* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16427 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Re-identifying folks from anonymised data will be a crime in the UK

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"And what about companies and corporations who do it?"

I'd hope that criminal sanctions would apply to officers of the company who sanction it. Even the mose eye-watering fines found only rebound on a CEO by their being sacked. Jail time would be a much more effective deterrent.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"So, Amazon can refuse to deliver a parcel to you if you refuse to share your address, because without knowing your address there's no way for them to deliver to your house"

Actually they could deliver a parcel to an Amazon locker without knowing your home address so they couldn't actually refuse to do business on that account.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Oh good

"Are they cancelling out their own snoopers charter?"

Well, the document says Our vision is to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online. With the increasing volumes of personal data there is an increasing need to protect it. so they'll have to, won't they? Won't they?

Slacking off? ICO probe throws up concerns over instant messaging

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Now this might come as a surprise but people in offices - all offices, not just in government - regularly talk to each other. They even talk to each other about business. Hardly any of this is written down except when it involves formally taking decisions. The rest of it just dissipates into thin air. So why should there be any expectation that such talk, extended to cover people who are geographically separated, be any different?

Yes, I know there are those who want to be able to comb through records looking for whatever form of wrong-doing they suspect. They're unlikely to find it because if there's any expectation of a particular communication channel being recorded anyone seeking to set out on some nefarious has the option of just plain face-to-face conversation. And the official decision taking will be formally recorded just as it always has been.

Openreach pegs full fibre overhaul anywhere between £3bn and £6bn

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Internet is now a utility

"The government needs to lay down a public utility standard - that says fibre to every premises that has an electricity supply within 5 years."

Good idea but your post seems to have been truncated. I don't see your plan for achieving it, where you're going to recruit the army of workers to do this, where you're going to source the materials in that time frame, where you're going to raise the money and how much the customers are going to be willing to pay you for the interest you're going to pay on the money you raise.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: BT in the countryside

"What about those unlucky people who live in the countryside?"

SImple. They'll wait longer still. This was always the problem. Every metre of cable laid to an FTTP customer, every day's work on FTTP is one not given to extending the FTTC network.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Other than the cost of laying it, what other additional operating costs are there?"

The interest on the capital borrowed to lay it.

Commonwealth Bank: Buggy software made us miss money laundering

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Re: Outsourcing...

"BTW, don't try to get around the $10000 mandatory reporting by doing multiple smaller transactions, certain patterns of transactions will flag the lower amounts."

In your day. On the basis of this report, maybe not now.

Forget sexy zero-days. Siemens medical scanners can be pwned by two-year-old-days

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


I keep reading it as saying that they can be pwned by two year old boys and wondering just how young they're starting these days.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: But why are they on the Internet anyway?

"the devices need their own defences to be as good, with the smallest attack surface as possible."

That brings us back to the original article and the point that in this case they don't have the smallest attack surface possible.

I have to take SWMBO to an outpatient eye clinic from time to time. As it involves sitting around for a good while I sometimes take a small laptop to do some work - ooh, look, three open SSIDs! No I didn't try connecting.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Same impression here

"The contempt greybeards always shown towards GUI applications, and any tool designed to ease their development, is on of the reason Linux has a 3% market share on desktop systems."

The reason Linux has 3% market share on the desktop is because of years of Microsoft leaning on H/W manufacturers to ship Windows and only Windows pre-installed.

Years ago, late '80s or maybe 1990 we were running a Unix box with an NCD X-terminal. As a cheaper way of getting more X-terminals we installed a very early version of Windows on PCs as there was X-server S/W available for them (note that in X the applications are clients - the server provides the display service). That's right, the function of Windows was as a platform to display the real GUI which was that of the Unix box. Eventually Microsoft picked up a few GUI tricks that had been kicking around in the Unix world for years and stuck them together to make Win 95. Admittedly they hit a sweet spot with the combination but pretty well everything that went into that had been around in Unix for years, together with some New Wave stuff that HP had devised to improve the functionality of Win 3.x. Up to then, and for a good while afterwards, any serious graphical workstation was a Unix box.

And way before that, maybe 1980ish, we had analytical instruments using graphical displays way before Gates got QDOS at a knock-down price. I remember a Micro-Nova driving an X-Ray microprobe back at that sort of time.

TL;DR Windows was a late-comer in the GUI game and even then it took a few years to grab enough ideas to become usable.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I'm not sure if the hackers are the worry in this case

"I am none too sure about the water either, there is some Hydrogen3 oxide around as well."

AFAICR we weren't terribly worried about tritium in the water that went into the benzene synthesis for the carbon dating system although it might well have been because it could be reasonably well separated in the kick-sorter. Radon in the water supply from the Mournes was a different matter...

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: But why are they on the Internet anyway?


Dave Harvey also made the point that they use a specific protocol, DICOM. a moment's googling takes be to the wikipedia article which in turn tells me that DICOM uses specific ports. If the system has to be exposed to the wider internet (as opposed to a network whose access is limited to legitimate users) then only those ports should be open.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Fabulus. Some of those are Windows bugs, others are in remote admin tools that don't need ID

"it'd be written on a post-it note on the side of the machine."

