* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Constant work makes the kilo walk the Planck

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Re: "discovering an increased value for Planck's constant"

"Many other key cosmological values are know only approximately - Hubble's 'constant' to just two significant figures, for example."

I think the significance of this is in moving towards a definition of the unit of mass which is independent of a specific physical object. This has already been done for length and time.

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Re: Confused

"Even decimalisation was hampered by this until inflation took control. £1 was too big for many small transactions and the 1p too small."

1p was actually too big compared with 1d. For small value items rounding up to the nearest d (and when did prices ever get rounded down?) represented quite an inflationary step. Put that together with the dislocation in people's thinking - e.g. how does 16p really compare with 2 / 10d? enabled prices to be put up still further.

It wasn't decimalisation being hampered without inflation, it was decimalisation enabling inflation

Bonkers call to boycott Raspberry Pi Foundation over 'gay agenda'

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Taking umbrage is one thing. Positively searching and stealing it is another.

Automobile Association under fire for car-crash handling of data breach

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Taking it seriously

From the Beeb report linked in the article:

AA president Edmund King said it first learned about the problem with data used for its online shop on 22 April. Soon after discovery, the firm that runs the shop on the AA's behalf was told about the problem.

"They identified the vulnerability and the issue was resolved on 25 April," he said.


The AA said it investigated, sampled the data and, because it was not sensitive and only accessed a few times, ended the investigation.


"We take any data issues incredibly seriously and would like to reassure our AA Shop customers that their payment details have not been compromised," said Mr King.

So it took 3 days to rectify after discovery (how long was it exposed before then?) and because it only contained names, email addresses and incomplete credit card information they closed the investigation. I wonder just how casual they might have been if they didn't take data issues incredibly seriously.

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Presumably they'll move on from "No credit card information" to "only a few customers".

One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass

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According to the article the head line in New Scientist is "Protons are lighter than thought". El Reg's headline is the opposite: "One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass". What was the headline writer thinking of?

America's net neutrality rage hits academia

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"When the authors contacted the other paper's authors, as well as the group behind funding the paper to put their claims to them for a response, they were understandably upset."

I'm sure Kieran knows what he means by "the authors", the other paper's authors" and "the paper" (as in the group behind fund it) but I gave up at this point. What's wrong with the normal academic approach of referring to authors explicitly by name?

One-third of Brit IT projects on track to fail

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Re: In deed

"That's why you build prototypes."

I had a friend who said every time he did that his users complained it didn't have the full functionality. I think there was something in "prototype" that they didn't understand.

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paradigm shift

"You know what a paradigm is, right? How do you propose to shift it?"

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Re: Picking the wrong platform

"I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned picking the wrong software or hardware platform as a reason for failure."

Been there. Worked fine in development and testing. Wouldn't cope with the load. Turned out OK when moved back to a Unix platform.

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Re: Definition of fail

"in the real world a project is really only a failure if the IT director gets sacked"

With some IT directors I'd count that as a success.

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For at least one PM I ran up against the key to success was to ignore him as far as possible (coming up to a developer concentrating on a complex task and insisting on talking to him is something difficult to ignore). No amount of Gantt charts, schedules to be checked or whatever will get a task done; it's finished when it's finished and not before.

The last straw was spending the day before he went on holiday over between who should be assigned a particular program. After a late meeting it had been assigned to me (good). By the time I got home he'd changed his mind again and assigned it to the inept. The stress was too much. I took the next day off sick and emailed in an announcement of my retirement. Before finally retiring I wrote the program in question myself.

Ubuntu 'weaponised' to cure NHS of its addiction to Microsoft Windows

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Re: History repeats itself

"not saying that this is not possible in Windows but it is much more difficult for a perpetrator as they would to get the right person a job in the "windows team" before they can inject the code they need"

As you don't seem to have been reading the news recently I suggest you catch up. Google Wannacry or Shadow Brokers to get you started.

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Re: 'Electronic Patient Records (EPRs), which have a 20-year lifespan'

"I was kind of hoping mine might last a bit longer than that."

Hasn't anybody told you?

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"Remember that the average NHS employee is not going to be very computer literate"

Neither are my even more elderly cousins who nevertheless have made the transition from Windows to Linux. That includes the one who got hit with ransomware on Windows. Her data was recovered with the aid of a Linux live CD and copied back to a new Linux partition on her PC and which she now uses exclusively. Are you saying NHS staff are less computer literate than an 80+ retired hairdresser?

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"El Reg has reported on the city of Munich which after trying to use Linux for years has reverted back to Windows."

I take it you haven't read the thread and seen the various replies to this bit of FUD.

