* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Space policy boffin: Blighty can't just ctrl-C, ctrl-V plans for Galileo into its Brexit satellite

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Re: No mention...

"Of the weekend resignation of Sam Gyimah, the Science Minister"

I haven't looked to see who, if anyone, has replaced him. Would it be too much to hope that they'd find someone who had a STEM background?

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Re: Actually, this may be a well-disguised win

"Road pricing can be done many ways, but if you are a moderately dim civil servant without much conception of how bloody devious the general public can be if money is involved, then a road pricing scheme involving Galileo looks like a really, really good idea."

You're getting close to my scheme for getting rid of traffic congestion.

1. Use road pricing technology to measure how much each vehicle was held up over the course of the year and price it.

2. Deduct from the sum raised by road taxation the amount actually spent improving the roads.

3. Deduct from the remainder the cost of congestion measured at step 1 and use it to compensate the drivers. If there isn't enough to cover it divvy up what is left on a pro rata basis.

4. What's left, if anything, goes into the Exchequer.

There'll be all manner of road works to reduce congestion over the next few years until some cash starts getting into the Treasury.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Strangely in the last week or so....

"no one can actually determine if she's tilting towards leaving or remaining"

I think it depends on who's just threatened her.

European fibre lobby calls for end to fake fibre broadband ads

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"may contain fibre"

Advert for breakfast serial.

Mine's the one with a breakout box in the pocket.

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Re: Copper

"he line going from the cab to your house is aluminium"

There's a lot of re-stringing of the overhead network going on in my neck of the woods over the last few weeks. I haven't asked what it's about but I wonder if they're replacing AL with Cu.

Sysadmin’s plan to manage system config changes backfires spectacularly

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Re: I'm missing something...

" I suppose I might have taken to copying the file and checking in the copy instead"

I might have written a script that did the check-in/check-out as a single command. That's assuming there wasn't an option - as per the comment on SCCS - in which case just get used to that as the normal way to do things.

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Re: Why use a revision control system?

"Code used to be backed up to tape too. It was obsoleted by revision control systems."

And where is your revision control system backed up? Don't tell me it isn't. Revision control and backups are two different things.

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Re: I'm missing something...

"Why was a writeable fstab so fatal?"

I think what you've missed was that the revision control removed the file when checking in. That's why it had to be checked out again.

Checking out read only would be a side issue. It would mean that the revision control system wouldn't have the version locked and it would also mean that the running version couldn't get edited to a state inconsistent with the version the revision control system had marked current.

Blockchain study finds 0.00% success rate and vendors don't call back when asked for evidence

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"What are all the miscreants who have been devoting their energy to "mining" cryptocurrencies with other folk's resources going to switch their efforts to"

Selling used GPUs on eBay.

Marriott's Starwood hotels mega-hack: Half a BILLION guests' deets exposed over 4 years

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Re: 500 million?

Since 2014 some of the cards will have expired so they'll be counting the originals and the replacements. Then there are customers with multiple cards. And some of the customers will have changed address or given a home address sometimes and a business address at others. Even if it's card plus address combinations rather than transactions there'll be a good deal of multiple counting of individuals going on.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"burning the CC's and going cash only. No checks either."

The way things are going it'll be impossible to get hold of cash, at least in the UK. You can't get cash from your now-closed bank branch and you'll need a card to get cash out of an ATM. And that assumes the ATM network survives.

It's high time retention of banking licences was tied to meeting standards of accessibility and customer service with the required standards being notched up each year.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"since you used our website, you agreed to the T&C's"

It probably depends on jurisdiction but statute law as to consumer rights overrides contract law.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I would've hoped at least when GDPR came in, one of the things businesses would've spotted was that data is a liability"

You're quite right but it's not easy to break the habits of a lifetime. It doesn't help that for a lot of management bods the desire to hoard and exploit data is part of their personality; it's what got them into those roles. It's probably going to take a few fines on a scale prompted by intent to make an example of the a few miscreants before the message gets through. And then a few more top tier fines on a few businesses who try to cover up to get that message through as well.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Which of us has never upgraded software to make things better?"

And which of us has never upgraded software and found it made things worse?

Support whizz 'fixes' screeching laptop with a single click... by closing 'malware-y' browser tab

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"One quick twiddle later, and the laptop worked perfectly again.

Cue one embarrassed Director, and one smug IT support guy."

