* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Intel seeks security through app stores

Nick Kew Silver badge
Black Helicopters

ahem ...

So every Word macro has to be signed? Yeah, right.

If he means it, that's interesting. We've all hacked up a scripting framework at one time or another[1]. So you sign $yourlanguage to let it run. But how will Intel's hardware know when the data being read by $yourlanguage is in fact a script being executed?

Though sceptical, I wouldn't altogether dismiss it. Fifteen years on from when Perl's taint-checking for untrusted inputs showed you *can* make a clear distinction between safe and unsafe use of data, it's about time someone broke new ground.

Guess this means we'll need a sign-it flag in every compiler, and "save as signed" in every text editor that might be used for an executable script. Well, erm, they must surely have thought through how developers work, mustn't they?

[1] Is that still true for younger folks who have grown up with Larry's or Guido's and other such little hacks at their fingertips? I suspect it still is!

Group Test: smartphone satnav apps

Nick Kew Silver badge
Flame

They vary widely by platform!

Just one datapoint: I have two instances of Nokia/OVI maps. On the N900 (maemo) it's very annoying and barely usable. On the E71 (symbian) it's great, despite the much smaller screen. Wouldn't surprise me if some of the others showed big platform differences too.

I've no idea why the maemo version should be so f***ed up. Particularly annoying given there's no google maps app for maemo either.

Cynicism, grumpiness cause heart attacks, strokes

Nick Kew Silver badge
Dead Vulture

Vulnerable old people

We regularly hear about vulnerable old people getting taken for a ride.

Now we know why. Only the gullible live to be that old! They're god's gift to the conman!

Icon 'cos it's the only tombstone, even if I'm not called Reg.

Open source's ardent admirers take but don't give

Nick Kew Silver badge
Stop

Wrong Wrong Wrong

Open source goes back to most of the Unix infrastructure, and the origins of the 'net. Eric Allman wasn't a hobbyist when he wrote sendmail in 1979, nor Paul Vixie when he wrote bind, to take just two examples that remain at the heart of the 'net even today.

Location-based quantum crypto now possible, boffins say

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Coat

Time-based too?

I once encrypted a message that could only be read on April 1st.

Country plods still not carrying mobile data devices

Nick Kew Silver badge
Stop

Devon & Cornwall?

About nine or ten years ago (i.e. when I had a car), I once got stopped by them at about 2 a.m. - one of my rear lights had gone. One of them was busy checking up on me while the other talked. The mobile device he had was clearly able to check my registration number against the details at DVLA. Fortunately they let me go on my way[1] after checking up on me.

So either Devon&Cornwall have renounced technology, or (far more likely) this story is not all it claims to be.

[1] To Tesco - it was December and I couldn't face the shopping crowds at any normal time of day.

Online trading not anti-competitive for small biz

Nick Kew Silver badge

On the contrary

As a one-man business in 1999, I was able to sign up to accept payments through Worldpay (now owned by RBS). Yes, I had to convince them I was real, but that was actually *less* of an ordeal than opening a bank account with some providers (like Egg, for instance) who go OTT in asking for proof of identity. Not a problem to go it alone either, but it seemed more cost-effective to outsource the service. And if I can do it, then so can anyone half-serious about running a business!

The Big Barrier (and cost) to accepting payments online is UK law. If $biz fails to deliver and does a runner, the creditcard provider is liable to pay up, so it's no wonder small businesses have to pay a risk premium!

Revealed: Government blows thousands on iPhone apps

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Badgers

Legacy

I trust this is the legacy of the profligate do-everything government we've just got rid of, and that the current government is busy plugging money leaks like this even as you discover them ...

It's just occurred to me, the analogy between the government's task with public money and BP's with its oil! Each will be happy if it can reduce a colossal flood to a manageable flow of waste ...

Visa tightens rules for small sellers

Nick Kew Silver badge

Easy to avoid

Payment processing is easily outsourced, avoiding the need for any extra red tape.

