* Posts by Nick Kew

798 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

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UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

Nick Kew
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Re: " I suspect that any legislation will be along the lines of:"

Note. Both house of Parliament have to approve it. Since it requires critical thinking skills (not something you see a lot of in politicians) to realize what errant BS.

Just possible in Their Lordships' house. But the most likely place to find it is in the EU Parliament, perhaps due in some measure to the much lesser importance of party politics.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Liberty for temporary safety

I think the remark about Erdogan refers to the botched "coup" last year. Which was very convenient for him

Yes, I realise that's a strong parallel. And history gives us many more such: we still have some residual effects from the 1605 plot, in that for example the monarch can't marry a Catholic (and Northern Ireland bears more serious scars).

Where the parallel ends is in the timing. As far as I know, the Turkish coup could have happened a year earlier or later and still served Erdogan's agenda equally well. Insofar as it served an existing agenda, as opposed to creating a new agenda, which is a question for historians.

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Nick Kew
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Re: So the person had been reported to the authorities....

You can never eliminate all risks. IIRC the statistically most dangerous place is your home.

Well of course. Most people die when they're too weak or ill to leave home. Though hospitals and hospices are of course much more dangerous. Makes a very convenient bit of spin for those who want to play down road deaths.

It's the inevitable outcome of a society so de-risked that many kiddies can't be allowed out on the roads because of the danger posed by someone obviously more important than them.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Word

The word is Populism. Set up a strawman enemy to appeal to the masses.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Liberty for temporary safety

For the first time in my life, I am voting Labour

Speaking as someone who in my youth was an enthusiastic supporter of Thatcher, I may very well be with you there. Though I shall look at the full list of candidates before a final decision.

It's almost as if they've done an Erdogan

I think that comparison is unduly harsh on Erdogan. He had an actual referendum about giving himself more powers, whereas only a select few in Maidenhead get to vote for or against our Leader. And above all, with Syria and Iraq on his borders, Erdogan has very real and major problems to deal with.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Bitter irony

Having made public devlarations of suspending election campaigning in the shadow of this tragedy, they actually leverage the very event to further their political agenda.

They did that most effectively by raising the terrorist threat level, and noisily bringing troops into the security theatre. Now the world's attention has moved on from the chaos and confusion of the manifesto and rapid U-turns, and onto the tried-and-tested recipe of looking strong and stable in the face of a threat.

In fact the timing of the Manchester incident was extraordinarily lucky for them, just as the non-campaign was looking a bit less of a pushover. One might almost wonder if a hidden hand had sent 007 off on a wild goose chase looking for Russian influence while Inspector Clouseau headed protection at home.

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Machine 1, Man 0: AlphaGo slams world's best Go player in the first round

Nick Kew
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Re: Newsflash

Whoa! That's a high bar to set. You'd have to lower it quite a long way to find BI (Biological Intelligence) in the world today, even among our greatest and most famous game creators.

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Nick Kew
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Hats off :)

I'm a very bad Go player. That is to say, I know the rules, and have the rudimentary insight that comes with a mathematical mind, but have never put in serious effort to the game.

Twenty years ago, in an era when Deep Blue had already thrashed Kasparov at Chess, I could still easily beat a leading AI at Go. It was considered an immeasurably harder problem than Chess.

And now they've cracked it!

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Japan (lightly) regulates high-frequency algorithmic trading

Nick Kew
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Re: Tax'um

A 0.5% stamp duty (as we have in Blighty) would do the job on trades whose margin is less than that. Well, if loopholes weren't there. That's on the entire transaction cost, regardless of profit or loss. Shares held in my pension still make a profit, 'cos margins over the years dwarf such costs.

Though in principle I like the idea of a graduated stamp duty: a stamp duty tapering from zero on shares held longer-term (say, 3+ years) up to maybe 10% on those bought and sold within a day.

