* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Canada's privacy watchdog probes US border phone seizures

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Re: Politicians know what to do

"It's not the fault of the US that the £ went into a tailspin."

Agreed, but it still weighs against visiting the US. If the USG were acting rationally towards tourism as a benefit to their economy it's something they'd want to counter. Instead they're doing just the opposite.

User jams up PC. Literally. No, we don't know which flavour

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"A Turbo Button... increase the amount of flammable liquid that is injected inside the machine."

The BOFH column is over there --->

BOFH: Don't back up in anger

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"If your goal is that 10% (with a +/- one percentage point margin) of shipped product is functional, and the rest is essentially fit only for landfill, you'll remain 9001 compliant as long as you ship 9-11% good product"

Similar experience. Coming from a background where qualitative and quantitative are alternatives I quickly twigged that in this crock we're actually dealing with something that's quantitative. It doesn't matter where on the "How good" continuum you are providing you can quantify it. Given that "quality" and "mediocrity" both belong on the continuum I took to calling it the Mediocrity Management System.

One thing I never got a satisfactory answer to: We'd previously been on TQM which has a mantra of "get it right first time every time". ISO 9000 was supposed to be about continuous improvement. If we'd already been getting things right first time every time how come there was scope for improvement?

Russian! spies! 'brains! behind!' Yahoo! mega-hack! – four! charged!

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Can I get this sorted? It's legal for US TLAs to spy on non-US citizens but it's illegal for Russian TLAs to spy on US citizens.

Seems fair?

FreeNAS sheds storage skin, tries on sexier hyperconverged garb

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Re: It's just the naming nonsense virus that hits more and more companies today.

"they stick on 10 just to piggyback Windows 10"

This can't be one of the brighter marketing ideas. Not that marketing is renowned for brightness of ideas.

How UK’s GDPR law might not be judged 'adequate'

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The obvious recourse is an FOI request as to how an answer to these FOI requests would damage international relations.

House of Lords: Drone vehicles are more than just robo-cars, mmkay

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Oxymoron alert.

Connected autonomous.

Hardware 'dislodged' from HPE SAN during cable replacement

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"whose hand rocked the cable"

Nice one, Simon.

Dark matter drought hits older galaxies: Boffins are, rightly, baffled

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The problem I have with the dark matter theory is this. It's supposed to exert its effect on visible matter by gravity. In that case why is it lurking on the outer fringes of galaxies? Surely it ought to have clumped together with the regular matter.

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Wonderful site! Displays SFA except header & footer without allowing javascript. Am I going to enable javascript for it? No.

Facebook, Google slammed for 'commercial prostitution'

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Re: Prostitution?

"Social Media firms or MPs?"

That's a tough question.

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Re: This is a bit like the Crap over Googles Tax

"Private company's should NOT be wasting Politicians time. They are PRIVATE COMPANY'S, the police should be holding these talks in little underground cells with the representatives of Google/Twitter etc under oath."

So much wrong in one paragraph. "Company's" twice instead of "companies" and yet "Politicians'" doesn't get the apostrophe it should. Most of all, however, police do not question people under oath; they question them under caution. Questioning under oath happens in court.

IBM could have made almost all the voluntary redundancies it needed

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"sales haven’t grown for 20 whole quarters and it is continuing to send more roles offshore to territories where it is cheaper to employ locals."

Correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation. But sometimes it does.

Zombie webcams? Pah! It's the really BIG 'Things' that scare me

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Re: Access Denied

"Thing is there is ABSOLUTELY no reason for any SCADA-style system EVER being visible on the Internet. It should be behind firewall and VPN like access, and with some 2FA system as well."

Take it a step further.

There may be some cases where internet access is needed. In others, however, a directly wired system would be better.

Connect your substations directly to your control room rather than via the internet. Certainly a direct connection can also be intercepted but at least it raises the ante for your attackers; they can't do it from half a continent away.

And as for Dave's suggestion that a building supervisor could turn on the aircon from home for a manager who needs to go into work, why not let such a manager have access to the local control panel instead?

LT;DR Just because you can it it via the internet it doesn't mean you have to.

Brit infosec's greatest threat? Thug malware holding nation's devices to ransom – report

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Re: Revolutions need to start somewhere

"Lawyer colleague of mine spoke with a Tory MP recently and was told that they can't wait to do away with DPA etc to free up businesses from unnecessary red tape."

