* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

WHY can't Silicon Valley create breakable non-breakable encryption, cry US politicians

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

OK, let's assume it could be done

If such a system were devised and mandated for appliances on sale in the US, UK or wherever what good would it do? The complaints tell us that there are unbreakable cyphers already out there. So if I were a criminal wanting to communicate with my organisation what would I do?

1. Rent a server somewhere out of reach.

2. One of the unbreakable cyphers to encrypt the message with a suitable key (see below).

3. Wrap the encrypted message up as data within a decryption program to make a file which will self-decrypt once supplied with the key (cf self-unzipping files) and post to the server. For extra points make the file install a selection of nasty malware if supplied with the wrong key.

4. Organisation members download, supply they key, read the message & then delete.

5. The key would be some innocent looking message gleaned from the net by some agreed method. For instance if the intended recipient were a British Muslim of Pakistani origin the key might be taken from a forum specialising in Pakistani cricket. The sender would select some suitably long post, find a comment to it and post a reply under an agreed handle. The key wouldn't be anything the sender wrote but a perfectly innocent message some distance removed. If the recipient were in IT the key could be the first page of Dabbsie's weekly offering.

The recipients would need to exercise some communications discipline, downloading from open wifi, downloading key & message from separate access points etc.

Maybe the scheme is already in use with amanfrommars's posts as they key. It would explain a lot.

The significant point is that encryption technology is generally available. Constraining commercial products to use something broken doesn't inhibit its use by those who want to be secure. Making its use illegal would have no effect. If you're already doing illegal things are you really going to be put off by having your communication channels made illegal? The only people who will be affected are the innocent users of commercial products who will have their privacy invaded.

Why recruiters are looking beyond IT's traditional talent pool

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"In the 1960s the UK computer industry had no IT graduates to recruit. So they took all-comers - from "A" Level to PhD in all subjects."

And not necessarily the '60s either. In the mid-'80s my team at one point consisted of a botanist, a geologist, a zoologist and a CS graduate who I think would have preferred to have been an astronomer.

The Government Digital Service: The Happiest Place on Earth

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"Loosemore also drew on former BBC associates."

That explains at least some of it.

"Most of the great stuff in GDS"

Surely there's something wrong with this phrase.

Have Oetti and Google kissed and made up?

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"However, the real payoff for customers is the money-back guarantee for unused data capacity."

Unused data capacity? Will there be such a thing or will Google simply fill all available bandwidth with ads?

So how should we tax these BASTARD COMPANIES, then?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "The things that actually seem to work in making the poor richer."

"they're the ones who can afford to buy shares"

<Sigh> How many times do we have to say this? Do you have a company or private pension? Do you have life insurance? Then directly or not you're a shareholder. Unless you're without these benefits then instead of saying "the ones who can afford to buy shares" or the like, say "me". When you do that, does it sound any different?

Yes, I know there are people who are likely to come along and say they're fed up with comments like this but it needs to be repeated until it sinks in.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Tax assets instead of profits

"tax the gross assets"

How does that work out in terms of equability between a capital intensive and a labour intensive business?

Stuff your RFID card, just let me through the damn door!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Could you send the bloke with the circular saw round here. I've got some concrete pavers I need to get cut.

Here's why the Pentagon is publishing its cyber-warfare rulebook – if China hasn't already hacked in and read it

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And which of these rules lead to this action http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/24/bnd_nsa_spying_collaboration ?

Rackspace in Crawley: This is a local data centre for local people

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"Anyone with a legal background willing to have a go at that one?"

IANAL but as ever the devil is in the detail. A quick look at Webcheck shows an E&W company Rackspace Ltd. Who owns this? Are all the officers of the company UK citizens? What is the legal relationship with the US company? Are the agreements which create that relationship with the US company under English law? Do the agreements forbid handing over customers' data to anyone except the customers unless ordered to do so by an English court?

These are the sort of questions that any customer's legal department should be asking of any hosting company with whom they are thinking of doing business.

