* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Snowden tells tech bigwigs: It's up to you to thwart mass surveillance

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Re: End-to-end and more robust encryption and security is essential

"So I feel somewhat bad for the former chief of MI6, but he failed to maintain proportionality in the activities of Britain's spooks"

In a democracy successful policing means policing by consent. And if you won't own up to what you want to do you have no means to ask for consent.

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Re: Only for a limited definition of "secure"

"Alas, it shows sender, recipient, and subject line"

Well, one of those can be made unhelpful. Subject: Test or Subject: Stuff.

Improved Apple Watches won't get more expensive? Hmmm

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Re: Gordon Brown

Thanks. I was being hassled to go & collect grand-daughter from school.

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Gordon Brown

"Gordon Brown famously changed the method of inflation measurement that he was going to use to uprate benefits, tax bands and so on, from one that included housing costs (RPI) to one that didn't (CPI) in the middle of a housing boom."

The benefits part was only the minor problem. The big one was offloading interest rate policy to the BoE & then instructing them to base it on this same inflation measurement. So in the middle of a housing bubble interest rates were managed by a committee with their fingers super-glued in their ears going "Can't here anything. La la la".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Inflating computers

"That XT that I first started on"

With a teletype and a bit of effort I could crash the whole roomful of 1907 that I started on. Now a skiddie can lock out whole gaming networks. That's a hedonic improvement. Somewhere in the middle came crashing a Z80 box by switching on the microscope's xenons. That must have been the low point.

Health & Safety is the responsibility of Connor's long-suffering girlfriend

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The other day whilst checking a physical library - the sort that has a door on the street & books, some not tatty, on the shelves - I noticed that the publicly available PCs are still running XP.

Data centre dangers: Killing a tree and exploding a UPS

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Thunderstorm over new year. Did no damage to anything except for the big UPS in the basement. All the servers ran without backup power for months until it was repaired.

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"In 1970 the 600mbyte hard disk units were extremely heavy objects."

I remember being told by an ICL engineer that the spindle had to be aligned with the earth's axis, otherwise the bearings wouldn't withstand the precession.

BBC websites GO TITSUP – Auntie blames 'internal system failure'

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Maybe they should have shown a potter's wheel or maybe a small girl playing noughts & crosses on a blackboard.

UK call centre linked to ‘millions’ of nuisance robo-calls raided by ICO

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Re: "four to six million recorded telephone calls a day"???

"The solution is clear, make the telcos financially responsible for sustained detectable abuse of their systems."


Principle: This is pollution and the polluter pays.

Method: Choose a number, say 147{$currently_unused_digit}. If the recipient considers the call to be spam they hang up and dial that number. The telco credits their A/C by a small fee, say £2 and adds it to the caller's bill plus handling charges. If the call came from a different network they transfer charge the fee plus charges to that network instead who can then bill their customer adding on their own handling charges and so on up the line. If a telco can't work out who to charge: tough and they'll quickly change their business model or keep on paying.

Issues: This would need compulsion from OFTEL: no problem, just make the telcos do it. It would need S/W development upfront which has to be paid for: no problem, the telcos do it and take the cost out of their handling charges. There's the possibility that recipients might mistakenly or deliberately try to charge a genuine call: this would need a bit of statistical work to weed out such errors.

Ark scoops £700m to host ALL UK.gov's data centre needs

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Re: Well

It looks as if several suspects might be on their board.

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They could have a problem

If the lion's share of their income is with HMG, especially if it's all in one contract, times could be tough if that business gets switched elsewhere. That happened to my last client.

Mattel urged to scrap Wi-Fi mic Barbie after Register investigation

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Re: Indeed...

"research purposes: voice recognition"

Hmmm. How about buying one for the daughter of a Welsh speaking family?

Bulk interception is NOT mass surveillance, says parliamentary committee

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We object to..

Bulk surveillance

Bulk interception

Mass surveillance

Bulk surveillance

and any other synonym combinations you may wish to substitute.

Is that clear enough?

Kaspersky claims to have found NSA's 'space station malware'

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Re: Late starts?

More meetings, please. Fill up Monday to Thursday with meetings and review them all on Friday mornings. So all the code gets written on Friday afternoon.

Hold on to your hats, we're ready to talk turkey on cybersecurity law, say ministers

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What's missing

The list should also include governments and email and cloud service providers. And, of course, demands from police, intelligence, local council's cleaning dept. etc should all be included as incidents.

