* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Customers baffled as Citrix forces password changes for document-slinging Sharefile outfit

Nick Kew Silver badge

Quick, more boiling oil!

So they're 'protecting' users who do dumb things like re-use passwords ... by doing dumber things like forcing them to deal with extra complexity. Along with all those who would never dream of reusing their Correct Horse Battery Staples. This is broken, so let's double down on it.

Do they also make you identify with memorable personal data? Mother's maiden name, favourite colour, first school, sorta thing? Now that really does feature in data leaks. As if it was even secure in the first place.

Where's the Pratchett icon, for occasions like this when he helps translate AAARGH to a half-decent LART?

Sysadmin’s plan to manage system config changes backfires spectacularly

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Re: Other screw-ups

Safe aliases for 'rm' are a good thing to prevent this!

Aliases for standard system commands are pure evil. They bugger up expectations, both for those who know the standard commands and may react unpredictably to unexpected behaviour, and for those who come new to the aliases and are then surprised by the real thing.

If you want an "rm" you consider safe, use something else for the alias. "del", for instance.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Why use a revision control system?

Code used to be backed up to tape too. It was obsoleted by revision control systems.

First code I ever wrote had to be saved to tape for every increment. 'Cos we didn't have discs back then, and a simple bug would commonly require a several-minute reboot (from tape) and restore (ditto).

But revision control had already existed for some years: sccs goes right back to 1972.

The dingo... er, Google stole my patent! Biz boss tells how Choc Factory staff tried to rip off idea from interview

Nick Kew Silver badge

Light bulb

Glad to see you featuring this most famous misappropriated patent at the top of the story. It was precisely the thought that came to mind when I saw the headline on your feed.

Marriott's Starwood hotels mega-hack: Half a BILLION guests' deets exposed over 4 years

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Re: police-requested guest registration

Most countries seem to be a bit random IME. I've had hotels in Blighty, as well as various other countries in Europe and elsewhere, ask for my passport or comparable ID. And others that take a more relaxed attitude.

They do all seem to want a creditcard on booking and checkin. And recently they don't bother with it on checkout, which implies the capability to debit it some days later than reading it. I should hope that works with a single-use token rather than storing the whole thing!

Take my advice and stop using Rubik's Cubes to prove your intelligence

Nick Kew Silver badge


There was no such thing as a Rubik's Cube in the 1970s.

OK, there was a magic cube that you could easily scramble but was harder to unscramble. I still have a vintage example from November 1979[1]. But it wasn't until 1980 that it hit the shops and acquired the "Rubik" name.

[1] I can place it that precisely because it was my first term at Cambridge, when I regarded it as a practical exercise in Group Theory - one of the term's main courses.

Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab

Nick Kew Silver badge

My most memorable story of fixing not-broken technology comes from when I was about thirteen-ish and had never seen a computer. My granny told me, if I could fix her old radio, I could have it for myself. I changed the batteries, and it worked!

To be fair, at the time I was pretty handy with electronics, and fixed a few less-trivial things. Come to think of it ... no, you don't want to hear that one.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Hell is other people

But could she hear you on the non-functioning headset?

Nick Kew Silver badge

One busy chap?

That's good. We need more hands. A new PFY or two (Simon's one has long-since graduated to full BoFH himself). Empire-building, doncherknow?

GCHQ pushes for 'virtual crocodile clips' on chat apps – the ability to silently slip into private encrypted comms

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Social Engineering

Couched in a more convincing spiel, leaving the poor bugger no option ...

Hello telco, this is GCHQ (honest guv). We urgently need to listen to those terrorists: they may be about to attack imminently. Yes of course they're terrorists: the Nether Blighty Sunday Cricket League is just a front! Yes, NOW, we can't wait while you complete all the red tape: that'll be too late, and your refusal to cooperate will be responsible for many deaths!

Capita seeks new networking chief: Up for it?

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Re: Fewer Things Better

But they do at least one thing very well indeed.

They provide commentards and others with a general object of derision. Can be good for letting off steam.

Oz opposition caves, offers encryption backdoor compromise

Nick Kew Silver badge

their best assistance in understanding the nature and the content (where we have a warrant) of that communication”,

That at least sounds more like the FBI Iphone case than a backdoor.

Perhaps the Reg could point us to the real smoking gun here?

Openreach names 81 lucky locations to be plugged into its super-zippy Gfast pipe

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Re: LOL - ever heard of contention?

It's only two decades since I was connecting to a 2Mb national backbone.

