* Posts by Alister

3403 posts • joined 19 May 2010

No need to code your webpage yourself, says Microsoft – draw it and our AI will do the rest

Alister Silver badge

Re: Quality output

Next, there is blisteringly blindingly bright white, for 90% of the page, to keep you from being able to see anything on it [like staring directly into the sun].

I reckon there's a conspiracy among monitor manufacturers and web designers, to use as much white as possible, to decrease the useful life of the screen.

Russian volcanoes fingered for Earth's largest mass extinction

Alister Silver badge

My understanding is that the Deccan Traps were effectively the exit wound from the asteroid impact at Chicxulub, as they were located more or less diametrically opposite at the time.

No, eight characters, some capital letters and numbers is not a good password policy

Alister Silver badge

Re: Password security check


My password is Sw0rdf15h!

Don't let Google dox me on Lumen Database, nameless man begs

Alister Silver badge

the hearing, which ended at about 6pm on a Bank Holiday Friday.

No wonder the Judge was getting annoyed, that's a round of golf he missed out on...

It liiives! Sorta. Gentle azure glow of Windows XP clocked in Tesco's self-checkouts, no less

Alister Silver badge

Re: Cross platform development is EASY

It shouldn't be hard at all for find a developer who can make a GUI that runs on multiple platforms.

No, maybe not.

Now find a developer who will write the kernel drivers for the proprietary hardware that runs on multiple platforms...

Alister Silver badge

I don't understand why NCR and the lot their peers bother to use anything so bloated when an R-pi properly configured could do the job. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong, please.)

I suspect it's a matter of availability of drivers for the hardware, there may not be Linux equivalents to run the various peripherals.

Certainly when our company had a brief dalliance with ticketing kiosks, some years ago, the only available software was Windows based, and relied on a proprietary interface card to join all the bits up - no USB equivalents.

Alister Silver badge

Next time you see a self-service checkout throw a wobbly and revert to XP, don't panic straightaway.

Thank you for that sage advice.

Because of course without it, I would have run screaming from the store crying "OH MY GOD , WE'RE ALL DOOMED!".


Super-mugs: Hackers claim to have snatched 20k customer records from Brit biz Superdrug

Alister Silver badge

create a unique, strong password"

- Which I have to write down or store insecurely because I can't remember it, and don't know what a password safe is.

Maybe it's time to acknowledge that writing down strong, complex, unique passwords for websites and keeping them at home, is far more secure than reusing weak easily remembered passwords everywhere?

Security MadLibs: Your IoT electrical outlet can now pwn your smart TV

Alister Silver badge

Re: So long Grandma, thanks for all the fish

an .. automatic defibrillator ?

That's an interesting idea. I think there's probably a law against it though.

What a stupid comment!

Nearly all defibrillators - even those used in hospitals or by paramedics, have software which automatically determines if the patient is in a shockable rhythm.

Some, like the LifePak 20, which combine proper 12-lead ECG monitoring, are capable of being switched to manual mode, but they usually default to the AED setting.

Use Debian? Want Intel's latest CPU patch? Small print sparks big problem

Alister Silver badge

Holschuh was not entirely clear why the license is a problem.

Maybe you should go back to him pointing out Section 3 sub-section (v) and ask him to explain why users should not highlight the likely performance impact of the code?

Boffins blame meteorites for creating Earth's oldest rocks

Alister Silver badge

Re: Pedant Alert

Interesting. What's your reaction to these examples?

Arsenal have won the FA Cup more times than any other team.

The Chicago Bears has never played in the FA Cup.

Alister Silver badge

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?

The future of humanity: A Bluetooth ball hitting your face – forever

Alister Silver badge

Re: Just great!

I frequently had to jam my breaks

Oh Michael, I'm so disappointed in you...

Your Phone prematurely ejected, Skype texting on the way, and 900 more years of Windows

Alister Silver badge


The year of the Linux desktop

Beam me up, PM: Digital secretary expected to give Tory conference speech as hologram

Alister Silver badge

That speech also saw the PM's set fall apart, with the letter "F" falling off the Tory slogan behind her.

So, Mrs May was F-bombed by the stage set?

Self-driving cars will be safe, we're testing them in a massive AI Sim

Alister Silver badge

Yeah, in the simulation, the AVs are green, but in the real universe they are grey...

Alister Silver badge

Re: Evidence?

Google cars have currently driven 120million miles with zero fatalities, zero serious injuries,and a handful of fender benders.

Maybe collectively they've managed to accumulate that number of miles, although I doubt it, but each individual car can't possibly have accrued that much.

That is definitely better than human average for fender benders, definitely better than human average for serious injuries (by a factor of several), and no worse than human average for fatalities.

Again, average cumulative statistics make a nonsense of this argument.

There are millions of drivers around the world who have each driven for years and years without ever being involved in an accident. The statistics are slewed by the small minority of drivers who are incompetent or reckless. In contrast, there are a vanishingly small number of Google AVs and yet they have managed between them to accrue an impressive collection of bumps.

Until an individual AV can match the record of an individual, competent human, then a fair comparison cannot be made. And this will obviously take a long time.

Alister Silver badge

A lot of people can't actually manage to do those things in a safe manner without putting others into danger.

The overwhelming majority of human drivers manage to drive safely most of the time.

AV advocates seem to delight in painting human drivers as dangerous and unsafe, compared to their chosen deus in machina, but the evidence so far is that none of the current crop of AVs are as safe as the average human.

Shiver me timbers: Symantec spots activist investor Starboard side

Alister Silver badge

You forgot to mention that Symantec's root certificates have been distrusted by all major browsers after security concerns were raised.

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

Alister Silver badge

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

Alister Silver badge

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...

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

Alister Silver badge
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

Alister Silver badge

...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

Alister Silver badge

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...


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