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Bloke charged under UK terror law for refusing to cough up passwords

Nick Kew
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Re: Location, Location, Location

Still more important, revoke any PGP (or other crypto) keys for which you were carrying a private key.

That's why my laptops get only a less-important PGP private key to use when travelling. Not one by which the world knows me, and which it would cause grief to revoke.

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US judges say you can Google Google, but you can't google Google

Nick Kew
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Really?

Do you hoover the floor or Hoover it?

'scuse me while I go and roomba mine.

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Good news, OpenVPN fans: Your software's only a little bit buggy

Nick Kew
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Re: Only analysed Linux platform?

If you have Windows platform expertise that the dev team lack, perhaps you should be joining the team yourself?

Or else if you and they don't get along well enough for that, fork a windows-version and endeavour to build your own community in a supportive environment such as github?

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For now, GNU GPL is an enforceable contract, says US federal judge

Nick Kew
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Re: Nick

Hey, come on. I was taking issue with the suggestion that this case was a first. It doesn't take much to mention that it's in fact the latest in a series of GPL cases, some of which have reached a judge's verdict. And googling those links took just a few seconds.

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Nick Kew
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Come on, el Reg, can we please have at least a pointer to some history of GPL verdicts? A link would be fine: for instance, https://wiki.fsfe.org/Migrated/GPL%20Enforcement%20Cases (listing cases going back to 2001). Or even reports like this from 2004 at El Reg itself.

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Comey was loathed by the left, reviled by the right – must have been doing something right

Nick Kew
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"unlikely supporters"

With reference to the suggestion that Comey has "unlikely supporters" including the EFF ...

Being concerned about the way he was dismissed doesn't make one a Comey supporter.

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HP Inc ships laptops with sinister key-logger

Nick Kew
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Re: Shitty Laptops Anyway...

I'm typing this on a HP laptop (running Linux, so without this particular keylogger). The battery, screen and audio are crap compared to an Apple costing five or six times as much, but otherwise it's great. I've had several macbooks, and none has reached the age of this cheapo HP without some serious hardware failure.

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Just 99.5 million nuisance calls... and KeurBOOM! A £400K megafine

Nick Kew
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@Voland

I'm with sipgate. They're annoying when they change things so as to break my configuration (like, the number that shows up on caller id), but I wouldn't call it abusing customers. What's the story?

I get a few nuisance calls, though a drop in the ocean compared to what I get on the mobile.

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Drugs, vodka, Volvo: The Scandinavian answer to Britain's future new border

Nick Kew
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Re: And this tackles people who cycle or walk past ...

People who cycle or walk aren't carrying tonnes of taxable goods[1]. Conventional borders can be crossed on foot away from the roads: I've done quite a few myself in the Alps between Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany[2].

[1] Though they could still be carrying enough in high-value goods to get rich. Jewels, drugs, etc. That is, if the markets either side of a border were to diverge.

[1] Not France. Holidays are for relaxing, and it's a whole lot less relaxing when I don't speak the local language.

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Imagination puts two-thirds of itself up for sale as Apple IP fight rumbles on

Nick Kew
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Whither MIPS?

I thought it looked interesting when they bought MIPS. Breathe life back into it? Perhaps even create something more like a real competitor to ARM and x86? Alas, 'twas but a dream.

I imagine the competition authorities would be unhappy if Intel or Softbank tried to bid for MIPS. Might anyone else take an interest? Like IBM, Oracle, Google, ... or private equity? From memory, the patent portfolio was bought out by a consortium including ARM, so any patent threat should be minimal.

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Fortran greybeards: Get your walking frames and shuffle over to NASA

Nick Kew
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$55k is ample ...

... to get the story into El Reg, and to get commentards talking.

I expect most of us here are precisely those commentards who have worked in FORTRAN at some point in our careers. In my case it was back in the '80s and I haven't revisited since.

