* Posts by Alister

3335 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Lo and behold, Earth's special chemical cocktail for life seems to be pretty common

Alister Silver badge

Re: So, why don't we still have dinosaurs?

there would also be forms of plants, animals and all the rest that are the product of evolution from the second time that life started on Earth. And from the third, fourth, the seventy-seventh, the 2,916'th and so on.

As humans, we have told ourselves the comfortable story of a single thread of evolution, but actually, if they are all based on the same chemicals, then we have no way of telling whether any of what we know of the fossil record and current species are from a first or subsequent attempt at life.

Brit banks must disclose outages via API, decrees finance watchdog

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Re: Obligate!

Did you by any chance Google "define obligate" or did you miss that bit?

From the OED:

Obligate: Require or compel (someone) to undertake a legal or moral duty.


Late Middle English (as an adjective in the sense ‘bound by law’): from Latin obligatus, past participle of obligare (see oblige). The current adjectival use dates from the late 19th century.

Note that, unlike Oblige, there are no secondary definitions mentioning being indebted or grateful.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Obligate!

I am obliged to tell you that obligated is a US English bastardisation.

I am obliged to tell you that you are talking bollocks.

Obliged and obligated do not mean the same thing, and there is a clear distinction.

To be obliged means you are indebted to someone for some service or favour.

Obligated carries a slightly different meaning, in that the subject is forced to do something because the law or morality requires it.

Alister Silver badge

“More than any other industry, banks still contain a mix of archaic legacy systems, new cloud platforms, and yet are under pressure to accelerate their software development to combat the threat of their ‘digital-first’ competitors,” opined Dave Anderson, a marketing bod

Thanks for that. Perhaps if marketing could keep their noses out of IT then banks would not be "under pressure to accelerate their software development" to the point where it is untested and insecure?

Google risks mega-fine in EU over location 'stalking'

Alister Silver badge


Yeah, and Grimsby, while you're there.

EU wants one phone plug to rule them all. But we've got a better idea.

Alister Silver badge

Re: To later

@Charlie Clark

@alister I think you might have ignored the possibility of sarcasm in the original post.

Yes, sadly. However, going by the number of downvotes the OP is collecting, it appears I am not alone...


Alister Silver badge

Re: To later

What does this matter to the UK, as of March 2019 we can tell the EU to go whistle

Yeah, because ignoring standards is such a good idea.

Let's have a British USB specification, which does what WE want, no matter that it doesn't match the rest of the world.

London fuzz to get 600 more mobile fingerprint scanners

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They can just get your fingerprint off the reflection of the door handle that you just touched, reflected in a rain drop on the window opposite, which you can see in the mirror which is mounted on the corner of the street from the CCTV camera round the corner...

It's easy, I've seen it on the telly...

Boffins blame meteorites for creating Earth's oldest rocks

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Re: Pedant Alert

'A team' must be grammatically singular, regardless of whether it is composed of many individuals.

Whilst that may be true by American convention, it is definitely not the case for British English.

As this is still a British website (just about) then British rules win...

Alister Silver badge

Re: Pedant Alert

Wears my coat...?

What does?

Medical device vuln allows hackers to falsify patients' vitals

Alister Silver badge

Question: is it better to get life-saving technology into the market now at an affordable price (but with an obscure hole or two), or wait another five years (while people die) and then deliver something secure at twice the price, making it less widely used.

To be fair, very little of this technology could be classed as life saving... standalone monitors, syringe drivers etc have been around for years, and do a perfectly adequate job, so to suggest that not having this equipment available will allow patients to die is unrealistic at best.

The main reason that Hospital authorities are pushing for this sort of always connected, centrally managed equipment is so they don't have to employ as many staff - one person sitting at a desk with all the patients' vital signs available to them at the same time, and all the alerting in one place.

That doesn't mean that it's essential to the care of patients - the machine that goes beep is a nice-to-have...

Phased out: IT architect plugs hole in clean-freak admin's wiring design

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Thumb Up

Re: get out quick


looking at the quality of some of the building work, I imagine he was a fan of the western genre of movies.

I chortled at that.

No, really...

Work at a startup? Think US military isn't good enough at killing? We've got the program for you

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...and AI to detect hardware failures

“I've just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours.”

What could possibly go wrong?

Alaskan borough dusts off the typewriters after ransomware crims pwn entire network

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The attackers gained Active Directory admin access

Only criminal negligence, or deliberate criminal intent of an insider, could allow that to happen, surely.

This doesn't sound like a happenstance ransomware or malware infection, but a deliberately targeted attempt to destroy the borough's IT.

Grad sends warning to manager: Be nice to our kit and it'll be nice to you

Alister Silver badge

Re: Sometimes violence is the only answer

I'm sure I've posted this tale before, but it bears repeating:

A colleague of mine was working on a desktop machine which steadfastly refused to boot cleanly.

All the component parts, (motherboard, CPU, Fan, RAM, PSU, Video card, network card, etc) had been tested in other machines and were known to work, but put them all together in one case and it wouldn't work.