IIRC, there was quite a checklist to go through back in the late '90s when my company first accepted creditcards. We took the line of least resistance and outsourced to Worldpay. At the time their fees (including the bank's charges) were the same as the bank's charges alone would've been if we'd done it ourselves, making the decision a no-brainer. I expect their economies of scale helped, along with the extra perception of security of a big provider open to audit.

Osborne hands out tax cuts - for companies

Nick Kew Silver badge

Bits of good news, but is it enough?

The best news is tightening up on housing benefit. That'll help push rents a little lower for the priced-out who don't get benefits. And house prices too, as lower rents make them that little bit less attractive to property pimps. But still nothing to incentivise owners of empty properties to bring them into use (or rather, penalties on hoarding).

The other good news is of course the reductions in corporation and employment taxes.

Now we just have to wait to hear what's getting cut!

Sarko to walk tall in factory visit

Nick Kew Silver badge
Coat

Would you sneer at Obama for his colour?

No? Thought not. So why this mockery of another physical characteristic?

Mine's the shabby one of indeterminate size.

iRex Technologies heading titsup

Nick Kew Silver badge

I'm still waiting

I'm still waiting for a reasonably-general-purpose computer with e-ink screen.

The rest of the hardware specs could look like an ipad, provided I'm free to run my choice of apps on it (and ideally a Free OS).

New cycle helmets emit stench if they need replacement

Nick Kew Silver badge
FAIL

Yes, the stats are available online

The Oz stats are indeed available online - I already posted www.cyclehelmets.org, one of whose patrons and editorial board is Oz's leading expert on the subject - Dr Dorothy Robinson. Her 2004 paper presents a detailed overview of the real-life evidence from both Oz and NZ.

Executive summary (bearing in mind that the year the law was first introduced coincided with other "road safety" laws).

* Cycling head injuries fell dramatically (there's your evidence).

* Pedestrian head injuries fell by almost exactly the same amount (the nearest thing to a control group)

* Cycling numbers also fell dramatically, so head injuries per cyclist actually changed very little, in sharp contrast to the pedestrians.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Get the evidence

Authoritative information can be found at http://www.cyclehelmets.org/ . Recommended for anyone interested in making an informed choice.

Linux wins the SCO vs Novell case

Nick Kew Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Now Novell is the threat

Novell under current management is a decent corporate citizen.

But it's value to IP pirates who think SCO had a good idea but just messed up execution may now be a lot higher than its value as an honest business. Indeed, there's evidence of that already: see for example http://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/fear-novell-or-buy-novell/

Intel answers Microsoft's Linux 'noise' with MeeGo show

Nick Kew Silver badge

Really??

I haven't encountered MeeGo. But Maemo has a lot to recommend it: a real Linux base that "just works" (meaning no need to look "under the hood"), with a skin designed very nicely for the small screen.

Boffins use Solaris to store the real Sun

Nick Kew Silver badge
Pint

Some things don't change

It was 18 years ago - 1992 - I was contracted to develop software to manage a multi-terabyte archive of satellite image data. Back then it wasn't just a big harddisc: it meant a huge jukebox!

What hasn't changed is that it was running on Sun hardware, and SunOS.

Unlicensed software use 'may have peaked'

Nick Kew Silver badge
Boffin

Methodology

Someone should cast a critical eye over their methodology.

Oh wait, someone has: http://itreallyisupsidedown.blogspot.com/2010/05/yo-ho-ho.html

Android tops iPhone in US (no thanks to the Nexus One)

Nick Kew Silver badge
WTF?

How do you define a smartphone?

El Reg posts two classes of report on smartphone usage:

(1) with Nokia in clear top spot

(2) with Nokia absolutely nowhere

Could that be because noone agrees on what the smartphone market actually is, and some reports just exclude Nokia (clearly nonsense) while others lump in every Nokia handset as a smartphone (ditto)?

These articles would be more meaningful if we knew what you were really talking about!

