* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

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

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"if your address is Flat D, 250 Streatham High Street"

It isn't but it could be.

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"I use the T.P.S. (Telephone Piss off Scheme) to get my number removed."

Simpler version. Send them for a long weight. For those not acquainted with the ancient industrial practical joke, ask them to hold the line for a moment and prolong the moment for several minutes before hanging up.

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Re: the TPS is not worth the paper it is written on

" How can I report them to the ICO if I have no number to use as a reference?"

Ask them who they're representing. You can then make a complaint to the ICO about their principal.

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"Until they can crack down on overseas call centres being used by British companies then they will continue."

I don't see that this ought to be a problem. The overseas centre is acting as an agent of the British company. The British company is within the ICO's jurisdiction and you could complain appropriately.

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"It's if the company has a 'relationship' with you that they are allowed to cold call you."

You then make it transparently clear to them that presuming on this relationship was not a good idea on their part as it has just terminated it. If enough people do that - and mean it - then the message might get through.

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

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Re: Windows XP and Office 2003, the pinnacle of MS

"users know it"

No, PHBs know it.

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Re: No point to it

"you can see why Microsoft needs it, more than you can imagine why you'd want it."

I think the reason is that the verbs should be swapped round. Microsoft (or IBM in the old days) want it more than the user needs it.

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Re: mad, really mad

"My immediate reaction was that if Ballmer thinks they're wrong, they're almost certainly right."

The trouble with that line of thinking is that there are more ways of being wrong than there are of being right. And over the years MS seem to have ventured into a good few of them.

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Re: "he has a higher degree of tolerance for unfinished software than his customers"

"The culture there (being general) is that is just not done to ask questions of your peers. If you do, you lose face and that would never do your chances of promotion any good."

I think this has much to do with more than software development. It could explain a lot of the way Indian customer service centres work - or don't work.

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Re: The reality...

"My company is accelerating adoption of Azure and 365 and working on a Windows 10 plan."

I can never be sure whether your posts represent an alternative reality or are simply good satire.

China wants encryption cracked on demand because ... er, terrorism

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Re: ban mathematics...

"But quite possible with a very smart mole who hides the exploits in bits and pieces scattered throughout the code, each piece inextricably tied to a legitimate function so it's not only tough to spot but hard to remove without breaking something else."

That's a good reason to use an operating system with clean, well defined interfaces between components so that any individual component can be replaced by an alternative that offers the same, defined service through the same interface. Sadly, that eliminates an increasing number of OSs these days.

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Re: I'm looking forward to the part where....

"where do you think 99% of tech gear gets made for pennies?"

I'm sure there are one or two other countries that would be prepared to step up to the mark. Kit gets made wherever the companies perceive as being the best location. If some other country offers sufficiently lowish cost options and a better business environment then manufacture can go there fairly quickly. If all the kit vendors make the move then there's no competitive disadvantage even if the costs are a shade higher. In fact, is China even the lowest cost option these days?

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Governments conspiring?

'I find it interesting that the Chinese are copying the "free world" in their quest for access... I would have thought ... that it would have been the other way around'

It is. Basically they're like a jar of worms, squirming over each other to get to the top by using each other's actions as precedents to legislate something worse.

Jez Humble to deliver keynote at Continuous Lifecycle London

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"WTF is DevOps then? What was it called a few years ago before some buzzword was dreamed up?"

Not sure but it sounds like what we used to do 20-30 years ago. We had a nice Unix box with a nice RDBMS engine running on it. We talked to users. We wrote programs based on what the users needed, installed them on the box and were out own DBAs & Unix sysadmins. We didn't call it anything beyond doing IT.

I suspect DevOps is much the same except with a lot more ceremony and "Agile" stamped all over it. And lots of consultants.

If you want to introduce cycles into it repeat after me:"Development is the process of introducing software into the maintenance cycle".

Cisco, HPE and Dell: Let's just say 'it's complicated' for now

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Re: Forecast

Once upon a time it might have been possible to believe all that but the HP of those days is a distant memory. Who's left in those labs after years of cutting staff?

