* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Developer’s code worked, but not in the right century

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Hills

And how do you think we pronounce that?

For your Devon bonus, pronounce the name of the small town spelt Woolfardisworthy.

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Re: quietly removed from those who hadn’t.

I thought the story said customers were selected at random. The exercise was a bonus stunt, not earned points.

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The highest hills in Cornwall and Devon are Brown Willy and High Willy respectively.

Nick Kew Silver badge

why in the blue blazes would a supermarket have its own date format?

People have already pointed to the multiplicity of (non-)standards. Things were probably even more chaotic when the system was first designed. And who knows, maybe it had gone through something more esoteric, like the software I once had the misfortune to encounter where all the time&date code (among other things) were completely screwed by porting to a different-endian architecture.

But more importantly why is a format like that not documented and given to all developers?

You must be young! Corporate documentation walks faster than a ripe cheese. Pre-google, it was rare indeed to be able to lay hands on anything that wasn't too patronisingly obvious for anyone to have bothered to nick it. Even if it existed, expect it to describe something that needs you to perform - say - endianness magic (never imagined by the writer) to work.

And to be written to corporate processes. The bit you need was chopped as "too complex" by the tech writer's boss. Any surviving note is buried in a disused septic tank behind something more intimidating than a mere "beware of the leopard" sign (icon for one prospective layer of cover).

What's all the C Plus Fuss? Bjarne Stroustrup warns of dangerous future plans for his C++

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Re: Design by committee

Whoops, missed your post. Apologies for re-using your title to express similar sentiments without acknowledgement! Upvote for saying it not just first but also better than me.

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Re: Whatever happened to ...

Sorry, missed your post when I referenced ADA.

I always thought that pascal-on-steroids was a missed opportunity for nice things like builtin checking of types and dimensions. All that extra complexity, yet it never occurred to anyone that the language might enforce that dividing a distance by a time gives you something that isn't your blood pressure.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Design by committee

I thought the rot in C++ started with navel-gazing over templates, about when it went from C-with-classes to designed-by-committee. But at least STL is kind-of a separate module in the language.

I think my attitude over the years has been shaped by the alternatives. When I first encountered it, the world I worked in was drooling over ADA, and I grasped C++ as a beacon of relative sanity. A decade on, JAVA was the new kid on the block with promises that looked a lot like ADA had done, but C++ had turned committee-ugly and was no longer such an attractive refuge.

BOFH: Got that syncing feeling, hm? I've looked at your computer and the Outlook isn't great

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: My dad takes the biscuit...

How come your dad failed to pass on his sense of humour?

I'd be very happy if my dad said that. It would be a good sign that he didn't need me to fix something real, like how he'd got into the "wrong" screen in skype.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: WTF just happened

You must have a very solid 'net connection. You get that message any time you lose the reg connection while trying to interact - so for those of us with domestic-grade connections it's a regular thing.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Off topic

You see an Agenda when you compare how little Bhopal is remembered - or was discussed at the time - with the comparatively tiny and harmless accident at Chernobyl around the same time.

In fact, two Agendas. Big up the nuclear, even though it's a drop in the ocean compared to the chemical. And big up the Evil Empire cockup, while turning a blind eye to the US corporation.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Punishing liars

Hmmm. Scenario suggestion: could the BOFH contrive to come up against The Liar himself?

ICANN pays to push Whois case to European Court of Justice

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US providers respect GDPR

For what it's worth, I transferred a domain to a US registrar today (my previous provider having discontinued the service)). This was a .org domain, nothing EU-oriented about it.

They offered a privacy option to hide all my details. It was offered as a free extra, which I was encouraged to select. I was slightly in two minds (dammit, I post to El Reg under my real name too), but I ticked the option with thoughts that it would be perverse to risk them getting a visit from GDPR enforcement on my account.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: This one could run and run

No, quite the opposite. They're looking for a quick and clean defeat. Hence jurisdiction-shopping in no-nonsense Germany, rather than one of the many countries (like Blighty) where the case would be likely to go on and on and consume an order of magnitude more in lawyers fees.

I said so last time this story came up. This just confirms it.

AI military upstart attacked by Russian malware, Twitter fires up TensorFlow, and more

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Re: Watsoff?