Something that looks a little like Moore's Law is happening to our infrastructure.

Consultant misreads advice, ends up on a 200km journey to the Exchange expert

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Onomatopoeic dinner parties...

Or ring the bell and start taking a piss on the Welcome coir and when the door opens ask them "How's that for an on-a-mat-a-pee'er?"

Is that usage somewhere in ISIHAC's Uxbridge English Dictionary, or is it just my imagination?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: click this

You need to get over it. Language evolves.

Click may have some historic association with a sound, particularly in an era when computer devices had horrible artificial "click"s that were supposedly reassuring to people making the transition from mechanical typewriters. But that's now historic, and (in a computing context) the word "click" is now an action.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Spoilers in Tech Docs!

A recipe I like is to write the techie explanation in the middle.

Above it, a simple note "for quick step-by-step guide, scroll down to <anchor>".

Below it, those step by step instructions. Any critical gotchas refer back to the explanation.

But then, the kind of instructions that say "click OK or cancel" don't feature in my world. I'll google when something is a bit less obvious than that.

Shocker: UK smart meter rollout is crap, late and £500m over budget

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Re: Before I read the article...

You give them too much credit.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Ca$h...

Over here there are initiatives to let people participate in installations on other people's roofs, including public buildings.

Here too. But the subsidies are far, far less. And yet we who don't have our own roof and so have to resort to investing in public facilities get pointed to and labelled "fat cat investors".

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Smart meters do not save energy

In contrast, smart meters can disconnect individual users for short periods (load shedding)

I have an old dumb meter. I don't know how many of my neighbours have smart vs dumb meters. But we all get disconnected depressingly frequently. It's called power cuts.

A smart meter wouldn't change my usage much. But I can envisage a future world in which my dishwasher can be set to run when the supply tells it is cheapest overnight. Those who have electric cars will have a similar situation on a much bigger scale.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Home security problem

Do you know anyone who doesn't flush a bog within an hour of falling out of bed in the morning?

That might not register. Some people have alternative sources of water to flush the loo. In my case, when I empty the dehumidifier. Doesn't happen every day, but often enough to be at home without using that flush from time to time.

In any case, isn't the discussion based on a false premise? The OP's premise appears to be Debunked here.

Other countries seem to be spending much less and achieving much more rollout. Which suggests the problems we have arise from our system rather than anything inherent in the technology.

Mobile networks are killing Wi-Fi for speed around the world

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Cost?

My home broadband is a 4G connection (not via the 'phone, though I have that as emergency backup since it's on a different network). Cost is rather less than fixed line phone+broadband or a virgin cable Heisenconnection.

I shall await with interest what deals appear for 5G, and whether it becomes as ubiquitous in 'puters as wifi is today.

Oh, I wish it could be Black Friday every day-aayyy, when the wallets start jingling but it's still a week till we're paiii-iid

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Meanwhile in Welsh Wales

Nice one. Though google translate gives "mindless" for your stupid, and thinks Day should be Days.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Meanwhile in western France...

@FrogAndChips: That's not what I call a bargain.

Three courses and wine? Doesn't sound bad for €12.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Stayed in a Hotel recently where the TV

If you can't find an off switch, there's always the power switch on the wall.

Pasta-covered cat leads to kid night operator taking apart the mainframe

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Re: RE: Dried Pasta & Stubborn, Unmoving Cats...

But we didn't see a cat do it.

Is your cat called Macavity?

Joe Public wants NHS to spend its cash on cancer, mental health, not digital services

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Re: Once again. Technology should *not* be a goal, but a tool to deliver what the people want.

@Jimmy2Cows - I guess that was directed at me?

It was a reference to the magical thinking that makes IT a "solution" to a problem. As opposed to a means to implement a solution. Brexit seems to be the leading example of that today: those calling for a technological solution seem to be missing the idea that there needs first to be a political solution to implement, and denying all efforts to reach a political solution.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: View from the inside

Then tell management what's wrong. Senior management if necessary, and write a detailed memo (the process of which will help anticipate possible attacks on your analysis). Discuss it with any colleagues you can trust.

If that goes nowhere, blow the whistle to the press! At this point, your memo is your chief weapon in being taken seriously.

I should add, I myself failed to do that at the beginning of my career. I just left two jobs where I'd been doing such useless work. In retrospect I regret my lack of self-confidence. By the time I hit 30 I was successfully avoiding projects like that.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Hmmm. Not sure how useful paper is at performing an MRI scan?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Once again. Technology should *not* be a goal, but a tool to deliver what the people want.

