* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

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

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: For the FRC to become involved means *epic* levels of s**t auditing to be involved

Or maybe just levels of controversy? As in, ...Oh look, a criminal conviction in the US: we should be seen to be doing something ...

Foolish foodies duped into thinking Greggs salads are posh nosh

Nick Kew Silver badge

Taste is very largely about smell (ask any wine buff about the importance of a big glass which you only half fill).

And the greasy smell of a pie shop sets the tone, even if some of the food itself might be entirely different if taken out of that context.

Capture your late-night handbrake turns with this 'autonomous' car-chasing camera drone

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From a past era

Surely this is precisely the kind of gizmo that featured regularly in the stories of a certain era. James Bond springs to mind, for instance. And Mervyn Peake's Titus Alone (1959) featured drones that would track you for totalitarian law enforcement.

A Reg-reading techie, a high street bank, some iffy production code – and a financial crash

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@Baldrickk Re: QA's Fault?

A little over 30 years ago I encountered similarly-obvious errors in production code, for controlling satellites in Earth orbit.

I fixed an error. Unit tests blew up: my fix caused a fail. Uh-oh, trouble. If I go fixing the unit tests to accommodate my code fix, I'm jeopardising the whole framework: marking my own homework! And when you're the young grad just doing the work, you're not expected to tell your seniors the whole edifice is rotten.

I concluded in retrospect, it was unit tests that effectively caused the problem. Programmer goal had shifted from "get it working" to "get it through the tests". And as the tests were more complex than the code itself, so they were also more error-prone.

Russia to Apple: Kill Telegram crypto-chat – or the App Store gets it

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: What about iMessage?

According to the article, the point is not encrypted communication per se. Rather it's a case of what's actually happened.

Telegram has "defied" a court order by failing to help TPTB to decrypt messages involved in suspected terrorism.

iMessage hasn't done any such thing, perhaps simply because there has been no such court order to defy.

Difference in a nutshell. Though there's also a grey area where a provider chooses whether or not to cooperate so far as it can without the encryption keys, as in the FBI Iphone case. Indeed, that may become a de-facto compromise between legislators and technology in many countries.

Facebook caught up in court battle with Amazon and pals over 'ageist job ads' that targeted young

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Slam dunk

Facebook isn't a teen mag. It aims to target adverts much more effectively than that.

Sysadmin's PC-scrub script gave machines a virus, not a wash

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Perspective

Heh. So that's what was wrong with my career.

Nick Kew Silver badge


So Chad expected his career to be over. It wasn't: he was the very junior bod, and his boss (presumably) took the view "these things happen" and "we should've taken more care over what he was expected to do". I expect he learned from his experience.

The real career-killer for a junior would've been to take a more cautious approach. You get seen as slow, lazy, and useless.

Softbank's 'Pepper' robot is a security joke

Nick Kew Silver badge


If a robot is anthropomorphic, should it not - more or less by definition - be full of security holes and other flaws?

Beer - 'cos we should be able to relax with our anthropomorphic friends.

Police block roads to stop tech support chap 'robbing a bank'

Nick Kew Silver badge

but being on a lone foot patrol he wasn't about to wade into a mini-riot on his own

A proper copper would've defused the situation.

Think Sam Vimes/John Keel.

Nick Kew Silver badge

@The Oncoming Scorn


When the securicor[1] vans come round, the staff are armoured and they go through elaborate security rituals for every door they pass through. Don't give the villains a chance to insert themselves into any move!

When the geek enters a secure area to upgrade the software, or merely to service the ATM, are there any similar procedures? Or could a random person with the build of a bouncer and a determined attitude refuse to take No for an answer and enter with you when they let you in?

[1] Other fortified vans are available.

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Robber McGee

Since you don't know what emergency devices they might have to hand (or foot, knee, elbow, paunch, or whatever), best just to shoot them immediately and eliminate all such mechanisms.

Dear bank, let me sell you the latest alarm. It's triggered by a member of your staff shedding blood, or being tasered so they're unable to set off the normal alarms. Oh, right, you already have it?

Max Schrems is back: Facebook, Google hit with GDPR complaint

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: This will go nowhere in court...

Now that there are a billion or so people using the Facebook platform, and more and more businesses are providing info/services inside the walled garden, 'choice' of whether or not to use the services is less free than it once was.

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

I've always resisted facebook. Not because of privacy concerns, but because I have ethical issues with their Enclosure of the Commons. I have come under pressure to join over the years, but it's never been harder to resist than some of the other social pressures, like knowing enough about celebrities (e.g. footballers, pop stars) to follow a mindnumbingly boring conversation on the latest telly nonsense.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: This will go nowhere in court...