Embarrassing the Director isn't necessarily a good career move. Avoid it and give the impression that you've worked a miracle. There are a couple of alternatives. One would be to take it out of the room to work on it and wait at least 20 minutes before returning it with an exhausted look on your face. If you're not allowed to take it away do something distracting and technical-looking whilst nodding wisely such as bring up the command line and scroll through few directory listings while surreptitiously twiddling the volume.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Whilst on a contract as Unix/Database support and fixer I was just leaving for home one afternoon when the client's director buttonholed me because his PC wouldn't turn off - this was in the days of Win95 and software power-down was a new and not reliable thing. Leaned over, pulled mains plug out of back of PC & went home.

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"They're trying to get away from the horrible noise."

I thought it was to present a moving target

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Re: I was that luser

"I wanted to watch training videos."

As opposed to having been told to watch them?

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"Unfortunately salesweasels are a nice, plump target for ne'er-do-wells as salesweasels will open any email from any sender, even if it looks highly dodgy"

Because they lack any ability to recognise dodgy emails they can't recognise that the emails they send also look dodgy. The same seems to apply to the fund-raisers currently employed by archive.org.

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Re: Hell is other people

"I could write a book about IT problems with governments and where nothing beats HM Government junior ministers for sheer, stubborn human stupidity"

Yes Minister: The IT Story.

It should be a good read.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"A webpage with a sound on it is not normally something I would consider a virus or Malware"

You've just failed your BOFH examination for missing an obvious opportunity to wipe all the luser's data.

NHS supplier that holds 40 million UK patient records: AWS is our new cloud-based platform

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Re: Nope

"You can google the locations of Amazon data centers, take a look at GDPR and maybe Caldicott Two and work out where the data will likely move. This is a groundless worry."

What precautions do they have to move stuff out of scope of the CLOUD Act and anything else the US Govt. will come up with when it can't get its own way?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Red flag

"When I see hyperbolic statements like this in relation to security issues, I get very, very suspicious that the security is flawed."

When I seem them I look carefully at the alternative meanings that can be attached. e.g."you've never seen anything this poor".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: USA Patriot act

"the Patriot Act would have no force"

But the CLOUD Act would.

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Re: Shifting patient records to the cloud requires approval from NHS Digital

"As it stands it is always best to check facts before you go off on a rant."

Never. It just gets in the way.

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Re: Half-baked babble

"I even think it is fine to have cloud based back-up"

What about all those reports of stuff found hanging out online unencrypted and unsecured which turned out to be cloud based back-ups. And even if properly secured still vulnerable to US "we own the world" legislation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Just a minute there

"unprecedented levels of protection"

It's probably a fair description. It's just unprecedented in a way you don't want it to be.

The dingo... er, Google stole my patent! Biz boss tells how Choc Factory staff tried to rip off idea from interview

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Re: One more time, please

"a sufficiently described inventive step"

The problem here seems to be the interpretation of those words by patent offices and courts. On the one hand "sufficiently" might be over-generously interpreted and on the other hand so might the inventiveness needed to implement it.

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Re: This is unfortunately a common Silicon Valley trick

"Always make sure anyone you talk to about technology advances you are working on is under proper NDAs."

The exploiting company can always claim that you didn't say whatever it was they stole. To counter that you need evidence.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"This doesn't answer the question of how to solve the problem; nor am I convinced there is a trivial solution."

Take a recorder into the meeting.

Take my advice and stop using Rubik's Cubes to prove your intelligence

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Re: 1970s?

"Arguing about zero or one being the first of a sequence. Was this ever an issue before Computers?"

I got the calculation of BP to BC dates wrong in my program for the Belfast radiocarbon lab by not taking that into consideration. I'm not sure but I think the same error was probably made when they were done by hand. It was only really noticeable when one worked out to be 1950 BP* Oops.

* BP is Before Present. "Present" for radiocarbon dating purposes is 1950.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: You have clearly only met consultant version 1

"I was lucky enough to meet a version 2 consultant early on and so discovered the technique required to get PHBs to listen: increase your hourly rate."

This is the critical factor. PHBs confuse price with value. The same information could be obtained much more cheaply by asking the employees at the sharp end who are almost sure to know the answer but obviously someone on a pay grade so far below the PHB can't have an opinion of any value. By making the opinion reassuringly expensive it becomes obviously valuable.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 1970's black-and-white

"Well, they are if you got all your photos developed at the Belfast Belmont labs in the 70's"

You found that as well? We've got graduation photos to prove it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 1970s?

