* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

This is the final straw, evil Microsoft. Making private GitHub repos free? You've gone too far

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Free! For up to three collaborators!

So that'll do nicely for experimenting with a prospective project. Zero entry cost, and if it shows signs of growth you cross that bridge when you come to it with all options available.

Huawei's 5G security scrutiny pain could be Cisco's gain – analysts

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: News at 11?

Well, the fact that it says Cisco but NOT other western players might say something?

Maybe it's because Cisco had been badly wrongfooted in the market? What it's now benefiting from is time to catch up. That is not to Nokia's or Ericsson's benefit if they were competing on fairly-equal terms with Huawei and each other all the time.

US tech industry falling behind $rest-of-world cannot be more than a temporary aberration! A share price up 24% looks like a bottom line, and in a broader market that's a sea of red ink, it says the campaign has been successful.

Happy new year, readers. Yes, we have threaded comments, an image-lite mode, and more...

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: A question about buttons...

OK, someone had to view source. Might as well be me.

Shadow Systems is right, and his screenreader is also right. The arrows are nowhere in the markup, they're merely part of the stylesheet.

Here's a relevant cut&paste .. damn, neither unescaped nor fully-escaped works here, I'm going to switch <> to [] instead:

[div class=actions] [a class="vote up" title="Like this post? Vote for it!" data-user-vote="true" href="https://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/vote/up/3687493"] 9 [/a] [a class="vote down" title="Dislike this post? Vote it down!" href="https://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/vote/down/3687493"] 0 [/a]

What Shadow Systems describes is exactly what's there. Putting on my accessibility hat, I'd say that's a real issue, and should be remedied.

The simplest remedy would be to add the up and down arrows as icon images within the links: this is what it already looks like to a visual browser. Then alt=upvote / alt=downvote will render just fine in a screenreader. The drawback there is the extra markup, but the icons themselves are purely passive: being within the links is what matters, and you can get rid of that abusive use of the title attribute on the links.

There is probably an alternative solution using an audio stylesheet to inform screenreaders, but my knowledge of the subject is way too outdated to suggest implementation details.

Nick Kew Silver badge


There seems to be a gremlin.

After a week or two of threaded comments mostly all-on-one-page over the season of humbug, today I'm getting oldfashioned pagination (three pages to this article). From memory, today's Friday regulars On-Call and Dabbs also paginated on me.

Yes, I did check my personal settings before posting this. Everything was set to the defaults, which apparently should mean no pagination!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Width

Too much text at El Reg? Tosh!

I trust El Reg is not so dumb as to give even a moment's thought to following the stupid trend of many websites to emulate a vacuous powerpoint.

My 2019 resolution? Not to buy any of THIS rubbish

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: You miserable sod ...

He's an entertainer. The curmudgeon is good entertainment.

Give him 50 columns over the year, I expect most of his no-nos will put in an appearance. Maybe not all of them describing his own experiences with them.

New Horizons probe reveals Ultima Thule is huge, spinning... chicken drumstick?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Beyond the Known World

It's not that. It's a semi-mythical land at the end of the world. The name goes back to the Greeks, but of course it's a lot more remote and exotic than anything in the Odyssey.

By going to the end of the world, NASA seems to be saying they can have no possible ambition to go any further.

What happens when a Royal Navy warship sees a NATO task force headed straight for it? A crash course in Morse

Nick Kew Silver badge

I have fond memories of that Bergen-Newcastle ferry. Sleeping out on deck, and realising in the morning it was probably the best place, as other passengers bemoaned their enclosure.

Has that line been restored? Last I heard, it was being discontinued.

Millennium Buggery: When things that shouldn't be shut down, shut down

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Engineers who become managers

Nobody who wasn't a competent techie should ever manage competent techies.

Bah. My experience of UK industry (not so much elsewhere) are that managers are incompetent techies who got promoted to move them on from a role in which they were useless.

Nick Kew Silver badge

A metric for management failure

Our Parliament looks like an interesting case of extreme management failure. Both for itself (failure to manage necessary building maintenance) and for the country (b*****).

While few can aspire to rival that, we can nevertheless use it as a yardstick. This never-never update could no doubt clock up a few MicroParliaments.

Heard the one where the boss calls in an Oracle consultant who couldn't fix the database?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Take care what you argue over...