My kids have to use both Google and Office 365 in school.

Then they should use entirely a school-provided facility for access (VPN for homework), making the school responsible for all PII and for anonymising access. If the school requires access to a service, they should be responsible for providing it in a legal manner.

30-40% of SMEs around Europe have moved to either Google or Office 365 too.

Then those SMEs need to do the same. Or pay for a premium service. Hmm, I wonder if the provision of just such a premium service might be a business opportunity?

Hold on. Here's an idea. Let's force AI bots to identify themselves as automatons, says Cali

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I might like this to be blocked

I think we've already had this discussion in Reg comments. You'll need to pick a properly-disreputable patent office, like the US, or the Battistelli wing of the EU.

Nick Kew Silver badge


Do they apply to Arthur? Or cats (not to mention kats) in general?

Nick Kew Silver badge


How is a bot in a public forum (think IRC, for instance, where our favourite bot has been occasionally mistaken for human for about 20 years[1]) going to identify itself to every newcomer without annoying the **** out of everyone in a channel?

You'd want something like a style attribute in IRC reserved for bots, to identify it non-verbally. How are you going to retrofit that to an old protocol? How are you going to enforce its implementation in IRC clients?

[1] Indeed, rather more so in days of yore than now or even when that article was written, as her chattiness has been toned down.

Mobile app devs have, oh, about 9 hours left to decide whether to stay on Google's ad platform

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: loads of email about GDPR asking me to sign up

I think we take that for granted.

I've had it from some people who are emailing me legitimately:

- clubs/societies of which I am a member. Yes you can mail me.

- bigcos with whom I do business legitimately. Yeah, that's fine: I've already cut off those who've abused my email address (helped by using a separate custom address for each commercial entity).

- startups in which I've invested through crowdfunding. Hmm, on a case-by-case basis.

Others haven't contacted me, including the big financial institutions (like bank, stockbroker, share registrars) who presumably have the lawyers to tell them their usage re: my accounts is already compliant. Like El Reg, who have our addresses as commentards.

The hardest case is GDPR mails in a grey area. Like my local council, with whom I've presumably corresponded by email sometime in the past without explicitly signing up for mail. They haven't spammed me, so the GDPR mail was probably superfluous. If I say yes, I'm potentially consenting to spam. If I don't then they're removing me from a list that appears never to have been used, but might make sense to stay signed up to in case there's some emergency alert.

Nick Kew Silver badge

I'm just hoping those really will go away.

There's one particularly egregious spammer with the truly dismal name of "nethouseprices" sent me a "please opt in". They appear to be UK-focussed, and could be worth making a test case of reporting to the information commissioner if they don't stop.

Drinks all round if today's really was the last spam from them!

Brit water firms, power plants with crap cyber security will pay up to £17m, peers told

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Legacy

Legacy has a bit more meaning than that. How about "no longer supported"?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: For any practical monopoly....

Raise prices?

Regulator raises eyebrow. Explain yourself! You're paying what to some IT geeks?

Regulator says "no" - or effectively imposes that on you by retaliating with a new set of requirements.

Fella gets 2.5 years in the clink for coughing up cell numbers in $50m junk text message scam

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The Real WTF...

One can see use cases for that: you subscribe to an information service you think has value. Anything from stock market or art market events to traffic news might have value to someone.

And once you have the principle, people can add ever more useless things. Think of the utterly useless presents you've given or received that you'd never dream of buying for yourself, but that just serve life's dumb rituals like xmas.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Monero...

You could happily live in a rural setting in the Third World on that sort of cash...

As an outsider? I suspect many Westerners would struggle with the skills to fit in. Especially those coming with the attitude that a sum of Western money was going to support their lifestyle.

Summoners of web tsunamis have moved to layer 7, says Cloudflare

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Please, not a captcha

Aren't you fighting yesteryear's battles?

Or is someone out there really still using or advocating the vile things?

RAF Air Command to take on UK military space ops

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Up

I have a cunning plan

RAF Positioning system.

Mark a special reconnaissance plane with its accurate position. Then fly it directly over any target whose position you need to know more accurately than GPS can get you.

Sysadmin hailed as hero for deleting data from the wrong disk drive

Nick Kew Silver badge

You missed a treat there

You should've become a Lawyer.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Partitions vs Slices

I've been caught out by the different language of different OSs.

I learned about partitions [mumble] years ago when I first installed a Linux to dual-boot with GamesOS (aka windows). FreeBSD also played well with that system.

