* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Ireland's international tech sector bumps up against language barrier

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It starts in the schools...

Given an interest in ancient Irish history - well, pre-history to be exact - I can sympathise with the aspiration to preserve an ancient tradition. Not that I had much sympathy with preserving an ancient language when we had compulsory Latin at school.

But language exists to enable communication and I always had the impression that the political drive for Irish language teaching was closer to restriction of communication. Maybe it's now come back to bite them.

Windows 10 build 14342: No more friendly Wi-Fi sharing

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Re: Good

"You have to wonder whats going on at that company sometimes."

You also have to wonder why, having come to their senses and dropped it, they do so on the basis of some waffle about the effort needed to maintain it. They might at least get the brownie points for doing the right thing for the right reason.

Laser-zapping scientists will save the Earth from meteorite destruction

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I know the Antarctic's pretty cold but nevertheless the meteorites will have been heated up in the atmosphere before they landed. So will they be in the same state as they were in as the intended targets and if not will their behaviour be any guide as to how useful the technique actually is?

IBM's Internet of Things brainbox foresees 'clean clothes as a service'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "“clean clothes” as a service, charging consumers by the wash"

"the concept of the laundrette."

That's not "as a service". It's "as a self-service".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: They are still missing the point.

"We told the washer that the old one had gone to play at a farm in the countryside."

I hope you were lying to it. Too many old appliances go to play at farms in the countryside these days.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Yes, it's the same Andy Standford-Clarke who will be delivering one this year's Reg summer lectures."

So exactly what useful information will we get from a man who obviously has never heard that laundries are a thing and have been for a very long time.

Blocking ads? Smaller digital publishers are smacked the hardest

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"They will never EVER loosen the grip as the greed blinds the logical thinking."

That's not a problem. We'll loosen it for them. With adblockers.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Their loss someone else's gain

"The remaining advertising may induce me to buy from the supplier that spends the most on advertising"

Really? Advertising influences me to buy from someone else who isn't trying to stick their fingers in my eyeballs and ears.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Because it means that publications like The Register will go bust.

"For a national newspaper my guess is about £400/year will keep the lights on if a reasonable (i.e. more than The Independent's) audience takes them up."

Very unlikely. The numbers who are prepared to pay £400 pa wouldn't be enough to keep 15w lights on.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: stand to lose over $27bn (£18bn) by 2020 due to ad-blocking

"they stand to not EARN"

I'm not even sure "earn" is the right word here. Earn has a connotation have having done something useful in order to get paid.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @kryptonaut RE: "...you won't get content..."

"The point is that allowing ads to be served with the content (without them being blocked) is what pays for a lot of sites."

Look. Stop this nonsense. Just read through the comments. We really, really, REALLY hate ads (and, as a consequence, the products advertised). They annoy. They distract. They obstruct content. They are possibly malware.

The days when you could inflict that sort of ad on users are gone. They're not coming back. Never. Not in response to any amount of haranguing.

Now the publishing and ad industry have to stop, accept that as a fact and decide how they operate in the new world. Subscription. Non-intrusive ads served by a route that positively ensures no malware. Both are possibilities but you just have to accept the fact: the old days are NOT coming back.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: RE: "...you won't get content..."

"At the end of the day, website publishers are offering a package to the public"

That package currently includes the possibility of being hit by malware and adverts which are so downright annoying that they're more likely to lose business for the advertising client.

And your real problem isn't the likes of Reg readers blocking ads. It's those clients of whom there are probably a growing number, using adblockers because they find other advertisers ads annoying. At some point it's going to dawn on them that just as they find other ads annoying the rest of us see them in the same way. Then they're going to start asking themselves why they're paying good money to give themselves such a bad image.

The advertising industry's big problem isn't going to be ads not being seen, it's going to be ads not being sold. And the industry has had enough warning over the last few years but they're just so full of themselves that they can't believe they're so disliked.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"And you won't get the content that a fraction of that $27bn would have financed. Win!...?"

I take it you're from either the publishing or advertising industry so answer this. Can you guarantee - to the extent that you're prepared to accept complete liability, that your system won't ever push malware? Until you can, don't bother coming here and whining about lost revenue or content; go away and sort yourselves out. Then come back and maybe we'll listen to your problems. Even so, I won't guarantee that being pestered won't lose your advertisers any business they might have had from me.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: We need a cultural shift towards paying for stuff.

"And I'll hold my hands up and say I'm as guilty as the rest of you of not sticking my hand in my pocket."

The likes of adblock & noscript occasionally put up donation pages so I make donations and to LibreOffice. I also pay my domain registrar/email provider and usenet service. The issue isn't unpreparedness to pay. If sites I find frequently useful had donation links I'd donate periodically and maybe subscribe to regularly used sites if they are set at an affordable level. But most paywalled sites I see links to are those I'd scarcely visit even if they weren't paywalled but it stands to reason that I can't make payments to sites which don't make provision for that however often I might visit.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Who knew ?

