* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Vodafone says termination rate clampdown would hit the poor

Nick Kew Silver badge

We already pay to receive calls

I think El Reg is inadvertently scaremongering in this article, by leading readers to suppose we'll be expected to pay to receive calls including spam, wrong numbers, etc. If that happens it'll be by choice or when we're scammed. At least, I assume so ...

I for one have paid a lot for incoming calls over the years, without the option. That's because, as a one-man business (from 1998 to earlier this year) I had to ensure my landline would divert to the mobile and I wouldn't miss vital business calls. So the landline was being charged full call-to-mobile charges, and that's a sector where they seem to operate a cartel (no bloody competition).

Just to complete the scam, there was an idiot Estate Agent[1] who kept giving my (landline) numbers to his customers, so I'd get their calls at my expense. Being a public-facing business, they had about 100 incoming calls diverted to me for every business call I got.

[1] The callers always asked for "Ben". There were several other staff at the same agent, but never a call for anyone else. So I have to infer that it was Ben who couldn't give his own phone number, rather than lots and lots of customers getting it wrong.

Microsoft 'proves' six degrees of separation theory

Nick Kew Silver badge

They've posted evidence for the opposite.

So they've come up with a little over six ..

... from a sample that is self-selecting and oriented to their particular service.

You or I (any El Reg reader) is no doubt just one person away from at least one MSN user. Not so most of Africa, and even pockets within the developed world.

The 'net is all about connectivity. It would be surprising if 'net users didn't have *significantly lower* degrees of separation than non-net-users, particularly where large communities are not connected. A self-selecting bunch like MSNers just amplify that effect.

The Guardian's excellent Web 2.0 blog-up

Nick Kew Silver badge

Web 2.0

So it told me my carbon footprint is 0.0, 100% below the national average.

Well I know it's low, but that calculation looks like an artifact of "web 2.0". Adds breakage to what we had before the luvvies discovered it.

Mine's the shabby one that fits a chap with 20 years less paunch.

Researcher's hypothesis may expose uber-secret DNS flaw

Nick Kew Silver badge

Deja Vu


Once you've read it, look at the page's Last-Modified date. November 2002.

Shocker DNS spoofing vuln discovered three years ago by a student

Nick Kew Silver badge

Don't you read El Reg?

It seems I wasn't the only one to point out, in a comment on your earlier story, that DJB warned very clearly of this in 2001.

Vendors form alliance to fix DNS poisoning flaw

Nick Kew Silver badge

DJB pointed this out in 2001


... and there's ample evidence of his having repeatedly pointed it out.

My take on this: http://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/sensationalist-humbug/

Congress still afraid to define 'internet gambling'

Nick Kew Silver badge

We all know the real definition ...

... if foreigners are in charge, it's illegal.

Oh, and to the rant above: the present Commission is what we have *without* the Lisbon agreement. Guess that must be what you want? Me, I'd prefer to see the commission replaced by an executive appointed by and accountable to the democratically elected parliament (whose track record compares rather favourably to other parliaments).

Cap, trade, subsidise - Obama's energy plan goes off piste

Nick Kew Silver badge

How is this a surprise?

We (or our rulers) have spent years spouting hot air and doing nothing, while pursuing resolutely counterproductive policies[1]. And our meeja bleat about "the poor" when anyone talks about "green taxes", conveniently ignoring the fact that the poor suffer not from high fuel prices, but from living in a society that marginalises non-drivers. Etcetera.

But americans - of all political persuasions - have a much better record than us of appreciating that social tinkering can't fix problems like this. That leaves two options: hide in your bunker (Dubya), or do something meaningful with market forces. I expect either side would rightly laugh at the kind of tokenism we have here in .uk[2] masquerading as anything more than rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.

What's needed is the political courage to follow through. If John Major's fuel price escalator hadn't been dropped by his idiot successor, we'd be better placed to face current and future cold turkey as oil supplies tighten.

