* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

MPs slam HMRC's 'deeply worrying' lack of post-Brexit customs system

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Eventually pragmatism takes over. You've got several boatloads of HGVs in Dover harbour all queuing for clearance, all available berths occupied by ferries that haven't yet discharged because there's no room for them to do so and another approaching. What do you do. Wave them onto the A2 and tell them to park until you get round to them? Then tell them to move up a bit further? On to the M2? What happens when the queue gets to the M25? At some point you have to realise that you're never going to be able to process stuff and stop pretending you can. You just check 1 in N as some sort of gesture.

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"I suspect it will need to be tightened after his recent gaffs too."

Tightened as a gag, one hopes.

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"I haven't worked out if they are f*cking it up deliberately or through a mixture of incompetence and arrogance."

Neither. Just through sheer impossibility. It's just that some of us could see that and voted accordingly. The rest are having to find it out the slow and painful way. Some will cotton on and others will go down the "no true Scotsman" reasoning to delude themselves for ever.

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Re: Gah!

"the EU demands 3 things- money, EU citizens get special treatment and Irish border."

And we, apparently, want out. Well, it's us making the initial approach and if we really want out then we just have to accept the price because it's the EU that's in a position to set it. You never realised that before you voted "yes"? Why-ever not?

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Re: Gah!

"All those 70 year olds who voted leave"

Not all of us 70 year olds voted leave. Still, stereotyping is easier than thinking.

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Re: Gah!

"It was a piss-poor campaign. Both sides deserved to lose."

Both sides have. One side has yet to realise that.

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There is a fall back: just wave stuff through unchecked. It should also solve the Irish border problem.

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Re: Why do we need to import anything...

"Nor anywhere in the EU, for that matter."

<cough> https://tregothnan.co.uk/

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Re: Why do we need to import anything...

I think you'll find that the tea in the teabags isn't actually GROWN in Yorkshire

Tea is Camellia sinensis. I'm sure it could be grown on Ilkley moor: http://www.rhsplants.co.uk/plants/_/camellia-sinensis-var-sinensis/classid.2000021386/ It's an ericaceous plant so the soils should suit and the climate can't be worse than the Himalayas.

maybe we can look forward to decades of drinking delicious "rhubarb tea"

That should keep things moving.

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Re: "I'm sure there'll be some left out of the £350 million per-week ...

"So no my little Brexit voters, your NHS won't be getting that money after all."

Not that it ever was except, maybe, on whatever planet BoJo inhabits.

And why, when I reply to an existing post with a long title, does el Reg barf because the title's too long?

80-year-old cyclist killed in prang with Tesla Model S

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Re: The Man Who Fell To Earth

"On balance, it would seem to be more likely that the car hit the cyclist than the cyclist hit the car."

Having seen a cyclist suddenly turn square across the road in front - but just far enough away for an emergency stop - I'd say either is possible and, in the absence of more detailed evidence, I'd hate to decide on balance of probabilities. OTOH it does seem less likely that he was a MIMIL and learned to cycle in an age when the Highway Code was drilled into cyclists.

Crap London broadband gets the sewer treatment

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Re: Access

"But surely access to sewers is much easier."

Not during heavy rainfall.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, look out for must-have toys that are 'easily hacked' ♪

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Re: No electronic gizmos this Christmas

"A lump of coal and / or an orange."

"And"? Your generosity knows no bounds.

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"This tradition was passed down to the UK mains plug, the single most painful plug to step on."

I once owed a house where the previous owner had come up with an interesting wheeze to provide power in the garage. There were a number of sockets in the garage. One of them could be connected to a socket in the kitchen by means of a flex with a plug on each end. If the kitchen end was plugged in the plug on the garage end would have been even more painful than normal.

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Re: Keep it traditional - keep it safe


I'd have loved most of them. They sound like the sort of thing that would form the basis of a good education.

My chemistry set had potassium permanganate in it. So what?

EU court advised: Schrems is a consumer in Facebook case, but can't file class-action

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If the €500 falls within the small claims limit in a particular jurisdiction then why not death by a few million cuts - in this case small claims court cases? I don't doubt that FB would rather tackle one class action than find itself in every small claims court session up and down the EU.

Your attention has value, personal cryptocurrency will advertise it

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Re: Forgive me if I'm being slow

"Or is there some arrangement where a website receives a proportion of the BAT paid to the end user which can then be exchanged for beer and pizza?"

From TFA: "Users gain the capacity to pay publishers directly for their content - in BAT."