"Static images and text hosted by the website you are visiting might be less convenient to bust people's privacy or manage for the advertiser"

OTOH there might be less need to bust privacy. The page has specific content. In many cases the ads can be related to that. If, for instance, I'm looking at a site giving hints about laying block paving advertisers need know nothing about me to make it worth while advertising block paving materials, tools or services on that page.

A UK-wide fibre broadband investment plan? Don't ask awkward questions

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Re: It's just the how and when that's missing.

Would you be prepared to pay realistic costs for your own installation? If not, who do expect to pay and why?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I'm sure that we had this exact same discussion in 2012; and in 2008; and in 2004 and in 2000"

Of course. The distances in rural Britain haven't changed. The ground hasn't got any easier to dig. And people who want the earth in bandwidth still expect someone else to pay for it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: it amazes me..

"I can't think of a single reason why I'd pay an extra few quid a month"

And given the cost of retro-fitting a lot of premises it would likely be a lot more than a few quid a month.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"It's got to be easier to get 5G out to every rural location than to get a fibre cable there"

It may be easier to get 5G there but it still doesn't provide the bandwidth.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

'Dan Lewis, senior advisor on infrastructure at the Institute of Directors, says BT's recent FTTP investment plans were "profoundly underwhelming."'

I wonder how many members of his institute would sanction their own businesses making investments that would be 'would be too costly and take decades to yield a return on investment.'

It comes down to money and resources - which again comes down to money. Just how many people are available to do this?

Rolling out FTTP to new Ps is one thing (and then finding that in some cases the occupants only want to pay for POTS) as the cost of the work to lay it will be comparable with laying copper which would have been done anyway. It's replacing the existing network that's extra and may well be more expensive than laying fibre through a building site.

Looking at my own situation, the existing copper comes underground about 25 metres from the manhole of which about 10 metres has been covered in concrete post installation. It enters the house through a hole drilled though 2 foot thick concrete foundations. The access to that from the outset is part of the concrete cover and is capped off with stone flags. Even getting access to the inside of the foundations would take the best part of an hours work and the cost of making good the external access would be horrendous. Unless the original installation involved laying a duct through which fibre was blown this one house would be prohibitively expensive to retro-fit. Repeat that for every other house where post-installation driveways etc have covered up the original ground works. Unless the occupants would be prepared to pay for installation it simply isn't going to happen.

Congress calls for change to NSA spying law

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

'no one has "ever found any instance of an intentional violation of the law."'

That sounds to be right out of Sir Humphrey Appleby's Public Enquiries for Dummies. Public enquiries are, of course, set up to accumulate a mass of non-evidence.

At the BBC, Agile means 'making it up as we go along'

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Re: Shocking

You didn't mention DevOps once, let alone the minimum of five times. Go sit on the naughty step.

Adjust your Facebook, Twitter privacy settings, judge tells jurors in Oracle-Google Java trial

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

My comment elsewhere in this thread about jury selection in NI brings to mind a possible solution.

The so-called Diplock courts there ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplock_courts )* were held without jury to avoid the very real risk of jury intimidation. The judge acted as a tribunal of fact as well as of law. The process of announcing a verdict was very different from that of a jury.

In a jury trial a judge reviews the evidence drawing the jury's attention to relevant areas** but leaves it up to the jury to make up their own minds as to which witnesses they believe and what weights they place on different items of evidence. A jury considers it and simply gives a verdict of guilty or not guilty with no explanation.

A Diplock judge reviewed the evidence and gave a reasoned verdict. The reasoning would go beyond any simple review. He would place on public record the sorts of considerations of fact that a jury would have kept in the jury room. I'm not sure whether, under the particular legislation of Diplock, this reasoning could be challenged in a higher court but in principle such a reasoned argument could be reviewed on appeal.

This seems to me a basis for a court which could decide technical cases. The judge would sit without jury and give a reasoned verdict combining technical and legal issues. In order to assist the judge the court would be able to appoint one or more lay(in the legal sense) technical advisors*** to sit on the bench with the judge, hear evidence and legal arguments and, like the judge, question witnesses and lawyers. They would then assist the judge in formulating a reasoned verdict. Parties would be able to appeal the verdict on the basis of both the technical and legal reasoning.

* The Republic of Ireland also had non-jury court but the bench consisted of three members. AFAIK these were two judges of different rank and a magistrate.