Yet another thing they haven't worked out. GDPR is coming. If UK companies want to do business with Europe that involves transfer of person data then the UK is going to have to have legislation in place that complies. Or is their no limit to the extent to which leavers are prepared to harm the UK's economy?

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Re: This can be dealt with if people can agree a carrot and stick approach


1. Make it illegal to expose such a device to the internet.

2. Make ISPs liable as accessories.

3. Watch ISPs police their networks (and maybe in some cases replace the insecure routers they handed out).

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Point is, they got away with it for a long time, and when they got caught"

The fines are only part of the costs. There will be long-term damage to their reputation. And damage to reputation can have severe effects as Mr Ratner could tell you.

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"It's cheaper for manufacturers to game the tests and ignore the risks. Look at Volkswagen."

Do they still think it's cheaper?

UK to block Kodi pirates in real-time: Saturday kick-off

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Re: I discern a few more things from this.

"I refuse to pay for cretinactorball - it is over priced cheating and you'd have to go to Hollywood to see worse acting."

I'm reminded of Dr Johnson who, when complimented by some ladies on leaving naughty words out of his dictionary replied "So you looked for them".

US regulator looks at Internet of Things regulation, looks away

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Here's a good test for her to consider. Would she offer, now, to compensate out of her own pocket, someone who is harmed in 5 years time by something which could have been regulated now? If not then the time for that regulation has already arrived.

Tech titan pals back up Google after 'foreign server data' FBI warrant ruling

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Re: meaningless term

"use of this term contributes nothing useful to a discussion."

I'm not sure. It says a good deal about the mental processes of those who use it.

Today's WWW is built on pillars of sand: Buggy, exploitable JavaScript libs are everywhere

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Re: Backwards compatiblity

Normally I'd agree but it's IE that was mentioned so both apply.

Microsoft nicks one more Apple idea: An ad-supported OS

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Re: Might be time to try . . .

"lack of native Office install"


Can you ethically suggest a woman pursue a career in tech?

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"for the next twenty years, men must be on their best behaviour"

And what might that be?

For some the routine politeness with which I was brought up to regard as normal seems to be regarded as an insult. There seems to be a mindset that doesn't so much take offence as actively seek it out.

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Re: Meanwhile in the UK...

"Were things different would I recommend a career in tech for her too? In the UK"

Why? You say she doesn't find it interesting in itself. Far better to work in a field you do find interesting.

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"Try a glass of your favourite tipple instead of bleach."

Maybe bleach is his favourite tipple.

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In hiring decisions there is often an unconscious bias towards "people like us"

It's the only possible explanation for some managements.

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Re: passed over for promotion by men half their age

"something like nepotism (... there's probably a suitable word...)"


Lloyds to outsource 2,000 staff in IBM deal

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Re: The beginning of the end for Lloyds

"put it in the hands of people who don't understand"

History says that it hasn't been in the hands of people who understand for quite a long time.

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Re: Thanks for the heads up

"I'll start the process of moving my savings account away from Lloyds shortly."

Why did you wait till now?

Vodafone to bring 2,100 customer service jobs in-house

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"The move will also help boost Vodafone's image as a company that wants to stay in the UK, following its gaffe after the EU referendum when it hinted it might leave."

Looking back at that report it concerned the location of the HQ currently in London. The location of call centres to support local customers is a separate issue.

Linus Torvalds explains how to Pull without jerking his chain

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Re: 5 level page tables

"A 256 terabyte memory limit isn't a concern for most end users."

OTOH Linux does run almost all the world's supercomputers. They might need it.

If you limit what an OS can do to what "most" end users need then you might not get much beyond Firefox OS. You might also conclude that 640K is enough for anybody.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 5 level page tables

"Flash would up to Adobe"

And the server. And all the other links in between. Net neutrality anybody?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


No, gitterish.

Tim Berners-Lee says privacy needs fixing – and calls for 'algorithmic transparency'

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Re: "Control of personal data"

"Doesn't help us in the UK much longer though..."

That depends on how much of an economy we want to have post-Brexit. ATM May isn't very much concerned about that but it's likely to become a straight fight between her and people who'd really like jobs in the future.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "Control of personal data"

"Good luck with that!"

