* Posts by paulf

790 posts • joined 25 Aug 2009

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Samsung Smart TV pwnable over Wi-Fi Direct, pentester says

paulf
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Headmaster

@ Baldrickk "I was able to disable the WiFi in it entirely, and instead it is connected via ethernet - so you already need to be on my network to talk to it."

That should probably read: "I selected the option to disable WiFi in the TV settings. The TV told me WiFi was disabled and I believed it."

These days you have to colour me cynical on these options that claim stuff is disabled.</cynical>

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eBay denies claims it's failing to thwart 'systematic fraud'

paulf
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Facepalm

Re: Not to mention

I once bought an eBook (as a PDF) from a small publisher of same. Payment was by Paypal (no eBay involvement). They then started spamming me with all sorts of other books they thought I would just love to buy. When I asked them to stop they claimed it "wasn't spam because the books were a good match". As excuses go that's a cracker! Geez!

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paulf
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Holmes

Re: Allowing 'gaming' of the system has indirect costs as well

@tedleaf

I'm surprised this kind of thing can happen at all. It was only a year or two ago Amazon demanded all marketplace sellers provide full documentary evidence of their existence, including proof of address plus either passport or driving license. (I ought to add </sarcasm> as I'm siding with @tedleaf).

This isn't the only aspect of fraud on Amazon. When I've left a (IMO justified) negative review of a marketplace seller I'm often contacted and offered a bribe inducement to remove the review, e.g. a partial refund or discount on future purchase*. I always refuse but it's a bit intimidating when the phone number you've provided for billing/delivery purposes only is used to call you in the evening by some wide-boy seller who doesn't like your negative review. I wonder how many people are tempted by the bribe bribe and delete the negative review, thus fundamentally undermining the whole feedback system.

I did try to contact Amazon UK about this and just got a response that my email address wasn't associated with a marketplace account (see icon). I figured if they didn't care enough about the problem to actually read my email (both attempts) before sending an automated response they were quite happy about the situation and ceased buying from Marketplace sellers (and substantially reduced my purchasing from amazon themselves).

* In one case (a CD described as "Used - Very Good" when "Used - Average" was being generous) they waxed on the emotional blackmail saying they were a small company and negative reviews hurt them badly. They admitted the problem was a result of using sub-contractors to sort and send out the CDs. Since selling second hand CDs was their one business I asked them what it was they actually did themselves. I'll update this comment if I ever get an answer.

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A very Canadian approach: How net neutrality rules reflect a country's true nature

paulf
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Meh

Re: uses imperial units

@TRT "The whole shebang was abandoned in 2008, following an EU directive, allowing free-weight, artisanal bread such as baguettes and ciabattas to be sold legally, even though they had been sold for years under the exceptions for "small rolls, individual buns and morning goods"."

Unfortunately the consequence (hopefully unintended) is that bread makers (primarily the ones that use cobbled streets and Muppets to advertise their wares) have since executed a double whammy price increase where they've reduced loaf sizes from 800g to 750g while still putting up the nominal price for a loaf.

I also wonder how the UK legislation differs from the intention of the EU directive. It wouldn't be the first time HMG used their own convenient interpretation of an EU directive to implement something to the benefit of their own interests and lobbyists (the privatisation of British Rail is a prime example).

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Nikon snaps at Dutch, German rivals: You stole our chip etch lens tech!

paulf
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Alert

I came here thinking the same. Nikon, apparently, have a financial incentive NOT to agree an amicable continuation of the licensing agreement as once the four year stand-still is up they can sue (probably for more as they can claim wilful infringement). That looks more like an unintended consequence of the stand-still period though. Also it's higher risk as it isn't a given the court will find in their favour and if they've deliberately contrived the current situation as a means to send in the lawyers I imagine the court probably won't be that impressed.

Time to grab some popcorn if silicon lithography is your thang.

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ICO fines 11 big charities over dirty data donor-squeezing deeds

paulf
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Thumb Up

Re: Stop donating, it makes no sense.

I think this is the best way - support small local charities as they're are usually run on a shoe string, the benefits they generate are tangible around the area they operate in and you can have reasonable certainty your money is going to the "Doing" department, rather than the "Executive and Marketing" Departments.

I work for (and support) a local charity where we're all volunteers. Every penny we scrape together goes into funding our charitable activities which involve many personal expenses and long hours. People are usually impressed when they see what we do, and what we achieve with what we've got.

The only big charity I support is Dogs Trust. Like the others they have an active marketing budget (big enough to fund telly adverts) but they tend to avoid those harrowing adverts used by some of their peers. Also I don't give them money - every so often I show up at one of their rehoming centres with several cases of decent dog food and treats so I'm certain it's going to be enjoyed by the Dogs they look after rather than adding to the CEO's £140k salary, pension and benefits package.

