* Posts by Lee D

2060 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013

Tesla launches electric truck it guarantees won't break for a million miles

Lee D
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Yawn.

Call me in TWO YEARS when one of them actually exists for commercial purchase by absolutely anyone outside of Tesla.

Until then, it's just more Musk hyperbole.

(And the million-miles thing? Yeah, I don't think so...)

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Microsoft can't give away beta cert exams, so starts charging

Lee D
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Re: MS Certs are not for the techs....

Yep.

Never had one.

Have been offered training for them several times, I tell my employers not to waste their money. Of course, if they want to send me on something, there are courses I'd like to take but none of them involve MS.

All the jobs I've ever taken over, I've had the conversation in interview and got responses like "You have no certs? Great, maybe you actually KNOW what you're doing rather than the last guy who just read about it."

As you say, certs are an HR checkbox exercise when there's no-one enough able to judge actual ability. I'm much more inclined towards the "Come in, do the job for half a day, let's see how you get on" method rather than looking down a line of MS certs that I *KNOW* you can pass as a spotty 17-year-old with absolutely no idea about managing computers. Apprenticeship programs love them and, for some reason, I've yet to find a worse place IT-wise than Apprenticeship course training rooms.

Ironic, because I have a degree, so I'm not afraid of intellectual advancement, theory, studying things that are completely worthless in practical terms, etc. Fact is, even my degree is only ever mentioned along the lines of "It proves he can work at learning something hard for three years without giving up", rather than anything to do with actual acquired skills, experience, talent, etc.

To be honest, I'm amazed they can even give them away - but in this instance it looks like they can't.

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Ads watchdog tells Plusnet: There's no way unlimited business broadband costs £4.50

Lee D
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Re: A&A arent conning you

Then A&A shouldn't pretend they're doing anything different to any other ISP.

And they charge MORE than other ISP's doing the same (admittedly maybe their service is better, but they're still just charging for the same full BT line + a bit of profit).

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Lee D
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Strange.

I commented on those exact same ads and had a PlusNet person tell me that it was all fine.

My comments were basically the same concerns - not stating line rental was necessary, not stating VAT or not, "unlimited" without clarification, etc. etc.

They dismissed them but others were complaining too.

Sorry, Plusnet, but you've really gone downhill if you're resorting to those kinds of tactics, especially against businesses (which hopefully are collectively less stupid than the general populace).

At this point, I'd be happy getting an ISP who was just upfront about everything. Even A&A has a "line-only" broadband that's basically a con and works out to much more than just a normal line and includes... putting in a line that has a voice service that just isn't used.

I honestly don't get why honest business is so hard.

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Black Horse Down, we repeat... yes, Lloyds Bank, again

Lee D
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Re: HSBC too

Can confirm.

The one day I need to use it, as always.

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Openreach fibre plan for 10m premises coming 'before Christmas'

Lee D
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Take a for-instance:

A large rural site I work for, with many incoming lines, just went all SIP.

BT / Openreach couldn't be bothered (literally) to run a leased line when requested. They dragged feet for THREE YEARS. I'm not even kidding. So the order was forcibly cancelled. That woke them up enough to wonder why, because I think they were convinced they were the only ones able to actually get a line there.

Turns out, even though Virgin's business postcode checker "said no", the man on the end of the phone said "Yes" when I asked. We moved heaven and earth and had to do all kinds of things to get it in (including digging our own trench through neighbouring land, etc.) but we got it there. And it's been there three years, speed as promised.

BT / Openreach even tried to access the site AFTER their install was cancelled "to finish connecting us" and I had them removed. Literally, they took three years to put in three bits of empty plastic tubing that weren't even jointed. VM got their line there in 3 months.

So would BT have wanted the work? No, because of one simple reason. In the years of flawless service since, we've ditched every BT line coming into the property and replaced them with a single SIP trunk over the fibre. It's cheaper, easier, allows us to redirect the lines on a whim from a smartphone, can be run over literally ANY internet connection technology we go to in the future, and "just works". Nobody outside could even tell we did it, we still have all the same numbers, better call quality (BT's copper cables collapsed at least once, and every time it rains we lost four specific lines or they went incredibly crackly), and no hassle.

That's what BT don't want people doing, over their own fibre or over their competitor's. They know they'll lose all that easy money from the copper analogue/ADSL/ISDN lines overnight.

I think SIP really worries BT. And I really hope I'm right. Maybe it'll force them to change their ways. I'm still surprised that Virgin Media don't just have a "SIP" option in their default home router (hell, with a Draytek router at home, I can plug in an analogue phone and it becomes a normal SIP client with failover-to-analogue-line if I want - and when unpowered is just a straight analogue phone connection) rather than faffing about with cable-splitters and whatnot like they still do. Surely one device could do cable TV, cable Internet and be an analogue phone interface.

To be honest, workplaces are almost entirely IP and PoE now - phones, wireless, CCTV, etc. I think it's only a matter of time before some small startup pushes it into homes as a commodity technology with some IP/PoE gadget.

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Lee D
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“Let me be very, very clear,” he continued. “Openreach wants to build a full fibre network.... We need to have a business case that washes its face, that I can take to our shareholder – which is BT – to get them to invest in and to come up with the cash.”

There I was thinking that Openreach was supposed to be independent of BT... I'm sure any other shareholder (e.g. if Virgin Media has shares) is just as interested in making it happen too.

I really think it's about time someone stepped in and nationalised Openreach and the BT infrastructure to put things back on a level footing rather than faffing around trying to get a BT-owned middleman to work to anything other than BT's advantage.

Internet infrastructure is too important to be faffing about with BT "when we get around to it" schedules still.

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Crap London broadband gets the sewer treatment

Lee D
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Re: Access

"while up to my waste..."

Bravo.

But surely access to sewers is much easier.

Certainly not without problems, but easier than ripping up Kensington High Street to replace a fibre, or stopping the Northern Line.

I don't think the fatbergs etc. would exactly hurt. If anything, the fibre going down would make them clean them a bit more often if they're going to lose money because of it. And, pretty much, insulated fibre isn't going to care what it's floating in, unlike electricity and metal gas pipes that already run through there.

