* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

So the 'Year of Linux' never happened. When is it Chrome OS's turn?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Lost all faith

"For many it's a choice between Windows, which they understand, or everything else, which confuses them."

Given that many now have experience with non-Windows devices and must have gone through multiple cycles of Windows and Office interface changes that shouldn't really be a problem. Frankly, it's Windows that I find confusing.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The year of Linux desktop was a running joke.

"Personally I just don't like the interfaces"

Of what? I've kept a pretty consistent user interface on KDE for many years*. What's more it's also pretty consistent with what MS used to have back in the days of W95 to W2K apart from the obvious gain of multiple workspaces. This is a major difference from the UI havoc that MS have wrought on both the OS and their applications.

* Plasma 5, however, is a bit of a problem. Every theme designer seems to have been swept up in the tide of flat, ugly, unfriendliness that's infected the rest of the desktop world. So far I've only been able to partly ameliorate it on SWMBO's new laptop.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No ...

" LibreOffice is fine. It writes basic .doc files perfectly well, however, once you switch on revision control and start passing the document through five different offices in three different countries/languages, all of whom are using MS Office, it is completely unworkable."

So, your point is that MS Office is crap because it messes up documents in good, solid ISO-standard format from LibreOffice? Non-portability was always an MS feature. It locked users into the old continuous upgrade path.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No ...

"Basically, Munich found that using Linux not only caused all sorts of headaches"...for their new pro-Microsoft mayor.

DNA as storage? Old and boring. Boffins now chaining monomers

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Whilst this is as wildly impractical as using DNA for data storage* it's worth pointing out that RAM, from magnetic core days onwards has generally had destructive reads. Reading has to be combined with rewriting.

* Yes, life has been using it for this for a very long time. And, although life is good at replicating and reading data the mechanism for adding new content relies on making errors in replication and then throwing most of the results out as useless.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Eh?

"DNA is already storage!"

And also a polymer.

IRS tax bods tell Americans to chill out about Equifax

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Re: Still haven't figured out the profile on people who were affected

"I think it is virtually certain someone has stolen my personal information including SSN from somewhere already"

I get the impression from the reports that you can almost be pwned just by walking past a hotel of one of the large chains.

Watchdog slams HMRC, Amazon over 'dismal' response to UK biz hurt by online VAT fraud

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Simplify taxes and make fair

the owner gets the benefit of the money he paid to buy it and the work of others he put in or paid someone else to do to improve and/or maintain it via rent


Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "Fulfilment centres" physically based in the UK

"And as far as VAT numbers are concerned - what about the small-time sellers who fall below the VAT threshold?"

If I, as an individual, not a trader, have something I no longer need but has value I could sell it on eBay or I could sell it at the local auction house. In the latter case the auction house charges buyer and seller a commission and, because they're VAT-registered, charges VAT on that commission. If I were a trader selling through the auction house I'd have to treat the sale price as being VAT inclusive and deduct the VAT element from what I keep (allowing for the fact that I'd got the VAT on commission to partly offset this) but that's my responsibility as a trader. The auction house doesn't have any authority to determine which of these applies and, therefore, can't get involved further. I can't see why eBay should be expected to do something the local auction house doesn't; after all they have less contact with sellers than the auction house who have the seller roll up at the door with the actual goods.

The point raised about VAT invoices is an interesting one I'd never thought about concerning real auction houses. As a buyer there I've no idea who the seller is; if I were a VAT registered trader buying something for my business how would I go about getting a VAT invoice for anything more than the commission?

Linux kernel community tries to castrate GPL copyright troll

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Non-GPL feature

"Thought not."

Right, so why should anyone bother answering you?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: After reading this I am still confused.

"What have the paying out companies done wrong?"

Failed to provide copies of the source for the binaries, either with those binaries or on request from recipients.

"Why is he able to claim all this?"

A very good question. Apparently German law allows him to act unilaterally.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I'm confused

"I could do what I want. I would have assumed that those writing code for Linux would have had some similar agreement but maybe not."

There are a few differences.

First, whatever any one individual writes is merged with the contributions of many other people in a collaborative effort. Why should you then act unilaterally, possible contrary to what your numerous collaborators want?

Secondly, the purpose of the GPL is to encourage sharing of source code, not to collect fees from users. This is why organisations such as the SFC mentioned in the article aim for compliance, not penalties.

