* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

New Capita system has left British Army recruits unable to register online

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"No, no, no, Crapita, with the r"

Shouldn't the r be plural?

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Re: "In MoD terms, £1.3bn is only one failed Watchkeeper programme."

"It's barely more than half an Eccleston"

That's inflation for you. It was a lot less in Noo Labour's time.

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"Which is why on anything to do with dates I always start from the base date of 1/1/1970 (either format, of course) and then do anything with dates as Integers based on this. A pain but, oddly enough, everything that I have touched never got that wrong."

Just choose an RDBMS engine that has date and date-time formats based on this principle, then it's not a pain and it still doesn't get it wrong.

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Re: MoD as always

"However, UK politicians (of all colours) have for many years believed in the magic efficacy of competitive tendering"

It's a mechanism for ensuring that the companies of the other halves of politicians or senior civil servants get the contracts they so obviously deserve. When all the preparatory work has been done the said politician or civil servant recuses them-self from the final decision so it's all above board.

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<em.a pandemic like the "Crap Death".</em>

Enough on its own for an upvote! But an we just rearrange that a little to "The Crap of Death" and it will be just right for the el Reg lexicon?

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"Did the armed forces forget to hand Capita the spec sheet? Did the spec sheet get lost?"

A few more questions. Did whoever drew up the spec sheet actually go to the potential users and ask what they wanted? Did Capita hand the spec sheet to the developers? Was the developers' native language that in which the spec was written (and that includes any military jargon used in it)? Did anyone actually think to let the developers show potential users early prototypes and get feedback? If anyone drew up a list of potential users as per above were they actual potential users or PHBs further up the food chain who'd never go near the actual S/W?

There are lots of ways for something like this to fail, to get it right you have to avoid them all.

Oregon will let engineer refer to himself as an 'engineer'

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Re: Like calling yourself an architect in the UK

"Under Section 20 of the Architects Act 1997, the title ‘architect’ is protected. It can only be used in business or practice by someone who has had the education, training and experience needed to become an architect, and who is registered with us."

Even then it would be a good idea for architects to listen to others. Some years ago Zara Hadid was in the running for the Stirling prize with a design for a fire-station. In the TV programme about the prize the building was reviewed by a fire-fighter who pointed out various features making it unsatisfactory for use as a fire-station. One I recall was that handrails had unprotected ends making them dangerous for anyone running through the building - which is something that happens in fire-stations. From wikipedia: "When completed, it never served as a fire station, as the government requirements for industrial firefighting were changed."

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Re: What about after hours service?

"in a not very rural area in SE suburban Surrey"

But that's not on the way to anywhere so you don't have passing traffic on journeys that will take more than a tankful of petrol.

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Re: Oregon is a nanny state

Our new "smart" traffic lights seem biased in favour of letting drivers through.

They must be smarter than ours. It's common agreement that the only time ours do a good job of managing the traffic is when they break down and get switched off.

Walk with me... through a billion files. Slow down – admire the subset

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Re: Some more details


It seems you're dealing with a particular use case. But I'd have thought that in that particular use case where you're dealing with digital assets of some value the initial approach should be to start with a database which not only provides the asset management but also stores the files themselves as blobs. A general purpose file system is just that - general purpose: it stores executable, configuration data, whole databases as one file (unless you take the approach of having the database access disk partitions), text documents, spreadsheets....etc. It is never going to be optimised for specific use cases and is never going to deal with the situation of "we've not touched this file for 2 years but it's still part of the final build of $VERY_VALUABLE_PRODUCT so even if we delete stuff unaccessed over a year we still keep this".

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As I started to read the article I found myself thinking "these guys need a proper database" and then - whadya know - they invent a database for the job, B-trees and all.

I always reckoned that the Unix file system design reflected the database technology of its day and, although the implementation has changed somewhat to allow larger discs, journalling, remote storage etc, the design of the interface has been more or less frozen since then. Perhaps it's time to move forward and at the same time build in some protection against malware and its effects.

Tired of despairing of Trump and Brexit? Why not despair about YouTube stars instead?

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Given the stupid sums paid to those who kick inflated bladders up and down fields I can't say I'm surprised at money paid for other useless activities.

US Section 702 spying rules get deadline extension until April

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And still the Privacy Figleaf is allowed to remain despite all the evidence that institutionalised data breach is out of all control in the US.

YouTuber cements head inside microwave oven

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Re: Learning from Experience

"What was left of the blade of the hacksaw they found by the cable bridge looked ... interesting."

Don't just tell half the story. What was left of the would-be thief and where was that found?

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Re: Learning from Experience

"Joke Alert - Just in case any Darwin Award candidates think I'm being serious"

No! The Darwin Award candidates should think you're serious.

