* Posts by Steven Jones

1524 posts • joined 21 May 2007

44m UK consumers on Equifax's books. How many pwned? Blighty eagerly awaits spex on the breach

Steven Jones

Re: EU data protection?

By financial product, you have to include virtually everything paid on account. Like all the utilities, and probably local government too.

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Steven Jones

Re: So the bodies using this service have been passing them information in the process?

Credit Reference Agencies get feeds from almost every major company that deals with the consumer on an account basis. They will get feeds from all the credit card companies about late payments, balance, from banks, things like unapproved overdrafts. They'll have feeds from you phone company about missing/late payments. If you've got a store card and are in deficit, they'll know about that too.

It's not just company data - they'll know if there are any county court judgements, or if you are on the electoral roll and probably if you owe money on your council tax.

There fingers are everywhere. What's worse, if there's a problem with the source that provide adverse information (as sometimes happens - maybe some company has reported a bad debt wrongly) then the credit bureaux washes its hands. It's up to you to get the error corrected by whoever reported it. There have been some horror stories about that.

If you want to find out what they know about you, then sign up for one of the free services, like Clearscore. You might learn something about how information passes around.

In any event, there are going to be some big, big fines levied here. Not just in the US, but in the EU and (I hope) the UK. After all, the various US finance regulatory bodies have been making quite a nice pile of money fining European banks for misdemeanours.

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Ofcom lifts sword, eyes up BT's duct and pole rental costs

Steven Jones

Re: Ducts are all

BT shareholders own those assets.If the government want them, then they'd have to buy them back. Anything else would be state confiscation of private assets and would be unacceptable to the vast majority of MPs, not to mention Human Rights legislation (the ECHR recognises the rights of private assets).

In any event, when the state did own the network, then they too did not regularly clear ducts. Unless they are constantly subject to change, it's a vast waste of resources as, in most cases, cables & fibre remain untouched for decades - so a duct might have to be cleared several times and access was never required. It's more cost effective to do it on demand in most cases.

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Steven Jones

Re: Ducts are all

Super dumb. The Crown guarantee only comes into effect if, and only if, BT group becomes insolvent. By then the shareholders will have had their entire investment wiped out. The Crown Guarantee is entirely worthless to the shareholders - they still carry the liability up to the entire value of their shares.

The Government hope, of course, that they will not have to pick up the BT pension deficit, much of it down to a scheme set up by the state when there wee 260,000 employees. It's notable that the government did have to pick up the deficit for the parallel Royal Mail scheme (around £8n from memory - no doubt more now) before any investor would even touch it.

So if you count shareholders not being responsible for the debt because if the company was wiped out servicing it, then by all means continue to do so. In the meantime, real shareholders will continue to act as if it is their investment which is at risk because that is the case and the market will price shares with that in mind.

nb. It is also the pension fund trustees who, in the final analysis, would have stopped Ofcom forcing a BT/OR split as it was obvious (and recognised) that OR cash flow was required to service the deficit. If that had been on the cards, the trustees would have been in court immediately to secure the deficit funding and the whole exercise would have hit the buffers.

There is even talk that the pension scheme could be given the network as collatoral for the pension deficit.

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Steven Jones

Re: Ducts are all

The taxpayer was not swindled. Corrected for inflation, the amount paid to the government over the three tranches is pretty well what the market value is now. The Government also managed to dump the responsibility for slimming the workforce down from 260K to the roughly 80K UK employees now, not to mention the pension deficit for that original government designed scheme.

The network at the time of nationalisation was dominated by ancient Strowger exchanges with only a very few (very, very expensive) electronic exchanges and very little fibre indeed. The network (physical infrastructure and final copper loops apart) is pretty well unrecognisable.

In all, something of a bargain for the government. A lot of money in the coffers for something they mismanaged and failed to invest in for decades.

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UK ministers' Broadband '2.0' report confuses superfast with 10Mbps

Steven Jones

Re: Don't shoot/kill the messenger...

OR never, ever claimed that G.FAST from cabinets was going to be of much use. It's a quick, cheap add-on aimed at higher speeds for densely populated areas, not rural ones. That point about speed to market is important.

G.FAST from the tops of poles and local distribution points might be suitable for less densely populated areas, but the economics would probably depend on the use of reverse power as getting mains power is a major expense (G.FAST pods will be powered via the local FTTC cabinet).

