* Posts by SImon Hobson

1463 posts • joined 9 Sep 2006

Brexit to better bumpkin broadband, 4G coverage for farmers – Gove

SImon Hobson
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Re: @ Charlie Clark

I guess he just "forgot" to note that the EU has already said that freedom of movement is non-negotiable.

Two outcomes :

1) We end up with some sort of arrangement that means things are much as they are now - free movement of people.

2) We don't have something like this - in which case WE decide who WE let in and under what terms (so we can easily set the rules to allow the required workers to come here), and the EU gets to decide who they let in and under what terms.

There's a similar situation with trade. The anti-brexit liars are saying that if we end up working under WTO rules then we'll put out own prices up through import duties. Not true, under WTO rules WE can choose what tariffs WE apply to imports, and that tariff can be zero - the main restriction is that we cannot set different rates for different sources. While in the EU, we get our prices inflated by import tariffs set by the EU and which we are not allowed to vary.

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US cable giant tries to wriggle out of 'crap ISP' legal battle now that net neutrality is dead

SImon Hobson
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Re: Regulation FAIL

Attempts to regulate connectivity are always doomed to fail because telecom technology moves faster than the regulatory process

Except in this case, we see regulation happening without needing rules updated for the latest tech. Specifically, this case isn't about regulating what the provider provides, but simply regulating that they supply what the customer bought.

Ie, much the same as prosecuting a petrol station owner for tweaking the metering screw to over-report what's been delivered - but resetting it to be correct whenever anyone comes to check. Went to a talk a few years ago by a local Trading Standards officer - he said the very first thing they look at when checking a petrol station is to make sure their seals are still intact.

if the political will is there, a lot of "high tech" issues can be dealt without "high tech" laws.

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US docs show Daimler may have done a Dieselgate – German press claims

SImon Hobson
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Re: Never understood the dieselgate outrage bollocks

Both of you, have an upvote from me.

The rules say that "under condition X the emissions must not exceed Y". So AIUI the cars met the required standards - under condition X they didn't exceed Y emission. The problem is that the standards set don't measure what the regulators want to control - because it's essentially unmeasurable.

It doesn't help that they've made the emissions standards so tight these days that it's not really possible to truly meet them under actual driving conditions.

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Facebook told to stop stalking Belgians or face fines of €250k – a day

SImon Hobson
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Re: Appeals.

... should start to consider restricting the rights to appeal for large corporations

Ah, the old "people doing stuff we don't like should not have the same rights as us" argument. That's a very bad idea, the start of a slippery slope, the thin end of the wedge [SFX: riffling through a thesaurus], ...

You either give everyone protection - including those you don't like - or you give no-one protection. Once you start to pick and choose who should have protection/rights, then you start the creep that allows bad things to happen.

I refer you to pastor Martin Niemöller's poem

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Opt Out?

Not only that, but to have a FarceBork account you have to accept their T&Cs which remove some of the legal protections you have without accepting them. Thus, creating an account to set your preferences opens you up to them legally doing the stuff you want them to stop doing !

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Sorry, Elon, your Tesla roadster won't orbit for billions of years

SImon Hobson
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Re: What about collisions with spacecraft on the way to Mars

You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is

Ah, but you also have to remember that some space craft will be passing through every point in the universe during some instant. So you are 100% likely to meet another craft if you or it are using the infinite improbability drive.

Put the kettle on, I fancy a nice hot cup of tea :-)

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Hyperoptic's overkill 10Gbps fibre trial 'more than a clever PR stunt'

SImon Hobson
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Hmm, haven't we seen a few outfits make the "we can't see a need for these speeds" before in the past. I can remember when people were wondering what to do with 512k on ADSL !

ut of course, the former Olympic village must be one of the best places in the country to try this - massive new development with facilities for comms designed in from the start, unlike most developments new or old.

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Knock, knock. Who’s there? Another Amazon Key door-lock hack

SImon Hobson
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Re: Still looking for an electronic lock...

I think that would violate building codes in most places. There is, after all, a reason that all the commercially available ones fail open.

The requirement is that people can get out, not that the door unlocks - there's a difference.

I have a flat in a block of four, with a door intercom and entry system. It has a striker plate like the one I posted a link to, and the flap on that is unlocked by the entry system to allow the door to be opened to visitors.

Occupiers can use a key from the outside to retract the latch bolt, or from the inside use the thumb turn to do it.

