* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Internet handover is go-go-go! ICANN to take IANA from US govt

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El Reg headline writers slipping.

I'd have expected ICANN do it!!!

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"Not sure if the above post is an attempt at a wind-up or not."

It seems to be a second new poster who has just signed up here* to talk political bollocks. I don't know what's brought them out of the woodwork. Maybe they were attempting to prove that the net wouldn't work without the US Govt's hand on the tiller in which case the fact that their posts appeared here mark their failure.

*Of course it could be the same person who signed up twice.

Ludicrous Patent of the Week: Rectangles on a computer screen

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Re: I'm all for patents...

"Downside is that now we'd have people trolling the patent filers, trying to get their competition's patents invalidated."

Sorry to have to ask, but where's this downside you mentioned?

EU's YouTube filter plan was revised '37 times'

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Re: The future

One gives digital press publishers the right to ask Google for money for the snippets Google scrapes disappear from Google's search results.

Just because the right exists doesn't mean they have to take it up. IIRC the Spanish situation wasn't that the sites had the option but Google had no option but to pay if it stayed. A situation where big publishers decide to demand money would benefit smaller publishers if they decided they were better off not doing so.

Termination fees for terminated people now against the law

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The trouble is, all these dead people forgot to turn off the lights on their way out.

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Re: Greed

"Thats what they did when my dad passed last year, they froze everything for 3 months."

I had a similar experience when my dad (in Yorkshire) died years ago. The DSS, or whatever name they went under at the tim,e seized the pension book with some BS about sending it to the Belfast Forensic Lab to look for evidence of fraud. I knew it was BS because at the time not only did I work in the Belfast Forensic Lab but my boss was also head of document examination; if they were doing that sort of work for the DSS they'd have needed a lot more staff and I'd have seen them working on it.

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Re: I would have thought that

a contract with a dead person is void.

No. Think of it the other way round. If the deceased had a contract whereby he was owed something do you think that the debt would be cancelled? The debt might have been a large part of their assets to be inherited by the heirs.

In the NY situation, assuming the deceased wasn't living alone the other occupant(s) would probably have needed the utility service to continue. This just seems like a way of doing that and gouging them for a little more at the same time.

BOFH: There are no wrong answers, just wrong questions. Mmm, really wrong ones

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Re: I actually did an interview test...

"3 equally wrong methods of shouting at the boss"

Does not compute.

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Re: Get out of the server room sometimes...

"look at how beautiful a field of yellow potato flowers could be"

Are there any yellow flowered varieties?

Apple's Breaxit scandal: Frenchman smashes up €50,000 of iThings with his big metal balls

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The staff don't seem to have been as keen as mustard to stop him..

No surprise: Microsoft seeks Windows Update boss with 'ability to reduce chaos, stress'

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Interesting observation.

I searched the job add for the string "test". It found one hit: "latest".

Just sayin'.

User couldn't open documents or turn on PC, still asked for reference as IT expert

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If you are retiring then you will probably find that people now assume you have even more time to fix their kit.

"Sorry, I've got out of touch with that sort of thing these days."

Especially useful with W10.

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Re: OK

"Guess who is expected to sort out the mess afterwards?"

So tell her you don't have time.

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Re: Just yesterday

'Came into work and reluctantly emailed IT (hi guys!) who sent back "aah, yes, we've reconfigured everything and not told anyone. We'll send an email around later".'

So they reconfigured the email so it wouldn't work for you and then proposed to let you know by email. Good thinking there. About the same as that Suse release where they knew the online update was broken but planned to fix it with an online update.

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Re: Is it on?

"I associate this with excessive spacing, stupidly large fonts, and pointlessly big images"

I associate it with UX designers. Unable to come across anything that works without breaking to enhance the user experience.

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Re: My daughter came home from school . . .

'I had to tell her that, "Yes, sadly most people are stupid".'

Learning that at 8 saves a lot of problems later on.

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Re: Is it on?