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HTC seeks salvation with squeezy design

paulf
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Alert

Re: Pontless tinkering

@tiggity, "Maybe there is massive brand loyalty to HTC that makes such things worthwhile, but I doubt it (my main memory of HTC, like most brands, was the unwanted uninstallable (if not root) crud they put on for "added value")"

I'd love to know where the massive brand loyalty to HTC is. My main memory of HTC was i) a Hero (ok but horribly underpowered) and a Sensation (random unexplained turn offs for the whole 18 months I had it with SFA help from HTC other than a factory reset which didn't resolve the problem). Both suffered from a lack of bug fixes and updates (El Reg stories and comments passim). I switched to another manufacturer for my smart mob and now get regular updates as well as reliable hardware and good support.

The one thing I get from HTC stories like this is, "Are HTC still a thing?". If they really want to differentiate themselves then perhaps they should offer their [remaining] customers decent support and regular software updates rather than gimmicks like squeezable handsets?

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Qualcomm takes $1bn BlackBerry bite like a champ, struts away

paulf
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Pirate

Huge, if true! This really was breezed over by the article and ought to be expanded on because it suggests:

1. Subcontractors making chips for Apple are incorrectly under reporting how many they make to reduce their license fee payments

2. Subcontractors assembling the final phones are incorrectly under reporting how many phones they make and thus how many chips go into a final product.

3. Subcontractors are incorrectly reporting the level of royalty payments they make to the financial markets in their company reporting, although paying the correct amount to the recipient.

It's not clear from the story which of these is the case (or perhaps mystery option D?) but none of these sound particularly healthy. At best breach of contract, at worst breaking the law. If they get called on this kind of thing will they just say Apple made us do it? What threats incentives have Apple offered to ensure compliance plus no comeback on them?

If, as the story implies, Apple are encouraging/forcing their subcontractors to behave like this then there's a serious story there. Come on El Reg - you're not going to get invited to any of their events so you might as well dig some dirt!

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Toshiba spins out new NAS disk drive with its fastest transfer rate yet

paulf
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FAIL

Re: A million hours MTBF?

It's no different to Miele claiming they've tested their washing machines for the equivalent of 20 years use and using that to justify adding £200+ to the price compared to the nearest equivalent (e.g a Bosch) but only offering a 2 year warranty (5 years if you're lucky). Just like MTBF it's a claim that is (IMO) total bollocks. I did challenge the Miele Twitter droid on this a few months ago when we were in the market for a new Dishwasher (tested for 20 years use, 2 year warranty). I suggested that if they were claiming they have been tested for that much use they should offer at least a 10 year warranty because if their machines were as reliable as their marketing material claimed the longer warranty cost to them would be negligible. I was told they couldn't possibly afford to offer a 10 year warranty which tells you all you need to know about their claimed reliability.

The thing is MTBF is lies damned lies a statistical measure based on intensive use over a short space of time with the actual failures extrapolated into an indicative MTBF value when used at a normal level. It doesn't really take into account real usage patterns over many years with the associated degredation of the materials over time. You could argue MTBF is useful in comparing reliability between different mechanisms as a drive with MTBF=200k hours implies it's 2x reliable than a drive with MTBF=100k hours but that assumes the testing methodology hasn't been massaged to inflate the figures is directly comparable.

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Murdoch will get EU green light for full Sky takeover – reports

paulf
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Boffin

Re: So ...

@ Mage "I guess either it's ego he is taking it over completely, or expects to get more money. It's not about actual control."

Not entirely. AIUI Sky, as a quoted company, pays tax on their profits before any payouts to shareholders, including 21CF. If Sky was a wholly owned subsidiary 21CF would have full access to the untaxed profits, with taxation happening further up the food chain at group level.

I'm neither lawyer nor accountant but that's my understanding - so it's not just about control, it's also about the filthy shilling it generates.

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BezosBux: Amazon gets into scrip game with Cash scheme

paulf
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Boffin

Re: Wake up Banks

There's two problems with that plan:

1. Paying in cheques. If they're not paid into a branch of the receiving bank they have to be sent to one. In the UK the Post Office can be used for many simple bank related things (cash in/out and cheques in, in most cases) - cash is easy as that can be done via a debit (ATM) card and POs tend to be set up for cash handling anyway so it almost becomes a shared branch. Cheques get put in the post and can take 10+ days to clear. Banks are working on a way to do this via a photo taken by their banking app but it's not widely available yet (and assumes possession of a smart phone with decent data coverage in such rural areas).

2. Large quantities of cash.

Shops tend to be geared up for mostly receiving cash and handing out stuff in exchange. Disrupt either the balance between the two or reverse that flow in any significant way and the shop ends up paying more to handle the cash. It can work to the shop's advantage - e.g. cashback when paying with a Debit card means they reduce the amount of cash in the registers at the end of the day but a smaller rural shop could run out of cash if there are a lot of cashback requests. Another issue: shops usually like to bank their takings on a regular basis (cash is a target for criminals) and that requires a bank which is set up with the security and processes to handle large amounts of cash.