A lot of development effort is going on with reverse power, but it's a tough challenge to get the power demands low enough to be feasible. However, telcos have a lot of interest in it working.

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Steven Jones

That's Retail, and not the cost to the ISP. They are just using the line rental markup as part of their revenue stream to keep the apparent price of BB lower whilst also having to deal with reduced fixed line call revenues and ever increasing bandwidth demand.

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What did OVH learn from 24-hour outage? Water and servers do not mix

Steven Jones

Re: Pure water isn't so bad...

Pure water may not be a good conductor, but it is not an insulator either. Even the purest water will still conduct to some extent, as there is a dynamic equilibrium due to H+ OH- dissociation, and it has to have dissolved monatomic gasses to be optimal (that is inert gases). Degassed pure water is much more conductive and (more practically) ultra-pure water exposed to the atmosphere is worse again, mainly due to being exposed to CO2.

Of course your ultra-pure de-gassed water isn't likely to remain that pure either as it picks up contaminants once it starts leaking.

There is a reason that some old Cray supercomputers used freon to cool their circuit boards and not water.

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Hey, remember that monkey selfie copyright drama a few years ago? Get this – It's just hit the US appeals courts

Steven Jones

Re: Pressing shutter button != taking photo ?

There is a specific exception in law that the owner of the copyright is not the creator is he/she is acting in an employee status. In that case the employerr is the owner of the copyright unless there are specific contractual terms that apply.

The same rule applies if you employ (say) a design company to produce a logo for your company. However, it is normal in such circumstances to explicitly cover these issues in a contract. For example, if you employ a wedding photographer, he/she will generally have a condition retaining copyright unless this is agreed otherwise (which will generally be at a cost).

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Steven Jones

Re: We are all monkeys...

All humans are monkeys. Not all monkeys are humans.

nb. for pedant, humans are apes, but apes are also monkeys albeit the norm is to use the more specific term.

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Steven Jones

Re: Just sayin'

Corporations are "legal persons". That means that they can own assets (and sue/be sued or prosecuted). It's a fundamental concept in law. If they weren't "legal persons", you wouldn't be able to have a legally enforceable contract with one.

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Steven Jones

Concept of "legal person" and copyright ownershi

"There's nothing in copyright law that says a monkey, or any animal, can't hold copyright, but then there's nothing that says they can, either."

I would argue that in law at the moment animals can't hold copyright. Only "legal persons" can own copyrights (companies, organisations, people and so on). A monkey is not currently recognised as a "legal person" in law (at least in the USA) although there have been some who have tried to have such a status recognised in law for some "higher animals", like primates. This is something of a continuing debate.

A "legal person" is a notion in US and English Common Law, which has equivalents in almost all jurisdictions, which includes both natural persons and organisations, like companies, which are recognised in law as have such a status. That means they can own assets, can sue/be sued, be prosecuted and so on.

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London suffers from 'sub-standard' connectivity - report

Steven Jones

London most connected city?

Despite which, a report barely a week old describes London as the World's most connected city...

https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/news/2017/06/london_is_the_world_s_most_connected_city_/

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Burying its head in the NAND: Samsung boosts 64-layer 3D flash chip production

Steven Jones

Re: so how many write cycles is it good for?

The answer to how many write cycles an HDD is good for is clearly not infinite for the very good reason that they are mechanical devices and will, sooner or later, wear out. Hammer them with random I/Os with a very high duty cycle rate will accelerate that and can only be mitigated if you buy very expensive enterprise HDDs with reduced capacity. People should also not mistake MTBFs as expected lifetimes for HDDs - they are statistical failure rates during a devices expected lifetime, which is typically quite a lot shorter than the MTBF figure, especially if used intensively.

As with tapes, HDDs will gradually move to support the type of workloads where their performance characteristics and cost profiles make sense. The high latency and related limited access rates will gradually make them less viable for many workloads where those characteristics are important.

It's also worth noting that the controllers in modern SSDs are much more capable than earlier ones in the manner in which they deal with bad cells and write levelling.

No storage device, whether HDD, SSD or tape is forever. Personally, not wasting hours a week for the cumulative effect of poor HDD performance (on personal devices and back end systems) is a considerable cost in itself and, increasingly, large businesses are appreciating that too due to productivity issues even before customer service considerations are taken into account.

