* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

systemd-free Devuan Linux hits RC2

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's fascinating that Linux now has the same problem as Windows

"Binary log files ... detect corruption"

by becoming unreadable and therefore useless.

"and tampering through signing."

If you're concerned about tampering log to a remote host. That's a problem that was solved years ago.

"If you want text files in addition to or instead of binary it is a simple matter of reading the man page to enable them"

Not quite so simple. One of the times you really need logs is in diagnosing a system that's not booting properly. In such circumstances an original text log is readable by booting from another medium and your binary log probably isn't; how far behind current was the translation to text and how do you know?

Systemd: bringing you problems you don't need to solve problems you don't have.

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Re: It's fascinating that Linux now has the same problem as Windows

"English is just a form of cultural imperialism"

So should programming languages be translated from English - "if", "else", "break" etc translated into your local language?

Greater Manchester cops fined after victim interview vids lost in post

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"Or the computer illiterate copper?"

Computer literacy doesn't come into it - we've no information on that one way or the other - but what's relevant is that we appear to have someone who doesn't know about a proper chain of custody of evidence. If they hadn't got lost and had been presented in court could he have produced a set of signatures for everyone who handled it in the Royal Mail?

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Apart from the privacy issues anyone handling what are potentially court exhibits should really be taking personal responsibility for their actions. They could be called into court to give evidence to prove that what was examined and exhibited in court was what it was claimed to be. I think it would be entirely reasonable that those responsible for posting the items should be held responsible by the ICO. I'd also expect any defence barristers in cases handled by the GMP to give chain of custody a close examination and probably get a number of cases thrown out if this is the GMP's standard of exhibit handling.

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"but for a copy DVD with an interview on it... I doubt it."

Also not a police officer but formerly a court-going forensic scientist. If the copy was being sent for investigation by someone who'd then give evidence on it then I'd have thought chain of custody would be necessary.

OTOH I think DiC samples for independent analysis are sent by post. I know one was. An unexpected item arrived by post and the X-ray couldn't identify it. It was put round the back of the lab until the Army sent round an ATO team. They "opened" it with their shotgun robot. It turned out to be someone's urine sample that he'd sent without making prior arrangements. He didn't get his independent analysis done.

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"I know someone who does forensic examination of hard disks. One force sent them a hard disk in an envelope. No box, no padding, no bubble wrap, no Jiffy bag"

And no chain of custody either.

The Co-Op Bank's online banking has gone TITSUP*

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Re: Multiple bank accounts?

"I believe the Co-op ethos is a good one"

I think you mean was a good one. As someone has pointed out after the Crystal Methodists manglement it ended up being sold to whoever would put up the money to rescue it. The Co-op kicked out the in-store branches and replaced the in-store ATMs with someone else's.

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"There's a gaggle of techies sitting around with that slightly vertiginous / nauseous feeling in the pit of their stomachs, sweaty palms"

We've all been there.

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"My guess is a lot of Intel firmware updates"

Intel? I'm sure they're advanced enough to use Zilog Z80s.

First cardboard goggles, now this: Google's cardboard 'DIY AI' box powered by an RPi 3

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"the AIY Projects website"

And a very odd site it is too. With NoScript it displays nothing at all. Nowt. Zilch. Nada. So I didn't trouble them any further. Any business that treats potential customers with such disrespect soesn't deserve actual customers.

Capita's huge role in UK government should go under the spotlight

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Re: TV Licenses

"How about just take it from tax in the first place"

Do you really want the Beeb completely under HMG's thumb? Because that's just what you're suggesting.

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"Over many years, the BBC intended to replace the legacy ICT systems it uses to support the collection of the licence fee, but it has been unable to do so"

Maybe they should put more effort into that and less into tweaking iPlayer. OTOH I don't suppose the hipsters tweaking iPlayer would recognise a real business system if they tripped over it.

UK.gov job ads entice IT bods with promise they will be OUTSIDE IR35

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Re: What?

"the trivially simple task of managing software licences."

It probably involves wrangling with the notorious Oracle licensing and also Microsoft. The MoJ needs to be able to withstand a FAST onslaught. It sounds like they may need a legal bod rather than a techie.

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That rattling sound you hear...

... it's the sound of the penny dropping.

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Re: I just...

"This strikes me that they're exploiting loopholes in their own legislation to get the staff in place."

Why? All they have to do is write the contracts correctly and ensure that their working practices abide by them. It might mean ignoring what HMRC want them to do but they're realised it's what they need to do.

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"Has she got out of her cage again?"

She doesn't need to. Her legacy is still with us.