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"HPE's game plan will be to take someone else's software, put it on hardware made by a different someone else, test it to make sure it doesn't do anything strange, and then sell it at a premium."

If the first someone else does their own testing right then where's the added value? And if they didn't then either HPE doesn't sell it or it feeds back the problems so they get fixed for all customers so again, where's the added value? They could, of course, take multiple other pieces of S/W & test them together but unless they need to add some proprietary stuff to make the combo work where, again, is the added value?

Microsoft in 2015: Mobile disasters, Windows 10 and heads in the clouds

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Re: The game is up Microsoft - your code is crap!

"copying what worked well in windows while dutifully avoiding (most of) what didn't."

Binary logs?

The many-tentacled monster that is systemd?

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Re: Investment?

"You become a cash cow.

You need little investment and you generate huge cashflow, and pay the investors back, finally."

That's what to do. But then all those analysts set growth targets.

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Re: Mixed messages ....

"consumer magazine and review sites (like PC Pro)"

Back in the early days of the mid-70s personal computer was a term that covered all manner of things from memory as small as 1K right up to the heady heights of 64K whatever the CPU (usually 6502 or Z80).

When IBM joined the fray it became a brand, not a term and MS-DOS or, subsequently, Windows was an expected part of the package that Personal Computer implied. The magazine market fragmented so a PC magazine dealt with IBM & compatibles and their MS S/W whilst the alternatives, Apple, Amiga or whatever, had their own magazines. For any given magazine alternatives to the central interest were at the most fringe matters (e.g. Linux on PCs) or simply didn't get mentioned at all.

So it's not surprising that such magazines just concentrate on the latest variant of their interest and not too critically lest they drift away from their mainstream.

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"The integration offered with Office 365 and Cortana linking phone to desktop devices shows the value of their ecosystem."

Yes, but to whom is it of most value?

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Re: CAD software

"unless you build the PC yourself and most companies want to just roll out HP or DELL etc so they do not have choice to not have to purchase a Windows License."

Even with Windows big companies will wipe what comes on the PC & replace it with their standard configuration. Do they pay MS extra to do that?

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Re: Squeeky Wheel

"Privacy issues aren't huge when you're 85"

Sad to say but 85 year-olds who don't care about privacy are prime scammer targets.

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' I myself have helped upgrade nearly 50 PC's to windows 10 in the last month because for my friends and family having a masters in softwares means i'm only qualified to do so.'

A masters in softwares[sic] means that you're only qualified to upgrade Windows?

And does upgrading to 10 actually need a master's? I thought the hard job was stopping boxes upgrading themselves.

'The only place where I've faced reluctance to 10 is when somebody reads comments like the ones that constantly feature here, in which case it takes less than 2 mins to convince them to upgrade.'

ITYF that a lot of the people making comments here are professionals that are in charge of large deployments of kit at enterprise scale. This is where MS have made lots of money. Not only do they sell the server & client operating systems and the server applications, they also sell CALS so the users are allowed to use what they've already bought. I think MS are looking to those commentards for their continued revenue stream rather than yourself.

'After all in the end who are they going to trust? Some tin foil wearing conspiracy theory nut job who says windows 10 is stealing their data or the guy whom they know that tells them exactly what data is being collected and how they can turn it off.'

A good question. Bear in mind that by your own narrative these are people who know less than you & trust you. But have you actually gone & read the new T&Cs? Have you actually understood them? Have you carefully examined them for any limitations? E.g. when they say that they record login credentials you may think that they just mean logins for MS services but where does it say that this doesn't also apply to your bank logins, your Amazon logins, your eBay logins, your work logins....?

Now try to think for a moment like a corporate lawyer; what are you going to say to an IT pro who wants to take on those T&Cs on behalf of your business? I think it'll take a lot more than 2 minutes to convince one of those guys. And don't try to tell me that this is just poor working on MS's part and because MS's corporate lawyers didn't see those T&Cs before they went online.

'the guy whom they know that tells them exactly what data is being collected and how they can turn it off'

What MS can collect is what they entitle themselves to collect in the T&Cs, not what "the guy" thinks they're collecting right now. And given that you can't hold back those updates just what makes you think MS can't update W10 to override your turning things off?