Flash storage has reached the point where it is "good enough" and "cheap enough" that it makes sense for a lot of individuals and companies, at least for I/O intensive parts of workloads if not backup or archival.

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BT considers scrapping 'gold-plated' pensions in bid to plug £14bn deficit

Steven Jones

Re: Much like my pension, which I'll likely never get.

@Halfmad

You can't legislate that pension schemes never run in deficit, because no government or pension trustee has control over such issues such as sudden changed asset evaluation or the assumed rate of return. A massive financial shock, such as that in 2008 has huge knock-on effects on pension valuations, and the policies of central banks to artificially suppress bond and interest rates through policies such as QE.

If companies are suddenly forced to find several billion pounds to instantly fill pension deficits as soon as a valuation is performed, then they might have to resort to things such as the forced selling of assets ar fire-sale prices. That will drive down their share price, kill dividend payments which will, in turn, have a knock-on effect on pension schemes holding their shares. That, in turn, will trigger bigger deficits. In short, this medicine will kill the patient.

I would suggest changing your forum handle to barkingmad.

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74 countries hit by NSA-powered WannaCrypt ransomware backdoor: Emergency fixes emitted by Microsoft for WinXP+

Steven Jones

Questions to ask the US government

If this was a known vulnerability which the US government had forced upon Microsoft, then this is going to cause the most enormous international row at government levels. Or at least is ought to do.

It will start making countries think twice about leaving national infrastructure vulnerable to the whims of a foreign power.

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Regulate This! Time to subject algorithms to our laws

Steven Jones

Institution unknown

"The English parliament these days"

I was unaware that there was such thing as an English Parliament. Pray, where does it convene?

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BT agrees to legal separation of Openreach

Steven Jones

The selling of off of O2/Cellnet was forced on BT by the money men after they got overextended and caught out be the telecoms market crash that followed all those overprice 3G mobile phone licence auctions back at the turn of the millennium. A lot of network companies got wiped out or had to be restructured.

All the telcos had been banking on the market price of the assets they had owned/bought into. When the share prices collapsed, then they got left with the debts. Inept management, but it was a cross-industry madness at the time. A bit like a mini banking crisis.

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Steven Jones

Re: Cautious optimism

What everybody fails to mention, and possibly the most important point of all, is that the new Openreach will not legally own the network it operates, or any IPRs and any future network investment it makes will be on behalf of BT Group. This is explicit in the commitments if anyone cares to read it. However, as people these days appear to be happy to comment on anything and everything without actually bothering to read the documents or deal with facts, then why should this be any different?

It looks like the new OR is going to be set-up as a management/operation company for the network owned by BT group. It will make investment decisions, within a financial model agree with BT group, but it will be on behalf of BT Groups with respect to the assets.

If anybody doubts this, I invite them to read the undertakings which can be found here. Section 9 is interesting with regard to assets.

http://www.btplc.com/UKDigitalFuture/Agreed/CommitmentsofBTPlcandOpenreachLimitedtoOfcom.pdf

I anything, it would appear to make the floating off of OR as a truly independent company even further away if it is not to own the network assets it operates. It just becomes a network services company with an investment advice arm...

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Steven Jones

Re: Smart move

I really doubt that the German government is going to bankroll many tens of billions of investment into a UK network.

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Steven Jones

Re: Uh Oh...

Changing the branding on vans is trivial It's just giant decals printed on film. Peak off the old one and apply another. With companies with fleets the size of BT then it can be done for a few tens of pounds each time. They do it often enough for advertising purposes, and it will just be fitted into the schedule.

The real costs are not going to be the visible ones.

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Germany to roll out €100bn gigabit internet network

Steven Jones

Or is the government listening...

So you missed the point that this is an investment bankrolled by the German federal government? It says that the Federal government is already investing €4bn a year and is going to raise this by another €3bn to €7bn a year.

To put this in perspective, the total BDUK central government budget is about £780m (albeit there is local authority match funding).

Quite some difference there...

nb. there would be major issues regarding state aid if the UK govt went down this state corparist given the competing private networks. But then the German Government has a completely different relationship with DT to the one that the UK government has with BT.

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SAP eyes up BT's biz ahead of £550m EE integration

Steven Jones

Re: Integration? Hopefully they thought ahead and the new system...