** Judges have been known to try to lead juries to specific verdicts and juries have been known to ignore this.

*** This raises the question of where such advisors might be found. The advisor(s) would ideally to be acceptable to both parties and one possibility might be to have the parties draw up an agreed panel of advisors. If they were unable to agree the judge might then choose his own, either from a balanced choice of the two parties nominees, from submitters of amicus curae briefs or from his own research. In the longer run it's likely that a panel of available experts would emerge to serve as advisors with a formal appointment process.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The American Way

"in the UK we trust our Juries to do the right thing...Having served on several"

I don't know where you served but in NI I have seen individual jury panel members turned down. Each side has the right to a number of peremptory challenges and to challenge with cause over and above that number.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The technical bits

"Jurors ... are also ignorant of what necessarily constitutes copyright."

This is something on which the judge should instruct them in his summing up. That's taken care of. It's non-legal technicalities where the system has got too far behind.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


For the last line. A real gem!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"As often happens in tech cases, ignorance in jurors is seen as preferable, despite the fact that cases such as this often rely on a good understanding of complex technology and technological concepts...Google's argument that its use of those copyrighted APIs constitutes fair use"

It seems an odd situation to me. I'd have thought it was a matter of law rather fact and for law the judge is arbiter.

Traditionally a jury's role was to work out who was telling the truth and the judge did the technical bit, i.e. the law. When we have other technical issue to consider neither seems really appropriate. I don't know what the answer is but it seems to me that there's a real problem here.

Can ad biz’s LEAN avert ADPOCALYPSE?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The IAB

This goes along with a point which I only touched on obliquely in my long post yesterday. The IAB will have no success with herding the cats until there have been enough bankruptcies in the industry that not surviving becomes a stark possibility for the rest.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"maybe they'd value the feedback about what people think oftheir ad"

No, they'd just want praise and a free pass for it to be shown.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


Untrue but not for the reasons you give. I don't like being pestered and will go out of my way to avoid doing business with people who do it. This isn't an idle threat, in fact it's not a threat at all, it's a statement of what I have done & will continue to do. If the advertising industry had any wit at all it would take adblockers as the most valuable tracking information a user could - an indication that advertising to this person will be counter-productive.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"an actual person, or Cockney Rhyming Slang."

Are these mutually exclusive?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

The real adpocalypse won't be the likes of us blocking ads, nor all those millions out there. They'd lose some clicks or views or whatever they're charging for. The entertaining budget might be cut. Some smaller firms might go under or get merged. Some of the cannon fodder might have to go back to selling double glazing, pimping contractors or whatever they were doing before but on the whole the industry would survive to carry on its noxious ways.

What the ad industry should be really worried about is some of their clients who will undoubtedly be adblocking as well. After all ads get in their faces as much as ours. Eventually some of them will start to realise that they're not special snowflakes and that the way they see other advertisers is the way they're seen by the rest of us. Then they'll wonder why they're paying good money to be perceived as pestering brats who everyone tries their best to avoid. The industry won't worry about ads not being seen as it will about ads not being sold.

I suspect that the initiative comes from those in the industry who've sussed this out. But they have some problems.

First they have the problem that not all the industry are going to share this insight. We've had a flavour of the others from their regular cheerleaders who pop up here. They have an impenetrable sense of entitlement. They behave like badly brought up children who believe almost everybody loves them except for a few who are simply misinformed. It may well be that trying to accommodate this faction is why their idea of LEAN is nothing like what would be acceptable.

The next problem is that once they have their idea of LEAN they have to get it accepted by their industry. Given the general sense of entitlement there'll be a good number (?most) who think it's a good idea in general and if everyone else goes along with it we'll be able to get away with ignoring it. Good luck with the cat herding.

Then, however, much industry buy-in and even compliance they get they still have the problem of malvertising. These people aren't even in the industry, they're just riding on top of it. They're not going to be brought into the fold.

So not only are they going to have to bring the actual advert creators, or a good chunk of them, into line, they're going to have to set up much better engineered networks to ensure that only compliant ads get on there and that malvertising absolutely can't; the latter ought to be backed up with a scheme to accept unlimited liability for damage. Given the complexity of their present setup such re-engineering is going to take some doing. I doubt they could succeed without shutting down a lot of the players which seems unlikely to happen.

If the best that they can achieve would be some "good" networks they then have to persuade publishers to only deal with the good ones. Nobody will trust a publisher who unpredictably slings a mixture of LEAN, non-LEAN and malicious ads.

Finally they need to find a way in which they can tell the public which publishers guarantee only to use the "good" networks so they could be whitelisted. Nobody's going to turn adblockers off if one site is safe and the next isn't, especially if the bad one is linked from the good.

Those are the technical challenges they face and have to solve before they can even start asking us to trust them at which point they have further challenges because the ad industry is its own worst enemy despite all our shouts of "Not while I'm alive, it isn't.". By the very nature of their business we regard them as liars. They've also pissed us off to the extent that they have zero goodwill to trade on. And finally I think they still have an attitude problem which isn't going to go away and isn't going to help any charm offensive they might try to mount.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


"We don't track those metrics."