I foresee the problem of rats (who chew things just because they are there), but if you were allowed to just throw a ton of cheap fibre through the sewers that exist, you'd have a highly-redundant-enough network that the odd breakage wouldn't really interfere much, if at all.

To be honest, the problem is one of planning more than anything. If you want to change or expand a site, you should be forced to change or expand the sewers, the roads, the parking, the utilities, etc. in keeping with that, rather than "that'll do". And after a while of doing that, you'd quickly see someone make a "services accessible" road, with all that stuff built-in, plus spares, plus convenient access points, on a modular system that you could actually use for all new / refurb roads. Then rather than having to have telephone poles up there, gas pipes crossing that street, sewers in parallel, electricity cables at angles to the roads, surface water and foul water in the same drain, etc. you could just do it in one. The Romans knew this, we've clearly ignored it for thousands of years.

Sure, legacy London would still be a problem, but that's a problem for them to pay for and sort out, whether than means digging it up and doing it properly, or paying the ongoing costs / fines. If you don't want it to happen, you tax them per litre dumped into the Thames, they'll soon find it cheaper to rip things up and start again.

Hell, I'm still waiting for the days when you don't have to dig open the roads at all, and anything you might want to access is just underneath the road via a convenient manhole every now and then. Lift up, drop down equipment, get into it, work without disturbing THOUSANDS of drivers. I honestly don't get why it's a sensible idea to keep digging up the same aggregate and re-laying it over and over and over again when you could just design the road properly in the first place. Literally legislate "all new roads must have underground access for all non-road-related works". Then only the occasional replacement of asphalt need stop the road, not every pipe, leak, cable change, etc.

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80-year-old cyclist killed in prang with Tesla Model S

Lee D
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Re: The Man Who Fell To Earth

I'd imagine the reason it's posted here is the magic words "collision avoidance". Whether or not the other stuff was self-driving, collision avoidance is on pretty much all the time on a Tesla isn't it?

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Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020

Lee D
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Same old problem - nothing to do with technical capability, but more "it's different" and "our suppliers insist on Windows".

As we move towards web-based things, there's literally no reason at all that you have to tolerate that stuff. The OS now is Chrome, in effect. If you can't make your service available over the web, why are you bothering.

And then there would be nothing stopping people using things like Office 365, or Google Docs, or whatever they choose, on the web, via Chrome, on Linux or Windows. It literally wouldn't matter.

What you're really saying is "as an entire municipality, we can't choose a decent set of suppliers who have cross-platform tools". That has very little to do with Linux at all.

As someone dealing with Barclays as part of the services we need in the job I do, a bank who still insist on ONLY Internet Explorer for their Gemalto smart card readers, it's atrocious and I don't have the weight to convince Barclays to change. Munich does.

Given the laws on accessibility, etc. I would argue that any government-required service that CAN'T be accessed by a standards-compliant browser, without plugins, on any mainstream OS is the fault of the service. Not the OS that you choose to use.

I have literally considered, several times, my "ideal startup" if I were a millionaire and needed to run something to keep me occupied. One of the first rules would be "No Windows or Mac" (which doesn't leave many alternatives), and I'd damn well make sure that all of the service providers I used knew that. No, not even a virtualised machine, or "just one" for the banking, or whatever. If you can't provide a non-Windows/Apple way of doing it, I'm not interested.

To be honest, I lived on a Linux desktop for many, many years, even managing Windows networks from it. It's more than do-able. And that was before the whole web-services things really took off. Now I have a Windows OS running VMWare running VMs of all kinds. It should now matter even less what OS I choose to run, virtualise, or access my browser in, in terms of my work or personal life.

Are you seriously telling me that Munich couldn't go down that route, if Windows is so damn critical, so you literally just get a VMWare window, inside the Linux desktop, of whatever fancy-schmancy app it is that absolutely can't run on anything else? And then phase them out as you go? Hell, you could do it via a cloud service, even.

It's all telling of someone not-trying-very-hard to stay away from Windows, and not bothering to pull their weight and change suppliers (and/or not being "allowed" to by someone).

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UK.gov: IT contracts should be no more than 7 years. (Not 18, Fujitsu)

Lee D
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I'm much more concerned that they should have decent cancellation clauses, prescribed service levels, and compensation for failing to deliver.

Because then it literally doesn't matter how long their contract is, they have to make it work, or they lose it.

Like tax law evaders, I'm much more concerned that supposed "experts" deliberately draw up laws that allow such evasion, the same way supposed expertly-governed IT projects fail to lay down their requirements and punish contractors who fail to deliver or who deliver a piece of junk far too late.

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ZX Spectrum Vega firm's lawyers targeted by empty-handed backers

Lee D
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RCL MD David Levy told us: “We are not interested in commenting to The Register due to its repeatedly biased reporting.”

Is it just me that reads that as "God, if we say the wrong thing they'll tell everyone, and we can only refuse to say the right thing"?

Sorry, but say "No comment" or give a comment, even if it's just neutralised legalese. Sour grapes just makes me think that you are looking for excuses NOT to talk.

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Jet packs are REAL – and inventor just broke world speed record in it

Lee D
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Re: Duration?

Ya cannae beat the laws of physics.

To stay aloft, you need to provide 9.8m/s^2 * the mass of the object to be kept aloft, of thrust. That's quite a bit.

And that's just to stay where you are, if you're even a cm off the ground. To actually go UP takes more, let alone travel sideways at 30mph too (which takes at least the equivalent of a small scooter engine in terms of forces). And then you have to put that all in something that also has to lift off the ground (the eternal conundrum of how to balance what you're lifting versus what weight of equipment is needed to produce that lift). And then you have to fuel that to operate for a given length of time, using fuel you carry with you.

All of that means you'll be lucky to get a few minutes, even with the densest of petroleum fuels that you really don't want to be strapping to your back near a big flame either.

It's a silly, impractical idea best left to Bond movies as all you can really do until we make portable fusion packs and a hover-drive is a couple of minutes of expensive environment-destroying movement that you could probably outpace just by running (if you include setup, lift-off, movement, landing, removal).

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OVH data centres go TITSUP: Power supply blunders blamed

Lee D
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That is indeed the only way to keep services up.

I know in my workplace, we've taken to having most stuff in-house because of the sheer number of issues with external suppliers, and then rent things like OVH dedicated servers to mirror to should the worst happen.

