* Posts by Fonant

153 posts • joined 20 Mar 2014

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Thanks for all those data-flow warnings, UK.gov. Now let's talk about your own Brexit prep. Yep, just as we thought

Fonant

Re: Brexit updates ...

Or that donkey with a dildo strapped to its head...

The lighter side of HMRC: We want your money, but we also want to make you laugh

Fonant

Re: If we taxed the rich properly

It's OK, but doesn't say how much each man earns. So we don't know how much of their income each man is paying for his beer. Or how much disposable income each man has.

Taxation should be as much about how much people should be able to afford to pay as how the tax income is distributed amongst the range of different incomes.

Attention all British .eu owners: Buy dotcom domains and prepare to sue, says UK govt

Fonant

Re: @anon: This is what it looks like outside the EU.

"The EU" is a group of member states, joined together by rules that they decide between them for the benefit of them all. The rules are everything.

Yes, the group of EU countries wants to stay a group, because of the many benefits the grouping brings. But that isn't the same as something called "The EU" that merely exists to have power.

Which is why Germany and France have not rushed to help the UK get a good deal at the expense of the EU: those countries think that remaining as EU member states is more important to their economies and citizens than supporting the UK in leaving the group.

Fonant

Re: And of course owners of .eu domains are probably more likely to be Europhiles.

The EU is a rules-based organisation. They're following the rules that the member states have agreed on.

Fonant
Unhappy

Re: How long until the new referendum will be called?

I agree, I'm pretty sure that it's far too late to change "our" mind now.

My worst fear is a fudge that means we fake being in the EU for another decade while the nastiness steadily increases until we have a civil war on our hands.

While the logical option is to revoke Article 50 as soon as possible, I fear the only political option left is hard Brexit. Which will be seriously unpleasant. However, looking on the positive side, benefits might be:

(a) the death of the Tory party

(b) a re-working of our whole political system to better suit modern-day communication methods.

(c) the people of this country coming together and helping each other, for basic survival needs.

(d) the country learning that voting is a serious business, and that facts and expert opinion matter so much more than vague promises and obvious lies.

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

Fonant
Happy

Re: Engineers who become managers

It's in The Peter Principle, known as "percussive sublimation".

The principle itself is that in any hierarchical organisation, employees get promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. The funniest things are true, and the book is well worth reading.

Yale Weds: Just some system maintenance, nothing to worry about. Yale Thurs: Nobody's smart alarm app works

Fonant

Re: "I can’t enter my property I only have the App!"...

See also: opinions that start with "I'm a cyclist..."

Facebook: Up to 90 million addicts' accounts slurped by hackers, no thanks to crappy code

Fonant

Re: oh what a tangled 'web' we weave

1) To be able to use you r information for social engineering attacks, "Log in with Facebook", etc.

2) To be able to use mass data analytics (Cambridge Analytica) to influence millions of people in an automated and targetted way to swing elections.

Shock Land Rover Discovery: Sellers could meddle with connected cars if not unbound

Fonant

Mainly because you *can* wipe a PC or mobile just by being in possession of the device.

The problem in the case discussed is purely that you *can't* wipe the data collected by the vehicle manufacturer, even if you have the car keys.

Fonant

Re: Good reason not to buy

I can't think of any (good) reason why a society would require all cars (and vans, lorries, motorcycles, mopeds?) to be "connected" by law. And what would all these cars be connected to, some national database? How would you protect against a malicious actor generating masses of radio interference to bring the M25 to a halt because the cars were no longer connected?

If we did end up in such a dystopia, there's always walking or riding a bicycle. Or voting for someone other than the Tories.

I predict a riot: Amazon UK chief foresees 'civil unrest' for no-deal Brexit

Fonant

Re: Won't somebody think of the UK?

Perhaps we should rename ourselfs as the "Currently United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"?

Or CUK for short.

Fonant

Re: make up your minds

"the EU is entitled to nothing"

Ah, but that's not true, is it. The EU is entitled to payments the UK has already contractually agreed to make. And the UK government has agreed this fact already.

Yes, we could just leave and refuse to pay what we currently owe. But do you think this will make trade deals with the EU, or other countries, easier or harder to negotiate? How would this affect other countries' trust in the UK as being a reliable trading partner?