Finally, in exasperation, my colleague picked the whole thing up and threw it out of an (open) second-floor window.

When he had trudged downstairs and retrieved it from the flowerbed it was occupying, he emptied out the soil and plugged it in, and it worked first time.


On the workbench in the comms room here we have the skeletal remains of a Dell PE860 with a large screwdriver embedded in its mainboard. It is left there as a salutary lesson to all the servers in the racks...

India mulls ban on probes into anonymized data use – with GDPR-style privacy laws

Alister Silver badge

Re: re-identifying anonymized data

If it can be re-identified, then it hasn't been properly anonymized in the first place.

That is not necessarily the case. Let's say that company A provide anonymized purchase data to a company Z who carry out data analysis.

And then company B provide anonymized health data to company Z,

And then company C provide anonymized travel data to company Z.

Company Z may, through intersections between data from A B and C, be able to identify individuals, where that would be impossible from any single one of the data sets.

That doesn't mean that the individual data sets are not sufficiently anonymized, just that accumulation of many data points from different sources can allow correlations which lead to the identity of the subject.

Dixons Carphone: Yeah, so, about that hack we said hit 1.2m records? Multiply that by 8.3

Alister Silver badge

Re: Why did they keep so much data???

Well, they have to keep most of the data as a legal requirement (see post further up).

Yes, they have to keep transaction records, but NOT the CC details, there is no requirement for that.

Alister Silver badge

I don't think companies should be allowed to hold full credit card data.

They aren't supposed to, if they want to be PCI-DSS compliant. But lots still do it, and even store them unencrypted as well.

There are well established methods to make repeat payments using an authorisation token, which don't require the retailer to store the card details, and for one off payments the details shouldn't be stored at all.

Beam me up, UK.gov: 'Extra-terrestrial markup language' booted off G-Cloud

Alister Silver badge

Re: "All work is Blue Book compliant"

Well played, I give that a Twelve...

Ecuador's Prez talking to UK about Assange's six-year London Embassy stay – reports

Alister Silver badge

Re: Julian has already been deprived from liberty of movement by Britain for 6 years

What complete bollocks.

Alister Silver badge

Re: So much hostility

That'll be the rape accusations that he was interviewed about in Sweden at the time, case was closed and they said he could leave the country.

It's amazing how people can rewrite the facts to suite themselves. Assange was interviewed by the Swedes, and then, whilst their due process was taking place, and after giving assurances that he wouldn't attempt to leave the country, he skipped to the UK, at which point the European Arrest Warrant was issued. At no point did the Swedes say he was free to leave.

Span hits F#, LinkedIn gets mumbly, and UWP (yes, it's still clinging on) furnished with new toys

Alister Silver badge

Re: Fluent

Am I the only one who thinks efflouent when I read this ?

Very probably, although others might be thinking effluent...

Alister Silver badge

Re: Perfect...

The only remaing question is...

Why the hell would Microsoft drag their redundant platforms all the way to Blighty, to drop them off Brighton Pier?


Think tank calls for post-Brexit national ID cards: The kids have phones so what's the difference?

Alister Silver badge

Re: No Excuses!

Currently, passport and driving licences aren't linked. Two separate offices, two separate renewals, you can't use your driving licence photo on your passport or vice-versa

Sadly this is no longer true. I recently helped my daughter apply for her first driving license, and the online application form had a tick-box for "Use my Passport Photo".

EDIT: Whoops! NorthernMonkey beat me to it.

Alister Silver badge
Thumb Up

Well said.

I wish I could upvote you more than once.

Early experiment in mass email ends with mad dash across office to unplug mail gateway

Alister Silver badge

Re: alert emails

As a small company, I'm able to wield the LART at a very personal level, so if a developer does it once, he and his colleagues are unlikely to forget for a considerable time.

So only staffing churn is responsible for those who missed the message...

Alister Silver badge

alert emails

On three different occasions, with three different developers, I've had the pleasure of trying to recover and clean a mail server after they've written a try..catch in their code which sent any errors to the company alert email address - but didn't put any logic in to see whether the email had already been sent.

The record was 176,000 emails sitting in the queue of the local environment MTA, waiting to be sent to our main email server after the developer set a site running on a Friday afternoon, and I didn't get a warning until Sunday night. One email a second for over 48 hours, dammit!

Nah, it won't install: The return of the ad-blocker-blocker

Alister Silver badge

Re: Searching for adverts

@Flocke Kroes

You've never come across tracking pixels before then?

Alister Silver badge

Re: a question to ponder

why don't The Avengers put some adverts on the side of The Incredible Hulk?

It might make him angry?

Alister Silver badge

Re: haven't ad's died yet?

I really don't understand the business model of websites that rely on adverts for revenue.

He / She says, whilst posting on The Register - a website funded by Ads.

All that dust on Mars is coming from one weird giant alien structure

Alister Silver badge


You know when you sealed the rift in the Medusa Cascade...

