* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Today the web was broken by countless hacked devices – your 60-second summary

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Too simple solution?

"You have to take Stupid into consideration."

Stupid is the problem. If the punter is too stupid it has to be their problem rather someone else's. I'm a biologist by training. I see no problem in applying Darwinian selection to the IoT.

How about "Here's your device, there's the password. We have no copy of it. Looking after it is your responsibility."

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: no internet

"in which case you'll NEXT be hearing from my attorney."

In which case we'll produce stills from the camera as evidence.

If you expose a camera on the web it's hard to deny that it's there.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Maybe..

'As for "illegal".. that part would be ignored as any fines will be relatively miniscule and that's only if a law can get past the corporate lobbyists.'

Fines can be whatever legislation and the courts make them. There's also the possibility of raising sanctions against ISPs who continue to permit their customers to continue to use such devices.

As to lobbying, recent events have resulted in some large corporations having incentives to lobby for action.

In general history shows that eventually potentially bad stuff does get regulated but unfortunately governments traditionally don't operate at internet speed.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Standards Bodies need notice

"Perhaps it's time those bodies also include network safety standards being met? Companies need to be held to a high standard on these things, and they're clearly not."

Agreed. This is something I've been saying for some time. Also it should be added to CE requirements in Europe.

The trouble is the existing deployed fleet. Those need to be fixed or taken off-line if they're not fixable.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


..just maybe this will finally spur TPTB into taking some action.

For a start oblige the manufacturers of IoTs to stop selling vulnerable devices until they're fixed.

At the same time, put out a recall for all those currently installed to be upgraded - or do over the net upgrades if for kit that supports that.

And then make it illegal to run a vulnerable device if it's connected to the net.

The second item might well cost vendors more than the profit they made in the first place - good, it's time vendors were exposed to the costs of cutting corners.

Hapless Network Rail contractors KO broadband in Uxbridge

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 6 days to fix?

"Virgin (I hate them) only took 2 days after some numpty with a JCB pulled out all the Portsmouth feeds a few years ago....."

Was that adjacent to a railway line?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Enquiring minds and all that?

"Oh believe me, some people think councils are responsible for absolutely everything."

Our local council seems to avoiding responsibility for as much as it can except for the PC bits or those which get column inches for the leaders, even if they're not part of the council's remit.

Verizon: Data center sale going nicely. Yahoo! bid? Not so much

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Just knock off the bn from the end of the figure.

What will happen when I'm too old to push? (buttons, that is)

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Holiday season

'Quick piece of advice - never look up how the YEAR was "established"'

There's also years BP (before present) in radiocarbon dating, "present" being taken as 1950. We used to round dates to the nearest 5 years but I never took into account the absence of year 0, partly because it would have looked odd to have nice round numbers in the BP version but not in the BC and it didn't really matter until one result came out at 1950 BP. Thanks to the link I now know it wasn't a bug, I was just anticipating ISO 8601.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"An adjustable spanner and a hammer."

Or just one very heavy adjustable spanner.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

There are two standard reactions to most new stuff:

1. Seen it done better.

2. Seen it done before and it didn't work then, either.

On the rare occasions that neither of these apply you know you've got something worthwhile.

Sadly there's an almost universal reaction to something that isn't new but has had a make-over, reboot or whatever:

3. It wasn't broken, why did they fix it?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: When you get older

"the ratio of what functionality you actually use out of the total functionality of the device gets less and less."

I'm not sure about that unless you stretch "used" to include "tried it once & still couldn't work out why they put it in".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: RE; LEDs

"I really don't know what all these people were thinking."

Trendy...shiny...trendy...outshine everything else in the showroom...trendy...shiny...

DNS devastation: Top websites whacked offline as Dyn dies again

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


"ISPs and network operators being compelled to police their own user base for illicit traffic on pain of having some of their service access cut off which means, by implication, they have to police their users the same way."

If a large enough number of devices are involved the illicit traffic from any one device might not be easily discoverable. A better variation would be policing their user base for vulnerable internet-exposed devices. Where the device is an ISP-supplied router this would have the immediate effect of requiring the ISPs to be more careful in deciding what kit they supply.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


"Does this include the countless people / businesses / etc who cut every possible corner to produce cheap IoT style gadgets because they dont really give a toss about how they could be misused?"

Yes. With extreme prejudice.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"If *you* are an attack target, it is *your* infrastructure that is going to be targeted,"

For some values of "you". If "you" means the US internet business community then DNS is part of that infrastructure and, from what's happened, appears to be a single point of failure for quite a large portion of "you".

Judge nailed for trying to bribe Fed with fizzy water (aka Bud Light)

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Presumably both suspected the other of corruption and were attempting that well-known procedure of US law enforcement, entrapment. At least that will be the case by the time of the appeal.

Lessons from the Mini: Before revamping or rebooting anything, please read this

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I don't know if it's true but I read somewhere that the reason for the external seams on the original mini was to enable the panels to be held together by mole grips whilst they were being spot welded.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: you must be joking.