Exactly. It's an entirely false dichotomy. IT is a means to an end, no matter what magic properties the brexiteers may endow it with in their imagination. Insofar as it helps the NHS in its goal of treating patients better (whether directly or indirectly - e.g. by supporting admin), spending on it is justified.

A survey that puts IT in opposition to the goals it supports is somewhere on a scale from disingenuous to clueless.

Merry Christmas, you filthy directors: ICO granted powers to fine bosses for spam calls

Nick Kew Silver badge

You seem to be seeing a grey area there.

I'd fix it by a per-call levy initiated by recipients of nuisance calls. Say, a button you could press that would initiated an automated penalty payment of £1 for the call, administered by the telcos. With basic safeguards against malicious or accidental activation, like a threshold number of calls before penalties start.

Proceeds to go to charity (less a small admin charge determined by ofcom), in the manner of the Lottery.

Microsoft sysadmin hired for fake NetWare skills keeps job despite twitchy trigger finger

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Re: Memories ...

Those were the days, when documentation existed and actually contained decent information. You could have three folders (paper variants) open at once, see the entire pages and still be working on a console ...

Where the **** did you work?

My overwhelming recollection of documentation in pre-google times was of the gap on the shelf where whatever-I-wanted should have been. Noone knew who had it, except that they'd long since left the company.

Online docs are a true liberation. Doubly so now we have desktops big enough to keep as many pages as we need open.

Nick Kew Silver badge

This is why I hate agencies. They are in it for the commission, nothing more.

Never mind agencies. It's happened to my CV when it's been my then-employer (as a permie) trying to contract me to its client.

Client asks about $foo at interview. I reply honestly I know nothing about $foo. "But your CV says ..." "I've no idea who edited that, but it wasn't me".

We asked the US military for its 'do not buy' list of Russian, Chinese gear. Surprise: It doesn't exist

Nick Kew Silver badge

Deniability, old chap

If you have a list, you're open to challenge. And your opponents might have deep pockets for lawyers, too. Awfully messy.

Bright spark dev irons out light interference

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: >If you want to parse Reg headlines, you need to learn to read from the tabloids, not Cambridge.

I did actually go to Cambridge and that's why I can parse el Reg headlines.

I did actually go to Cambridge, and it has nothing to do with my ability to parse Reg headlines.

I guess it's all about cultural context. Not a binary thing, just usages that are a little less familiar in forn' parts. Our perplexed 'merkin friend finds himself, like Eliza Doolittle, with the language but not quite the nuances.

Brits shun country life over phone not-spot fears

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Re: @Glen 1

@Voyna - surely Glen was taking the p*** out of the quote from the article?

I wonder how many of his downvoters actually read it?

Sorry, Mr Zuckerberg isn't in London that day. Or that one. Nope. I'd give up if I were you

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The question is

You have to distinguish false news from false news. There's a Right kind, and a Wrong kind.

Though it would be way above my pay grade to tell you which is which. That's a job for the Inquisition.

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Mark 85 - Not just taxes, also blame. Lots of juicy blame. Blame that's well-deserved, alongside general scapegoating. The former is limited to what they do deserve; the latter is unlimited. Kind-of, the role telly played a generation ago in What's Wrong With Society.

Not that I want to defend them. I've never used them, and I'm not about to excuse their Enclosure of the Commons. But I do find it more than a bit ridiculous when posturing politicians make a big issue of wanting one particular individual from a bigco. If we apply an IR35-like test, $company should be free to send a face of its own choosing to do a particular job - like answering to the politicians. Unless we're going to claim Zuck is the government's employee and can't be substituted!

MIT to Oz: Crypto-busting laws risk banning security tests

Nick Kew Silver badge

Aussie Edition

We[1] are creating a separate Aussie edition of our opensource product.

Not that the Aussie law affects us at present, but we anticipate future versions of our product acquiring capabilities that are likely to bring it under Aussie law. So we'll need to fork a compromised edition from our honest product, to be prepared.

[1] That's a generic "we", of course. And the Aussie version will come with an IoT-enabled tinfoil hat.

Oz lad 'fell in love with' baby meerkat, nicked it from zoo, took it out for a romantic Big Mac

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: He got off lightly compared to Tufty.

The badgers will need a good PR firm to represent them. To most people, they're just giant cretins spreading TB everywhere.

News in the last couple of days: government-commissioned study finds it's mostly cows spreading TB. Not badgers. Which should come as no surprise to anyone given that TB is a disease of poverty and really bad conditions - which cows suffer a lot worse than wild animals.