There is no one company I would trust - not even Google or Microsoft - to keep a business operational nowadays. You have to be able to be independent and able to continue when, say, AWS or Google Docs goes down, even if it's not ideal, because even the big guys can't guarantee anything.

The weakest point is actually things like DNS. You only need one bad DNS host and you can be in for a world of hurt even with all the failovers and contingency plans in the world.

But, it has to be said, like "backups", redundant services need to be redundant. If you are hosting with OVH and it means anything at all to your business (e.g. 1000 audio streams for a radio station!), then you need a way to spread those across SOME OTHER ENTIRELY UNRELATED COMPANY. Whether that's your own in-house site, another host, etc. Even "same company, data centre B" is a silly thing to do, because when their A is down, their B site is going to take an enormous hit too even if that's just people failing-over.

You have to have multiple, redundant product offerings from different people hosted in different places access by different line, or you're really just wasting your time or "playing" at doing the IT properly.

If I ran a business reliant on an online presence, you can be sure that DNS round-robin, distributed filesystems and databases, and redundant machines would be the first thing I'd set up. Hell, surely you have to do this for basic backup systems, no? No point having your backups all in the same building. So why wouldn't you do it for your live systems too if you're expecting at least one live system to stay up.

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Self-driving bus in crash just 2 hours after entering public service

Lee D
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Re: re: Will self driving busses come in threes?

Gosh, if only you could intelligently manage the buses via some sort of traffic control such that the following ones can catch up and pass the full one because they're picking up nobody, rather than expect vehicles on a road controlled by people, loading people to stay perfectly spaced throughout the day.

The bit that bugs me more is "We're holding this vehicle" for whatever traffic-management gap they think they need, thus making us late too, because the bus in front was full of people also worried about being late.

Start them out at 10 minute intervals, sure. Then just let them run. Because if there's a queue, they're all going to get stuck in it anyway, and if they bunch up, slowly them down mid-route doesn't actually help the situation at all.

Let them pass each other and the empty buses get to the next stop and fill up while the "full" buses lag behind, etc.

If anything, I'd literally just have a "you can depart in X minutes" timer at the bus depot for each route, and that's it.

I'm a mathematician. I perfectly believe people have analysed this, the same way they've analysed the "traffic joining a motorway causes traffic waves on the motorway" phenomenon. Rather than analyse it and pretend that it's inevitable, fix it. In that case, you fix it by having longer sliproads for traffic to join from and ENFORCING lane management (i.e. fine middle-lane hoggers). Because the problem is caused by people hogging the middle lane, who then stop the left-lane people making room for the joining-people, which slows down the main route for the sake of a handful of cars joining at one of dozens of intersections.

In the bus case, just send buses on regular intervals and allow them to overtake.

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SSL spy boxes on your network getting you down? But wait, here's an IETF draft to fix that

Lee D
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Re: Obvious problem here.

Vendors include massive, multi-national educational suppliers, including some government departments in some instances, offering products that we are required to use.

Don't even go there. IT departments in school do not choose vendors for educational / statutory resources. If we did, things would be very different.

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Lee D
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Re: Obvious problem here.

Indeed.

It is basically a legal requirement for schools to intercept all Internet access and to push local SSL certs so that they can intercept SSL sessions for, e.g. Google queries.

It's a requirement of things like extremism-detection, etc. but also just basic control of the service.

Otherwise, quite literally, the children will run riot in any lesson that uses the Internet onto anything they like. Because any SSL session that's unmonitored is basically a proxy for them to get onto everything they like. Which is a breach of basic child protection.

You can talk until the cows come home about "teacher supervision" etc. but it's impossible to stop a class of 30 rowdy kids with a non-IT teacher from Alt-Tabbing to their favourite proxy service (which change daily, and even include things like the Internet Archive, Google cached pages, etc.) when they're not looking. They are incredibly quick and smart about it and, sure, probably I'd spot most things if I was in the room long enough, but I'm an IT Manager for schools so you'd expect that. The average teacher doesn't stand a chance, especially with mobile devices and a "real" task set to do research on the Internet.

And no filter in the world would be worth operating if you can't intercept SSL on managed workstations. It would literally never pick up anything but SSL sessions to Amazon AWS, with no hint of what's actually being viewed.

Nobody suggests that people should be breaking connections on home wireless, guest networks, etc. (which should be filtered appropriately by user / whitelist anyway!) for no reason, but to suggest that totally removing the ability to intercept SSL and whitelist certain certificates on the machines to enable them to wrap connections to an intermediate filter? That just kills government-mandated diligence on the use of school Internet connections. You will quite literally just stop schools using the Internet for such things. Some may say that's no bad thing, but they didn't come from a generation born without knowledge of even Windows Vista, who grew up with technology at their fingertips, who are tapping all screens expecting them to be touch-capable from age 3, and whose schools have millions of pounds of investment in online resources and services for everything from paying your lunch money to checking out your library book to submitting your homework.

You could quite radically set back advances in education by 20 years or more... that's how long I've been doing IT in schools and Internet access is a basic tool that's been present since the beginning of that.

"Just whitelist?" I hear you say. Okay. I have FIVE different vendors at the moment who all insist I whitelist the entirety of the Amazon AWS IP ranges (literally a copy-paste of every IP that Amazon says they could end up with). What do you think that does when you then visit any random page that happens to be hosted on those ranges?

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BT hikes prices for third time in 18 months

Lee D
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I sat and realised something recently.

Whenever I stream a movie on my phone, it's often better to just turn off the wifi and rely on 4G. Less buffering, unscheduled stops, etc. I'm not the only one, either, XKCD even has a cartoon about it. At one point, yes, Wifi was the best available but nowadays I'm not so sure.

And I can get large data packages for 4G really cheaply, and even routers that can load-balance / failover to 4G, and even multiple-4G connections.

And then I consider how much I actually need the low-latency of Wifi for gaming, etc. and wonder whether that's worth paying for at all. I can't think it is.

And I'm perfectly happy with 4G streaming of a movie to my phone / tablet and/or re-offering the phone connection over Wifi. And I'm already paying for it. And it costs less than my broadband as it is. And doesn't need separate (hidden) line-rental, TV, etc. packages.