Many years later I took possession of a big chunky box with bare-bones Solaris installed. No docs. I needed to install a couple of other OSs on there, and I noted that it reported multiple unused partitions making that easy.

So I went ahead. Memory is a bit fuzzy when it comes to sequencing, but at some point I came to setting up the bootloader and ... where is the original Solaris? Turned out those partitions I saw were in fact Solaris slices, and they don't play when confused with partitions. Whoops! No data lost - this was a new box - but a lot of faff.

This was a time when there were radically different OpenSolaris versions: a relatively-stable one that only spoke slices, and a bleeding-edge one that talked slices and had an alien-OS-friendly bootloader in the manner of a decent Linux. And a great legacy of confusion, as the older version had nothing resembling a modern package manager, so software installs were utterly incompatible between the two, and inadvertently following a tutorial for the wrong one could brick a system! Endless trouble when $work required me to install stuff that only existed for the older version!

10 social networks ignored UK government consultations

Nick Kew Silver badge

Pray tell us

Was El Reg one of the fourteen companies? Or are we too puny to be relevant?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Half a century

It was only in 1968 that the official role of the Lord Chamberlain in censorship was lifted, leaving the job to unofficial channels. Today's fuss over online contents looks a lot like a call to restore the Lord Chamberlain's role, with the difference being in the sheer numbers of people submitting themselves (albeit not always intentionally) to be censored.

US Congress mulls expanding copyright yet again – to 144 years

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: And who made copyright possible?

Years ago, I had an entry in an Audio Visual competition.

Heh. I guess that must've been a competition where the music wasn't expected to be the primary focus of your entry. Were there specific rules about copyright?

When I entered a composition competition, the focus was on satisfying them that all the texts I used were permitted. That means, I'd need to supply written permission, in a suitably legalistic form, for anything not out of copyright. Writing to the lawyers who own the rights to Dylan Thomas's works was a lesson in how contemptuous those people are of anyone interested in creating new artistic works that happen to draw on a great legacy. Not only would I have to pay (which I could accept - within reason), I would have to withdraw my entire work before the poem went out of copyright (erm, no chance, I'm not getting into that kind of game with a bunch of shyster lawyers).

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Congress?

Jockland? How about, you hold Trump's golf course to ransom?

Nick Kew Silver badge
Nick Kew Silver badge


You do know Mozart carried out the most audacious act of piracy in music history?

The Vatican had successfully protected its copyright on the famous Allegri Miserere for 150 years when Mozart, aged about 14, was touring in Rome and heard a performance at the Vatican. With his famously-perfect ear and memory, he transcribed it afterwards, and released it for the outside world.

But the article talks of recordings, not of music. The world could be a better place if some of that muzak priced itself out of our public spaces!

Brit ISPs get their marker pens out: Speed advertising's about to change

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Hmmm...

Back in January (before I parted company with them), my Virgin 70Mbps connection was giving me consistently less than 0.5Mbps.

Or I really should say, inconsistently, as it frequently dropped out altogether, leading to regular timeouts on things as routine as web and email, as well as having to use the mobile 'phone for a voice line.

The role of the impossible-to-contact customer service is in keeping me paying over the years of crap service before then. It was simply a line of least resistance. And, to be fair, Virgin's router had a feel of quality by virtue of providing the most solid wifi I've ever had: it was the connection to the outside world that was problematic.

TalkTalk ups the (dis)satisfaction ante as UK folk wake up to borked email

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Email contact

... by removing the ability of customers to complain about it by email this morning

You mean they were previously contactable by email?

Sheer luxury! Virgin Media victims can only dream of email contact when our service needs fixing.

Real fake scam offers crypto-coin to replace frequent flier points

Nick Kew Silver badge

Not a cryptocurrency

"HoweyCoins will partner with ..."

That doesn't look much like a bitcoin. That's a description of a wannabe new player to compete with Nectar. Or, going back a bit further, Green Shield Stamps.

Now when you say Frequent Flyer points, that started life as a pure-bred scam: bribes for employees to spend their employers' money.

DOJ convicts second bloke for helping malware go undetected

Nick Kew Silver badge

Missing detail

... living in Latvia at the time of his arrest,

OK, two guys with names suggestive of not merely living in Latvia but having roots in that part of the world. Convicted in the US.

So were they:

(a) legally arrested and extradited?

(b) kidnapped like that Libyan couple who just got an apology from the UK government?

(c) ambushed like Hutchins?

Google shoots Chrome 66's silencer after developer backlash

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Chewing bandwidth?