Are you suggesting IBM move in on HP's traditional territory?

User spent 20 minutes trying to move mouse cursor, without success

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Re: Trackball can be worse....

It doesnt even move around the desk!

Nonsense! Of course it does!

- Into the foreground when in use.

- To a different place for use with the other hand.

- Out of the way to make way for other uses of the desk. Like paper or food.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Training the trainer

Can happen in any walk of life. One day you're helping bail out of a BSOD, the next it might be fixing a wobbly chair.

English language O-level, we had a "teacher" who was borderline-illiterate. One minor recollection from that was a spelling test she had prepared for us. When it came to marking it, I had to correct her on three (of twenty) words. Each was a long argument before she finally looked it up and confirmed I was right.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Sun optical mice, circa 1985

There was a special mouse pad with horizontal and vertical lines on it.

Yes - though my experience of them was rather later than that (most of the 1990s).

Cold to the touch, and rather unpleasant even at times when cold should have been good. Also moved according to a rather coarse grid, meaning you couldn't steer the pointer between grid points but only move in multi-pixel jumps. Put me right off optical mice for many years, and may have contributed to my RSI.

Wires, chips, and LEDs: US trade bigwigs detail Chinese kit that's going to cost a lot more

Nick Kew Silver badge

Well, the current goal is mid-term elections. Give his voters as much Feelgood as possible ahead of them, readjust afterwards. The Great Success with Kim Jong Trump was probably the biggest such stunt.

If any of this nonsense goes on longer than that, the world has a much more serious problem.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: try doing business in china...

Trump's accusations might be more credible if the sanctions operated less of a scattergun approach.

China? Well also the rest of the world. EU, Canada, and Mexico lumped together: do we really all do those Evil Things? Trump must be the only one marching in step.

Mind you, the rest of the world does itself no favours by failing to work together on this. EU/Canada/Mexico lumped together because they thought they could be exempted as Good Guys.

Divided we fall.

Universal Credit has never delivered bang for buck, but now there's no turning back – watchdog

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Re: hmm

Upvotes to both Duffy Moon and Adrian 4 for sensible ... provided the universal income kills off all means-testing. Kill off all those cases where loss-of-benefits due to working exceeds basic-rate tax, let alone where it exceeds 100%.

But Sir Humphrey certainly won't stand for that: just look at the huge chunk of administrative Empire he'd lose. That could be precisely the underlying reason UC implementation has been such a shambles: Sir Humphrey is protecting his own empire and minions.

Nick Kew Silver badge

I was 'between jobs' after my employer (Sun) had got borged and my new owner discontinued my work. Not destitute, but signed on out of bloody-mindedness and to get a little of my tax back.

Beginning of February 2011, I went to FOSDEM, with a view very largely to sniffing around for new work. Jobcentre severely penalised me for that: I had left the country, so wasn't available for work over the weekend. They killed my claim altogether, so I had to sign up again from scratch, meaning two weeks interruption and having to travel to a deeply inconvenient regional jobcentre again.

They really don't (or didn't) like you taking any kind of initiative! I wonder if UC would've been any different?

No fandango for you: EU boots UK off Galileo satellite project

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Re: Bollocks

And I say that as someone who's been working in the UK space industry for the last couple of decades.

That was also my impression, having spent most of the '90s working at ESA. Good UK companies existed, UK government programmes existed, but if there was ever an intersection between the two, it eluded me.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Expert opinion

To be fair, Davis is actually the more acceptable face of brexit. He's not Kim JongSon nor rival arch-toffoon Rees Mogg; he's not "no more experts" Gollum, he's not dotard flat-earther Lawson, and above all he's not any of the altogether more shadowy figures behind them. He even has a track record that includes making a stand for liberty.

If there's any potential for good news in the whole mess, it's probably him.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Bitterness and failure

@Disgruntled - the "erosion of democracy" is the most interesting aspect of brexit. 'Cos various proposals to improve EU democratic accountability have been made over the years, but have always been blocked by UK governments of both colours.

The Sir Humphrey master plan was to stay in until it was so poisoned someone else could be relied on to take that role. It remains to be seen what happens without us: will east/west and north/south tensions over issues like immigration scupper any future proposals without the need for a UK veto?

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Re: EU Are Being Vindictive

Did Cameron not ask to implement s temporary halt to immigration into the UK ?