In short it may help out a few rural people who need to deposit their birthday money or get a tenner out but isn't a practical replacement for a bank branch with respect to cash handling.

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Minnesota, Illinois rebel over America's ISP privacy massacre, mull fresh info protections

paulf
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Boffin

Some details on written consent?

FTA: "that would require ISPs to get written consent from customers before selling off their browser histories to marketers."

The article doesn't offer a definition of "written consent". Perhaps they're still defining "written consent"? Do these legislators understand the difference between "written consent" and "informed consent"? The former buries the consent in page 94 of the Ts+Cs of which you must accept all parts unmodified to get service and the latter is willingly and knowingly ticking the (by default unticked) box to say "Yes, I agree to this, understand what I'm agreeing to and if I disagree my service will still be provided otherwise unmodified".

I hope I'm wrong, because it's reassuring to see some of the states standing up to the federal executive on this, but I suspect the brown envelopes are already on their way to ensure "written consent" will be as meaningless and as "default" as possible.

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Press 1 for bill shock, 2 for outages... AWS touts call-center management-as-a-service

paulf
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Terminator

Cue another outsourcing flood

Presumably this is when our esteemed financial institutions, hurriedly outsourcing back end functions to IBM, and contact centre jobs to India, (i.e. everything but the exec suite) decide they can outsource the infrastructure used by the boys in Bangalore to AWS. Amazon would like that if they can slurp a bunch of caller metrics and metadata that feed into the main website to sell you more stuff.

"Hey Alexa, can you recommend tonight's viewing?"

"I see you called your bank earlier to discuss problems paying off your credit card balance. How about programs on debt management, life insurance and weeping uncontrollably?"

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US Customs sued for information about border phone searches

paulf
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Terminator

Re: Intent to purchase in country

You might want to consider the exact phrasing of those responses to the border droid. Anything that sounds like, "I left my primary trackable phone at home. Now I'm here I'm going to buy a disposable anonymous burner phone." sounds remarkably like a conversation the trigger happy border guard will want to continue with rubber gloves on.

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Racist Tesla staff drilled my buttocks, claims employee in lawsuit

paulf
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Boffin

I'd suggest the third side is fact, not truth. If you're in court you're expected to present your version of events truthfully and without lying (things you know aren't true or didn't happen).

Truth isn't necessarily fact. For example

Truth: "Last night I saw a magician cut his assistant in half, then put her back together again".

Fact: "Last night a Magician used a clever illusion to make it look like his assistant had been cut in half; in in reality she hadn't been cut in half it just looked like she had."

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ICO fines Flybe, Honda for breaking data rules. They were, um, trying to comply with GDPR

paulf
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@Lee D

"Bother me once, I'll take your details, make no promises, let you send to my work email. Bother me again, within six months or a year, no problem. Bother me more than that, blacklist. And I'll tell you why."

Wow - you're forgiving!

I let a first violation go as it could be a mistake (it's unlikely but hey ho) and I let the company know they should stop.

On the second email the destination email address is deleted and that's it for that company.

On calls if it's an unrecognised number it doesn't get answered. I do a quick call back to check; if it's dodgy they go on the block list immediately.

I don't answer withheld numbers unless I'm definitely expecting a call from one. If I'm definitely not expecting one it doesn't get answered at all.

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Three to lawyer up unless Ofcom intervenes in spectrum market

paulf
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Headmaster

Re: Someone tell me why

Firstly (and this is an important point that many Leave and Remain supporters still don't get) We haven't actually left yet! May hasn't even made an A50 declaration (currently scheduled for Wed 29 March) which is only the start of the negotiations, so for now it's business as usual and the UK is a member of the EU.

Then - if those A50 negotiations turn up some deal to stay in the Single Market or the EEA or whatever that will be harder if we've waved through deals previously blocked by the EU competition authorities.

Also - reducing four separate MNOs to three will harm competition and that means muggins paying more for mobile. It was bad enough when Orange and T-Mobile were allowed to form EE (reducing 5 MNOs to 4) which became quite dominant in comparison to the next biggest operator (Voda IIRC). Three have already shown they think they have pricing power by putting up their prices in recent months. That would only get worse if they acquired O2 and there was even less competition. Three has always traded on being the competitive upstart and losing that will only harm competition with prices rise for everyone.

I think Three have a point on spectrum in so far as one operator (EE) shouldn't have almost half of it, but on merging with O2, colour me completely unconvinced.

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Error prone, insecure, inevitable: Say hello to today's facial recog tech

paulf
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Boffin

Re: The Usual Idiots

@Milton1. "The marketurds who help to hype and sell expensive tech and gadgets like body scanners, radiation detectors, facial recog and the rest.