Anybody who bothered to follow what actually happened with the original Ofcom/BT agreement with would know that functional separation of OR IT operational systems was part of the exercise. They will use common technologies and software stacks, as to do otherwise would waste money for all concerned, but the systems are functionally separate and it was defined that they had to be for equivalence of inputs. That means all customers (including BT internal customers) have to use the same interfaces.

However, there are some costs that would still occur with separation, and it would include issues such as software suppliers renegotiating licenses, duplication of support and much else. There will also be non-functional systems, like payroll and HR which will be shared as they form no part of the functional software stack. However, any IT separation costs will be very minor compared to the vastly more complex issues involving untangling of legacy pension liabilities (which will, due to historical employment patterns hit Openreach hard) along with whatever the pension trustees will insist on. It's likely they will insist on the huge pension deficit being covered much faster and in ways which would have massive effects on investment.

So if people spent a bit more time investigating and rather less making random assumption which suit their prejudices, the Internet would be a rather more informed place.

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Licence-fee outsourcer Capita caught wringing BBC tax from vulnerable

Steven Jones

Re: @ Mister D

Not just TV reception equipment, but also for streaming TV programmes as they are broadcast or use of iPlayer (other catch-up services do not require a licence). If you use a phone to watch "live" TV progs or watch the Internet, it still needs a license although a home one does cover you for roaming on mobile devices as long as its running off batteries.

It's unclear to me if I take my laptop to a friends house (who doesn't have a licence) and I stream live TV whether he has to divert his eyes away from the screen...

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Tech contractors begin mass UK.gov exodus in wake of HMRC's IR35 income tax clampdown

Steven Jones

Re: Big outsoucing companies

Incidentally, how on Earth to you get to £25bn extra a year from 200,000 workers? That's £125,000 a year each. Just what sort of national average wage do you think they are on? Even the accumulated numbers over a decade is not going to get anywhere near £12,500 per year per person, and that's before you even consider the expenditure side of the equation and that very many of those immigrants aren't on the national average, but doing menial jobs at minimum wage.

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Steven Jones

Re: Big outsoucing companies

No, most of the increase in public debt/borrowing was NOT used to pay off (I think you mean) rescue the banks.. All the money used to rescue the banks was either on a secured loan basis or by buying the equity. As such, any debt incurred was balanced in the books by assets (the value of the loans and/or equity) and it was never counted towards the national debt. The Lloyds bail-out is a particular example as it's almost all been sold back into private ownership and a modest (paper) profit has been made (and Lloyds wouldn't have been anything like as parlous state if not prevailed upon by Gordon Brown to bail-out HBOS; a disaster for the shareholders.. RBS is a rather different thing as it's performance has been abysmal and the share price is way below what the government paid. It will be a longer haul back.

But the point remains, this was never counted against the National debt. The credit options offered (mostly not taken up) were of the same sort. They were offered as a sort of over-draft facility to be drawn on as a lender of last resort.

Where the huge deficit did come in was the collapse in government tax revenues after 2008 due to the recession that followed and the cutting off of tax revenues from the financial sector (previously a huge source of income). Add to that the reduced economic activity and the the efforts that Alistair Darling made to stop the economy tanking, mainly by being fiscally very loose, and you got those huge deficits following on from 2009. That was on top of a 3-4% deficit at the height of the economic cycles to which we can add Gordon Brown had been rather loose with his fiscal approach and had generated a lot of off-book liabilities through such things as the massive increase in PPP projects which had the short term effect of not dumping debt on the public accounts by direct investment, but at the huge cost of future, unbooked, current account liabilities for some very expensive contracts.

So yes, the banks reckless actions triggered it, but they had politicians on the sidelines (in many countries) cheering on this financial castle built on sand as, for years, it poured forth money into public coffers. This wasn't helped when some countries also dipped heavily into the pot of easy money willingly lent by (often state-backed banks) in Europe. Hence the crisis of sovereign debt, a mess that Greece is still floundering in followed by a few others (like Italy, Spain and Portugal). The exposure of those commercial banks (even if state owned) to sovereign debt is still hanging there as a threat.

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Steven Jones

Retrospective audit

Changing your employment status now will not mean that HMRC might not choose to audit you retrospectively. Note that it's retrospective audit, not retrospective taxation as it would be an interpretation of the rules are they were believed to operate at the time. However, there may be hop for those who escape abroad.