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Re: Someone remind me

Damn, typos. s/along/alone/ at the end.

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Re: EU Are Being Vindictive

I think the EU is a good idea, but as shown by Angela Merkel's response to David Cameron (no to temp stop on immigration),

At the heart of that is the biggest lie. The part of immigration that everyone hated - the ability to live (partially) on benefits, and to get things like NHS treatment - were never part of EU rules. Cameron never needed Merkel's permission to fix perverse UK rules that had (still have) the side-effect of giving unpopular benefits to EU citizens in the UK.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Someone remind me

I have a recollection of people asking why the EU was wasting billions on replicating something that essentially already exists in GPS (and GLONASS). Indeed, I seem to recollect it cited as an example of EU profligacy.

Does anyone recollect exactly who was saying that? Are any of them the same people who are now upset about getting booted out, or even those saying we should go it along?

Scrapping Brit cap on nurses, doctors means more room for IT folk

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Re: Why does britain

That's easy. By paying them a lot more than almost anywhere else - with the possible exception of "Harley Street" practices around the world.

Nick Kew Silver badge

The real point

Surely what really matters here is, we have a straw in the wind.

The new Home Secretary, unlike his #hashtag-predecessor, isn't afraid to come out from under the boss's thumb and revise one of her key policies.

So, what's next? Or will he be stamped on so hard from above as to cow him into submission?

Cardiff chap chucks challenge at chops*-checking cops

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Chilling effect on peaceful protest?

When I've been on a peaceful protest, I've fully expected the police to be watching me, and my mugshot to feature somewhere on recorded material. That goes back to sometime last century, before Data Protection.

Not saying this chap doesn't have a case. But I'm not convinced the hyperbolae help anyone.

UK comms firm Gradwell quits cloud land after 'strategic review'

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Paul, glad to hear I'm not the only one.

I used to use and recommend them for years. Then they lost it. Only things still with them are domains awaiting far-future renewal dates to move.

This time, the fact they've notified customers is surely a huge improvement on just breaking a service.

Open Source Security hit with bill for defamation claim

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No Trademark

This would appear to illustrate why "Open Source" should be a proper trademark. Its real-world usage is strongly associated with something that this company appears to be abusing.

I guess the words alone were deemed too generic to register.

Shock: Google advises UK peers against more legislation

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Too much good sense

Reading the article, it seems the committee is mostly talking sense. Other contributors: the CMA, Full Fact, are talking sense. NSPCC is armwaving, but maybe digging deeper would find a sensible basis for that too.

And Google is talking sense. But that's too much for some, so we had to make a story of it. Yes of course we all know their financial interest: I guess the committee is perhaps better at putting that into context than posturing politicos, journos, and the peanut gallery.

Nominet throws out US corp's attempt to seize Brit domain names

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That was probably opportunist spam, from a lawyer having no connection with your minor sporting celebrity. As with any spam it's a numbers game: threaten enough people and someone will let themselves be bullied. C.f. bogus DMCA notices.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Back in 20001?

Good siesta. One of your[1] culture's more admirable practices that has sadly not been exported with the success of your cuisine or your arts.

[1] Judging by name alone.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Tucows One Goat?

Mmm, cheese.

(Icon for something to accompany it).

Nick Kew Silver badge


Yeah, but now add statutory court interest, at 8% over the base rate. I don't know the base rate history, but if we discount it to zero, that 8% alone gives us a multiplier of 7 * 10^66 over two millennia.

Russia appears to be 'live testing' cyber attacks – Former UK spy boss Robert Hannigan

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It was only yesterday

Someone posted thus, right here on El Reg. Well, almost right.

FTSE has a nap after a full English IT glitch

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Though having written for various editors (including once upon a time El Reg) I suspect that particularly howler might be editorial (too wordy - chop). I think I'd've picked up on that one, but a journo writing several pieces a day might care less about any one of them.

Australia wants tech companies to let cops 'n' snoops see messages without backdoors

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Benefit of the doubt?

Am I the only one who thought (from the article) this guy might have been talking sense?

It was hedged with lots of caveats like "where possible", and "getting access to the message, not decryption" (which could translate to "getting the metadata").