Thirdly people contributing to Free Software projects are not doing so with the intention of profiting from licensing of copyright. They may contribute in order to sell support (e.g. Red Hat) or to have the software support sale of other products (e.g.Intel).

Clearly it's a weakness of the project that the acceptance of contributions is not made conditional on the contributors not taking unilateral actions of this sort.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: WTF? How is this bad??

"Patrick should be getting a medal from the open source community for his enforcement action."

Why? He's not feeding their share back to them.

Europol cops lean on phone networks, ISPs to dump CGNAT walls that 'hide' cyber-crooks

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

What would this unique IP address be linked to? The phone number? Unless there's also a record of the IMEI a phone number or anything linked to it doesn't even identify a phone, let alone who's holding it. It identifies a SIM.

Ex-TalkTalk chief grilled by MPs on suitability to chair NHS Improvement

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Can someone find her a whelk stall, although that might be beyond her capabilities.

The Google Home Mini: Great, right up until you want to smash it in fury

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Oh, I don't know...

"Excepting that it'll be rolling across a kerb and dropping down; trolley jacks / petrol tanks are expensive."

It's not your car you move with the trolley jack, its those blocking you in. Extra points if you leave them somewhere that will need another trolley jack to get them out of.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The big problem

"I get the weather forecast whenever I want by tapping the Yahoo Weather icon on my phone or iPad."

Or the barometer?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "whatever you want to use?"

Just wait until it actually starts replying "No".

And then tries to parse its own paradox and catches fire.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: They're all crap

"OK google watch Netflix"

It watches Netflix for you? When you get back from the pub does it tell you what happened?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: They're all crap

"It can add stuff to your Amazon basket, and by default is set to one-click ordering"

Design objectives fully met.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Call my wife

It's amazing that the people who design these can put huge amounts of effort into really difficult stuff like voice recognition and then forget the obvious.

I had the same problem with the phone in my car. The phone book has an entry for "Home". The first time I told it to call home it insisted there was no such number. I eventually tried having it read out the phone book. It pronounced it Hume and that's the way it has to be instructed. Nobody thought that more people have homes than have contacts called Home pronounced Hume.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"whatever you want to use?"

Oi, you.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Silly Valley

"Until somebody builds the equivalent of Orac, I'm not parting with my money."

And when somebody does it will just take your money anyway.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the Feds are still placing contracts with Equifax"

I read that they're rethinking that so maybe there's still hope.

NHS: Remember those patient records we didn't deliver? Well, we found another 162,000

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: wiping

"it's taken by phlebotomists, so it must be phleb they're taking"

I hope not. The "tom" is a bit of a clue that your phleb is being cut (The word atom was invented to name something that couldn't be cut any further) and a quick trip to whackypedia tells me that the phleb bit means blood vessels. I rather hope they don't take those.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Phlebotomy

" now it turns out that as long as the skin is visibly clean, disinfecting it doesn't make any difference"

There must be a lot less bacteria about in the environment since I did a microbiology course good-Lord-is-it-that-long ago.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I've done 'finger-prick' blood tests at least four times a day for the last 12½ years without pre-wiping the location with alcohol."

The finger prick exudes blood which carries any micro-organisms out of the site which is protection measure that evolved a long time ago. Inserting a needle through the skin into a vein has the potential to carry anything on the skin into the bloodstream.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I hope they've sacked off the firm responsible."

If the firm responsible charged for the non-deliveries I hope they prosecute them for fraud. And, if anyone died as a result, for corporate manslaughter.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Support your NHS

"little or no understanding of the NHS core business"

In this particular case, however, delivering mail doesn't really need much understanding of NHS core business. It just needs an understanding of the words "deliver" and "mail". Even this seems to have been too much to achieve.

Dying! Yahoo! loses! fight! to! lock! dead! man's! dead! account!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"someone might have sent them a confidential email containing information that they assumed would not be seen by the relatives"

That's a risk the sender has already committed to; there'd be no guarantee that he wouldn't share it during his lifetime..

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No need to rule on terms of service

"I know of someone that was erroneously declared dead by the SSN office from Clearfield Utah."

Was probate granted as a result?

Release the KRACKen patches: The good, the bad, and the ugly on this WPA2 Wi-Fi drama

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


"Great idea, but who's going to do the hard work in the absence of a future source of income from patent licensing?"

Hardware manufacturers. They have a mutual interest in cooperating. Take, for instance, the humble electricity plugs and sockets. You will expect your house to be wired with whatever is your local standard. Likewise you'll expect any appliances to be equipped to plug into that. Anyone trying to sell non-standard items is going to have a small market.

