* Posts by alain williams

1152 posts • joined 29 May 2007

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A bit of intel on AMD's embedded EPYC and Ryzen processors

alain williams
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Re: Spectre & Meltdown

Who pays your bills ? Intel ?

If you were a half awake typical technical reader of El Reg you would well know that Meltdown is almost entirely an Intel problem - and that Intel is trying to blur the distinction.

Spectre does affect most chip vendors.

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Fun fact: US Customs slaps eyeglass taxes on optical networking gear

alain williams
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Simple solution

Don't call it 'optical' but something like 'ultra short microwave'.

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Who wanted a future in which AI can copy your voice and say things you never uttered? Who?!

alain williams
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Plausible deniability

"Your Honour must disregard that sound clip that the police produced in court. I never said that. I believe that the police have used AI to generate a fake recording."

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Samsung left off Google's new official Androids-for-biz list

alain williams
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Who does Android Enterprise Recommended benefit ?

Google, the hardware vendor or the purchaser ?

I don't know, but doubt that it is the purchaser.

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US state legal supremos show lots of love for proposed CLOUD Act (a law to snoop on citizens' info stored abroad)

alain williams
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Re: Agents of SHIELD link

A more accurate expansion of CLOUD is Companies Located Overseas Under Duress.

Or Computers Located Overseas Under Duress.

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Use ad blockers? Mine some Monero to get access to news, says US site

alain williams
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Re: Go back to discrete ads served off your own machines

You just tell the advertiser you've served loads of ads and they'll believe you and give you tons of cash! Don't know why no-one's thought of this before....

Oh I do understand that it is harder. But it could be done ... independent audits & a bit of trust (which is sadly lacking in today's commerce).

The biggest problem is going to be deciding which ads to show on which page. In some ways it should be simpler: what is the page topic? Put something related. But ad flingers seem to want something much more dynamic & up to the minute. But fixed ads worked in print, so maybe a retro-ad movement might be a solution.

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alain williams
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The only reason that the ads get blocked ...

it because they are not displaying them as in-line content generated by their web site; they have put ad-monger's javascript in their web site that would put so called 'tailored' adverts on their web page.

It is this javascript driven shmuck that I object to; partly because of the attempted tracking, partly because it eats bandwidth/slows the browser and partly as it is often garish, auto-plays noise/sound.

Go back to discrete ads served off your own machines and you will find that most of it gets displayed. Yes: you might earn less per page impression, but something is better than the nothing that you will get if I go elsewhere.

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Careful with the 'virtual hugs' says new FreeBSD Code of Conduct

alain williams
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Re: TUBE

and then their next step is to try to get them no-platformed because their ideas make them feel uncomfortable.

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alain williams
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What is a 'hug' ?

To one person a 'hug' might mean 'sympathy' (over a loss, misfortune, ...) while another might read it as an attempt of physical, sexual, ... closeness. The interpretation might even depend on how you feel about the person saying/hearing the word.

This big problem with this code of conduct is that it places too much weight on the perception of the 'listener' of the comments; a code of conduct should deal with the intent of the 'speaker'.

Add to this that we are dealing with people from all over the world with varying abilities in English/whatever, and who use words that have different subtleties of meaning in different cultures. Just because a geek can speak good techno-babble does not mean that they understand the nuances of all words.

Also we all make mistakes: how often has a smart/funny comment seemed great in your head but you realise a disaster when it comes out of your mouth ?

I am worried that someone will find themselves with a ban and either not understand why or feel that they are maligned by the ban.

I also worry that people will abuse the code of conduct to hurt someone who they dislike.

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Windows slithers on to Arm, legless?

alain williams
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Wedded to Intel

That is part of Microsoft's problem. One CPU/instruction-set has really made things simpler for them and their users. However it is really difficult for them to change; 16 -> 32 -> 64 bit has caused enough problems.

This is something that Unix has addressed from the start. I remember 30+ years ago porting my programs to at least 3 different instruction-sets before I considered it ready for others to test. So different platforms have always been part of *nix programmer & user expectations, part of the culture.

Yes: need to think a bit more, but once you have the idea not that hard.

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Opportunity knocked? Rover survives Martian winter, may not survive budget cuts

alain williams
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2 years Opportunity = Trump's new gin cabinet

He has a new fridge installed on Air Force one at double the price of Opportunity's annual maintainance.

