* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Did EU ruling invalidate the UK's bonkers Snoopers' Charter?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Except that membership of the EU requires membership of the ECHR/ECJ. If you aren't in the Eu and merely happen to be geographically in Europe then you can drop them."

The Good Friday agreement also requires membership.

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Re: Still debating the same points, again

"I really don't understand why the Government just does not go back and amend the act to included the safe guards that any data retained can only be accessed on the production of a Judge's court order."

The problem lies not with the access but with retaining the data in the first place. In principle the assumption is that you're guilty and it's just a procedural matter. In practical terms you're relying on the likes of TalkTalk to keep it safe. In financial terms you're also dumping the costs of it on your ISP who will then dump it on you.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"European judgments resulting from appeals cases can't be considered to have an effect in the UK until a British judge has observed them."

But wasn't this referred to the ECJ by the High Court? That means that this one has already landed back with a British judge.

Also, it's not entirely a matter for UK courts. The ruling must surely affect what's acceptable under the GDPR. If a post Brexit govt wants UK businesses to be able to handle personal data of EU customers - and there would be a serious economic impact if they couldn't - then UK businesses must be capable of meeting GDPR.

Christmas Eve ERP migration derailed by silly spreadsheet sort

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Yes, setting up a spreadsheet seems so much easier than setting up a one table database and so much more techy than a simple text note....right up to the time something like this happens.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I am actually at a loss to say which one is worse."

You don't remember the times when people used to queue to get the latest version of Windows? Actually 95 was a major step forward, at least in terms of versions built on top of DOS. They put together a lot of stuff that had been around in terms of UI over the previous few years and hit a sweet spot with it. There's a good argument that the overall trend form that time has been down. They also incorporated a lot of stuff from HP's New Wave which, if you ran it over W3.x, made a big improvement in usability. And this from someone who is considerably less than Microsoft's greatest fan.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"All thanks to the grinches at AST."

I'd have thought a library that rewrites BIOS might take a share of the blame.

Virgin America mid-flight panic after moron sets phone Wi-Fi hotspot to 'Samsung Galaxy Note 7'

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Re: Achem, funny not funny

"I think it's an ingrained trait of animals to follow the herd."

I think it's ingrained training of air-crew to follow procedures. Something to do with safety.

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Re: My phone's hotspot is named "Free Pr0n Server"

"Mine is GCHQ_DetectorVN1"

That 1 is a dead giveaway. Try a larger random number.

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Re: The only thing at credible risk of being blown up was a sense of proportion

"A Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is not the equivalent of a hand grenade with the pin pulled out."

Nevertheless they are banned from flights. So if it actually had been a SGN7 the plane would have been flying with a banned object on board. That is a serious state of affairs and I'd expect there would have been repercussions for the airline for doing this. That Smooth Newt considers it safe would not be a relevant factor.

Twas the week before Xmas ... not a creature was stirring – except Microsoft admitting its Windows 10 upgrade pop-up went 'too far'

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Re: The weirdness that is Microsoft

"Why do they think that having every damn Office control in the "ribbon" so that the user is stuck in a forest of menu items they'll never use is better than some kind of customisable menu ( with a simple way to bring everything back if you need it)."

I suspect the answer to that is lock-in.

In the ?good old days MS could bring out a new version of Office which would default to writing files the older versions couldn't read so everyone had to buy upgrades because they needed to open those documents and spreadsheets.

Then those terrible people at the Document Foundation pulled a nasty on them. They got their formats made an ISO standard and the big purchasers - i.e. govts. - like specifying support of standards. So they then had to get a standard of their own, a story of its own but not for here.

Having to support their own standard they couldn't play their old games any longer to force upgrades. What was worse, they were having to compete with free and, given that their interface followed fairly standard lines the free competition wasn't that difficult to migrate to for users.