[1] Winter fuel allowance forsooth! If there is a budget to keep old people warm, then spend it on improving thermal efficiency of their homes! And get a bloomin' fleece or pullover. Etcetera, etcetera.

[2] Don't leave appliances on standby, drop tax on smaller cars, please don't use plastic carrier bags, etcetera, at the same time as refusing to mandate universal broadband, closing local facilities while subsidising car parking, working to ghettoise cyclists onto substandard psychlepaths, hugely expanding aviation, etcetera.

Web infection attacks more than 100,000 pages

Nick Kew Silver badge

@anonymous {hero|coward}

Some of us have SQL injection in hand. See


Welsh couple cop Mosquito flak

Nick Kew Silver badge

Antisocial Behaviour

Some kind of action on noise nuisance is long overdue:

- Builders or other workmen who play the BBC's monument to mindlessness (aka Radio 2) or similar.

- Defective car or house alarms that go off again and again and again.

- Pubs/etc that regularly play electronically-amplified noise without proper soundproofing.

- And now, it seems, this "mosquito".

These things can blight a significant area, and the whole lives of people affected. Isn't it time we introduced some remedy? How about a legal order covering Antisocial Behaviour, and requiring a perpetrator to stop?

Oh wait ... what we need is someone to take this seriously.

Giant solar plants in Negev could power Israel's future

Nick Kew Silver badge

Can biology do a better job?

Alternative proposal: pump huge volumes of seawater into the desert and grow algal blooms. Big carbon-sink cum non-destructive biomass source.

Pub-bore thinking at http://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2008/01/13/blooming-in-the-desert/

Sun's war against clarity and business continues

Nick Kew Silver badge

The price of free speech.

Interesting problem for Sun, given how big they are on giving employees freedom over what they blog about. If management have Words with this blogger, they risk unkind fingers pointing at their stated policy and values.

A company with a conventional "everything must be approved by PR" policy doesn't have that problem.

Nato secrets USB stick lost in Swedish library

Nick Kew Silver badge
Black Helicopters

@ken hagan ...

How to hand it in?

Make your own copy of it, then post it anonymously to [journalist|embassy] of your choice.

BBC iPlayer launches, but with limited viewer reach

Nick Kew Silver badge

One Viewer to rule them all

Did the BBC design and ship One True Wireless? Or the One True Television set? Nope, they left it to the marketplace, and we've all benefited from competition, choice and innovation.

Did the BBC design and ship the One True iPlayer? Erm ....

Rant: http://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2007/07/13/confusing-the-issues/

Stripogram councillor rocks Devon Lib Dems

Nick Kew Silver badge

Comment from a local ...

[Not really local, but from within the same parliamentary constituency, so more-or-less local in political terms]

The libdems aren't taking us seriously. Our old libdem MP retired in 2005 and they gave us some candidate with no local credentials, so the (local) Tory won it.

The Mayor of Bideford (and thus presumably overlord of this unruly rabble) was our Green party candidate, and seemed quite impressive for a politician.

Computer virus turns 25

Nick Kew Silver badge

IBM Gremlin

To Anonymous Coward. I don't like turning this into a discussion, but the IBM Gremlin in question was of course a *mainframe* thing.

I've no idea what the 1997 "gremlin" was, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to hear the word had been re-used, perhaps many times.

Nick Kew Silver badge

It's older than that

The (harmless) "IBM Gremlin" was old news in my undergraduate days. And I left Cambridge in 1983.

(Un)lucky UCLA student cops Paris's old mobile number

Nick Kew Silver badge

I can top that ...

Having, in a previous job, been given a phone extension that had previously been a fax number:-(

Mine was bad enough, but at least it wasn't a heavily-used fax number. My colleague just up the corridor at the same time got the main public fax number for the entire research institute of about 300 people!

MPack malware exposes cheapskate web hosts

Nick Kew Silver badge

Not true

"Poor configuration of Apache servers allowed ..."

True up to a point, but the real culprit is PHP. Together with failure to take advantage of a number of protections.