"However, the other possible problem is that the company's web form didn't highlight the error for him - if it did that when he tried to submit the erroneous data, he might have spotted the problem himself without the need to call you."

Another problem with ill-thought-out forms is the mandatory field which is half a screen away from all the other fields, say Title (mandatory? really) somewhere in the middle of the explanation of how to fill in the form. Stream of conciousness is not a good way to design a user interface.

Then there are fields which are only appropriate for some circumstances - no your two letter abbreviations for US states aren't appropriate if I'm in the UK.

And entire pages designed to only fit onto screens of at least 6000x4000 pixels.

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"a phone call from the head of a government department, who had been given my name to provide a reference about her IT skills....

The really weird thing? She got the job anyway."

Not at all weird. Bullshitting was probably a prime requirement for the job & he'd just proved her credentials.

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Re: OK

"She said she didn't have time!"

Of course she didn't. She had a lot of documents to retype.

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Re: Bad references

"I can never remember which way round these are."

Libel is written. Think "li" for "libel" and "li" for "literature.

If libel's written then slander isn't so it must be spoken.


Ladies in tech, have you considered not letting us know you're female?

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Re: What gender bias?

"I've worked in IT since the mid-80's and from my experience, those with ability rise to the top regardless of their gender."

Regrettably that ability seems to be the ability to climb corporate ladders rather than anything else.

Invasion of the Brandsnatchers: How Nokia and BlackBerry inhabit the afterlife

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How ironic that back in the days of burning platforms the one thing that was excluded from Nokia's strategy was Android, not even as a temporary measure while it looked for someone who could tell it the difference between its arse and its elbow.

Google finds its G Suite spot: Renames apps, talks up AI and BigQuery

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Re: The key quote of the article

No, the key quote of the article is "The Mint is a karaoke bar, not far from the San Francisco Mint, which began churning out legal tender in 1937."

I never knew there were karaoke bars in 1937 let alone that they were able to churn out money.

Big data and the cloud: It's not even that scary

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"But maybe sales want to cross reference order arrival time with time to ship out, customer geographic region and even products ordered. The goal: see if there is a correlation between the length of time it takes certain products to make it through manufacturing and customer retention in specific geographic regions."

I used to generate this sort of thing out of the normal working RDBMS quite regularly. It wasn't a big deal if the right indexes were in place. If they weren't it might have take a little time to work out a plan with temp tables. Scouring stuff out of middleware wasn't a necessity (or, indeed a possibility) because I was working with systems that handled the entire selling process. What's described seems to be the consequence of buying a load of systems that each do part of the job and cobbling them together.

And I wonder if manglements take the slightest notice of the sort of thing in the example. They don't seem to notice even less subtle distribution issues such as the package allegedly sent from one carrier depot to another that's never seen again by the system and the absence never noticed until the customer complains. But I suppose it gives all the MBAs something to compose PowerPoints about.

Microsoft will let you pass and fail cert exams at the same time

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Re: Yay!

"I might have a cat in hell's chance of passing now."

Or at least a cat in a box's chance.

Oracle loses (again) in battle to get Google Java case retried (again)

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Alsup must have inexhaustible patience not to have declared them a vexatious litigant.

Human rights orgs take Five Eyes nations to court

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Re: People in other countries should sue the US government

"So if we feel like our citizens have a right to sue a sovereign government in our courts, what's to stop people in other countries suing the US government in their courts?"

Suing one country in the courts of another is one thing. It's something else entirely to persuade that court they have jurisdiction let alone enforce any judgement you might get.

Four US states demand restraining order to stop internet power handover to ICANN

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The IANA contract at the heart of the argument only points to other servers. So, for example, if you wish to go to "example.com," the query will go first to the root zone file – edited by the IANA contract – and it will say where to go to find all the addresses underneath .com. It is that file – in this case run by Verisign – that then points to individual website addresses.

(In reality of course, there is an enormous amount of extra capacity and caching built into the internet, so your computer will very rarely, if ever, go directly to either the root zone file or even Verisign's file to find out where "example.com" is.)