UK rail signals could be hacked to cause crashes, claims prof

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Re: Meaningful

"Are they really gonna (attempt to) establish UPS's along *the whole system?"

Would that they were. I recall a miserable journey from Marylebone to High Wycombe via Aylesbury because the wrong type of diesel was in the signalling system's generator tank.

Surveillance, broadband, zero hours: Tech policy in a UK hung Parliament

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Re: What about skills?

Simple regulation: import one, train one.

Licence to chill: Ex-CIA spyboss Petraeus gets probation for leaking US secrets to his mistress

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Re: Bernard was right

I remain astounded at how well 'Yes [Prime] Minister' nailed it - and that it all remains so apt after all these years.

Microsoft: Profit DECIMATED because you people aren't buying PCs

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Re: Guess what happens

"I think it's more that the vast majority just buy what OEMs install."

And that's probably part of the problem. If the customer doesn't like what the OEM installs then they're less likely to buy. If MS only allow the OEM to install what the customer doesn't want then we see a slump in both PC & MS sales. MS blames the PC sales slump for their own low sales but to some extent that slump might be a thing of their own making.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Why always the push for year on year growth?"

That's the analyst's expectations bit.

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Re: and the reality is......

" results beat analyst expectations"

This is an ambiguous phrase. It can mean anything between "hugely more profitable" and "the administrators haven't moved in...yet".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Guess what happens

"But the vast majority just buy what is available at the time."

Or hold off buying hoping the next one will be better.

Fukushima nuke plant owner told to upgrade from Windows XP

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Re: For this kind of thing ...

BSD on the desktops as well?

PS. Can we have a BSD icon as well as the penguin?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


The usual situation with some of these surviving XP boxes is that they're the only platform that will run some legacy process control stuff that nobody can afford to update. But you'd expect someone running nuclear installations wouldn't be in that position. Wouldn't you?

Singapore's PM personally programmed C++ Suduko-solver

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Re: Now there's a politician I could vote for

Let's be fair here. ATM I'd settle for them knowing that HTML & Word don't count.

It's official: David Brents are the weakest link in phishing attacks

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Re: Just thinking ...

"We see a disproportionate number of new staff falling prey to phishing, usually the ones who haven't yet been to an induction day."

There's an obvious fix for that. Do I really need to spell it out?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Time for a Register checklist?

"Does the mail have a lot of typos or grammatical errors"

But can the recipient recognise these?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Time for training

Engage an outside agency to send emails with such dubious links which, when clicked, order the recipient to report to security PDQ. When they do that they will receive a good bollocking. The second time they're told to clear their desk & report to security.

Google pulls plug on YouTube for older iPads, iPhones, smart TVs

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Re: Its pass the book time.

I think in this case the manufacturers are in the right. They sold a product that handled specific services - it didn't provide the services. You might just as well complain about the manufacturer of an analogue TV that stopped working when analogue was switched off. Having said that, would I have bought a smart TV? No. The smarts here are provided by MythTV.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Google reminds of Microsoft of old

"they have no idea who their customers are and what they need."

I doubt that. They know who their customers are. If you're a user of their services you're not one of them; you're the product.

Ad-blocking is LEGAL: German court says Ja to browser filters

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Re: re: And that this would be extortion

"advertising when your competitor doesn't might make some difference"

Indeed. If it's something I want to buy I'll buy it from the competition who isn't pestering me.

Yay, we're all European (Irish) now on Twitter (except Americans)

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Re: You're damned either way

"what they can do is largely controlled by various international treaties"

I think this is part of the Microsoft problem. I read somewhere that international treaties are only binding on the Federal govt & not on individual states. It was a local prosecutor who decided to try to cut corners & bypass the access already provided for by international treaty.