There's a lot of software around for which a 10x speed increase for little effort is entirely realistic, even unambitious. Not that I'm going to be tempted to this one: my memories of working with FORTRAN codebases range from nightmare to, at best, neutral.

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You only need 60 bytes to hose Linux's rpcbind

Nick Kew
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A more innocent age

I recollect using RPC in an application I once wrote. It gave me for free an architecture that decoupled client and server, so my users could run a utility on their own desktop that would order something from the server.

This was before the WWW. And before Linux. It was not before X11 had brought us the networked desktop, but it was still the era when X11 was so painfully slow that few used it, and among those who did, running unexpected things on random colleagues' desktops was a jolly prank.

By the time we got the Web in the mid-90s, security advice was clear. RPC services should be firmly firewalled off from anything facing the outside world. With discs reaching gigabyte sizes, the need for widespread NFS was rapidly receding, and RPC relegated to a greybeard niche.

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UK patent troll protections tweaked – lawyers exempted

Nick Kew
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UK law - even if it works - won't protect anyone against a 'Merkin aggressor. And being in the right doesn't help when you find yourself banned from trading in your markets.

c.f. what happened to RIM when attacked by NTP pirates.

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Red alert! Intel patches remote execution hole that's been hidden in chips since 2010

Nick Kew
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A linux take on this

Can probably be interpreted for other systems including windows too, if you have the expertise to read-across:

http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/48429.html

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Q. Why is Baidu sharing its secret self-driving sauce? A. To help China corner the market

Nick Kew
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Open Source Champions

Baidu has a pretty decent track record as Good Guys in open source software (inasmuch as one can generalise about any company that big). The language barrier reduces their visibility to Reg readers, but I've found them extremely helpful in reaching out across it when I had occasion to work with a project where they were lead developers. This looks like another application of that principle of openness.

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Oh snap! UK Prime Minister Theresa May calls June election

Nick Kew
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The lib dems are also going to make gains from pro-eu supporters with very short memories.

No need for short memories. Just a tradeoff: five years of socialist nonsense, vs a lifetime of isolationist nonsense and a PM making a blatant power-grab against Parliaments (plural, because it's not just Westminster: Scotland and NI also have views).

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Nick Kew
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May's speech

Anyone hear May's speech? She put up a bunch of strawmen about all those nasty people - like the house of Lords - trying to frustrate her, and how she needs to crush them. Some outright lies about those Bad People.

Last time I recollect a prime minister doing that was when Blair told us the French had promised to veto any possible UN resolution to invade Iraq (when all they had in fact promised to veto was any such motion while the weapons inspectors were at work and getting cooperation). Playing the anti-French card was the sure sign that invasion was imminent. This time, I guess it's a ****storm of blame forthcoming.

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Code-sharing leads to widespread bug sharing that black-hats can track

Nick Kew
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Re: Nearly 10 years?

The Perl community were drumming this into us more than 20 years ago: always "use taint" and untaint all inputs! (an instant fix to the appalling example in the article). Doesn't mean the majority of wannabes looking for magic DWIM take any notice - hence the rise of PHP.

And we had a name for zombie tutorials refusing to die for decades after they became invalidated: "Cargo Cult". For example, an ugly hack in the early days of Apache was to use "AddType" to configure it to run scripts such as CGI. That hack was deprecated with the introduction of "AddHandler" in Apache 1.1 more than 20 years ago, yet lived on as standard practice in the PHP world more than a decade later.

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Regulate This! Time to subject algorithms to our laws

Nick Kew
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MK_E, you were lucky. In my youth I was denied a mortgage, despite the repayments being lower than the rent on a ****hole room without luxuries like hot water in the communal bathroom.

I fled the country to escape that, and so missed my generation's chance to buy at a reasonable price in the 1990s. But at least today's rental market is much-improved.

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Nick Kew
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Re: confidence intervals

You only get confidence intervals from real data.

You only get real data after a system has been operating long enough to collect them.

