* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

IBM UK: Oh, remote workers. We want to be colocated with you again

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Re: unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

"obviously there are exceptions but remote workers sat at home quickly become the biggest loafers in any company."

From what are you extrapolating this? Are you telling us is that either this is you or would be if it was on offer to you?

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"It does actually kinda work"

You mean it's a faster way to produce bullshit?

"but I can't think of a better name for it"

Bovine laxative.

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Re: Cost Savings

"What if they are good?"

Management does not recognise any variation in ability when it comes to reducing headcount.

Germany, France lobby hard for terror-busting encryption backdoors – Europe seems to agree

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Re: Ha

You may not have noticed but there's also some pretty draconian stuff already in place here whilst this stuff is only at a proposal stage. The ECJ would almost certainly have something to say about the proposal if it got into law. Sadly it's not going to get much of a chance to do much about our situation: even if we do get a ruling before Brexit it will very quickly cease to apply. The ECHR might do something useful as I'm not certain May can wriggle out of that. Actually GDPR is likely to shoot this down as it would effectively make compliance impossible.

I don't see on what basis you dragged the Euro into this as the UK isn't in it and was never likely to have been and is quite irrelevant to encryption and/or back doors.

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Re: "...law enforcement agencies or other competent authorities..." - LMFAO

In this context anything from your local dog-catcher and upwards would be regarded as a competent authority.

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Re: Requirement

If you think it's possible to build a back-doored but secure system then why not demonstrate it with a put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is test.

Build it. Use it to secure all your personal details, passwords, banking access, everything at an online location which you publish. If it remains secure for a couple of years we might begin to believe you. And the best of luck, sucker.

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Re: openpgp

"it's not like you were even voicing an opinion - just 'flat fact'."

If someone's opinion is contradicted by flat facts then they'll vote down a statement of the facts.

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Re: Just look at where and what the two ministers studied....

We can't expect them to handle the complex mathematics on which encryption is based (neither can most of us, I suspect; certainly not me) but maybe we could devise a simpler mathematical model to play with. I suggest a block with a 5-sided hole labelled "Back door" and a 6-sided peg labelled "Security Fit For Internet Banking". The objective is to fit them together.

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I believe the patent office have a requirement that patent submissions for perpetual motion machines must be accompanied by a working example Perhaps they should add the same requirement for secure encryption systems accessible to the authorities.

Up close with the 'New Psion' Gemini: Specs, pics, and genesis of this QWERTY pocketbook

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"I'm not surprised they haven't finalised the keyboard, which will be the hardest part to get right."

This is being designed by the original Psion designer. The original keyboard was one of the features that earned praise (never having used one I can't confirm its quality). So why should it be a problem to get right?

Two million recordings of families imperiled by cloud-connected toys' crappy MongoDB

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"I would fire the entire dev/IT team if I were in charge of that toy outfit"

Those in charge are equally guilty. Either they paid no attention at all or ignored the risks. If you'd been in charge you should have been fired as well.

Microsoft slaps Apple Gatekeeper-like controls on Windows 10: Install only apps from store

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Re: All walled gardens turn into ghettos

This is the one of the things I think FOSS has nailed.


You're Donald Trump's sysadmin. You've got data leaks coming out the *ss. What to do

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Re: I know what President Grump should say

"Our leaks are the best leaks"

Wales has the best leeks.

OK, getting it.

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Also from Yes Minister but I think originating elsewhere:

The ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top.

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"You've got data leaks coming out the *ss. What to do"

Tell the ass to stop tweeting.

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"anyone with a personal mobile phone can take pictures of documents and sync, stream or simply walk out of the building with them. Cellbusters can help identify rogue cellphones "

That deals with cellphones as cameras. What about cameras as cameras? Have they ceased to exist? Even if you have to go to eBay for it there's always http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Minox-B-Vintage-Subminiature-Spy-Camera-No-Reserve-/162409310216?hash=item25d0596808%3Ag%3AFZgAAOSwhlZYsbIW

Tech contractors begin mass UK.gov exodus in wake of HMRC's IR35 income tax clampdown

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Re: Backhanders

"I suppose the real test is if any of those self same contractors who left are hired by these parasites at the same rate they were on before"

No, they may be hired back at a lower rate so the mark-up will be more.