So the door can be released by releasing the striker plate, or by retracting the latch bolt manually - the latter not being affected by the striker plate failing locked.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Still looking for an electronic lock...

Since most similar locks do the opposite (fail open on power failure for fire escape reasons)...

All you need is any type of latch, and a magnetically controlled striker plate. The latch could be a cylinder rim night latch (often called a yale lock) or a regular door catch with no outside handle.

If the striker is configured to lock when not powered, then the latch will work just as though there is a fixed striker - just like a normal door latch. When electrically released, the flat can be pushed open allowing the latch to pass.

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TalkTalk to splash £1.5bn laying full fibre on 3 million doorsteps

SImon Hobson
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Single shared network ...

Well a national single network seems to be what Australia is trying to do. From reading the stories in ElReg it looks like it's not going as planned ...

But yes, if done correctly it would make sense. We could have a company who had lots of ducts, poles, cables, etc and in a position to sell capacity on that to all the ISPs. Win-win, one set of infrastructure - lower costs, better services. After all, we have one set of roads, one set of electricity cables, one set of water pipes, one set of drains, one set of gas pipes ...

The services would be open, and they'd reach (nearly) everyone - so perhaps call them OpenReach. Just as long as they are independent and not doing what suits a single player with a vested interest in tilting the market in their own favour. Ah, I see the problem now :-(

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New strife for Strava: Location privacy feature can be made transparent

SImon Hobson
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Well there was a series on the gogglebox called the real hustle - where they were demonstrating some of the real life hustles being used to separate people from their assets. In one, the presenter hung around a small parking space (someone had a yard in an area where parking was in shortage, rented out the yard for people to park) wearing high vis, carrying a clipboard, and taking random measurements and pretending to write them down - ie he was hiding in plain sight.

When the yard owner went for a break, he persuaded a punter that they'd now gone "valet parking" style - parked the punter's car, waited for him to leave, then left in the car.

Ring mark on windscreen - yup, sat-nav in glovebox. So he's got the guy's car, car keys, house keys (one assumes) on the keyring, and the sat nav programmed to tell you where he lives - safe in the knowledge that it'll be several hours (asked how long he'd need parking for) before he returns and finds anything amiss.

If real crims aren't doing that then I'd be very surprised.

If someone goes to "Home" on my satnav then they'll find themselves outside the local Police Station ;-)

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Facebook-basher Schrems raises enough dosh to get his Noyb out

SImon Hobson
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People willingly give their data up, it's in the T&Cs that no one ever reads.

Go and read up on Shrems and his FarceBork case. It's is absolutely NOT just about what people give to them - willingly or through ignorance.

FarceBork build profiles on people who have NEVER EVER agreed to their Ts&Cs, and it's "quite surprising" just how much they do collect on those people who have NOT agreed to it. They collect information whenever you visit a site with their slurping code embedded in it, they collect it from people who respond to their nagging and upload their contacts list, and I imagine they'll use other techniques. So someone includes you in their contacts uploads - they now have some selection from your name, home and work addresses, emails, phone numbers. Given your work details, they can then link that with other people at the same company etc. Given their home details they can link you with other people at your house. And having linked your basic details in this way, they can continue building a profile on you - through tracking sites you visit (see tracking code mentioned above), what other people post about you, people tagging you in photos (and then they can use facial recognition to spot you in other photos even if you aren't tagged), and so on.

All this without informing you or getting your consent - first breach of data protection laws. And they export it to the USA which was declared illegal when "Safe Harbour" was found to be completely ineffective in protecting personal information.

It is this illegal collection, processing, export of personal data in complete defiance of EU law that his case was about.

And it's only a matter of time before Privacy ShieldFigleaf gets struck down as well - because USA law is fundamentally incompatible with EU data protection law.

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Microsoft whips out tool so you can measure Windows 10's data-slurping creepiness

SImon Hobson
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Those social networks only harvest what you choose to feed them

Err, not true. FarceBork builds a profile on you even if you have never visited their site or agreed to them doing it. This profile is "quite detailed". Ever noticed those sites with the FarceBork "F" on them ? Well they are one source of information for that profile.

What's more, that personal information is exported back to the USA without even informing the data subject let alone asking them. I suggest you look up the details of the Max Schrems vs Facebook case - yes the one that resulted in Safe Harbour getting ripped up and replaced with Privacy FigleafShield, which will similarly get ripped up when the machinations of multiple levels of bureaucracy and courts get done with it.