2. Security and law enforcement agencies who willlingly swallow this crap because even if it doesn't work, it inflates budgets and builds empires.

3. The politicians whose childlike credulousness seems to grow from one year to the next, who nod meekly every time they're asked for cash by the previously-mentioned,"

Without wanting to absolve anyone in your accurately described charade, lets consider two possible outcomes where something awful happened and the junk pushed by 1. hadn't been used.

i) 2 had turned away the junk pedallers in 1 who then drop a suitable leak/advert to the media pointing out the attacker could have been stopped had their junk been bought and used properly (whether true or not). 3 then demand heads of 2 and offer a big budget increase to buy even more junk from 1 because "someone must do something".

ii) 3 had declined 2's request for a massive cheque to buy the junk from 1. People want to know why 3 didn't make funds available amongst a media circus of calling for heads from 3. 3 demands heads from 2 as a smoke screen, approves funding to 2 at the same time so they can buy lots of junk from 1.

With that in mind it's no wonder 2 and 3 end up complicit with 1 - they really don't know what they're doing or how to stop the bad things (in a way that's understood by voters) and the shiny shiny junk pushed by 1 looks like a great way to be seen to be doing something, regardless of its efficacy.

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Bloke, 48, accused of whaling two US tech leviathans out of $100m

paulf
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Childcatcher

I'm innocent

I learnt all my techniques for hiding my ill gotten gains from the tax avoidance minimising strategies of the Murrican Tech $MEGACORPs

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Gift cards or the iPhone gets it: Hackers threaten Apple with millions of remote wipes

paulf
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Gimp

Re: 2FA

I didn't as I thought it through and hit a snag:

If 2FA uses your iPhone to confirm logins what happens if you lose your iPhone? That's the one time you really need to login to iCloud very quickly from another device so you can do a remote wipe but it's also the one time you won't be able to complete the login because you've lost a main link in the 2FA chain! It's possible Apple have thought of this but I didn't find a way around it (happy to be corrected though).

Apple email me if I sign into iCloud from a new device. I appreciate that isn't fully secure but they'd have to hack my email to stop me seeing that and the email is completely separate to any service provided by Apple.

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paulf
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Boffin

Re: Am I the only one?

I'm with @JustsomeBlokeinAz on this and it looks like Lee Munson also spotted its potential from his quote in the article "I cannot help but wonder if the option to pay $100,000 in iTunes gift cards, rather than $75,000 in untraceable crypto-currency, could have been explored in association with law enforcement".

Gift cards like those from Apple and Amazon that credit an online account from a claim code can be traced easily as SOP never mind if they're specially set up for a sting like here. If they are sold on then fool on the person buying the second hand gift card of completely unknown provenance. Lets face it, chances are it's more likely hookey than not especially if sold at a suspiciously deep discount which suggests it's at best stolen, if not fraudulently obtained. So they could have set up a nice trap to capture the hackers/fraudsters this way. Even if they sold on the cards there should be a paper trail to catch them unless they were bought off some bloke down the pub for cash. Flea-bay is enough of a bear pit but should have a reasonable paper trail back to sellers; anywhere else well you get what you deserve.

As an aside I'd ask how you check the balance without being given the code off the card? The seller isn't going to send the code or card before receiving cleared payment as once the seller has given you the claim code how are they going to make you pay for it?

Frankly they missed a chance to catch the buggers!

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Android O my god! It's finally here (for devs)

paulf
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Alert

Re: So what's the "O"?

I'm wondering what naming convention will they use for the version after Z*?

(*Zours? Zubes?)

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Official: America auto-scanned visitors' social media profiles. Also: It didn't work properly

paulf
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Headmaster

FTA: "It has identified 275 software tools that could be used in the scanning,"

This is also as staggering as the idea the tools could do meaningful scanning in the first place. Are there really 275 distinct tools out there that could do detailed scanning of social media profiles and extract data subject to exacting filters? [And hopefully a bit more sophisticated than: more <profile location> | grep 'allah akhbar|death to murrica|beards FTW'] There may be quite a few tools that claim to work on "Big Data" (which is in the cloud, natch) but social media would be a specialisation that not all of them can handle. Presumably they whittled down a review sample of 275+ software tools to reach that figure. How much time was spent reviewing each proposed tool? What criteria had to be met for a tool to be considered suitable? How do they know they included all tools that may have been suitable in the initial "To review" list?

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Family of technician slain by factory robot sues everyone involved

paulf
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Terminator

Re: barbara.hudson

@Matt Bryant "I am not familiar with the design of the robots involved and the safeguards built into them, but there is a simple rule of thumb when dealing with machinery - if in any doubt, switch it off before you risk your life or limbs servicing it! IMHO, it seems Wanda should have followed that simple rule or refused to carry out the work."