@Old Used Programmer - your missus may be more authentic than us. Swift's usage (which I had forgotten until you mentioned it) pre-dates, and may be the inspiration for, ours.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Naming conventions

Not entirely original. Homer got there first, where Odysseus outwits the Cyclops. But still a jolly wheeze.

Nick Kew Silver badge

In school?

Computers existed, and were indeed beginning to appear in schools by the time I left. But not in the kind of school I went to, that relied on the state for its budget.

I had the impression you were of a comparable vintage yourself?

Nick Kew Silver badge

@jake - Round about 2000?

Those of us whose education pre-dates computer science as a supposedly-serious degree subject[1] started with all sorts of gaps in our knowledge. Noone explained to me heap vs stack, I just figured it out on the job sometime back in the 1980s.

[1] Including some who later taught the subject, and whose graduates emerged qualified for things their professors never will be on the recruiters' tickboxes.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: RE: Getting one over on the boss

Once upon a less-than-happy time, I was tasked with setting up a company mailserver to keep copies of everything (company afraid of lawyers).

On paper.

With all attachments. OK, I made that one up: they didn't think of attachments, but I did, and pointed out some issues with them.

Bored IT manager automates Millennium Eve checks to ditch snoozing for boozing

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Handy stuff this automation.

Damn, I set myself right up for that.

Can I say "damn you" at the same time as upvoting?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Handy stuff this automation.

One day indeed. In my case, starting in the 1980s.

Trouble is, when you're in a busy office, automating jobs away just leaves you without a job. Going home would be noticed.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

I can cite working examples! How about the moon's orbit, for one?

For values of perpetual in not just human but geological time ...

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Needs the human touch

I have cron jobs that run at hour+delta, where delta is a small number of minutes. It's a habit I started when working on busy shared systems, and I thought it made sense to offset my jobs from the likeliest peaks of scheduled activity.

In a one-off script, I might do something like

$ run-job-1

$ sleep 30

$ run-job-2

... etc

Racing at the speed of light, Sage superhero bursts through the door...

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Not me...

There's repetition and repetition. I certainly remembered your recent anecdote, perhaps 'cos it was eye-catching first time round (and I expect you got my upvote - though that's not the level of detail I commit to memory). Had it been years rather than months ago, the reminder might have been entertaining in its own right.

Did I mention ... erm ... OK, yes I did.

Nick Kew Silver badge
Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Not me...

Looks at us and says, "Thanks, guys. I will be in touch. Carry on." Took care of us, too. And we got a written apology.

Oooh. If ever there was a true dream situation @work, you just described it.

Staff sacked after security sees 'suspect surfer' script of shame

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Trying to avoid the Wrath of Swambo?

Now that you mention it, I recollect something akin to the reverse.

Was introduced to the Karma Sutra at age 19. Girlfriend shared it with me, not vice versa.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Access Denied

@Goldmember - I'd veto them on grounds of the prolific spam they inflicted.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: @AC "wouldn't be common freakin' sense to not surf dodgy websites at work?"

As early as the early 1980s, Internet bandwidth getting maxed out always meant porn.

1980s porn being ASCII porn. As in (.) (.) . If you mean anything more ambitious, I'll refer you to this from my blog.

I guess you never worked in a data-heavy environment.

First web server I set up for $work was about access to satellite image data. The expectation was that clients would order the actual data on tape[1], but I convinced management to allow limited online actual download. The limit was eventually set to 10Mb, for those whose line would hold up for the very long time that would take.

[1] The fact they could use a nice WWW GUI including an applet to select a dataset from an interactive and zoomable map display was radical for the time. A few years later ('96 or '97) Java applets arrived and some of that capability migrated to clientside.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: @AC "wouldn't be common freakin' sense to not surf dodgy websites at work?"

Then there was this thing called USENET so you really didn't have to go to dodgy web sites to surf.

Damn, I've led a sheltered life. Never encountered usenet binaries: they were one of those mythical things.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: "wouldn't be common freakin' sense to not surf dodgy websites at work?"

2) (In the 1990s) It is faster than my 56K connection

You've led a sheltered life there.

56K? Pah. I was lucky to get 56 bytes. Per minute, at work, and home was little better.

