* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Putin to battle Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize

Nick Kew Silver badge

How do you nominate someone?

It's a shame Brian Haw died: he'd've been a worthy recipient.

OK, among the living, can I nominate Mark Thomas, for all his fantastic work ridiculing despots, tyrants, and the advance of our own police state?

Saving private spying: IETF Draft reveals crypto-busting proxy proposal

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: It's already happening you just don't know it.

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

All your saying is that people can, and sometimes do, put a server cert in a gateway (reverse proxy). That often makes perfect sense, to take some of the load off an origin that might be concerned with something higher-level, like your shopping basket or portfolio. Indeed, it's the same picture as a HTTPS server using an unencrypted connection to an SQL backend: there the server is itself MiTM. From there, it's arguably a small step to outsource the proxy function to a third-party who specialises in implementing it securely and efficiently.

Now as to whether trusting your expert third-party and all is any worse than trusting your own non-specialist staff, that's a question above my pay grade. In principle it could be better: your own sysadmin perhaps doesn't have the time and expertise to stay on top of every technical and security issue your specialist contractor deals with.

From an end-user PoV, the question is simply whether you trust the organisation behind the cert. And that's two questions: their intentions, and their competence.

Entanet calls on equity firm Mobeus to back £14m MBO

Nick Kew Silver badge

Your chance to own entanet with tax breaks ...

If anyone should happen to want a share in Entanet, Mobeus currently has an offer for subscription open, with some useful tax breaks including 30% up-front, followed by tax-free dividends. This deal looks fairly typical of what Mobeus does.

fWHoaR! Researcher crack eternal mystery of what women want in a man

Nick Kew Silver badge


You only need to read the headline[1] to infer another manifestation of the age-old human preference for the perfectly round and symmetric. The ancient Greeks told us first.

[1] Or should that be headsphere?

Hey, G20. Please knock it off with the whole tax loophole thing - we're good guys, really

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: an example....

The BBC programme included some misleading and heavy spin from that OU guy, which should have been challenged. Also some valid points, most notably the fact that corporation tax presents a perverse incentive to take on lots of debt, so companies tend to take on the most debt they can get away with.

This is one more reason - if avoidance by complex trans-national schemes isn't enough - why corporation tax is unfit for purpose and should be replaced.

HP clinches six week extension on whether to join shareholders' suit against Autonomy

Nick Kew Silver badge

You mean ...

The SFO is tied up in this nonsense so it's not looking at anything that matters?

Even the Press is running pretty scared of investigating serious fraud since Leveson.

Let Google's tentacles fondle your mobile's web downloads and Chrome will put the data on a diet

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: <cough>Copycats</cough>

Opera has had all of this since at least 2004, though not necessarily under the same label as today. Opera browsers would send a custom capabilities string that would determine the level of downsampling for visual elements like images, including not just resizing but even conversion to greyscale for monochrome devices. It would also "optimise" and compress HTML, and pipeline connections.

On the proxy it involved some sophisticated content filtering. Apache's mod_filter evolved out of that work: a module to configure the exact sequence of filters required by a particular client for particular contents.

Snowden: 'I am still working for the NSA ... to improve it'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Because we can

We spy because we need to? Or - like the surveillence states of yesteryear's most terrible regimes - because we can?

Snowden has accomplished more than one mission. For society, he's launched a serious debate. And for the powers of the state, he's sown/nurtured seeds of doubt about their online security, that may cause those with most to hide to deny themselves the power of modern communications.

And one more ... he's taken the media spotlight firmly away from a certain aussie now leading a non-life in limbo. A blessed relief there!

DisARMed: Geeksphone's next high-end mobe to pack Intel x86 inside

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Not another smart phone?

Thanks for the rant - enjoyed reading someone else's well-considered requirements. I too am frustrated that the whole b***** industry spend all their time&effort competing to produce the wrong b***** identikit product for users whose requirement is no more than to follow fashion. Doubly so that they have in the past produced a product (the Nokia E71) that came so much closer to my ideal phone than anything available today[1].

You and I may be minority interests (clearly the Industry think so, or they wouldn't be ignoring us)! But what's the use of technological advance if it can't make us a more custom product? Other industries will customise and even individualise: I bet when you pay £100k for a machine to automate your bigger tasks, your vendors are falling over themselves to listen to your needs. Even among cheap consumer things I can buy components and assemble my own PC, for a cost comparable to an off-the-shelf model!

