* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

European Union divided over tax on digital tech giants as some member states refuse free money

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The tax would benefit countries with large populations national economies at the expense of those with innovative small natiional economies but large imported multi-national digital businesses


'Blockchain SAVED my Quango'

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Re: The one use

"In a basic case, blockchain is ideal for recording those immutable historical facts - you were born on day x1 with name y and gender g, you did graduate on day x2 with name y and degree z, and you got married on day x3 and changed your name to y2, you changed your gender and your name on day x4, etc."

Well,someone did all that. What the potential employer - or whoever depending on the use case - needs to know is is the person claiming to be so really that someone?

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Re: "Do you need a blockchain?"

"This is a really good flowchart"

Not keen on 4. It's been written arse about face simply to avoid "Yes" being the answer that doesn't need a blockchain.

UK.gov to roll out voter ID trials in 2019 local elections

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Re: So...

"What if you have gone paperless billing/statements and don't own a printer to print them off?"

OTOH if you have a printer you can "print off" any bill or statement you care to invent.

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"I've never worked out, if you don't turn up and identify yourself, how do the police know who they want to arrest?"

And even if you do, what does it mean? Who am I? Who are you? The answers to those questions are relative.

I can turn up with a copy of my birth certificate. I can equally turn up with a copy of someone else's birth certificate providing it gives a DoB roughly the same as mine.

I can turn up with a piece of photo ID. What does it mean? Just that I persuaded someone to attach a name to a photo of me or someone who looks reasonably like me.

Utility bill (what's that in the days of online billing?)? I got what I claim to be my address printed on a letter heading that looks as if it might have come from a utility company. Utility company billing base stock is scarcely a secure base stock; the base stock for the birth certificate is - and it clearly states it's not a form of identification.

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"If we're going to have mandatory ID, we should also have a proper, written constitution"

We do. It's not just written in a single place. It starts with Magna Carta (which, admittedly, successive govts, especially recent ones, try to ignore) and including "and a Bill of Rights."

You want a Bill of Rights? OK, here you are:


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"I get asked for ID every time I visit Scotland and stay in a hotel"

I stayed in an hotel in Scotland earlier this year and also last year with no such demand.

Woke Linus Torvalds rolls his first 4.20, mulls Linux 5.0 effort for 2019

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Re: Bring back the old Linus

"All the previous times he said it he cussed."

No. The cussing was the exception. BAU doesn't get reported on. Learn to discriminate between the two.

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"find it more impressive if someone gets bullocked without a single swear word being used."

The example given is definitely entering the realm of talking down to the culprit as if they were a small child. Nice one. Demeaning but without anything the snowflakes can actually put a finger on as being wrong.

Mything the point: The AI renaissance is simply expensive hardware and PR thrown at an old idea

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Re: Quite.

" when the child comes to a conclusion you can ask them to explain why they think that is so."

It depends on the age of the child. Before they acquire language infants are learning how to interpret the various sensory inputs. One of the things they can do is reach out to touch what they see so they can correlate the tactile qualities of what's in the visual field. They can't explain how they learn that. In fact, can you, as an adult, explain how you recognise an everyday object such as a cup?

US draft bill moots locking up execs who lie about privacy violations

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I'm not sure about a central opt-out register. It's an all eggs in one basket affair. At present one of the options we have in our defence is to set up variations on details such as email addresses, physical addresses, dates of birth and all the rest of the stuff to make it more difficult to combine data. A central register means that the user would have to give details of their account on that register to each site with which they connect. It becomes a single point of failure tracking.

Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

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Re: First Algorithm?!

@ Nigel Sedgwick

Your namesake Adam would also be a good choice: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Sedgwick

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Re: two more to the list

"Beatrix Potter (Yes really)"

Indeed. Thanks for the reminder.

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Re: Honestly can't decide

"He even accompanied Einstein on the piano to Einstein's violin."

So did Rubinstein. They were practising a piece and Einstein kept fluffing his entries. Eventually Rubinstein was heard to complain "Albert, can't you count?".

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Re: Michael Faraday got my vote...

Already been on a £20 note.

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Re: What, no Barnes Wallis?

It's an idea to bounce around.

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Re: A tricky balance between worthy and recognition

"Putting Rosalind Franklin on as a kind of consolation prize smacks of white male guilt and would have probably just annoyed her."

OK, both Franklin and Maxwell. There is a connection.

Would Wheatstone be a bridge too far?

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Re: Bertrand Russell

There's one downvoter who doesn't get it.

DBA drifts into legend after inventive server convo leaves colleagues fearing for their lives

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Re: But can I get F1 on my BT account

"quite serious operators who had undergone a humour bypass"

I suppose it's what comes from being exposed to generations of students.