Fonant

Our trip to Amsterdam last month was with Easyjet, and they sent us notice that the flight provider had changed to "Easyjet Europe".

Fonant

Re: eh?

The UK currently belongs to the WTO as an EU member state. As such quotas are shared between the UK and other EU states.

When we leave the EU we will need to:

1) Join the WTO as the UK, not as an EU member state.

2) Work out / negotiate the re-allocation of quotas we used to benefit from as being part of the EU.

The first one is relatively easy, the second a complete nightmare. Not least because countries exporting to the EU can change which EU member state they send goods to over time without any problems with quotas. When the UK is separate, switching delivery from an EU state to the UK will require separate quota calculations.

UK taxman warned it's running out of time to deliver working customs IT system by Brexit

Fonant

Re: Don't be cretinous

Rees-Mogg is simply a mendacious idiot.

Wah, encryption makes policing hard, cries UK's National Crime Agency

Fonant

Re: Money laundering related to encryption... my a***!!

Quite. The UK and its dependent territories are a prime destination for money laundering and secret bank accounts for tax evasion by design. Ask the Tories where most of their money comes from.

More power to UK, say 'leccy vehicle makers. Seriously, they need it

Fonant
Happy

Re: Batteries are a stupid solution for EV's anyway...

Have a watch of The Fully Charged Show on YouTube. It's fascinating.

Cars spend 90% of their time parked, time that is more than long enough to keep them topped up with charge. Think of a petrol car that automatically refills its tank every time you park it, and that's roughly how it feels.

Batteries are currently the best electrical energy storage system we have. Until someone invents a better ones, EVs will keep using batteries!

'A sledgehammer to crack a nut': Charities slam UK voter ID trials

Fonant

Card not the problem.

The idea of an ID card wasn't the problem. It was the massive database of every personal detail that was the problem.

UK Home Sec Amber Rudd unveils extremism blocking tool

Fonant
Meh

Only an issue If It Works

I don't think it actually works. So not a problem.

Fonant
Big Brother

What about when Daesh/ISIS become our allies against the next threat?

We all know that old enemies can very easily become allies. How does this AI deal with that?

Can this program also modify historical videos to match the current government's version of events?

As GDPR draws close, ICANN suggests 12 conflicting ways to cure domain privacy pains

Fonant

ICO:

You must have a valid lawful basis in order to process personal data.

There are six available lawful bases for processing.

So you can process personal data if you have one (or more) of these:

  • Consent: the individual has given clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
  • Contract: the processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual, or because they have asked you to take specific steps before entering into a contract.
  • Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for you to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations).
  • Vital interests: the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.
  • Public task: the processing is necessary for you to perform a task in the public interest or for your official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.
  • Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests. (This cannot apply if you are a public authority processing data to perform your official tasks.)

So if you want to sell someone's details for marketing purposes, you must have explicit consent to do so. If you want to bulk email all your customers to let them know about a product recall, you don't need their explicit consent to do so. If you process personal information for the purposes of sending out quotations to people who've asked for them, or invoices to people you've contracted to work for, there is no need for explicit consent to do so.

Oxford Uni boffins get things rolling at new electric motor factory

Fonant
Meh

Happen to know someone who works for a YASA competitor. They used to be a UK company (Evo Electric), but Big Business (GKN) bought them and ran them into the ground. Now re-formed in Switzerland.

http://www.phi-power.com/en/home/

I expect YASA will dislike Brexit, and Phi-Power AG won't be that bothered by Brexit.

Capita's UK military recruiting system has 'glitches' admits minister

Fonant

Okay, I know UK government has a specialty in not being able to decide what it actually wants

The UK government actually wants to pass public money on to their mates (and their own future careers) in private business.

Handing over public services to private business is an excellent way to do this: the big boys take huge salaries and bonuses, the business goes down with huge debts, and the tax-payer is forced to bail them out so that public services can continue. None of this is the fault of the government, of course.

The losers are the many small sub-contractors and the employees, none of whom are big enough to be heard. PFI, of course, went one step better, guaranteeing future income for years in advance, as well as a big contract now. Don't get me started on rail franchising...