Anyone @ El Reg have the ear of the Industry? The Long Tail of users who DON'T just want an all-screen entertainment device in this market must be huge!

[1] Its nearest supposed successor, the E6, is a sick joke in so many ways it's not funny at all. If I'd had any idea it could be half that bad I'd've switched to a second-best from Blackberry when the E71 drowned.

ARM server chip upstart Calxeda bites the dust in its quest for 64-bit glory

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Didn't we just have a story 2 days ago...

Coincidence, or ... ?

Did someone know something was in the wind, and that a bunch of techies with in-depth knowledge of ARM in the server were on the point of hitting the jobs market?

Apple iWatch due in October 2014, to wirelessly charge from one metre away – report

Nick Kew Silver badge

I can't wear a wristwatch because the extra tension on the wrist causes shoulder/neck pain[1]. First found myself always taking it off, then realised why I was doing that, thought about it, and got myself a pocket watch. By the time the second pocket watch died, the era of the 'phone was upon us, so I haven't had a watch since.

[1] http://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/pain/

Nick Kew Silver badge

When I were a lad ...

Back in the 1970s, I had a wristwatch that wound itself up using energy from the motion of my wrist. Altogether more convenient: I never had to think about it. IIRC it was my inheritance from my grandfather.

That was back in the days when watches were beautifully luminous. Before that fell victim to hysteria about radiation (and someone noticed that luminous watches emitted far higher levels than were permitted to the nuclear power industry, so only the atomic weapons folks could dispose of them).

Google may drop Intel for own-recipe ARM: Bloomberg

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I have said for..

Agreed. That's why I bought ARM shares back when they were less than £1. So far, so good.

Nick Kew Silver badge


The story is that Google might develop its own server architecture, based on ARM. That doesn't mean buying anything off the shelf, it means licensing technology from ARM and doing a whole load of custom development on top of that.

Somewhere in that custom development they might very well want to adopt IP from other architectures such as MIPS, Sparc, PowerPC, or even x86. There's no either/or between the architectures, but the prospect of a base that's neither x86 nor ARM seems remote, and of those ARM is the one whose business model welcomes licensees doing their own custom development.

SuperStride Me: Reg hack spends week working at 'treadmill desk'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Oz or US?

Wow. Want!

But I followed your links, first to the model, then the "Lifespan" one. That's one aussie company and one US. Both are clear that the don't deliver outside their respective countries.

Since this is a .uk website, how about including a clue about availability here?

Mass Effect: Ten lightweight laptops that won’t bust your back

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Does Not Compute.

I recently acquired a close relation of that HP. Usability is so poor, I'm on the lookout for a replacement.

Like other commentards, I'm disappointed to see no mention of that crucial question of whether I can expect to run *X without pain.

CEO of bloated outsourcing firm Capita quits after 26 years

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Re: Wow

Crapita have a serious presence in finance: they're share registrars for a lot of companies.

They are a total nightmare to deal with. So much that it's become a consideration in investment decisions. I'll try and avoid any company that uses Crapita except when using a nominee account (my SIPP or ISA) so the manager gets the pleasure of dealing with the registrars. They need to bring their IT systems up to 1980s standards!

Minor retaliation: as someone who's never had a TV[1], I'm ignoring the (crapita) TV licensing folks. Let them waste their time chasing me.

[1] Except when I had one in a furnished flat I rented. That was in Germany.

Brit spymasters: Cheers, Snowden. Terrorists are overhauling their comms

Nick Kew Silver badge

A cunning plan ....

So the whole Snowden thing is really a charade. Shake peoples belief in cryptographic security, and nudge those who have something to hide towards denying themselves the power of modern communications. Granny Weatherwax would be proud of the headology.

Well, maybe. I wouldn't care to say, one way or the other. But if "NSA can work around internet crypto" were true (beyond what they can get by traditional blackhat methods like social-engineering), then surely talking it up like this is the *last* thing either the spooks or the politicians would be doing.

