* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The year the BBC died

I doubt the Beeb will miss you either.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Scrap the BBC

"All it shows is crap now a days."

How do you explain the large audience it gets? And before you trot out the obvious answer, bear in mind that that audience might consider your preferred viewing to be crap.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: License per concurrent device connected.

"Is that a contravention of the law?"

it depends if it's running under mains power whilst you're watching - assuming, of course, that you don't have a long mains lead plugged in back at your place. Or something like that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the UK is not leaving the ECHR or the EU"

The latter remains to be seen. The former, even May has admitted can't happen - much as she'd like to.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I got exactly one letter.

@Richard 12

Have you any idea how unpopular it is round here when you come up with facts?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Once upon a time detector vans existed

"it is inevitable there is a case where guilt or innocence on the available evidence comes down to a simple mathematical probability at which point a threshold has to be determined."

Not really. If you take a typical trace material investigation you're effectively saying there's a 1 in x chance of this material being found on someone being hauled in at random and asking the jury to decide if x is a big enough number. But the situation is that the defendant shouldn't have been hauled in at random, there should be other reasons to have arrested him. That should also be part of the evidence. You should have multiple lines of evidence coinciding.

What I'm not happy with (as per Bazza's fingerprint case) is someone with a match in the records being charged and that match being the only evidence submitted.

Basic scientific method is that you form a hypothesis (for some good reason, not at random) and then try test it by trying to disprove it. You look for tests which make it difficult for the confirmatory result to be obtained by chance.

If fingerprint or DNA is the most discriminatory technique at your disposal then if that's your original reason for suspicion your confirmatory evidence, by definition, isn't going to be as good. If you allow for the fact that there could be an innocent basis for the fingerprint or DNA being found (including contamination in the case of DNA) then the case is actually resting on less good evidence.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"funding the BBC out of general government revenue like we do Down Under with the ABC"

I saw what Oz TV was like several years ago. The closest I could compare it to would be having all channels produced by UTV.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The Elephant In The Room

"Actually its high time the BBC was ... run as a proper state-funded public service broadcaster"

State-funded and, therefore, state-controlled. No. Just no. The more the whole thing is arms-length from the state the better.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"U.K. outside the protection of the ECHR"

How many times do they have to be told? ECHR is not part of the EU.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"everything else is seemingly out to get you"

Not all the flora. I have a certain regard for their local Vitis vinifera.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Sir Amyas

"A website owner can't use their own logs to determine which IP address has been used by site visitors, even if legal infringements are suspected? What's the reasoning behind that?"

ISPs who don't hand out static addresses.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Hounded

"As for detector vans, the only way they could effectively have ever worked would be if there was someone inside snooping on the sound coming from a home"

No, as Bazza has pointed out the local oscillator, at least with the old valve sets, churned out a fair amount of leakage. Knowing the local channel frequencies and the IF of set (which were standard but I can't remember what that was) you could not only detect the set but identify what it was tuned to. I suspect modern sets might not be so verbose.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Once upon a time detector vans existed

"I don't suppose you're much of a fan of how forensic examinations are now commissioned. Forensics used to be a way by which suspects could be eliminated as well as identifying perpetrators."

You're right on both counts.

I'd have gone further in my day. We were a civil service dept. ultimately managed by a govt. department. I was never aware of any interference in case work but they did have an influence on promotion (it's odd how I was offered a promotion with no paperwork let alone the formality of an interview board and outside the normal annual cycle as soon as I handed in my notice after being sat at the top of the scale for several years). Nevertheless, on the basis of justice being seen to be done I think there should have been a supervisory board containing at least one judge and at least one regular prosecution QC and at least one regular defence QC. However the position with the Met lab was even worse as they were part of the Met Police.

Good point about those BT hubs!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Once upon a time detector vans existed

"there is actually a legal definition of the level of mathematical certainty required for Beyond Reasonable Doubt - and it is, if I remember correctly, much lower bar than many would think - something like there has to be better than an 18 : 1 chance of being right"

If that's so it must be a relatively recent decision (last 30 years is recent - I'm getting old!) otherwise I'd never have heard of it. Have you got a citation for that?

Where things could be reasonably well calculated such as blood groups (and no, that's not just ABO, it included a lot of blood enzymes as well) that was just quoted and the court could make up its own mind, taking into account all the evidence. However I'd have explained just what 1 in 18 - or any other number meant and I don't think any reasonable jury would convict on that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Told you so. RIPA, an antiterror law. RIPA should just drop the terror bit and be called the anti law. If you're anti-something, you're probably breaking RIPA."

