* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Why Tim Cook is wrong: A privacy advocate's view

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Re: aye but

"The fbi has gone to a court to get apple help it with one device. There is nothing of the fbi wanting a permanent method for all uphones."

There's a good deal of wanting to use an unusual set of circumstances to set a precedent for lots of other circumstances.

Confused as to WTF is happening with Apple, the FBI and a killer's iPhone? Let's fix that

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Re: Simple solution...

"The passcode is needed to unlock the key with which the data is encrypted.

That key is a 256 Bit AES key. You can't brute force that"

Yes, but the whole point of this is that the FBI wants to brute force the passcode. Not the key, the passcode.

They seem to think it can be done if Apple would remove the limitation that 10 wrong guesses will wipe the whole thing. It's not immediately obvious to me why, if the flash memory were to be cloned, this couldn't be done in a VM as the whole memory image could be restored every 10 guesses.

I'd have thought that extracting and cloning such an image is something the NSA would have looked at already and had a method worked out. That makes me suspicious.

Consider the situation. The owner is dead and is unable to object. There's general acceptance that the owner committed several murders - and in due course we can expect a coroner's court to make that official. There's a strong argument that good intelligence relating to terrorism could be obtained. It's about as good a situation as TPTB could have to set a precedent which could be used later in weaker circumstances - a phone seized from a live suspect who's not been charged with a particularly serious offence let alone convicted - in other words a fishing expedition.

All-American Apple challenges US gov call for iOS 'backdoor'

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'the FBI* doesn't want to use the toxic phrase "back door"'

Of course they don't. That makes it important to insist on calling a spade a spade - and a back door a back door.

*Other agencies and nationalities are available.

A third of Brits would cough up £300 to ransomware peddlers

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Useful market research for the baddies!

Bulk sensitive data slurp? You can't stand under our umbrella-ella-ella – EDPS

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"Falque-Pierrotin said, though, that she does not think the Judicial Redress Bill will address those concerns because the Bill would not apply to cases concerning access to data for national security purposes."

It fails to address concerns at a much more fundamental level than that. Redress should not be in the US against whoever abused the data there; data subjects should not be subject to the trouble of taking action in a country in which they do not reside especially where it might well be the government of that country responsible for the abuse. Redress should be in the data subject's home jurisdiction against whoever transferred it to the US.

Cybersecurity is slowing down my business, say majority of chief execs

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"I don't think the issue here is actually managers seeing that security is a barrier, it's security people creating barriers to business instead of realizing the security needs to follow the company line and enable."

One way of looking at security is that it's the ratio between the difficulty between someone trying to do something nasty and the difficulty of someone trying to do their job. There's no point in making the first impossible if you also make the second impossible.

Streetmap's lawyer: Google High Court win will have 'chilling effect’ on UK digital biz

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Re: Innovate, update layout, compete!

"the reason I stopped using Streetmaps was because Google Maps was easy to move around and Streetmaps required me to press an arrow in the direction I want to go"

I find this statement surprising as I can drag Streetmap maps round in much the same way as Google maps. The big advantage of Streetmap is that they're actually full-featured OS maps. Ironically Google maps (as opposed to the overlaid aerial photos are just streemaps.

Failed school intranet project spent AU$1.4m on launch party before crashing and burning

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Learning Management obviously didn't manage to learn.

Ofcom must tackle 'monopolistic' provider BT, says shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah

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"So £2000 is nothing."

OK, so it's nothing. For one house. Now roll it out to a million houses. Pretty soon all those nothings start to add up to real money. The there's the logistics. Let's say you have 100 teams and each team can connect a house a day*. If you want to connect a million homes then that's going to take 10k days, 27 years working 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. How do you scale up the number of teams? Who's going to train them? Where? Are you going to pull workers out of the active times to provide the training and slow the rate of installation down in the mean time? And when they've finished connecting up every home what will the redundancies cost?

*If you have real figures as opposed to illustrative ones please feel free to substitute them.

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"On the other hand, if FTTH were introduced from the start, you would have a ready-made replacement to LLU "

Wrong tense.

s/were/had been/

How short-sighted of the telecoms industry way back in the last century to lay copper (which they had technology to make and use) instead of fibre (which they could neither make nor use).

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Re: All hail!

"Now where's my Trimphone?"

You can't have one. Get back into the queue and one day you can have a black telephone. Do you mind sharing a party line?