Microsoft, Facebook: We'll pay cash if you can poke a hole in the INTERNET

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Overzealous PR

Nice of them to go public before the projects affected have had time to deliberate on the potential issues arising (like, for example, finding ourselves at the receiving end of lots of bounty-motivated NOTABUG reports).

How to spot a coders comment

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: If you were in the 60's

The 60s? Wasn't that when IBM thought total world demand would be half a dozen or so computers?

I was writing FORTRAN in the '80s. And I've seen people from a scientific background still write effectively FORTRAN when writing C++ or ADA.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Not about comments but...

I've used that kind of thing, and seen the errors appear for real an enhancement or two later.

It anticipates the possibility of future code change, as in a class you intend always to be overridden, but implement stubs for. Or even simpler, this sorta thing:

enum { foo, bar } x;


switch (x) {

case foo: do_something; break;

case bar: something_else; break;

default: fputs("BUG: unhandled enum value in ...", stderr);


Brit PM raps Facebook for allowing GORY beheading vids

Nick Kew Silver badge

He needs to get out more

Someone should introduce him to some Shakespeare.

"Out, vile jelly"


Enter Guiderius, carrying Cloten's severed head


"Unsex me here"

Or has The Bard long since been censored from Cameron's Cuddly World?

Mark Shuttleworth labels Mir opponents 'the Open Source Tea Party'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Fragmentation grenade?

Don't like fragmentation?

xfree86 or xorg or ...?

(and a long list of similar questions)

US red-tape will drain boffins' brains into China, says crypto-guru Shamir

Nick Kew Silver badge

Shamir has history with the US Govt. About 30 years ago he (@ the Weizman institute in Israel) published a paper - a step in the development of modern crypto - that caught Uncle Sam's eye. They ordered him to recall and destroy all copies! Someone pointed out that they weren't supposed to have jurisdiction over a man living and working in Israel, but that didn't stop them!

This pre-dates the US govt's run-ins with Phil Zimmernann or Dan Bernstein.

Maybe they still view him somewhat like Manning and Snowden?

Oracle says open source has no place in military apps

Nick Kew Silver badge

Snowden bandwagon

A lot of recent comment on Snowden ("more damaging than the cold war soviet moles") has been screaming out that our NSA/GCHQ practice Security By Obscurity. Perhaps someone at Oracle thought that makes it an opportune moment to build on that sentiment?

Laptops Snowden took to Hong Kong and Russia 'just a decoy'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Unintended but entirely predictable consequences?

A google search for "kgb snowden site:theregister.co.uk" brings up comments on El Reg's report on when the Grauniad destroyed the media on which snowden-data was held.

If you put a man like Snowden so completely at the mercy of a foreign power, you've no business being surprised (let alone outraged) if he does a deal with them. If the Russians didn't take full advantage, either they've been duped, or they accepted him on unconditional political asylum/refugee terms. And if it were the first, wouldn't one expect him to keep very quiet about it?

I deduce there's more to this than we've been told. I wonder if our master spy novelist John le Carré might take up the US (or UK) whistleblower theme?

Royal Mail FAIL as web brokerage Hargreaves Lansdown struggles with investor demand

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Re: No better

I managed to flog mine about 3pm, having tried&failed both online and by 'phone since 8am.

H-L coped better with the banking crash five years ago, even when the shorting ban and the Lloyds-HBOS news caused a massive spike. That was also more profitable than a derisory 227 RM shares.

Stallman's GNU at 30: The hippie OS that foresaw the rise of Apple - and is now trying to take it on

Nick Kew Silver badge

Bring back Maemo

Once upon a time, we had Maemo. Well, OK, we've had a number of freer-than-Android candidates, but Maemo is the one that was backed by a major vendor, and the one I bought into. I think it was Jan.2010, Maemo was absolutely the biggest buzz at FOSDEM, just before Nokia abandoned its dev community and embarked on the path to oblivion.

The rise of Linux was different: its circumstances were that a former dev-friendly platform (SunOS) had donned a suit and turned corporate (Solaris). In a world where Android remains dev-friendly, and software portability is the norm (so many of us don't target any particular platform), RMS's vision may face a higher hurdle to gaining critical mass.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Very impressive, but not as free as I like

"Heck, I've lived the day where you had to pay Sun a lot of money in order to get a hold of a C compiler in order to build software on Solaris."