I take it the proposed cycle is this:

1. Advertisers buy BATS for Real Money(TM) from Brave.

2 Brave holds the stock of BATs on behalf of the advertiser.

3. When the advertiser pushes an unwanted but nevertheless unblocked advert to the viewer it pays the viewer in BAT.

4. The user pays a publisher in BAT.

5. The publisher sells the BATs back to Brave for Real Money.

The slight snagette here is that Brave is supposed to be an adblocking browser. Presumably the twist is that the viewer buys the advertiser's BATs from Brave instead of being advertised at. The publisher gets paid, Brave gets paid twice and the adverts aren't seen. The advertiser actually gains from not pissing off potential customers but they'll not see it that way; they never do as they lack the requisite self-awareness.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Another BATty idea

But just thinking about this, how do we price the advert? So much per pixel? Animated GIFS cost more? Sound costs more? Video cost a huge amount more? Irrelevant ads cost more?

This could bring the advertisers, or at least the advertising industry, into even more disturbing (to them) contact with reality than ad-blockers. Their favourite tricks which they believe are most effective at grabbing my attention would be those I'd price most highly as they're most annoying. If the advertisers caught on that they were paying more to be disliked....

WikiLeaks is wiki-leaked. And it's still not even a proper wiki anyway

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"Just a reminder: none of this is normal."

Not even in Norfolk?

Your next laptop will feature 'CMF' technology

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Re: Sopmething pretty for the ladies?

"if other people, some male, undoubtedly more female, want a splash of colour, a leopard skin pattern, snakeskin cover, what exactly is your worry?"

The worry is that externals become everything and internals don't matter. The price goes up to cover the cosmetics which are wrapped round an inadequate set of internals.

Once the stylists get their hands on things it ceases to be a case of form follows function; it becomes form over function and then style over function. Even if you can buy the plain brown envelope version you'll find they haven't bothered to change what's inside.

Thousand-dollar iPhone X's Face ID wrecked by '$150 3D-printed mask'

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Re: Nothing to worry about

"This is actually probably quite difficult to do for your average thief. Id be comfortable with face ID if I knew this was the length someone had to go to get past the lock screen on my phone."

Your average mugger, however, just has to wave the phone in front of your face. But look on the bright side - it's a disincentive to damage your face too much.

Brit cops slammed for failing to give answers on digital device data slurpage

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Re: "10 said it would require a manual search to get it."

"simply pointing out that this sort of monitoring needs to be designed in from the start, and some of the decent systems pre-date the FOI act."

Way back when HOLMES was being set up I was shown what purported to be a specification for it. It didn't include any reporting function.

Openreach fibre plan for 10m premises coming 'before Christmas'

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Re: Meet the new monopoly.

@ John Smith 19

There are, of course, alternatives.

1. All you have to do is find a magic money tree. Then OpenReach doesn't have to get its shareholder to get money or permission to raise loans.

2. Separate OR as O2 was separated, watch some other telco take it over as O2 was taken over, hope they make the investment and watch the new monopoly operate.

3. Find someone with the money to set up a parallel network.

4. Nationalise OR and let HMG finance it just like they didn't for decades before privatisation.

Big investments require big money - nobody's going to work for free and whoever makes the investment is going to want a return to make it worth their while. I'm sure everyone who's got and is happy with FTTC is really going to be happy paying for FTTP instead so that those who want the latter can get it without paying full whack.

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Why would BT invest in fiber optics when it can continue to milk the copper cash cow?

It's not as simple as milking the copper cash cow. Consider what's behind this quote

“we need to be able to switch off the copper network. The economics don't make any sense if we keep the copper network running at the same time as we overbuild with a fibre network.”

Why don't the economics make sense? Because customers with a satisfactory copper connection, either POTS or FTTC won't want to pay FTTP prices. All fibre would be a much fatter cash cow. Make no mistake, if OpenReach can get rid of copper everyone pays more.

CopperheadOS stops updates to thwart knock-off phone floggers

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Re: Folks stealing their stuff?

"I assume they are compliant with all the various licences and their requirements?

I somehow doubt it if they're expecting payment for the product (OS) rather than for tech support."

It depends on the licence. The BSD licence simply requires that a copy of the licence and attributions be included. The GPL requires that any derived work has its source code made available if the recipient of the binary asks for it. If Copperhead follow these then they have no problem - neither licence forbids selling the S/W. Read that again if you didn't understand it: neither licence forbids selling the software.