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Re: Priorities

"If the Openreach arm of the business was taken back into public ownership (i.e. a public service) then no, it won't have shareholders."

And if the GPO days are anything to go by it wouldn't have much in the way of investment either. Why do you think BT was privatised? Big clue - HMGs of all hues had fought shy of putting money into it at anything like the required rate. Nationalised GPO was the black telephone rationing company.

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Re: Competition is great...

"or to provide free, unfettered access to the ducts and poles"

And the RoI for this will be exactly the same for the competitor as for BT. Or would they have some other advantage which would enable them to do better? Do they have a huge army of fibre layers chomping at the bit that are somehow unavailable to Openreach?

It's partly material costs and partly man*-hours. Both cost money and the rate of supply of man-hours is governed by the number of available men. You could, of course, increase the supply of men but to do that you'd probably have to pull some of the workforce out of the field to act as trainers, then the trainees have to get up to speed.

DAMMIT!!! It's 40 years - FORTY WHOLE YEARS - since Brookes published TMMM and we still have people who don't get it.

*Where "man" signifies a human of any gender.

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Re: Is the issue Openreach

"the "others" e.g. Virgin media, no bothering to invest?"

All the cherries have been picked.

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'But we should have looked more at the investment path for super fast broadband and fibre to the home.'

True. But then she'd have no excuse for magical thinking where all you need is a plan and not money: 'Digital connectivity must be a priority, with a proper plan to roll out networks, according to Onwurah. "I think we should be looking at fibre to the home, although that doesn’t seem to be BT’s view.”'

Virgin Atlantic co-pilot dazzled by laser

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Re: One way mirrors

"The kind of glass that you have in a police line up - not that I've ever been in one ha!"

It works by splitting the light, some reflected, some transmitted. If the witness is watching from a darkened room there's little light coming through and it's easily swamped by the reflected light from the room where the line-up is taking place. Inside the viewing room there's little light being reflected back so it doesn't interfere with the light from the viewing room.

There's nothing "one way" about it, it's just a coating that reflects some but not all light. If both sides of the mirror are well lit each side will see a dim reflection and a dim transmitted image.

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"Sounds like a good way to ensure their drinks licence isn't renewed next time."

And very frequent visits to check licensing conditions are being complied with before the renewal.

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Re: Wouldn't filters

"Block out the useful parts of the light spectrum as well?"

Interference filters can have very sharp responses. As they're thin films deposited on a glass substrate it would be practical to have several filters laid down on a visor blocking just a few nanometres of the visible spectrum in total.

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Re: How about adding the penalty of......

"They need to be certified as safe for aviation use, not interfere with daylight operation and have a lifespan in place of at least 10 years."

So they should be certified. In fact there's a good argument that NOT being so protected is unsafe. And if they're worn rather than fitted to windows why would they need to not interfere with daylight operation and last 10 years?

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Re: How about adding the penalty of......

"Given that commercially available lasers use only a few restricted light wavelengths, isn't it possible to add filters for these to the cockpit windows??"

I was thinking along similar lines. Glasses to be worn when near the ground. It's not particularly new technology. I remember using the converse case - a narrow filter mimicking the sodium doublet at 589.29nm for calibration purposes decades ago.

Blighty cops nab Brit teen for 'hacking' CIA Brennan's AOL email

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CIA's motto

Do as I say, not as I do.

Shopping for PCs? This is what you'll be offered in 2016

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"It's expected that plenty of organisations will look therefore decide 2016's as good a time as any to take the plunge on a new PC fleet, powered by Windows 10."

Let's hope their procurement processes include due diligence on the T&Cs.

Metel malware pops bank, triggers 15 percent swing in Russian Ruble

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Re: Seems like banks are going to have to beef up at last

"it's the numptys that badly configure both OS's that are to blame for 99% of attack vectors."

Numpties clicking on unsolicited files attached to unsolicited emails is another vector. Tell me again, why Windows is configured out of the box to hide suffixes?

This is what it looks like when your website is hit by nasty ransomware

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"Are you sure it was encrypted by a Windows executable?"

Not of my own knowledge but that's what the article says.

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"it takes very little to p0wn an outdated Linux machine as well - without any Windows help"

Running Windows executables requires a bit more - or would they have installed Wine on a server?

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Another possibility is that the scrambled material was under a directory exported by Samba and mounted RW on the infected PC. Still, even if they've no other backup it looks like they could recover from Google cache, and maybe archive.org.

