* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

How hard can it be to kick terrorists off the web? Tech bosses, US govt bods thrash it out

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The problem the intelligence community is stuck with is that it has lost the trust of the people it is supposed to serve. Neither Apple, Google nor anyone else can repair that trust for them, it's a job they have to do themselves. Frankly, I don't see how they can do that but a useful first step would be to stop all the bluster and admit it publicly. A few resignations would be the next step. Then someone with clean hands will have to do the hard work.

UK energy minister rejects 'waste of money' smart meters claim

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Re: It need not have come to this - Bingo!

"facilitating actionable insights that independent companies can deliver via apps."

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"In a letter to Rudd this month Henney had said the only beneficiaries will be the meter manufacturers."

Given standard IoT security this is wrong. Terrorists could also be beneficiaries. This is the line to push. It will stop the roll-out stone dead (assuming it isn't effectively stone dead anyway). And their security won't be able to be improved because encryption.

Confirmed: How to stop Windows 10 forcing itself onto PCs – your essential guide

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Re: Paying for Windows 10 after July

"the way that Linux Mint started insisting on having my password every single time, rather than just the first time after booting"

So if someone came up with a piece of Linux malware you'd be quite happy for it to install itself silently rather than draw itself to your attention by asking for the password?

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Re: Paying for Windows 10 after July

@ alain williams

AFAICR Microsoft, as one of the settlements of one their regulatory run-ins, have to share details of the SMB protocols so unless this settlement expires your scenario seems unlikely.

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Re: Meanwhile....

"200 million deviices are already running Windows 10"

That's an awful lot of victims to feel sorry for.

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Re: With all these brilliant coders out there :


Suggested strategy:

1. Linux (or BSD but in these days of systemd Linux is probably closer to what you're familiar with).

2. Use the native Linux or BSD tools as far as you can. This is probably further than you think and a lot further than the naysayers who last tried OO in 2008 think.

3. Where there's no suitable native tool run the preferred Windows tool under Wine or Crossover.

4. For the cases where the Windows tool won't run under Wine or Crossover run Windows in a VM. An old copy of W2K may do fine and won't try to install spyware even if you let it connect to the net.

Lovelace at 200: Celebrating the High Priestess to Babbage's machines

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Re: Sexist shite

"so she wrote a better exposition of it than Babbage managed to create"

This may be understating her achievements but even accepting your evaluation I can think of plenty instances where better documentation would be a major contribution.

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Re: IT person gets bracket position wrong in work shocker...


Beat me to it. I was wondering whether it was the mother or the notorious poet who was the one-month-old baby.

Smartphone hard, dudes, like it’s the end of the world!

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"the M25"

Definitely one to avoid.

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"just as you turn on to the motorway and 100 miles from the next service station"

Which motorway is that? Clearly one to avoid.

BT and Openreach: Splitsville or not? We'll not find out till Feb – at the earliest

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"Oh please do not let Telefonica/Movistar (whatever they are called) have more UK operators... please no."

Have you considered that Telefonica might bid for a demerged Openreach? Or maybe Rupert might. Or TalkTalk.

Bloke sues dad who shot down his drone – and why it may decide who owns the skies

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Re: Practicalities

"precious Corsa"

Does not compute.

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Re: More Drone Hysteria

"I can't believe you're on these boards"

It's his first post. Maybe he's one of these new manglement types the proprietors are trying to attract.

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Re: "250 grams (1 pound)"

"Can someone please drag the US (and sometimes the UK) into the 21st century!"

Do you mean by using binary? Or maybe hex?

ANN-IE-LATION: Microsoft to axe support for older Internet Explorer next week

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Re: for whatever reason are still running Windows Vista...

"And the piece of equipment in question cost $AUD 800K+"

Yes, I should have put a price on the hypothetical piece of kit. Presumably there are people thinking you should just write off substantial chunks of capital equipment just because Microsoft EoLs an OS.

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Re: for whatever reason are still running Windows Vista...

"If people can't cope with this then they are in the wrong industry."

The reasons why businesses are stuck on old versions have been gone over here many times. However, here's a clue.

Imagine you're supporting a system which is business critical. It depends on a piece of software which won't run on versions of Windows later than XP. It controls a machine which has a life expectancy of about 15 more years. The S/W vendor has gone out of business and there was no code escrow.

If you can't see the problems you face you're in the wrong industry.

You want to migrate how much data?

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I'd shoot any IT architect or CIO who considered putting anything of significance on somebody else's computer.

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'“The difference between us and everyone else’s backup is that theirs is time-based, whereas we’re based on transactions,” he said. This enables the destination side of a data replication to reconstruct incremental transactions after the bulk of the data has been moved.'

Is there any transactional RDBMS offering replication that doesn't include this?

