* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

systemd-free Devuan Linux hits version 1.0.0

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: systemd sucks

"in fact it was easier to configure to my own taste than Debian is"

So it should be. That's what it was intended to do. I've also had the beta running on an Intel box but it was problematic on a Pi. I must go back to that now the RC is out.

Ministry of Justice scraps 'conviction by computer' law

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el Reg has the habit of sometimes using more colourful verbs to deliver quotes so how about

"The automatic online conviction procedure will contribute to the government's aim of delivering a service that is just, proportionate, accessible to all and works better for everyone," the government said lied at the time.

Nuh-uh, Google, you WILL hand over emails stored on foreign servers, says US judge

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"As is there job, they don't care one bit about your privacy, but they care a lot about national security."

Ultimately national security is not helped by weakening your country's economy. When your country's businesses are at risk from weak security and are no longer thought trustworthy by the rest of the world you have seriously damaged your economy.

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"My sense is that a prudent prosecutor would do as well as possible with what she can get, and work to search foreign data repositories using the mutual legal assistance treaties that exist"

Got it in one.

Why aren't they doing this? Don't they have a case and are just fishing? Are they too lazy? Are they trying to build precedents to circumvent the inconvenience of doing the work in future?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Terms of service

"So what happens when a multinational company (local to MORE THAN ONE country) gets caught between conflicting sovereign laws such that, no matter what, the company WILL be in violation of AT LEAST ONE, with severe consequences either way?"

I'm reminded, as so often, of a quote from Yes Minister. When asked whose side he'd be on when the chips were down Bernard replied "It's my job to make sure the chips stay up.".

In this case it's up to the company to structure its arrangements to avoid the situation you describe. Microsoft's data trustee arrangement is one such. I've suggested a franchise arrangement as another. In either case the power to comply would lie wholly with the local company.

In fact the very word "trustee" should alert you to a very significant issue here. Companies that hold data on others do so on a basis of trust. Over the years this has been a very important factor in facilitating trade. I don't think governments have quite grasped this trust issue in relation to data. The US govt doesn't seem to have; our own UK govt doesn't seem to have. When they do they'll realise the economic consequences of playing fast and loose with it and at that point we should start to see changes.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @Doctor Syntax ..

The concern here is that this is salami tactics. TPTB found in the MS case that things weren't as easy as they thought. They've now gone for a somewhat muddier set of circumstances (rather like the iPhone case earlier). If they win on this they get a precedent which they'll then try to enlarge next time round.

There are treaties in place to go to the country where the data is held and make their case there; that route is being ignored and one has to ask why. Do they think they don't have a case that would stand up in a court that values privacy?

US business desperately wants the Privacy Figleaf and when that gets to court, as it will, I'm sure the ECJ will be looking at decisions like this and it will not be to US business' advantage when it does so.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Then they crashed into the ground in a huge ball of flames. What does that tell you about them?

"It doesn't tell you anything about the Liberals. It tells you a lot about the electorate."

Yes. A large part of their vote was simply a protest vote. The thought that the party they'd voted for might actually do something responsible in helping form a government in the aftermath of the 2010 election was anathema to them. Voting against something might appear attractive but in reality it only makes sense to vote for something.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Two problems with that." etc

I have been in the same position as you and share your concerns.

A few comments.

Firstly, agreed on due process. Due process is not having some officer of the investigating body authorising warrants, nor a minister or ministerial aide of whatever. Due process is a warrant issued by a court of law. Although the nature of a warrant hearing is such that the subject of the warrant doesn't normally get to hear of it when it's applied for and granted, only when its served, once it is served the subject should have a right to a hearing to challenge it if they think there are grounds for a challenge.

Secondly, but related to the first, the presumption of innocence is a fundamental part of law in a free society. An approach that seizes everyone's data first and decides what to do with it afterwards defies that presumption; it should not have been passed.

Thirdly, the jurisdiction of a country's law should stop at its borders. There are treaties which allow for the US or other country to go through proper channels to ask for access in the country where data is held and to get access which is in accordance with the host country's law on presentation of a proper case. The fact that they're not doing that suggests to me either ignorance of the channels available to them, arrogance that they think they can trample over other countries' legal systems, indolence in not being prepared to put in the work to prepare a case or, and I suspect that this is the real reason, they simply don't have a basis for preparing such a case.

Finally, the need for encryption is a necessity for transacting business over the internet. If a government doesn't want to allow it then it should say plainly that it also doesn't allow business to be transacted over the internet and see where that gets it. Otherwise those who advocate banning encryption should be prepared to put all their online banking and other e-commerce credentials etc in the public domain for a year before taking the matter further. It makes no sense to deny the public such facilities when the only effect it has on law breakers is to provide them with another law to break.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Yeah, but...

"What do you do?"

What you don't do is set up the arrangement you describe.

You could, for instance, have an arrangement where company A is a UK company, owned by UK shareholders and operates under UK law. It is a franchisee of company B. The franchise arrangement is also drawn up according to UK law. It includes strict terms that company B is not allowed to have access to data of company A's clients.

US government orders company B to break UK law.