A password written on a post-it note adjacent to the legitimate operators is vastly less of a risk than a passwordless remote admin tool.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I'm not sure if the hackers are the worry in this case

"Stop eating Brazil nuts then. And bananas and potatoes while you're at it."

In fact, stop eating any food except salt and water. About 12 dpm (weak beta) per gram of carbon from the carbon 14.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

What is it with Siemens? We read similar things about their industrial control equipment and it's not as if they're some newbie start-up.

Our day with Larry Page: Embedded with one of the world's richest men

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Re: 10%

"He's not hooked up to some secret google AI where he's contemplating the meaning of life , the universe and everything, is he?"

Answers generated by AI, or possibly ELiza, and displayed on Google Glass as a sort of teleprompt? Possible.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Is this a new Feature at El Reg

"Think of all the people who became eccentric after becoming extremely rich."

Sort of. It's being rich that distinguishes eccentrics from nut cases.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Biting the hand, indeed

"I'd pay some more attention of the whooshing sound going over your head if I were you."

No, I think it's you who missed the whoosh.

Nice one, frank ly.

Linux kernel hardeners Grsecurity sue open source's Bruce Perens

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the defamation lawsuit will have to be decided on whether GR's T&Cs do infringe."

Having thought about this a little more it now seems to me a little more nuanced than that. The court doesn't need to decide whether it infringes. It needs to decide what would probably* happen if infringement proceedings were brought in a copyright case.

ISTM that the plaintiff has to prove that:

1. The article was wrong. If the article was right it becomes a very difficult task to try to argue defamation.

2. It has to prove defamation. There may be a whole lot of issues in both directions here - should Perens, as an expert, be held to higher standards than the man in the Clapham omnibus? as an expert does he have a duty to warn others? Is he protected by freedom of speech? does this SLAPP thing protect him?

The defence only has to defeat one of these issues.

* Balance of probabilities applies.

Small biz breaks out pen, paper after Brit tax collectors' Digital Form Service goes down

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Re: Stop referring to 'tax payers' as 'customers'!?!

"in the airline business we value clear unambiguous communication so we refer to our customers as 'freight'"

That's news. I thought you referred to them as prisoners.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 1.3 billion!

"How can anyone spend nearly 14 millennia of people's time delivering a tax system"

It takes an awful lot of parallel working to keep pace with changes in the Treasury's tax rules.

UK taxmen slammed for tech glitches rampant on child benefits website

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I am a freelancer that believes we must all pay taxes and national insurance in equal share. It costs me more but I have a clear conscience.

If freelancers are so independent why do so many complain when business rules start to apply?"

So was I before I retired (pace blitheringeejit). If you were replying to me (your not quoting anything makes it difficult to work out who you were replying to - threading hereabouts isn't that clear) all I can say was that I was replying to the previous A/C who seems to think that applying business rahter than employment rules to businesses is a scam.

Indeed, re-reading that OP the poster seemed to think that IR35 was a scam perpetrated by freelancers. Very odd.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The future will be a paperless office they said.

Additional downside: HMRC would have to employ lots of people to push those bits of paper around. They don't want that; they don't even want enough people to do a proper job of setting up a paperless system.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"But no doubt it was designed and built by people who do everything they can to avoid tax and national insurance through IR35 and other scams."

Do I detect someone who doesn't have the confidence in their ability to succeed as a freelance themselves but still wants to criticise those who do whilst drawing a nice reliable salary?

Well, don't worry if that's you, the freelancers will look after you.

You see, your employers have a problem. They have busy spells with lots of requirements and periods when they don't and they can't afford to staff for peak demand with permies and then pay them for nothing when work is slack. They have to match such fluctuations with those due to permies leaving, going off sick, going on holiday and taking parental leave. They may also require specialist skills at short notice that their permies don't have.

Fortunately they have the fall-back of freelancers who are prepared to operate as a business to take the risks of short term engagements and get taxed as a business and so smooth everything out. The freelancers keep your employers in the game so that they can afford to keep employing those permies who just want a risk free life and yet don't see why anyone taking the risks should be treated differently. The alternative, of course, is that your employers could just get shut of you and outsource their entire IT to the lowest bidder.

In the context of the current topic HMRC's problem might well be that their attitude has lost them the freelancers they were relying on to build the system. It's another case of having their cake (not carrying the costs and risks of having enough IT employees and relying on freelancers instead) whilst trying to eat it (attempting to tax the freelancers as if they were the employees they don't want to pay).

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

If you're going to go "digital by default" you really do need to show that you've been running the service well for some time and preferably through a few software enhancements. Is it too difficult to realise that if you're providing an important service you can't just dump an unproven load on a server and say "right, everyone use that."?

WannaCry-killer Marcus Hutchins denies Feds' malware claims

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Perhaps

"is there any real difference to publishing it on a blog?"

Yup. Springer will charge a whole lot more for a copy.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Oh dear... maybe

He may well have "witten and shared malware code for research purposes" but it is perfectly fair to argue that he has to accept some responsibility if some of that code is subsequently used for malicious purposes.