I completely agree with your point. That said, my knowledge of labo(u)r laws in the Land of the Free<super>TM</super> is that if she'd declined to work on it for that reason it would have been a one way ticket to "Well, go and find another job, then; and don't let the door hit you on the ass as you leave.". If you've got a roof to keep over your head and mouths to feed that makes the decision much harder.

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Vodafone gets less flexible on flexible working Ts&Cs for own staff

paulf
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Re: Vodafone app privacy

@ Vince "Yep I noticed this too."

It's good to know I'm not the only one. I haven't updated but TOH has which is how I found out in time. Same experience as you - an extended twitter discussion with all sorts of excuses, "[mandatory slurping your detailed location data via the app] makes your data usage more accurate" being the best/most staggering. It took two days for them to finally admit they don't know (I was bored and wasn't going to let them off easy with excuses like that).

I know these days we're just expected to bend over and hope the big boys have lubed up first when it comes to privacy but when the OS offers ways to fine tune your privacy settings it annoys me when app writers subvert this by saying, "give us everything or the app doesn't work".

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paulf
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Facepalm

Re: Vodafone app privacy

@ Tom Paine

It's an app for tracking your usage (voice minutes/SMS/data) and seeing your current bill status (monthly charge, additional usage etc) as alluded to in my org post "...something that is there primarily to report your usage to date and tell you how much your last bill was..."

iTunes link

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paulf
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Childcatcher

Vodafone app privacy

Firstly I apologise for this being partly OT but it's relevant to Vodafone UK so I'll throw it out there anyway.

Recently the Vodafone UK iOS app has started demanding detailed (i.e. GNSS) location data and turning this off (as is possible in the iOS privacy settings) means the app refuses to work. Now optionally giving the app location data means it can offer other functions (e.g. it can locate a nearby Wifi hot spot) but for something that is there primarily to report your usage to date and tell you how much your last bill was demanding detailed location data seems overkill.

The network will know the handset location anyway but only down to which cell it's in and that's necessary for the network to operate - it isn't necessary for the app to operate. (Yes, I know the network can get a more accurate location if the handset is within range of multiple cells but it's still going to struggle to get the location accuracy of GNSS).

I don't know if things are the same in the Android equivalent but IME Android apps tend to demand every permission anyway regardless of what they do.

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paulf
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Unhappy

Re: Shirking from home

It also requires a good manager who knows his/her team members well, can spot the difference between activity and productivity, and knows the difference between "productivity" and useful results. Knowledge of the job, the tasks it requires and the most beneficial outputs means a manager can spot the most valuable to an organisation even if they don't appear to be productive by simple measures. It also means they can spot someone gaming the system - for example if productivity is measured by calls answered you need to spot the difference between someone dropping calls after a few minutes regardless simply to hit the productivity metric, compared to someone who efficiently but patiently talks the caller through the solution such that the caller goes from flustered and bamboozled to delighted.

Unfortunately the key thing in all of that is a good manager.

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BT agrees to legal separation of Openreach

paulf
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Meh

Re: legally separated. means F**K all as ......

Exactly - if Openreach was completely sold off by BT it would just be snapped up by a former state telecoms monopoly from another country which would milk it harder to subsidise their home market. Or some private equity fund that would load it up with debt, sweat the assets harder by turning off all but the bare minimum investment, give themselves a massive one off dividend then vanish into the night, letting it go bust and leaving HMG to pick up the pieces.

Or to put it another way, "Just because the current situation is shit, doesn't mean the proposed alternative is any less shit".

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paulf
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Go

Re: Uh Oh...

IME Openreach vans have Openreach text and multi-colour cable branding with a note saying "A BT Group business" and the BT globe logo. The text referencing BT and the globe logo are sufficiently segregated from the other parts that all they'd need to do is put a white vinyl wrap over the BT text and logo.

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Intel's dying Atom chips strike again: Netgear recalls four ReadyNAS, Wi-Fi management lines

paulf
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Go

Phew

Another reason I'm glad I stuck with my ancient (6+ years) and relatively slow SPARC powered ReadyNAS duo units.

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paulf
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Pirate

Especially when there's no fix available because said Netgear router has been EOL'd 12 months after launch because they've released a v2 of the HW that now gets all the updates.

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Sony: Never mind the phones – look out at what our crazy lab scientists have done

paulf
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Trollface

Re: Sony should have ruled the roost

@Indolent Wretch "Maybe he grew up?"

I'd like to think it was true but it's unlikely. It appears he's the only El Reg journo who still has full advance moderation applied to comments on his stories* (i.e. comments are approved by an El Reg mod before they appear). I understand AO has worked as an investigative journalist in his career so I would have expected him to be a bit thicker skinned really.

* Not on this story though for some reason...?

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Nokia’s big comeback: Watches, bathroom scales, a 3310 PR gimmick, Snake, erm...

paulf
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Trollface

I was expecting big things from the Nokia comeback...