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Re: "Windows as a Service"

"That they are extending their cloud products over to iOS and Android plainly makes it clear that they want a slice of every platform's revenue production in their pockets in a stream of revenues."

As per my first post above, they're trying to move sideways but Apple & Google are already strong competitors there. And the very techniques they're using for this are not going to endear them to enterprise users. Even if they decide to be impeccably behaved, never turn "telemetry" back on if it's off and never try to enforce updates their current T&Cs are going to be anathema to any legal dept. that reads them.

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I assume "They" is MS, but to which "you" and which "this" were you referring?

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Re: The game is up Microsoft - your code is crap!

Linux is moving to be more Windows like and less Unix like so maybe the two will meet in the middle.

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I think Microsoft's problem is that the investment industry expects companies to grow indefinitely. What do you do when you've reached market saturation and there are already strong competitors in related fields where you might otherwise expect to make a sideways move?

EU privacy watchdog calls for new controls on surveillance tech export

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Re: Can we export GCHQ instead?

"it's one of those matters where our own political masters (whether Mrs May or, perhaps more to the point, her Sir Humphrey) won't let them stand in the way of anything they really want."

This could get interesting. It could be a factor in Cameron's renegotiation prior to his referendum. If the EU chose to make an issue of it Cameron might have to swallow it. Maybe it's time to start writing to our MPs to emphasise that this is something we'll have in mind when the referendum rolls along. Couple that with pointing out that the bad guys will ignore any bans on non-backdoored encryption whilst businesses which value security will not be happy (think HSBC which has been making noises about relocating).

Bookstore sells some data centre capacity, becomes Microsoft, Oracle's nemesis

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Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

It's maybe worth pointing out that Linux is essentially a Unix-like system with the skills being largely transferable. Those of us who are long enough in the tooth remember the days when Unix boxes such as the NCR Towers & other 68k boxes, MIPS and SCO boxes could just sit in SME customer sites with only occasional site visits.

I had one client based about 100 miles away running SCO who I used to visit every few months when he needed either some data fangling or a new bit of application S/W. Plus the odd dial in to sort them out when they got themselves in a bit of a twist (unplug the fax, plug in the modem & I dialled in from a brick sized Nokia clamshell). Multiple specialists on site? The main problem with those boxes was that they were a danger to gainful employment!

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Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

"UAT tested which you cannot claim Microsoft do"

I'm not sure about that. W10 has millions of beta testers who get to test all the upgrades before they're pushed out to enterprise customers.

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Re: Oh really?

"From your description it seems that their systems are a tad FR{agile}"

"Bag of spanners" also seems to fit.

After being informed it hasn't arrived they've now come to the conclusion that they've lost it in transit. So much for automation, analytics, metrics efficiency as a religion and all the rest. There seems to be a built-in assumption that all will work and that they don't need to check for the situation where it doesn't.

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Re: Since it wasn't mentioned by name in the article

"The issue with Linux is that unless you have multiple Linux specialists able to deal with any problem that might arise who don't take holidays (or the team is sufficiently large enough to deal with holidays) then you need a support contract, which means that you need Red Hat. Or possibly Ubuntu."

And why, pray tell me, does this not apply to Windows?

Or is it the case that it does but you haven't noticed that because you're in a Windows shop and you have a sufficiently large Windows team?

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Oh really?

"No matter in which area of endeavour it chooses to participate, Amazon is corporately obsessed with efficiency. Amazon commoditises everything, from books to labour to computing to logistics. Amazon automates and orchestrates. It lives and breathes metrics and analytics."

Was this taken from an Amazon press release?

The reality seems to be that when everything goes OK they are indeed efficient but if something goes in the least off the expected track they have no efficient means of getting it back.

Case in point: item due in stock on the 18th, order placed on the 13th. Item, somewhat large, qualifies for free delivery. After a bit of reading round I thought that (a) it should also qualify for free pickup and (b) that would be quicker. So I placed an order for delivery & followed up with a query about pickup. In the event of a positive response I'd have had time to switch to a pickup location.

