* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Pizza proffer punctures privacy protection, prompts pals' perfidy

Nick Kew Silver badge


It's all about choice.

There are matters in which privacy is important. There are others in which it isn't, and we'd sacrifice it for convenience or other rewards without a second thought. People perfectly rationally make different choices in different situations.

Here's one where I had occasion to curse excessive and unnecessary privacy.

Germany puts halt on European unitary patent

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Bill of Rights (1689)

Talk about quoting out of context. That bill was all part of the Hanoverian succession!

But it's a nice thought that the rule of the one-eyed Jock might've been illegal all along.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: "Speedy, efficient European processes are the key to our success in the world."

Why are commentards assuming the UK will leave the EPO? It's nothing to do with the EU, and its membership is much wider.

Hundreds stranded at Manchester Airport due to IT 'glitch'

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Any airport is a single point of failure.

Not to mention a nightmare.

Capita call centre chap wins landmark sex discrimination lawsuit

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Big Brother

Re: Nice to see a win in favour of equality of treatment!

All employees are equal, but some are more equal than others.

"Equality" has become one of those terms you can rarely take at face value. Like "democratic peoples republic", or "strong and stable". Or indeed "Justice".

Cabinet Office minister Gummer loses seat as Tory gamble backfires

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a hung Parliament seems the best we could have hoped for.

Damn, I expect you're right. I suppose a hanged parliament is just a pipe dream.

Paxo trashes privacy, social media and fake news at Infosec 2017

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Re: "I supposed we should be cheered by this mass act of selflessness."

But you do have to wonder how many will remember what they did tomorrow.

I can never remember what I did tomorrow. It's bad enough remembering yesterday or last week.

The internet may well be the root cause of today's problems… but not in the way you think

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Ban Coffee

A historical perspective: much of the Enlightenment happened in the revolutionary social hotbed of Europe's coffee houses, where people would meet and ideas were developed. The powers-that-be at the time felt threatened, and tried to ban the dangerous new drug at the centre of it.

Nothing new in the idiocy of today's rulers.

Break crypto to monitor jihadis in real time? Don't be ridiculous, say experts

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The intelligence agencies usually prevent such attacks successfully. Recent figures suggest a rate of something over one attack a fortnight. So what's changed?

If the intelligence agencies had been nobbled, for example by a botched information system upgrade (which no individual would know about, as they work on a need-to-know basis), it might indeed explain two such attacks in quick succession.

With a bit of luck, Thursday will bring an end to the motivation for nobbling them.

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Who says anything about videos? Isn't the ultimate inspiration the holy book? For recent terrorist attacks, that would be specifically the, erm, heroic death of the biblical suicide bomber Samson.

Cuffed: Govt contractor 'used work PC to leak' evidence of Russia's US election hacking

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Re: Ahhhh Nooo, thats JUNE 1st...

Definitely needs a seasonal adjustment when it talks of top secret security clearance yet tells us " ... and followed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden as well as WikiLeaks online"

Class clowns literally classless: Harvard axes meme-flinging morons

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So what would Harvard have to say about the Bullingdon club and necroporcophilia?

UK PM May's response to London terror attack: Time to 'regulate' internet companies

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I think... I may have technically Godwinned this thread. Apologies.

No. For several reasons.

Most fundamentally, Godwin is invoked by derogatory remarks directed at someone you are arguing with. Your reference is directed at someone or something outside the thread.

If what you're attacking is itself a strawman or misrepresentation[1], then it becomes a non-sequiter, and makes a negative contribution to debate. But that's not the same as Godwin's law.

[1] I don't think it is that, but I'm not going to check so I can say for certain.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Bomb the terrorists!

Shouldn't all education in the UK be 100% secular with no religious connection?

In an ideal world, maybe. But to try and enforce any such thing would be oppressive, and oppression is precisely what religion (and not least religious extremism) thrives on.

Twenty years ago, religion was basically harmless in the UK (except NI). The C of E, not having faced any real oppression or threat for centuries, had become toothless and more-or-less benign (as it still is, compared to most of the alternatives).

Then came Blair, who played with it (and of course with our constitution) like a small boy with his toys, and unleashed Us-and-Them. How long will it take to tame Blair's terror? Well, for a historical parallel, how long was it from the era of real Catholic threat - the Armada, the Gunpowder Plot - to the Northern Ireland peace agreement?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Bomb the terrorists!

Today's terrorism is exactly as widely predicted in, for example, the protests against Blair's invasion of Iraq. The mess we've made in Libya and Syria since then all adds to it.

But it may be as nothing to what we're storing up, with generations brought up in "Faith Schools" to think in terms of Us-and-Them as a way of life. Educational segregation worked so well in Northern Ireland, we'd better bring it to the mainland, and we can all hate each other with real conviction.