...but there is a complete lack of courageous decisions as the Nokia 6 spec notes:

"Connector 3.5 mm headphone jack"

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Why I had to sue the FCC – VoIP granddaddy Dan Berninger

paulf
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Headmaster

Re: "Do you pay "rental" for the electrical supply cable coming into your home,"

"OTOH the concept of "line rental" on a mobile phone is complete BS,"

Line rental is the name for a fixed charge to maintain your connection to the infrastructure, regardless of usage. For landlines it's the copper pair back to the LE/CO. For mobile, putting aside that the monthly charge normally includes various usage allowances, it would be maintenance of the RAN (Base stations and the like). So although the name is a bit silly for a wireless device it's still serving the same purpose.

"road tax"

Ahem, "Motor Vehicle Excise Duty". There is no such thing as road tax.

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paulf
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WTF?

On the whole independently powered thing. The article claims: "Even in the US, just the electric power required to keep of the old network [going] is $25bn a year."

I'm going to declare BS on that claim on the basis it's put forward for powering the POTS network only and nothing relevant to any data carrying over landlines like ADSL. So $25bn (per year?) divided by 300m (estimate) gives $84 for every single person in the US (not taking account of one line in a household of many people or people that don't have a landline). Really? I'm not convinced.

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As Microsoft touts Windows Insider for biz, let's take a look at W10's broken 2FA logins

paulf
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Windows

From the linked MSTN article: "This month, we discovered a last minute issue that could impact some customers and was not resolved in time for our planned updates today."

Since when has Microsoft worried about randomly borking machines of "a small number of users" with Windows update, especially when Windows 10 users are forced to take Alpha level patches?

My translation, "We've been fire fighting this problem for several weeks now but we couldn't resolve it before this month's patch Tuesday. The techies and coders tried their best despite bosses screaming at them while pulling various all nighters and now really need some sleep. Since this bug will fuck up everyone's Windows machine beyond sane recovery, without exception. When that happens it'll make previous Windows Update SNAFUs look like a picnic."

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Cheer up, pal: UK mobe networks are now 8% less crap, tests show

paulf
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Meh

Re: Customer satisfaction measurements?

@ Dan White "I was with Orange throughout the 90's and most of the 00's, as they had a great reputation for good customer service. Then in the space of a couple of years they seemed to stop giving a crap, and that was when I jumped ship. Been with O2 for nearly ten years now,"

Same here with Orange - with them from 1997 and the CS was excellent until things took a tangible dive when FT moved in. I put up with it until early 2007 when I'd had enough of their repeated shitty CS efforts* and moved to Vodafone (one month off 10 years).

I've been with Voda for 10 years now and found them to be generally ok - not always but the network is pretty good (YMMV) and they always give me a good deal with its SIM only plan renewal time.

That said TOH had a miserable time with O2 - their response to an iPhone charging issue was to offer a replacement for £100 while still under contract. The simple to resolve problem was sorted for free at an Apple store in 15 minutes. TOH left O2 shortly after.

This is the problem with four networks each having many millions of customers - you'll usually be able to find someone who's had a great experience and a miserable experience and the latter usually shout louder than the former. These fine discussion boards attract many comments about Voda being crap but my experience with them is generally good. There has been one stinker in 10 years which got me a fat goodwill payment, but I've usually found the CS to be pretty good (one techie called me back as promised around Christmas when I had problems enabling Wifi calling). On the other hand I know people who love EE but I'd never touch them again especially under the dead hand of BT.

*The most bizarre Orange CS experience had to be the time when the CS agent picked up and told me, "I've been a very naughty boy". In response to my somewhat baffled reply he repeated it and hung up.

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Roses are reddish, exam-takers more so: Cisco's test price hike's a smack to the torso

paulf
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Re: Roses

It's proliferated worse than the repeated! exclamation! marks! on! Yahoo!! stories!.

Roses are red,

I'm feeling blue,

You're doing my head in,

Is there room in there for one more?

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Co-op Bank up for sale while customers still feel effects of its creaking IT

paulf
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@ Stuart 22 "It all started to go pear shaped when Thatcher made Building Societies game for asset snatchers."

The implosion Thatcher caused culminated in the raft of demutualisations in the late 1990s (Halifax+Leeds Permanent, Woolwich, B+B, A+L et al). After Abbey National converted first in the late 1980s it all went relatively quiet until 1994-ish.

My take on Britannia is a little different as this didn't happen until 2009-ish. They were fucked by bad lending and knew it. They realised they had to sell out to some sucker so they could scarper before the shit hit the fan. Step forward Co-Op bank which had the same empire building zest as their owners at Co-Op Group (the ones who paid £1.6bn for Somerfield and have spent the last few years reversing it!). Britannia were savvy though and even lobbied for a self serving change in the law so that a mutual Building Society could merge with a Provident Society like the Co-Op Bank.

