* Posts by alain williams

937 posts • joined 29 May 2007

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Google harvests school kids' web histories for ads, claims its Mississippi nemesis

alain williams
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Exchange of staff with Microsoft

Can anyone tell us how many staff have moved between Microsoft and Google ? Both seem to becoming increasingly sneaky on slurping up what should be private information about you and serving up targeted adverts.

What else they do with that information no one knows, they won't say - which is just as worrying.

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Ex-Autonomy CFO pleads not guilty to charges he inflated the company's value

alain williams
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What is fraud ?

So it seems that HP bought something without looking at it with a microscope, then found that it was not quite what it thought and so sues claiming fraud.

I know plenty of people who have bought HP kit, eg printers, that HP does worse by sabotaging post sale, but that is, somehow, not fraud.

Please tell me why one is fraud and the other is not ?

PS: HP is not unique in trying to con their customers.

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Terry Pratchett's self-written documentary to be broadcast in 2017

alain williams
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I hope that Death welcomed him with the words:

GREETINGS FRIEND.

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Oi, Mint 18.1! KEEP UP! Ubuntu LTS love breeds a laggard

alain williams
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Re: There is nothing wrong with kernel 4.4

I sit typing this at a CentOS 6.8 machine. This is running Kernel 2.6.32. It works fine; that is what Long Term Stability means - not breaking things by updating too often.

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alain williams
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Re: Why the negative title?

A few months ago I selected 'Always update everything', things broke big time on my Mate desktop. I poked for a few minutes, could not see anything obvious, so just reinstalled as the quickest way back to something working.

So: since then I stick with the, default, middle option 'stability and security'.

Most naive users will not notice these preference menus. This is why I think that they ought to default set the two 'select and trust' kernel & security updates.

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Peace-sign selfie fools menaced by fingerprint-harvesting tech

alain williams
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Iris scan

So, likewise, a good, open eyed, mug shot might be enough to be able to get an iris scan ?

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Former car rental biz staff gave customers' details to phone pests

alain williams
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Re: What about the ambulance chasers ?

It is not the directors of Enterprise RentACar that I am talking about, but those of the solicitors (== ambulance chasers) who bought the records from the three data thieves.

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alain williams
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What about the ambulance chasers ?

Did ICO/Plod go after these criminals ? These are the very same who provide a market for the calls that we all get ''concerning the accident that you had recently''. Hit them hard with a big stick please, make the directors personally responsible for every penny of fines and do us all a big favour.

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Fedora 25: You've got that Wayland feelin', oh, that Wayland feelin'

alain williams
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Try MATE if you can't stand GNOME 3

There is always the MATE Compiz spin for those of us who find that GNOME 3 is unusable. I'll try GNOME 3 again later today to see if it has improved, but the last time that I did it was too dumbed down and lacked things like multiple desktops - that I just cannot do without.

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MacBook killer? New Lenovo offering sexed up with XPoint booster

alain williams
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Yet another myopic article on laptops

Chris Mellor seems to believe that the only laptops that people want are super fast with lots of memory and disk/... Maybe some people do, not everyone. For me I want something light to carry round and with good battery life. Something that will let me run a web browser, run a presentation, occasional word processing, maybe edit & compile programs - but most important ssh into a server back at the ranch.

For that I find a machine costing £150-£200 from Tesco is entirely adequate. Running Linux of course. A machine that I won't cry much if/when I lose it or drop it under a bus.

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Barcodes stamped on breast implants and medical equipment

alain williams
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It will stop boobs ...

resulting from all sorts of errors - I suppose.

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How Google.org stole the Christmas Spirit

alain williams
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It was ever thus ...

Eg: Microsoft 'giving' schools free or very cheap s/ware: ensures that schools teach kids to use their software.

Or: Facebook's free networking efforts, designed to bring more people to its platform.

Plenty more if you think a bit.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Twas the week before Xmas ... not a creature was stirring – except Microsoft admitting its Windows 10 upgrade pop-up went 'too far'

alain williams
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Re: 'We want people to be running Windows 10 from a security perspective'

Why ? For the earlier versions that are still supported I would expect security patches. He seems to be saying that they can't be bothered to fix security problems in older versions. Other operating system distributors offer 10 years and 13 years support, these are smaller companies than Microsoft - but they can manage it; why don't they ?

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Landmark EU ruling: Legality of UK's Investigatory Powers Act challenged

alain williams
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Re: Simple solution...