I think, given 4G coverage, I could be more than happy just sticking a 4G dongle in a decent router or bouncing my phone's 4G over Wifi for just about everything I do. Hell, I often log into work over RD, or do Amazon or grocery shopping, via my phone, so I could certainly do everything I would *need* to.

It makes me wonder what the fixed-line broadband people are playing at and what it will take to actually get them to move.

And, hell, if I'm not happy with one provider? Buy a different SIM/dongle and even share the traffic between them as necessary to stay under the limits.

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This could be our favorite gadget of 2017: A portable projector

Lee D
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Camping is split - people who want to carry their stuff and people who don't. As such, comfort is subjective depending on whether you mean "can bring a small jacuzzi along to relax in" versus "don't have to carry said jacuzzi up the side of a mountain".

I class "proper" camping as that you could hike with all your equipment and then set up camp using only that. As such, a box projector and a sheet would be the qualifying criteria for that, whereas a car / stereo system / fridge / etc. would not. Proper camping also means you can set up a camp at any time, anywhere, should the weather turn on you.

Anything else is a "camping holiday" which means not being able to afford a proper hotel so staying in a caravan/tent but bringing a car load of stuff.

Both have their place and their own comforts (hint: If you're uncomfortable when camping, you're doing something wrong... whether that's temperature, location, water penetration, food, sleeping arrangements, etc. it means you're in the wrong place, brought the wrong equipment or shouldn't be trying to camp in the first place because of some medical condition).

But a plain white sheet and a small box, or a smartphone, hell even a laptop, and even a solar panel are quite within the definition of proper camping too. Smartphones especially. If nothing else they are an ideal backup compass/GPS even if not perfect, emergency communication tool, maybe even a reference tool (put that book about first aid and skinning rabbits on there, or try to ID that mushroom), as well as entertainment. If there's more than one of you, a smartphone and a projector to truly enjoy the evenings (darkness is quite limiting) is fine - hell, aim it at the floor of the tent and it'll do an okay job and is a damn sight less fragile than some LCD panel. Hell, I've lugged telescopes around, and model rockets, and all kinds. A decent rucksack can easily hold a tent, appropriate bedding (including a double sleeping bag), pots, pans, food, clothes, gadgets, radios, books, etc. plus certain backups of those and still have room to spare for completely luxury items like this and even room for batteries and panels enough to keep things charged.

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Pixel-style display woes on your shiny new X? Perfectly normal, says Apple

Lee D
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Well, if that's "normal for OLED", then I don't want a "normal OLED" screen thanks.

The issues of burn-in are something that's literally NEVER affected modern hardware I've used (and even then, only on one ANCIENT monitor I have got some burn-in after 2-weeks of showing a bright logo, and even that's cleared now... [checks monitor he's using... yep... gone]).

Honestly, if "the best tech" involves screen-burn-in if I'm not careful, I'll have last year's screen tech with this year's processor, etc. please.

Otherwise forget it. We're supposed to be PROGRESSING here, with expensive devices sold to consumers, not beta-testing for OLED manufacturers.

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Firefox bookmark saving add-on gives users that sync-ing feeling

Lee D
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Re: Trust and basic common sense

Trust.

But verify.

And always have a backup.

I "trust" my systems to hold all kinds of data reliably. I just also make a backup to ensure I'm in a position to make the necessary comparisons. It doesn't mean I don't "trust" my kit. I do. Day to day I absolutely trust it to do its job. Just not to survive the end-of-the-world, corporate bankruptcy, theft, a court order, ....

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El Reg assesses crypto of UK banks: Who gets to wear the dunce cap?

Lee D
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If you wanna do some journalism, have a look at TPOnline (Teacher's Pensions Online, also the guardian of the "List 99" barred checks for staff).

Everything from emailing out the private keys of client certificates in an unencrypted email (you just have to ask nicely and say it didn't work when you tried to download it), to charging £80+ for a new certificate even on renewal / replacement, to having some of the most atrocious TLS security known to man for years (they improved this year, they almost get a C on SSL Labs now!), etc. despite handling all kinds of sensitive data.

Oh, and pretty much only works in IE, and you have to put everything into trusted zones etc. to make it work even then.

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For fanbois only? Face ID is turning punters off picking up an iPhone X

Lee D
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Re: I was using FaceId (or whatever)

Because cloud vendors never "go bad / be lost anytime and take your data with it."

Also, as an extra added bonus, they can look through your photos any time you like.

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Subsidy-guzzling Tesla's Model 3 volumes a huge problem – Wall St man

Lee D
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Unprofitable.

Incapable of producing more than a couple of hundred in periods that other car manufacturers are reliabily producing hundreds and hundreds of thousands (for reference: Ford Fiesta, UK June 2017 sales: 8601 cars - Ford sold 40 times more, of one model, in one month, in one country, than Tesla produced of its big money-grabbing headline, subsidised cars in a quarter...)

Only sustainable under subsidy.

Run by a billionaire, and some investors who'll probably see nothing back until it by some miracle starts producing actual sensible numbers of cars.

When will people start writing Tesla and Musk off as "threw money at problem, failed to even make a profit let alone fix problem".

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Giza geezers' muon-geyser visor reveals Great Pyramid's hidden void surpriser

Lee D
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Re: Isn't this an old movie plot?

"You've come to destroy the Earth? Too late, mate, we've already got Trump."

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Official Secrets Act alert went off after embassy hired local tech support

Lee D
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Re: Curious...

I think even during the world wars, it wasn't unusual to go through the leavings of agents and even hospital bins full of severed and gangrenous body parts in order to find any intelligence if you thought it was a possibility.

And I don't think any USB drive would be affected by a journey through even the toughest digestive system... it would have to be stuck in there for weeks to degrade to the point it was unrecoverable if you REALLY wanted it, and it would be unpowered so no chance of short-circuit, etc. You'd literally have to wait for the stomach acid to etch its way through to the memory chip itself, which is unlikely in the normal course of things.

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First iPhone X fondlers struggle to admit that Face ID sort of sucks

Lee D
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Re: 10"- 20"

One does not purchase drink.

One merely rents it for a short period of time.

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Lee D
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Re: 10"- 20"

"The main problem that I can see is that I am unlikely to spend £1,000 on the new phone..."