Your two-minute infosec roundup: Drone arrests, Alexa bot hack, Windows zero-day, and more

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Drone arrests

Supposedly some guy was seen over two drones on a bicycle, but this couple have vehicles.

Any more reason to credit the bike story than the arrests? I don't see how I'd transport a drone in my panniers without the high likelihood of damaging it!

This arrest requires extraordinary evidence that perhaps the police do have, but if they don't then this couple will be rich by the time they sue everyone and every publication that has smeared them.

Unlikely. You have to be seriously rich to play that game (though it can be satisfying when someone does). I'd expect to want a warchest of tens of millions to go into it with the reasonably confident expectation of reaching an outcome before going bust. When ordinary people take on the system and win, they have the backing of someone deep-pocketed.

London's Gatwick airport suspends all flights after 'multiple' reports of drones

Nick Kew Silver badge

Heh. Give Granny Weatherwax a taste for flying at Gatwick and clearing the sky of crap. And full-on headology on an airline pilot could be 'interesting'.

Google settles Right To Be Forgotten case on eve of appeal hearing

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Question

Court records are public. Newspaper stories are public. If someone wrote a book or made a film, that's public.

The point is, how does anyone find the story if they don't already know it, or at the very least know there is a story to find? If NT1 offers me a business proposition that involves investing my life savings, I will naturally want to do due diligence, which will include googling NT1's track record. NT1 would very much like me NOT to find out about his past conviction for fraud in a similar scheme where he took investors' money and they never saw it again. Whereas Google would like to help as best it can with my due diligence.

Vitamin Water gets massive publicity for new flavor: Utter BS

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: Free advertising

Likewise. Saw "vitamin water" in the headline in the feed, and thought it sounded like a startup with some possibly-novel proposition, perhaps on the health bandwagon like coconut water or birch water. Except that the gimmick seemed implausible.

Do I take it "vitamin water" is something 'merkins would automatically recognise as a brand name? I guess El Reg's .uk heritage must be pretty-much dead when it assumes we'll recognise the name.

'Bomb threat' scammers linked to earlier sextortion campaign

Nick Kew Silver badge

If we all followed your advice ...

Don't pay any ransom demanded by an unsolicited email, and report all threats to an admin and/or the police. ®

If we all reported all the crap coming our way, that could DDoS the police, perhaps so effectively as to preclude any resources at all for action against these or other malefactors.

Scumbag hackers lift $1m from children's charity

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Really.

That'll be loose change amidst the many millions worth of free fundraising they get from the BBC on a regular basis. How many other charities, even the big household-name ones, benefit from patronage at quite that level?

Time for a cracker joke: What's got one ball and buttons in the wrong place?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Not user error

Not really anyone's fault. And nothing bad happened - they laughed it off.

A lot of helpdesk-type issues are not really anyone's fault. It's how you tell 'em that makes for an anecdote. Best ever has got to be those Norwegian TV folks.

25% of NHS trusts have zilch, zip, zero staff who are versed in security

Nick Kew Silver badge

It seems to me the question asked doesn't really tell us anything. An organisation might say "none" because it doesn't separate out a specific security role. Maybe it's outsourced, along with other IT functions? And security expertise isn't necessarily associated with box-ticking training and qualifications.

Not that I'm suggesting they're on top of it. That would indeed seem far-fetched.

College PRIMOS prankster wreaks havoc with sysadmin manuals

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: A decade of poor configuration

Not just the late '80s, when xhost + was still a default. Right into the '90s you could - and inevitably sometimes did - make someone else's computer burst into song, tell a joke, admonish the user, or just fart. You could also trivially run your prank from another computer again to leave a false trail in case someone investigated: a local area version of the CIA routing an attack to come from China or Russia.

But we did it for laughs, and drew the line at actually damaging anyone's work.

Oh, and this wasn't even a university. Though it was a research institute funded by (many) governments, so not quite the corporate world.

BOFH: State of a job, eh? Roll the Endless Requests for Further Information protocol

Nick Kew Silver badge

This BOFH is a rank amateur!

Why does he let tickets in to the system in the first place?

He could take lessons from Virgin Media in preventing that. Alongside never answering the phone (just torture them with menus that go nowhere, adverts, and piped screaming) or the online 'chat' facility (a much more benign "try again later"), you just don't provide any system that could accept a ticket into it.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: WooHoo BOFH is back

BOFH is back, Dabbs is missing. Coincidence?