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Re: And yet, "Personal Service Companies"

"Are allowed to charge out the Person concerned at an hourly rate, yet claim to be a Company."

Rates can be hourly, daily, weekly, whatever. Just like Crapita, IBM, whatever. You know, the big outsourcing companies who'll take over and charge much larger day rates. The only differences are the scale of the company, the overheads charged to the client and the residence in which the profits are taken and the corporate taxes paid.

As I wrote in another comment, as soon as you make the relevant comparisons all these arguments fail.

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a client that doesn't know it's SaaS from it's ... (there must be an acronym that fits, surely)

NALGO was Sir Humphrey's choice.

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Re: Darwinian selection in Government IT - OH PULEASE STOP YOUR MOANING

"You are quite frankly talking in such a manner that when you sit down your voice will be muffled."

Nice one. To be recycled as required.

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Re: Darwinian selection in Government IT - OH PULEASE STOP YOUR MOANING

"contractors work for the same employer in the public sector for a year or year(s)."

So does Crapita.

"not working in their clients' offices full time"

Proper businesses work where needed. If you hire a proper business electrician to rewire your house he works in your house. He can't do the wiring in his workshop & then email it in.

All these sorts of argument fail as soon as you look at relevant comparisons with real businesses.

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Re: IR35

@ David 164

Is it some moral sense that's stopping you joining what you clearly see as some sort of untaxed gravy train? Or is it that, for what I wouldn't question are perfectly valid personal reasons, you're not prepared to take the risks involved in going freelance? If it's the latter do you not think that the risks might have something to do with the different tax regimes that exist outside IR35 contracts?

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What regular employees fail to realise is that employment and freelance are very different creatures. The opening shot that any freelancer hears from an agent is "Are you available?". Effectively that means "Are you currently out of contract?". The Agent has a need for someone who can start immediately where "immediate" might even be "today", possibly "tomorrow" and almost certainly no later than "next Monday" because that's what the client is asking for. Almost invariably* that means someone who is currently out of contract and whoever is currently out of contract will have been out of contract for some time; in slack periods that might run into several months. Providing the immediate availability that the client needs is a cost the freelancer's company has to cover.

Now you might argue that the clients should manage their staffing levels better than to have such short notice requirements. But a typical IT department will have a fairly predictable BAU workload mixed with project work that gets dumped on it at short notice. A manager will have to meet this demand with a permanent staff which isn't entirely predictable: people leave, take holidays, get sick, get pregnant and even die. If the business aims to cover the average situation it will risk having to defer some work to slack periods and thus lose opportunities that might have otherwise have been taken. If it aims to cover the worst case it will risk ending up with people being under-employed for most of the time.

In fact an optimum staffing strategy is one that allows them to maintain a staff level somewhere around or maybe below the average level and top up with a flexible element when that's needed. In addition they may also need a flexible element to provide scarce skills for which they have an occasional need. The timescales for acquiring and disposing of directly employed staff don't provide for this flexibility. It needs to be able to off-load the risks involved in trying to accomplish its requirements with only permanent employees.

Whoever makes up the difference is taking on the risk and it's this risk, taken by whoever does the outsourcing, which is the difference between employment and business. If the outsourcing is done by the likes of IBM or Capita nobody even thinks of denying that they're businesses and that they should be treated as such. But if the outsourcing is done by one or several freelancers what, apart from scale, is the difference between them and the IBMs and Capitas? Nothing. They're operating as businesses and not as employees. As such their tax regime should be that of businesses.

*Only once in 10 years I was called on the last Thursday of a contract to be available to meet the client the following Monday with a view to the contract's starting on the Tuesday. That was to enable a less than 2 week hand-over from a permanent sysadmin/DBA who was leaving.

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Re: "the job of Government is to support the people, not tax the people"

"Corporations and individuals should stop trying to use laws and procedures to avoid taxes."

Please learn the difference between avoidance and evasion.

Do you have a pension plan, either on your own account or via your employer? You're avoiding tax on the pension contributions.

Do you have any ISAs? You're avoiding tax on dividends and capital gains.

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Re: "the job of Government is to support the people, not tax the people"

"Contractors are going to have to come up with a better argument than one which appears to the public to only be about avoiding tax."