I'd guess that by now any incriminating material in Hotmail/etc mailboxes will have been long deleted by anyone except the spectacularly ill-informed or those already in custody. It seems likely that continuing the case is either an attempt to establish legal precedent or a legal willy-waving.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

" if a senior guy from the parent company, say Twitter (US) comes to Ireland and tells an IT guy working at Twitter (Ireland)"

As per my reply to Vimes, the international operation would have to be a separate operation. So if the senior guy from Twitter (US) isn't wearing his visitor's badge the IT guy simply calls security to get him escorted from the building. Because a visitor would be his only possible status.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


"Is that even possible?"

Irish citizens set up an Irish company called, e.g. Twitter International. TI operates rest-of-the-world Twitter as a franchise from US Twitter. The franchise agreement is made in Ireland under Irish law The terms of service specifically exclude any acts which would be illegal under Irish law (assuming that even needs to be said).

"Surely Twitter would either work as a single system with US users conversing with non-US users, in which case non-US data is available to US systems or it would operate as a separate service?"

As things stand now I doubt the system operates from a single data centre. Providing a seamless service between multiple servers is something they must have a good enough handle on already. Anything which goes between US & non-US subscribers could presumably be accessed via the US subscribers' accounts but then you wouldn't expect anything to prevent that. Purely rest-of-the-world traffic would be out-of-bounds as would any personal data held on non-US account holders including those conversing with US subscribers.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"there are considerably more non-Americans on the planet than Americans."

Well, who'd have thunk it!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"US company (an entirely separate legal entity)"

This is the critical point. I'd expect Twitter to have taken a look at the Microsoft case & ensured that there was a more effective legal firewall between the two entities. Of course this is only an expectation, reality might be different.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"That second point sounds like Twitter International to me."

You'd have to look closely at how TI is set up.

Uh oh, it's Mobilegeddon! Your site may lose, well, pennies

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Re: "Mobile Friendly"

"I think Google's decision could well benefit those businesses that aren't large enough to have marketing leeches spewing their 'creativity' over their company's website."

Good point. Maybe they could go a step further by down-rating pages with Flash.

Apple will cut down 36,000 acres of forest in 'conservation scheme'

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Re: For people who cannot they see the wood for the trees

"That all depends on the kind of forests you are cutting down"

Bramley on M27?

NatWest and RBS' mobile banking apps go TITSUP

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Re: @Sarah Balfour

Perhaps the solution is a rather drastic one. Take the patient to the bank, introduce them to a customer service (sic) person, tell them you've an urgent appointment elsewhere but to give you a call once they've sorted out whatever it is. I think that PDQ they'd work out a procedure to enable them to accept you as the patient's representative.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Banks should do bank stuff."

These days bank stuff is IT, plus a casino bolted on the side.

So why exactly does almost ALL tech live in Silicon Valley?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"why did you get so many IT manufacturing companies setting up in the Clyde area in the 1970's? Because there was a large pool of unemployed labour there of people who could be retrained."

Wasn't there another factor - the large pool of unemployed labour lead to govt. grants being poured in?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: A Zombie concept?

"I can hire developers anywhere in the world, but I have to find them. How do I know that somebody in ToadSuck Ak is any good? Unless they are the inventor of Python/Ruby/etc then I am comparing them to somebody in India charging $1/hour on Elancer."

If you're considering recruiting on the basis of whether someone was the original dev of a big project you're probably doing it wrong. Firstly as there are very few of them they're not likely to be available. Secondly, they may not be the current project leads; they may not even have been involved with the project very long. Thirdly, and most importantly, you're overlooking the fact that any open source developer's contributions are a portfolio that you, personally, can review. You can actually make a comparison between the ToadSuck developer and the $1/hour Indian if they've contributed to open source projects.

"By coming to work in the valley they have proven to me they are good because they were hired by %BIG NAME%," so your main recruitment technique is poaching? Then if %BIG NAME%s start using remote developers you'll start poaching those once you've realised that that's how things are going.

"or simply have proved that they can earn enough to pay rent here." Actually all they may have proved is that they've managed, by fair means or foul, enough stake money to rent a pad there and hope to get hired. Whether they can actually stay hired is unproven.