Company B can't.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Terms of service

Given that Googles terms of service refer to "products and services (“Services”). The Services are provided by Google Inc. (“Google”), located at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, United States", with the laws of California, USA applying, I'm having trouble understanding how Google has a leg to stand on here.

I think this is a very dubious legal argument. T&Cs, EULAs or whatever cannot overrule statute law. If Google were to provide me with an email service here, outside the US, then I doubt T&Cs would be able to overrule the provisions of local statute law and that includes the local Data Protection law. And if that's the case then in a year or so's time they'll need to be able to comply with the GDPR or face very substantial fines.

But you are right, of course, in that Google will have to look at their international structure to enable them to comply.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Europe really must insist on data sovereignty, proper arms-length operation of European DCs. The US cannot be trusted with data.

Drunk user blow-dried laptop after dog lifted its leg over the keyboard

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Re: Good on Jim Re dog

"A normally housetrained dog isn't suddenly going to take a piss on the boss's laptop"

A well trained dog, however...

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Re: Good on Jim

"The look I gave them when they asked if they could borrow my screwdrivers..."

Lost opportunity. You should have sold them a screwdriver. About £20 should be right.

(You can't) buy one now! The flying car makes its perennial return

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Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

"A gyro is powered by its engine.... Kites are powered by the wind, and cannot fly without it."

And flying cars are powered by hot air.

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)


In other words, measuring things properly is hard work. And a lot more fun than exercise.

Script kiddies pwn 1000s of Windows boxes using leaked NSA hack tools

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Forget the fact that these might be old versions of the OS. Forget the fact that they're not patched. Why are these idiots exposing SMB services on the open net?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

3. Don't even exist any more.

Microsoft promises twice-yearly Windows 10, O365 updates – with just 18 months' support

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Re: Twice yearly roll out of incompatabilities

"Now that Microsoft has got a large number of machines being upgraded when it wants it can start to roll out code that breaks other systems"

That used to be their MO except that "other systems" were previous versions of Office. Then they had a panic attack when Open Office formats became ISO standards. Big organisations like specifying ISO standards so they were in danger of seeing OO formats being specified by customers. They reacted by getting their own "me too" ISO standard. That left them stuck - they couldn't play the old game any more and it also left their own formats a sitting duck for OO, LO, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and All to work on.

So I don't see quite how they can revert to the old game as you suggest although, of course, Charles Simonyi has re-entered the building... https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/18/microsoft_charles_simonyi_intentional_software/

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Anybody else?

"Since Windows 7, MS has completely lost the plot."

It's not so much losing the plot, it's just that the old plot stopped working.

Windows 7 was their problem release. People liked it. They didn't want something different. MS has always depended on forcing something new on people because that way they have to buy upgrades or new H/W with the new version pre-installed. When the customers decided they wanted to stick with W7 that broke the business plan.

They could always try a new plot: delivering what customers want.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Timed Releases?

"MS is really trying to force its hand and get everyone locked into this perpetual upgrade cycle."

Just like they've always done.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Dear gods...

"most users want their machine to work without having to learn a bunch of new stuff, or perform extra steps, or type in something in a highly specific context. They don't want the power to do something in multiple different ways, they want it to work in one way, reliably, every time they do it"

I'm one of "most users". You've just described why I don't use Windows.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Dear gods...

"Linux is a real and perfectly acceptable (and time saving) alternative for a lot of use cases."

You know that, I know that but the usage levels of Windows suggests a lot of people don't. They have to get there somehow so "drive" isn't that inappropriate word.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Dear gods...


Why don't you just write "Unix"? It's not difficult and might give the impression that you're not indulging in a rant.

Cuffing Assange a 'priority' for the USA says attorney-general

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So Trump chooses to stroke Assange's ego. I suppose it makes a change from stroking his own.

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Re: Wikileaks

"it's easy to forget that his real crime is being involved in exposing corruption"

There are people in Sweden who say he has committed real crimes but not the ones you mention.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"So the CIA wants to get someone but the target is too high profile for them" etc.

Is this the plot for your new novel that you've accidentally leaked online?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Deportation

"He, probably quite rightly, feared that the moment he was in the custody of any country, he was likely to find himself on a plane to the USA either before or after the sentence."

Please explain to me in a little more detail how this works.

Remember that your explanation needs to take into cover the fact that he was in custody in the UK then he was released on bail and wasn't, at any moment between being taken into custody and skipping bail, put on a plane to the US.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Curious how Assange thinks the UK government is detaining him."

Especially as he isn't even in within UK jurisdiction.

New MH370 analysis again says we looked in the wrong places

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They'll never find that plane, because it was never meant to be found they've given up looking.

OK, they've "suspended" the search but given they way they seem to have reacted to studies that say they were wrong all along it looks like it's suspended sine die.

Shooting org demands answers from Met Police over gun owner blab

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"the Smartwater division of the Met has volunteered to rename themselves the water division"

I think they passed themselves. Not surpassed, just passed.

Google's 'adblocker' is all about taking back control

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Re: I recommend running a HOSTS solution at the router level

"How does that block adverts delivered via SSL - as many are now transitioning to?"