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Re: Confused

"anyone who takes to the oggin in anything less than 40ft long (with twin motors)"

People have been doing that for centuries before even single motors were a thing.

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"The sum total of intelligence on the planet is a constant."

While the population is increasing. That sounds about right.

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Re: Like me dammit!

"There was little disincentive, he didn't die and now he is famous."

Which probably means he'll learn the wrong lesson.

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"Shame it wasn't the sort that heated up as it cured."

No chance. That sort of thing requires effort - it need mixing. Polyfilla comes ready mixed.

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Darwin denied.

IT buyer? Had enough of pesky resellers cold calling? You aren't alone

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Re: Well....

"Sales people add value. Some don’t but this vilification of sales folks is repulsive to me."

Don't call us, we'll call you.

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"we are inundated from domain brokers 3-4 times a day despite being one ourselves"

Just put them on your own call list and ring them a few times every day until they stop.

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"those lines normally cost £1.50/minute."

Probably only cost them a few quid to record enough for a tape loop.

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Re: TPS anyone?

If all else fails, we have a special "procurement" number which we put them through to - a particularly painful "your call is important to us" message with stretched tape effects, big volume jumps etc.

That should be reserved for really persistent offenders. They're likely to realise they've been had fairly quickly. The first pass should be something which just possibly could be really genuine on-hold and a real slow burn. The worst example I heard - it really was on-hold - was Greensleeves, synthesised with excruciating precision at a hypnotic moderato.

BTW, your message should eventually change to "your call is unimportant to us".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Our staff time is valuable. You have the following choices, please listen carefully before choosing:

If you are cold calling and want to leave a sales message on the answering machine please press 1. If we choose to listen to your message you will be charged X currency units per minute.

If you are cold calling and wish to speak to a member of our staff press 1. You will be charged 10X currency units per minute with a minimum charge of 1 hour.

If you are not cold calling press 3. If you are a cold caller and abuse this option you will be charged 100X currency units per minute with a minimum charge of 1 hour.

Your company will be invoiced. Our terms are payment within 2 days. Our debt collection colleague hopes your company will not pay as he has not eaten for a couple of days."

Bitcoin price soars amid technical troubles for exchanges

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Re: A fool and his money are soon parted...

" I just don't understand these things well enough to know when the crash will come."

Neither does anybody else.

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Re: Short

"End of 2018 is my best guess"

Nearer end of 2017 would be mine.

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@Gob Smacked

The joke icon is over there >

UK border at risk of exposure post Brexit, warn MPs

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"Why did the Tories do this? Why did they turn an internal party squabble on Europe into a catastrophe for the UK and its 65 million people?"

Because they genuinely thought that a majority of people would vote rationally and the problem, which was far more than an internal party problem, would be dealt with for ever. It turned out that 2016 was not a good year for voting rationally.

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No, you're wrong. Leave had all the details figured out before the vote. It was all worked out in advance so it would work smoothly, just as it is doing. Nobody was asked to vote for something that wasn't real. Don't believe all this fake news about difficult negotiations. We're building the stables for the unicorns right now.

Florida Man… pockets Uber cash to keep quiet about data breach

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to have his machine undergo forensic analysis to ensure that the data has been fully deleted.

"And do you have a backup?"

"What's a backup?"

"Good enough."

European Commission intervenes in Microsoft Irish data centre spat

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Re: Alternate channels?

"Does this include a limited physical presence and facilitation of regime change?"

It involves existing treaties which exist for this purpose and which require TPTB to get a warrant from an Irish court. In order to do that they have to put together a convincing case as to why they think they should get the data.

You may wonder why they haven't done this. They don't have a case? They don't want to disclose their case? Warrants are for little people? Due process of law is for little people?

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"The government could exercise discretion to pursue alternate channels, where available.”

What an utterly pathetic excuse. The mechanism was open to them from the start.

The amicus brief should be simple and to the point: if the DoJ wins the Privacy Figleaf is torn down and never replaced.

Security industry needs to be less trusting to get more secure

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Re: What is the biggest example of undue trust by security professionals at Black Hat?

"Get the right mindset, and then maybe you can create secure code. (For those security professionals who know how to create maintainable code.)"

You then have the problem that your spotless, impeccably secure code has to work surrounded by code other people have written. Do you trust that external code? Do you have enough years in your life to rewrite everyone else's code so that you can trust it?

You might have to work out how you can cope with running code from multiple sources and not trusting it. When you've done that you could even give a talk at Black Hat about it. Or you could re-read the article & try to understand what it was about.

Investigatory Powers Act: You're not being paranoid. UK.gov really is watching you

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Re: Re. surveillance

"Why exactly are the authorities asking for more surveillance powers again?"