One more credit insurer abandons Maplin Electronics

Fonant
Thumb Up

Re: Last of it's kind?

Not forgetting the amazing sci-fi illustrations on the covers :)

Your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy – you forgot about Europe's GDPR already

Fonant
Unhappy

Re: Reminds me of PCI Compliance

Yes, this.

And the EU cookie directive. Perhaps a Good Idea in theory but a completely unenforceable, confusing, mess in practice.

It's an additional burden on legitimate businesses that already take care and don't sell their contact lists to spammers. It's no burden at all on spammers (especially "foreign" ones) who will simply ignore the whole thing.

Fonant
Meh

Does anyone know whether the GDPR applies to a micro-business with one person and a customer list? I'm presuming that the customer contact details are allowed to be stored as a legitimate part of doing business with them. I worry about all those plumbers, electricians, odd-job people, gardeners, etc who keep address books of their customers

Next, does anyone know whether the GDPR applies to a mailing list? Or a Forum? In both cases people sign up, so there is some consent, and storing contact details is pretty-much required for these sorts of thing.

I can see how the GDPR applies nicely to large organisations, but as usual micro-businesses seem to have been completely forgotten.

And if I want to do business with someone in the EU after Brexit, who should I name as my EU representative?

Another UAV licence price hike? Commercial drone fliers rage over consultation

Fonant

Re: No...

Indeed, it's "Car tax" or "Vehicle tax" - the terminology used on Government websites - and hasn't been "Road tax" for decades.

The tax is on the ownership of the vehicle, not the use of the vehicle. The tax varies by vehicle type (road rollers pay nothing) and does not vary at all by how much the vehicle is driven on public roads.

Didn't install a safety-critical driverless car patch? Bye, insurance!

Fonant
Thumb Up

Re: It really

You charge your car all the time it is not being driven, which is most of the time.

The car batteries also form excellent local storage to allow the grid to even out electricity supply to meet varying demand, given some form of "smart" control.

Watch Robert Llewellyn's "Fully Charged Show" on YouTube, it's fascinating: https://www.youtube.com/user/fullychargedshow

Sniffing substations will solve 'leccy car charging woes, reckons upstart

Fonant

Local Generation and Storage FTW

According to The Fully Charged Show (well worth watching, YouTube) the more EVs we have the more we have large capacity batteries with fast charge/discharge capabilities. As such parked EVs are ideal for storing intermittent solar and wind energy, taking a lot of load of the National Grid. Charge your EV during the day using solar, then sell some energy to the Grid from your car in the evening peak, and then charge it back up overnight when electricity is cheap.

Peak load spikes on the Grid are thus significantly reduced, with lots of local storage removing the need for mass transfer of power across the country. So your Nuclear power stations can be turned up a bit to provide a bit more baseload, and your coal and gas can be turned off :)

There's a way to dodge Fasthosts' up-to-160% domain renewal hike but you're not gonna like it

Fonant
Thumb Up

Mythic Beasts FTW

Consider supporting Mythic Beasts, who in turn support open source in the UK. Perhaps not the cheapest, but they have plenty of clue.

BoJo, don't misuse stats then blurt disclaimers when you get rumbled

Fonant

Re: "we're told how to spend the money"

We spend some of the after-rebate money on approved schemes, but the rebate is taken off the full-price EU contributions and is ours to do with what we will. We already have full control of the rebated amount - it's not part of any EU contribution.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36040060

CrashPlan crashes out of cloudy consumer backup caper

Fonant
Unhappy

Crashplan did it all...

Crashplan had a pretty unique product, and could probably have made more money out of it if they wanted to.

Crashplan gave me:

* Windows, Linux, Apple clients.

* Backup peer-to-peer (excellent for family members, laptop, backing up to my desktop).

* Backup to cloud (belt and braces copy).

* Backup to local disk (quick-to-restore copy).

* Versioned file changes.

* Long-term retention of deleted files.

* Reasonable pricing for multiple machines (e.g. family group).

* Unlimited or very cheap storage.

The well-known ones like Backblaze, SpiderOak, Carbonite all tend to be OK for a single computer, but get very expensive backing up multiple machines (e.g. for a family).