I remember when Sun unbundled the ancient K&R C compiler. It was crap, but served to bootstrap GCC (leave GCC building overnight, come back next day & fix errors, repeat until GCC working).

I suspect that event was critical in the rise of Linux. Sun had been the epicentre of innovation in the 1980s, but when Solaris donned a suit and tried to ape Microsoft, hordes of geeks got p***ed off and found a new platform.

Lighting bods blind designophiles with LED-powered lounge lamps

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Designers

A dust elf, riding in a led balloon.


ISPs set to install network-level smut filters despite Lib Dem opposition

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Re: But...

Pre-empt any such story. Declare your intention openly, and explain that it's nothing to do with wanting to view smut, and everything to do with choosing Shakespeare over Bowdler.



Nick Kew Silver badge

Move along, nothing to see ...

A quick google finds unsurprisingly El Reg is amongst those who've been reporting censorship for years: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/07/brit_isps_censor_wikipedia/

Seems that the proposed legislation is more liberal than the status quo in at least two ways:

* We're being told that censorship is happening.

* We're getting the option, even if it comes with an "I'm a self-declared perv" label.

Hmmm .....

Brit online property bazaar Zoopla ponders BILLION-pound flotation

Nick Kew Silver badge

I had an altogether more ambitious idea which would've seen property search as just one of many layers on a map. But the cost of map data was too prohibitive back then.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Profitable already ...

For some of us who invest in venture capital, Zoopla has already made good profits. A profitable flotation could make yet more. And you still have an opportunity - albeit now much watered down - to buy in, via http://www.octopusinvestments.com/!documents/pdfs/1535.pdf

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Slurp it all up

Um, are you sure that was zoopla? If so it must be a long time ago, before they turned serious. Nowadays property details are exclusively put there by estate agents, just as with rightmove.

Interestingly, Rightmove seem to keep a permanent archive of pics. If you have the URL, you'll find yours still there. Likewise, if you know where to look, you can doubtless find the old ads in your local paper for sales in pre-online days.

MPs blocked from ogling 'web smut' 300,000 times – while in Parliament

Nick Kew Silver badge

Dilbert saw this many years ago ...


Vodafone, can you get a signal at the top of your $130bn Verizon cash pile?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Nothing to the taxman?

"Apparently, Labours 2002 finance act intentionally introduced the exemption for capitol gains for substantial shareholdings by companies. Nice one Gordon."

I expect that was motivated by City folks wanting to be able to buy up a company, make it more profitable (whether by making genuine improvements or just a brief sugar-rush), then flog it for a profit.

The fact a real business like Vodafone might also be covered is incidental.

On the other hand, anyone who sells their house for a profit is getting a much bigger break[1] than that when they avoid Capital Gains Tax.

[1] In proportion to their net worth, of course. Bear in mind that the number of people whose Vodafone shareholding is comparable to the value of their home is vanishingly small. Mine is just a few K, and is in a tax-avoidance scheme called a pension.

Vodafone and Verizon update relationship status: $130bn worth of complicated

Nick Kew Silver badge

$130bn an illusion

$60bn in cash is real, though with the proviso that it's a drop in the ocean compared to the debasement of both the $ and the £ in recent years.

The rest is in securities, mostly VZ stock, whose value is hypothetical. Try to unload all that stock and you'd find it fetching a lot less than its today's notional value (just like the UK govt's stakes in big banks). And the agreement (if it happens) will no doubt include contractual tie-ins.

As for tax, who is stirring it? Does someone expect the UK govt to take tax on profits made by a US company on business in the US? I expect they'll be looking to minimise tax liability to the US govt, but the UK only comes into it through those UK residents who are shareholders and who don't hold their shares in a tax-avoidance scheme like a pension or ISA.

Win a top of the range Ultrabook with HP and The Register

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Bought from HP

Nope, no windows (I'd be lost if I booted in windows - hence start by installing Linux from a USB stick).

The trackpad trouble is intermittent. Works nicely when the machine is resting on a flat table, but unfortunately my back/shoulders/neck can't sustain that posture at a laptop. Put a bit of pressure on (by resting the front of it on my chest - posture quite similar to http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18fce4vqv5c7gpng/original.png but without the big heavy accessory) and it's useless.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Bought from HP

New pavilion ultrabook, bought just a few weeks ago. I regret it already: shoddiest laptop I've had for many years.

