* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Cabinet Office minister Gummer loses seat as Tory gamble backfires

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: What a mess...

" I don't think May will be PM for very long but whoever takes over from her would be bonkers to call an election for at least two years."

In this sort of situation the PM can have an election forced on them without calling it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Gummer had previously described the government's long-delayed digital strategy as "the most ambitious programme of change of any government anywhere in the world".

I think that should have been "over-ambitious".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Given the other alternatives a hung Parliament seems the best we could have hoped for.

Watch out Facebook, Google – the EU wants easy access to your data

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Brexit

"It just gives Brexit fans another reason to leave the EU."

Ignoring the fact that our PM has been keen to do this since her Home Sec days which is why we have Brexit in the first place.

The ECHR might have something to say about this latest proposal.

Whisky snobs scotched by artificial tongue

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Holy s**t 10K-135K Euros a bottle

"But almost all the other distinguishing features are going to need your nose."

That was my reaction. It makes GC sound more realistic as a testing method.

Record number of non-EU techies coming to Blighty

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Well they can't exactly go to France now can they

"Heaven help someone from outside it."

Maybe they're anticipating things a little and treating you as if you're already outside.

ICO seizes phones and computers in nuisance call scam raids

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"up to and including gentle slap on the wrist."

They've been handing out much bigger fines recently. The current ICO looks as if she means business. At least if the businesses fold the ICO have something already in their possession to confiscate.

DUP site crashes after UK general election

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the UK gov't is about to be underpinned by Ulster Unionists"

Ulster Unionists != DUP

Different party.

Feeling old? Well, we're older than that: Newly found Homo sapiens jaw dates back 350k years

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Which is, in fact, a relatively modern construct, derived by a certain Bishop Ussher"

One of his successors, now retired, was a working archaeologist in the NI Archaeological Survey before going into the Church. I wish he'd made an ex cathedra comment about that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: is the jaw a really a fossil or is it a bone?

Good question. Basically a fossil is a thing dug up. So if a bone is buried and subsequently dug up it's a fossil bone (although you wouldn't really apply that the bone your dog buried in the garden yesterday). As to physical state - it varies.

Some fossils can be simple casts of soft bodied organisms or plants where the entire organic material leaving a cavity which later filled up with a different type of sediment. I have a cast of a stigmarian axis (horizontal stem of a carboniferous club-moss). Fossil footprints are similar.

The object might undergo some chemical change. It might, for instance, lose most other elements and be reduced to a layer of carbon. A more thorough process might replace organic matter with other minerals.

OTOH in the right circumstances there might be little change. Amber is a hardened tree resin and, as we all ought to know by now, can preserve insects with little deterioration as it blocks out oxygen which would be needed for decay.

Pollen grains, or, to be accurate, their protective sporopollenin walls are very well preserved in organic sediments although we generally describe them as sub-fossil if post-glacial. I encountered one black layer in an archaeological context which consisted of little more than a binding of humic acid (dissolved away in NaOH) and oak pollen.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"They always seem to find primitive tools near the bodies"

They weren't that primitive. "Primitive" suggests hand axes. Blade tools like this extended well into the post-glacial. They look indistinguishable from Bann flakes. In fact somewhere I've got a knife very like G and a point very like K from Toome and Newferry in N Ireland.

Spy commissioners: Did we audit our bulk data sharing with industry? Err... not exactly

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Neither commissioner with responsibility for the intelligence agencies, nor their inspectors, has ever conducted a formal inspection or audit of industry in this regard."

The technical term for this is "dereliction of duty".

Paxo trashes privacy, social media and fake news at Infosec 2017

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "I supposed we should be cheered by this mass act of selflessness."

"But you do have to wonder how many will remember what they did tomorrow."

I have no doubt that in a few years time it'll be hard to find anyone who'll admit to voting Leave if that's what you mean.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

As Paxo clearly has nothing to hide I'm sure he'll be publishing all his bank details, passwords, etc. to prove that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: What is this?