Sentence complete.

Because, seriously, that's two laptops and a phone to me. Or a laptop, a phone and a tablet. Or a phone, a year's worth of box-sets, and enough chocolate to kill myself.

I honestly don't get the fascination for these substandard devices. If you gave me one, if I won one in a competition, I'd sell it and buy something else and pocket the change.

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Car insurers recoil in horror from paying auto autos' speeding fines

Lee D
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Re: Try a sensible design?

The trick is to use an example to prove the point.

The insurers want to take no responsibility for the car's speed.

So when the system fails, the GPS is out, the road map is inaccurate, a new road is put in, a speed limit on an existing road is changed, or there are roadworks - they want no part of it.

Asking the question shows that. They'll be overruled anyway. But it shows them that they'll have to take account of things like that, and insure it, whether they like it or not. Ask any insurer if they want to cover you using candles responsibly at home, they'll say no. The fact is they don't get to specify things down to that level of detail and need to take into account that people will do that anyway.

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Lee D
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What device is in charge of control of the speed?

Whoever is liable for that is liable for the speeding ticket, whether they like it or not.

Unless the "driver" is in control of the speed, there's no way they can be held liable for it.

Whether they "would support it" or not, the insurers will have to suck it up.

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Lee D
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Re: Terrorism

(raises hand).

That. And drones. Stopping a person in a car is one thing, stopping the car itself is quite another. Especially if it would just keep going with blown-out tyres, and there was no driver to capture.

They would also make a marvellous auto-delivery device for... well... whatever you want.

The thing that invokes terror in me is not "terrorists"... it's our response to them, though. Banning or controlling self-driving cars because they could be misused seems cutting off the nose to spite the face. But, it has to be said, if I were in charge of some counter-terrorist think-tank, those two things would be at the top of my list nowadays.

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IBM's Phase Change Memory computer can tell you if it's raining

Lee D
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Timing synchronisation would seem to be the problem, especially if you're talking temperature critical operations.

I don't see how you'd be able to do these computations any faster than current technology, or even quite a bit slower. Certainly without then having to push the results to somewhere else to actually make use of them.

It probably has some niche applications somewhere... no RF emissions? No central clock / space missions where clocks might not work reliably / time might change because of speed / etc.? I don't know. But as a mainstream technology? I don't see it.

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Cryptocurrency-crafting creeps crept crafty code into Google App Store

Lee D
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I would argue that "I have been given permission to do X" is metadata that you don't want the program to have.

An example - an app is malicious, but only if it is given the permission - i.e. it does use the camera but only if people actually click Yes. Or it only says it uses the camera when it's scanning a QR code but actually opens it at other times too. Otherwise, so it claims, it doesn't. If you go about just denying the permission to it, it will keep quiet. If, however, you say "Fake permission" and then it gets what looks like a valid video stream, maybe it will try to use the camera illicitly. The only way to tell is if the "fake" camera then reports "hey, I'm actually being used".

Similarly for storage... you give it "fake" storage and then it complains each time you start that it's the first time it's run - because without the persistent storage, it doesn't know.

It doesn't add much, but it stops the "To install Facebook which everyone else has, you need to allow this permission or it just stops when you load it", meaning users will then just give it that permission. And the cost? Minimal. A fake camera source, a RAM disk or fs overlay, a fake NMEA stream. I guarantee you those are already present for testing anyway.

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Lee D
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Because, despite what every antivirus manufacturer will try to tell you or insinuate, there is NO WAY to prove that a program isn't malicious.

Even with the source code, you can hide things.

If you allow Internet access, it could have any kind of state machine operating only when, say, a certain DNS records appears on a particular domain, etc.

Today's programs are so large that disassembly is ridiculously difficult, even for a language like Java/Dalvik.

There is no way to certify that a program is "safe". Short of complete, 100%, every byte mathematical analysis compared against a specification which, in itself, it's agreed couldn't possibly be subverted to perform malicious intentions. And even then, it's no guarantee that you've done that right.

And nobody on Earth has the money to afford to be able to do that for every app in the app store, certainly not on any kind of timely basis.

The only way you can ensure stuff like this isn't malicious is to not give it the opportunity - i.e. permissions. No permission to run in background, no permission to consume more than 5% CPU, no permission to download from the Internet, etc. etc. etc. Then it's just a matter of determining whether such an app has ever done something it shouldn't ever have permission to do (i.e. by compromising your system).

Fact is, everyone "just allows all", like they did for Vista and UAC because they don't want to think that "Connects to Internet" and "Can access your photos" could possibly result in "Uploading all your photos to the Internet for people to laugh at". They just want to know where North is, or order a takeaway, and they couldn't care less about security.

Case in point - Alexa, Siri, et al. "Let's give permission for a device to sit in our house uploading every conversation to the cloud so that maybe once in a blue moon it responds to 'What's 2 plus 2?' so we can geek-out to our guests".

Honestly, never understood why I can't REFUSE permission (including making it impossible for the app to determine whether or not I really did allow permission, e.g. faking persistent storage and resetting after every use, etc.) for everything and/or grant only a tiny subset of permissions actually requested by the app.

And that INCLUDES those stupid pushed-apps from the manufacturer's themselves. Tell me why you just pushed Samsung Music to my phone, Samsung? I literally do not have another music app as I don't listen to music. But it's just been forcibly downloaded, including notification permissions, no way to uninstall or disable (both greyed out), and access to my camera, storage and mic WITHOUT me granting that.

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Fake tech support 'scam' husband and wife banned FOR LIFE from computer repair world

Lee D
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Re: Thats a plan...

Such a blacklist already exists. It's called:

"Sure, here's my hourly rate."

For advanced level courses you also have:

"By the way, I added a stupidity tax for not having a backup / having clicked the attachment in the first place / this being the second time I've had to tell you not to do that / believing what the guy in PC World said"

I find that at the first mention of actual payment, all those people suddenly stop asking you, or their problems mysteriously aren't that important after all, or you never get the follow-up call that they said they'd give to arrange it with you.

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Hey, you know why it's called the iPhone X? When you see Apple's repair bill, your response will be X-rated

Lee D
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Re: First adopter risk

1) I object to being a QA tester for any company I buy products for.