I was a Britannia member but don't flame as the black hole wasn't my fault - that was down to Platform their sub-prime mortgage specialist lending unit. The corpse was so rotten the members got ziltch from the shadow conversion of Britannia - all we got was a £1 membership of the Co-Op group, with the £1 paid out of Britannia reserves just before it all completed. That's how much the whole BBS business was worth - £1 per member. Co-Op members got shafted worst in the long run though. That shows they must have known there was something stinky about Britannia. I do wonder what would have happened to BBS had they not been acquired; probably some kind of bankruptcy and rescue as happened to Dunfermline with Nationwide.

So I think the question is not whether Due Diligence was done or not, but whether the warnings were heeded. The answer to that is clearly, La la la we're not listening "No". I don't think the Co-Op were conned as such - they wanted BBS to increase the size of their empire regardless of the eventual cost. It was that same empire building that eventually caught them out - their attempt to acquire the branches that became TSB from LBG. The external regulator due diligence to make sure they were strong enough for the deal to go through is when the problems were spotted.

As far as I'm aware the BBS team at the time have escaped any sanction for the part they played. I suspect the situation is the same on the Co-Op side of things apart from Flowers who went to jail for Meth and Crystal rent boys.

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New PayPal T&Cs prevents sellers trash-talking PayPal

paulf
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Boffin

Driving Licence and Passport [@ cornz 1 Re: Fuck Paypal]

"After speaking to their drones they said they wanted a credit card statement AND a copy of a bank statement AND a copy of my passport or driving license."

I think there is more to this:

1. Companies demand simply because they want it and people provide it thinking they're obliged to or have no choice.

2. Companies are trying something dodgy and need proof of revenue residence (perhaps tax shenanigans?)

I've mentioned this before but I'll do so again as this Paypal thing and your comment reminded me of it. I used to have an Amazon seller account for selling old games/CDs and the like second hand; preferable to flea-bay as it was less of a bear pit (not much but enough). All of a sudden a few years ago they demanded a utility bill and my passport or driving licence otherwise they'd close my account. I wasn't prepared to provide those most important of ID documents considering the relatively small use my account got so let them close it. Now, I can understand a business seller needing to provide some evidence of their existence but not a private individual selling a few second hand items a year (perhaps £50 a year in sales?) especially as they'll have confirmed my address from the credit card linked to my account.

The reason for this? I don't know. Perhaps they want to prove the source of revenue for dodgy tax reasons but it seems a heavy handed way to go about it. It's an issue that will be beyond the mainstream media and their "Just click 'I Agree'" readers but it's also something El Reg hasn't picked up on, sadly. I'm sure most people would have handed over that info without question without really asking why a sodding mail order book seller wants a scan of their passport - one of the most important types of ID there is.

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paulf
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Pirate

Re: Fuck Paypal

@johnfbw "Most of that is because they need to do it by law for anti-money laundering regulations. Three pieces is excessive, but nothing more than your average bank would request."

Sorry, I call bollocks on that. They're not a bank as they make clear time and again when they do what they want and users can't hold them to account like they can with a bank. You can only put money in via a Credit card or a bank account and those methods will have fully vetted your ID before opening your account. You can only get money out via a bank account.

Paypal are a payment processing service, acting as an intermediary and nothing more, and they're certainly not a bank account. It'd be like Apple or Google demanding your passport and birth certificate to use Apple Pay or Google/Android pay (which simply acts as an intermediary between card issuer and merchant account).

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Welcome to my world of The Unexplained – yes, you're welcome to it

paulf
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Go

Re: Battery box...

I had a 1999 version of that model 206 1.4LX petrol (second owner). When the battery failed I had no way to get a new battery back from the car parts shop (and wasn't sure it was the battery) so called out Acme Breakdowns to take a look. He fitted a new battery (handily leaving the old one with me). The new one was something like 240CCA replacing the old one with something like 325CCA. Funnily enough from that point it was very reluctant to start cleanly - and I only realised the cause afterwards. My garage had the solution a nearly new 450CCA battery - as with your experience it burst to life promptly when the ignition key was turned from then on.

As an aside Acme breakdowns refunded the cost of the underspec'd battery which I gave to a family member for use on their boat.

Joking aside mine was a nice little runner and very few problems in 10 years. I only got rid because the insurance wrote it off after a taxi driver ignored a Give Way sign and drove into it on an icy day.

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Openreach reshuffles top brass, brings in BT bods to make biz more independent of BT

paulf
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Boffin

Chairman reporting

FTA: "But Ofcom said the changes fell short. The main point of contention is that BT wants Mike McTighe ["independent" Openreach Chairman] to report to BT chairman Mike Rake, whereas Ofcom wants the reporting to be separate.®"

Exactly who should the Openreach chairman report to if not the Chairman of the parent group (i.e. BT Group)?