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Electric cars to create new peak hour when they all need a charge

SImon Hobson
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Re: Answering a few points in the comments...

There are several, unrelated renewable sources. The chances that they all fail - 100% - is infinitesmal.

Ah, variation of the "wind is blowing somewhere" lie.

While it's true that having wind AND solar AND hydro all at (or close to) zero at the same time are quite slim - hydro is only a small amount and so can be ignored in practice.

So lets look at what happens in the UK in (typically) late december. Solar is doing naff all - the days are short, the sun is low, so for probably something like 18 hours of the day it'll be producing nothing worth considering. So that leaves wind ...

Contrary to what the wind lobby claim, there are often prolonged calms that cover, not just the whole of the UK, but the whole of north west Europe. I recall reading an article (in print (IEE), some years ago, no I can't find it now) where it was pointed out that we have had periods as long as TEN DAYS with effectively no wind across the whole of western Europe. Pumped storage hydro and batteries aren't going to help with that - they'll run out in a matter of hours.

So while the backup needed isn't actually 100%, it's not far off.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: I've been pointing this out for years.

If you are on a 100% renewable scheme and use 1000 kWh, then it guarantees that 1000 kWh of green power is put into the system instead of 1000 kWh of non-green.

That's what the greenwash vendors would have you believe - but there is ZERO truth in that. That 1000kWh would be put into the grid regardless - the rules on renewables mean that pretty well all renewables get "first bite of the cheery" in supplying demand.

So wind always puts in all that the windmills produce - and the energy companies will buy it (even though it's very expensive*) because the rules require them to. Ditto solar, hydro, etc.

So when you switch on your kettle with your greenwash tariff the result (since we do not have any excess of renewables over demand) is that the taps open ever so slightly on whatever generator is doing the dynamic load balancing at that point in time - typically it will be one of the CCGT stations. So your additional load will result in a matching additional generation from fossil fuel. The actual electrons you get will be from a mix of sources - exactly the same mix as EVERY other consumer in the country.

So seriously, there is absolutely no such thing as a true green tariff - they are all greenwash, getting you to pay ectra for nothing more than a warm fuzzy feeling.

* Wind IS very expensive. The operators will happily tell you how "cheap" wind is - but what they don't like to talk about are the direct cost (the 30-something pence/kWh subsidy**) or the indirect costs (the massive costs incurred by the rest of the supply industry in mitigating the effects of a highly variable/intermittence supply that has priority on supply).

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'The capacitors exploded, showering the lab in flaming confetti'

SImon Hobson
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Re: Capacitor, HAH !! I raise you 2 stories

The battery bank that supplied the training site ran a mini mechanical exchange and supplied power to all the buildings and could supply more than 600A without breaking a sweat.

That may have been it's "rated" capacity, but I bet it could supply considerably more (try adding a zero, or even 2 zeros) than that to a fault.

I did get told a story (so second hand, and unverifiable) about someone doing work in an exchange and dropping a crowbar across the DC buss bars. Before he could grab it, it turned dull red, bright red, bright orange, and then dripped onto the floor. For good measure, he got a bill from BT for recharging the batteries.

But given what I know about batteries, and the size of batteries used in large exchanges, the story is at least plausible.

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With WPA3, Wi-Fi will be secure this time, really, wireless bods promise

SImon Hobson
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Blocking another network with de-auth packets is illegal both in the UK and USA - there have been fines for it.

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Supremes asked to mull legality of Silicon Valley privacy 'slush funds'

SImon Hobson
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Re: Eh?

How can A sue B, and win, resulting in B paying damages to C?

Indeed, WTF !

As I read it, it sounds like something that was intended for a situation where the court awards a payout to a class of people and the cash is put into trust to be paid out to the class of plaintiffs - so far, so good. Of course, where "class of persons" runs to hundred, thousands, ... then some won't come forward to collect - and that means there will be some money left in the kitty when the trustees decide that they've paid out to everyone they can.

So this rule allows that residual small amount can be given to charity. Which when used for it's original purpose seems perfectly sensible.

What's happened here though is that they're obviously taking the urine - paying out only to the named plaintiffs (to shut them up), paying out a token (null) amount to everyone else, and then declaring the rest as this "small residual amount" and giving it to "charity". Totally taking the urine.