Did you forget the back door?

Samsung’s new phone-as-desktop is slick, fast and ready for splash-down ... somewhere

Alister Silver badge

Re: Ridiculous

I wouldn’t want my car to double up as my bicycle or an aeroplane

So... you don't want a flying car then?

Pah! Call yourself a commentard...


Alister Silver badge


It even needed wiping and refreshing periodically.

Did you have to pick it up and shake it?

Alister Silver badge

From the header image, Simon, I can only say this...

You have a woman's hand, milord

You wanna be an alpha... tester of The Register's redesign? Step this way

Alister Silver badge

Forum pages

We need a link at the bottom of the forum (comments) pages to take you back to the home page, without scrolling back up to the top.

Where it says "The Register" in red used to be hyperlinked, but it isn't any more.

Alister Silver badge

Re: My Comments

Please, please please! can you put a link at the BOTTOM of the comment pages which lets me go back to the main articles page, so I don't have to scroll all the way to the top to get back there.

‘Elders of the Internet’ apologise for social media, recommend Trump filters to fix it

Alister Silver badge

Re: "USENET was a pretty clear warning."

September 1993, that was the problem.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Every IETF document needs its errata

The Edlers

Oops, Muphry's law (sic)

When using the pedant icon, check you work...

Crooks swipe plutonium, cesium from US govt nuke wranglers' car. And yes, it's still missing

Alister Silver badge

Re: That dirty yard in the neighbourhood

I doubt she would have been cancer-free having plutonium against her neck since 1957.

When I was six or seven, I was bought my first wristwatch - a Timex if I remember correctly - which had each hour marker, and all three hands (hour, minute and second) painted in Radium paint to glow in the dark.

A few years later, in a school physics lab, we were introduced to a Geiger counter, which registered my watch quite strongly!

I had been wearing all that radioactive goodness every day for a number of years, as I'm sure many other people of my generation will have done.

'007' code helps stop Spectre exploits before they exist

Alister Silver badge

'007' code helps stop Spectre exploits

So, a Bonded solution, if you will...

Submarine cables at risk from sea water, boffins warn. Wait, what?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Exterior cables in ground

Cables in the ground are designed to stand in water. Pits fill with water.

In my (UK) experience, the legacy underground copper telephone cables - the major trunk cables with 100 pair / 200 pair - are polyethylene sheathed with a foil wrap as a moisture barrier, then a paper wrap, then the cores with PTFE insulation, and are filled with petroleum jelly.

These are pretty resistant to water, but the polyethylene does become porous over extended time periods.

The bigger problem is where joints are introduced, these are commonly sealed in a Polyethylene tube with liquid resin poured into formers at the cable entries, then wrapped in self-amalgamating tape and latterley heat-shrink tubing. These tend to lose their watertight properties quite quickly.

It's rare,in the UK for armoured cable to be used in ductwork.

Microsoft's TextWorld gives AI a Zork-like challenge

Alister Silver badge

It looks like WordStar to me...

No, seriously, why are you holding your phone like that?

Alister Silver badge

Re: "get"

Twat: Are you good?

Person: How can I possibly answer that?

"I'm normally fairly well behaved, thank you"

Hoping for Microsoft's mythical Andromeda in your Xmas stocking? Don't hold your breath

Alister Silver badge

"Surface Phone" and then Andromeda speculation has circulated for years since Microsoft withdrew from the handset business; the final Lumia models emerged in late 2015 and early 2016.

Well, a year and a half, anyway...

Security guard cost bank millions by hitting emergency Off button

Alister Silver badge

Re: Slightly off-topic, but a memory stirred by tales of being shown around places.


But see icon

Google Chrome update to label HTTP-only sites insecure within WEEKS

Alister Silver badge

Re: I think you miss the point ...

to foster an internet environment where security - at least to the level that HTTPS can provide - is something the average user doesn't need to concern themselves with

I appreciate that.

But what they will achieve, instead, is that the end user will see scary warnings when browsing perfectly innocent, and safe, websites.

Alister Silver badge

The Chrome update is designed to spur the millions of sites still using HTTP to adopt HTTPS.

For millions of sites, which don't require any user input, and merely serve pages of information, there is no reason to use HTTPS, and to label them "insecure" is just scaremongering.

Oracle, for one, says we'll welcome our new robot overlords: '90%' of you will obey an AI bot

Alister Silver badge

Re: Dalek Obsessive alert.

Yep, well said.

A Dalek is effectively a one-man (Kaled) armoured car, not autonomous or robotic.

At a stretch, one could argue it is a cyborg, in that the Kaled's organic abilities are enhanced by the Dalek suit.

RIP Peter Firmin: Clangers creator dies aged 89

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sent to the BBC for approval before filming.

That doesn't necessarily mean that what they filmed was quite as scripted...


Alister Silver badge

Re: Doctor Who connection...

And thirty-five years later, the Master was watching the Teletubbies. How the mighty are fallen!

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