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Re: Not Really Open Source Is It?

"It would be great to make the code available to the worldwide medical community so we could improve heathcare globally."

Let's see. Where might we find it? Let's make a guess at www.nhsbuntu.org

Oh, yes. That looks right.

Now what happens if we click the Download now button...

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Re: OMG... really!

A lot of vendors, especially those peddling pathology systems are never going to warrant running their system on a Linux distro.

The phone calls to the vendors' sales and marketing department start thusly: "Hello, I run procurement for $NHSTrust. We're reviewing the market and asking vendors about Linux support. Do you have Linux support?"

Remember the two important things about salesmen:

- They never want to lose a sale let alone an existing customer.

- You can tell when they're lying because their lips move.

Many development teams have been told to make good on something their sales teams have promised they had.

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Re: Pipe Dream

"Of itself, there is nothing wrong in out-sourcing some aspects of healthcare to private companies."

There is plenty wrong with it

It has been built into the system from the start: GPs, dentists and pharmacists have been private from the start. The only question is where do you draw the boundary. Do you really want to roll it back so that GPs are nationalised? Dentists? Boots? Should the NHS start making its own hospital beds?

There are two things to realise here.

1. No political party dare get rid of the NHS. Yes, I know it's thrown about as an accusation but do you really, if you give it a moment's thought, think that any party would believe they could do it and survive?

2. No political party has worked out how to deal with the mushrooming costs.

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Re: Cost is the smaller concern

"Any place that can have a week long email outage has incompetent admins who are desperately in need of training."

Training or replacing?

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Re: Pipe Dream

"The (English) NHS is a lot of large customers (hospital trusts), and a really big number of medium size customers (GPs etc)."

Fair comment. But some things do get decided centrally. I had one job which covered all England and Wales (integrating the two was a pain) and, separately, Scotland. We only missed out on NI. Trusts, GPs & all ordered separately but there was central control.

Thinking back to my comment about not giving the customer reason to review the market, I wonder if some suppliers who have been coasting on the back of supplying a very few products into the NHS might not have sales staff sufficiently on the ball to realise that.

OTOH I'm sure some of us who've worked with more, shall we say aggressive, salesmen will have had the experience of making good on assurances that, yes, we have such a product.

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Re: Cost is the smaller concern

"You will need managers"

I was with you until this.

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Re: Cost is the smaller concern

"That would last just as long as the first time the government-appointed contractor (Capita) got their hands on it. Then the repo would disappear into the bowels of the Reading monolith, never to be seen again."

You seem to lack familiarity with GPL, BSD and other open source licences.

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Re: Seriously?

"I wouldn't trust my life to code written by people who smoke weed 24/7 !"

Thanks for explaining how Windows got to be that way.

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Re: Bah!

As for these "smartcards", they sound like the PINs we had in the late 60s and which I've been urging everyone to have another look at for Lo! these many years.

TFA says:

"Its mission was to find a way to deploy... Linux ... on 750,000 smartcards used to verify clinicians accessing 80 per cent of applications – excluding those for clinical use – on millions of health service PCs."

Apart from the rather dodgy phraseology which suggests the smartcards would be running Linux I read this as saying these smartcards are already in use with Windows PCs.

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"The rollout was cancelled because they had paid for the wrong licence, then built the image on the incorrect (ie the version they *meant* to buy a licence for) version of Win7, but that's another story!"

This is an argument for Windows?

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Re: How uncomfortable exactly?

"This would be the WannaCry attack that El Reg has several times noted didn't actually affect XP systems?"

ISTR that that was because XP had a protection measure: it fell over before any damage could be done. I suppose the closest medical equivalent is "the operation was a success but the patient died".

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Re: Swings and roundabouts

"What you save in Windows licences, you'll have to pay in retraining staff."

From the examples you give where did that "re" in "retraining come from?

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Re: In other news

driving by grim-faced "agents".

I see a couple of them have proved your point with downvotes.

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Re: It's also about automation...

"the NHS has relied on Office macros to function."

Getting rid of those should be a security improvement in itself.

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Re: Not a *buntu fan, but more power to 'em!

"We thought about using an rpm base, but NHSdora didn't sound as good as NHSbuntu."

Personally I'd have gone for Debian with an intent to move to Devuan or a BSD and a neutral name. The name ties you to a parent.

BTW, did you consider a Raspberry Pi edition? Just the thing for thin clients.

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Re: Cost is the smaller concern

"And 99% of those will be only work on Internet Explorer...."

Which is a major risk as long as that situation continues, because of the proportion which will only run on specific versions of IE.

It's a situation which needs to change and this is the way to change it.