"But in all seriousness, there's usually at least some level of cognitive decline in everyone over the age of 60"

The sort of decline that leads to stereotyping? I guess from your thinking abilities you must be, say 110 by your own standards.

Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @Aladdin Sane

Do you really think Franklin was likely to express an opinion about a specific matter in terms suggesting a general principle without meaning it to be the latter?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The various paramilitary groups had pretty much cornered the market on crime"

I was told that at least in the early days - presumably the late 60s and early 70s - most of those involved were already known to the police as local criminals. I sometimes remember that when I read accounts of those involved in the current outbreak.

"Although understandably there were very few foreigners that actually wanted to come to Belfast."

Just before I started work at QUB the department had had a Sikh research student (this would have been early to mid '60s). I often wondered what the population of rural South Down made of a turbaned Sikh peddling round on a cycle with a set of Hiller borer rods tied to the cross-bar.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I should have added the booby traps. They were intrinsically no-warning devices although not likely to cause so many casualties. I had a lucky escape from one of those.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"They're palm trees in the shape of the letter 'T'"

Or a big double yer.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Outdated, yet still pushing bullshit

"We can find out how many get arrested for terrorism related offences in the UK. Which is 255 for 2016 and 317 for 2015. Less than half of those even get charged"

Largely friends and family of the attackers. The paucity of the charges is a good indication of what's happening - they're just arresting bystanders and hoping a few don't prove to be innocent.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"There were several bombs left by the IRA in public places where they warned the police in advance of the explosion so people could get out of the way."

I assume that you weren't involved in trying to identify the appallingly burned bodies from La Mon House. I was. I assume you don't remember all the arbitrary killings of protestants such as the Darkley shootings. Or the Remembrance Day bombing in Enniskillen. Or Omagh. This is not to say there weren't atrocities perpetrated in the opposite direction - Greysteel and Cappagh spring to mind as examples.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"At least with the IRA,... they were not anxious to kill a lot of people,"

That's not what it seemed like at the time. MI5 weren't involved in day-to-day murder investigations so she might not have noticed.

Tech can do a lot, Prime Minister, but it can't save the NHS

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"That's politics for you. GP's were told to reduce waiting lists down to X by the politicians, and they did it."

Sir Humphrey: You told us to reduce the figures so we reduced them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Outsourcing

"What will this country do once everything has been outsourced?"

Insource it. Then outsource it again. It's the way it always goes over the long term.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Real world underfunding

mine still has money to piss up the wall on public fireworks displays, music and poetry festivals, "LGBT history month" and many other crappy "cultural" services

Mine had several hundred thousand Euros to spend bringing the Tour de France to block the roads for several days plus more spent on various facilities around that. It must have totalled about £1m. Although they did mend a few roads as part of that so we got something back, even if they weren't the roads in greatest need.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: First of all

"This is precisely what turns the business people off GPL."

That would include the non-business people running RedHat, I take it.

I suspect that what precisely turns most business people off GPL is people saying that business people are turned off GPL.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The long-term cost no one talks about..

"The PFI are a national scandel."

This (apart from the spelling).

Example from what I can glean from reports. Calderdale had a bright shiny hospital built under PFI. The costs of this are crippling. Calderdale and Kirklees health care was merged into a single trust which then has the PFI burden. The solution seems to be to close the slightly older but still post-war Huddersfield hospital (HRI) and sell off the site to raise money. HRI was far from centrally located within its area*; patients from outlying areas who were faced with a long journey to HRI are now faced with an even longer journey along the often congested Eland bypass.

TFA mentions patients doing more themselves. This already happens. That journey will be either in their own transport, via a friend or relative or in a taxi at their own cost. When they or their friend or relative has struggled along the said Eland bypass they'll have to park in the not really adequate car park and pay for the privilege.

And no doubt this PFI induced mess is replicated up and down the country.

*A slightly more central site has already been closed and looks likely to become housing and a supermarket.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: First of all

"Centralise IT at least and half these problems will go away, surely?"