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Open-source civil war: Olive branch offered in trademark spat... with live grenade attached

SImon Hobson
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Re: The most disturbing thing...

I have worked in places where there were two Simons in the same department

How about a small company (couple of dozen people in total) with 3 Simons, 3 Mikes, 2 Steves, 2 Adams. Caused a fair bit of confusion at times !

Tried to make a 12 Days of Christmas out of that lot but couldn't manage it - other than finishing with "and a PHB in the corner office".

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FBI tells Jo(e) Sixpack to become an expert in IoT security

SImon Hobson
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Re: 'Don't use a router provided by an ISP'

... Wireshark will allow you to pull the ISP account username and password from a router ...

How do you use wireshark on a DSL connection ? It might well work where the ISP presents the interface as an ethernet port or provides a separate modem - but it won't help with an all-in-one router where the sniffing would have to be on the xDSL connection.

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Pickaxe chops cable, KOs UKFast data centre

SImon Hobson
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Re: DR Testing Failure

but the UPS is connected to the server so when battery level = x it shuts down safely

I bet it isn't in any large datacentre - with tens of thousands of servers it's just going to be a big hassle and create problems of it's own (false alarms causing shutdowns). Instead, they work on the basis of having UPSs sized to cover the gap till the gennys start up - and gennys to take over before the batteries run out. In principle, there should never be a need for low UPS battery to shut down the servers. Apart from these loss of mains events, most other faults won't give you any warning before the server loses power.

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Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

SImon Hobson
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A chemistry lecturer I know used to wander around the hall whilst mixing up black powder in a mortar and pestle. Cue nervous students trying not to be near him.

One of my teachers many years ago recalled how he "cured" a student of being over inquisitive and always fiddling with stuff. He deliberately left a pestle and mortar on a side bench with something unstable in it. Needless to say, when the over inquisitive student came in for the next lesson, he couldn't resist giving it a bit of a grind ...

Mind you, we found that most of the cupboards in our form room (a physics lab) weren't locked - oh what fun we had with the Wimshurst machine. Could get some real sparks off that one ! Then one day someone said "what happens if you put a polo mint between the balls ?", so we tried it - put a polo mint in the gap, held by the balls which were adjusted to grip it and wound it up. There was the usual crack as it sparked - and we could find no trace of polo mint, no bits, no dust, we had no idea what happened to it.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: "Cut the red wire..."

You might wish to have a safe method of disarming the bomb in case your own aircraft has to land again without using it

No, because if you have a method of disarming it - then so does your enemy. And from watching varuous documentaries on TV, it's clear that the Germans did booby trap the detonators in the stuff they dropped on the UK. So we had to develop various methods of disarming the bombs without triggering them - one of which was to physically cut a hole in the bomb and take the explosives out (IIRC it was steamed out and then shovelled up off the floor or something like that).

If you have armed the bombs and then can't drop them on the target (or any secondary target) - you simply ditch them in the sea on the way home. I believe a heck of a lot of UK bombs were dropped in a specified zone in the Channel - and there was a theory that Glenn Miller was killed when his plane was hit by a bomb being dumped after an aborted raid, but it seems that theory has since been debunked.

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Ofcom just told BT to up its game on fibre investment

SImon Hobson
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Re: Wind Turbines & Fibre

I have been told that windturbines ... have a fibre connection for control use.

Don't believe everything you have been told ! Newer ones may well have, as pointed out a large part of the cost of installation will be the same for copper or fibre. But I know (from having worked very briefly on trying to diagnose a comms problem for a client at my last job) that in one local windfarm there's an old Hayes 2400bps modem hooked up to a phone line. And the machine side of that is hooked up to a copper serial cable between the 5 windmills.

From the practical PoV, to put a copper line in will almost certainly have only needed a cable from the nearest joint box - probably half a mile at most - while fibre would have been a whole run all the way back to the exchange which is a good few miles (much of which won't be in ducts or even on poles - there's a lot of direct buried steel wire armoured phone cable out in the sticks).

There is indeed a requirement for connectivity to the windfarm, and to each windmill in it - the speed doesn't actually have to be that fast. How it's delivered will depend on a whole list of factors.

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Ofcom proposes ways to stop BT undercutting broadband rivals

SImon Hobson
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You do realise that in practice, there isn't all that much of the network that was built with public money ? And what was publicly funded was SOLD to BT's shareholders on privatisation (whether the price was right is a different discussion).