So they changed the UI. All the old users hated being forced to migrate but from MS's perspective this was for the greater good. In the fullness of time there was a new cohort of users who'd been taught the new interface in "CS" lessons in school (Microsoft loves to support education) and if they then joined organisations that had migrated to Open/LibreOffice they found the old-style interface just as difficult as the older users found the ribbon and that introduced pressure to migrate back to MS.

LibreOffice, however, is now fighting back with a move to support for multiple interfaces so that either style can be accommodated. https://blog.documentfoundation.org/blog/2016/12/21/the-document-foundation-announces-the-muffin-a-new-tasty-user-interface-concept-for-libreoffice/

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The weirdness that is Microsoft

" it's impossible to argue away the fact that Microsoft don't ever seem anymore to build software that intuitively suits the ordinary user and makes life easier, or even makes any kind of logical sense."

Sadly Microsoft don't have a monopoly on that. It's these UX experts who get everywhere like a plague of mice. They decide they know what one thing you want to do and tailor the UI to that and only that. The fact that you want to ten other things hasn't occurred to them and the fact that you might want to do at least one of those others at the same time is utterly beyond them (they've been brought up on mobile devices that have tiny screens where you can only do one thing at a time). So they build something that needs full screen to work and their lobotomised UI now makes it a pain, if not right down impossible, to do some of the other things you wanted to do.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: M$ Long History

"The 'Start' menu is literally a Microsoft invention, right down to the (lamentable and inevitable) patents, so I don't see how UNIX had had it for quite some time."

The single start menu is. CDE had multiple menus. Consolidating them was a stem forward but not wildly inventive.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: M$ Long History

"The same capability had been available for UNIX systems for quite some time."

The standard Unix offering of the time was CDE which I used a lot under its HP guise, VUE. It featured a whole series of pop-up menus. Reducing that to one produced a much tidier interface. Gnome, for some reason, didn't quite take the hint with the default there, as I recall, being two. My preference has always been for Unix or Unix-like systems and my preferred UI is KDE but MS did, I think, move UI forward at the time.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Apology or not, results are the same

I don't understand the downvotes you got. We might disagree about doomsaying W10 (I assume that means objecting to the slurping) but otherwise I think it's a fair summary of MS's intentions.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: M$ Long History

"The Windows 95 user interface was widely recognized as superior to anything else available."

I agree. It was certainly based on a lot of ideas and features that had been around for a long time. Those included CUA and HP's New Wave (the copyright declarations included HP). However, they put it all together in a slicker interface than I'd seen elsewhere. In recent years they then seem to have brought in UX designers who've concentrated on throwing away as much of that as they could.

2016 just got a tiny bit longer. Gee, thanks, time lords

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It should be interesting to see how they handle the normal New Years Eve countdown on the box:

9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - wait for it - Happy New Year.

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Re: I don't see what the fuss is about

"The C tm struct...has defined the seconds field as containing a value in the range 0-61"

That would allow for 62 seconds. It's actually 0-60.

Tricky, these off-by-1 thingies.

Rollout of smart meters continues at a snail's pace

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" I'm not sure how much benefit the utility is getting from the resulting load smoothing but it can't hurt."

It's the load smoothing by switching you off that you need to worry about.

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Re: Replacement Power Supply

Your supplier seems to have been about as smart as your meter.

Apple sues Nokia's pet patent trolls

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"The problem was with software and marketing."

And the management who let them get into the mess with S/W and marketing.

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Somehow, I can't find any sympathy for either side.

Gov claws back £440m for rural broadband

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Re: Radio 4 this morning

"Anyone tried backing up 1TB to a cloud store?"

Why not back it up to a 1 Tb external drive which you can then put in a safe place? At least you'll know where it is. Or if you must back up to someone else's computer, just borrow a laptop.

Google's latest legal opponents: Shooting victims' families – and a cheesed-off ex-manager

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Re: Sign of Things to Come?

What you haven't worked out is that highways, postal services, etc. are infrastructure. So, in effect, are Google etc. At some point you have to stop and think what duty of care do operators of infrastructure have?

Should they police in detail who gets to use them and how; should, for instance, the water undertaking decide that only non-terrorists get anything coming out of their taps?