Maybe someone with experience of lowish level Windows programming could comment on the possible alternative uses of the code in the blog linked in the article. However, my immediate thought is where does this stop? If a code fragment from some random Github repository gets used in malware is the author guilty of writing the malware?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Congratulations, FBI

"How many phone records and Internet activity logs did you get from the NSA ?"

NSA? They'll be shitting themselves with the thought that here's the very man to argue in court that if he goes to jail so should they.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: that makes him no more of a malware writer than anyone who's ever posted code

"I take it the creators of the leaked NSA exploits will be given similar treatment when their code is used by criminals."

Now there's a thought. His defence could well be that what he did in posting an example openly is comparable with the NSA's actions although without the malicious intent. And who better to be able to present that, in detail, as a defence? Do the NSA really want their actions to be questions like this in court? It strikes me that with the NSA leaning on the FBI to keep it out of court he has a far better bargaining position than most.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: A question for some American lawyer

"Again, none of this is recoverable if you are exonerated"

Sue back in the UK? After all if the US wants to reach the rest of the world with its legal system why shouldn't the rest of the world reach them?

Mid-flight jumbo font smartphone text shock sparks kid abuse arrests

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Re: This just sounds... bizarre.

"this guy with serious eyesight problems"

Maybe they're right; it does make you go blind.

Meanwhile there are alternatives:

c) he's not very bright.

d) smartphone users become oblivious of their surroundings to the extent that they become a danger to themselves ( https://www.engadget.com/2008/03/06/padded-lampposts-for-distracted-texters-being-tested-in-london/ ) let alone fail to realise that there's someone sitting in the seat behind them..

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Freedom of speech dies a little each day

"Freedom of speech means that you can say anything not covered by existing statutes"

I think any sort of conspiracy would be covered by existing statutes.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Freedom of speech dies a little each day

"They tried to pin a terrorist charge on the Robin Hood airport guy."

Frankly, if someone tweets a bomb threat about an airport it has to be taken seriously. Would you want to be the one responsible for dismissing a genuine threat as a joke?

If it was meant as a joke then while charging him with terrorism might have been over the top it at least merited a charge of wasting police time.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Why do I get the uncomfortable feeling that if this had happened in the UK she would have found herself locked up as well."

I very much doubt she would.

Brit uni builds its own supercomputer from secondhand parts

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Re: I keep dreaming of building a Pi HPC...

"Is 256 pi's enough ?"

Dammit. I started reading the pretentious stuff in your link. Now I need a whiskey or three to get it out of my mind.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I keep imagining a white van man coming to collect it at Daresbury making sucking noises & saying "You'll never get it all in there, mate.".

To truly stay anonymous online, make sure your writing is as dull as the dullest conference call you can imagine

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "he shall ever ever know it"

Only three of us who weren't the AC? There must have been a lot of people who were.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Did they really think that introducing a semi-colon in the 2017 version made it less distinctive?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Analyse THIS!"

Bob, is that you?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Writing style seems unlikely to personally identify you

"I wondered whether employees of online shops ever doubt the fundamental compatibility of the shipping address I gave with the time the order was made"

Aha - now we know you've never worked shifts.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "he shall ever ever know it"

"I'm not the above AC"

And I'm not the above AC either.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I see a market here

"You could always use an automated translation routine to translate it to another language, then another, then back to English."

Or, as TFA puts it: " cycling text through a series of machine translations, from one language to another and then back to the original"

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"If this process is - or can be - automated, then I think we are missing the bigger picture: improving online posts."

You mean ...no, surely not...amanfrommars?

Four techies flummoxed for hours by flickering 'E' on monitor

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I had to suffer with a 300 baud modem."

Back in the earlyish days of the OU (I think it might have been in the days of S101) the chemistry module had a computational component. As Tutor/Counsellor for more or less everything west of the Bann I had to trog out Omagh with a teletype and an acoustic 300 baud modem which was about the same size as the teletype.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "by the size of his Micro Channel Adapter"

What's all this about PCs & PS/2s? Has nobody used S100?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "by the size of his Micro Channel Adapter"

"Technical Manager ...It always ended with him cutting his hand badly."

So you didn't try to dissuade him?

WannaCry-slayer Marcus Hutchins 'built Kronos banking trojan' – FBI

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Proportionality ...

"1. Is to get the perp to squeal in return for a reduced sentence"


Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @phuzz

"I have not read the indictment, as this article also has excellent analysis, IMHO"

That analysis seems to be written on the lines of "assuming he can't prove he didn't do it this is the best line of defence". If he didn't do it I'm sure he wouldn't want to be forced to rely on that as it would pretty well end his career.

Internet's backroom boffins' big brainwave: Put people first in future

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: sometimes you need a very simple clear rule like this to stop the BS explosion

"These companies probably have the power to go it alone."

But they aren't doing. They're using the protocols designed by the IETF.

The internet is a lot more than the physical infrastructure. It's also the logical infrastructure and the IETF is a large part of that - and of any internal networks they might be using. Although many would like to see Zuck etc. take their ball and go play elsewhere is isn't going to happen.

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