Bought because I was able to verify good Linux support. Wasn't expecting to be unable to use it in my regular posture wiothout the trackpad going wild and sending the cursor completely out-of-control. Turns out it's only good as a desktop box, with external mouse/keyboard/monitor. So I have an ultrabook that is in reality LESS portable than the big heavy macbook pro.

Look out ARM, Intel, here comes MIPS – again

Nick Kew Silver badge

Bring it on!

Speaking as an ARM shareholder (it's 10% of my pension fund), I welcome the competition. And this is genuine competition, not like thingummy-inside who compete not so much with ARM as with ARM's licensees. Good luck to them!

A reinvigorated MIPS doesn't have to be taking ARM's cake. Its success can grow the total cake, to everyone's benefit.

(Can you tell I'm just back home from overindulging a bit?)

Silicon Valley slurped millions of NSA cash for PRISM participation

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So tell us ...

Does El Reg get remunerated more for NSA/GCHQ access to commentard information, or for ever-more-aggressive HP adverts?

Government intervention unlikely for beleaguered BlackBerry

Nick Kew Silver badge

Too Late

The time when state intervention would have been right was when RIM was held to ransom by the global pirates NTP, and the trauma turned the company away from innovation and towards the grey suits.

It's not clear whether the Canadian government even then could've done anything effective against being plundered by its southern neighbour, but that's when it would've been right for them to make the effort on behalf of their star company.

Workers at world's largest – and most remote – telescope go on strike

Nick Kew Silver badge

Most remote?

What, more remote than the Hubble?

Guardian lets UK spooks trash 'Snowden files' PCs to make them feel better

Nick Kew Silver badge

Only the KGB?

Thought experiment: suppose they had successfully destroyed the Guardian's copy of everything, and any copies they'd made or distributed.

Might that leave the KGB with the only remaining copies? Can't imagine Snowden got his asylum without going through an interview with Russian police, and in his case that would mean something more than a bog-standard immigration officer. Seems likely they demanded copies - maybe all copies and originals - of everything.

That's what you get by putting a man so totally at the mercy of a foreign power. If he could've returned home without facing Manning's fate, none of that need have happened.

Should we conclude that TPTB are happier for the KGB than the Guardian to have its secrets?

Snowden's email provider may face court rap after closing service

Nick Kew Silver badge

The true hero

The whistleblowers Manning and Snowden put themselves in morally ambiguous position. Though of course that still puts them in good company: for example, Mandela.

With Levison there's no ambiguity: he's doing absolutely the right thing at considerable personal sacrifice. Nor did he seek publicity for himself. Even if he avoids trouble with the courts, he's abandoned the work of years in his service. This is a true hero.

Bradley Manning: 'I'm sorry my actions hurt the United States'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: What idiot

That is the question we should all be asking.

Because then we might also question the premise that he was a "crazy mixed-up kid" before the Stalinist show-trial and ... *** knows what his mind has been subjected to.

I've been slightly in two minds about Snowden. This clears it up: if they can crush Manning like that, then I strongly hope Snowden gets permanent asylum, whether in Russia or by them facilitating his travel to one of the Latin American countries that's offered it.

Great take on this story at http://itreallyisupsidedown.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/another-sad-milestone.html

Violent Hamlet 'bard' by British Library Wi-Fi filters

Nick Kew Silver badge


Come on, El Reg. We already have a family-friendly Shakespeare, prepared by Dr Bowdler. Did noone think to find out whether the archetypal Victorian was sufficiently toned down for today's delicate sensibilities, or whether that was also filtered out?

Penguins, I give you: The SOLAR-POWERED Ubuntu laptop

Nick Kew Silver badge


"You do realise that these are opposites"

What a silly comment. The e-ink screen alone is sufficient to accomplish both those objectives in a device that doesn't gratuitously waste power elsewhere. That makes the ARM procesor and SSD storage mere icing on the cake.

Nick Kew Silver badge


What's wrong with a B&W screen? And as for movies and action-games, I'll pass on those too. E-ink will do nicely, and has the added bonus of being more readable in daylight than the other, power-hungry display technologies on the market today.

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