OK, here's one. Everyone has the same tax rules but permanency of job is seen as a benefit in kind and is taxed accordingly. The extra tax brought in this way is used to lower income tax rates. Nobody's avoiding tax but HMRC employees get to pay more tax for the benefit of having safe jobs. MPs should like this - their jobs are only safe until the next election - and ministers even more so - their jobs are only safe until the next reshuffle.

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Re: this is an old paul daniels trick...

"Big guns pay bribes the standard British way - over the table and fully legitimate. It is called DONATIONS. Your average freelance IT contractor bod does not."

Right back when it started I reckoned that we should have got together via the PCG and made a donation to Labour. Maybe half a Bernie would have done it - and if it had been worked in true Bernie style we'd have got our donation back a little later.

Linux on Windows 10: Will penguin treats in Creators Update be enough to lure you?

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Re: Windows Bashing

"ps its too late MS you f***ed your customers over and they have long memories"

Evidence suggests they don't. Otherwise how do you explain all those Windows users?

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Re: I can run Linux and bash and ...

This means that you need to run Outlook so the business can invite you to pesky meetings and the like. This pretty much means you have to run Windows Linux so you miss the invites and meetings and get on with doing something useful.


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Re: Yeah...

"a version of Linux that embeds a bunch of analytics collection either."

What would that be? Debian's popcon? The one you can select or not at install time and do an apt-get remove on if you installed it and changed your mind?

Does this Linux layer on W10 include an apt-get remove telemetry?

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Re: Like automobiles ? Diesel ? Petrol ?

"I can tell you right now, that your users will prefer what they're used to, and will hate any form of change."

Linux it is then. You can rely on it to remain a good deal more consistent. Take, for instance, the time Gnome 3 replaced Gnome 2. Almost immediately there were two workarounds, one a fork of Gnome 2 and the other to make Gnome 3 look like Gnome 2.

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Re: So it's Eniw...

Eniew not is Wine?

Don't worry about Privacy Shield, it's fine. Really. I promise, says US trade watchdog head

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Re: Political theatre

"Yes, but this is the fun bit: at that point, the US company is no longer in control. It's not in control of its hosting, it cannot dictate the mechanics in the data farm and it has to pay whatever the provider decides to charge them."

The Microsoft/DT arrangement, AIUI is the Microsoft does run the server farm but it has put the control of the data out of its control. Don't ask me how they do that in detail but I would take it that they've given some considerable thought - and legal advice - in putting it together. The other option I suggested is a franchise operation.

And in any case I think you're overlooking one thing: whatever they or the EU company gets paid is determined in advance by a contract; they have at least some control in that, not total control because its a matter of negotiation. As I said, the notion that foregoing some control to achieve a better outcome is a notion that seems beyond the grasp of many.

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Re: Political theatre

"they can't"

Can't what? From the rest of your post I take it you mean they can't play by EU rules.

In that case maybe you should look at Microsoft's arrangement to have Deutsch Telekom act as a data trustee. There's also the possibility of a franchise arrangement - have an EU owned franchisee run the operation under licence, the franchise agreement being under EU law with terms specifically forbidding the supply of customer's data to the franchiser. Either means the US corporation foregoing a degree of control to achieve a better outcome for themselves, a notion which admittedly seems to be beyond the grasp of too many at the moment.

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Re: Fake news. SAD!

"Its lifetime after facing the judges will be measured in minutes (not even hours or days)."

That's slightly hopeful thinking. I don't doubt the overall sense of your conclusion but appeal courts don't work at that speed.

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Re: Political theatre

"Is Europe going to ban US companies from handling user data? No."

That depends on how many iterations it takes of the agreement/ECJ decision loop before the message gets taken. Also, lets wait & see how many €20m fines it takes for US companies to realise that they need to take this seriously and either pull out of the market or ensure that they're able to play by European rules. Sadly, for us in the UK, it'll all be too late - we'll have taken back control from the EU & handed it to the US.

Autonomous cars are about to do to transport what the internet did to information

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"we will be able to use an app to summon a vehicle anywhere, at any time, at a price that will be very inexpensive, because all human labor has been taken out of the equation."

