* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Windows 10 needs proper privacy portal, says EFF

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Re: Even Enterprise spies on users

"There is a difference however, between being able to and actually doing it."

There's a difference between having a website being open to SQL injection and someone having actually exploited it. But if you've any sense you'd anticipate that someone might do so.

And if you're in a strictly regulated environment you'd better give strict thought as to what such a wide EULA allows. I believe MS have some form of agreement to put in place with customers who are in such environments. If they recognise that necessity in such cases why don't they extend it to places where it's only trade secrets, banking details, personal data and such minor matter at risk? In other words, just tear up the existing T&Cs, privacy policy and the like and replace them with something that's fit for the users' purpose?

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Re: Disk 1 of 2079?

"Didn't that actually happen with Windows 3.11?"

Dunno about that but I had it happen restoring a backup. It took me a whole weekend to find the 11th tape someone hadn't labelled.

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“come clean with its user community.”

What part of this does Microsoft understand?

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Re: Even Enterprise spies on users

"Do you have any documented proof of that actually happening?"

Their T&Cs give them the right if you accept them - which is implied by using the S/W. And I distinctly reading a blog by an MS executive "clarifying" the situation which said pretty well what Paul's just said. That seems documentation enough.

It may well be that the breadth of the T&Cs was to cover accidental downloading of more information than they intend. It may be that they never actually do that. It doesn't matter, the legal door is opened and if regulatory requirements are that it be kept shut then it's a real problem for users.

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Re: Disk 1 of 2079?

"To the guy who mentioned disk 37/38 failures, I'll go you one better. "

Trivial. Disk 38/38 is read and it asks for disk 39...

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Re: That EFF document is a solid gold reference

"THEY hold the cards in the form of a MUCH larger application market, especially in headliner games that can't be played anywhere else"

In general the applications that most people count as deal breakers* aren't Microsoft's. They're CAD, Photoshop etc. and if the makers of those were to port them to another OS then there's not much Microsoft could do about it. It's a numbers game, of course. Without the numbers on another platform then there's not reason to port them.

At the moment the desktop is Microsoft's to lose. But they do seem to be working at losing it. If W10 becomes a sufficiently toxic brand that it causes hardware vendors grief then they can either start to offer a choice, say pre-installed Mint, or get together and commission an OS where they call the shots. If, at some point, the ISVs start getting the message "we're not primarily a Windows shop here, can't you support $OS" then those cards can start to drop out of MS's hands PDQ.

*Excluding those who absolutely can't live without some MS Office application. Where that application's PowerPoint the sooner it's taken away from them the better.

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Re: Not listening ...

"Simple answer run win7 in a VM (VBox works well) on your desktop machine, that way you have everything where you need it."

Not really, unless he takes his desktop to client sites.

Ad-blocking ‘plateaus’, claims hopeful ad industry

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TLA Bingo

"I'm not sure you've worked that deeply in the industry. El Reg has a direct sales team, direct CPM rates are likely higher than RTB. You also ignore CPH, "


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"Then you'll need to pay more for your subscription. Those Ads create revenue which has to come from somewhere. The arithmetic isn't hard."

Yes, that's what he was saying. He'd pay something (i.e. more than nothing) for a subscription. Now work this out: he pays the site publisher who only pays his costs. If the site was ad supported the marks whose products are advertised pay* the site and the advertising company who made the ad and the broker who displayed it and the tracking companies and goodness knows how many more.

So the subscription model would be a good deal more cost-efficient. Of course, it's a major problem for the advertising industry and the malvertisers who, as far as the rest of us are concerned, can both just FOAD.

*And what does he get for this payment? A load of pissed off formerly potential customers.

If this headline was a security warning, 90% of you would ignore it

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People doing work that needs concentration concentrate on their work.

Cisco rewards massive profit jump with thousands of layoffs

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Common top management affliction. Isolation at the top leads to dissociation from reality. They start to believe that they earned all that money themselves and that the rest of the staff had nothing to do with it.

Ancient radioactive tree rings could rip up the history books

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"When plants are alive the carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio remains constant, but after they die the ratio begins to decline. A measurement of the ratio, therefore, provides a way to estimate how much time has elapsed since the plant was alive."

This is somewhat garbled. Material is laid down in the cell walls beneath the cambial layer, at the outer edge of the wood. The isotope ratio is that prevailing in the plant at that time, mostly from photosynthesis, maybe some from stored carbon from previous seasons. There may be some additional deposits of material such as tannins within the wood later* but essentially this is the material being dated. The carbon in the wood is not subsequently exchanged with that in other parts of the plant which "remains constant" seems to imply. Once the wood is laid down the isotope ratio starts to change by radioactive decay. In general the outer wood will have a younger radiocarbon date than the inner wood on the same tree.