I think he may be talking about thrashing out metadata and grey areas like the FBI-vs-IPhone case here. Using language designed to be imprecise so as not to upset the dafter politicos at this stage. That would actually make a lot of sense: have at least the bones of a deal with his comms providers in place, and present it as a fait accomplit to George ("don't do that") and the flat-earthers.

Pwn goal: Hackers used the username root, password root for botnet control database login

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Re: Throwaway by design?

Interesting thought. Honeypot or false flag spring to mind.

If the security researchers are following up the information they found by spending their time chasing red herrings, or someone who's been framed ....

BTW, nice username!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Unauthorised access

That was my first thought, too.

Even if it wasn't a clear breach under old law, Leveson is firmly stamping on this kind of thing.

Intel claims it’s halved laptop display power slurpage

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Re: e-ink?

More than happy to forget animation and video. Colour is dispensable. Scrolling would be missed, and of course other interaction (like typing a comment on El Reg) would be more primitive, but that's a price well worth paying.

Nick Kew Silver badge


This is welcome news. Just a shame it didn't happen 30 years ago. I expect smartphones could benefit too. And the bit about an Intel display adaptor doesn't bother me: apart from anything else, if the technology catches on, competitors are sure to emerge.

But we already have a perfectly good near-zero-power display technology? Where have the e-ink laptops been this past decade and more?

Loose .zips sink chips: How poisoned archives can hack your computer

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And in other news ...

make -n install shows you where stuff will get installed before you allow anything potentially risky to happen.

I always thought it was just normal good practice (i.e. obvious) to sandbox the unpacking of anything short of trusted and familiar?

'Tesco probably knows more about me than GCHQ': Infosec boffins on surveillance capitalism

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Re: Tesco Does Not Know More About Me

Tescos don't know anything about me. But that's just an accident of geography: there's no tesco within range of my food shopping.

So let's substitute Sainsburys, whose superstore is just a mile up the road. They have plenty of data on me: not just the Visa card I normally use to pay, but also (shock, horror) a nectar card they use to pay for my data.

Guess what? I'm not bothered by it. I don't believe Sainsburys are going to do anything nastier to me than to stop stocking something or put a price up[1]. They don't have the power to do anything bad. No police force, no legal system, no apparatus of the State. Dammit, not even influence over relative trivia like a credit score! And I don't begrudge them the information they gather: I think the price they pay is fair enough, and I'm just sorry the information doesn't seem to stop them all-too-often losing things I like enough to pay them for!

Now what GCHQ know about me is much less clear, and that very lack of clarity could be a concern. Their methods of collection are more indirect and therefore likely to be less reliable, which raises concerns over a potential for incorrect data. And the possibility of their data being used by agents of the State with powers to deprive me of life, liberty, or other things of real value, makes their records a whole nother kettle of fish.

[1] Except in December. Then they play muzak, so I go the extra mile to Lidl instead.

Ex-Autonomy CFO and auditors Deloitte bitten by Brit corp watchdog

Nick Kew Silver badge

Not actually true. The only vote shareholders get is to dismiss (i.e. not reappoint) an auditor recommended by the Directors. Which looks to me rather close to also being a vote of No Confidence in the Directors themselves.

And if you don't know there's anything wrong because the Directors and Auditors are concealing it ...

Visa Europe fscks up Friday night with other GDPR: 'God Dammit, Payment Refused'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Um. 10 x 5 + 10 x 10 + 10 x 20 = £350

Um ... don't the Jocks still have £1 notes?

That doesn't give us an explanation of £105, but it does hint at how one might look for it.

For your bonus question, why did I regularly pay between £10000 and £20000 for a pizza in the 1990s?

German court snubs ICANN's bid to compel registrar to slurp up data

Nick Kew Silver badge

A German Court

That must have been one of the shortest times on record for a European court to give a US corporation a flea in its ear.

German courts are famous for not taking certain forms of nonsense. They have form.

ICANN went to a German court, the first day of GDPR. That smells of jurisdiction-shopping. They wanted to lose, and they wanted a quick and clean loss. They got it. They even picked on a suitably deep-pocketed victim to be sure that being properly lawyered wouldn't cause undue pain and perhaps a perverse result (like going out of business).

Now they have a result they need to help deal with their own internal politics and shady lobbyists.

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