored system transmitting a radio signal for it to follow. Or more recently, a GPS system with ground augmentation and an accurately placed runway in the database.

You don't generally cyclists, animals, drunk pedestrians (or worse, ones glued to their mobile devices), etc once you get above a few feet off the ground - and security usually keeps them all off the runways.

In contract, the "self driving car" has a task several orders of magnitude greater in complexity.

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Similar story

Ah yes, a relative had a similar story from when he got started with a geo-surveying outfit.

One of his earliest jobs with them was up the north east where there's some large radar installations - and they were a few fields away. Anyway, they rocked up with a load of trucks of gear and started to set up camp - and were quickly visited by military people checking up on what a bunch of blokes with technical looking kit were up to in close proximity to a military site ...

After that was sorted, they started setting up and found that the radars were crashing the computers - so they had to up sticks and move to the other side of a hill to shield them from the radars.

One I;ve personally had was a customer who made drum closures - the big snap-fit bands that hold lids onto oil drums. Their factory contained a number of powerful spot welding machines - and for a short time we were convinced that this was the problem corrupting their floppy disks. Moving the machine to the office didn't fix it though - and it tested perfectly on my test bench.

Eventually we twigged ... Apple had pictures in the brochures showing an Apple II with two floppy drives on top, and a monitor on top of that - and that's what the customer had done. However, unlike the Apple monitor, the one they had didn't have magnetic screening in the base to allow it to sit on top fo floppy drives without causing problems.

Fake 'U's! Phishing creeps use homebrew fonts as message ciphers to evade filters

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: html in email...

Agreed. I read email for the message

Me too !

too many people want it to look pretty - marketing people I am looking at you.

Except that often the result isn't that it looks pretty - it often makes it unintelligible.

I'm slowly getting into reading some of my emails on my phone - with a small display. Plain text emails are fine, but formatted ones, even non-HTML get shrunk so the formatted version fits in the screen, resulting in impossible to read text. Even on a laptop screen, many emails are "hard to read" because they render in the stupid font/size and stupid colour the sender's email program defaults to - like the small blue text Microsloth seem to think is a good idea.

And don't get me started on Microsloth's contribution to email usage by defaulting to top posted replies.

And to think people at work kept telling me I was in the wrong for using plain text and bottom posting :-/

Forget 2019's tech biz takeovers, here's the mega-merger everyone's talking about: Milky Way and LMC, coming soon

SImon Hobson Silver badge
Joke

Will this be another event that we can go to, then retrospectively when we get back, invest 1p to pay for the trip thanks to a billion years of compound interest ?

50 years ago: NASA blasts off the first humans to experience a lunar close encounter

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Apollo 8 in 1968 - IT! WAS! AWESOME!!!

when you take the RISKS necessary

Especially this, too much these days is all about "but what about the repercussions if it goes wrong ?"

If they were trying to do it today, you'd see a crown of legal firms round the homes of the crew's homes - waiting for bad news so they can get in and "you've lost a family member, let us sue NASE for you ?"

SImon Hobson Silver badge

Re: Apollo 1

Could have been worse. I was listening to a talk (on air accident investigation) a few years ago, and the guy giving it has some interesting tales ...

He was visiting the AAIB (Air Accident Investigation Branch) at Farnborough, and while walking round he casually picked up an instrument off a table. The chap showing his around advised his to put it back down as it still had someone's brains on it. Now that sort of puts perspective on what accident investigation can involve - and I dare say they'd not have been allowed in the house at all if the ones you saw were like that !

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