Then there's the joker in the pack: someone's sure to mess with the "other things being equal" part of any study.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Treading on politicians' toes?

Is it the politicians? They're just doing what they've long done: bewailed the new that isn't under their control.

It's more the old-media (including to a great extent organs like El Reg which still use an oldfashioned Journalist/Editor model) crying about their own loss of the minds of their followers.

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Boss swore by 'For Dummies' book about an OS his org didn't run

Nick Kew
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FAIL

Under the carpet

From the story, the problem was clearly a dysfunctional working environment. I don't entirely blame "Jeffrey" for sticking around far too long (*** knows, been there myself), and still less for failing to fix it (at that age he wouldn't have the life experience to sort it, let alone the harder problem of being listened to). But ...

Getting one up on pointy-haired "Roger" is the cleaner who sweeps the dirt under the carpet.

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UK boffins steal smartmobe PINs with motion sensors

Nick Kew
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APIs not to blame

An API is just an official way to do something, with a (more-or-less) guarantee it won't fall to pieces next system update. Snarfing users' PINs without an API is a hack; using an API is just regular programming.

The APIs used in this case aren't the vulnerability, they just expose it and make it (too) easy. And, erm, make it difficult to fix without breaking a stability promise made to app developers in general.

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Eric S. Raymond says you probably fit one of eight tech archetypes

Nick Kew
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Clickbait

A rule of internet links: anything involving a number "of" is calculated clickbait.

"Ten ways to ..."

"Five things ..."

"Six great ..."

This story wraps it in "ESR says ...", but still seems to fall into that category.

As regards the archetypes, it's human nature to identify with such descriptions. If you are a Reg reader (and therefore at least somewhat techie), you should probably expect to identify pretty strongly with at least one archetype.

I don't. I can identify only slightly with any of them. I can identify more strongly with INTJ, or with several of Scott Adams's characters headed by Dilbert himself. Or indeed with numerous "ordinary person" characters in general (non-techie) culture.

I have to conclude, this clickbait lacks substance.

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Wisdom of crowds plus a splash of AI give Australia new national analytical map data

Nick Kew
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Echoes of Ordnance Survey here. With today's remote sensing and big data technologies to scale up from what worked on a small island to a vast and challenging land mass, and add more layers for good measure.

Will Google Maps - or any similarly-ambitious private/global project - seek to compete?

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Germany gives social networks 24 hours to delete criminal content

Nick Kew
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Re: Enforcement?

This sounds like a way to sidestep any need for the usual processes of enforcement, such as courts. Threaten the carriers harshly enough, and keep the definition of what's allowed/not allowed sufficiently vague, and you've created a regime of fear in which virtually no debate can be allowed.

DMCA is chilling and wide open to abuse, but this (as reported here) extends the regime from intellectual property to regular discussion, and leaves the problem for platforms all the more vague and ill-defined.

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Riddle of cannibal black hole pairs solved ... nearly: Astroboffins explain all to El Reg

Nick Kew
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Re: Cosmic palaeontologist?

almost infinite

Oh dear. Where to start?

How about "almost infinite is 0.00000000000000000000000000000% of infinite". That matters when it comes to probabilities.

Rare events and big spaces need quantifying to come up with meaningful conclusions.

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Londoners will be trialling driverless cars in pedestrianised area

Nick Kew
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Glad I'm not a pedestrian in London

Someone pre-trialled driving a car in a pedestrian area in Westminster just two weeks ago.

My first criterion for a place to be good to walk in is that it should be free of cars.

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Brazilians whacked: Crooks hijack bank's DNS to fleece victims

Nick Kew
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WTF?

Six months ago!

Um, how long does disclosure take?

This just highlights the uselessness of crypto with the single point of failure represented by today's browser trust lists and CAs.

Though something smells a bit suspicious about the lack of specificity here. Why break a story like this without naming the bank?