In theory, yes, so have an upvote. But given government's proven abilities [sic] to handle large IT projects I think there are some practical problems with that.

HPE ignored SAN failure warnings at Australian Taxation Office, had no recovery plan

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"then there's only one place to ultimately point the finger"

And, as I just wrote in another comment, pointing your finger is all you can do. Only a lawyer would see it as a satisfactory solution to a problem.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"What the SANs do is up to HPE to maintain, as per contract."

And when it all goes wrong you have someone to point the finger at. But also, when it all goes wrong that's all you can do. Your staff can just sit there twiddling their thumbs hoping that somebody, somewhere is fixing it and all the while your organisation grinds to a halt.

You don't have your own staff dealing with it as their one and only top priority task as opposed to just another job, albeit a top priority job, by an outsourced supplier. There's a difference.

White-box security webcam scatters vulnerabilities through multiple OEMs

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Let's hope they get on BrickerBot's list soon.

Senator blows a fuse as US spies continue lying over spying program

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"it's not discretionary so Congress can't stop it."

Certainly in the UK Parliament ultimately controls the purse strings because they have to approve of taxation. If they really want to stop something they can, even if it means a revolt by MPs of the governing party against their leadership (i.e. the head of government).

The question for Congress would be whether it has the power to make something discretionary; as the elected body should it be able to make that decision. It might be something of a constitutional crisis if push came to shove but there seem to be reasonably frequent reports of Congress holding the government's feet to the fire by threatening to withhold the entire budget so it doesn't seem impossible.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Try the "when you've got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow" approach:

Your agency's funding stops at the end of this month. If you want it to continue come back with an answer.

I think they'd be back by the end of the week let alone the month.

Hyperloop One teases idea of 50-minute London-Edinburgh ride

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"It is quite pointless really. A vacuum tube is not much better than a streamlined train."

But doesn't need to be so pointy.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Vapourware

"Surely you mean Vacuumware?"

You forgot to allow for the leaks.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: History repeats???

"I think we HAVE lost our way for large projects in this country."

You're right. We've absolutely abandoned perpetual motion machines.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Overcomplicating it, aren't you ?

"In the 1840s-1850s atmospheric railways were running successfully with a motive force that was an evacuated pipe between the tracks"

The problem word in there is "successfully". The speeds achievable wouldn't be considered a success by hyperloop terms.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: A luddite writes...

"But how would that go down in your neck of the woods, or any other pleasant rural location?"

Probably about the same as all the roads that would be needed to carry all the extra traffic for ever-growing commutes.

In my neck of the woods we had mills. When they were built there were also extra houses built because there was an influx of workers (it's not a new problem). The mills have closed. A few have been re-purposed for new businesses but on the whole employing rather less people per loom-space. The rest have been built over with houses. And a few more houses in in-fills. So local population has gone up, local employment has gone down. Public transport has got worse. The unimproved roads have to take the strain of commuting by car and, to be fair, it's not easy to see how the roads could be improved given the constraints topography imposes. What we've suffered from has been a lifetime's planning which has adopted the principle of separating places of employment and dwellings into different zones; the mess we have was actually planned. The situation being what it is I can't see how more work-places could be slotted into the area - topographical constraints again. If, however, it were possible to move some urban jobs into rural areas then the office space they occupy could be re-used for housing for the remaining urban workers. What we have now is the concentration of jobs into ever-growing urban centres which then need the towns and villages of over 1000 sq miles of surrounding countryside to house many of their workers with all the accompanying transport problems. It's not sustainable but it's yet another problem that government won't think about tackling. And that's without bringing increasing population into it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I moved from S. England"

Sounds reasonable.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Something less drastic maybe

"The M25 may be much maligned but it gets people from one to the other rather quickly"

Not always in my admittedly limited experience but your point is well taken. There is a study going on about new tunnels for Manchester-Sheffield. I can only imagine they surveyed one of the routes some time ago when Winscar was drained to repair its leaks because one route seemed to run underneath it. Or maybe through it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Whatever the technical merits/flaws

"I don't think anyone can built any large-scale infrastructure in Europe by simply waiting for all involved private parties to sell their lots at their own convenience."