This last presents the possibility that IANA could be made irrelevant. As part of that caching the root zone is mirrored. If the operators of the mirrors were to decide that one of their number should be the primary instead of IANA then IANA becomes irrelevant or, at best just another mirror. Ongoing governance issues around the IANA contract provide a plausible enough pretext for such a move, at least on a temporary basis, should they so decide.

But is it safe? Uncork a bottle of vintage open-source FUD

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Re: How to look at Open Source

"You just replace it with something else that is still supported, the same as if it was closed-source."

There are a couple of assumptions here. First that the something else exists and second that it's not so different that rebuilding around it is more difficult than taking on the original. If the original was stable enough is maintaining it actually an issue?

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Re: How to look at Open Source

'It's OK to say "but you can take the source and do it yourself", but you then have to question, if I'm going to have to pay £30k - £50k a year to get someone to maintain this, is it actually worth it?'

Life doesn't always provide such binary choices.

I had a client who were running proprietary applications against a proprietary RDBMS although we did have a copy most of the application code on site. In that sense it was open but not according to any recognised Open Source definition. And the client was paying maintenance for it.

Two Fridays in a row the invoice run crashed. The second time I decided it wasn't an accident. I spent the afternoon going through the source until I found how it came about that the application was making the database engine allocate more and more memory without releasing it. Then I could go back to the vendors and tell them how to write programs. We still had to wait a few weeks for a new code drop which meant temporarily allocating more memory to the engine during the invoice run. Having proprietary code doesn't mean you have perfect software but having the source means that you can diagnose the problems the vendor missed.

Icon: what the Friday invoice run interrupted.

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Re: thats why Linux on the desktop

"will not become a reality unless things really change."

I must have been imagining things for years. There was me thinking I was using Linux on the desktop and now you tell me it isn't real! I wonder what it actually is that I'm running.

Researchers crack Oz Govt medical data in 'easy' attack with PCs

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Shoot the messenger

Then you never hear bad news.

HP Ink COO: Sorry not sorry we bricked your otherwise totally fine printer cartridges

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I guess nobody actually clicked on the link to the full statement which includes the bit El Reg omitted (naughty vulture) to the effect that they're preparing another update to fix it. Still far from ideal but it's possible HP are, at last, starting to learn lessons. They have a massive amount of work to do to rebuild their reputation. If something like this turns them around then so much the better.

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Re: Environmental friendliness

"I've bought and thrown away seven inkjets in that time. Often because it was cheaper to do that than replace the cartridges."

And if that's the case it serves the makes right.

Microsoft preps defence against the dark arts for enterprise customers

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It's being tested by the insiders but if I read the article right it isn't going to go out to home users. So under standard W10 testing procedures the enterprise users are going to be the beta testers guinea pigs.

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Re: So they got themselves a sandbox...

"Repeat ad nauseam...."

or until you run out of memory.

British Gas wins pre-paid smart meter patent lawsuit

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"First network card to have the Mac reprogrammable via a normal API at runtime. 3C509."

HP9000 servers could also do this. There was a product which enabled them to join DECNet. As far as I could make out DECNet used only recognised MACs which has their own manufacturer code in the high end bits. So the DECNet for HP product overwrote the HP ID to DEC's. There was, of course, a probability that the new MAC would clash with something on your network but it was vanishingly small.

Of course when we fired it up for the first time the PC users connecting to the server lost their connections until their ARP caches were refreshed. Oops.

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Have I got this right?

A company writes some code which, presumably by a chain of purchases, finds its way into a product. It patents some of the technology* in the code, code for which I assume it was paid and then tries to sue the ultimate customer for breach of patent? Or did I miss something? I admit I've made a couple of assumptions but the case was about patent not copyright.

* Ignoring the question of patentability which seems to have been an issue here.

Brit loan firm gets comeuppance for 7.7 million spam texts

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Presumably they have some sort of banking licence. Terminate it. If they haven't, pass the penalty up to the credit card issuers.