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Chrome adblockalypse will 'accelerate Google-Facebook duopoly'

alain williams
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Blocking Google

I no longer use google as a search engine - there are many others; hard to get completely free of them when, eg, some site comes up with a link to google maps. I doubt that google care if they do not see the 1% of people like me - plenty of other eyeballs to push ads at.

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Crypto-gurus: Which idiots told the FBI that Feds-only backdoors in encryption are possible?

alain williams
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Please also ask T May

our Pry Minister - who also believes that Magic IT Pixie dust can make secure back doors.

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Who wants dynamic dancing animations and code in their emails? Everyone! says Google

alain williams
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Re: some people may find this appealing

I count myself in the 'emails should only contain ascii - not formatted text, not html, and certainly not animations'.

Exactly. One of the motivations for AMP in email is, apparently, ''load faster, particularly on resource-constrained, bandwidth-limited mobile devices''. So how about junking all the HTML and CSS - send just plain text.

Email is a message, I read it for the information that it contains, I am not interested in fonts or pretty colours. I want to be able to store it on my PC & I certainly don't want it to show me something different the next time that I look at it.

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Yes, Assange, we'll still nick you for skipping bail, rules court

alain williams
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What would happen if Assange stepped out ?

OK: he would be arrested, but the charge would be skipping bail. This seems to carry a penalty of 3 to 12 months inside. Now that the Swedes have said that they do not want him, he might as well accept a spell eating porridge as being preferable to continuing to have whatever Ecuadorians have for breakfast ... he might be free more quickly.

I suppose he might worry that the USA would seek to extradite him on the grounds of exposing their criminality^W^W^W^W spying, or something. I don't know how real this might be.

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Yorkshire cops have begun using on-the-spot fingerprint scanners

alain williams
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I am quite OK with technology trials like this ...

as long as the first location is always the palace of Westminster. If the inhabitants there raise no objections about loss of their privacy after they have been scanned a few times - then who am I to complain ?

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Meltdown's Linux patches alone add big load to CPUs, and that's just one of four fixes

alain williams
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Power usage

Do we have any numbers on how the Meltdown fix affects CPU power use for the same workload ?

If it is having to do more work at every context switch then that will mean less time idle/...

The argument above is that unless you use the CPU at 100% then you will not notice the patch overhead -- but then you might notice a bigger electricity bill???

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From July, Chrome will name and shame insecure HTTP websites

alain williams
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Re: Let's encrypt?

On my virtual host servers, I use dehydrated which is a simple shell program running as its own user.

I looked at dehydrated; I found it complicated, tries to do too much, poor internal documentation. Which is why I wrote what I did.

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alain williams
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Re: Let's encrypt?

Yesterday I completed a guide on how to implement let's encrypt, including simple openssl.cnf files and using something other than certbot. Apache on *nix systems. Hopefully useful to some of you.

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Intel adopts Orwellian irony with call for fast Meltdown-Spectre action after slow patch delivery

alain williams
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Open Source their microcode

Given how seriously Shenoy suggests Intel takes this issue I have to assume that they set to work to try and produce a microcode patch as soon as they learned of the problem 8 months ago (or was that 2 years ago?).

In all that time they have not succeeded; so maybe they could do with some help. How about releasing the microcode and then we could all try to help.

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Apple's top-secret iBoot firmware source code spills onto GitHub for some insane reason

alain williams
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My device - I'll jail break it if I want to ...

or that should be what happens. I accept that if I jail break it that I loose any guarantee that the software works as Apple/whoever intended - although that is part of the point.

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CLOUD Act hits Senate to lube up US access to data stored abroad

alain williams
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Standards of privacy

The proposed law states that such deals could only be struck if certain conditions are met, including that the foreign country has "robust" standards on human rights and privacy protections,

Ah, foreign country - otherwise the USA would have to exclude itself.

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Dori-no! PepsiCo boss says biz is planning to sell lady crisps

alain williams
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I thought the point was going to be ...

of a 'Lady Crisp' that it was something that would let her eat and keep talking at the same time.

Disappointed to read that it was just about fingers -- which I also don't like getting mucky.

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Accused Brit hacker Lauri Love will NOT be extradited to America

alain williams
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Re: Fine legal system

Are either of us really in a position to determine whether 'many' judgments are, or are not, capricious?