Forget the control mechanism for a moment. It's possible to summon driven vehicles now. Why doesn't everyone use cabs for commuting? Because summoning them at any random time is fine, trying to summon them at the same time as everyone else isn't. You want a car at the rush hour? - your best bet is the one you own.

Anyone buying vehicles to provide a commercial service isn't going to attempt to satisfy peak demand because at off peak times - i.e. most of the time - most of their fleet would be underused. In order to make it work they'd have to push up prices to make using a hire car as expensive for customers as possessing their own.

So you might be able to hire a car inexpensively but not at any time or you might be able to hire a car at any time but not always inexpensively. Having the human labour cost included makes little difference.

Git fscked by SHA-1 collision? Not so fast, says Linus Torvalds

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Re: That's not how hashes work

"A 160 bit hash _does_ in practice produce a unique result for any given input (unless you spend 6,600 years of CPU time to search for two given inputs with the same result)."

AIUI there is now a method of constructing a colliding pair of files with rather less than the 6,600 years you suggest. That's what's set off this whole discussion.

I think one of Linus' points is that constructing a file which gives the same hash as an existing file and having it compilable is problem of a very different order of magnitude.

Sysadmin's sole client was his wife – and she queried his bill

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Re: Working for friends and family T&Cs

"Linux install time is calculated at 10minutes per gig of data to save + 20 minutes to install and fully update Linux."

Install Linux alongside Windows. You don't then have to transfer data as Linux will be able to see it on the Windows partition.

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Working for friends and family T&Cs

1. W10 is excluded

2. All other versions of Windows are liable to be replaced by Linux

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Re: Two Rules Apply

do exactly what she says she was doing


Motorola's modular Moto Z: A fine phone for a weekend away

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"the Hasselblad mod being just a licencing exercise largely irrelevant because the very good onboard snapper is pretty good."

The real use case here would be if the add-on camera were the only camera. I'm sure there are plenty people here who visit clients where phones with cameras aren't allowed*. It would be very handy to be able to remove the camera and have an allowable phone.

*I have visited one such site with a colleague. They checked our phones but forgot to ask if we were carrying cameras. My colleague had one in his pocket.

New UK laws address driverless cars insurance and liability

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Re: Ubair

"Otherwise you just pre-book your known usage long in advance"

How far in advance do you have to book to get one at 8 am to get you to work when everyone in your street and the next street and all the streets around also want to book one within about 15 minutes of the same time?

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Re: updates

I am sure there will be some "if it runs Windows..." comments to follow.

As in: You stop at the traffic lights, the car starts to run an update and won't move until the update's finished and it's rebooted three times. It then won't start because it no longer supports the brand of petrol you're using?

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Re: We are living through the end of private motoring ...

"As soon as cars become autonomous, the rationale for having one plonked on a drive doing stuff all for 20 hours out of 24 (say) starts to look a bit silly."

It would look silly if the 4 hours when my car is being used are a different 4 hours than when your car is being used and both are different from the 4 hours when the car from the house across the road is being used etc. The reality is that all those 4 hour slots are largely overlapping, one car can't serve all three users, you still need three different cars.

Or to put it another way, it's impractical for everyone to commute to work by cab irrespective of whether it's a black cab, minicab or Uber: there aren't enough cabs to go around during the rush hour and making them self-driving doesn't make a jot of difference.

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Re: "unauthorised alterations" eh?

"However it doesn't work anyway because of the motorbike."

You think you'll be allowed to use a motorbike in the age of the autonomous car?

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Re: Appropriate

A nice unclear term? It's a loophole that even the most inept Satnav could find its way through.

I want it hot and wet – preferably with Wi-Fi

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Re: I am old school

"I like just white coffee."

I'm older school. I don't even like coffee.

I suppose I'd better charge my phone; it's been bleeping occasionally for the last 8 hours or so.

Amazon goes to court to stop US murder cops turning Echoes into Big Brother house spies

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Amazon have an easy way out of this. Don't store any recordings after processing, other than those which involved a purchase in which case they become part of the business's financial records.

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Re: i'd like to see the option

"they only upload audio when the Echo/Alexa/Dot/Google is triggered."

Is that what you believe or what you know?

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Re: Amazon is keen

"meanwhile those nasty government agents are trying to do nefarious things like uphold the law."

Probably their greatest offence is not offering to pay for access.

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