Do remember that the only group who's browsing habits need a court order before they are handed over are the MP's themselves. I wonder what they have got to hide that we do not ?

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alain williams
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Re: This is great news...

news relating to this law has been almost non-existent in the UK media.

Which speaks volumes about ''independent'' our media really is.

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Ad-slinger Turn caught with its hand in Verizon's 'supercookie' jar

alain williams
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"Turn has agreed to be open and honest with customers"

Translation: "We will make sure that we will not be caught again"

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Did webcam 'performer' offer support chap payment in kind?

alain williams
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Re: Only that

Did he pay them with a small donation ?

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UK Home Office slurps 1,500 schoolkids' records per month

alain williams
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Who gets Free school meals

is one things handed over. Maybe we now understand why the Food Standards Agency was one of the bodies given oversight free access to our browser histories in the recent Snooper's Charter ... maybe.

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Bill Gates joins $170bn climate change investment club

alain williams
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Re: Nice to see the 1%

His children will be affected just as badly as yours and mine will be. When climate change starts to hit hard the rich will be able to insulate themselves from the changes to an extent, but with the whole planet being affected it will make life more unpleasant for them as well.

I think (hope) that he is not doing this just for (his children's) selfish reasons but for the general good.

As much as I don't like Microsoft: I do praise Bill for some of what he has done with his money: eg 3rd world toilets - totally unglamorous but very much needed.

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HBO slaps takedown demand on 13-year-old girl's painting because it used 'Winter is coming'

alain williams
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Winter is Coming

We shall all be reduced to consumers, deemed not fit to have a creative thought in our heads, no thoughts at all beyond how much money we pay to large corporates.

I have added a link to that picture on my web site.

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Mirai variant turns TalkTalk routers into zombie botnet agents

alain williams
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Talk talk still got customers then ?

Surprising. Even the most slothful should now be prodded to move.

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AMD virty encryption not quite there, claim boffins

alain williams
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AMD SEV safe on trusted cloud provider

To me that would be the whole point on SEV - protect yourself from a provider that has been spooked and forced to blab what you are doing to the NSA or the Pry Minister's snoop enhanced Food Standards Agency (OK: not in the current bill, but that hasn't stopped them in the past).

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Information on smart meters? Yep. They're great. That works, right? – UK.gov

alain williams
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Re: Dear Mrs May

The only "people" to benefit will be shareholders.

How long before the snooper's charter will be amended to let the food standard's agency see how much 'leccy we are using on a minute by minute basis ? Hmmm: I suppose they could check that I am cooking the xmas turkey properly.

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The UK's Investigatory Powers Act allows the State to tell lies in court

alain williams
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What hope the Birmingham 6 today ?

If the police/... can make up fairy stories then we have to expect that there will be more injustices like the Birmingham 6 where the cops/... want convictions so that they look good by having caught someone.

Frightening as that might be: I am more worried about how the snooping will be used by the ruling elite to squash dissent and ensure that they remain in power and that their friends' business remain profitable.

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Printer security is so bad HP Inc will sell you services to fix it

alain williams
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Should have been secure in the first place

As I read this: HP are charging you money to fix problems in their kit because they did not get it right in the first place. HP should be paying you for the time it takes to fix their mistakes.

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If your smart home gear hasn't updated recently, throw it in the trash

alain williams
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Re: Legal Framework

I received a recent letter saying that my car was subject to a recall; something about the air bag. My car is 6 years old.

A lot of e-toys are made and the manufacturer quickly forgets about it, except to say that the next model is better and fixes problems in the previous version - that they did not tell us about when they sold it in the first place.

If you are lucky you might get an update or two; but for 6 years or more ? If you get something to control your house lights it seems reasonable for that it continues to work for 20 years. When was your home last re-wired ?

These things should come with product liability, as do cars, where they get safety & security updates for many years.

It won't happen.

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Shhhhh! If you're quiet, Linus Torvalds might release new a Linux

alain williams
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Re: This is a genuine question to all software devlopers...

This is not a release it is a release candidate, ie a test/trial to shake out any bugs.

The point is that Linux kernel development happens in public view; with most (closed source) software these release candidates would not be seen outside of the organisation that writes it.

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No spoilers! Norway won't tell Snowden if US will snatch him on a visit

alain williams
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Another solution ?

Have a sympathetic nation make him a diplomat and thus give him diplomatic immunity. Ecuador (Assange's hoteliers) might do it. However: I suspect that the USA might just snatch him and point two fingers to normal diplomatic rules.