Another metric not tracked is the number of real and potential customers who show their displeasure at being pestered (by any medium) and take their business elsewhere.

Ireland's hefty data industry demands equally big industry cop

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"a competent and mature regulatory environment that these multinational data-guzzlers would want to operate in."

I'd have thought it was just the sort of environment they'd want to avoid. It's one their more thoughtful customers would want them to operate in but then the customers don't have much choice. Insurance customers have more choice which is why it's important to provide a strongly regulated market.

This is what a root debug backdoor in a Linux kernel looks like

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Vulnerable?

"The echo is really quite important"

And if you don't know why it's important it's one of many things you should find out first. Another is why, having done that, you should NOT then enter commands such as rm -rf /

Becoming root on a Unix-style device gives you the ability to do many things, some of which are ill-advised and destructive to the device's software.

Learn first.

Actually, one of the best ways to learn is to set up a Linux instance that you can treat as disposable in a VM.

London NHS trust fined £180,000 after second bcc fail on HIV email list

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It happened before. It will happen again

"Two months later I received an email (yes an email!) advising me that as I had not responded the matter was considered closed."

In the circumstances I'd have replied that they might consider the matter closed but I didn't and as they hadn't reported the incident to the DPA I would now do so.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Mailing list software please

"Or with their management, who also don't know better?"

In this case they'd already been fined. The management have zero excuse for not knowing better.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"lucky to get the funds to send the email button pusher on a data privacy awareness course"

Then how are they going to pay the fine(s)?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "accidentally"

"the endemic problem of upside down conversations"

I once saw, and sometimes use, the following as a sig:

the flow.

breaks up


Experian Audience Engine knows almost as much about you as Google

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I was approached in the local shopping centre by a lady offering me a credit building credit card."

I had a similar experience when WH Smith was letting Talk-Talk button-hole people just inside the door. I explained in as loud a voice as possible (I counted it as a public service) why I'd changed ISP after Talk-Talk had bought out my previous one.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Wrong approach

"sellotaped to a brick"

It doesn't work - it won't go through the letter box slit.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: New adnotblocker needed

"otherwise it's all coming back from the same IP address."

I think that was the point - to poison the data.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "decisioning"

"It started with 'burglarizing'"

Or maybe 'envision'. There is a perfectly good word for what they're trying to say: 'envisage'.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Former Experian developer here

The odd thing is that when all this data is collected and mines none of the businesses who buy it ever manage to work out a few simple things. Such as bad service pisses off customers. Unwanted pestering pisses of customers. Pissed off customers go elsewhere.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "The company claims that it is privacy compliant"

"it only sells your data to those who pay"

The rest just help themselves.

Microsoft bods tell El Reg: We've re-pivoted open-source .NET Core

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That's enough on its own to deserve a boycott.

French maverick sniffs around O2

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: That french maverick could be a blessing

"throttled any non-port80 traffic"

Something similar happened to my old ISP when TT bought them. Does saying that amount to an accusation of shady practice?

Small broadband firms aren't fussed about getting access to BT's ducts and poles

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "Former" is a slightly misleading description

"we were actually much better off when the network we paid (and are still paying) for lay entirely under our control"

That was primarily POTS terminating in black telephones - when your turn came round. Why? Because there wasn't enough money to invest to get it up to scratch.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Is this progress?

"If there were a war on,there would be a requisition order to get it sorted....yesterday,job done."

I'm sure BT would love your advice on how to do this.

How many households?

How many hours per household (ALL of them, not just the easy ones)?

How many skilled people are available?

From that you should be able to work out how long it will take in the real world. Or do you have a reserve army of installers you can call on? And if you're going to recruit an extra army what are the costs of making them redundant?

Now let's have a look at the capital needed.

How much plant for trenching?

How much fibre?

How many customer units at what price?

How much extra equipment at the network core and at what price?

What's the total come to?

Where are you going to borrow it, at what terms over what period?

Divide the annual cost of borrowing and repayment and tell us whether you think it works out at a price the customers will pay. If the take-up isn't sufficient how do you stop the entire business going down the tubes? Re-nationalise it to pick up the debt at the taxpayer's expense?

Yes, it's easy to type "get a requisition order". That's the PHB view of things.

Official: Microsoft's 'Get Windows 10' nagware to vanish from PCs in July

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Back in the real world

"One factor is support for camera peripherals... Not the sort of things most Linux users ... commenting here care about."

True because it's not a thing that needs much care expending on it. The OS sees that the camera's there & offers itself to any software that looks for image source. If I fire up Sane, for instance, it's available alongside the scanner.

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