Or should their duty of care be limited to ensuring that the system runs smoothly and delivers what its users ask?

And if you think the former could you please present us with a detailed plan of how it should be done because I'm sure the rest of us would like to be enlightened. Your detailed plan should explain how it would avoid the situation where Facebook caught flack for taking down that iconic image of the napalm girl that was so influential in its day. Using algorithms to deal with the complexities of human culture might be a tad more difficult than you think.

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Re: Sign of Things to Come?

And how did the terrorists get to the scene? Sue the local highway authority.

Snapchat coding error nearly destroys all of time for the internet

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"A certain sub continent immediately comes to mind."

Or millennials.

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"Mike is not up with the latest ideas in physics"

Yes, but Mike is being The Cool Person. He probably hasn't time to do both.

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"An investigation by the perennially under-resourced pool discovered"

The investigation found the list of servers apparently compiled in from a library on Github, a library from which they have now been removed in the current version.

What sort of eejit compiles in stuff like that? Haven't they ever heard of configuration files?

Amateur radio fans drop the ham-mer on HRD's license key 'blacklist'

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Ms Streisand, meet Mr Ratner.

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"the blocking mechanism is sometimes used to disable copies of the software once the buyer has asked for a refund. Thus, we're told, it is difficult for HRD Software to know exactly how many keys have been cancelled for legit reasons or out of retaliation"

They can't match up refunds with keys blocked because of them? Really?

Microsoft scores nearly $1bn non-compete contract with US military

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My first reaction was that some "This is Microsoft" guy in India had finally hit the big time.

Landmark EU ruling: Legality of UK's Investigatory Powers Act challenged

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Re: Yup...

"And even then Waxy May will neither accept the verdict, nor allow debate."

Think not? If the SC supports the HC and she tries to go against it she'll probably be ousted by a vote of confidence or she'll be in a legal tangle that will take years to unravel.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: But I thought we "took back control"

"their copies of the ICRs will be on machines physically separate from the open internet (or so one would hope, anyway)"

I admire your optimism.

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Re: Appropriate?

"it's one thing the security services having untrammeled access to this material, they are some of the most highly vetted people in the country. "

And there are still instances of their abusing it.

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Re: This is great news...

'Which speaks volumes about ''independent'' our media really is.'

Nothing to do with that. No celebrities are involved so the media couldn't care less. For them it's a non-event.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Yup...

"If they were lukewarm about it, why take it to the Supreme Court?"

Oh, no, not again!

Read the very first part of Article 50. Go on, Google it now and read it. Look, seeing as you probably CBA, here's the link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2016/577971/EPRS_BRI(2016)577971_EN.pdf Now read it.

Still CBA? Here's the relevant passage: 1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

Now you tell me, what are the UK's constitutional requirements for this - and what's your authority for that?

You see, it's unprecedented. HMG think Royal Prerogative provides the requirement. But we've spent over a third of a millennium - that's right, right back to the Civil Wars in the 1640s - establishing something called the sovereignty of Parliament. Some people think that means Parliament's decision is the constitutional requirement.

The way to resolve this, the only way, is to get the decision of the courts. ATM the decision of the High Court is in favour of Parliament. HMG have appealed to the Supreme Court where it will be decided once and for all.

Whilst my own view is in favour of Parliament making the decision I still think it right that the matter should have gone to the Supreme Court because we really do need a definitive decision.

Consider, for instance, the situation if Article 50 was invoked irrespective of whether it was by Her Majesty May using the Royal Prerogative or Parliament passing an Act without a ruling. Brexit will inevitably cause expense - redundancies etc - for those corporations who have set up in the UK because it gave them an EU base. Suppose one or several of them were then to demand a Judicial Review on the basis that the constitutional requirement wasn't met. Can you imagine the chaos it would cause?

Do you now see why it's important to get this settled now irrespective of whether you think Brexit is the best thing since sliced bread or a mistake that's going to cost swathes of its supporters their livelihoods?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Yup...