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Steven Jones

Re: "the job of Government is to support the people, not tax the people"

Nope, it is "trying to avoid tax" or, tax avoidance as it's officially called. Tax evasion is the other, elicit version. However, just because something is legal doesn't necessarily make it ethical. There are many grey areas in all this.

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Brit lords slip 30Mbps Universal Service Obligation into UK Digital Economy Bill

Steven Jones

Re: wishfull thinking

1) The UK taxpayer did not pay for the original BT (phone) network. It was, in effect, paid for by the monopoly revenue from customers who, under state ownership, paid incredibly high prices for phone calls.

2) Nevertheless, the government still owned this network and then sold it to private investors. Notice that little point? They sold it, meaning that the the government got back the value of the assets which, incidentally, was dominated by obsolete equipment such things as Strowger exchanges. How you can sell something to private investors and then, somehow, claim it is still somehow paid for by taxpayers beats me. You clearly live in a strange world when you sell something yet still claim some sort of ownership.

3) whilst it was a (mostly) copper network - there was a significant amount of aluminium in the mix, it was not a broadband network. Any investment in broadband has been subsequent to the privatisation.

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'I'm innocent!' says IT contractor on trial after Office 365 bill row spiraled out of control

Steven Jones

Re: Legal fun

Whether you are innocent of a charge is entirely irrelevant to the matter of whether it's false arrest of not. What matters is whether the arresting authorities have reasonable grounds for making an arrest in the first place. Many people are arrested, go to court and are found not guilty. Very few succeed in winning false (or unlawful) arrest cases.

However, this one does sound odd. I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to tell on this case.

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Three drops £250m on UK Broadband

Steven Jones

Re: Expensive

The stories in the financial sections this morning shed rather more light on this. The official justification appears to be that the value is in the spectrum bandwidth owned by the company. It might get become and important asset should it be included in the 5G technical standards.

However, perhaps just as important, 3 is owned by on of the richest man in Asia (Li Ka-shing), and UK Broadband was a venture by his son (Richard). It appears that the price paid will just about cover the investment and accumulated operating losses of UK Broadband...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/02/06/hong-kongs-li-dynasty-trade-uk-assets-three-buys-relish-wireless/

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Steven Jones

Expensive

Over £16k per subscriber? That's quite some premium. Of course there will be fixed assets, but that's rather a lot of money. I assume they are planning some major expansion, but it's a pretty crowded market place.

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Routes taken by UK prosecutors over supply of modified TV set-top boxes

Steven Jones

Re: Dodgy law

"I presume that the every electrical goods retailer will now be prosecuted for supplying devices that can also be used for this purpose. They're called computers."

Note this ridiculous old trope. On that basis, you'd end up prosecuting the electricity supplier, or maybe the builder of the house under which roof the modified set-top box is being used to breach copyright.

There is a very clear common sense difference in intent between selling a device that has been specifically modified to facilitate the breaching of copyright and which is knowingly sold on the basis of that facility and the case where a general purpose machine with many functions is sold even though it might conceivably be used for that purpose.

The law is not stupid in this matter. Judges (and, where relevant, juries) will consider the issues of intent and use on the basis of evidence. We do not, after all, prosecute cooks for possession of kitchen knives whilst we might very well prosecute somebody who was carrying one in the street with no good reason.

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Around 1.4 million people have sub-10Mbps speeds - Ofcom

Steven Jones

Re: I am one of the 1.4m

Packet loss has absolutely nothing to do with distance from the exchange. That just slows the sync rate. Packet loss is almost invariably due to insufficient backhaul.

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UK's Universal Service voucher scheme urged to shift monopoly away from BT

Steven Jones

Re: YES: let the customer choose

There is already price controlled access to fibre for back haul. Not from cabinets, but from fibre aggregation points (cabinets are not aggregation points - they only have the fibre required for their functioning). However, there are a large number of aggregation points as well.

There are two problems though. The first is people complain even about price controlled fibre. However, the second is it doesn't get you very far on its own. It is the costs and logistics of running fibre to properties that is the killer.

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More than half of punters reckon they can't get superfast broadband

Steven Jones

Re: exchange only lines...

