* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

When Irish eyes are filing: Ireland to appeal Europe's $15bn Apple tax claw-back

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Re: What if taxation is inherently unjust?

"Think about this with great care. Taxation is unjust, in and of itself."

We've thought about it and as you can see we disagree with you. Perhaps it's you who should do more thinking about it. Two questions to think about:

1. What is it that you can do for yourself as an individual better than you could do as part of the larger community or, to turn it round, what are all the other things that you can't do better for yourself that are better done collectively?

2. For those things that are better done collectively, how do you (as a member of the community) finance them?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: What if taxation is inherently unjust?

"It walks and quacks like state sponsored tax evasion."

That's an oxymoron.

The state says what the tax is. Evasion is the taxpayer failing to pay that. If the state sets the tax at a low level which is then paid there's no evasion. The EU seems happy that the tax as set was paid. They're classifying the low tax rate as (illegal) state aid.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: What if taxation is inherently unjust?

"It's not even a question of the fact that what is going on being massive tax evasion."

Of course not. That wasn't even what the EU were looking at and would have been none of their business. It was a matter of state aid illegal under EU rules. What's odd about this is that the arrangement was in operation for a long time before any investigation started.

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Re: A no-brainer ?

"it seemed likely to work and the worst that could happen was that they'd have to pay the tax they owed in the first place."

...by which time they'd have moved on anyway.

Is it time to unplug frail OpenOffice's life support? Apache Project asked to mull it over

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Re: VinceH : People still use this!?

"Seriously, save yourself some time and a lot of trouble and just go get a subscription to Office 365"

No thanks, I'll just stick with standard formats that won't be rendered obsolescent by the software vendor every few years. That really does save time and trouble.

Latest Intel, AMD chips will only run Windows 10 ... and Linux, BSD, OS X

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Re: I could be wrong but...

"Or should I not be reading techstuff after midnight on a Saturday"

Your problem is that because it contains techy words you think it was written by a fellow tech who should be expected to think logically. It was written by a PR person who probably gets stuck at "think" and for whom "logically" is far beyond reach.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Can you spell lawsuit?

"End users are no longer important MS customers (at least wrt OS sales). System builders are the OS customers that matter, and it's been that way for years."

But system builders don't build systems for the purpose of hoarding them in warehouses - at least they don't intend to. So if MS's antics put potential end users off buying their product they're going to let MS know about it at some stage. Alternatively they might build more chromebooks, or maybe something else. I wonder what Fuschia is going to be aimed at...

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Slow, carefully planned suicide?

"Seems to be the case with Linux, OSX, Android and iOS as well. If this is standard industry practice, why point at Microsoft?"

I can't speak for the rest - and as they are tied to H/W vendors in some degree there could well be other shenanigans in place there - the thing about Linux is that there are distros which range from bleeding edge to conservative. Nobody is forced onto any particular one. Users who want to be beta testers will choose the former, those, like me, who just want to get stuff done will be on the latter. The Microsoft strategy seems to be that if you're a not able to pay for enterprise licensing (and that includes SMBs and professionals) you're a beta tester for those who are.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Slow, carefully planned suicide?

" Enterprise customers have been immune to all of this; it's the home customers that get the worst of it."

And the SMBs and professionals. The standard line trotted out here by the MS supporters has been that they have to fork out for enterprise licences whether they meet the enterprise volume or not.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Microsoft continues to destroy the PC

"THE prime reason for the public to refresh their PC was for new game support."

Citation needed.

Presumably you're a gamer. I have news for you: many people have not the slightest interest in playing computer games. They do use computers for other stuff, all of which worked better on new hardware during the decades when performance was improving but not reached "good enough". Now they're not going to replace stuff which is good enough and for many phones, tablets and chromebooks are also good enough. And even during those years when PCs were selling well most users neither needed nor bought whatever was then the top end stuff that hardcore gamers bought.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Microsoft continues to destroy the PC

"They are consumer devices not computing devices."

Nevertheless what they do is what many users have bought a PC for in the past.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Unless you have legacy applications that require an older OS, this only stings for a moment."

Do you mean legacy applications such as those which handle personal data? You know, those where lack of security could mean serious regulatory repercussions.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Slow, carefully planned suicide?

"Linux, OSX, Android and iOS are hardly bug-free, aren't they?"

He didn't say they were.

"You're singling out Microsoft as though they were the only ones to do this."

He was singling out Microsoft for their strategy.

A plumber with a blowtorch is the enemy of the data centre

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Re: Been there

'"But my cable was cut" isn't an answer. Always have a backup.'

You're trying to make things idiot proof. Remember, there's always a better class of idiot coming along.

Childcare app bods wipe users' data – then discover backups had been borked for a year

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"it was discovered the database back up had not been working properly over the past 12 months."

What backups? If they're not regularly tested they're not backups and clearly they hadn't been tested.

We want GCHQ-style spy powers to hack cybercrims, say police

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“you cannot control crime through the criminal justice system.”