2) Standard EU warranty is a LOT LONGER than 1 year, no matter what Apple might try to tell the courts.

3) Apple have admitted - in court no less - that their products are only designed to last a year (hence why they only want to give one year's warranty... shame that argument got thrown out).

That said, I don't know if Apple stop QA or not, but certainly their hardware fares less well in the field than ANYTHING ELSE that I use in volume.

By "field", in my case it's a school.

By "hardware", I include anything from iPhones to iPads and Macs.

By "volume", sure it's only a few hundreds of devices in my case but the statistics show.

In a year of Chromebook use by children, I got two screen breakages that cost £25 each to repair after one was stood on and one ended up under a pile of cricket equipment.

In a similar year of iPad use, I got upwards of 30 screen breakages costing £70-80 each to repair, and which mostly COULDN'T be adequately repaired without leaving the device vulnerable, as well as several DoA or random deaths. And those devices cost twice as much, and if we'd paid Apple prices, 4 times as much as a Chromebook to us.

Given that they were both given to the same children, in the same site, for the same amount of use, and the Chromebook had "nothing" in the way of protection while the iPads had the best cases we could possibly find (thick rubberised things that made it hard to type on the screen), I think that kind of speaks for their quality control and "design" (as in "making things fit for purpose" not "what fancy shite can we make this out of so it sounds good").

Additionally, out of the staff, we had zero breakages of Android phones, Window phones (not my decision!), etc. that were used for/taken on trips every week. However, I repaired/replaced the headmaster's iPhone no less than 7 times in the same period, despite the fact he lives on-site and it never really went anywhere.

Apple QA - if it exists - is damn near atrocious. Don't even get me started on how many of their crappy lightning cables (official Apple, as supplied with the iPads) break each year and how much they cost to replace versus either - the cheapest unbranded Lightning-like cable on Amazon, or the cheapest micro-USB for other devices from Amazon.

I don't even get a hardware failure rate of 0.1% on PC's, over 4 years (I have the stats on my helpesk, would you like to see? Most of those are storage failures!). I've already got a 10% failure rate on Macs (drive failures and mysterious just-not-turning-on), 8% on iPads (breakages, screen failures, button failures, not turning on, failing to accept charge, etc.), and almost 100% on iPhones (mostly accidental breakage because you didn't treat it like cotton wool despite it being an item you carry everywhere and hold in your hand), Android phones 0%, Windows phones <1%. Hell, even the old server equipment that we've kept from our purchase of ex-2012-Olympic stock fares better and mostly they only suffer storage failures!

Different use case, blah, blah, blah, but a Mac isn't as robust as a PC, an iPad isn't as robust as a Samsung tablet / cheap Chinese Android costing £20 / Chromebook, an iPhones you might as well just smash the screen when you buy it to save you the heart attack later.

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Lee D
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Honestly do not get it.

That repair costs more than any phone I've ever owned.

The phone costs more than anything I've ever owned with the exception of 1 car and 2 houses (not simultaneously!).

Just... but... I can't... and it's just... the worst possible option.

Literally a "designer" brand. All looks over substance. Have never owned one of their products. Ever. (But manage several hundred, begrudgingly, and only as far as you can "manage" any of their junk).

Also, if the screen doesn't have all that stuff listed in it, why is it MORE EXPENSIVE than the models that do?

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DJI Aeroscope won't stop drone-diddlers flying round airports

Lee D
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Re: "their entire system can be defeated by either covering the drone with aluminium foil"

Determine the origin, or perpetrator, of the attack of the drones.

Basically impossible, unless they left DNA on them.

Determine the origin, or perpetrator, of "bloke in the next street"? CCTV, eyewitness, transport surveillance, GPS / GSM positioning, etc. etc. etc.

Literally, you wouldn't see it coming, you wouldn't know who did it, you wouldn't be able to know if another was imminent, you wouldn't be able to even know if the guy was still alive when the attack was ordered. It could literally be a dead-man's switch.

P.S. you could, in theory, fly a drone into MANY more places than you'd ever get a human. E.g. back garden of Buckingham Palace, front door of No 10, etc. Sure, maybe they have something to stop it other than a fence, but chances are if you had enough drones, you could get one in there. Whether to put a political message in front of No 10 cameras while the PM was giving a speech, or something much more nefarious.

And NOBODY would have a clue where they were launched from, who to arrest, whether there were any more, or possibly even who bought them (that's about your only "link" but if you bought them years ago on a stolen card, good luck getting anything at all to help track the rest of them down).

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Lee D
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Re: "their entire system can be defeated by either covering the drone with aluminium foil"

GPS is read-only (generally... maritime GPS has paid-for advantages on modern systems).

Therefore, an aluminium box with an antenna on it will be receiving GPS while simultaneously NOT sending out any detectable signal.

It wouldn't be difficult at all to circumvent any of these kinds of tracking anyway - which rely on the drone telling you where it is.

What you need is a "object detected in the no-fly-zone" detectors, which is basically radar and/or optics.

It won't be long before that's necessary because people are in fact total idiots as a general class and will always fly whatever the latest gadget from China is into the path of a 747.

More worrying to me, is that it's actually feasible (whether as a security demonstration, artwork, or whatever) to buy a warehouse full of drones, program a location into them, stick a solar panel on the back of them and then leave them to work their way across a country, into a particular city - stopping somewhere high and inaccessible to "recharge" as necessary while also fleeing from anyone who tries to pick them up - to a particular building and deliver... whatever. A drone-flash-mob message? A bunch of confetti? Junk mail? Or a bomb?

No radio required. Hell, even GPS blocking wouldn't stop them, they'd be able to triangulate well enough from publicly available Wifi / 3G maps with a £10 chip on board.

I'm kinda waiting for it, but I'm kinda hoping that someone writes it into a movie first so that we see the threat publicly and therefore insist on some kind of defence against it (EMP?).

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Car trouble: Keyless and lockless is no match for brainless

Lee D
Silver badge

Electronic handbrakes still need a button that lets you put them on / take them off.

I have a new Ford, and it just has a switch that you pull/push when the handbrake used to be. I was very skeptical at first, but try as I might I can't activate it "accidentally", when I do forcibly activate it while driving (on a non-public road, to test what the hell it does and whether I even want that) it brings the car to a halt better than any emergency stop.