* Duplicati, perhaps?

* Arq looks like a possible alternative, but doesn't work on Linux

* Goodsync, perhaps, but it doesn't keep history.

Guess who's hiking their prices again? Come on, it's as easy as 123 Reg

Fonant

Re: I have a couple with them

I recommend Mythic-Beasts. They have Clue and support open source projects.

UK domains are free to transfer: request transfer at your new registrar, then change the IPS tag to the new one at the old registrar.

'Real' people want govts to spy on them, argues UK Home Secretary

Fonant

Re: First they came...

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Q. What's today's top language? A. Python... no, wait, Java... no, C

Fonant

Re: Learn all of them, but NOT Java

I understood it to mean that the code calculated a variable line number to GOTO, which broke the program if you removed a bunch of comment lines and the lines were renumbered: the calculation would no longer give the right line to GOTO.

BICBVR

New work: Algorithms to give self-driving cars 'impulsive' human 'ethics'

Fonant

Risk Compensation

The problem isn't the AI, it's the trade-off between (a) taking risks to make sensible progress and (b) the rate of deaths and serious injuries that those risks result in, at a population level.

At the moment, with human drivers, UK society seems comfortable with killing around 7 people every day of the year in return for the benefits of being able to drive as we do.

With driverless cars, would we set the trade-off at, say 5 deaths per day? If we set the death rate too low then driverless cars will have to proceed extremely carefully to minimise the risk of death in the rare-but-possible event that a human pedestrian does something the AI does not or cannot expect. But could the families of those five dead people sue someone for deliberately designing the AI to take risks at a level that is known to result in deaths?

Then what about deliberate "jay-walking" to play "chicken" with driverless cars? Imagine the fun to be had creating traffic jams by getting a bunch of hooligans to pretend to be about to step into the road!

The problem is that we still allow fast-moving heavy machinery (cars, lorries) to exist in the same space as human beings (pedestrians, cyclists). Not something that is ever allowed on industrial sites, the HSE would require physical separation (like railways) or very low speed limits, banksmen for reversing vehicles, etc. See http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/index.htm

Extreme trainspotting on Britain's highest (and windiest) railway

Fonant
Thumb Up

Guided walks highly recommended

The guided walks initially feel like a brazen way to fleece tourists, but having been on one I'd heartily recommend them. The guides really know their stuff, point out lots of things you'd otherwise miss, explain about the fragility of the local environment, and tell some good stories!

Brit uni blabs students' confidential information to 298 undergrads

Fonant
Alert

Spreadsheet != Database

The WTF for me is the fact that they're storing highly confidential information in a spreadsheet. And a non-protected one at that.

This stuff should be stored very carefully, so that it cannot ever be accidentally sent to lots of people in a readable form.

The fact that email is the messaging medium is pretty irrelevant, its the data storage that's the problem here.

Break crypto to monitor jihadis in real time? Don't be ridiculous, say experts

Fonant

Quite. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist. The classic example is Nelson Mandela.

This is not about logic, it's about politics, which is the opposite of logic.

Today's bonkers bug report: Microsoft Edge can't print numbers

Fonant

Re: Colour me unsurprised

The problem is that RGB deals with light, so 100%, 100%, 100% is white, while CMYK printing deals with ink, and 100%, 100%, 100%, 100% is black. CMYK 100%, 0%, 0%, 0% is also black, so is 100%, 10%, 10%, 0%, and 0%, 100%, 100%, 100% is pretty close to black too.

The gamuts (range of colours) are also completely different, CMYK is much more restrictive than RGB. A particular problem is bright light green, which is easy with RGB but impossible with CMYK.

To convert from RGB to CMYK you need an algorithm that works out how much ink is needed of each standard colour to make it look on paper like the RGB coloured light on a screen. There are many different algorithms, and each algorithm has many parameters you can set to compensate for paper type, etc. The only way to have accurate control over printed colours is therefore to work in the CMYK colour space. RGB is too vague.

Then you get "spot colours" where an additional ink is added where the ink itself is a custom colour...

Londoners will be trialling driverless cars in pedestrianised area

Fonant

Safe, but too safe to be acceptable?