If you're based in the EU or wish to do business with the EU maybe it's you who might need good luck in the near future. Either luck or a serious consideration of the GDPR. The alternatives could be expensive.

User lubed PC with butter, because pressing a button didn't work

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Re: Excel abuse?

"Excel is useful for all sorts of things other than its intended purposes."

Sort of. But it the task it's bent to can rapidly grow to a point where it doesn't really work. Your single table database may be fine. Try to add what should be a second table and you have to denormalise it. The point where a real RDBMS would be the better tool is reached quite quickly.

OTOH I still haven't found a better tool than LibreOffice Calc for sorting out genealogical data, even if I keep threatening to write one myself.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Excel can be used to calculate things?

"The dangerous ones are the ones that won't listen, the more so the higher up the chain they are"

The higher up the chain they are the more they're paid than you. And because they're paid more they must know better than you. Life is much simpler when you take this approach.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Hero worship your IT

"Every so often I make sure that [an]individual... gets a copy of their Chrome browsing history sent to to both to their manager and to themselves"

At some point there's a risk that you'll be taken aside and have it pointed out to you that poking around in staff's computers without authorisation is a breach of security. This conversation is likely to take place somewhere between your desk and the pavement.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "... the number of incidents dropped dramatically."

@Evil auditor

There's an alternative scenario that could bring about the same outcome. If the out-of-hours incentives were dropped there'd out-of-hours reports might get ignored until normal hours. The users would then learn to wait before reporting the issue.

The correct incentive structure, of course, is one that primarily measures and rewards fire prevention rather than fire fighting.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Back in the mid-1990s. . . .

"In this case, I would want to to bill the misused CD to the training department, for failure to teach the general what the bits of a computer did."

On the whole I agree with you but maybe you missed the fact that the general had signed a waiver.

It's difficult if not impossible to deal with idiocy that's risen to the higher levels of an organisation. After all these are the people who should be exercising wisdom and laying down rules for the rest of the organisation. The first step of this should be understanding why those rules are needed and why they apply to themselves* as much as everyone else.

*It's doubly important that they follow their own rules. They need to set an example.

Official: America auto-scanned visitors' social media profiles. Also: It didn't work properly

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Re: the DHS: it's only a state of mind

"That's 'martial' law."

Given that it's the US we're talking about surely both spellings are valid but for different reasons.

'Password rules are bullsh*t!' Stackoverflow Jeff's rage overflows

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Re: It only makes it easier to crack...

"My favourate: '; DROP TABLE users /*"

Problem solved. Our GP's online booking service requires reasonable strength passwords including non-alphanumerics but baulks at semicolons. Maybe that's why.

Pennsylvania sues IBM for fraud over $170m IT upgrade shambles

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"Don't ask me how I know."

We don't need to ask. It's Brooks's law.

The irony, of course, is that Brooks worked for IBM before turning to academia.

Devs bashing out crappy code is making banks insecure – report

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Re: Writing robust code doesn't take much more time

"evaluated each month by SLOC written"

That could work. Just score double for lines of code checking and handling errors. Double again for errors which allegedly can't possibly happen.

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I always reckoned banks were computerised ledgers with casinos bolted on the side. It sounds as if the casino management is still dominating.

What a Flake: Congress mulls trashing privacy rules, letting ISPs go to town on your data

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Nominative determinism, a force to be reckoned with.

'Nigerian princes' snatch billions from Western biz via fake email – Interpol

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Re: Let's give them a hand

"I quarantine them all"

Have you managed to train your own business not to do the same thing? If so, kudos.

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Re: IT outsourcing

"would you trust any of your personal details to a help desk in Nigeria? Could you trust them with an outsource of your bank IT administration or code development?"

No, but then I wouldn't trust them to outsource any of this anywhere else. That doesn't stop them.

BT agrees to legal separation of Openreach

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"You could argue it worked"

In the short term.

Look at the long term consequences. BT is now 12% owned by Deutsch Telekom and a complete take-over is a possibility. Ultimately the fixed line thinking dominated BT management's approach and they failed to see staying in mobile as a strategic necessity.

From O2's point of view it may have been welcome; the expression "Big BT" was a term of abuse around the Arlington.

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