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Re: My boss was demonstrating the instrusion sensors on our building

"I hope you know the reset code because we certainly don't"

So who signed off on the installation without making sure they had the reset code? And why did the installers not make sure they left the reset code with someone?

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

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Re: Anti-intellectual?

"Religious nutters destroyed the School of Euclid and the Library of Alexandria. Here's hoping the books of Euclid will still be in use when all the religious books are forgotten."

Can someone remind me of how the surviving books from antiquity were preserved?

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"Here in God's Country where we have our own banknotes (a cunning ruse designed to spike the blood pressure of London cabbies"

When I lived in NI the local banknotes were useful for spiking the blood pressure of any Scottish businesses I had to deal with when in transit along the dreaded A75. In NI local, NoE, Scottish and (while the Punt was at parity) Irish notes were all accepted without comment.

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"Only after more sentences and a picture did the anthropomorphic features slant become apparent."

It's by Dabbsy. Isn't that enough to tell you how to read it?

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Re: The name 'Tesla' has been hijacked

"It is the nearly obsolete in Britain adze (most carpenters to use one have retired and I have seen one only in Eastern Europe)."


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Re: country & western singers

Where do those using the term "scrum" and wearing rugby boots appear? Hopefully not too far below those wearing football kit. And amongst the latter do those not on a football field appear above or below those who are? I appreciate that in the normal circumstances the car is unlikely to find itself running down those who are on a football field; the manufacturers should make more efforts in this respect.

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Re: country & western singers

"In my opinion, If the autonomous car is out of control, then by definition, even if it can make a decision on who to kill, it can't actually control the vehicle to take aim."

My guess would be that an autonomous car gets out of control of it's AI by the latter overloaded with conflicting information and rules so that in order to ditch the lot it needs an emergency routine to follow. I suspect they're all loaded up with a secret "kill the lone pedestrian" function and that eventually it will be triggered where the overload arises in an entirely innocuous situation.

After all the emissions cheating stuff would you really believe it would be beyond the car manufacturers' inclinations?

Smartphone industry is in 'recession'! Could it be possible we have *gasp* reached 'peak tech'?

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Re: not unless they die.

"That will be my next daily phone once I've completed it, or my current phone dies, whichever comes first."

And what really happens if your current phone dies before your home built phone's ready.

Clunk, bang, rattle: Is that a ghost inside your machine?

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Re: RFI ghosts

"After much research, I found the source was the HUGE, clunky Leica power supply for the mercury lamp used for fluorescence imaging at the latter department."

Was this the stabilized one? Make sure all nearby electronics are switched off before firing it up. It's along time since I used one of those but remember it being a brute.

BT: We're stocking warehouses with kit ahead of Brexit to avoid shortages

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Re: A timely reminder...

"But Ireland isn't"

Bushmills is.

UK and EU crawling towards post-Brexit data exchange deal – reports

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"Labour minister slams attitude that reaching an adequacy agreement is assured"

A Labour minister? Did we have a general election and I didn't hear about it?

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Re: So basically what will happen

So much for the "freedom" of being liberated from the EU's tyranny.

The alternative is having a lot of people liberated from the tyranny of having to go to work.

'He must be stopped': Missouri candidate's children tell voters he's basically an asshat

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The best thing about guaranteed freedom of speech, is that the nutters out themselves publicly without fear and other nutters stand around agreeing. Not so good.

'Privacy is a human right': Big cheese Sat-Nad lays out Microsoft's stall at Future Decoded

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Re: "Privacy is a human right"

I think we'll believe it when telemetry's completely turned off and all the telemetry data destroyed. Until then it's just sounds he made when he opened his mouth.

US Republicans bash UK for tech tax plan

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"offers an opportunity for poorer countries to receive their fair share."

The existing tax system offers that. For multinationals there's an international market place in low corporate taxes. If a low tax rate brings in more from large multinationals than it loses from local businesses then it's a net gain. It also benefits any local businesses who export goods or services, so win-win. At present the UK's not in a position to play in that market. Not yet.

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Re: An easy solution

"That the bank of Mum and Dad doesn't charge interest and doesn't charge naming rights should be a core principle"

You mean I could have been charging the offspring for use of my surname?

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"I can't see this weakened minority UK government, that is fractured by internal splits and lacking in direction on Brexit, managing to stand up against the USA."

There's nothing unites people better than an external enemy. Post Brexit the US can replace the EU in that role.

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"Typical US politician, happy to do whatever it takes to protect home market"

What a pity more UK politicians don't want to protect UK firms' home market.