"Proper minis today are the ... Ford Ka"

Never been inside one but from the external appearance I'd guess they fail to meet the Issigonis principle of maximising internal space for a given footprint and height. They look as if the design objective was to minimise it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Not true, my first car was a 1964 mini and the sliding windows DID overlap. I don't miss them."

But in that case you had door pockets. When they changed to the wind-up windows almost all the internal storage was gone.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I am astonished

'"once described as a loose collection of parts that just happen to be travelling in the same direction."

I think it was the Sunderland that was described as 3,000 rivets flying in close formation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I was assuming this would be a look at the mini...

"Have fond memories of the the dear old Maxis."

I don't. Horrible contraption although it did have the disadvantage of following on from my MGB (kids to carry). The engine would rock itself out of gear on the overrun. It had an oil leak from around the gear selector and the seal could only be replaced from the inside of the sump so that never got done.

As to the original Mini, cute for sure but I never liked driving it. I have too many memories of driving on country roads on winter evenings where the headlamps were so low they were coated in mud almost instantly. Nevertheless AFAICR we drove the Botany Dept. Mini up both Slieve Gallion and Slieve Gullion which might explain how it ended up with lumps knocked out of the fins on the sump. At least it had the original sliding windows; the wind-up windows meant the end of the door pockets which were most of the interior storage.

Dirty COW explained: Get a moooo-ve on and patch Linux root hole

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Utterly inexcusable...

"I already saw a fix fly by in the Debian updates"

Not only that but it wasn't rolled up into a big batch combined with a whole lot of other half-explained stuff; it downloaded quickly, was applied quickly and was one of only very few to actually need a reboot.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: There will always be another bug..

"It is really not fair to blame the final users."

However, for the stuff that's actually in operations and exposed to the net the users are likely to be the only ones who can actually take action, especially if the only possible action is to disconnect it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Utterly inexcusable...

"Your risk comes from your own staff" who can be pwned with a spear-phished email.

Despite best efforts, fewer and fewer women are working in tech

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Yup, women are smarter.

in 74 - but this was around the time that industry experts were saying things like " there will only ever be a need four 4 computers on the planet" and suchlike

I stand by my statement that it seems acceptable for people in tech to not know history. Without checking the exact date I think you're about a quarter of a century out.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Yup, women are smarter.

When I see those statements I usually point out that "people over 50" (as of today) invented computers.

That's well over 50 given that I'm in my 70s and the first generation stuff is only marginally younger then me.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Yup, women are smarter.

'In 2016 its still ok for your average 20 to 30 something to say "I dont really know computers"...Older than 50...I kinda get it, set in your ways etc etc.'

Amongst tech people it also seems to be OK to say "I don't really know history".

The Intel 8080 was introduced in 1974. That's 42 years ago. It was preceded by the 8008 and 4004. So your 50 year-olds were just kids at the time. They weren't the ones who were going to set those early micros to work. It was people who were already mid-career with enough experience of earlier generations of mainframes and/or minis to see the possibilities. A little calculations should show you that in fact we're in our 60s & 70s now.

There seems to be an assumption that people over 50 can't possibly understand about computers. Wrong!

Sysadmin flees asbestos scare with disk drive, blank pay cheques, angry builders in pursuit

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Windows NT

"I call DLT or Data8."


Today is the 211th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Old joke warning

The spot on Victory's deck where he fell is marked by a brass plaque that can still be seen today aboard the Victory, which is now moored as a museum ship in Portsmouth.

"That plaque is where Nelson fell."

"I'm not surprised. I tripped over it myself."

New measurement alert. The Pogba: 1,200Pg = NHS annual budget

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Given that it's based on someone who's occupation is to kick a replica of an infalted pig's bladder up and down a field whilst being old enough to know better I take it this is a unit of cost, not of worth.

UK fintech firm reaches for Ireland Brexit escape hatch

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Boo hoo

"So either they didn't know what they were talking about, or they're just hyping every bit of bad news they can find."

I think it's just the prospect of execution concentrating the mind.

Microsoft kinda did OK this quarter – but whatever, Wall Street loves Satya Nadella

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: re Downvote

"anything critical of Microsoft seems to get downvoted these days."

Not quite anything. When the news is something particularly egregious they seem to keep their heads down. But it was informative that the first vote on your post was a downvote, so have an upvote for balance.

The Internet of Things is 'dangerous' but UK.gov won't ride to the rescue

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: UK.Gov, non merci

"It has nothing to do with the Government."

Maybe it's also nothing to do with Government that electrical equipment has to reach minimum safety standards before it's put on sale. Maybe it's nothing to do with Government that vehicles have to meet safety standards before being put on sale. Maybe it's nothing to do with Government that children's toys mustn't use toxic paint.

But, of course, Government does have a say in all these things. Why should it not also be able to mandate that stuff to be connected to at least the local section of the net meets appropriate digital safety standards before it's put on sale?