"all accountants are equally good-enough, or I can judge how good they are easily." So you go by your judgement for the skill of accountants but not developers if you depend on someone else having hired them first?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Question:

US law forbids the SA fault to open up & swallow them and as we know US law overrides everything else.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

A Zombie concept?

"Firms in the same trade end up setting up alongside each other simply because it's more convenient to do so. That's where all the skilled workers you're going to poach are, after all."

The corollary of that being that that's where all the firms who are going to poach all your skilled workers are so you have to get together with them to set up anti-poaching agreements.

Where physical work is concerned there may still be a rationale for clustering. If you have a non-ferrous metalwork plant you need to be in a place where there's a concentration of skilled staff to operate it and conversely if you're a skilled operator you need to be in a place where there are firms with plant needing operators. But where the plant is mostly laptops that the skilled staff can afford to own and a server which can be located anywhere & rented then "where" resolves to "any place with an internet connection".

The consequence is that a dispersed workforce has demonstrated the ability to collaborate produce major operating systems and other substantial S/W. Maybe for many types of creative work the clustering concept is already dead, it just hasn't lain down yet.

DWARF PLANET Ceres beams back SUNNY north pole FROWN

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The last person to leave forgot to turn off the lights.

Are YOU The One? Become a guru of your chosen sysadmin path

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@Dave Watts

It probably has some bearing on the frequency or Total Inability To Support Usual Performance. What needs to be done right now will only get done eventually after all the processes get completed.

'Hackers racked up $$$$s via the Android Play Store, and Google won't pay me back'

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Re: Bank of America debet card

" Maybe it's a strange idea across the pond?"

Or maybe a debet (sic) card is something different.

Let’s pull Augmented Reality and climax with JISM

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Basic fact of life...

All premises-provided presentation kit will trip you up and the more modern the tech the greater its ability to do so. Projectors will have been configured to work only the resident technician's own device, possibly a Sharp Zaurus or nothing at all.

But modern tech isn't needed for this. I recall the conference with a slide projector set to timed autoadvance so the presenters had to keep back-pedalling the remote to stay on the slide long enough to talk about it. Presenters can still score their own goals; I remember one lecturer turning up to give a lecture - in a theatre shared by his own department! - with a set of slides larger than 35mm but still too small for the ancient alternative projector.

Chrome version 42 will pour your Java coffee down the drain: Plugin blocked by default

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Is it possible that Google might drop in their Dalvik VM to replace Java?

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Re: Lock in

It sounds more like lock out in this case.

EU bods Oetti and Ansip: We must digitise EVERYTHING

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Leopards don't change their spots

!The EU's warring digi-chiefs — Vice President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Gunter H-dot Oettinger — finally seem to be singing from the same hymn-sheet."

They're both Eurocrats asking for more of something. Of course they're singing from the same hymn-sheet.

Health apps and wearables make you nervous, not fit, say boffins

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Des Spence

Sounds like the sort I'd want as my GP.

Bloke hits armadillo AND mother-in-law with single 9mm round

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Re: What exactly is so troublesome about mother-in-laws that they need shooting?

"You've never been married obviously."

Not to an armadillo.

This open-source personal crypto-key vault wants two things: To make the web safer ... and your donations

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Re: More anonymity for criminals and terrorists

Back in the day I had a lucky escape from being a terrorist victim (I handled a booby-trapped weapon in the course of my job). So do I support all this surveillance? No. It implies a suspension of the presumption of innocence which is one of the basic elements of freedom under the law.

Welcome to the FUTURE: Maine cops pay Bitcoin ransom to end office hostage drama

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Re: No Police Response

"Scary that the Cops get ripped off and not one wants to get serious about going after the perpetrators."

Perhaps you missed this on the penultimate paragraph: "The FBI is now offering millions in reward money to catch the crooks behind some ransomware."

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