I have, for some 20 years, helped people (men & women) who are caught up in the nightmare that is family law [as thanks to those who helped me]. Sometimes the courts, etc, get it right, but often they do not. I have seen hundreds of cases:

* they can drag on for years - only benefits the solicitors who earn fees. Some solicitors seem to act to slow things down

* CAFCASS reports that do not describe what is really happening, but reflect the prejudices of the officer. Once case where an officer & her boss made up evidence just before a hearing (being unaware that they were being observed)

* courts officials who: loose paper-work, ignore orders made by their own court; refuse to obey practice directions

* judges that make orders and then will not enforce them (generally if a woman breaks it, but woe betide a man who does)

* judges who kick cases into the long grass rather than deal with it

* innumerable false allegations of violence or sexual misconduct against dads [in about half the cases that I see]. The courts take at face value, chuck dad out of the house, kids no contact with him (even in a contact centre), mother thus gets legal aid. By the time that it is shown false some 9 months later: mother has the house, the kids don't want to see dad, ... This happens time and again - how come the judges do not see through it ?

I could go on ...

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alain williams
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Fine legal system

I wish that were always true.

My experience is that many judgements are capricious - especially in family law.

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Who can save us? It's 2018 and some email is still sent as cleartext

alain williams
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Re: email is so last century

mutt first released 1995, last update was last week. Fast, stable, secure.

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Should ISPs pay to block pirate websites? Supreme Court to decide

alain williams
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political banning

websites that disagree with the political establishment

we already have that. A few months ago the Spanish government blocked access to web sites that were pro Catalan separatist; in the run up to the (unofficial) referendum.

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NASA finds satellite, realises it has lost the software and kit that talk to it

alain williams
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Re: Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.

So, which Unix would that be?

Does not matter.

If you have the source code then recompiling it for your current Unix will not be hard.

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You can't ignore Spectre. Look, it's pressing its nose against your screen

alain williams
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State actors = malware developers

State-sponsored actors absolutely have the resources to produce malware to exploit Spectre.

I would be surprised if some did not already have the tools/malware. But as we well know they cannot keep their toys in their playpen, so we have to expect that other ne'er do wells will acquire them.

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Hey UK.gov – cute tweaks to snoop regime. Your EU law reading needs work

alain williams
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Surveillance what for ?

The often mentioned: Drug Lords, Terrorists, Paedophiles & Master Criminals ... or people who the government just does not like ? People like me, perhaps, who complain that they are slurping up too much data ...

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GitHub shrugs off drone maker DJI's crypto key DMCA takedown effort

alain williams
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Re: one experience ...

When I worked for a big insurance company, it took 3 years to get a server approved along with the necessary resources to set it up, and configure it into service.

Find a desktop PC that is being replaced, wipe it & install Linux, hide it under your desk. It will work nicely as a Git machine or similar. By the time that management discover it - it will be too vital for them to remove.

I've done this several times. The only time that I had a problem was when a janitor type was the one who 'safely disposed' of old machines, he did not like it when I took one as it mean less money for him as he 'securely disposed' them at car boot sales.

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SHL just got real-mode: US lawmakers demand answers on Meltdown, Spectre handling from Intel, Microsoft and pals

alain williams
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Look at the dates ...

It was known about for over half a year; el Reg blew the gaff a week early; only then did Intel & others release microcode to mitigate the problems. But that microcode was buggy, it crashed systems.

So are we to assume that in that last week they were going to test, debug & distribute fixed microcode ?

I would like to know what they spent that half year doing - other than sticking their heads in the sand.

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Europe slaps €997m antitrust fine on Qualcomm

alain williams
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Microsoft/Munich next ?

Their move away from Linux is widely regarded as not for technical reasons but you all know the story ...

I wonder if the EU will have the balls to impose a fine here.

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Mass limit proposed so boffins can tell when they've fingered a brown dwarf or a fat planet

alain williams
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"about ten times that of Jupiter – or ten times 1.898×10^27kg"

If it is "about" then why give a number to 4 places of decimal ? "ten times 2×10^27kg" would have been accurate enough - especially considering how the whole tone of the article was about the difficulties of being precise. Did Ms Quach understand what she was writing about ?

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Playboy is suing Boing Boing over Imgur centrefold link

alain williams
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What a cock up

Playboy will just make a tit of itself!

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America restarts dodgy spying program – just as classified surveillance abuse memo emerges

alain williams
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Presumably we are all safe for a few days ...

while the government of the USA is in lock-down as the Senate did not pass the new budget. Thus everyone at the NSA has gone home.

OK: I know, but it is nice to occasionally dream ...

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Don't panic... but our fragile world is drifting away from the Sun

alain williams
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Re: Logical anomaly?

Have we got eyes on Pluto?

No, but that is in the NSA/GCHQ next 10 year plan.