The network as it is now is a very different beast from what was flogged off 3 decades ago. Yes they had a head start in that there was an existing networks of ducts, poles etc - but that's been expanded a lot since then.

There really isn't a viable model for competing "last mile" networks. You don't have two different companies digging up your street to offer electricity, or gas, or water, or drainage - that would just be madness. Not to mention, if taken to extreme, you'd have a choice of two (or more) different road networks to get to your house !

That's the reason we don't (for the majority of us) have such end connection competition. It's costs thousands of pounds per mile to dig up roads to lay a network of ducts. You have to put that infrastructure in place before you can connect a single customer. And then you have to persuade enough customers to switch to your service to repay all those costs (and loan interest). Meanwhile, your upper price on the service is more or less set by BT who have the economy of scale from having a network that's been built of many decades.

When you look around, you tend to see that alternative networks fall into about 3 categories :

1) There's Virgin Media with it's cable network which stands no chance of being extended into lots of low density areas. But that wasn't built by VM, it was bought for pennies in the pound from the liquidators of the many cable companies that started up, incurred the cost of building out the network, but just couldn't get enough return to pay back their loans and investors.

2) There's small specialists that service places BT won't - often on a "if X sign up now, we'll come and service you".

3) And there's "community projects" like B4RN which rely a lot of donated labour (ie volunteers) and favourable treatment from landowners to keep the install costs down to something affordable. Something like that project doesn't work in even small urban areas as the costs go up very considerably when the network has to go into public roads rather than (mostly) under someone's field.

It's notable that B4RN found a number of cases where they announced a plan to extend coverage to somewhere BT had refused to service - only to find BT "suddenly finding that it was now economic" and would service that area as a spoiling tactic. Other altnets have also reported the same problem.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Ofcom is broken and out of touch with reality

make it more atractive for new entrants to fibre up the low density and rural areas

I doubt it. Those areas would still cost as much to fibre up, but the new entrant would face TWO additional dicincentives to do it :

1) Their pricing would have to be lower to be competitive as expectations would be lowered by lower prices in some areas. So less scope for recovering their investment from profits.

2) They would almost certainly get fewer customers in the "lower cost BT areas". So less customers to pay into the profits that would have to be used to cross-subsidise those low density and rural areas.

I do think that perhaps we'd have had a different outcome if "good" areas were all paired with "bad" areas and cable companies had been licenced on the basis that they could only have (and keep) a licence in the "good" areas if they also services the "bad" area paired with it - as in, you want to service (eg) Mayfair with it's wealthy (on average) residents who are most likely to take your service, well you have to also service this outlying Scottish island or remote bit of Cumbria. Chances are that the end result could be that the cable companies went bust even quicker than they did and the "bad" areas would still have not got cabled up - but it's interesting to conjecture how things might have panned out.

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Foil snack food bags make a decent Faraday cage, judge finds

SImon Hobson
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Re: He could have easily avoided being caught

what's to stop them from finding a hidden closet and sleeping all day

Story told by a mate who's been a sparky for many years, mostly on contract work for various large outfits. On one site there was a nice corner in the substation that was warm - but most importantly, impossible for the boss to find you without you hearing him coming first. I forget some of the details, but IIRC there was something about a paging system (aka Tannoy in the same way that vacuum cleaner are often called "hoovers") and being able to hear the announcements and call whoever wanted to speak to them using the phone conveniently located in the room - this was long before phone systems that told anyone the number that was calling !

One day someone got caught out. They answered a page and informed the boss that they were in a certain part of the site - only to have the boss walk in through the door brandishing one of the new fangled cordless phones that were just appearing.

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SImon Hobson
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Facepalm

Re: tags?

Have any naughty boys tried wrapping their ankle tags in crisp packets yet?

You may find some of these posts of interest.

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Uber hack: EU data protection bods launch taskforce

SImon Hobson
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Re: Typical backass governments

Downvote from me as we have some very strict privacy/date protection laws in the EU. Coming into force in a few months will be stronger rules under the EU GDPR. The US authorities might not GAS about privacy or fairness, but don't lump all countries in with them.

It will be "interesting" to follow this, and I strongly suspect Uber will find that the EU is "not as friendly" to their slapdash practices as their home country.

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Unfit to plead before a US court? You may face 'indefinite detention'

SImon Hobson
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Re: The arrogance ..