*In oak this is the difference between sap wood and heart wood.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Wasn't this done decades ago?

"So what's actually new here?"

That was my thought too.

Firstly, if the timber is of a suitable species and comes from an area where there are good dendrochronological records then a good tree-ring sequence should be sufficient. If the timber was imported to the site there's a possibility of identifying the general area it came from.

Secondly, I recall the idea of "wiggle matching" being proposed years ago. Variations in the 14C content have been discussed since the '60s.

AFAICS this would have a place as a dating method for situations for which there are no good dendrochronological sequences. That would include species which are too erratic; someone mentioned alder and pine - the latter are apt to show accelerated growth round just part of their circumference for a few years. It would also include areas where the climate is more equable or where tree growth continues all the year round. A third application would be fragments too small to build a dateable sequence. The disadvantage would be that you'd have to have an approximate date so you know which event you're looking at.

It's as well to remember that all you date is the date of growth of the wood you've got. If you don't have the cambial surface, or at least the start of the sap wood for oak, you don't know how much later the tree was cut and even if you know that you can't necessarily tell when in was incorporated into the actual structure you're trying to date.

Tech support scammers mess with hacker's mother, so he retaliated with ransomware

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Re: I got my virus scammer into a furious antisemitic raving...

Should have asked him where he thought the telephone and computer he was using were invented.

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"but do they usually leave their number so you can give it to the less gullible?"

AFAICS from TFA the scam was a fake ad so there must have been a number to call given on the ad.

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Re: Hair straighteners never turned up?

"Like swearing that tearing newspapers up keeps elephants out of your living room"

Works every time.

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Re: Oh man...

'Expecting the poor guy to get his gear confiscated and then get dragged before the beak in 15 seconds for "hacking".'

Perfectly good defence. He wanted to protect his parents and all other victims by getting rid of the CC details on the scammer's machine.

'There will probably be a "hate crime" accusation thrown in too to round it off, because indjuns.'

No problem. This was in France.

£11bn later: Smart meters project delayed again for Crapita tests

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"Mechanical ones certainly DO run backwards"

Dunno 'bout leccy meters but gas meters do. Years ago my dad was helping a friend do up his kitchen which involved moving the meter. They connected it round the wrong way & it was a while before they noticed. The meter reader commented that they hadn't used much gas. In fact, friend had been burning as much gas as possible to get it back to where it started.

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"given retirement age steadily rising we need a few jobs that are not physically / mentally strenuous that can be done by older folks"

When you get to retirement age you may well find meter reading physically strenuous. Getting down to read a meter in a low cupboard isn't the problem - it's getting up again.

GDS Verify head Janet Hughes steps down

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'a major architecture flaw that could lead to "mass surveillance".'

A flaw? That depends on whether or not it was intended.

Colour us shocked: ISPs not that keen to sign up for Universal Service Obligation

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"The simple solution is to remove the constraints for those who are willing to provide a service - for example by providing free access to Openreach's existing wires and poles in poorly-served areas"

Those will be the areas that they'd left poorly served in the years when BT wasn't even allowed to provide fibre? They cherry-picked the areas they wanted to cable up and now the argument seems to be that they should be allowed to piggy-back on somebody else's investment to do what they weren't prepared to do themselves.

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Re: throttled

You still haven't answered the question. How, without fibre, do they get a 10meg connection out to all their customers?

Some Windows 10 Anniversary Update: SSD freeze

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Re: Why doesn't Win10 support multiple drives better

"The *nix design was not the only design. Windows took a lot from VMS. *nix design is till around only because Torvalds used that model. Had he used another, *nix model would have been quite forgotten."

1. You're allowed to write Unix.

2. VMS is still around?

3. Unix is still around.

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Re: Leaving Microsoft

"I hate to break it to you but the reason openoffice hasn't gained much ground"

I'm surprised to discover how many firends and acquaintances, despite being on Windows, use Open- or LibreOffice. Add to that those who've also given up on Windows as a bad job.

So, and I'm not at all bothered by doing so, I have to break it to you that maybe the pair have gained more ground than you think.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Why doesn't Win10 support multiple drives better

"Yes, trying to use Windows as an OS designed in the '60s won't work,"

Why not? The underlying volume handling always reminded me of something in between PDP-8 & VMS adapted for floppies.

"Just like trying to use Linux as if it was Windows."


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Re: Leaving Microsoft

"Last time I checked, in most schools you have to buy proprietary books"

But books can remain useful for some time afterwards - at the very least you can sell them second hand.

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Re: most MS licencing schemes allow you to install the software on a home device as well

"A trouble shared..."

...is a trouble doubled?

China launches quantum satellite to test spooky action at a distance

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Meanwhile, spookily connected, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/08/15/scots_poltergeist_horror

Coincidence? Huh!