If BT Group wanted the Openreach Chairman to report to BT Group CEO (Gavin Patterson) then, yes, that isn't going to pass muster as "fully separate" but reporting to the group Chairman or the Group board (led by the Group chairman) does make at least some sense (even if you don't agree with it). Who would the Openreach Chairman report to otherwise? Above the Chairman/Board is direct to Shareholders but they're shareholders in BT Group plc not Openreach Ltd; and that's when the Structural separation looks more like a fudge than a workable solution to the problem (workable in that it achieves the most separation with the least grounds for legal challenge - note IANAL.).

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Facebook investors yell at CEO: Get the Zuck out of our boardroom!

paulf
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Re: Good practice

@ Credas, Good practice: "the CEO is meant to be the hired help running the company on behalf of the shareholders, the chairman represents those shareholders."

To put it another way, while the CEO is busy running the company the Chairman has only one job: to fire the CEO if (s)he fucks it up.

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Streetmap loses appeal against Google Maps dominance judgement

paulf
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Unhappy

Re: The bitter taste-

@Daggerchild "I say this while typing in a Firefox I'll have to eventually restart due to ever increasing hitching caused by memory management issues they still haven't sorted out, which is currently eating 8Gb of VM."

I have used FF since the 0.9 beta (I think) and prefer it (FF works well with ABP while Chrome has the blanket Google tracking plus the new creepy Bluetooth APIs) but you're right on memory. My home FF installation regularly gets to 4GB now making it slow to a crawl until I restart it. It's improved in the last couple of versions but still not where it should be.

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Virtual monopoly on UK cell towers and TV masts up for sale

paulf
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Headmaster

Re: I seem to have missed something

@AC "RedBee was Macquarie"

Fair point - Arqiva and Red Bee both had the same parent in Macquarie but (and here's the pedant point) that's not the same as Red Bee being part of Arqiva and thus a justifiable part of the Arqiva valuation in the article. This isn't justified as it appears it wasn't the case - the two companies were never merged into a single organisation by Macquarie they just shared the same parent company.

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paulf
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WTF?

I seem to have missed something

As mentioned in other comments above, this passage, "The truth is that the strong British Pound...", seems to have missed the whole GBP dropped from $1.45 to $1.24 ish post 23 June 2016. It's also dropped against the Euro by a similar degree. Perhaps it would be useful if the article explained what currency it considers the GBP to be strong in comparison to?

"Arqiva, so much a dominant force in the UK, that it might be considered a monopoly,". I thought it was a monopoly in that it owns the former BBC and IBA transmitter networks meaning there is little significant other competition for renting space on masts (and mast building being capital intensive means a high barrier to entry for new competitors).

"Macquarie bought the broadcast business of what is today Virgin Media in 2004, paying £1.27bn; in 2005 it acquired BBC Broadcast for £166m and then in 2007 bought Crown Castle’s tower and broadcast properties as National Grid Wireless for £2.5bn"

The NTL Broadcast stuff (Virgin Media) was the former IBA transmitter network. Crown Castle (CTXI) owned the former BBC Transmission business which was privatised in 1997-ish. The reference to BBC Broadcast is odd though - this was sold by the BBC 2005-ish to become Red Bee Media (play out, channel management, subtitles and the like) and is now owned by Ericsson. It doesn't seem to have been owned by Arqiva.

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Openreach appoints former TUC head to independent board

paulf
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Re: BT, the obstructive drunk blocking the doorway.

The thing that's been said so many times (by me and others) is that structural separation where Openreach is a separate legal entity isn't the same as compelling BT group to sell Openreach (which will not only be a much bigger legal fight but it will almost certainly get picked up by some foreign raider for buttons to be milked for profit until the pips squeak). It can still be a part of BT Group just as a wholly owned subsidiary rather than as a division. BT will still get the profits from Openreach and it'll still have the muscle from being part of the larger group but it will no longer be able to act as if BT Retail is the only customer that matters. If it does it should be more obvious from the accounts than at present.

That BT are fighting structural separation as if it's the same as forced divestiture tells us all we need to know about the underhand shenanigans going on between BT Retail and BT Openreach that they know will be stopped by Legal separation.

I think that means I agree with you, AC :) OFCOM need to be strong in pursuing their Legal separation remedy, even if it doesn't rectify all the errors of the past.

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Baird is the word: Netflix's grandaddy gets bronze London landmark

paulf
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Meh

Re: IEEE

I wonder where the British equivalent The IET (nee The IEE) was among all these celebrations of British invention?* They have some claim of interest in the early days of telly as their HQ (Savoy Place, London, on the Embankment) was the original BBC HQ before Auntie moved to Portland Place. I seem to recall on a visit many years ago they had a large picture of Lord Reith locking the doors of Savoy Place for the last time.

*Genuine question - I see no mention of them in the article.

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