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Re: The irony

"the UK has local taxation on top of national taxation... Council Tax"

Different entities being taxed. Personal taxes are income based, company taxes are on profits. CGT is on capital gains, VAT on value added. Council tax, including business taxes, are on occupation of property. If you want to get into double taxation you need to look at VAT on fuel taxes - but it's not local on national.

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Re: International norms

"The UK already has full powers to cut down on tax evasion, and it's good to see that it is starting to do so."

This is where we need to discriminate between evasion and avoidance. Evasion is illegal so obviously the UK has full powers at its disposal. Avoidance, which is the case here, is the use of legal means to reduce tax. That means that the only powers available to a govt. not happy with the tax take are to huff and puff but let the avoider carry on, change rules on existing taxes, introduce new taxes or, in the case of multinationals, reduce tax rates so as to make the country a more attractive place in which taxable income can be realised. The last is only really workable for a small economy such as Ireland or Luxembourg but not, at present, the UK. A new tax seems to be the most workable of the others.

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Re: International norms

"there's a massive tax evasion exercise going on"

Evasion or avoidance?

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"The ongoing global dialogue on the digital economy through the OECD framework should not be pre-empted"

Is any particular country slowing down the OECD process by any chance? If the US thinks the OECD route is the best then surely they'll respond by ensuring it's speeded up, wouldn't they? Wouldn't they?

UK banking TITSUP*: This time it's Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks

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..."working on a fix, which one Twitter user imagined thus:"

Disappointment. I was expecting something more like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq_LX8HXg4c

Facebook sets Linux kernel tools free

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Re: Hmm, usually when a company does that...

"let's give it to the community so they can maintain it for free"

But has Linus accepted into the mainstream kernel?

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Who's been pottering about with kernel code?

"The software allows bytecode to run in response to specific events for the purpose of modifying and extending kernel behavior."

Just what everyone needs - send bytecodes to your somebody's kernel and get them executed with, presumably, kernel privileges.

Memo to Mark Sedwill: Here's how to reboot government IT

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As the UK does not have a scheme of 'identity', its administrative law does not rely upon one, making the idea of an 'online identity verification' irrelevant as well as conceptually dubious

Combine this with an earlier sentence in the same paragraph in the evidence:

Setting aside debates over the nature of identity and its “proof”, the ability to assert it incontrovertibly “online” is in doubt.

Thank goodness somebody gets it.

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"A lot of commentards seem to be missing one of the Professor's main points"

Missed it? I can't see much evidence that they even read it.

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Re: IBM?

"But he might of been in IBM when they were good."

On the other hand he might have been in IBM when they were good.

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Re: Hmmm....

"I'm a tad cynical that letting the academics at the problem is going to make it any better.

From the point of view of an outsider looking in, the three things you need for 'digital transformation'..."

I take it you didn't actually go to look at the evidence to the committee. It wasn't so much that they were doing "transformation" wrong, more that they were doing the wrong thing:

Many public administrative functions such as assessing the needs of benefits claimants are not amenable to online self-service. Consequently, policy implementations not suited to this approach (such as Universal Credit and CAP-D – see my evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee) became highly contentious and problematic as GDS insisted on using the wrong tools for the job. Public sector bodies are not entrepreneurial businesses — almost the opposite as they must follow their founding legislation impartially and consistently. The data they collect and use is determined by their legislative base. Government departments are structured around the policy and legislation assigned to their Secretary of State by the Prime Minister. None of these entities are changeable (“transformable”) at the whim of their managers.

Your idea of being able to "stand on toes" and "have the authority to make changes to the legacy" is exactly what they were trying to do. But the "legacy" includes legislation that only Parliament has the authority to decide and policy which is the PM & Cabinet's responsibility That, according to the Prof. is where they went wrong/

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Re: Simple solution.

"Don't let any civil servant use anything more technologically advanced than tracing paper and crayon."

As far as the Civil Servants in GDS were concerned I though that was about the level of technology they were suited to. It looked as if that's what they'd used & then turned it over to a few kids to convert into HTML etc. The real Civil Servants were, I suspect, a good deal frustrated with all this and probably capable of doing a much better job. Make no mistake - this thing was driven by politicians for whom tracing paper and crayon might well have proved too challenging.

Check this out: Radisson Hotel Group 'fesses up to 'security incident'

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Re: "Loyalty" Cards

The cashiers always give me dirty looks when the phone number associated with "my" rewards/loyalty account is the same one I just overheard the customer in front of me blurt out.

If you're going to do that sort of thing do it properly. Look up their customer services number before hand. That way their marketing can learn something useful about their customer service.

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