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Re: The Internet again!

I seem to recall similar backlash against Gutenberg.

Wow! Respect, oh venerable one!

I don't suppose your recollection goes back as far as the destruction of the library at Alexandria? Who was stirring public fear and hatred for education and learning back then, and did it look much like today?

The open source community is nasty and that's just the docs

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Surveys and Agendas

I've seen a fair bit of conflict - some of it gratuitously unpleasant - in my decades in open source. But it's a drop in the ocean compared to some other communities, both on-line and real-world.

Surveys can be a particular hotbed. That's not just because the respondents are a sample who self-select precisely because they have axes to grind and see a survey as somewhere to vent[1], but also because surveys have Agendas (such as "diversity"), and those tend to be divisive.

[1] fx: waves at fellow-commentards.

Silicon Graphics' IRIX and Magic Desktop return as Linux desktop

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When I first used Linux, I set it up with olvwm, and just used the commandline in the little console window to launch GUI applications. Mostly plain ol' xterms (and variants on that theme) for working in, but also a web browser and other such modern gizmos.

I'd still work like that if I hadn't got fed up with the number of hoops they make us jump through today.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Hardware nostalgia

I remember my second '90s SGI workstation[1] particularly fondly. But that was down to the superb quality of the hardware: a monitor that was a pleasure to use (now long-surpassed by others, particularly Mac), and a fantastic keyboard that still stands out as the best I've encountered in my life.

There was no pleasure to the software. Well, it was a functioning UNIX system on which one could build all the usual apps, but no more than that, and it was certainly buggier than Sun kit of the same era. I don't even recollect the desktop environment, except in that it was the first to be configured with a GUI login screen rather than a CLI login followed by some invocation like "xinit" or "startx".

[1] @work, of course. Way beyond my personal budget.

WannaCrypt: Pwnage is a fact of life but cleanup could and should be way easier

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You're 20 years late to the party

Why wasn't MS held to account for deliberately breaking the MIME RFCs of 1992 and '93 when that breakage unleashed Melissa and Lovebug (and left us a legacy of a 'net where MIME headers can't be used to identify and quarantine potential hazards as designed).

BA CEO blames messaging and networks for grounding

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Re: EFFECTED ?????

Spoke to Sky News ...

Effected and Affected being homonyms, the error would then appear to be one of transcription.

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Re: Where was the "power surge"

I've seen suggestions of a lightning strike,

Might've been me, in the last El Reg commentfest on the subject.

but that could be someone confusing Saturday's cock up with Sunday's thunderstorm.

You mean, my comment posted here on Saturday referenced Sunday's alleged storm?

More likely having observed the very big and long-lasting thunderstorms we had around the wee hours of Friday night / Saturday morning. Caused me to power down more electricals than I've done any time in my four-and-a-bit years since moving here. All my computing/networking gear, including UPS protection. Even the dishwasher, which had been due to run overnight.

BA's 'global IT system failure' was due to 'power surge'

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Re: Doesn't add up

Does potentially add up if the root cause was last night's thunderstorms corrupting something. In a manner that wasn't anticipated by whatever monitoring they have in place.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Really a power failure?

After last night's big thunderstorms, it seems plausible power to the datacentre was indeed hit. Or that a power surge damaged something, which might be reported as "power failure" if the details were considered far too confusing for the readers.

Perhaps they had redundancy against one system being knocked out, but ended up instead with two systems each apparently still working but irreconcilably at odds with each other?

Nick Kew Silver badge


Given that I'm late to this commentard party, can I really be the first to coin a word for it?

Glad to have avoided BA consistently since they messed me about inexcusably in about '95 or '96. BA = delay, expense, rudeness, hassle, and above all, lack of information.

British prime minister slams Facebook and pals for votes

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Extremist Agenda

I struggle to think of an agenda more extreme than relegating your own MPs to a US-style electoral college whose role is merely to crown you personally as Supreme Leader.

UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

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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.

Nick Kew Silver badge

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.

Nick Kew Silver badge

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.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Word

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

Nick Kew Silver badge

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.

Nick Kew Silver badge

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.

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

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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.

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Up

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!

Japan (lightly) regulates high-frequency algorithmic trading

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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.

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

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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.

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

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Do you hoover the floor or Hoover it?

'scuse me while I go and roomba mine.

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

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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?

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

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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.

Nick Kew Silver badge

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.

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

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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.

HP Inc ships laptops with sinister key-logger

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

You only need 60 bytes to hose Linux's rpcbind

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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.

UK patent troll protections tweaked – lawyers exempted

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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.

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

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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:


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

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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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