If you read the note at the end of the article, you'll find it's a crap bit of mathematics by Tim Worstall. Basically he'd assumed that the total BT line length was for 10 pair cable and it's not. It's for single pairs. Secondly he'd not allowed for the weight of the insulation, which is half the weight of the cable he looked at (easily worked out from density of copper and the wire gauge).

That little bit of a kindergarten mistake by the ever egotistic Mr. Worstall overestimated the amount of copper in BT's network by a factor of about twenty. I responded at the time. Neither he or the Register ever noted that howler.

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FBI's Clinton email comedown confirms it could have killed the story in a canter

Steven Jones

Re: Like the alleged 'shooter' at the Trump rally

Technically a US president can serve almost 10 years if, as VP, they "inherit" the presidency with less than two years to go, as they can be elected in their own right twice. (If they inherited the presidency with more than two years to go, they could only then be elected to the presidency once).

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Pluck-filled platter-stuff: Bold disk drive makers fatten up

Steven Jones

Re: Heee haw

Interleaving drives is not an option. HDDs rely on a smooth airflow to fly the heads, and having two interleaved drives will cause horrible turbulence issues.

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Hapless Network Rail contractors KO broadband in Uxbridge

Steven Jones

Re: "not highlighted in the thorough surveys"

I think you can 100% guarantee those BT ducts have been there for a very long time. No latest version required. In any event, it only needs the duct to be a few metres from where the piling operator thinks it is, map or not, and chaos will ensue.

I don't know what the procedure for this "thorough" survey, but if it's just consulting maps and assuming their accurate, that will surely not be enough. I would hope that the actual surveying involves using detection equipment and positively locating what are known services. The Network Rail contractors surely must have known there were major infrastructure ducting (and other infrastructure services) and positively located them before they started the work. I know that area quite well and it is a densely populated urban area.

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DNS devastation: Top websites whacked offline as Dyn dies again

Steven Jones

Re: ENOUGH!

One big problem is it's often extremely difficult to trace the originators with a distributed DOS attack through compromised devices controlled by heavily disguised control systems which, themselves, can go through compromised devices. Often this can be triggered by anybody, anywhere using any old public network. Even when the controlling source (or the source of the compromising agent) can be identified, these are often residents of countries where the rule of western law doesn't hold, or even regimes where this sort of activity serves a purpose of the state (or even agencies in that state not under full control).

It might be that some really draconian action will be required on ISPs and network operators to manage the security on their devices. A can conceive of ISPs and network operators being compelled to police their own user base for illicit traffic on pain of having some of their service access cut off which means, by implication, they have to police their users the same way.

Perhaps also some penalties for manufacturers and suppliers of devices that can be compromised which don't fix security holes. This is one huge issue for the "Internet of Everything".

Ultimately, the whole infrastructure needs to be hardened, and especially core services, such that they are far more difficult to attack in this way.

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Steven Jones

It's not a routing issue...

The Internet does route around damage, but this isn't an attack on routing. It's an attack on a network service. That's rather a different thing.

However, it's certainly true that far too little effort has been put into fundamentally hardening network services of all sorts against these sorts of attacks. Unfortunately far too many Internet protocols and services are built around assumptions of good behaviour.

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Cheapest Apple iPhone 7's flash memory is waaaaay slower than pricier model

Steven Jones

It's a matter of parallelism...

So a device with 8 times the amount of flash memory achieves about 7.6 times the throughput on writes. That's almost linear, and it surely just implies that it's simply a factor that scales sidewise as more flash devices are added so more things happen in parallel. The memory isn't slower as such, it's just the way throughput scales.

Presumably on the read side, there are other bottlenecks which prevents the 256GB device maxing out all parallelism of multiple flash chips.

So not really "punishing", and how much does it matter in real life? Even at 42MBps, that 32GB flash storage device could be overwritten in about 13 minutes.

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Dynamic IP addresses are your personal property, CJEU rules

Steven Jones

Public visibility of IP address logs

I seem to recall cases where the IP addresses used to edit some Wikipedia entries allowed the identification of sock puppet activity causing the perpetrators some embarrassment. In those cases it was IP addresses allocated to organisations or offices and not, directly, individuals but the culprits (or close associates) were obvious.

There have been some much more complex versions of this whereby sources of deliberately misleading or derogatory information have been identified. So there are occasions where publicly visible IP addresses have some public interest.