"If there was no year zero, then the year 1980 was actually part of the 1970s"

Nearly. It was the last year of the eighth decade of the twentieth century.

Q: If Pesky Pepper had a peek at patient papers, at how many patient papers did Pesky Pepper peek? A: 231

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Re: Norfolk

"all the DNA is the same"

Having heard all these stories about Norfolk, when the "Fine Structure" paper ( https://www.nature.com/articles/nature14230 ) was published I expected Norfolk to have its own cluster. It didn't.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I wonder how many of us here would not have done the same thing in that situation?"

I hope all of us would not have done the same.

Sacked NCC Group grad trainee emailed 300 coworkers about Kali Linux VM 'playing up'

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Re: Article unclear!

If you go pack to the article, just after the mention of "protected disclosures' and 'suffered detriments" there are a couple of links labelled "here" and "here". Follow those and it will be explained.

Domain name 'admin' role eyed up as latest victim of Whois system's GDPRmeggdon

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"since you have a contract with them"

If she didn't renew she might not even have a contract.

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"The DPA is the UK implementation of GDPR."

The current DPA implements GDPR. There have been previous DPAs.

Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe

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Re: Contempt?

"would the UK authorities apply the law that mandates disclosure of (VPN) credentials to him?"

No, they just tell him to produce the documents. How he does that is his problem.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: An early Christmas?

The documentation is what matters - and the UK doesn't have "fruit of the poisoned tree" doctrine.

Not that that would make any difference. That doctrine only comes into play for a court verdict. What a Parliamentary Committee does is publish reports and it's quite clear that FB really really don't want this published. Perhaps it's starting to dawn on Zuckerberg that refusing to appear before the Committee might not have been the brightest idea. No matter how many LibDem peers he appoints it's not going to make up for having been uncooperative - to put it at its mildest.

I wonder how long they'll string this out, just for badness. Drop a hint that it's not too late for him to drop by and then postpone at the last minute because they have to attend the Brexit debate. A bit of cat and mouse would be well deserved.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's got me wondering...

"Either way, I am no longer certain that noise is the best poison for this plague of vermin."

It would take a massive effort to have any effect. A few noisy accounts here and there won't be significant. Just avoid them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's got me wondering...

"I recently got a Facebook page."

Why? Research purposes only?

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Re: Why?

"You disable all javascripts so they can't spy on you from their Facebook Like buttons plastered on other sites?"

That's what NoScript's for.

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Re: An early Christmas?

"It seems odd to me that this app developer with a grudge would be in London carrying around said documents"

Not to mention that the Committee got to know about it. Or maybe they just heard he was in town, decided to call him as a witness and got lucky. Or maybe he didn't have the documents on him but was made an offer he couldn't refuse to produce them even if he had to download them to do so.

As Aladdin Sane said - popcorn.

Consultant misreads advice, ends up on a 200km journey to the Exchange expert

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Re: Onomatopoeic dinner parties...


You should be ashamed of a pun like that. Have an upvote.

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Re: Spoilers in Tech Docs!

"I usually ring it"

You may ring the bell but you probably just press the button at the door.

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Re: "click" with the sound the mouse makes...

"I just noticed as I was curious."

There's a limit to my curiosity and trying WIndows 10 to find out is beyond it.

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Re: Spoilers in Tech Docs!

"You select YES, you don't click on YES."

Drop-down list, Run the pointer down the list. As it traverses the list it selects each item in turn. Leave it on the item you want. Many (?most) people would reckon you'd selected the item but nothing will actually happen until you take a further action which, at least on this laptop makes a loud, and AFAICS, purely mechanical clicking noise. But don't call it a mouse pointer 'cause it's a trackpad.

That sphincter-flexing moment for devs when it's time to go live

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Experience is a harsh teacher

"'quiet period', Christmas, end of life date on previous product"

Situation: current H/W due to be EoL (at least for support purposes) at end of 31 Dec.

The quiet period between Christmas & New Year would have been the ideal time to migrate over to new H/W. Minimal risk, just unload the data and reload it onto a version of the same engine on current H/W*. Client's manglement absolutely forbade it even when warned that any H/W failure would cost an arm and a leg and possibly CEO's first-born.. It turned out that they'd arranged for bean-counters to come in to value the company for a sale.

* When it eventually was moved it went just as smoothly as anticipated.

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