OTOH we don't really think it was right when some C18/19th landowner decided to relocate a medieval village because the peasants were spoiling the view from his new house.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Total travel time? @Pete 2

The problem with your 1h15m flight is that (1) etc.

Some of these would apply to your Hyperloop. The taxiing is replaced by vaccing down and re-pressurising the airlock. I assume that if you have luggage it'll have to be stowed properly so as not to be a hazard under acceleration and deceleration so you wouldn't just be allowed to trundle it on board yourself.

Rustle up a privacy research project and ICO queen Liz will see you handsomely rewarded

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Oi! Infomation Commissioner!

For 3) I prefer my solution.

After the call dial something like 1477 or some vacant number in the 14x range. Your telco debits a couple of quid, and double that if you're on TPS, from the caller's account and credits it to your own and for good measure takes a handling fee. The caller wasn't on their network? No problem, charge it to the network it came from; they can pass the charge on with their own fee added. Rinse and repeat as required.

It'd take a certain amount of policing to establish the caller is a nuisance caller and it wasn't just the recipient trying to score a couple of quid from any bona fide call; the potential charges could be recorded until that's ascertained and then put through. Telcos providing connections for call centres would have to put some effort into credit control to make sure they weren't left with the bill if the call centre folded.

Axed from IBM for remote working? Don't go crying to HPE

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

So really all that world-wide collaboration that's supposed to have produced Linux is just a stunt. It must be a group of grunts crowded into a cubicle farm because you couldn't do it any other way.

Hand in your notice – by 2022 there'll be 350,000 cybersecurity vacancies

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's all total...

The children of those retiring now will already be in mid-career. It's our grandchildren we should be warning off. Why did I just give grandson/apprentice my copy of Unix The Book? (I just looked inside the cover. Publication date 1982. 35 years I've been doing this stuff. Where did they all go?)

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: There is no skills gap.

"The poster going on about lack of training & unwilling to invest on talent inhouse is close to the mark."

This is where freelancing scores. You make your own decisions about training. Clearly it means loss of billable hours as well as fees and travel and accommodation if you don't live near enough to the training centre. But a client unwilling to train up their own staff is going to have to take in a freelancer to fill the skills gap.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I'm sorry, but at least in Germany...

"You make sure you have an overview about what kinds of data are stored and when they are supposed to be deleted."

In the UK you'd need to supplement that with making sure data are actually deleted according to schedule (will this finally bring the DNA and ANPR data to heel?) and making sure marketing don't spaff customer lists to their chums in spamming businesses.

Hotel guest goes broke after booking software gremlin makes her pay for strangers' rooms

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I trust my bank

My experience was somewhat different. I was staying in an hotel on one gig whilst I had a watching brief on another. The idea was I would dial in (this was a long time ago) and check the logs on a daily basis. Because I had no signal at the hotel to do this on the phone I plugged the laptop modem (yes, a long time ago) into the hotel room socket for which I had to enter a card number. Every few days my card was blocked as this was a favourite test for a stolen card. This continued for the duration despite frequent calls to unblock it it and explanations that this was going to keep happening -and from the same hotel. The fact that someone would actually use the legitimate facility to use a card to make calls seemed to be beyond them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"most major sites I used offered to save my card for later purchases"

That's an offer I always manage to resist.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Bah!

"'d suspect the general voting reaction to you is less based upon what you said, and more based upon the insufferably c*ntish way you went about saying it."

Or both. The likely outcome with a credit card would be penalties imposed for going over the limit and hours of phone calls over the next few weeks and months getting those and the damage to her credit rating rescinded.

My experience of banks' handling of what should be routine settlement operations is such that I haven't used my current bank's card from within a few months of having it.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019