"I seem to recall that most of our glorious leaders were all for staying in the EU...?"

Although our current Glorious Leader, allegedly in favour, seemed to have kept her head well below the parapet when it came to campaigning. Turned out well for her, didn't it?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: But I thought we "took back control"

"I wonder what people who voted leave think of the snooper's charter anyway?"

If they've heard of it at all it will be explained to them in terms of immigrants and the terrible EU removing HMG's control over spying on its own citizens.

Sayonara North America: Insurance guy got your back when Office 365 doesn't?

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Re: Just Remember the EULA (All 456789 pages of it)

"one of the Indian (Cough, cough) Consultancies"

Cowboy Consultancies are also available.

Strong non-backdoored encryption is vital – but the Feds should totally be able to crack it, say House committees

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"A narrative that sets government agencies against private industry, or security interests against individual privacy, does not accurately reflect the complexity of the issue."

Oh yes it does.

HMRC IT cockup misses nearly 1m Scottish taxpayers for devo PAYE letters

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"So use the fast switching service"

The fast switching service has a hell of a job keeping up with the speed at which banks shut down branches, especially outside the M25.

In fact, I anticipate the branch closure programmes getting into difficulties - they're running out of branches to close.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: You say England and Wales

"Wales have a separate system which hasn't had any issues"

Yet. Just wait http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-38345168

Swiss defence firm snaps up Brit security outfit Clearswift

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“This deal highlights the continued global success of UK-based technology companies."

This deal highlights the UK's continued global success at selling off its technology companies.


Kingpin in $1m global bank malware ring gets five years in chokey

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Re: Use a compromised proxy you dickhead

"this one is just barely a wannabe"

He still doesn't beat the robber who left his jacket at the scene

Yes, his was the one with his library card in the pocket

BT and Plusnet most moaned about broadband providers. Again

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


"I've been with Plusnet since they were Tiscali"


I was with Nildram who were taken over by Pipex who then rolled Nildram's CS arrangements out to the rest of their business. They were then taken over by Tiscali who nixed Nildram's CS. I left them when they were taken over by TalkTalk who traffic-shaped Usenet more or less out of existence and hid behind the crap Tiscali CS at which point I left. I'm not aware that Plusnet ever were Tiscali.

Why don't people secure their IoT gadgets? 'It's not my problem'

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"Sorry, am I too cynical?"

Too cynical? There's no such thing.

It's round and wobbles, but madam, it's a mouse pad, not a floppy disk

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Re: Insert a new disk and press Return

"although she's been told we have a remote Exchange server she's probably forgotten"

Or not even understood the significance.

We each have our own mental images of how things work. For some that image is just keyboard and screen.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Poor instructions

"the "music" is inside the grooves, so it would seem that just the record surfaces rubbing probably wouldn't do much."

But the grooves extend all the way up to the surface. So if the surface has scratches on it they do, in fact, interfere with the shape of the groove and the S/N ratio goes down.

Stupid law of the week: South Carolina wants anti-porno chips in PCs that cost $20 to disable

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Re: Where do we find these numpties

"The Republican Party."

I doubt they have a monopoly.

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Re: Out of State

"Don't underestimate people with power. Let's assume they know what they're doing."

No, don't let's assume anything. Let's expect them to demonstrate that they know what they're doing.

Ancient water found in Canada is two billion years old – giving hope to Mars colony dreamers

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Re: How much did the drilling ...

"Yeah, us stupid scientist who are incapable of thinking about such things, controlling for them or working out ways of sampling which do not contaminate the source."

Nevertheless, one thing does worry me about this dating. There's only one radio-isotope found in water itself, tritium and that has a half-life far too short to be used in dating of this age. They're dating it on the isotopic make-up of the solutes. How do they demonstrate that they've been in solution that long?

I spent half my working life having to be concerned with contamination of samples, including dating samples. They're valid concerns and they're not addressed in the article nor in the linked abstract so you can have your snark back, thank you.

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