Meanwhile: https://www.privacyinternational.org/node/915

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Once upon a time detector vans existed

'As defence you're not even allowed to challenge the "expert" evidence in court or even discuss probabilities.'

As an ex-forensic scientist I've spent many hours in court being challenged*. The closest your statement resembles reality is that no counsel I encountered on either side displayed a knowledge of statistics.

From time to time we encountered defence "experts". They would come into the lab to use our equipment to examine the evidence. A number of times I've had to take an "expert" through the controls of a comparison fluorescence microscope. One "expert", redundant, I believe from some industrial job, would take on cases involving all manner of evidence types; within the lab we had our own specialities and stuck to those.

I left before DNA came into use. I do share some reservations about that. I read the original paper, which depended on matching electrophoresis patterns of DNA fragments shortly after looking into the statistics of matching patterns of damage on shoe prints and suspected that there were assumptions in the pattern matching which hadn't been dealt with. Modern techniques don't depend on this but have now become so sensitive that contamination is a problem and I've read of at least one forensic scientist being in trouble for not taking this into account.

"Signal != Person"

AFAIA it's the householder's responsibility to obtain a TV licence so if the network is within the household it doesn't matter who's using it - providing it can be demonstrated that it wasn't a neighbour attaching themselves to it.

*I've also had the experience of a prosecution barrister trying to get me to put more significance on an item of evidence than I considered that it bore - and eventually being rescued by an objection from the defence.

Microsoft: You liked Windows 10 so much, you'll get 2 more in 2017

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Even my 11-year-old granddaughter expresses a wise preference. It turns out that she's used both at primary school and prefers 7.

Her mother let her own laptop upgrade to 10. I wonder what she's going to way when Little Orphan Annie arrives on it, adverts & all.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Happy with anniversary update

"Now you can really use the power of the Linux commandline and scripting under Windows"

But wouldn't you be better off running it under Debian or Suse or Slackware or...?

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Re: Ample is as good as a feast

"Which part of Microsoft do you work for?"

He doesn't. He's from another planet - possibly another Universe.

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Re: Just can't fathom what Microsoft is trying to do

"Does anyone really *like* what MS is doing these days?"

MS love it. They're giving themselves as much access as they want to your PC.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Windows 10

'For the life of me, I cannot understand why M$ thinks it's OK to remove control over the configuration of production machines. I guess they just assume that only Enterprise Edition customers use their computers for "real work," and the rest of us just play Candy Crush Soda Saga.'

Haven't you worked that out? Even if you only use one computer for real work you're supposed to go out and entangle yourself in enterprise-scale licensing and costs. There may be an option coming a little later for a remote desktop terminal install which just signs you in to do all your work on Azure.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Windows 10

"If I were in charge I would certainly hold off on rolling out any more OS "features" for a while."

That's because you don't understand frog-boiling. There's a strategy at work here.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: do you enjoy

"Sometimes even by people who know how to spell complicated polysyllabic words like "masochist"."

Maybe he was accusing you of being both a masochist and Masonic.

Privacy warriors drag GCHQ into Euro human rights court over blanket spying, hacking

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Why single out the UK government? Did they think it would be an easy target?

Why not try the same thing against the US government"

Because it's UK legislation that's being challenged.

Because the UK is a signatory of the ECHR where C = Convention.

Because the UK is subject to the jurisdiction of the ECHR where C = Court.

Because none of the above apply to the US.

Is it really so difficult to understand?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Did you know that leaving the EU also doesn't get us out of the Eurovision song contest,"

Bad news.

"but it will mean the remaining EU members will give us nil points."


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Re: Brexit?

"Has no-one told you the ECHR isn't the EU?"

Lot's of people keep telling them. These repeated comments tell you a lot more about Brexiteers than about either the EU or the ECHR.

Continuous Lifecycle 2017 call for papers is open

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

This continuous lifecycle thing: does it refer to plugging conferences continually throughout the year?

Render crashing PCs back to their component silicon: They deserve it

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Windows getting its own back on you?

"Don't tell me there are Word-compatible applications on Linux - I've head it all before, they are not fully compatible. They send the formatting crazy, reflow the text, tear tables apart and balk at docx files."

IOW you were running Word. Perfectly possible with Wine.