Sage advice: Avoid the Windows 10 Anniversary Update – it knackers our accounting app

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Re: Quickbooks

"All in all he estimates that errant click has cost him close to $1500."


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Re: I have logged 23 Windows 7 updates that interfere with a Microsoft program I use every day.

"Tried updating to 10?"

I think he was taking the view that 23 was too many, not too few.

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"What I find funny is the fact that people seem to be upgrading (updating?) machines ...

Not sure what others do but we generally test stuff before doing it on live machines!"

You're missing a few things.

Firstly these are small businesses.

Secondly, because they're small businesses they don't have the luxury of a full time IT team nor a separate test system.

Thirdly, again because they're small businesses they probably started out on W7 Professional because - well, they're using the computers in a trade or profession. They're not big enterprises so they didn't have W7 Enterprise. That means they now don't have W10 Enterprise - they're still not big enterprises - so they have no control over updates anyway. Even if they had a test system they have no ability to stop the live system updating before the test nor hold it back even if they'd tested and found the problem.

You're probably looking at it from the perspective of your own work environment but one size does not fit all.

The web is past peak innovation: It's all negative returns from here

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"Taste aside, though, the Ubuntu desktop is very functional. It works quite well."

It only works well if what you want is what it does. If you want something else then it doesn't. However one of the good things about open source OSs is that you have a choice.

Revealed: The true horror of being a big CEO

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"Helpfully Bort included a picture of the empty chairs."

It's good to make sure your readers don't have to puzzle over what such things look like.

HP Inc: No DRM in our 3D printers, we swear (unlike our 2D ones)

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"Speaking at the 50th anniversary party for HP Labs, Tim Weber, global head of 3D materials for the firm, said that HP Inc would not be the sole provider for consumables."

I'll bet he didn't make too much of the point that what HP stood for 50 years ago when it opened its Labs is very different from what we see in HP today.

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Re: Certified for sale

"I'm thinking cars at the moment. Tyres, oil, petrol"

A good analogy. The manufacturer will specify the grade of oil for the engine, probably with different recommendations for different climates. If you try to run on liquid glue or sewing machine oil you'll find your warranty invalidated. Likewise if you run on the wrong grade of fuel. If you mix radials and cross-plies (are cross-plies still a thing?) or the wrong speed rating or whatever you might find you've invalidated your insurance.

So, yes, a manufacturer should be able to specify the quality of consumables. Playing HP's current games is a different matter, however.

UK.gov is doing sod all to break £20bn of locked-in IT contracts

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Maybe the Cabinet Office and/or NAO should pick the worst offenders out to be put into special measures and send in a team to sort them out with the others - and their ministers - being put on notice that this would be a rolling programme.

If one or two ministers were then asked in Parliament why their departments were having this treatment I think we could be sure that there'd be much clearer answers next year.

'Geek gene' denied: If you find computer science hard, it's your fault (or your teacher's)

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It's your fault (or your teacher's)

I think this is another factor. Despite the old saw people who teach do, on the whole, are those who have aptitude for their subject. Unless they're also extremely talented as teachers they find it difficult if not impossible to see what those who don't have the same aptitude find difficult. Their teaching is geared to those who have an instinctive grasp of the subject and dismiss those who don't as lazy when a little well-directed explanation would go a long way to helping.

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Re: I drifted into computing

"As an aside, a proficiency at Cluedo may be an indication of programming/problem solving potential."

Boredom with it might be an even better indication.

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Re: Nonsense.

"I could just hold and see it all at once in my head."

I find the same thing - the ability to more or less visualise things which are intrinsically invisible. I think it's a form of synesthesia. There were a number of instances where Feynman gave examples of what seems to have been synesthesia such as seeing equations in colour. I suspect talent in any direction is at least greatly aided by an individual ability to adapt mental functionality from one specific area to another.

A further example might be the ability to memorise large numbers of facts. Those who can do it explain it in terms of imagining a story or a journey which prompts the facts. If I try to do that it simply becomes an extra layer of difficulty, not an aid.

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