Yahoo! begs! US! spymaster! Clapper!: Spill! the! beans! on! secret! email! snooping!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: So long, and thanks for all the fish

'You assume of course that... the hardware/software hasn't already been "cleansed"'

A purchaser would be unwise to make such an assumption.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Unpopular opinion time...

"But Yahoo are gagged"

Actually they do have an option. They have the option that MS took with email on the Irish server, the option that Apple took. Being prepared to say publicly "we won't do that" and being prepared to go to court to justify that could have earned them some respect which would have helped offset the reputational damage of the data breach. Instead they've had two missteps leaking out. The breach and going along with the scanning now serve to reinforce each other in the public's mind and the fact that they apparently weren't going to admit anything until word leaked out only makes things worse.

Third of Donald Trump's debate deplorables are mindless automatons

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Only a third???

The other two thirds are the bots.

NSA, GCHQ and even Donald Trump are all after your data

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

'His Trumpness wants Apple to make its "damn computers and things" in America'

I'm sure that if push came to shove Apple could decide to cease to be an American company. All it would have to do would be to go where its money-bags are currently lodged.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Then along came Privacy Shield which, after a false start, addressed data protection concerns"

This doesn't even begin to make sense. It's false through and through and doesn't in the least address data protection concerns. That's why I refer to it as a fig-leaf, not a shield. I'm quite sure it will be torn down by the ECJ.

Copyright zealots FAST to pursue 'far greater' fines for historic piracy

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Are they going to persue the Linux kernel pirates?

Maybe an uninvited move into GPL enforcement is the next step.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: How will they demonstrate historic loss?

"The courts will need proper proof of loss, not extravagant assertions."

I'd guess they hope to avoid this. Make extravagant assertions but offer to settle for a much smaller amount if it doesn't go to court.

Tesla's big news today:
sudo killall -9 Autopilot

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Until then the AI is expected to keep you safe whilst surrounded by unpredictable human driven cars."

And even then, should that come to pass, it will have to deal with other unpredictable elements of the environment, human and otherwise.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Wot! No rear facing Radar?

"I prefer Motorways with always on speed cameras"

So you prefer the drivers around you to concentrate their attention on one small aspect of road safety at the expense of watching what's happening around them?

Openreach split could damage broadband investment, says BT's chief exec

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No one is saying Pointless G.fast can't do the job - up to a poiint.

"Or you could write to the Chief Exec or the Chairman of the Board."

Yup. Write to the chairman. It used to be a good ploy and probably still is.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Open Reach Split

"Whilst separating pension assets and liabilities is not a trivial taslk BT managed it many years ago when they sold their original mobile business."

Actually they didn't sell it. It was split out. BT shareholders received an O2 share for each, now devalues, BT share they owned. It was these shares that Telefonica then bought from the then shareholders.

Whether this was a good idea is questionable given that BT has since paid to buy back into the mobile business.

I'm also not sure how well the pension worked out given that anyone working for BT Mobile who retired before the split is now being paid a pension from the BT scheme.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Pensions ...

"As soon as interest rates finally start to go up"

But in whose lifetime?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Pensions ...

"And take responsability for missmanaging the pension funds?"

See previous comments about how pension funds actually work.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Pensions ...

"I reckon they could afford to pay a little more than £250m in the later years of their recovery plan"

Here's a little exercise for you. You are in charge of BT's finances. Your have £1bn available. You have claims both for investing in infrastructure and payments to the pension fund. If you pay that £1bn into the pension fund how much do you have left over for investment?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Pension scheme.

"So, their argument is, that because they can't run a pension scheme properly, they should be allowed to monopolise the market to pay for their incompetence?"

As per another comment, the pension scheme is run by a separate, specialist company as is normal. The trustees represent BT and employees.

The deficit is a partly result of the Treasury/IR/HMRC screwing pension schemes over the years (Exhibit A: Gordon Brown's ditching tax relief on dividend income for pension funds; clearly a tax on the future as seen from the 1990s and now we are in that future. Exhibit B: the tax-man's suspicion that pension funds* are a vehicle for secreting profits leading to enforced contribution "holidays" when the fund gets in surplus in economic good times, in turn leading to deficits in bad times because of the missed contributions; we've had a lot of those bad times lately. Exhibit C: low interest rates and QE cutting the income from bonds used to pay pensions; IOW more bad times).

The deficit might have been made worse by the cutting of headcount over the years. There are now fewer contributing members but many surviving ex-members who are receiving or will be due to receive pensions.

The consequence is that BT is making extra payments to try to get the fund back into balance. That's money that can't be invested in infrastructure.

But don't let's have facts getting in the way of a good rant.

*The tax-man doesn't have to worry about the funding of his pension. That's essentially a Ponzi scheme.

Yahoo! hides! from! financial! analysts! amid! email! hacking!, privacy! storm!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Hello I'm Yahoo!

"any revenue consequences on the NSA's bed warmer from this won't be reflected in these figures."

Revenue consequences won't be. Payments for services rendered might be squirrelled away in there somewhere.

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