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Re: Cost is the smaller concern

"Crikey, where do you come from ?"

Don't know what you think, Hans, but I can hazard a guess.

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Re: Cost is the smaller concern

"Have a look at the work being started by https://www.coreinfrastructure.org/, an advocacy group in the Linux Foundation, that is looking for sponsorship from big industry players to pay developers to work on essential FOSS code, because there aren't enough competent volunteers who want to do it."

Remember that Linux has from its earliest days attracted contributions from companies who find it to their commercial advantage to do so. From last year's report at: https://www.linux.com/blog/top-10-developers-and-companies-contributing-linux-kernel-2015-2016

Company Changes Percent of total

Intel 14,384 12.9%

Red Hat 8,987 8.0%

None 8,571 7.7%

Unknown 7,582 6.8%

Linaro 4,515 4.0%

Samsung 4,338 3.9%

SUSE 3,619 3.2%

IBM 2,995 2.7%

Consultants 2,938 2.6%

Renesas Electronics 2,239 2.0%:

"None" is the category which covers volunteers. The biggest contributor continues to be Intel. Are you saying their employees aren't competent?

So. A cross-Europe cyberwar simulation. Of ransomware

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Re: Cloud?

"Though it concludes death from Flu is more in a typical year."

And we're probably due for a pandemic.

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A simulation? Haven't we had enough real ones in the last little while?

Blighty's Department for Culture, Media & Sport gets 'digital' rebrand

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It is the first time I've heard gambling described as "innovative financing to create an inclusive economy"

It more or less describes the National Lottery.

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Bradley said the traditional core of DCMS remains "as important as ever" covering Arts, Culture, the Creative Industries, Sport, Tourism, Heritage, Gambling, boosted by responsibility for civil society, charities, volunteering "and innovative financing to create an inclusive economy".

So she's not so much Minister of Fun as Lord High Everything Else.

Google DeepMind trial failed to comply with data protection – ICO

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Re: And the fine?

"Google needs a fine so it realises that patient data has a value."

I think it realises that quite well without a fine. It might come as a shock to them to discover that privacy also has a value - to the patients.

UK.gov tips £400m into digital investment pot

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"Company goes bump."

Why? Could it be that once the thing's priced up to offer a required ROI the potential punters go "That's nice but not at that price."?

How to pwn phones with shady replacement parts

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"If that were true, why isn't it happening already at the point of manufacture?"

It would depend on the brand. An expensive brand has a reputation to protect and could be destroyed when it leaked out if they did this. However, a component manufacturer selling to repair shops is unknown to the public, doesn't have that reputation to protect and could do this without repercussions - just burn their brand and start again in the event of real trouble.

Privacy, consent laws under 'unprecedented strain'. We need a data-watcher watcher

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I can't really see any value in a body which doesn't have teeth. But a UK body which does have powers already exists, the ICO. Being a creation of HMG it ultimately can't hold HMG to account - they could simply abolish it. It needs a supra-national body to be effective, something like the ECJ. Unfortunately escaping the jurisdiction of the ECJ seems to be the one thing her nibs insists on getting from Brexit.

Oh my Word... Microsoft Office 365 unlatched after morning lockout

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Re: Every Cloud has a silver lining?

"When the Cloud is down, it's probable your competitors and/or customers are too. "

Not those competitors who didn't drink the Kool-aid and not those private customers who just use the web and wonder why you're not working and some of your competitors are. Just saying.

Can we have a twiddling thumbs icon?

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"Well, there is this thing called "the web" now; you can actually get to your data from other computers than your main machine!"

Oddly enough I've never found this a problem, at least not since 8" floppies replaced punched cards (but with punched cards I only ever had access to one machine). Ever since then portable media have got smaller physically, larger in capacity and, on the whole, faster.

Dead serious: How to haunt people after you've gone... using your smartphone

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Re: Please add BT to your list

"I was IT manager"

You were an IT manager and didn't know to prod keys at random until someone answers?

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"See you soon!"

Oh, you didn't know that, did you?

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Re: Like those Chryogenic companies

"If they can't revive you in 100 years time you can't sue 'em. Yer dead."

It seems like a sort of reverse version of Pascal's wager.

Civil rights warriors get green light to challenge UK mass surveillance

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"They had to rule themselves out of any coalition because they got punished so heavily for being in the last one."

Yes, too many of their voters were protest voters who wanted to be able to complain whatever party was in government. The thought that their party might actually have to make real decisions that counted was too much to cope with. And then they discovered that in a coalition you can't get everything you want and that didn't go down well either. But it would have been sensible to say nothing at all and keep options open rather than declare themselves to be an irrelevance even though that's what their core vote want to be.

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