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Pluto has massive underground oceans, say astro-boffins

alain williams
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What drains off lamp posts has to go somewhere ...

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Apple admits the iPhone 6 Plus has 'Touch Disease'

alain williams
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Re: "after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface"

EU law on it, start looking at Guarantees and returns.

The UK Gov't can leave parts of EU law in UK legislation if it wants to. It will be interesting to see who they think their friends are by seeing what remains and what is junked.

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TfL to track Tube users in stations by their MAC addresses

alain williams
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It will be tapped by GCHQ

Theresa May's snoopers' charter is now well on the way to being law by Xmas. It TfL is providing Wifi then it will be deemed an ISP and thus the data collected must be kept for a year. Web site addresses at first, but expect 'feature creep' in this law (or just plain - share it with us: you have a nice tube network there ...) and they will get the lot.

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'Post-truth' beats 'chatbot' to Word of the Year Crown

alain williams
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Re: Doesn't "Post-truth" sound...

Now politics is just bare-faced lies even in the overwhelming evidence of facts.

I was discussing with my son last night: I remember politicians of 40 years ago twisting things ('spin' in contemporary to Blair parlance) but I don't remember the outright lies that we get today. I was wondering if things are really worse or if I am becoming a grouchy old git who grumbles more at things ?

This is a serious question. Any (informed) opinions ?

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Russia shoves antitrust probe into Microsoft after Kaspersky gripes about Windows 10

alain williams
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Maybe they should be thanking MS

for having a market in the first place. If it was not for the insecure operating system they would not have found a hole in the market.

Me: never run MS Windows on my own machines, never had a virus/... *n?x has kept me safe.

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A British phone you're not embarrassed to carry? You heard that right

alain williams
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Missing info in write up

that price might need VAT adding - their shopping basket is not entirely clear.

A URL would have been nice: https://www.wileyfox.com/

I note that you can have a spare battery (£15)

It will be interesting to see real customer reviews, battery life is something that really interests me with toys like this.

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Lenovo downward dogs with Yoga BIOS update supporting Linux installs

alain williams
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How about testing it ?

If we take their denial of Windows only at face value then we must ask: why did they not test it with Linux first ? I assume that they spent a lot of time/money testing the hardware and also testing their MS Win 10 boot image; so why not stick in a Linux Mint/Fedora/... ISO/memory-stick and try it ?

If there are problems I would expect that the help that they would get from the distros would be good.

Doing this does not mean that they would have to support Linux or even say that it has been known to work (which might get them into trouble from Redmond). But give a few laptops to the right people who can they announce to the world that they have got their distro running on it ... how many more machines would they sell as a result ?

Can they really that stupid that they aren't already doing this ?

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Judge allows Apple's faceless Irish head to settle for €45k - report

alain williams
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Green light to do it again

So the fine is about 1/20,000 of the original unpaid tax - that is pretty good. They ended up paying about 1/3 of the original demand - I wish I could get HMRC to be that nice to me! €45k is loose change to these guys, they will pay it when en-route to the pub to celebrate the judge's generosity.

But more importantly: unless these head honchos pay a meaningful personal price (eg 6 monthly eating porridge) they just won't care.

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Good luck securing 'things' when users assume 'stuff just works'

alain williams
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Who bears the losses ?

Ignoring hassle: in the case of a house burglery the insurance company. These are in the position to push through a change; not (or reduced) payouts if the door locks are inadequate. The sell is reduced premiums to the householder. Properly done it will encourage the householder to do a one off investment in locks for a multi year drop in premiums.

Unfortunately: the marketing department shouts loudly about the lower premium and hides the good lock requirement on page 35 of the T&Cs; it is only pointed out after the theft.

Opportunity lost - squandered by marketing and that most people don't read T&Cs.

.

Much the same with our electronic bling: ease of use and price are seen as the draws. How to make it secure comes many pages after the instructions of how to view cuddly kittens.

Losses are less obvious unless someone grabs your banking details or similar. Many still take the view that the loss will be picked up by the bank; I have friends who proudly tell me that they use the same 3 passwords everywhere - even as I tell them that this is stupid.

Banks are refusing to cover some scams, but so far it is often seen as ''something that happened to someone else'' and that they will be OK ... anyway the next Bake Off is about to be aired.