And yet it still works fine for the "pull-away" auto-release functionality and I can't fool it no matter what I do with the throttle and clutch - unless I actually apply power that would move the car even with a handbrake on, it won't auto-release the handbrake.

The one thing I can find "wrong", is that if I double-lock the car, without the parking brake on, it doesn't activate it for me. I would expect that. I suppose it's so that you can still tow, but I was hoping it would do it for me should I ever forget.

And every hill I park on reminds me that actually it's very useful, even if I've never been afraid of a hill-start even on the worst atrocities of road-design.

Now, if I could permanently turn off the auto-stop-start engine, I would be a happy man. But the switch that does so only works for that journey. And I basically keep the clutch down all the time anyway when at lights just to stop the thing turning off. Whenever I do forget (e.g. put it in neutral so I can tap the satnav, take a drink, etc.), the autostop always scares the life out of me because I think I've stalled it. And though the "oops, you didn't mean to stop" start-up is DAMN quick if you catch it happening, it worries me just how quick it is - the strain on the engine of off-then-immediately-back-on can't be good for it. I swear the pistons can't even have stopped on some occasions.

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Lee D
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Re: Possible Solution

I have to say... if a car I bought was doing this, I'd be sending it back or selling it off.

If even the DOORS can't be opened, what else did they do wrong on that car? Doors are literally a £2 RF module with whatever-crap-encryption-they-use, and a relay. It's REALLY hard to go wrong there, and they should actually spend 10 times more time on making sure people can't easily clone keys, not worry about whether it interferes when near a telephone. The blip of an RF fob is literally hundredths of a second, there's no need for it not to respond immediately even if it has to retransmit 20 times.

And the doors locking themselves while I'm driving? No way. I'd be servicing that. What happens if you roll the car and need to get out or (vice versa) you're giving a friend with a kid a lift home and the door just unlocks and they open it (have had the latter happen - a child dropped their toy down the side of the back seat while the aunt was driving and I was in the passenger seat... the child decided they couldn't reach so they OPENED THE DOOR at 60mph and leant down to pick it up... the first I knew was all the door warnings going off, and I looked behind to see empty air and a small child bending out the exit, and I've literally never moved so fast - belt off, over seat, grab child, grab door handle, SCREAM to pullover)? No child locks "because they don't work", a kid that just opens doors / removes belts to get a toy, and an inattentive driver who didn't even know what the beeping meant.

My car - I've never had a problem except that it's very insistent the boot is shut before you can arm the alarm (rightly so, but it takes you a minute to realise why it won't arm - and that you took the shopping out, and though it "looks" shut, it just needs a proper slam to actually be shut), and that you can unlock the damn thing from somewhere around the next town (the RF range is ludicrous - literally my car can be out of sight and it still gets the signal somehow! I tested in a 28 acre site and can lock/unlock it from ridiculous distances). Great if I lose my car at a boot sale (because the lights will flash), but not so great if the keys are in my pocket and unlock button gets pushed.

However, literally, it's never been a problem. If I had symptoms like yours, though, the car would be going back.

15
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Li-ion batteries blow up because they breed nanowire crystals

Lee D
Silver badge

Re: With NiCd, a quick pulse from a car battery

Yep. People vastly underestimate the stored power of a car battery. And then you look at things like lorry batteries and - yeesh - electric fork-lift power banks.

My dad - before the days of health and fecking safety - once teamed up with a small gaggle of fitters in his job and, from a distance, put a spanner over an old, decrepid fork-lift with lead-acid battery pack. They did it from an improvised bunker further down the warehouse.

I'm told that, after the spanner turned red, then white, then started to bend, the explosion was quite impressive and they were still cleaning battery acid off the ceiling of the industrial aircraft-hangar-sized warehouse for weeks afterwards.

There's a reason my dad told me never to mess with a car battery. And why the fitters kept a large 4x2 wooden post nearby if anyone was working on the underside of the 18-ton lorries with their stupendous batteries. DC electrics make you grab on so you can't let go. You only need the right combination of metal spanner, wet hand, hanging onto the wrong point while in a confined space, etc. and it could go very wrong.

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Lee D
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Re: finger-like growths known as dendrites

Indeed.

We pretty much rely on the fact that metals will gravitate towards a charged pole for things like metal-plating and other uses.

The fact that they do it when we DON'T want them to is also true, and the more power involved, the more they will grow.

I'd be more worried about what this means for those second-hand electric cars with lithium batteries in 10-20 years time if they aren't replaced regularly.

7
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BT agrees to cream off less profit from landline-only customers

Lee D
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It's still a BT line with an (unused) voice connection on it.

Plus, A&A's basic home package on their copper-only deal (when I looked just now) comes out to £45+ a month.

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Lee D
Silver badge

But still a "broadband-only" line costs just as much as a plain voice only, with its legally-required 999 status, etc.

Hell, put it on a master plate with no BT connector whatsoever, if you have to, and force me to pay to change it if I later want a phone line on it. So that someone can't mistake it for a line they could use in an emergency if they plug a phone into it unwittingly.

But having 1/3rd of the cost of even the cheapest line be a copper pair which should be much cheaper (and clearer!) without the voice-portion, is ludicrous.

I had a go at PlusNet because their advert for business broadband basically excluded VAT, line-rental, and all kinds of things and made it appear dirt-cheap when actually it cost over 4 times what the advert said to run.

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Oracle ZFS man calls for Big Red to let filesystem upstream into Linux

Lee D
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Like everything...

Call me when it's in there and it works and I can use it. Until then, it's nothing more than hyperbole.

There was nothing stopping this happening 5 years ago, there's nothing stopping it happening now. Even as a GPLv2-licensed kernel fork, without going through proper submission, it would slowly creep across if it was that useful.

Fact is, though I'd have trusted Sun to do so, and to bring this across, Oracle more often than not ends up as a curator of someone else's code that they deemed destructive to their business so they bought them up. Everything they touch gets forked and the fork is - without exception - better. I can't believe that ZFS is any different. They'll dump it on someone when they no longer can be bothered with it, which is what it sounds like they are heading towards. Maybe some ZFSv2 Linux spin-off will actually make it into the kernel, with some kind of better performance, ideas, avoiding patents, etc. but that's decades away.