Brit spies can legally hack PCs and phones, say Brit spies' overseers

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Re: Adam Swallows Eve's Apples and Worlds Appear in Heavenly Splendour to Render*

"Would it kill you to write in something at least resembling English, AMFM1?"

The trouble is, it does resemble English. But only a resemblance.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The facts in your suggested case aren't likely to be materially different to those in the assumed one....In reality a private prosecution would fail miserably, the courts would never rule against the government not even in a civil case."

OK, let's think what the facts might be. Say TPTB suspect a particular employee or customer & hack into the business. First of all the business will say "we're a legitimate business. We'd have been happy to cooperate if they'd approached us directly (employee) or with a warrant to cover out backs (customer)." Then they point out that the hack was damaging. A specified back door was left which competitors, criminals, foreign states etc. might have used. They also point out that they're concerned that even if the back door wasn't used by someone else they can't be sure of what data might have been changed by the "authorised" intruders so they've had to pay for an independent audit of their entire data assets in addition to a thorough review and repair of the system software. All costed out to a huge amount. Those would be specific facts which are couldn't be covered by a set of assumed facts in a general hearing.

Cue accusation of misfeasance in public office by the SofS on the basis that it wasn't necessary accompanied by huge bill for all the costs. Then there's reputational loss. Wouldn't a jury find against them on the basis of clear evidence?

The likely situation would be a big out-of-court settlement on the basis of keep quiet and take the money. Which makes one wonder how often that's already happened.

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It would be interesting to see what would happen if someone found GCHQ in their system and took out a private prosecution. The first para of the ruling includes this statement: "The now well established procedure for this Tribunal is to make assumptions as to the significant facts in favour of claimants and reach conclusions on that basis, and only once it is concluded whether or not, if the assumed facts were established, the respondent’s conduct would be unlawful". There's a legal saying that facts alter cases. A specific set of facts in a specific case would seem to override the assumed facts (an oxymoron if there ever was one) of this hearing.

And I wonder if this quote from the act "No entry on or interference with property or with wireless telegraphy shall be unlawful if it is authorised by a warrant issued by the Secretary of State under this section." could be the basis for an argument that it attempts to put the Secretary of State above the law.

When asked 'What's a .CNT file?' there's a polite way to answer

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Re: Stupid customers

"the technical support of the company in question is *extremely* well regarded in the industry"

How's it regarded by their customers?

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Re: What do people do when their computer breaks?

"they must be right, they have a shop"

They were keeping their shop going so they must have been doing something right.

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"In my Mum's case, she's a little more cunning."

She's been managing you like that all your life. Mums are good at it.

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Re: What do people do when their computer breaks?

"Take them back to PC world or get the local bloke to have a look."

My advice on what computer to get was "one you can take back to PC World when it breaks" although these days there's more chance of finding a local shop.

Coding is more important than Shakespeare, says VC living in self-contained universe

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Advice to Khosla

Pour some water into a bucket.

Dip your hand into it.

Take it out again.

Examine the impression you left behind.

iPhones clock-blocked and crocked by setting date to Jan 1, 1970

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Re: Microsoft a decade ahead of Apple

"At least DEC used a standard (that's the Smithsonian's base date) and didn't just pull a random number out of the air"

Julian Day 2400000 no better or worse than any other arbitrarily chosen round number.

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Re: taking Jan 1 as the beginning of the year was historically naive.

It's a fairly complicated set of events. "Years" can start at different dates. Academic years (at least in the UK), for instance, start with the Autumn or Michaelmas (YMMV) term. The church's year started on the assumed date of Christ's conception, 9 months back from Christmas, i.e. March 25, Lady Day. That also became the starting date for a lot of commercial arrangements. However there was also a tradition that January 1st was the start of the year so you may well find dates in the first few weeks of the year being given along the lines of 1722/3. I know of one published early C18th diary which starts years in January and some years are labelled in that fashion and some in modern fashion.

England and colonies stuck to the Julian calendar long after many countries had gone over to the Gregorian (but not all at the same time) and by 1752 the two calendars were 11 days out of sync. This was solved by omitting 11 days from September so the calendar for the start of that month reads 1 2 14 15 16 and January 1st was set as the start of the year in accordance with the Gregorian calendar.