It's a rinse/repeat cycle. Every time they try the Act eventually gets taken to court and found to be illegal. When that happens they replace it with another variation on the same theme. The Home Office probably has a stack of them already written so they're instantly ready to drop another before Parliament when the current iteration bites the dust.

Sky regulators brace for millions of Xmas toy drone sales

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By boxing day a good proportion of them are going to be wedged in trees, TV aerials and any other snags that happen to be about.

VW's US environment boss gets seven years for Dieselgate scam

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Re: outrageous

"Perhaps throwing personal criminal liability on company executives is long overdue and should be extended to other aspects of company conduct."

Let me qualify that: liability to company executives when specific individuals can be identified as culpable in a specific case.

If legislation seeks to make individuals liable as opposed to the corporation that that would almost certainly need to be the directors as no other job titles are defined in law. The alternative would be if the legislation defines a specific role such as a data protection officer who could be held responsible whatever the job title - with a fall-back to the directors if they fail to appoint and empower one.

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Re: outrageous

"Corporations exist to make profit for shareholders - since shareholders (the generic blob of shareholders represented by Wall Street) are only interested in short term profits and dividends then their prime motivation is money."

There are a couple of classes of shareholders to consider. The Wall Street crowd are certainly only interested in the short term which can be defined as the end of their current bonus period. Those of us who are pensioners and who actually provided the money invested in this are interested in the long term continuation of profits; we are not particularly happy with the antics of the speculating crowd, nor of those company employees who respond to them. Perhaps throwing personal criminal liability on company executives is long overdue and should be extended to other aspects of company conduct.

Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

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They don't build 'em like that any more.

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Re: Obligatory...

Previously the amount of dust expected was "some".

And they were only targeting 90 days anyway.

OK Google: A stranger with stash of pirated films is spamming my Google Team Drive

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"There will be dancing in the cubicles at Dropbox tonight... (well and Redmond, maybe they'll get a fourth user for OneDrive now?)"

Dropbox, OneDrive?

Still somone else's computer. Their rules are your rules, their problems are your problems.

Muzzle our public watchdog much? UK.gov Data Protection Bill adds affect the ICO

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"Ministry of Fun ... said the government had consulted the ICO about the preparation of the new clauses" but carried on anyway.

Euro Patent Office commanded to reinstate 'Nazi judge' it attacked

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Perhaps they should have added that the moral damages should be paid out of Battistelli's own pocket and not reimbursed to him.

EU data protection groups: Fix Privacy Shield or face lawsuit

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although it’s better than Safe Harbor, there are still “significant concerns” to be addressed.

More lipstick on a pig.

It still relies on the data subject enforcing their rights by civil litigation in the US. Really?

There's only one satisfactory way of doing this: if an EU business exports personal data to the US or any other non-EU country for processing that company remains entirely responsible for the outcome. If there's any breach or other mishandling then the civil and judicial penalties of the GDPR fall on that company as if the breach had occurred to data holdings within the company itself and the company should make best efforts to protect the data subject from any consequences of the breach. "Breach" should include spying, surveillance, seizure of data or whatever by the government of the non-EU country irrespective of whether the action was judicially authorised or supported by the powers that government gave itself.

The question a company then has to ask itself before transferring data is whether it's a risk it's able to accept.

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TFA omits to link to the actual report. It's this: http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/just/document.cfm?doc_id=48782

Former US State Department cyber man: We didn’t see the Russian threat coming

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Re: “Tech people need to tell policy people about the next coming threat.”

"Policy people have this bad habit of only pretending to listen to experts."

Or of only listening to experts who say what they want to hear.

Apple looks forward to wiping $47bn off its overseas profit tax bill – thanks to US shakeup

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Re: Yes, by all means, bring that cash home

"US banks that, through their chicanery, brought us Financial Collapse 2008"

Not on their own, they didn't. Not only did they have help from non-US banks, they also had help from politicians who thought that in no way was a house price bubble inflationary and to be taken into account in fixing interest rates.

UK.gov failing to prevent £10bn of annual online fraud, say MPs

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I think the HO's view would be that there's no problem that can't be solved if only they had access to every byte of data that flows online.

Boffins foresee most software written by machines in 2040

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Re: Ok machine, I want you to...

"dedicated to all designers/developers that had to deal with micromanaging types and did not kill them"

We had a volume at 11 shouting match between two of the client's directors in the middle of their general office as to how a particular batching operation should be carried out. Privately we thought it should be operator configurable and built that in. The configuration would be able to be set to fit either of the directors' views - or anything in between and maybe more. During commissioning we set up something that looked reasonable. AFAIK it was never subsequently altered.

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Re: Clippy

"So there's a domain (legacy bloatware) that's fairly unambiguous, with mountains of menial detail."

What would the AI do with all the bugs which are in there but undiscovered because in the operational domain they're never triggered? It might add a few hundred K lines to deal with them.

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