And the anecdote about being told "use that broken stuff, no you can't go back despite having myriad problems"? Way to run a business? I don't think so. That doesn't inspire me with confidence at all. The story should be "the person came in and insisted we move to ZFS - against other's people's wishes because it was 'too early' - because they'd secretly trialled it alongside their existing system and it performed better than anything else". Not "It was a heap of junk but we're gonna make you use it and we'll just throw you a few developers so your live-system can act as an alpha test and be patched as we find the bugs that you're constantly running across".

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Panic of Panama Papers-style revelations follows Bermuda law firm hack

Lee D
Silver badge

Pfft.

There is no transport security in SMTP whether or not you use TLS.

Internal emails, possibly, but that's about it.

The reason? Any mail server en-route can read the email and forward it on to any other mail server unencrypted without you ever becoming aware of it. The chances of a customer of this place sending potentially embarrassing email to this place without - at some point - there being a non-TLS SMTP connection involved is very high. But the fact is, you can never know because you will never find out.

That's not counting anything they email internally via their personal accounts "because the attachment is blocked" or "I have no VPN access here" or whatever.

SMTP is security-less, to all intents and purposes. Even things like SPF etc. don't work to guarantee that the mail SERVER you are sending TO is legitimate. It only ever works the other way around (i.e. that that mail from fredbloggs.com did come from a fredbloggs.com-authorised server). And even THAT is dependent on unencrypted basic DNS being authoritative.

Please stop spouting nonsense. You either encrypt the whole message with something and that lets the transport metadata completely open, or nothing. The TLS around SMTP is entirely optional, strippable, unverifiable and useless. It's to protect your SMTP password details, not your email.

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Lee D
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Though I cannot ever condone hacking, or even journalistic release of such material unless it's literally directly damning in a criminal sense...

If the truth of what you do is politically embarrassing to you, maybe you shouldn't be doing that?

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1

Canucks have beef with Soylent as to whether or not it's a real meal deal

Lee D
Silver badge

Re: Mystifying...

Personally, I don't use any of these things. But it doesn't mean I wouldn't. I just don't see the point in paying more than it would cost to make a meal, to have a crap meal.

But... part of what makes us human is the ability to create and enjoy a whole myriad of things. Sure, like carpentry. Nobody BUYS a chair any more, we all sit and make our own right? Nobody uses central heating, we build a fire every night, don't we? Nobody buys a package holiday, we all go out to the park or to the seaside and enjoy a "real" thing, right?

See how silly that sounds? Now consider this... I really couldn't care what my food tastes like. Though I have a sense of taste, I really don't care what I'm eating. To me, a £2 ready meal tastes just the same as the meals that were prepared from scratch by my ex-wife (a professional cook at one point in her life). That's not to say nobody else could. I'm sure they can, the same way they can see the difference between 4K, HD and SD which also escapes me. I'm sure that organic carrot sauteed in some very expensive concoction tastes wonderful to you. It tastes like a wet carrot to me. My sense of smell/taste is perfectly intact. I can tell you what I'm eating, I can taste "differences", etc. I actually don't like spicy food at all. But it's so far from being a factor in my life that if I lived alone, I'd only bother with cheap microwave meals. Maybe a roast at Christmas, but more for the procedures of doing so than any noticeable difference.

Ever eaten in a gastro pub? You think they cook all that from the finest venison caught fresh that morning? Or do you think it's a set range of meals that their caterers deliver in freeze-bags earlier in the month before you get there? Sure, I'm certain that some places do have all that. But most people wouldn't even notice. A lot of food taste is purely psychological (e.g. the blue-baked-beans thing) and the placebo of thinking it LOOKS like a place that would cook all fresh stuff makes you think it tastes better.

To be honest, I'd be perfectly happy to live off this stuff if it was cheap enough. The loss of experience of the "taste" would be more than made up for by the time it saves and the money in my pocket that I can spend on something that I *can* enjoy. I can't really say that I've ever really *enjoyed* food. I eat it. I like certain foods more. But I've never cooed over some rare blue cheese or gone doolally over a horse steak. It's all just food to me. People talk to me about wine as if they can taste the difference between different years of grapes, let alone between a bottle of red and white (hint: almost everybody CANNOT in a proper double-blind test). It just doesn't register to me. I know Coke from Pepsi and both from random colas. But... to be honest... who cares? I might have preference but it's barely figuring in my life if I get served the other unless I specifically asked for something in particular. And I never would.

As such, some people don't really care about the "human experience" of food. I'm one of them. I'll happily choose a McDonald's breakfast over the most elaborate meal at The Ritz any day. Not because it tastes better but - to me - it doesn't taste different enough to care. And I don't have to dress up to go to the drive-thru.

There's a reason people have microwaves. You think nobody ever uses them, except to heat up water? Of course they do. And virtually every household has one. Because most of the time it's absolutely fine and nobody can tell the difference. But when they first come out everyone decried them as "artificial", etc.

I had a look on Amazon the other day... there's a "breakfast maker" thing that's a microwave/grill, with a hotplate/hob on top and a toaster on the side, etc. It's a small box. That small box would do EVERY piece of cooking I would ever need to be able to do in my entire life. As such, some food supplement / food replacement / synthetic meat / unusual meat substitute / unaccustomed animal steak / etc. really doesn't figure in my life past the pence-per-kilo figure.

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Lee D
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I get the idea... it's convenient, it's "complete", etc.

And there are obvious downsides (dental being the one that springs to mind most, along with insufficient variety for your gut bacteria, etc.).

But what I don't understand is when it's pushed as a "cheap" meal replacement. Like a sandwich is some horrendously expensive item if you make it yourself.

I mean... to be honest, they go about the marketing all wrong. Sell it as a survival food to camping stores, then as "what astronauts eat", then go for the health lines. Sell it at a premium, too, rather than claim to be cheap but actually be quite average in price. They also sell on "it's quick to make"... which I just find odd.

I'd be perfectly happy to live off space-meal-pills, to be honest. It would be way down on the list of my concerns, even if I would miss the occasional chip-butty. But... I don't know. It's got more in common with a body-building protein powder to me than "this will save you having to actually bother to cook".

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