Bimodal IT: Let the backlash begin

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

The fact is that giving abstract ideas names enables people who couldn't actually do any of it to save their lives to have conversations make money out of about them, to refine them

Microsoft adds new 'Enterprise Products' section to privacy policy

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"we have a signed BAA, which prevents them from messing about with our data"

Hope springs eternal.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "If you give up your mates' details"

"I presume currently it has it's own privacy policy which would take precedence."

Having seen LinkedIn's invitation spam send an invitation to a mailing list I suspect their privacy policies already conform to MS's requirements.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Secure Architectures. Microsoft options and alternatives.

"More details on this topic are at: https://www.linkedin.com/..."

The irony!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: 'Among the interesting changes...'

"Am I (more) safe from Microsoft snooping?"

No. You may receive mails from or send them to MS users.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: What is there left to be said...

" For example the app-store, there is 0 technical invention (that pre-existed on Linux)"

Apple OS is based on BSD Unix. BSD Unix pre-dates Linux.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

'Now why the hell would I want my "experience" personalized?'

The E word is always a "must avoid" indicator.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "If you give up your mates' details"

"The ability to link such data into the LinkedIn repository must be very tempting..."

Looking at from the other direction, why do you think they bought LinkedIn?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Well Said Sir!

"Nobody any sense or a half-way competent legal department would sign up to those conditions."

Those without sense won't run it past their legal departments anyway. Legal departments need to be pro-active in this. Sadly, being in a legal department doesn't guarantee sense; I wonder how many legal depts. and law firms are actually using these products already.

Ofgem sets up database so energy companies can spam Brits

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: market paremeters are wrong

"Why are we automatically switched to the providers expensive standard tariff at the end of a term?"

Because marketing departments bonuses depend on the success of their bait and switch schemes.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Could elReg please go back to ofGem, get the name and email address of a specific contact to whom we can address our concerns and publish it as an updaye. If they haven't appointed one yet their CEO would be a fine substitute until such time as they do. If they refuse, publish their exact grounds for refusal.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"One way to minimise energy bills and make sure everyone is treated faily would be to have a nationalised energy system."

Yup. "Faily" would be about right.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: This cannot end badly

"Great news for the Royal Mail I suppose."

It depends on who pays for return to sender.

Londoner jailed after refusing to unlock his mobile phones

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: How long for theft?

"obstruction of justice (why is this not the charge for failing to disclose the passcode anyway?)."

IANAL but maybe possible self-incrimination could be grounds for challenging obstruction, hence the need to create a separate offence. At some point this seems likely to go to the ECHR. An accompanying charge of possession of two firearms isn't the best case to take to the ECHR, however.

Cray profits literally go up in smoke after electrical incident

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: That didn't hurt, did it...

Re you saying there's no smoke without fire?

Australia hires former head of controversial UK care.data plan

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Re: how in the world

"How does someone who has already proven himself to be completely inadequate for the job get the position anyway?"

I think it tells you a lot about the attitudes of those making the appointments.

Simply not credible: The extraordinary verdict against the body that hopes to run the internet

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Surely by now they've had enough opportunities to clean up their act. It's time to open up to tender; ICANN or any organisation with ex-ICANNers in its management need not apply.

Forget security training, it's never going to solve Layer 8 (aka people)

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Making legit look phishy

"But what's to stop a phisher from duplicating EVERY SINGLE THING the legit e-mail can throw"

As Mike said, have the legit e-mailers send harmless mail. Then the phishers can duplicate this to their hearts' content - they'll be sending harmless mail.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

@Mike 16:Re: Making legit look phishy


Get rid of marketing departments.

Microsoft takes five months to replace broken patch

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Re: This is why Windows is no longer viable.

"The most evil trick you can pull in that respect is to have such a breach be questioned in the House of Commons"

This is probably harder than preventing a Windows 10 infection.

$67M in bitcoin stolen as hacking typhoon lashes Hong Kong's Bitfinex

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Confused ... a little.

"There's too many holes for a committee to have come up with it."

I admire your faith in committees.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"They don't hold significant gold or reserves to back them up. Not since the end of the gold standard decades ago anyway....The differences between virtual and traditional currency is less than many people think though!"

Gold as a means of backing up currency worked because it was a substance in limited supply which everyone agreed to treat as valuable. Fiat currencies came about because the essential agreement failed. Bitcoins were devised to be limited in supply. The essential difference between them and gold is that they're virtual, not substantial. As "traditional" currencies are now fiat currencies the virtual currencies are more similar to the now obsolete gold-standard currencies.

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