British bureaucrats are world's most social-media-tastic

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Twitteratti praise Twitteratti. What a surprise.

DevOps is no excuse for cowboy devs. Right. Let's talk Composable Infrastructure

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The thing to remember about pets and cattle is that the latter get slaughtered. Whilst you're busy herding your cattle your salary is probably being paid by business running on some pet server. Or, looking at it another way, when some service goes TITSUP maybe it was because one of the cattle got slaughtered.

Oh UK.gov. Say you're not for weakened encryption – Google and Facebook

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Re: Wrong debate

Apart from using deliberately weak encryption there are at least a couple of ways such a back door could be provided, both of which, of course, are simply disasters waiting to happen as far as legitimate users are concerned and easily bypassed by the intended targets.

One is for the application to lodge the key with the network operator or directly with the govt. The other is for the govt to issue a public key to the application so that all messages would be encrypted twice, once with the user's key & once with the govts key and the two versions combined in the message format so the govt can decrypt intercepts without approaching the network operator. The immediate issue, of course is which govt? Probably the 5 Eyes would get together on that. The big problem, of course, is that the escrow key store would be a major target for hackers and a single private key would sooner or later be leaked, effectively decrypting all messages.

The result of introducing such an arrangement would be a rash of 3rd party applications offering end-to-end encryption, either generally available or through the dark net.

What part of "it won't work" do governments not understand?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: One crime one warrant

"The only way this could ever work is THE NORMAL LEGAL WAY"

Agreed but let me extend this. There needs to be a feedback mechanism to ensure the whole procedure isn't being used for fishing expeditions.

The requester is obliged to report all warrants to the regulator along with the results. The regulator compares the percentages of results from different requesters. Anyone who has anomalous results gets investigated and the judges are kept aware of the various requesters' results. And spot checks are made to ensure the requester's returns are correct.

As there's a risk of regulatory capture between requesters & judges the judges could be given feedback to compare their percentages of successful warrants with their brother judges.

Finally the statistics are summarised in the regulator's annual report.

HPE's London boozer dubbed the 'Hewlett You Inn?'

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If the paper tray on my daughter's 8600 is anything to go by the drinks tray will get stuck in a serving hatch from which it will be impossible to remove without wrecking it so it will become impossible to serve drinks.

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"6. For bonus points, print some instructions on a tiny piece of paper in the wrong language and hide it under one of the flaps that hold the box together."

No, print the instructions on a tiny piece of paper as a series of diagrams. This ensures it's equally incomprehensible in all languages.

UK universities unveil £28m hub for Internet of Things

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Re: No Standards

"Wake me up when they finally decide on protocols and connector standards."

Wake up!

They've decided: use all of them and anything else that can be dreamt up.

ISPs: UK.gov should pay full costs of Snooper's Charter hardware

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Call a spade a spade

One of the mistakes the ISPs have made here is to go along with the govt's anodyne vocabulary. On the first mention of "filters" they should have added "in other words a database" and then used that term in the rest of their submission. It's likely that the general media would pick up on this fairly quickly and given that the term is pretty toxic in this context the gov't would quickly have found itself dragged into defending the term and getting the whole thing more and more toxic publicity.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Depressing.

"Sometimes I wonder if part of the political process should include screening for psychopathy."

Maybe we could start with screening for intelligence and understanding of the fields they're dealing with.

BT and EE, O2 and Three: Are we in for a year of Euro telco mega-mergers?

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"Look at the US market, it has far less competition, yet on average broadband providers invest at twice the rate of European, and the gap is growing."

But nevertheless http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/12/31/us_broadband_speeds_up_but_still_crap/

GCHQ mass spying will 'cost lives in Britain,' warns ex-NSA tech chief

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Re: Gosh, a voice of reason speaking to our government!

The feeling of power


If you actually read what he's saying the power to actually achieve anything is being lost because the analysts are burying themselves in crap.

'Wipe everything clean ... Join us ...' Creepy poem turns up in logs of 30 million-ish servers

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Re: But is it

"prose or a poem, though?"

Vogon poetry.

We're all really excited about new smartphones, laptops, tablets – said no one ever

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"The slowdown in the consumer technology market is irrefutable, serious and global,"

It's only serious if you think producing more landfill is a good idea. For people who just want to do stuff "good enough" is what we were after all along.

Ready for DevOps? Time to brush up on The Office and practise 'culture'

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Re: Sigh

"Another week, another DevOps article."


or maybe


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Re: ISO9000/9001

"Even if quality gurus affirm otherwise (they wouldn't be gurus if they actually spent the time doing the stuff they are talking about though...)"

Quality is like sex. Those who are always talking about it probably aren't doing it.

Half of UK financial institutions vulnerable to well-known crypto flaws

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Re: And The Banks Don't Care

"My bank"

Shouldn't that have been "My ex-bank"?