If public standards require no patents, as opposed to FRAND patents* then manufacturers who want to be able to sell stuff have to accept that they have a choice between not protecting their stuff with patents and not selling it.

Somewhere along the line we seem to have missed out ensuring that public interest is looked after.

* FRAND is supposed to stop disputes. It hasn't worked.

Australian senator Pauline Hanson wants devilish scam calls to flash '666'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Mr Bell, your child is dead.

"I rarely answer the phone these days if it's not a call from anyone that I know. In fact"

I don't know where you are but here in the UK calls from doctors etc normally arrive as number withheld. It was explained here that this is so that communication with one's doctor is kept confidential even from the rest of the family should one want to do that.

So, you could keep up with that policy and miss the call that tells you there's finally a match for your kidney transplant. It's up to you.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I propose another use for 666.

"If you get a nuisance call then hang up & immediately dial Star 666 Pound"

Good idea but you're not taking it far enough. When the NC flag is reached the telco doesn't cut the caller off, they simply credit the account of those posting the flag with a call handling fee and debit the caller with the fee plus an additional handling charge for the telco. The credit could initially be in escrow so the caller has a chance to demonstrate that they're innocent if, indeed they are. As an additional refinement all those who received calls from the caller without raising an NC flag also get paid a handling fee.

Supreme Court to rule on whether US has right to data stored overseas

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The US employee wouldn't be breaking any US law if they complied but might be breaking US law if they refused."

Consider that employee's liability under Irish law. I expect Ireland has legislation broadly similar to the UK Computer Misuse Act. A US-based employee accessing a server on Irish soil to commit an act illegal in Ireland might well be guilty of breaking such a law even if the server is ultimately owned by his employer under whose instructions he does this. If so then Ireland ought to be able to expect that employee to be extradited in exactly the same way that the US expects European citizens to be extradited for hacking US computers.

There are all sorts of other fun possibilities coming down the line. If this case runs out until GDPR becomes operative anyone who suspects that they might be the data subject, or anyone else whose email is held by Microsoft in the EU can invoke their "right to be forgotten". As the US have neglected to put in an official request to Ireland (and assuming they continue to do so) then I can't see how the various exclusions in the GDPR can come into play and Microsoft would be obliged to comply. Although the terms of the regulations don't oblige them to delete the data from backups I also can't see how they'd be able to legally restore them. There would also be the situation that Microsoft could be penalised under GDPR at up to 4% of global turnover if they complied with the US courts.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"If Microsoft USA is ordered by the courts (under the law) to divulge the data on penalty of contempt, but the only copy is stored on foreign sovereign soil whose law prohibits divulging the data on a different penalty,"

What I said. The US court can order Microsoft to order the Irish subsidiary to turn over the data. The Irish company takes legal advice on Irish law. If that advice is that they can't turn over the data they tell Microsoft US that they can't. Microsoft US goes back to court, gives evidence of why it wasn't possible to obtain that data.

If a US court ordered you, Charles 9, to divulge that data under penalty of contempt, could you oblige?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Unless the Irish court is not cooperating"

I've never read anything which suggested that the Irish courts have ever been approached. There are mechanisms for doing that. If they haven't been used this ought to be a fact to be taken into consideration - was it an oversight on the original prosecutor's part or a lack of a case to be put before such a court?

If push comes to shove it's unlikely that the Irish courts are going to be receptive to attempts to go above their heads and trample on Irish sovereignty.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @d3vy ... WTF?

"US citizen data taken offshore to Ireland."

Do we know that (a) the data subject is a US citizen and (b) that the email in question did not originate in the EU?

Do we know why the DoJ didn't use the existing international agreement to get an Irish warrant? Could it be that they don't have a prima facie case that would stand up in an Irish court?

"Imagine if Google moved that data in to the US and told you that your data is no longer protected under UK laws because it now resides in the US?"

Then Google could be fined up to 4% of global turnover. It wants to do business in Europe and must, therefore abide by European law - and exactly the same applies to Microsoft.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: This could require a bowl of freshly made popcorn

"MS and every other major computer company from the US West Coast relocates to Ireland."

Not necessarily Ireland. I'm sure there are some really hi-tech centres on Caribbean islands or other places with a warmer climate than Ireland's. It would be a terrible imposition on senior management to have to live in such places but I'm sure a hefty pay rise would take care of that.