Tech support discovers users who buy the 'sh*ttest PCs known to Man' struggle with basics

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Alternatively...

Oh dear.

Dorothy Parker on horticulture springs to mind.

Wow, what a lovely early Christmas present for Australians: A crypto-busting super-snoop law passes just in time

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Idiots

Might I point out that you don't have a plate glass exterior wall in your shower,

True. It's clear perspex.

and you do have drapes over the windows in your living room & bedroom

No I don't.

and hopefully there is a door between your toilet and the rest of your house.

There is, but it stays open. Well, OK, I shut it to keep the roomba out if the floor's wet. And occasionally for guests.

But I do have locks on both front and back doors, and indeed a burglar alarm. Nothing to hide, but just possibly something to fear?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Aussies will get their backdoors to services operated by Aussie companies. What happens outside that could be popcorn-time.

In an ironic twist, it was an aussie (Eric Young) who first gave us SSLeay, the ancestor of OpenSSL, back in an era when Oz was part of the Free World and the US was almost-uniquely[1] restricted.

I wonder how you could modify OpenSSL to open a backdoor for malicious third-party-key injection? No, I'm not going to work on it.

[1] Among developed countries.

Funnily enough, China fuming, senator cheering after Huawei CFO cuffed by Canadian cops at Uncle Sam's request

Nick Kew Silver badge


What immediately springs to my mind is the Sklyarov case. Uncle Sam arrests a man for writing software that was perfectly legal in his own country, where he had done the work. Took them quite a long time to decide no crime had been committed.

[aside] ISTR commentards here taking a robust attitude at the time. I looked for a quote, but Reg stories from the era seem to have lost all their comments.

Why millions of Brits' mobile phones were knackered on Thursday: An expired Ericsson software certificate

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Don't feel so bad Ericsson, you probably did us all a favour!

Damn, I must be a freak. On a long train journey, I more often than not find myself in conversation with one or more actual people, merely by virtue of occupying neighbouring seats.

p.s. my O2 4G returned sometime yesterday evening. When I put the phone on the charger around midnight, it was there.

Total Inability To Support User Phones: O2 fries, burning data for 32 million Brits

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Not just O2

There are reports of it affecting Vodafone and EE (not so much Vodafone from what I can tell).

Datapoint. I'm using EE 4G, and it's just fine.

Unlike my phone's O2, which has no data.

Brits' DNA data sent to military base after 'foreign' hack attacks – report

Nick Kew Silver badge


Is anonymity the real issue here?

Fully-anonymised data on this scale must have considerable commercial value to pharma research interested in such things as the prevalence of genetic patterns. If it's explicitly in the public domain, that's fine. If not, then industrial espionage becomes an obvious issue.

IP companies specialising in patents could be a prime suspect here.

Waymo's revolutionary driverless robo-taxi service launches in America... with drivers

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The whole driverless car thing

"... a problem that doesn't exist."

So they're lying to us about all those deaths and injuries on the road?

And all those kids who can't go out unsupervised 'cos of the danger are no more than their parents' neurosis?

And all those cars parked willy-nilly blocking everything must be an illusion?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Citation needed

'cos a reputable source backing that up (or otherwise) could be genuinely interesting.

GOPwned: Republicans fall victim to email hack

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: All we can do is wait

Surely a likely candidate is the party itself. Just like in the UK, the party whips ferret out party members' secrets to bully (even blackmail) them on important votes, so a party in the US or elsewhere will want whatever it can find to hold over its legislators when it matters.

That would imply no (or very few) actual leaks. The power is in the threat.

Yet another mega-leak: 100 million Quora accounts compromised by system invaders

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Using facebook to log in to Quora

In what sense "worse"?

If being tracked bothers you, then yes, you're cooperating with them. But for basic security, using OpenID (which I presume underlies logging in with Facebook) beats creating Yet Another Username/Password any day. At least on a site that's less critical than the OpenID provider.

STIBP, collaborate and listen: Linus floats Linux kernel that 'fixes' Intel CPUs' Spectre slowdown

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: He should hug off and mind his own business

It's a Code of Conduct, innit? At least censoring out pink marshmallows[1] isn't weaponising it to attack some poor bugger.

[1] Seen elsewhere in a site with a deliberately silly swear filter.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019