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Despite best efforts, fewer and fewer women are working in tech

alain williams
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Equality of Opportunity, not Attainment

As long as men & women (gays/straights/..., black/white/..., etc) have the same opportunity to follow an interest, get educated and compete for jobs on the same footing as everyone else: what else do you want ? Some jobs require temperaments, abilities that not everyone has - so they can go and chose something else.

There are those who look at Attainment and blame industries/... for an imbalance without looking to see if it what women (in this case) actually want to do.

Should we complain that in the UK only 0.5% of midwives are men ?

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Britain's fight to get its F-35 aircraft carriers operational turns legal

alain williams
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Would we have won WW-II ?

At the rate that MOD seems to work these days Germany would have completely overrun England before MOD had had enough chits signed to allow them to fire back!

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Dynamic IP addresses are your personal property, CJEU rules

alain williams
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Re: Not unusual

In the UK you will share your date of birth with a bit less than 3,000 people. So not much more is needed to narrow in on you.

(Exact number depends on age, ...)

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Skin tattoo will tell your phone when you've had a skinful

alain williams
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Re: How long before your insurance company

I think that this will come in for drivers who have a previous DD conviction and who want to get insurance. I'm not someone who like Big Brother, but this is one case that I would not complain about.

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Court finds GCHQ and MI5 engaged in illegal bulk data collection

alain williams
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''lessons learned''

How to not get caught again, even if just by fixing the law.

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Forget malware, crooks are cracking ATMs the old-fashioned way – with explosives

alain williams
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£170m is a tiny sum

compared to the bank losses racked up by crooked bankers in 2008; so why do they make such a fuss ?

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That UK law that'll share Brits' private info among govt departments? Yeah, that'll need oversight

alain williams
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Controlling who can see it will not be effective

say you are allowed to prevent data going to some places; then the response will be simple: we don't empty your dustbins (or whatever) until you give it to us.

A far better approach would be to let individuals:

* see what data is being held on them & the ability to fix errors

* see who has seen what data on them (organisation name & employee name)

Then when data is being shared too far, some sort of public campaign might happen; unless you know you cannot do this.

Assumption: that orgs will be honest in what they do!

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Personal info on more than 58 million people spills onto the web from data slurp biz

alain williams
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Hoping that the fuss will die down ...

and that people will forget. A completely irresponsible way to behave.

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Steve Jobs' thermonuclear showdown with Samsung reaches US Supreme Court

alain williams
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Apple is a US company, US judges ...

which way do you think they will go ?

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Linus Torvalds admits 'buggy crap' made it into Linux 4.8

alain williams
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Screw up - 'fess up

Yes: they got it wrong; but they did not attempt to hide it with some marketing department style drivel. Fortunately this has been found and made public - so the big downstream users (ie distributors) will be warned and remove the bad patch or wait for the next release.

No: not perfect; but who is ?

Another thing that this shows is that Linus is running the latest kernels on his own machine and so gets to suffer if he cocks up.

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ICO boss calls for EU-style data protection rules post-Brexit

alain williams
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Lobbying starts now

by large corporates who find data protection a pain and want to be able to play fast and loose with personal information. The message will be a bit more subtle of course: talk about reducing the DP compliance burden; helping trade in data with the USA, ... MPs will want to please those who pay them for ''consultancy'', etc, and may help by slashing the ICO budget so that it cannot afford to investigate wrong doers (except, of course, where politically convenient); maybe the max charge for a Subject Access Request raised to £1,000.

T May will want to weaken Data Protection, allow her spymasters to do what they want.

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One-way Martian ticket: Pick passengers for Musk's first Mars pioneer squad

alain williams
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Stock photos ...

For your next pic of a man sitting on Mars, choose an image where the outline of the mountains is not blurred by a haze in an atmosphere.

Getting a good pic, however, might push the price of the image up a bit. Maybe one thing that Mr Musk's adventurers could export back here ?

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Sage advice: Avoid the Windows 10 Anniversary Update – it knackers our accounting app

alain williams
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Re: "operating system updates end up disabling the framework"

Its upto each developer to test compatibility with the hosting platform/underlying OS, hence this is Sage's responsibility.

But there is also a responsibility of the OS developer to not break backwards compatibility. With MS this is doubly important since users cannot stop updates from being installed.

MS do not provide ISV early bird reviews of their updates which might allow them to test and identify problems; the best that ISVs can do is, like everyone else, scrabble around to find a fix after an MS update unexpectedly breaks working software.

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