This is a self-defeating attitude to take. Looking again at that quote "for every 100 crimes committed only 50 are reported to police, even fewer of those reports are recorded and a mere two per cent of crimes are successfully prosecuted."

A serial offender may only be successfully prosecuted for those crimes where he leaves sufficient evidence to support a prosecution. In practical terms the police are justified in concentrating effort on those crimes so a 2% successful prosecution rate may, in effect, be clearing up rather more than 2% of crimes. However to ensure that potentially prosecutable crimes get the attention they deserve there needs to be some form of triage for all reports. The fact that not all reports are recorded is a worry and there probably needs to be a serious review to remove as much administrative burden on reporting as possible so that resources are freed up to triage and then investigate.

For physical crime extending triage would probably require more SOCO resources. For cyber-crime possibly this could be automated which I presume the new national unit is doing but I'd guess there are a lot of police counters who don't know what to do if someone does report such a crime. That needs to be attended to with 100% forwarding of reports.

As to prevention perhaps the biggest step would be re-engineering of email. At one level ransomware is delivered by email and at higher levels social engineering via email seems to be a way in for bigger frauds. Sender authentication needs to be baked into the system so that faked email doesn't get moved through the system. However, given that the PGP underpinnings for digital signing also provide a basis for universal encryption, I can't see TPTB encouraging the uptake of this any time soon.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

For crimes where the perpetrators are on UK soil there is a well-established route for getting such powers. Go to a magistrate & ask for a warrant. If there are reasons why this doesn't work for what they need then there's a case for updating. But with all the RIPA stuff I'd have thought that there was over-provision for this.

For international crime there probably are problems. Put simply, a nation's police powers stop at its borders. Any warrant issued in one country doesn't give the police of that country the right to attack a computer in another (the US might have a little difficulty comprehending this). If a police force were to hack a computer in another country without clearance from that country then it would be as much of an offence there as if it were done by anyone else.

OTOH because crime can be so easily committed across national boundaries there needs to be a means of investigating it and bringing cases to trial in an appropriate jurisdiction. To do so within law requires provision in international law. Some such framework needs to be put in place but that need can't be met simply by telling local police to just go ahead as they see fit.

Beautiful, efficient, data-sucking Smart Cities: Why do you give us the creeps?

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"the vision only really seems to being put into practice by authoritarian city-state strongmen."

Apart from the vendors I can't think of anyone else who'd want it.

Paint your wagon (with electric circuits) but leave my crotch alone

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You're right. It was Dalo that made pens. They were loaded with resist so you could draw out your circuit board and etch it.

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"emerging products such as AgIC’s circuit marker pen"

Maybe it's age playing tricks on my memory but I'm sure that sort of thing was about decades ago, primarily for repairing boards with damaged traces. Maybe "re-emerging" would be more apt.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise in talks to offload software, asking for '$8bn to $10bn'

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How about, once they've finished rewinding all this stuff they get rid of a few top management who obviously never really belonged there and buy Agilent and Keysight. They could put together quite a good business which would be well respected. What could they call it? Hewlett Packard?

OpenBSD 6.0 lands

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"Linux emulation ... removed."

So that rules out OpenBSD for systemd refugees who might just happen to need to run binary-only stuff from Linux land.

That Public Health study? No, it didn't say 'don't do chemo'

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Re: UK Big Data boffins not up to the task?

Maybe some things are best done from a safe distance.

Surge pricing? How about surge fines: Pennsylvania orders Uber to cough up $11.4m

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Re: Commonwealth

"being a Brit, I was only aware of the (British) Commonwealth of Nations."

You should also have been aware that in the middle of the C17th Britain was a Commonwealth under the Cromwells.

Robot cars probably won't happen, sniffs US transport chief

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Re: "A.I. is hard."

Not at all. It'll be ready in about 10 years time. Just like it has been for the last several decades.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Why all the edge cases?

"The objections to car autonomy are always weird edge cases."

Accidents, in case you haven't noticed, are not the norm. They are the weird edge cases.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Easy Peasy way to resolve the question

"Google autonomous cars exist, and currently are tootling around with a human ready to take over when the AI gives up."

Which, when you think about it, tells you a good deal about the confidence currently placed in the ability of the AI. When the situation is reversed we can maybe start thinking that autonomous cars might be a good idea.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 80000 lb truck

"The only question is who is responsible for deciding. Apparently Secretary Hart believes only meatbags should be granted divine authority to decide"

How does the machine decision get made? Ultimately, by a programmer or someone directing the programmer. So how do you characterise that programmer or other someone? Or maybe the programmer is directed by a committee so that responsibility for any decision, however bad, doesn't actually fall on any particular person. A committee decision - what could possibly go wrong?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Looking forward to it

"The software won't be perfect" Very unlikely, I agree

"accidents will happen" A natural consequence of the above

"but less than what some idiots cause now." Evidence?

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"My grandfather had a horse & cart that he used to do that on."