Nokia tops iPhone and BlackBerry (again)

Nick Kew Silver badge

A niche

Apple's is a niche. A big niche, and a good one to have (huge margins), but nevertheless a niche of consumer-oriented devices and apps, somewhat similar to the wii's niche.

The ipad suggests they're very happy with that niche, and expanding it in directions where they're strong. That's pretty much the strategy that first brought us the iphone, when they extended their long-established desktop and laptop lines to a pocket-size device.

That's not to say Nokia has the mainstream to itself, with challenges coming from many directions. And you're right, it must hurt to see someone so meeja/PR-savvy as Apple occupying such a profitable niche ...

Vote Lib Dem, doom humanity to extinction

Nick Kew Silver badge

Come on

Humanity to extinction? Isn't that a bit of an exaggeration?

I'm sure Britain can sustain some population long-term without nuclear energy. Maybe 10% of what we currently have.

Nokia's lost weekend ends with N8?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Battery life

My E71 is about 15 months, and shows no signs of flagging. Still a good week between charges when it's just on standby/light use.

Trouble with the E71 is, the hardware is so good you feel spoiled for anything else - including some of the much more expensive devices like N90 or you-know-what. If only they could combine that with maemo and a decent range of apps.

'Gossips' say Apple will acquire ARM

Nick Kew Silver badge

your last para

I'm (sufficiently) well aware of the rules. I just thought the whole notion sufficiently preposterous not to call for further comment.

And yes, it would in principle be like Oracle buying Sun (you don't get to be a hundred-billion-dollar company by under-utilising your assets)! Except, Sun's stockmarket performance made it a ripe takeover target, whereas ARM is quite the opposite.

Nick Kew Silver badge

ARM up

It's showing a gain of about 180% on the price I paid in 2008. That's because the price absurdly undervalued the company. Part at least of that rise is an obvious correction.

A takeover target is usually an undervalued company. If ARM were still 80-90p, a bidder offering £1.50 to get it on the cheap might get eager takers ....

Nick Kew Silver badge
Stop

No

Speaking as an ARM shareholder ...

... I'm not selling!

Chips sales took dip in February

Nick Kew Silver badge
FAIL

Chip sales on the rise in Feb

Jan: 22.3bn in 31 days makes 719 million per day

Feb: 22bn in 28 days makes 786 million per day

Looks like a healthy rise to me.

Novell (not SCO) owns UNIX, says jury

Nick Kew Silver badge
Pirate

The Darkside

Novell under current management is benign. But this could raise its value to some hedge fund who thinks there's real gold out there for someone more competent than SCO.

Why the Google antitrust complaint is not about Microsoft

Nick Kew Silver badge
FAIL

Spammers hate successful anti-spam!

Mapquest??? This is pure sleight of hand. Mapquest was never market leader in anything but a tiny market, irrelevant to many of us. Google maps is immeasurably superior. Awareness spreads naturally, just as awareness of the search engine spread in the first place, back in the late '90s!

You might just as well blame google's original rise on google's monopoly!

Universal product search? Again, users want what works. Experience tells us that shopping sites like kelkoo that make/made efforts to appear in google search results are a massive waste of time. Whereas google's results are genuinely useful, by virtue of google's long-standing concentration on what the end-user wants taking precedence over what the advertiser wants.

If google is ever prevented from tweaking its algorithms to thwart spammers and special interests - including the entire "SEO" industry - it loses its value to consumers and becomes just another Yahoo. And if people wanted that ... we could vote with our feet right now!

BTW, is this "Shivaun" for real, or is it just someone's attempt to transcribe "Siobhán"?

Behavioural targeting works, claims US study

Nick Kew Silver badge
Welcome

Yes please!

Does behavioural advertising (thanks for not succumbing to 'merkin spelling there) mean that my accepting inoffensive ads but immediately adblocking anything that moves on a page will cause them to stop trying to inflict flash-crap on me?

'Switch to Century Gothic to save the planet'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Sample please!