A little loudspeaker icon that only becomes visible when there are so few tabs as to have space to display it. Not really useful.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Chewing bandwidth?

Why make a distinction in the first place? Nothing should move nor sound unless it has my permission!

As for both bandwidth and nuisance, how about when you re-open a browser with lots of tabs, and it takes forever to find which of those tabs are playing crap at you, and causing the browser to be slow to respond to trying to cycle through tabs and find the offenders?

People like convenience more than privacy – so no, blockchain will not 'decentralise the web'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Historic revisionism

I could have forgiven the usage of "google" and glossing over earlier search engines.

A much bigger red flag was the role ascribed to Compuserve, that was wrong on so many levels it would need a whole bloomin' article to fix it.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Historic revisionism

I stopped reading when I got to those wildly inaccurate comments about "the early web". Oh dear.

However, on the subject of decentralisation, that's been an issue all along. Thinking of an easy reference, how about for example Eben Moglen's 2011 FOSDEM keynote? Sorry, the link is my blog comment: I don't have a link for his actual talk.

Did I say Chinese jobs? I meant American jobs says new Trump Tweet

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Pot/Kettle.

That's just the Law of Outrage. When your powers that be are noisily outraged by a foreign power's alleged evil, you just know the accusations hurled are of things they themselves not merely do but take for granted.

I suspect this law applies mostly to those countries that set themselves up as moral entities. It's certainly strong in some of us whose national narrative is "we're the good guys because we beat Hitler".

Wah, encryption makes policing hard, cries UK's National Crime Agency

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: #Apparent

"Apparent" means "based on what we can observe". It's accurate in observing someone's ignorance, even if they're just playing stupid and really do know better. A synonym in this thread is "evident", but other words suggested are materially different (and not quite 100% proven).

In any context involving spooks (or children, or lawyers, or politicians, or thespians, not to mention cats, cuckoos, ...), you should never assume that what you see is necessarily what's really there. See also Playing Dead.

MPs petition for legally binding target of 95% 4G coverage across UK

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The one issues could be...

You don't drive on a different set of roads according to whether you have a Ford or a Honda. So why the different set of masts?

The whole competition regulation needs to be completely overhauled, so we can get a signal wherever one is available. Just as we do when travelling abroad and connecting to our provider's local partners.

PGP and S/MIME decryptors can leak plaintext from emails, says infosec professor

Nick Kew Silver badge

Beyond the obvious?

Decryptors in a mail client. OK.

I wonder to what extent we're talking the obvious: things like accidentally quoting or forwarding, as in when your system thrashes, your desktop becomes unresponsive, and your unintended actions get buffered (not to mention your unencrypted contents getting swapped to disc). Or even just the ability to cut&paste unencrypted text?

Hmmm. I guess El Reg will give us detail, and a URL for the report itself, when it's published?

Fixing a printer ended with a dozen fire engines in the car park

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Alan Brown

one radio station I worked at had the morning studio staff arrive(*) to a building full of smoke, open a few doors to clear it out and start their breakfast shift after putting a screwdriver through the alarm sounders.

That reminds me of chemistry lessons in my 'teens.

I'm sure that was the norm for mine and earlier generations.

Africa's internet body in full-blown meltdown: 'None of the above' wins board protest vote

Nick Kew Silver badge


So Africa - with its short and patchy history of any attempt at democracy - has come to a more honest outcome than broken systems in many more developed parts of the world.

try {

elect a decent ruling body;


catch (they're all scum) {

#ifdef AFRINIC

None of the above;


Declare the biggest crook the winner;



Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: None Of The Above

First past the post is Good. But the system Blighty calls first-past-the-post isn't: there's no post to pass. The Single Transferable Vote (see for example steve.apache.org) puts a 50% post in it, and ensures winners do really have more support than losers - as opposed to votes being wasted or manipulated.

Make masses carry their mobes, suggests wig in not-at-all-creepy speech

Nick Kew Silver badge

No no no! We had tracking in Blighty in the 1980s, before we ever had GPS. We pensioned it off when GPS and Glonass offered a globalised alternative. But now that we're opting out of globalisation, we can simply revive a national positioning and tracking system.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Click bait headline

Clickbait indeed, and many of the commentards have taken it with no signs of having read the article.

Compulsory mobes sound a lot like the electronic tags sometimes imposed on convicted criminals. We know that won't happen: talk of "everyone" carrying mobes is pure hyperbolae.

But what does seem entirely plausible is that most of the population will carry them most of the time. The closer that "most" gets to "all", the more it raises new possibilities for law enforcement to play statistically with patterns. And of course, a lot of criminals aren't exactly very bright.

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