In response to the query I was told this order (on free standard delivery) had been upgraded to free standard delivery with my actual query unanswered. When I checked this free delivery was now showing delivery charges.

In fact the despatch date was brought forward to the 15th with deliver on the 21st.

In response to various followups I was told that:

(a) The delivery charge would be refunded but it was near despatch date & their system wouldn't allow a refund until it was confirmed that it had been despatched but - get this - I had to tell them (customer services) when it had been despatched.

(b) It qualified for free pickup but because it was close to despatch date I couldn't change & would have had to cancel & reorder. No mention of whether this was the quicker option so I let things stay.

I checked that I really had to tell Amazon when Amazon had despatched an order and this was confirmed and again given the explanation that this free standard delivery order had been upgraded to free standard delivery but that the agent had forgotten to wave [sic] the charge.

The item was marked as despatched on the 15th, the delivery charge was refunded but that was the last that was heard of the item - no further status changes since it was handed over to Amazon Logistics. Did it ever arrive at the local depot, or was it lost, damaged or stolen? Is it still sitting there waiting for one of the vans which have delivered several items here since the due delivery?

From the above there are several points which challenge the picture of almost magical efficiency in the article.

Firstly there's the amazing disconnect between despatch and customer services that means that the customer has to relay the message.

Next there's the fact that their CS system will allow an operator to upgrade to the delivery option to the same option. Indeed, it appears that their core system doesn't actually include the concept of "free" as delivery is shown as an invoice line and free is just a contra line which the CS agent has to enter manually.

And a company that lives and breathes metrics and analytics really ought to know how long is reasonable for a package to move through its logistics chain and raise an alarm and keep the customer informed if it doesn't. It should also be able to escalate a CS case if there are multiple customer enquiries about an order.

It would also help if CS sent queries to someone whose native language is that of the query. Responses included somewhat broken English, especially the first one. Don't rely on someone claiming to be fluent in English: Amazon is a book store so maybe they should grab a copy of Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue" and read what he has to say about that.

There's a lingering suspicion at the back of my mind that says "agile". If you develop systems in small increments you maybe don't have the bigger picture in mind and you maybe you don't consider what happens when things go awry and add routes to get them back on track. And especially you don't deal with the bit that says the system is more than S/W - it's the entire shooting match including the people who are handling customer enquiries.


This is a long account in case someone from Amazon reads it so they can learn from it, otherwise Amazon usually gets things right and is indeed efficient when they do but when they don't they seem to be able to glue it back together again.

Christmas comes early at US Patent office after massive IT outage

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I don't like to wish a loss of data on anybody but there are times to make exceptions and this could be one. Just think, if all those ....with a computer and .....with a mobile phone patents were lost for ever.

Feds widen probe into lottery IT boss who rooted game for profit

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'his brother, Tommy Tipton, said that the footage didn’t show his sibling, remarking: "Eddie's not a hot dog guy."'

What could be more convincing? (Answers on a very large postcard).

Juniper's VPN security hole is proof that govt backdoors are bonkers

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Re: Why would the foreign government not use the NSA's Q ?

AIUI the calculations by which Q is obtained throw out other values which allow the pseudorandom number sequence to be predicted from a sample of about 30 numbers. Knowing Q doesn't help work out those values. So the suspicion is that the whoever substituted Q had done so because they'd calculated it and were able to predict the sequence.

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Re: Playing the Xenophobia Card

Networking kit such as Juniper is used by multi-national companies. For those all governments are foreign/not foreign whichever you perceive to be the worst case.

Software engineer sobers up to deal with 2:00 AM trouble at mill

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Re: I worked for a boss that tried to code...

The code was C but not as we know it.

The boss was a COBOL programmer and used the pre-processor to make C look as much like COBOL as possible. Some of the changes needed were in code expanded from macros but not all instances from a given macro needed changing. I just ran the whole thing through cpp and treated the result as version 1.

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Re: If not on-call, just don't answer

"The only way crappy business practices will be fixed is if they impact the bottom line hard. And that will not happen if you answer the phone and fix the problem even when you are not on-call."