You have your firewall open to incoming SSL?

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The surprise here is that Google is doing this through their browser rather than through their network. And, of course, they should have done it sooner. It's the intrusive crap and particularly the malware that's brought about the rise of the ad-blocker. This is a rear-guard action to try to protect their business.

Online ad scam launders legions of pirates and pervs into 'legit' surfing

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No honor among thieves advertisers.

it's not advertisers. Advertisers are the victims here. It's advertising agencies. Advertisers are hoping to sell you goods and services. Advertising agencies sell advertising to advertisers. Your line should read "no honour among advertising agencies".

If the advertisers cotton onto the idea that they're being ripped off it could be the end of online ads, at least as we know them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: What we suspected

"Ad agencies long ago lost the trust of the public"

I think you're missing the point. Ad agencies are not advertisers. Advertisers are their clients; the mugs paying the agencies to place ads. Ad agencies only sell advertising and they sell it to advertisers. It doesn't really matter to them whether the public trust them or not. It doesn't really matter to them whether the adverts sell their clients' goods and services. The only thing that matters to them is their bottom line and that depends on their clients, the advertisers, trusting them and continuing to buy.

Ofcom chisels away at BT Openreach's cold, dead hands

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Re: Stupid

"The future is wireless."

Where does the bandwidth come from? Or are you extending wireless into the IR?

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Re: Stupid

"Letting BT's monopoly steal Virgin's fibre-only customers"

How come that BT has a monopoly while Virgin has customers? The two seem contradictory?

Trump's self-imposed cybersecurity deadline is up: What we got?

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"So where is the cybersecurity team and plan?"

"Can't talk about that."

"Why not?"


Trump's lips sealed on surveillance, complains EU privacy chief

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Re: I think EU's bluff has been called

"build more data centres in Portugal, Ireland and Belgium"

It needs a bit more than this. They need to be run at arm's length to stop the sort of prying that was attempted against MS. And I think that is indeed still running through the US courts.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I think EU's bluff has been called

"Really, the only thing that the EU can do is to declare it illegal to store EU user data out of the EU."

That's pretty well it. Insist on data sovereignty.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the data transfers between Europe and the United States are so incredibly important we simply cannot abide by not allowing these data transfers to occur."


It's time to require sovereignty. The US is never going to be trustworthy on this issue.

Will the MOAB (Mother Of all AdBlockers) finally kill advertising?

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Re: A stupid question

"In most jurisdictions that's considered fraud."

Then why aren't the ad-slingers being charged with fraud? They're taking good money from their clients. They can show the positive responses they get for the ads they sling and claim that as a benefit they're delivering. But do they make any effort to measure the negative response and show their clients the net balance?

What was being proposed actually benefits the client. Anyone running an adblocker is liable to respond negatively to the ad so if the advertiser gets a zero reaction for his money it's a good deal better than a negative one.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: A stupid question

"If you want to shovel a few megabytes of ads at me at home, and are okay with the fact that they'll all go to /dev/null, I'm OK with that."

Everyone would gain. Even the advertiser who's paying for it gains to the extent that although they're still paying out good money they're not risking pissing off a potential customer.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "gave my TV set away"

"What I don't have, and haven't for over two decades, is any kind of antenna or cable service."

No cable? How does Youtube get there. last time I looked my internet connection came over a cable. A GPO- and Openreach-provided cable (GPO was still a thing when it was installed) but still a cable.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Trust

"Conversly why would my wife want an advert for something I bought last week from Ebay when she is on farcebook? She moans about it. Not my fault!"

Of course it isn't, at least not unless you're making her use farcebook.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The future?

"Ferguson may make the world's best tractors"

No, that was David Brown Tractors. RIP.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Some people do hate all adverts, they're messing with our heads

"So you're saying you'd sooner abandon the Internet and go back to the Sears catalog"

No he didn't.

Think what a catalogue does. It allows you to look for what you want and an ad-free web would allow you to do just that. An advertisement tries to tell you to want what, in fact, someone else wants you to want. And when it's done badly, as is the norm, it ends up with some middleman in the advertising indistry else managing to persuade you to avoid that very thing - and taking money from the advertiser for doing that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "People don't hate adverts"

yesterday it were dresses (and i'm a bloke - well, last time i looked i was); and i don't wear dresses (and don't count kilts).

Slight problem with the tracking. They thought you were Grayson Perry.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Minority of 1?

"I have no problem with ads on the web. However, they should not be pop up, pop under, buried, bandwidth hungry, overly intrusive or cover most of the site."

So you do have a problem with ads on the web.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: People don't hate adverts, just awful adverts...

"Yes, I know I could adblock them into oblivion, but I like coming to the Reg to read stuff so I'd like them to keep getting paid. It'd be nice if it was a bit less invasive to my eyeballs."

It's up to the Reg to decide what sort of adverts they show - or to decide to offload that decision to some other party who won't be so fussy. So in effect it's up to them to decide whether or not we keep adblocking them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: People DO hate adverts

"You don't notice the adverts, but they still affect you on a subconscious level. "

And hence you find yourself having a subconscious dislike of some product but can't quite remember why.

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