Windows 10 S forces Bing, Edge on your kids. If you don't like it, get Win10 Pro – Microsoft

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Re: Meh, I give it a few months

"MS could just say that Windows S doesn't have a dominant market position"

But planning on being able to argue that means they'd be planning to fail.

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Re: The Real money here? Proctor and Gamble etc

"Microsoft have missed it completely."

Maybe not:

"The reason a lot of students buy Macbooks is because they keep their inherent value. Yes, they are expensive but the resale value is also high. This design is almost designed to kill the resale value of the Surface Laptop as soon as you walk out the store."

Planned obsolescence - the oldest trick in the book.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

a Microsoft spokesperson told The Register on Thursday.

"Customers are in control of their Windows experience - we must try harder"


Can you spout digital bollocks? London is hiring a Chief Digital Officer

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Re: DevOps

"They should just go to the DevOps conference you're constantly pushing at the moment and throw a brick to choose their candidate."

If the candidate selected by this is still standing they didn't throw the brick hard enough.

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"Chief Digital Officers are considered both the new stars of the C-suite as well as faddish or transitory roles which will eventually go away.

The CIO show also noted that two years ago the average UK salary for one of these faddish transitories was £114,750, meaning tight-fisted Khan is underpaying by a good few grand once inflation is taken into account."

Maybe the roles are already starting to go away and the salary reflects this. I don't think I'll bother applying - it would probably mean living in London.

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"I would apply for it if it wasn't for nepotism."

Is Bob your uncle? He seems to be having lots of trouble with Eve.

Chip design chap arrested for using photocopier

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In a tech company someone who resorts to a photocopier to nick trade secrets probably isn't the new employee you want. Unless his existing employer has banned cufflinks, of course.

You only need 60 bytes to hose Linux's rpcbind

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Was running unneeded on Debian LTS so apt-get remove rpcbind.

Oracle links to LinkedIn so its salesware can sniff you out

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Re: The problem with linkedIn is

"I first deleted all info from my profile"

So you think.

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"targeted marketing rather than spam."

It's one of those irregular verbs isn't it? I send valuable marketing messages, you send unsolicited bulk commercial email, he spams.

To paraphrase Bernard Woolley.

Windows 10 S: Good, bad, and how this could get ugly for PC makers

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CEO ... got him a Panasonic Toughbook.


Rest of the C suite decided that wanted one of these "military spec" laptops as well.

It's unlikely that any of them were going to do anything that would have caused them to notice the underpowered bit.

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Re: Discounts ...

"The 4 is quite old now, and despite the discounts, if you're not in a hurry to buy one you are waiting for the new models."

When this announcement was being trailed I assumed this was going to be an attempt to flog off all the unsold stock to the education market.

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Re: Blanket Laptops.....

Maybe they'll arrange for it to be unzipped and run through the washing machine.

Mine's the one that's whiter than white.

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"over these Acer's I currently have to support!"

If you're working in a school, please ask one of the English teachers to explain how to use the apostrophe. It would avoid your setting a bad example to the pupils.

S is for Sandbox: The logic behind Microsoft's new lockdown Windows gambit

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Would one be able to build a new program and run in within this locked down environment? If not that excludes it from being used in any trendy coding classes.

Oops. I forgot. Coding classes are writing bits of HTML these days. That's what all the celebs and BBC tech correspondents do in coding classes so it must be right.

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At that point the game changes again with low-cost, ARM-based laptops and tablets "doing Windows" reasonably well.

What does "reasonably well" mean in terms of "doing Windows"?

Cabinet Office losing grip on UK government departments – report

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Perhaps a when a senior civil servant takes charge of a major project they should be blocked from moving on until it's complete - except, of course on being sacked for incompetence or on retirement. That might give project managers a sense of urgency. It might also result in what would be big projects being split into chunks under the major project limit, chunks which might then be of manageable size capable of being delivered.

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Re: Sir Humphrey would have been proud

Or the day after - if ever.

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Re: Reshuffle Kerfuffle more like!

The game of musical chairs starts as one Permanent Secretary moves on ... We do we , the public, just accept that "Cabinet reshuffle" is a thing?

These are two different things. A Perm Sec is a civil servant not a minister and a Cabinet reshuffle affects ministers. What's permanent about a Perm Sec is that they don't lose their jobs in an election. However senior civil servants can get shifted round so although their rank is permanent their assignment isn't.

Unpaid tech contractor: 'I have to support my family. I have no money for medicines'

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"How long have you been your last 3 jobs Mr X?", "Oh about 3-6 months each."