The curious thing here is the CC-NC licence. I don't see how they can force a non-commercial term onto GPL S/W - which is almost the opposite of what you seem to think is the problem. It might, of course, be in relation to S/W which is in userland.

Computing in schools improved, but still needs major patching – report

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I think there are three separate things to be taught.

One is the skills needed to move into a professional life in the IT industry, a second is the skills that will be needed in a world where using applications is just part of a normal job, be it office work, manufacturing or anything else.

The third, which has only obliquely been touched on, is simply teaching logical and critical thinking skills. That was what its proponents claimed for Latin and, when CS courses were first introduced into the curriculum, they were pushed as the "new Latin" for this reason.

In the first two cases there's no option but to teach using what's available at the time, either what's in use in the real world or some specially devised educational version. Whatever the option taken either pupils are going to have to relearn the details over the course of their lives (or be locked in, which is indeed a risk) but what they need to learn are the principles.

The third, however, is more difficult. Do kids need to learn computing to tell that Rudd's spouting bollocks? Perhaps a more general approach would be to embed those skills in other subjects; learn that anything a politician or other salesperson says must be treated with scepticism..

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Re: kids should learn management skills

"the percentage of them that will finish up in a management role is extremely small?"

And even then all too many of them shouldn't be there.

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"In my experience schools are a soft target who will buy any shit that professes to be useful"

Do schools have the budget to buy anything?

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Re: Same old same old

"but your acronyms need work"

Or my memory.

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Re: Same old same old

"every school child is subjected to the discomfort, misery and humiliation of PE and games, and as soon as they leave school, 95% decide never to engage in any form of sport at all."

Sorry, only one upvote available.

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Re: kids should learn management skills

I think the problem with IT management is not quite what you assume.

The real problem is that, like everything else, management requires aptitude. What seems to happen, and I doubt IT is unique in this, is that all too often there is no career path in IT as such. The career path lies in moving to management. Anyone with aptitude for IT will eventually have to move into management to continue their career and yet aptitude for IT is no guarantee of aptitude for management. It doesn't matter how many management skills courses you put the good engineer through you're quite likely to end up with a crap manager and lose a good engineer in the process.

What's needed is to employ and reward aptitude and experience in engineering without sticking management labels on the job. Only divert into management those who show aptitude for it.

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Re: School is useless

"Word and Paint would be relevant in the context of the 'information' part"

I notice you omitted Power Point. Quite right.

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Re: The real world

"Everything else is just fact cramming and should be unnecessary once a student knows how to learn."

Not entirely. There's also the matter of "here's something you might find interesting or useful". Catching the imagination is, perhaps, the most important of all. I probably goes under a term such as "engaging with the pupil" these days; is it surprising if schools are less successful if it's looked at like that?

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Re: The real world

"Everything changes so fast.... when I first went to school, the UK was not in the Common Market yet and soon they'll be leaving. Computer Science has hardly changed, however."

Neither have the basics of physics and chemistry.

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Re: Same old same old

"Back when we used to teach chemistry and physics we might have had fewer people insisting on buying cleaning products and food made without chemicals."

I'm sure we just do. The problem is than ignorance has not just become acceptable but a social cachet.

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Re: Same old same old

"Is computing 'programming' or is computing 'troubleshooting non-working applications in a help desk environment'?"

For me computing was a means of solving real-world problems and quite quickly took on a hardware aspect. In the days of S100 systems and the like the hardware was readily visible and directly accessible by means of PEEK and POKE (even in Microsoft FORTRAN!). Approaching this as a lab. scientist in mid-career the direct applicability to life was obvious. I'm not sure how much turning LEDs on and off from the GPIO of a Pi catches the imagination. (Hands up those who can remember GPIO as a somewhat different interface with its own IEEE standard. Now keep them up if knew the Commodore interface was a cut down version of that.)

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Re: Same old same old

That division is pretty much what you can expect from mass computer science education in any subject whatsoever.


The best you can do is try to make the subject as appealing and/or relevant to the students as possible and as widely available as possible, then hope it sticks for those with the talent and inclination.

I'm doubtful about making things compulsory; compulsion always put me off subjects. OTOH I only got into computing because of a compulsory 5 day FORTRAN course. Even then I contrived to miss the first day by being late back from helping SWMBO doing field work on the other side of the Irish Sea. The only thing that got me hooked was the discovery that for me not only was it easy but it was a good deal easier than doing a lot of manual recalculations on my data.

How did someone hijack your Gmail? Phishing, keylogger or password reuse, we're guessing

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Re: Not Surprised

"Everyone I support I try hammer home the idea of using different passwords on accounts."