For those of us who have no idea what "century gothic" looks like (but who knew helvetica long before they ever cloned it and called it "arial")!

Greatest Living Briton gets £30m for 'web science'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Meanwhile ...

Meanwhile ... those who really know how to turn a mass of disorgnised information into something useful will just get on with the job. Most obviously Google. But in the UK, our own Autonomy also seems to making a considerable success in a non-web-centric world.

Fortunately for them, government's track record supports laughing off any new competition it might sponsor.

Police National Database will have audit trail

Nick Kew Silver badge
Coat

Calling Mark Thomas ....

Splendid.

The police are so short of red tape they still find time to get out of the police station once in a while. This should dispense with that kind of nonsense once-and-for-all.

Google says desktop PC is three years from 'irrelevance'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Do keep up at the back!

Of course, you plug your smartphone into your 24" monitor, and your choice of keyboard, etc. The builtin screen is only for times/places when something bigger is more trouble than it's worth.

Novell mulls hedge fund takeover

Nick Kew Silver badge

Remember SCO

What would a hedge fund want with Novell?

Do they expect to make good profits out of software and systems? Sounds implausible.

But Novell has "crown jewels" IP. Could someone be expecting to do what SCO tried and failed?

Intel: Think of the children - give them PCs, not e-readers

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Up

Quite right

Good idea. Let kiddies have PCs, as well as books.

Now all we need is a new generation of ARM-powered desktop and laptop PCs. Thanks for the suggestion, Intel.

Mixed messages for UK small biz

Nick Kew Silver badge

Predictable and predicted

The end of last year was fuelled by purchases ahead of the VAT rise. End of story. We could see it coming a mile off, before we had any idea the weather would turn wintery.

The economy as a whole is borrowing ever more from the future. Its ability to repay has been choked by a decade-long housing bubble swallowing the money that needed to be invested in the productive economy to keep us healthy.

Hope you like cold turkey.

Newspapers slam BBC iPhone app plans

Nick Kew Silver badge
FAIL

How many wrongs make a right?

The original BBC iplayer rightly got stick for forcing punters to fork out for the Beeb's choice of viewing platform (selected Windows versions). That's like if in the early days the BBC had supplied its own approved radio (or TV) and refused to work with anyone else's! The right solution was to adopt an open standard so the user could use the user's choice of viewing platform.

By selecting the iphone, they're doing exactly the same again!

And there's another less-publicised issue in there. Now that iplayer has been fixed, I can watch it on a Nokia when on WIFI. But over 3G I get the message that it's only available over [a different network] (other multimedia like youtube work fine). So it's not just technology vendors but also service providers getting discriminated!

Nokia patches N900 firmware

Nick Kew Silver badge

"delete as appropriate"?

Smartphone? Nah, much smarter to carry something smaller and more comfortable (same comment applies to other larger "phones").

Mobile computer? That's my macbook and it's various peers. Or even the compaq behemoth complete with CRT screen my then-colleague used to lug around in the boot of his car in the 1980s.

No, the N900 is a pocket-puter. Something to take places where the macbook would be a liability. From cycling or backpacking, through to an event like FOSDEM where power outlets and sometimes even seats are at a premium.

Apache terminates 'outdated' web server

Nick Kew Silver badge

Just admitting the inevitable

Apache 1.3 has had ***-all developer interest for years. But the users kept on wanting support and updates. Result: an effectively-moribund but still widely-used server.

Making it official should help end this situation. Anyone who still wants to use 1.3 now knows officially they should go elsewhere (and pay) if they want further support.

Google mystery server rooted in Apache

Nick Kew Silver badge
Coat

I thought this was common knowledge

... but maybe that's only among those of us who attend the same techie conferences as prominent open source folks from the Goog.

Still, having Apache roots is perfectly compatible with being a substantially different product with its own separate identity. As demonstrated by both lighttpd and nginx. Just as Apache itself had roots in NCSA.

Mine's the one with turtles all the way down.