CISA's Palace: Congress backs new cybersecurity nerve-center for cyber-America's cyber-future

Nick Kew Silver badge

To defend, or?

This is Uncle Sam we're talking about.

Where do his priorities really lie? I expect that prominent among them are attacking the rest of the world (stuxnet? You ain't seen nothing yet ...), industrial espionage, and surveillence. And of course misinformation, pointing the finger of blame at scapegoat-of-the-day for their own actions.

Not that any of that excludes bona-fide defensive work against actual threats to them. Though it begs questions like whether staff will have immunity from the aura of fear created by arrests like Hutchins, and can they ever leave?

Six critical systems, four months to Brexit – and no completed testing

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: How about scrapping them?

@Len: hopefully Brexit means we can still have food safety.

That's precisely the big sticking point! EU food safety rules are exactly what the brexiters insist we be freed from. Because they're the US red line that has long stood in the way of a US-EU trade deal (and also a US-pacific rim deal). And a US trade deal is the only one anyone cares about that we don't have already.

That's also the Irish border problem. Once the UK is importing[1] the full range of growth-hormone-filled beef, all Monsanto's GM efforts, etc, an open border will mean the only limit on smuggling will be the capacity of transport routes from Belfast to Dublin.

[1] Not merely importing, but also preventing backdoor restraint of free trade in them. So labelling schemes that might be prejudicial to US imports (for example, Red Tractor) won't be outlawed, but will be cause for an importer to take legal action and win damages against a supermarket displaying Red Tractor if it can be shown to affect sales.

OK Google, what is African ISP Main One, and how did it manage to route your traffic into China through Russia?

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Story needed!

Perhaps El Reg should send Rebecca on a business trip to Lagos to collect a "Who, Me?" story here.

Cheeky cheesemaker fails to copyright how things taste

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Wyrdness - nonsense. We in Blighty have many wonderful cheeses: see for instance our superb local cheese shop.

And at the bottom end, I'd take a cheapo Sainsburys or Lidl cheddar over any of the Dutch cheeses sold in Blighty any day. Or for an outside perspective, I'd take the cheddar I could get when I lived in Germany over the Dutch cheeses available there, too.

(n.b. Happy to accept that good Dutch cheeses exist and that some of you have experienced them. A story like German wine? They have some nice stuff, but you wouldn't think it based on the crap they export to us).

OK Google, why was your web traffic hijacked and routed through China, Russia today?

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Locky Re: Cui bono?

Is that an On Call?

Or might it be more a Who, Me?

Can your rival fix it as fast? turns out to be ten-million-dollar question for plucky support guy

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Not just assembly.

> so when I inadvertently added 1 to the passed-in constant 5, all "constant" 5s in the program became 6s...

Whelp. My day was shit, but not THAT shit. You win.

Erk! That brings back a faint memory of being warned about that. Also in a context of FORTRAN, and back in my first job where - for the first few months before upgrading to a VAX - we were on a vintage ICL. I guess someone there had fallen foul of it too!

Nick Kew Silver badge

One upvote is all I can give ...

... but you should be a headline On-Call, not a mere comment!

Bloke jailed for trying to blow up UK crypto-cash biz after it failed to reset his account password

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Re: A note to USAian authors

tedious pendants,

Yeah, hanging is just so passé.

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

Nick Kew Silver badge

I *think* I can top that.

That is to say, I think I may still have a PCMCIA dialup modem. Used to be indispensable when I visited the parents, before they finally acquired broadband.

And somewhere there are bound to be things from pre-PCMCIA times. Anyone have a use for an EISA SCSI card? Still worked fine last time I had anything to connect it to. Only for those old enough to remember or bright enough to figure out setting pre-plug&pray jumpers.

If Shadow Home Sec Diane Abbott can be reeled in by phishers, truly no one is safe

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Laugh at Abbot all you want

has obtained compromising materials on politicians -- material subsequently used to "influence" voting in Congress.

NSA? Good grief, they do make a mountain of a molehill.

Here that's the longstanding job of the Whips in Parliament. And in modern times[1] it's not just the whips, it's the political advisors too.

[1] Going back at least to the 1960s - and Crossman's diaries as used in "Yes, Minister".

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: RE: h4rm0ny

The question isn't whether $minister is competent.

It's whether they're cunning enough ever to thwart Sir Humphrey. Abbott isn't, so she'll be irrelevant.

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