This introduced a potential problem with contracts. That was solved by having the contracts which covered that period run for the appropriate number of days. So a contract taken out on March 25 in 1752 would expire on April 4th 1753 and a new contract would start on April 5th. The "loss" of 11 days was problematic in itself so it's not surprising that nobody wanted to tinker with changing contract terms as part of the legislation. On the basis of not fixing what wasn't broken, nobody has tinkered with it since so the UK financial year still runs from April 5th - and try to visualise the complications and expense it would cause to change that now.

Of course businesses are free to arrange their accounting years whenever they like and if a business thinks it's a good idea to go through the accounting year turnover when everyone's feeling a little under the weather, good luck to them.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"So the world according to Unix began on 1970-01-01"

Not at all. The folks who developed Unix knew about negative numbers. The cal command command, for instance, will calculate calendars for dates much earlier than that. Try cal 1752

They were an erudite lot (more erudite than VCs it seems). man cal in V7 Unix listed as a bug that taking Jan 1 as the beginning of the year was historically naive.

Send tortuous stand-up ‘nine-thirty’ meetings back to the dark ages

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Re: Professional managers

"There is a type of manager who believes that management is a profession in its own right."

I think it is, or at least it's a skill. Unfortunately it's a skill that very few managers have. It's even more unfortunate that so many organisations have a career path that doesn't involve promoting people skilled in their original profession into management. It makes as much sense as, say, promoting a chemist to an accountant (or vice versa). That doesn't stop people doing it. The end result is that the work ends up being done by people who either haven't been doing it long enough to show themselves fit for "promotion" or have been doing it for some time and shown themselves unfit for "promotion" and managed by people who would be excellent at doing the work but are almost all unfit to manage.

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"5. Discussion happens between relevant people after the meeting"

IOW you don't need the actual meeting.

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Obligatory Dilbert


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Re: RE an unlamented fragment of my past

"I don't wear interview clothes except at interviews, and only when pressed."

It's nice that you keep your interview clothes pressed. ;)

I had one client who needed me to go on site at their client's head office & insisted that I wear a suit (there being a heatwave on at the time). You know something's wrong when you're confined in a distinctly un-pressed suit & tie in a meeting with the (client's) client's manager and he's in disreputable shorts, even more disreputable T-shirt and sandals.

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"at least unless BOFH appears to distract me."

Funny you should say that. Where's part 2?

Google wins High Court fight with StreetMap over search results self-pluggery

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Re: Hmm

"Personally I mostly use streetmap"

So do I. AFAIK they don't have any APIs which would enable them to be used by other sites. Possibly there are limitations in their licence with the Ordnance* Survey which prevents this. I wish it were possible to have them in the OpenLayers plugin in QGIS.

*NOT Ordinance!

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"but I do mourn their passing"

Passing? They're still there.

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"I never really bothered with Streetmap - I found it was pretty useless compared to Google Maps"

Really? It's ironic. Google maps are actually no more than road & street maps plus aerial/satellite photography. Streetmap's maps are the real deal OS maps, crammed with detail. But I suppose you actually have to be good at map reading to get the best out of them.

Computer Science grads still finding it hard to get a job

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"IT35 stops tax avoidance"

What's that? Did you mean IR35? That means applying a tax regime that assumes the cash flow of a salaried position* to a business. However I share your concern at the original statement.

* Tax systems are designed by people on steady incomes who believe that that's how everybody else is employed.

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Re: maths... bah!

"The answer was always that in theory there was - but that in practice the real world data was too awkward."

That rings a bell. I and colleagues took a few things to a stats guru. It didn't seem to be the case that the out-of-the-book processes fitted and he produced something tailor made for us.

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Re: Degrees these days....

"1) Did you do any internships? What did you learn there? If you just went on vacation for your summers you're useless to me."

OK, I get the vacation bit. But you were only accepting students who were well enough off not to need paid employment wherever they could get it. Or was that a filter to ensure they could afford to live on the pay you were offering?

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Re: Unfortunately...

"Due to the skills gap, why would you invest in training when these skills are highly transferable and the big players can always outbid you when you've trained a grad to be usable?"

What you actually mean is that the market rate is what the big players pay and if you're not prepared to pay that then you won't attract or retain staff irrespective of whether you or someone else trains them. That's life.

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"However, one of the recommendations ...is to better understand what employers mean when they say they are not fit for the market."

This year, the market is probably looking for 3 years experience in W10.

And whilst grammarians argue that split infinitives aren't really grammatically incorrect they can still be ugly.

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