Assuming you were working through a limited company in your case it sounds as if you should have answered "about 7 years". Your job is with your employer and that's your limited company. Your company's contracts may be 3-6 months. Imagine if you applied your logic to a shop employee. Would you answer "about 30 seconds"?

Gig economy tech giants are 'free riding' on the welfare state, say MPs

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Re: There is a way the gig economy can work ...

"And it means that we have to place huge burdens on small employers (proportionally much higher than big employers) to administrate all the various things such as Employers NI, "

Employer's NI is, of course, only one part of what they administer. Employee's NI and Income Tax are others. But you need these taxes to pay for your UI. You still need to construct an entire workable system which ensures that there's sufficient resources to pay your UI. Simply replacing one mess with another doesn't cut it. I think you're quite rightly looking at UC and saying it's a mess but part of the problem is that it's a messy component of something that's better described as a shambles than a system and simply replacing that component doesn't make it less of a shambles.

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Re: Definitions of employed/self-employed ?

"But when does a key man clause in a contract for services become a non-substitution clause that marks the contract as a disguised employment contract?"

The difference with a typical services engagement is that the people covered by "key man" clauses are bona fide employees of the company delivering the services, with NICs, income tax, sick pay and holidays fully accounted for.

A company is a company to paraphrase someone or other irrespective of size. Therefore there should be no reason to take a substitution clause as equivalent to a key man clause.

The primary problem with IR35 determination is that although it's supposed to be based on the balance of probabilities it doesn't consider the probability of the contract being what it states itself to be, a contract for provision of services. If a clause would be unexceptional in a contract with, say Capita, for provision of services then it should be equally unexceptional in a contract with VerySmallFreelanceCo. And that goes with "as directed", long contracts or any other clause. Why should the individual service provider be discriminated against relative to the Capitas of this world?

The entire assumption of IR35 is that there is such a thing as a disguised employee. And yet if you take into account the way in which the freelancer relates to the engager it differs in many respects from an employee. If a freelancer is asked - or told - to work on such and such a task today does that make him an employee? You think so? OK, you engage a sparky to change a single socket for a double in your living room; does that make him an employee because you told him which particular socket to change?

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Re: There is a way the gig economy can work ...

"Universal income is often dismissed as a socialist utopia"

Unless you have a plan to finance it it's not even that. Simply saying "universal income" on its own isn't enough. It can only be one element of a more complex financial system. What else do you propose to complete it?

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"which is the resident monopolist agent between supplier & customer"

This is where your argument fails. Ebay isn't a monopolist. You can use Amazon market place, you can set up your own website, you can sell door to door, rent a shop or a market stall. You have options. Choosing to sell through Ebay is simply taking a ready made route and grumbling about it.

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Re: Definitions of employed/self-employed ?

"Not in the US. I'm an independent contractor and I have a clause in my contract that says no substitutions."

That's an interesting situation. It seems to be established in UK case law that that would be an indication of employment. And yet the IR themselves, as they then were, had a sample contract on their website at one time for companies to supply services to themselves. It made provision for them (a "key man" clause) to nominate individuals on the suppliers team who could not be replaced without the IR's agreement. It was a sensible clause given the tendency of big services company to put forward a high powered team to make the pitch and then run the contracts on recent graduates, YTS trainees or work experience kids if they could get away with it. But when does a key man clause in a contract for services become a non-substitution clause that marks the contract as a disguised employment contract?

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Re: Definitions of employed/self-employed ?

"Employed" - you work for someone else in "their" company (either full time or part time)

"Self-employed" - you work for "your own" company (even if providing services to someone elses company)

No. Self-employed is a fairly specific thing however much the HMRC try to muddy the waters.

If you're self-employed you can provide a service or trade goods and the money that the customer pays is your personal money. You may, however, have liabilities such as tax and NI and the ability to set your expenses against the income before taxes are levied. You'll also have liabilities for any other costs you incur and those liabilities fall directly on you, personally. You are the business; there's no distinction. You could, for instance, buy a bucket, a ladder and some cleaning materials and set up as a self employed window-cleaner tomorrow. If nobody wants their windows cleaned or you go on holiday or fall sick, tough. There's no money coming in and your only fall-back is on the dole under whatever name it's going ATM.

What I've just described is a sole trader. Another variation is a partnership. You can go into partnership with someone else with two buckets and two ladders as a window cleaning partnership. Much the same applies. Any money you take becomes your joint property as partners and it's up to you to divvy it up but you still have personal liabilities. In fact those liabilities are on both of you for the actions of either - your partner screws up and you could still be liable for whatever it costs.