"Check if your hosting company uses chroot and/or suExec because that is the only way to make sure that your own web site will not be compromised by other users sharing the same physical server."

That's not true at all. chroot is not relevant to this issue. suexec is one of a number of options that is relevant, but very few PHP hosts use it (a few more are prepared to use FastCGI, which serves a similar purpose). There are also quite a few assumptions underlying the claim.

And to Steven Hewittt - have you seen any of the press PHP has got from within "the OSS crew"? It's been known for years to be a security minefield. You'll find me on record comparing it to Microsoft, as both have put "attractive to dumb users" ahead of security. Google Stefan Esser for comment from the heart of "PHP security".

UK.biz: recruiting talent the number one IT problem

Nick Kew Silver badge

A Recruiter calls ...

[Ring Ring]

"Hello, [me] speaking"

"Hello, this is J. Random Recruiter. Is this a good time?"

"Yeah, fine. What can I do you for?"

"We've got a city financial company needs your skills, in particular [foo]"


"Would you be available to work in The City"?

"I work for clients around the world. The City is fine. Just so long as they don't expect my bum physically in their seat on a regular basis. Happy to travel to London occasionally - say, up to once a month."

"They'll pay £150K for this. And that's a permie salary"

"Great. And that'll be based on working primarily from home?"

"No, clients won't generally do that. But you don't have to live in London, you can commute in from the country".

"It's a minimum of five hours from here to Paddington, one way. About monthly is OK; anything much more frequent isn't. That's why I work from home, for clients around the world".

"You find clients who are happy with that?"

"Most of my income comes from America, which means it's losing its value. I'd welcome work coming from London."

"And you wouldn't consider moving"?

"Yes, but not to anywhere in SouthEast England."

"They might be flexible on the pay".

"The money is fine, thank you. Southeast England isn't. That's what I've escaped from, and I'm not about to go back".

"Oh. So you wouldn't be interested?"

"As I said, I'm happy to go up there from time to time."

... and it draws to a close. We haven't even discussed the work itself, beyond the recruiter having taken an interest in my CV. He can use our telecoms infrastructure to do his job (contact prospective recruits) remotely, but won't countenance the recruits themselves doing likewise.

Not all of them say £150k (the last one I recollect did). But the shape of the conversation is remarkably predictable. I expect hacks prepared to work in central London are in a lot of demand and commanding that kind of pay because of it, while those of us who won't do it will find my tale very familiar.

Open source 'leaving Asia behind'

Nick Kew Silver badge

This argument is oddly familiar

This argument is oddly familiar, because it cropped up recently amongst members of a major open-source organisation in the context of ... why we have so few women. The argument was that a robustly critical culture seems hostile to women, and they can't take the heat, so we should change it.

This particular organisation does have a significant Asian presence (though still way behind Europe and North America). I believe that is determined more by language than anything else - our European presence is concentrated in those countries where English is spoken either natively or as a fairly-universal second language.

How to counter premature optimisation

Nick Kew Silver badge

Don't confuse non-optimisation with non-design ...

In about 1988, I was involved in developing an embedded system, with a hard limit of 128K EPROM for a complex system. So code optimisation wasn't optional.

But at the same time, I was able to improve a key mathematical algorithm used. That brought the system startup time from 45 minutes (power-up to fully functional) down to about 90 seconds. It took more code, so it required optimisation too.

Now while that's very clearly not the kind of optimisation the article tells us to dispense with. But there's also a big grey area between the two. So I'll continue to say rude things about the great big messes I see. They may be technically mere optimisation, yet still have an order of magnitude or more effect on performance. Not to mention (sometimes) security.

Silicon offsetting - the new green saviour?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Alice in Business

You seem to have overlooked the reference to a related article:


Alice in Business

Nick Kew Silver badge

Feedback summary

In addition to the comments here, I've had some interesting feedback in email. I've posted a reply to them on my blog, at http://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2007/01/16/feedback-on-alice/

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