Vodafone: Dear customers. We're sorry we killed your Demon

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Re: Oh well

"The eye-opening thing about that exercise was how bad some sites are at handling updates. There are quite a few where I still have to use the old email address as my logon ID"

Size is no impediment to such hopelessness. Hello IBM.

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Re: Shove it into the cloud

"Customers remember the service they get"

Customers? Remind me, what are they?</PHB mode>

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Re: Just goes to show....

"or get your own domain name if you're up to the technical challenge."

I think the main technical challenges involved are to know it's possible and to know who are the major bar stewards to avoid. You don't have to run your own server.

Summer of Salesforce: CRM cloud swallows tiny pattern-recog firm

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One swallow doesn't make a summer.

Mines the one with Collins book of Birds in the pocket.

London cops waste £2.1m on thought crime unit – and they want volunteer informers

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Re: A Stasi-like State in the making...

"no support for leaving the ECHR"

Translation: "I've just realised we can't leave it because of existing treaty commitments."

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Re: Proposed new crime

"Using social media with intent?"

What about caravans?

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Proposed new crime

Taking (and driving away) of umbrage.

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Re: A Stasi-like State in the making...

"With this news and our departure from the European Court of Human Rights"

Another AC with reading problems.

HMRC: We've got £1.3bn for digital tax schemes. Tell us how to spend it

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"DON'T MESS WITH THE ONLINE SELF-ASSESSMENT SITE. It works. Other than not allowing strange characters in the final comment field"

You know what'll happen if they try to allow such characters? They'll use a new, 17-bit character set unknown in anything else you'll ever see, you won't be able to generate it and it'll completely banjax the entire application.

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Re: Call me old-fashioned...

"how about giving it back."

Unfortunately the Treasury work on the basis that it's all theirs anyway.

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Call me old-fashioned...

...but I'd have thought that the best way to tackle developments is:

1. Decide what to do first

2. Cost it

3. Ask for budget

Can we have an arse about face icon?

Forensics tool nabs data from Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp

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Re: Is this hard? Or are people lazy?

'In my case it's to "prevent casual abuse by staff members or people who find a lost device"'

1. Don't use disk, flash or whatever for temporary storage.

2. Any time a slice of memory is taken with malloc, new or whatever, ensure it's released with a try...finally (or whatever structure is in your programming language).

3. Before releasing memory, write random stuff into it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Is this hard? Or are people lazy?

An interesting exercise: get a copy of photorec and run it against a disk which has had a lot of files deleted. From a security point of view it's alarming but very handy for recovering lost stuff.

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Re: Is this hard? Or are people lazy?

"Are people lazy or is scrubbing data harder than I might think?"

Obvious question - scrub it from where? Memory? Database? Filesystem?

In general "deleting" data is simply unlinking it from whatever structure it's in, memory, disk, whatever. Eventually that resource will be reused and the unlinked data overwritten. In order to scrub it you'd have to overwrite it (depending on the level of attack you're anticipating, maybe overwrite it several times) before unlinking it.

That's the first consideration. The next is the number of copies there might have been. Has the OS swapped it from memory to disk? Has it relocated it in memory? If it's been read from disk is it still in a buffer somewhere? This stuff is all done out of sight of the application programmer.

So, yes, depending on how hard you think it is, it is probably harder.

Baffled Scots cops call in priest to deal with unruly spirits

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Re: Applying the cynicism filter...

" Cops ... decide to enter the spirit of things."

Nice one.

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'God will “soon admonish humanity in a very powerful manner.”'

Do Farcebook, Twatter, Trump and Brexit count as admonishments?

Accountancy software firm Sage breached in apparent insider attack

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Re: The difficulty with cloud

"the ones with no history just havent been attacked yet or are telling porkies."

Or have been but not yet discovered it.

POS malware stings 20 US hotels

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Re: POS?

"To me POS will always mean something else entirely."

There's nothing to say it can't mean both at once. In fact, the evidence suggests it does.

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News? It's rapidly getting to the state where "No US hotel chain breaches discovered today" would be a headline.

Business users force Microsoft to back off Windows 10 PC kill plan

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Re: Microsoft start listening to people outside your bubble

"Thunderbird doesn't do calendaring."

Thunderbird + Lightning?

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Re: What will it take to get people to switch to Linux?

"The 'security by obscurity' that comes from using a less common product "

This 'security by obscurity' thing. Are you trying to apply it to Linux, BSD or any other open source product? Because you can download and read the whole of the source code. Every last character of it. What's obscure about that?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Linkedin

"Yeah, any hope their shareholders had that he wouldn't make stupid acquisitions went out the window when he did that."

It seems to be a perfect fit with all the "telemetry".

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