Dutch govt says no to backdoors, slides $540k into OpenSSL without breaking eye contact

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"the Dutch situation cannot be seen in isolation from the international context."

It'd be interesting from the international point of view if a few large companies decided to move their HQs to the Netherlands on account of the govt's favourable attitude to encryption.

The Register's entirely serious New Year's resolutions for 2016

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Re: What did I just read?

Sorry, only one upvote to give. Very well said.

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Serious suggestion

Voting on articles, not just on comments.

It would guide you as to what we want & don't want. To some extent the number of comments is indicative but these can be distorted by a good OT diversion.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: So the new formula is:

You missed out:

Articles re-published from The Conversation

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"We'll revisit the site's design"

Does that mean space-wasting irrelevant pictures will be dropped?

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It sounds as if someone needs to fork the original elReg. Yes I DID mean fork.

Periodic table enjoys elemental engorgement

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"117, Oak Ridge, so Weinburgium after it's first boss maybe ? Well, Weinburgine seeing as it's a halogen"


Microsoft in 2016: Is there any point asking SatNad what's coming?

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Re: The one really useful thing MS could do for all of us

"if the CIA/FBI records of IRA gun running - and the links to Irish politicians - were released."

I doubt that would make much difference to Irish politicians. Most if not all from those days who are still alive are retired. And it would only confirm what most believe anyway. What it would reveal is the extent to which the US - and especially the CIA/FBI - let it happen. Are they really going to tarnish their own reputations, such as they are?

Forget anonymity, we can remember you wholesale with machine intel, hackers warned

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"After all, the comments were likely written by the person who wrote the code"

True, but they may not say the same thing.

Microsoft to begin alerting users about suspected government snooping

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Assuming such warnings are by email I can't see how such warnings wouldn't get lost amongst all the phishing spam claiming to be from Microsoft. The first thing they need to do is to tighten up on their spam filters so that 100% of that spam is marked. Only then would users take note of the warnings.

MPs slam mandarins over failed GP IT system

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Could have been worse...

...it could have succeeded.

It's amazing the UK Parliament agreed to track 22bn Brits' car trips. Oh right – it didn't

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Re: AC Morality

"Second case - terror! - where every budding jihadi knows (thanks to people like Snowden) that he should take the battery and SIM out of his phone before driving off to meet his fellow jihadis. ANPR not only allows the authorities to do live tracking of suspects, but also allows them to go back and look for at where he was during those times when the suspect has tried to go off-grid."

And since well before Snowden any villain of any stripe knows that if he's up to something (AKA go off-grid) false plates are a good idea.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Legality

"In criminal proceedings, all relevant evidence presented by the parties is prima facie admissible as the UK courts have adopted an inclusionary approach towards evidence in order to favour the victim and ensure a fair trial."

Nevertheless the admissibility or even relevance of any piece of evidence is unchallengeable if it could prejudice the ability of the trial to estalish guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Does the database contain actual images? If not then the ANPR output is the sole evidence that a numberplate with that text has been read. But if there's no statutory basis for the database then there's no statutory provision for maintaining the apparatus or even for approving it in the first place so its output must surely be regarded with suspicion.

Even allowing the accuracy of the number recognition system there is then the small matter of whether the number was genuine. Anyone using a motor to commit crime must surely have at least considered the possibility of false places. Unless it can be shown (how?) that the plates were genuine then the evidence must surely be considered irrelevant.*

And that's before we even start questioning the chain of evidence of a database which lacks statutory authorisation.

*Unless, of course, it were established that the defendant was using a vehicle with those false plates at the relevant time.

What did we learn today? Microsoft has patented the slider bar

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Re: Microsoft is the new SCO

"Since they can't make decent product"

I have to disagree. SCO had a very decent product but they couldn't/wouldn't compete with "free as in beer". If they'd cut the prices I suspect Linux would never have got off the ground.

Watch out, er, 'oven cleaners': ICO plans nuisance call crackdown in 2016

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Re: Individual fines please

I have a slightly better scheme in mind.

Assign a number in the 147x range.

Instead of dialling 1471, dial that number.

Your telco refunds you £1 on your account and debits the account of the caller (assuming it's one of their customers) with the charge plus their surcharge for operating the scheme. If the call came from a different telco they charge that telco instead as an additional call terminating charge.

This chain carries on, accreting additional service charges, until it finally hits either the caller or a telco sufficiently stupid to accept calls without knowing where they came from.

The end effect is that the caller pays the callee for the annoyance caused.

It would require the telcos to put up investment for setting it up but if it were a requirement than it just becomes part of the cost of doing business which they'd recover from their charges.

It would also require some monitoring to prevent some bright spark from just doing that to legitimate calls.

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