Go a step further: use a different email for each account. And for one-off uses, use a one-off address or at least set up a temporary address every few weeks and then discontinue the old one.

Parity calamity! Wallet code bug destroys $280m in Ethereum

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"f Anthony rather asked what would happen if everyone spent what ethereum they got as they got it and accepted more of it every other week as compensation for their labour and/or goods they had to sell, I think we would all agree that it is functioning as any currency should."

Can you see why it isn't a real currency?

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Re: How many DevOps are we talking about here

"I suspect the name refers to this Doctor Syntax, a comic character created by William Coombe and cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson in the early 19th Century."

Well done that man.

I always thought it would have been a good company name to use for IT contracting but in the end I went along with the more prosaic alternative of an off-the-shelf company.

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Re: How many DevOps are we talking about here

"It's just that the singular and plural forms are spelt and pronounced identically."

The singular form is thee/thou and is nowadays regarded as archaic.

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Re: why is the 2nd person always plural in modern English?

"Not in N.I. or Scotland. Perhaps not in Northumberland and Yorkshire. Maybe for youse lot in London."

I'm in Yorkshire. And, sadly, what was in use (thee and thou) when I wor a lad has died out, nor did I hear it in NI when I lived there. AFAICS "youse" is a variant of "you". cf the French: "tu" versus "vous"

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Re: devops199 said they were a newbie

"the target of criticism since the late 19th century"

That's the consequence of grammarians trying to force-fit the grammar of another language, Latin, onto English.

I suspect that underlying all these issues is a sense not of number but of the personal vs the impersonal. The "singular" is more personal than the "plural". Where a less personal form is needed we instinctively use the "plural", hence not only the singular they but also the royal we.

I wonder what the use of the impersonal "you" ways about us. Have we simply become too impersonal in our dealings with others or is the etiquette too complicated: I can thou thee but don't thee thou me was how to express it to a junior.

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Re: How many DevOps are we talking about here

But if I may point out an exception: in some places in the US, 2nd person "youse" is singular, "youse guys" is plural.

Youse as in Scouse.

Parity's $280m Ethereum wallet freeze was no accident: It was a hack, claims angry upstart

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Re: ...thus setting back blockchain development by years ...

I'm surprised no one has asked "cui bono ?" and suggested the 5-eyes might have had a hand ?

Someone just has. You.

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Re: Hmm I thought 'smart' contracts meant no laywers

"It was my impression that a smart contract was code that defined what was supposed to happen. Since the code is the contract, it is always the 'law', thus eliminating messy lawyer paper shuffling and court disputes."

Code can shuffle electrons about. The electrons can represent Bitcoin, dollars, pounds, euros or any other currency and, providing it's bug-free it might well be 'law'. As soon as you want to swap those electrons for something else, such as food, it ceases to have any real effect.

Yes, you can have the code operate a vending machine but you still require someone to have filled the machine with what it's supposed to contain. As soon as someone didn't you've stepped outside the realm of code into real law to get it resolved.

In this case we're told it wasn't even bug-free so it wasn't even effective 'law'.

Greenhouse gas-sniffing satellite to be built and tested in Britain

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Re: The results will be meaningless

Carbonaceous fossils have a good many uses for which there are no alternatives, for instance as reducing agents in smelting metals, as substrates for chemical synthesis and as portable energy supplies. Using them up in applications where there are alternatives, such as shoving them up the chimneys of fixed power plants, is just being greedy. The real problem with that certain inhabitant of Washington DC is that he doesn't see greed as a problem.

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Re: The results will be meaningless

"The oceanic oxygen levels are far less known, except that they are dropping, and don't appear to be particularly well monitored at present. The effect of this on fish/algae/plankton, which is potentially very harmful, seems to be very little understood."

Algae will produce molecular oxygen.

Equifax Q3 results: Not as bad as you might have hoped – hack only cost biz about $87m

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"Expenses include costs to investigate and remediate the cybersecurity incident and legal and other professional services related thereto, all of which were expensed as incurred,"

Does that include the legal and professional services to clear management of dumping their shares?

UK Home Sec thinks a Minority Report-style AI will prevent people posting bad things

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"Who let her near a computer again?"

Nobody. Her HO minders gave her another script to mouth.

If anyone let her near a computer there's a faint chance (admittedly on the levels of monkeys and Shakespeare) that she'd Google something that would explain stuff to her. HO thinking can't allow even the faintest chance of that. They depend on her deepest ignorance so that she can read out what she's given with complete sincerity.

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