I've read that sentence five times now, and still don't understand it myself

Yes, it's a corker isn't it. I've read it, and re-read it, and ... and I think that what it says is :

The medical experts can't state with 100% confidence that he will get worse, therefore you should not read their reports as saying that he will get worse.

The implication then being that as you are no longer reading the medical reports as saying that he will get worse, you should assume that he won't and ship him off for torture anyway.

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Why does no one want to invest in full fibre broadband, wails UK.gov

SImon Hobson
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Re: Gubmint investment

It's too important to leave in commercial hands. A world run entirely by business is not one in which I want to live.

I'm guessing you're too young to remember what Post Office Telephones were like. Just like the trains, when run by the government they were crap by today's standards. For all the faults in the current setup, it's far far better than before privatisation.

Yup, there's nothing so bad that government intervention (or ownership) can't make it worse !

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Bureaucracy

So is keeping the VOA happy and paying the appropriate rates on lit fibre

Isn't a big part of the problem that the VOA wants to charge rates as if all parts of the infrastructure are fully utilised ? So if you need (say) 6 fibre cores now, but expect to need more in the mid term, you blow in a (say) 20 core - you only light up 6 cores, but pay rates on all 20. At my last job, we had people coming to us asking for options when their ISP told them "Sorry chaps, they've just changed the rates rules so we can't afford to keep you connected and are shutting down the network".

IIRC, in one case, there were something like 5 radio towers involved to service one customer at the end - but they were being told to pay rates as if each of those towers was fully utilised for dozen or even hundreds of customers. AIUI, BT/BTOR aren't taxed in the same way and have a financial advantage of competitors from this difference.

So there's the government asking why there's a problem, when for years people have been telling them that their own policies are part of the problem.

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Surveillance Capitalism thinks it won, but there's still time to unplug it

SImon Hobson
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Re: Uh, "provides ... to any app that wants to measure your emotional reactions"?

You don't have to use any Google products, and can thus avoid their tracking. You don't have to use Facebook, and can avoid sharing your deep dark secrets with the world.

And that sums up a big part of the problem - you have demonstrated that you don't realise how bad it's got.

You think that Google and Facebook don't have a profile on you ? Think again.

You can be very sure that both of them do whether you have ever visited any of their own sites. Unless you have been incredibly lucky to have never ever visited any website with Google or Facebook tracking code on it (disguised as things like analytics) then they do have a profile on you. And can you be 100% certain that no-one has given Facebook your contact details - they shouldn't without you permission, but so many see no problem complying with the nagging to "just upload your contacts so we can join them to your circle of friends".

I suggest you lookup Max Schrems. Facebook were found guilty of illegally building profiles of people who had not consented - but they have not stopped doing that. We're just waiting for Privacy Shield Figleaf to get the same treatment that Safe Harbour did when it was shown to be worthless. US law is fundamentally incompatible with EU privacy law, it's just that there are too many commercial interests for it to be dealt with ... yet.

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Dark fibre arts: Ofcom is determined to open up BT's network

SImon Hobson
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... want to be able to leech off BT's investment

Surely you mean rent some of that investment ? It's not like they are saying BT has to provide it free, anyone wanting to use it will have to pay a market rate (however that ends up being determined) for it.

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Digital minister: We're still talking to BT about sorting crap broadband

SImon Hobson
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... and doesn't produce large tax revenues ...

Are you aware that a number of alt-nets closed down due to being taxed differently to BT[OR] ?

The basis of rates was changed, so the owners of any infrastructure paid rates on the notional value of the infrastructure IF IT WAS 100% UTILISED - vastly increasing their rates bill compared to what BT paid for any vaguely similar infrastructure. At my last job, we had a number of customers "cut off" when the alt-net they got their internet service through was shut down after this taxation change.

Some of them had real problems getting any alternative usable service - too far for decent ADSL, poor signal for 3G/4G.

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UK.gov 'could easily' flog 6m driver records to private firms this year

SImon Hobson
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Re: Get your ounce of flesh first

If you feel you must pay these robber barons, use the costly delay method.

Well in reality, there's not much scope for not paying them. SWMBO got caught when a local supermarket installed Parking Eye and she didn't see the signs (mounted high up, out of eyeline, in a place where a driver's concentration is on not hitting other cars, people, or the landscape !) The notice they sent was comprehensive: dates & times, photos in and out, all the required statutory information, etc, etc. They'll have had all the techniques you mention over the years, so they've developed a legally bulletproof notice.