I expect the trial will show that self-driving cars are basically "safe", but that they're too safe to make any useful progress compared to a jogger or person on a bicycle.

Driving a car involves serious amounts of risk analysis, with the current average risk-to-progress ratio leading to a few thousand people being killed and hundreds of thousands being injured each year in the UK. I can't see this death toll being acceptable if caused by self-driving cars, especially in the early years when everyone is watching. So the risks taken by self-driving cars will have to be lower and the progress made by such cars significantly slower. The much-faster reactions of self-driving cars will mitigate this effect a little, but only by a few seconds more reaction time.

D'oh! Amber Rudd meant 'understand hashing', not 'hashtags'

Fonant

Re: The ministers have stated that it isn't necessary

Also, one man's "terrorist" is another man's "freedom fighter". The definitions of those can, and often do, change with time.

See: Nelson Mandela, Martin McGuinness, etc.

Self-employed bear the brunt of Spring Budget with additional National Insurance contributions

Fonant

Re: Here's a thought

The whole point of public services is that it's worth investing in them for the benefit of the country (the public) as a whole. You know, things like health, education, roads, railways, etc. All of these are "subsidised" and yet without them the country's economy would quickly die.

Public services "cost the economy" but that's the whole point - they're the things we need to club together to pay taxes for, because that's better than leaving them to profit-making businesses and just hoping that "the market" will provide.

Of course the Tories believe that "the market" will always provide, and, for rich and privileged people, they are correct. The problem is that "the market" does not provide for the poor or underprivileged. Whether we think this is a problem or not depends on our views of what "civilisation" means.

Connected car in the second-hand lot? Don't buy it if you're not hack-savvy

Fonant

Re: Now ask me why ...

newer cars are much safer than the older models

Possibly, although (a) newer cars are a lot heavier and go a lot faster so they have significantly more kinetic energy when moving and (b) safer for the vehicle occupants, perhaps, but not necessarily for pedestrians, cyclists, dogs, etc.

There's also the problem of risk compensation, where humans tend to convert safety enhancements into performance enhancements. Knowing you have excellent brakes allows you to drive faster and brake later, compared to a car with known-rubbish brakes. All very well until something unexpected happens, and every single "accident" on the roads is unexpected.

'At least I can walk away with my dignity' – Streetmap founder after Google lawsuit loss

Fonant

Re: As I said before...

Google's mapping content is minimal.

This is true, because Google aren't interested in maps, they're interested in locations.

They want people to use Google rather than Bing to search for locations. Because Google has to remain the number-one source of information on the web, otherwise their advertising income dries up very fast.

Once you've found your required location Google then encourages you to get directions to make it as easy as possible to get there: you don't even need to be able to read a map!

The boring grey-grey map background is only there as the minimum mapping needed to show people where to find stuff.

Fonant

Re: Disgustingly Evil

Google do not even support the grid reference, what kind of map is it without the grid?

Google don't support the restricted OS/OSNI grids that only works in the UK. Instead they support the global grid, WGS84 longitude and latitude, that covers the entire globe. It also happens to be the grid that GPS uses, so works perfectly with the location data available to mobile devices.

Don't misunderstand me, I am a major enthusiast of OS mapping, and the UK Grid Reference system: I have even been a member of the Charles Close Society. It's just that longitude and latitude work better for global mapping, as they always have done.

Fonant

Re: Disgustingly Evil

Google still hasn't learned how to create useful maps!

Ah, but Google's maps are perfect for what Google want to use them for: advertising business locations and other locations that keep Google the top search-engine choice (rather essential for their whole business model to survive).

A grey-grey map seems a poor design choice, until you realise that the boring grey base mapping makes locations stand out really nicely. Making the same locations stand out against the top-quality OS Landranger mapping is much more difficult.

Fonant

Re: @druck Not as good

Licensing issues. The OS licences are complicated, based on the use of paper maps and difficult to apply to online use, and very expensive.

NHS reply-all meltdown swamped system with half a billion emails

Fonant

Re: Not Accenture

The problem was caused by people hitting "Reply All"

Nope, the problem was that people replied to the single email address of the Dynamic Distribution List, which was supposed to be configured to only include a few people but in fact included everyone. Most certainly a problem caused by the system, not the users.

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