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Telcos hit out against plans to hike their broadband rates

Steven Jones

Re: Does BT still get a discount?

That has been tested in court on several occasions and the challenges to the rates authorities have all failed. It's been challenged in UK courts and in an EU case on state aid grounds.

Here's just one example.

https://robbratby.com/2011/02/08/illegal-state-aid-challenge-to-tax-levied-on-bts-uk-fibre-network-fails-in-european-court/

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Steven Jones

Then get you BB from a no-frills provider.

Well buy your broadband from an operator that doesn't bundle sports into the broadband costs, not BT Consumer (or for that matter, Sky or VM bundled products). The wholesale costs for lines and FTTC contain precisely no element for those sports rights. Full stop. None. Not a penny. There are many other ISPs to choose from.

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Ireland looks like it's outpacing Britain in the superfast broadband rollout stakes

Steven Jones

Re: There are non so blind who cannot imagine the future.

The question is not whether there's a demand. The question is whether there's an economic level of demand. There are many, many things people and companies want, but there's a limit to what they are prepared to pay for it. A company can have pretty well whatever speed broadband it wants if its prepared to pay the price. Just because somebody wants gigabit level speeds to (say) £50 a month, it doesn't mean that there is a sufficiently big demand to make it worthwhile spending the £25bn or more required to reach (almost) 100% fibre coverage (even that expenditure will not reach everybody).

It's about time people learned there's a difference between a demand and an economic market. Many people will be happy enough with a few tens of mbps and those that are prepared to pay extra could not be enough to pay for a comprehensive network uplift. Hence the current approach of incremental upgrades in the most cost-effective manner.

The Australian NBN tied itself up in knots trying to deliver FTTP (and even then to nothing like 100%) and has had to cut back its aspiration such that it is now dominated by FTTC. That is with a budget which would equate, in UK terms, to around £45bn when adjusted for population.

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Steven Jones

Re: Cu?

Yes, and it was Tim Worstall on this very site who made the idiotic claim that the copper in BT's network was worth about £50bn at the market rate for copper ingots. He even included the calculations. Sadly for him, there were laughable errors in the estimate (and would-be copper thieves) there were some elementary mistakes. First, he assumed that BT's network of 75m miles of cable was the length of 10 pair cable (when it's single pair). Secondly, in he used the weight per unit length of 10 pair cable which included all the insulation rather than just the copper. The upshot was that he over-estimated the amount of copper in BT's network by about 2,000%. That's without even taking into account the fact that scrap copper wrapped up in plastic insulation is a lot cheaper than pure copper ingots as it needs a lot of processing.

In practice, some copper (especially that direct buried) would be a lot more expensive to recover than it was worth as scrap.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/22/bt_copper_cable_theft/

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Larry Page snuffs out ‘too expensive’ Google Fiber project

Steven Jones

Re: "Public utilities and government agencies are better at handling"

Anybody much older than 30 in the UK also lived in an era when there was a state-owned phone network, and it was pretty awful. Expensive, inefficient, unreliable, over-manned and under-invested. In 1984 the vast majority of local exchanges were still based on ancient Strowger equipment.

People forget...

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Corbyn lied, Virgin Trains lied, Harambe died

Steven Jones

Re: Where's his missus?

So he'd rather they both sat on the floor together rather than sort the position out during the journey?

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Steven Jones

Suspicious video - and the issue of unclaimed, booked seats

Anybody who has ever been on a "ram packed" (I prefer jam packed) commuter train will know that the original video was rather dubious. On such a commuter train there would simply be no empty floor space to sit upon. Indeed there's often barely enough space to stand.

The issue of unclaimed booked seats on long distance routes is always a pain though. However, it's always a good idea to look at the details. If the reservation is for a different leg of the journey then it's free until that point. If the leg it applied to started some time ago then its unlikely that it will ever be claimed (and the worst that happens is you are asked to move). Note that removing booking tags can (at least in theory) get you into trouble.

The fact is that a lot of people who book seats find that they are all crammed into two or three carriages and they fancy a bit of space and go and find some in an carriage without any bookings. As far as I'm aware there's no actual requirement to sit in the seat that was booked for you.

nb the one place where booking on long distance trains tends to get rigorously applied is on cycle spots. They really are in short supply and, in my experience, there's little flexibility.

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