As as previously mentioned, it's been all the way up to the supreme court, and three judges (London based, probably with significantly higher living standards than the average) decided that £85 was not "unreasonable" - hence any of these scumbags can charge £85 for such a breach of contract and it's all legal.

The best way to avoid having to pay is to take it up with the business owner. In this case, I emailed them and made it quite clear that neither myself nor any of my family would be spending any more of our money with them ever again - and as a result, they'd be losing far more than the parking "fine".

What was most annoying is that they'd been in the cafe (which is actually quite good - normally) for over an hour due to slow service.

Very quickly I got a reply back saying that the charge had been cancelled.

Mind you, I have had some ideas for how to screw around with them - knowing the angle/viewpoint of the cameras ...

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Does UK high street banks' crappy crypto actually matter?

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

Re: Attitude of banks

Moral of the story - the system cannot be wrong. Except it can and you have to prove it.

A good example is Chip and PIN which the banks will happily tell you is 100% secure, except that it's been proven to be "rather less than 100%" secure !

https://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/?s=chip%2Band%2Bpin

NB - it's well worth subscribing to their RSS feed, They do some very interesting stuff !

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Ads watchdog tells Plusnet: There's no way unlimited business broadband costs £4.50

SImon Hobson
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Correct, Plusnet don't make you use their router - they are quite happy for you to use your own. Unlike some other providers who insist on you using their crippled and probably bug ridden carp, with remote config and updates hardcoded to on so they can change your settings whenever they like.

And in business, there are very often good technical reasons for not using the ISPs router - mainly to do with full access to firewalls, VPN support, etc, etc. At my last job, I'd say that more of our business customers used a router we provided than used an ISP provided one.

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EU court advised: Schrems is a consumer in Facebook case, but can't file class-action

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

Re: Just give Facebook the Finger

Part of the problem is that you don't have to agree to anything at all for FarceBork to build a profile on you. Web pages with a FarceBork logo on them allow them to track your browsing, other uploading your information illegally*, people mentioning you in their posts, etc, etc all go towards building up a detailed profile of you and your activities.

And all without any consent whatsoever, and then exported outside of the EU without any legal protection.

So a big part of the case is about FarceBork basically sticking one digit up to EU data protection laws as a matter of basic operations.

* When they pester users to "just upload your contacts - it'll make things easier" without spelling out in big clear print and simple words that this is a criminal activity in the EU unless you get consent from every person who's details you upload.

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Activists launch legal challenge against NHS patient data-sharing deal

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

When the entire population of a large continent, or at least all who are sick, illegally enter your country ...

You do realise that almost "the entire population" of our nearest continent are entitled to enter the UK legally ? Once further afield than that, then I suspect the numbers are actually not that high that it's worth the damage that this idea will do.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Re downvote

So, some opinion seems to be that these people arer here illegally, so they shouldn't be able to use public services. Well there's a certain logic in that, but in real terms, is it such a big problem ? Put another way, do the savings by "catching" these people outweigh the negatives - like making us look like selfish b***ards, cauing people to not get treatment for infectious illnesses, etc, etc, ...

Try this analogy ...

You are in charge of a shop, and you know that there is a certain level of shoplifting (aka theft). The people taking your stock are not entitled to it, and you are entitled to stop them. So far, so good. There's one way to significantly reduce the problem - you simply search every person leaving the door and check that they've a receipt for everything they have. Do you really want to trample over the civil liberties and privacy of all your honest customers to do that ? Or would you accept that a shop doing that would suffer some fairly significant downsides to doing that ?

Personally, I'm on the side of thinking that it's worth the marginal increase in cost to avoid the downsides of screwing with things like patient confidentiality.

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Self-driving bus in crash just 2 hours after entering public service

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

Every car I have even owned has been a manual ... and I can say with certainty that I can do a hill start without rolling backwards AT ALL.. ... You really need to consider swapping your car.

I was thinking that there's probably nothing wrong with the car that can't be solved by installing a competent driver.

But sadly, many drivers seem to believe a hill start requires some sort of black art worthy of being taught at Hogwarts.

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Openreach: Comms providers 'welcome' our full-fibre 'ambition'

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

Re: Has anyone considered...

Given the requirement to have a telephone service that works during a power failure "completely" looks like a non - starter.