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alain williams
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But the sun is getting hotter

as it ages, so we need to get away from it to remain at the same temperature.

There are other effects that contribute to Orbital Decay, but they are also very small in the case of the Earth.

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HTML5 may as well stand for Hey, Track Me Longtime 5. Ads can use it to fingerprint netizens

alain williams
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Dont forget your IP address

Even if you don't have a static one, it is not going to change for the duration of your search for a holiday, hotel, car-insurance, ... purchase. If you do this at work: you will be lumped in with everyone else at your company, if you do it at home ... well how many of you are surfing at the same time ?

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UK's Just Eat faces probe after woman tweets chat-up texts from 'delivery guy'

alain williams
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Re: Let's take the gender out of this

She's not thinking "Wayhey, cheap food", its about optimising a bunch of shitty outcomes.

But you started out saying:

She will go in to the pizza place first, get a great deal on the pie we want and once they bring it the free garlic bread for while we wait, she messages me to come on in :)

Why do you wait outside until she has got free garlic bread if both of you were not thinking "Wayhey, cheap food" ?

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alain williams
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Re: Let's take the gender out of this

Another option:

4) Don't flash her tits, don't induce the pizza boys to letch.

She could always try dressing modestly and pay full price for pizza like the rest of us.

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alain williams
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Re: Let's take the gender out of this

However, some women are good at ignoring and/or dealing with it. When I'm drinking with a friend of mine, a well proportioned young lady who gives as good as she gets, we have a routine. She will go in to the pizza place first, get a great deal on the pie we want and once they bring it the free garlic bread for while we wait, she messages me to come on in :)

So: it is OK for her to use her sex/large-breasts/... to get an advantage over the pizza boys, but regards any comeback as harassment (even if she can deal with it) ? Is that not trying to have your cake & eat it ? Maybe I have got this wrong, please explain.

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alain williams
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Let's take the gender out of this

The woman said:

“This is no longer about my personal experience, this is about every single female who has been victimised in this way by someone from a company we put our trust in.”

'every single female' ??? It is about a lack of trust in a company; nothing special about the unfortunate person happening to be a woman in this instance. Men & women suffer from abuses of information.

In no way do I excuse the driver who should not have used the 'phone number as he did.

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PPI-pusher makes 75 MEEELLION nuisance calls, lands £350k fine

alain williams
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The ICO/government gets the fine ...

should not money be going as compensation to those who were disturbed? See a nice illustration of the cost of an interruption to a techie.

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Facebook, Twitter supremos ditch Disney as biz steps on their turf

alain williams
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Should be broken up

It should not have been allowed to eat Fox last year. The mega corps increasingly make it hard for competitors; I have heard of cinemas being told that if they show indy films that they won't get block busters.

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'Mummy, what's felching?' Tot gets smut served by Android app

alain williams
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I learned a new word today

one that I doubt that my mummy knows.

Is this the start of a 'new word of the day' initiative by El Reg ?

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UK taxman told to go easy on transformation with Brexit in headlights

alain williams
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Hard for them ?

but they don't seem to worry if they make things hard for us, like their Making Tax Difficult initiative where everyone has to use an accounts package to submit tax information. Most individuals and some small businesses (eg window cleaners) have no need for something complicated like accounts programs but may be forced to buy one. The biggest cost will be the time taken to enter details at the level that the tax man wants - which looks likely to be much more detailed than is actually useful for the individual or small business.

But HMRC does not pay for the time that we work on their behalf - so why not require something which comes at no cost (to them).

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Don't just grab your CPU bug updates – there's a nasty hole in Office, too

alain williams
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Re: don't forget to patch your Android devices

That is if your 'phone manufacturer bothers to support it once the next model has come out.

Samsung - I am looking at you.

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Intel, Microsoft confess: Meltdown, Spectre may slow your servers

alain williams
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Intel's fake news

Intel's downplaying of meaningful consequences from Meltdown and Spectre appears to have become unsustainable

In the nature of things like this most people will read the story while it is big in the headlines for a few days and then lose interest. Thus they will believe that this affects all CPU vendors, not just Intel. So the Intel misinformation campaign will have worked. Intel will not get castigated for misleading statements.

Main-stream media will prob continue to mis-report it as they don't have the interest to follow tech sites.

Upfront, open & honest is not what large corporations do, unfortunately.

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Maplin Electronics CEO ups stakes for steak house

alain williams
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Did he go before he got the chop ?

Or was he after a different chop at the steak house ?

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