Back in the C18th a several times ggfather was killed falling from his horse. The same diary that records that also records a clergyman killed falling off his horse when drunk. The horse might be an autonomous transportation unit but it isn't safe.

Blackhat wannabes proffer probably bogus Linux scamsomware

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Re: Two words

And a third: fail2ban

L0phtCrack's back! Crack hack app whacks Windows 10 trash hashes

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Re: Microsoft says...

"would the obligatory reference ... help?"


Blink and you missed it: Asteroid came within 90,000 km, only one sky-watcher saw it

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Re: @ Doctor Syntax

But it's like beauty which is only skin deep but then the skin's the only thing you see.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

It makes these asteroid mining ventures a little more realistic. Just wait for the asteroid to land before you mine it - once it's cooled down, of course.

FBI Director wants 'adult conversation' about backdooring encryption

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"US tech firms are, of course, very worried ... any backdoor would kill their sales, both domestically and internationally."

They would of course, have the option of becoming non-US companies. I'm quite sure there are a number of companies that would be happy to accommodate them. Ireland anybody.

They'd have to sell weak encrypted products in the US which is rather ironical. Back in the day the US was very insistent that they should have strong encryption and the rest of the world would have to have weak encryption. If Comey gets his way that might be reversed.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Feels ...?

"How about when law enforcement KNOWS they have probable cause?"

Even better: when law enforcement has sufficiently clear cause to obtain a search warrant.

Life imitates satire: Facebook touts zlib killer just like Silicon Valley's Pied Piper

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"a state-of-the-art probability compressor"

Douglas Adams would have been proud.

Astronauts sequence DNA in space for the first time

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Re: why microgravity should affect DNA

"some unexpected effect of microgravity on the minION tester"

There are millions of gadgets. Are they going to fly examples of all of them to test in microgravity for unexpected effects?

BTW, what sort of sample prep is needed for this? The nanaopore FAQ said read the list of laboratory equipment but didn't provide one that I can find. The idea of using a centrifuge on the ISS seems interesting....

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: They took e coli into space????

What MAF said, plus from the article it appears that they only took prepared DNA samples into space. That avoids all the difficult sample prep work. It doesn't have much to say about what the effects of being in space might have on DNA in living organisms but that could be addressed by before and after sampling on the ground. In fact it sounds more like the sort of thing that you'd get out of a space agency/school publicity stunt: how do these seeds germinate in space etc.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"lambda phage, a bacteria"

Apart from the fact that the singular of bacteria is bacterium, a phage isn't a bacterium, it's a virus.

What I'm really left wondering is why microgravity should affect DNA. Radiation, OTOH, should be a consideration.

Lawyers! win! millions! in! bonkers! Yahoo! email! snooping! case!

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Is there going to be another class action to stop them scanning data at rest?

I have to admire the comment that it's so complicated not scanning messages that having put a mechanism in place to not scan them it would be too complicated to start scanning again. Nice one.

Newest Royal Navy warship weighs as much as 120 London buses

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Re: So, what's it for?

"After the last time they grounded a frigate it was suggested that there was a bit of a training gap - once upon a time we had lots of small coastal vessels"

Wouldn't someone trained on coastal vessels be more likely to ground it when driving something bigger?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 120 London buses

"How many cats would that be ?"

Inappropriate measure for ships. Ships don't have any feet to land on and it's not a good idea to drop them.

Behold: Huawei evokes always-wise God Cloud – with Terminator users

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But can they hang on to their password files?

Missing Milky Way mass blown away by bingeing supermassive black hole

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Although dark matter doesn't interact via EM forces AIUI it interacts via gravity, its existence being deduced by the need for some gravitational effects needed to explain the behaviour of observed matter.

But if it interacts by gravity with observed matter the two should attract each other so why don't these forms of matter co-locate? As observed matter clusters together under the influence of gravity my expectation would be that dark matter would cluster with it instead of being in some form of galactic halo.

Or to put it another way, why aren't we all 10 times heavier than we are (take all junk food jokes as read)?

Cloudy biz Vesk suffers 2-day outage – then boasts of 100% uptime

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Is the Trades Description Act still a thing?

71,000 Minecraft World Map accounts leaked online after 'hack'

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Re: A password manager?

"It's open source."

Not a lot of use to the OP if he can't install anything on his work machine. The best would be to run it on a personal device and then type in passwords manually.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: A password manager?

"So how exactly am I supposed to use a password manager when I don't control the machine I'm working on?"

A good point. It's something that sysadmins need to consider. Add a password manager to standard builds. Encourage its use.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: So we're debating password creation methods ?

"by guessing the year"

There isn't even a need to guess as far as el Reg is concerned. Just click on the handle at the top of the comment.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Correct Horse...

"The first seven characters are from a previously owned vehicles reg plate"

I can only even remember 3 of my car number plates: the first because, well, it was first, second because it was my MG and it was an easy one to remember and my current one because I have to. As soon as one becomes no longer current, it's gone.

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