Actually that problem was solved many years ago. BT ran trails in a couple of villages where they completely removed copper and went all fibre. As far as telephony went, users really didn't notice anything other than a slightly larger NTE that needed a mains supply - but it had it's own battery to run a POTS phone for a day or two in the absence of power. The technology for making telephony all digital to the user premises has been around for a long time (c.f. ISDN-2) and effectively it's moving the digital-analogue conversion from a rack of cards in the exchange to a small NTE in the user premises.

It was claimed at the time (by BT) that an all-fibre network would be more reliable and cheaper to maintain. I wonder how long it took them to bury that fact when it didn't suit their needs !

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Mozilla devs discuss ditching Dutch CA, because cryptowars

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

Re: Advancing our civilization into less a democratic state...

The will of 37% of the electorate should be ...

So you are arguing instead that the 34.7% who voted to remain should have a larger say ? Ie, the classic argument by the losing side that the 27.8% who didn't vote would all actually have voted for the losing side. Put another way, sore losers are usually quick to abuse any stats they can to try and "prove" that they have been wronged.

It's more valid to suggest that those who didn't vote didn't care enough to express an opinion, or were simply happy to go with the majority result. Thus, up to 65.3% of the electorate wanted to leave - but not all of them got out and voted.

But since no-one can accurately know the opinions of all those who didn't express it, we have the tried and tested method of looking at the opinions of those who did - the highest turnout for an election/referendum in living history IIRC. Of those that did vote, a very clear majority wanted to leave.

If you have any complaint, and believe that the result should have been different with those missing votes - then your complaint should be against those who didn't get out and vote the way you wanted.

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Knock, knock? Oh, no one there? No problem, Amazon will let itself in via your IoT smart lock

SImon Hobson
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: But if they steal anything are they not going to be on camera?

... they are going to be on camera (as that is part of the Amazon Key system)

Lets see, video stored on Amazon's systems, video allegedly shows Amazon employee (or contractor) up to no good, customer claim is going to cost Amazon money. Hmm, so absolutely no incentive for the video to be found to have failed at just the right moment so there's no evidence to backup the claim !

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Boss visited the night shift and found a car in the data centre

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

... required a regular oil refill. That was messy

I'll see your oil fill, and raise you ... a (IIRC) Ricoh duplicator that had a fault which meant that it couldn't automatically unload it's masters.

For those who have never seen such a device, it looks just like a photocopier - in theory, walk up, put your original on top, press the copy button, out comes a copy. But, this uses a sort of thin paper with plastic coating to make a master which then does the copy with ink - real ink, in paste form. Once the master is made, you can then rattle off hundreds or thousands of copies very cheaply compared to a photocopier. The one we had would do 130 copies/minute which was way way faster than any of the photocopiers we had as well - but fun when the output tray wasn't quite set up right :-)

With this machine, it was supposed to be able to remove the inky master from the drum and deposit it in a waste hopper when you made a new one. But as mentioned, this machine had a fault, so if you didn't manually remove the master first (a clean operation, as part of it never got inked) it would simply shred it and wrap bits of horrible inky paper/plastic round the mechanism.

No matter how many times I explained this to certain people, they would never accept it - and somehow it was my fault, and my responsibility to clean it out. Oh no, those dainty (well some of them were at least) ladies couldn't possibly get their hands dirty doing such a messy job.

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SImon Hobson
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Our server room was great for drying wet coats. Swing out a cable management arm from one of the servers as a coat hook, dry in no time thanks to the steady stream of warm air.

No that's not the reason I no longer work there !

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MH 370 search to resume as Malaysia makes deal with US oceanographic company

SImon Hobson
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Re: Landing spot?

IIRC the official term is "landing on water".

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GE goes with Apple: Not the Transformation you were looking for, Satya?

SImon Hobson
Silver badge

Re: "OSX for PC"...

Apple officially tried that a number of years ago, and it very nearly killed them

Indeed. What they hoped the other manufacturers would do is compete in the gaps Apple didn't cover - providing a fuller range of hardware. What actually happened was the two of them basically started a race to the bottom to produce "beige boxes" cheaper and with no new features - significantly cheapening the brand.

At work we were buying these other brands - because they made the bean counters happy. Bluntly, the hardware just wasn't as good or reliable as Apple's was at the time.

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SImon Hobson
Silver badge

PLC programming software; ... Siemens ...

Hmm, I distinctly recall programming their Logo when it was new - from my Mac. That must be 15-20 years ago now. For stuff that really is Windoze only, I run parallels.

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