Nokia slashes prices to up market share ante

Nick Kew Silver badge
Pint

@David Hicks - N900

Dunno about it dropping, but having bought mine just in time to pay 15% VAT, I think I might take just that to FOSDEM this weekend and leave the macbook at home. Better still, a pocket-puter I'm happy cycling or trekking with is worth a few squids.

BTW, you're not by any chance the David Hicks who was at Girton round about ... well, let's not reveal my and possibly your great age.

Cisco offers $250k for your billion dollar idea

Nick Kew Silver badge
Coat

$250k vs ???

Let's see. $250k won't hurt, and Cisco would probably be pleased to hire you for a very comfortable salary too ....

Or have your brilliant idea in 1995 and put a prototype demo on the 'net, develop it further over 1996/7, while all the time the world ignores you. Then see Microsoft[1] has independently implemented your idea in 2001/2, and you not only got nothing, but spent time working for nothing on an idea that was too far ahead of its time.

Mine's the old one retrieved when the scarecrow got a new coat.

Brits left cold by mobile internet

Nick Kew Silver badge

Left cold by adware survey

Those of us with Free Software/Developer-friendly platforms like maemo may be excluded from those numbers because we actively avoid adware, and draw on the same range of apps we'd use on a desktop *X box instead.

Monty looks to Russia, China to stop Oracle's Sun buyout

Nick Kew Silver badge

If you care about the product ...

... then look to Canonical for inspiration.

There's something positive a man with big ideas and the proceeds of the sale of his old company can do with Free Software.

Apache mulls end to 1.3 and 2.0 web server releases

Nick Kew Silver badge

sponsors and versions

You get goodwill for these sponsorships. And the goodwill of such a major force as Apache is clearly worth something to these companies.

In some cases it's two-way: for example, Google sponsors Apache, and Apache participates in Google's "summer of code". But the two are not connected. In a case like Microsoft, one can only suppose they're keen to build bridges to developer communities that are not hostile to them (Apache being explicitly vendor-neutral).

Oh, and your article, like all the others, is only part of the story. Whereas Apache 2.2 is alive and has developer interest, there's a whole lot more in the nascent 2.4.

And you can still get support for 2.0 and even 1.3. I did some work for a client using 2.0 as recently as last November! But I wouldn't do that unpaid, unless there was a very compelling reason.

Cybersitter firm sues China, Lenovo for Green Dam code lift

Nick Kew Silver badge

Anyone remember SCO?

Of course, I can't tell how similar this case is or isn't. But the idea that quite so many bigcos have lifted your code without permission seems far-fetched.

Tax dodgers aided by old IT

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Black Helicopters

Worrying

I'm anticipating a five-figure tax rebate from PAYE - a little more than last year's rebate. Are they lining up an excuse not to pay?

Nokia N900 Linux smartphone

Nick Kew Silver badge

Maps - @Ian Michael Gumby

Nokia's maps are great on roads data, but crap on anything else. Very limited non-road information, and big errors in rivers, railways and coastlines.

I have both Nokia and Google maps on my E71. The Google requires a data connection, but when that's available it's far and away the better of the two. The Nokia maps are a fallback for when there's no data connection.

(Much tempted by a N900 as a highly-portable mini-pooter. Never seen the point of a netbook - can't see how it would be usable anywhere the macbook isn't.)

Foodies sue providers of hacked payment system

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Up

About time too!

Why do tech equipment suppliers get away with supplying kit that's not fit for purpose?

- Why did noone hit by the Microsoft email viruses sue them for ignoring the security sections in the MIME RFCs and so opening the gates wide to them?

- Please please PLEASE can I get compensation from the suppliers of car and building alarms that go off every time there's a bit of wind&rain!

... etcetera.

Good to hear someone is taking action, albeit in a distant country and over a relatively obscure matter!

IBM's cat-brain sim a 'scam,' says Swiss boffin

Nick Kew Silver badge
Pint

useless use of cat

I already nominated this for a Useless Use of cat award. But maybe the story has even less to it.

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