Except that when they're fixed you might not be there to take advantage.

There's an epidemic of idiots who can't find power switches

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Re: Image

"As an American, I did not expect to see a power outlet used as illustration for an article on power *switches*."

You need to look at it and see a face. What's the expression on the face?

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Not SQL server but another RDBMS. I had a contract with the vendor & they gave me a job of upgrading a site in S London ( me being based in Yorks it's the best part of 200 miles each way). To give you some idea of how long ago the CD drive had a caddy. But it was a standard job I'd done many times and didn't really take long although for some reason the work had to be done on a Sunday and, of course, had to be ready to roll by Monday morning.

During the week it turned out that the version supplied wasn't the one that was wanted so back again next week plus the accompanying 4GL was also to be upgraded. Again, not a long job but all the custom S/W had to be recompiled for this version of the 4GL. Two bods from the big name consultancy who wrote it were in attendance to do that.

It quickly transpired that they had a problem in that there were some subtle differences in the way that menus were handled and in some cases it didn't work with some of the clever tricks they'd played with their menus. Clever tricks have this habit of working out as not being too clever. So the entire application code had to be gone through looking for instances where it didn't work. Cue another clever trick they'd used - macros in their code being run through cpp to generate the actual compiled 4GL. The menus were part of the macro set. And this on a Unix version where the standard C compiler didn't have a cpp pass, cpp had been retained on the box specifically for this.

I got roped in to help so that late on Sunday evening the three of us were still sitting there with multiple terminals - this was in the days of character terminals - finding out which menus were broken, finding the 4GL code and working back to the code with the macros to fix that. I suppose I could of told them it was their problem but I'd still have had to hand on, and probably for longer, to roll it back if it didn't work although my inclination would have been to run the whole lot through cpp, fix the processed version, take that as the definitive version & sling the macro infested lot as far as it deserved.

Free Wi-Fi for the NHS, promises health secretary Jeremy Hunt

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Re: Free? Phah!

"handheld TV's are not permitted because the deal with the in-house TV provider did not permit it"

Quick response to that "Not my problem, I'm not a party to that deal,".

CIOs, what does your nightmare before Christmas look like?

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"entirely attributable to a complete lack of any competent management"

Not entirely. You've got to attribute some responsibility to whoever wrote it.

Microsoft mandates browser-extension defence to malvertising

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Re: Didn't understand a word of that

Me neither. I'm not sure if it's something I missed out on by not running Windows or something I missed out on by running adblockers. But as far as I can see it seems to be something about an extension sitting in the browser generating adverts. Such a notion should be an anathema to any intelligent person.

No £160m for you: BT to receive termination notice from Cornwall before Christmas

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Re: I may be old fashioned but...

"Unless telcos expand what they do, their pie gets smaller and smaller."

Another motive is to reduce the proportion of unregulated business. Nevertheless it's still inexplicable why BT deliberately not only shrunk their pie but created a competitor by splitting off O2.

Who would win a fight between Cortana and Android?

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Re: Soon every gadget will be able to wreck a nice beach

"Can't people (and their toys) just shut up! The world will be a much calmer (and nicer) place."


We've just got a local Lidl & it took me a little while to realise why it's so much pleasanter place than the local alternatives:

No bloody backgorund music.

No bloody $chain "radio" spewing a mixture of garbage & ads.

The mini stollen (described by a friend as "more addictive than heroin") are almost a bonus....

Apple on the attack against British snooping bill. Silicon Valley expected to follow

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"The IPB puts the UK at odds with the ECJ's ruling."

If it doesn't get squashed between now & Royal Assent it looks like it will get squashed by another trip to the ECHR.

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Re: Slight correction

"I think that both the Conservatives and Labour have been infiltrated by control freaks"

Not so much infiltrated as politics being a natural career choice for them.

Chicago cops under fire for astonishingly high dashcam, mic failures

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"I saw a 10-inch floppy drive unit in a storage closet."

It was probably left there because nobody could source 10" floppies to use with it.

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