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'No deal better than bad deal' approach to Brexit 'unsubstantiated'

Nick Kew
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begs the question

"No deal is better than a bad deal" begs the question: Just how bad does a deal have to be, to make it worse than no deal?

The committee are suggesting we need to evaluate just how bad no deal is before we can hope to answer that question. Makes sense to me.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Unforseen consequences of Brexit, number 93

Spain has a particular and legitimate interest in their border with Gibraltar.

Just as Ireland has their border with NI. Or France with the Channel Tunnel.

We already know the terms of the NI border will need agreement from the Irish. We take it for granted that we deal with France over the tunnel. Yet some prize idiots go nuclear over Spain and Gibraltar!

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Governments could introduce 'made by humans' tags - legal report

Nick Kew
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April 1st lasts a long time ...

My first thought was the image of Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. But we can do better than that ...

The Luddites had a problem with machines taking their jobs, but you knew that already.

They too were seemingly blind to the fact that their jobs also relied on machines. Then as now or in Chaplin's time, the advance of technology served to make society richer.

Oh, and that's especially the poor getting richer. They had so much more to gain, right up to the point where now almost everyone has not merely running water, but use of an indoor bathroom (which as recently as times in my childhood, I didn't).

Happy to say, my kitchen and household appliances today are worth at least a couple of servants. Yet somehow these robots haven't put anyone out of work, 'cos I couldn't have afforded the servants in the first place. Not even without encumbrances like minimum wage.

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Nick Kew
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mediocracy

I coined that more than a decade ago. Glad to see others using it.

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British biz Imagination Technologies admits Apple may dump its IP

Nick Kew
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Black Helicopters

Re: So dump them...let te price tumble and then....

Glad now I sold my IMG stock last year.

One to watch out for now: IMG could look attractive to a patent troll. Especially a US patent troll, with a US court or two in its pocket. If that happens it won't just be Apple feeling the fallout: indeed, it could almost be everyone-but-Apple, on the grounds that Apple has had more time to prepare than anyone else.

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Reg now behind invisible HTML5 Bitcoin paywall

Nick Kew
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Trollface

Bug Report

Sorry, I have to report a vulnerability in your script. Purely as proof-of-concept, I hacked it and took delivery of my first physical bitcoin.

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Blimey, did you know? It's World Backup Day. But... surely every day is world backup day?

Nick Kew
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Re: Even at home

Then, step-daughter is in college, has all her work on her MacBook Pro (2009 model).

Colleague was carrying macbook in his backpack one evening, when he fell into the harbour (this was Amsterdam). Painstakingly dried it and ridded it of as much salt as possible. And lo, it worked. Only thing to have died was the backlight to the screen.

Those macbooks are robust!

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Nick Kew
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Coat

Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum TFM.

Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum.

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Nick Kew
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Trollface

Yep. Definitely, do it once a year, and make a big fuss of it.

After all, if you do it every day or week, you'll be re-using your backup tapes[1]. If it takes a while to spot the malware, it might have infected the backups, too, and you'll spend the next year working through them to find the most recent clean one.

[1] Or substitute your choice of more modern media.

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PC survived lightning strike thanks to a good kicking

Nick Kew
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Lightning.

My then-shiny-new top-of-the-range Pentium Pro 'puter got struck on New Year's Eve, December '96. Dead.

Had to wait for shops to re-open after the holiday season to find out how bad it was. Turned out it was fine with just a new power supply (phew). But parts of the motherboard were blackened, and a corner of it curled up, forever after.

That 'puter never actually died. It got re-purposed as a server, co-located on a server farm. It was then lost when the company hosting the server farm went titsup. RIP.

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Europe to push new laws to access encrypted apps data

Nick Kew
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Funny. You describe (modulo the Commission being a different word) the process that happens between our government and parliament, then say it's not a parliament.

Our parliament doesn't propose laws either. It just does what it's told by government. Or it misbehaves and makes it all the easier for Sir Humphrey to play them off against his minister.

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