An employee doesn't receive money that's paid for the whatever the business delivers. The business, whether it be a sole trader, a partnership, a limited company, a PLC, a charity or a public sector receives the money and pays the employee. The employee will have to pay income tax and NI although the NI rates are different and there's also an employer's NI to be paid. The employer will also have to find sick pay and holiday pay. The business and the employee are two separate entities. One thing that should be made clear here is that if you're in business as a self-employed window cleaner the your customers are just that, customers; they're not your employers.

There's no real obstacle to a company engaging a specialist worker (to use a generic term) on a self-employed basis. There is, however, a risk and that's a ruling some time ago that if the sole trader were to default on tax payments the IR (as it then was) could look to the engager (again, to use a generic term) to make good. This, AIUI, was what brought the limited company freelancer to the fore; clients were more likely to be comfortable dealing with a limited company rather than a sole-trader as the ruling did not apply to a worker engaged on that basis. It's not essential to structure the arrangement through a limited company. I came across a client who, I discovered, engaged graphic designers as sole traders and they actually had their own form contract for this.

It should be clear from the above that when a freelancer works through a limited company they are not self-employed. It is the company that is the business that receives payment from the client. The company has its own tax liabilities such as corporation tax and employees NI and its own rules about expenses. It's up to the company's management and ownership (who are probably identical with the employee(s)) to decide what payments it makes to its employee(s), subject, of course, to any limits on what it can afford and company legislation about solvency. It also needs to distribute salary payments through sickness, holidays and slack periods. As a company, of course, the business is subject to a good deal more legislation than the sole trader. It needs to go through the necessary legal formalities to be incorporated and it needs to produce the appropriate annual accounts to submit to Companies House. It has more freedom to distribute income as dividends, which have their own taxation arrangements, as well as salary and to retain some of its income when things are going well in order to be able to make payments when they're not. It is also the company which assumes any liabilities and not the employees.

For a small company the same person might be shareholder, management and employee. Nevertheless they are separate roles unlike the sole trader where the person is the business.

NB Occupations which are regulated create exceptions. Anyone can set up as a self-employed window cleaner but not as a self-employed medical practitioner unless they have the appropriate qualifications and registrations. OTOH there may be instances where the professional is obliged to bear personal liability even if they are an employee although the employer may pay for professional liability insurance.

Gang-briefed by IBM bosses in Hawaii? Nah, I'll take redundancy

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Re: Statutory minimum redundancy payouts

"they still have the cash to fly 1000 people for a jolly to Hawaii?"

They may be one way tickets.

Your desk is being cleared. Please make your own way home.

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"Build a distro that appeals to the young, is easy to use"

IBM aren't in that market at all. They sold their desktop business, their Intel server business and their small printer business years ago. They're now mainframes, mid-range and services. They do, however, have their own server distro for mainframes. I'm not sure appealing to the young would help that.

Microsoft sparks new war with Google with, er, $999+ lappies for kids

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"I would love to see someone putting a Raspberry Pi into a laptop of the same quality and at the same price point."

Actually the Pi is a more like a pig's ear when it comes to fitting into a box like that. It's designed as a bench top gadget* where it doesn't matter where the external connections are placed You need to get a USB connection out for the keyboard but because all the USBs are at one end it then becomes a compromise arranging for external USB kit to be plugged it. It would be even worse if you also wanted an internal disk drive.

OTOH something of similar spec but designed for incorporation in a laptop would be fine.

*At which it's brilliant, of course.

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"That Horrid shade of green is off-putting as Hell!"

They're selling something kids will want, not you. When I bought one as a present I'd have preferred the grey but couldn't get it. It turned out that the acid green was just what the recipient wanted. I think we have to accept that they know their market.

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Re: Windows 10 S can only use apps from the Windows Store

"it's being MARKETED! TO! CHILDREN!"

I didn't realise Yahoo! was involved.

Boffins gently wake the Large Hadron Collider from annual hibernation

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Re: Excellent

"Plenty of those already"

Reality has a habit of punching back.

Post Unity 8 Ubuntu shock? Relax, Linux has been here before

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"I suggest a real rationalisation would be for Canonical to effectively end game it's 'proprietary' desktop, ... to back one of the variants as the preferred mainstream business/enterprise desktop; an obvious candidate would be the Mint distribution with the Cinnamon desktop."

But Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu. If Ubuntu were to discontinue development of the desktop to replace it as a derivative of Mint then they'd be going round in circles.

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Re: Linux sucks

"The problem with Linux is that it isn't very good. Windows is much better and actually works."

I see you don't use Linux. Remember that those of us who do somehow seem to end up as Windows support for friends and family so unlike you we have a basis for making a comparison.

"it's a load of old balls"

Indeed. And it's you who's talking it.

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