Seriously, the shutters could well start to come down on data transfers to US companies, especially where the EU is involved. When Schrems 2.0 deals with the Privacy Figleaf it could become very difficult to cobble together a replacement. Companies based in the US would have to start looking at the longest possible arm's length arrangements. Leaving the US could well be an option. Cue nostalgia for the days when the US had a tech industry before Trump made America great again.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The DoJ has every right to rule on how American companies behave - and punish them if they don't comply."

This is wrong on so many levels, starting with the fact that the DoJ has no right to rule on how American companies behave. It's the courts that have that right. They have no right to punish anyone. It's the courts that have that right.

Then we continue with the situation that the data is actually held by an Irish company. A Microsoft subsidiary it's true but still an Irish company operating on Irish soil under Irish law. A US court could order the Irish parent to order the Irish subsidiary to take certain actions. The Irish subsidiary has the right to take legal advice to determine whether it can legally obey that order.

Perhaps you were missing school on the day your civics class explained due process of law.

I do feel somewhat sorry for Microsoft being in this situation (not a very frequent feeling towards them on my part) but they do seem to be trying to do the right thing in this case.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Of course, the DoJ will win


The DoJ are looking for a good exSCUSA to trample all over Irish sovereignty.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Interesting tussle coming up ...

"If things get difficult enough the DoJ might even get round to requesting a warrant in the other country. It's not as if this would be technically difficult as the procedures are already in place for this."

And they should be asked to explain why they didn't do so in the first place.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: If it's in Ireland ...

" If it's ruled that the US can't get access to the data"

There are existing procedures, internationally agreed, for getting this by applying for a warrant in Ireland. For reasons best known to themselves the US have decided to to use this.

Was it ignorance of the availability of this route by whoever started this, or arrogance or indolence, then coupled by an unwillingness to retreat? Or did they not have sufficient cause to apply for a warrant and have decided to trample Ireland's sovereignty to make up for it?

Ideally the Supremes will simply tell the DoJ to go and use the existing procedures. If they don't then it will become more and more difficult for data-hungry US corporations to do business with the rest of the world.

Huge power imbalance between firms and users whose info they grab

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's not *their" data it's *your* data.

"In America, copyright would likely take precedence"

In the EU (and, theoretically in the UK after Brexit but that remains to be seen) it's privacy. GDPR requirements are eventually going to make anyone wanting to do business in Europe take this on board.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's not *their" data it's *your* data.

"Consider how work copyrights apply."

And consider how Data Protaction rights apply, assuming you live in a country that recognises such things.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: An offer I can't refuse

"So my choice is to prostitute my legitimate expectations of privacy, or opt out of the norms of participation in modern economy."

It depends where you live and whether or not you're purchasing as a consumer or a professional. In the civilised world consumer protection legislation may well protect you if you're the former although you'd have to go to court to achieve that.

Super Cali goes ballistic, small-cell law is bogus. School IT outsourcing is also... quite atrocious

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the city council, in all their glorious wisdom, caps the number of meeting rooms a building's owner may choose to put inside it."

It just needs a bit of creativity. Powerpoint auditing suites? Project control centres? Board rooms? Something more extravagantly sesquipedalian, there being no limits to US management-speak?

A long time ago we had to rebuild a lab. We needed a reasonable number of offices to write up reports etc. but only staff above a certain level were allowed offices. So we specified writing rooms - no problem.

Customers cheesed off after card details nicked in Pizza Hut data breach

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Where? - From the article - "the breach has only affected customers in the US"

But let's follow up that apparently irrelevant discussion about GDPR. If the US Supreme Court were to allow the extraterritoriality that the DoJ is claiming then why shouldn't Europe do the same?

If a US company that also trades in Europe has a data breach in the US why shouldn't we, once GDPR becomes operative, require them to report it to the relevant European authorities as well and impose GDPR-scale fines for failing to do this and any other GDPR offences that they may commit? It's the only way to make the Privacy Figleaf and similar claptrap mean anything real.

Brit intel fingers Iran for brute-force attacks on UK.gov email accounts

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I wonder how many of the MPs who voted for the various iterations of the Investigative Powers Acts and/or support the Home Secs' demands for backdoored encryption make any association between this attack and the privacy issues affected by their policies.

Drone smacks commercial passenger plane in Canada

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Drone?

"I have seen no pics, no model no nothing."

Are the aircraft accident investigators obliged to send you copies of their evidence?

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