Clinton defence of personal email server fails to placate critics

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Re: I don't think this is going to amount to anything illegal...

"juggling 2 smartphones and her infant grandson"

Is she going to join a circus? Other than the political one, of course.

iTunes snafu: DNS fail borked Apple's app & iTunes stores for 10 HOURS

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Re: Won't cost them much...

"No one is doubting it will have cost them some money but I'd say most people will just delay their purchases"

Yes, but while they're buying what they couldn't buy whilst it was down they'll be too busy to buy whatever else they'd have been buying now.

Going on holiday? Mexico wants your personal data

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Re: PNR Data

"the Aztec Toilet ruins around Mexico City". around Mexico City"."

Or "the Aztec Toilet runs"?

Mine's the one with the spare loo roll in the pocket.

BT inks deal with Williams F1 for go-faster cloudy goodness

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"because Williams is British and based in Britain, their expectations can't be very high"

What an odd comment. AFAIK all the constructors except Ferrari are based in the UK whatever the flag that's above them when they're on the podium. The Mercedes engine? Built in the UK. Honda, I'm not sure about but they're opening an operations centre in Milton Keynes. The Renault engines are built in France - but they didn't cover themselves in glory last season.

In fact a huge proportion of F1 is based in Britain.

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Re: They'll regret it...

"a fleet of Openreach vans digging"

Won't it be Murphys doing the digging?

The voters hate Google. Heeeeyyyy... how about a 'Google Tax'?

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Re: Hmmm

" For example, I believe Ireland have a system where you only pay corporation tax on sales within Ireland, and none on sales elsewhere, and that's attracted many companies to operate there."

If that's the case then I'd have thought that a lot of the possible legal objections fade away. It's not that CT isn't being paid in the nation of residence, it's that CT isn't being paid anywhere. The whole thing starts to look like a complex structure whose purpose is not to pay tax and not for operational reasons. That, as I understand it, is something the tax authorities are entitled to take action against.

"If companies had to pay all their corporation tax to Ireland, it might be less attractive to move there, just for a couple of percentage points off their tax."

It's not just a couple of percentage points. Ireland's CT rate is much lower. When one regime starts undercutting tax to that extent any entity which can move there will do so; it's not possible for must of us to move to personal tax havens but for a multi-national corporation to move to a CT haven it's practically a no-brainer. How should other countries react? They could make similar cuts but the end result is that none of them win; businesses stay where they started and none of the countries collects much tax. If, however, other countries have the sense not to join a race to the bottom they lose the tax of the companies that head-quartered in the tax haven but are effectively conducting business in their territories. At the point where this becomes intolerable - politically if not financially - they need to find some other solution. If this looks like such a solution then it's unlikely to be a problem at an international level as there would be plenty of other countries looking to follow suit.

FREAKing hell: ALL Windows versions vulnerable to SSL snoop

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I think we did that one a week or two ago.

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"Server: OK, here's your crummy RSA key."

And that's a server side problem. Correct answer is:

Server: No.

One does not simply ask the inventor of the WWW what he thinks about memes

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Actually I think it works better as it is. If I start typing theregister.co.uk into my browser it immediately presents a drop-down box with the likeliest matches based on previous usage. In fact just the t is sufficient to bring up elReg as the top entry. That wouldn't work if one had to enter uk.co. etc.

A gold MacBook with just ONE USB port? Apple, you're DRUNK

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"more fragile than competitors' machines. But Apple design again drove up quality"

Make up your mind, "fragile" or "good design".

Crap employers banned from enforcing backdoor crim records checks

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"Information for employers on making criminal record checks can be found here."

And information for those needing to report an employer in breach of this provision? Preferably anonymously.

Unless there's an effective system of enforcement this will go nowhere.

We have no self-control: America's most powerful men explain why they're scared of email

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'Graham told a confused Bloomberg News: "I've tried not to have a system where I can just say the first dumb thing that comes to my mind."'

Maybe talking to the press is just that sort of system.

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Re: Luddite?

"I don't do Facebook/Twit/G+/Linkedin. At times I post on ElReg forums. I don't know what that makes me."

Intelligently selective.

Hated smart meters likely to be 'a costly failure' – MPs

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Re: Network Neutrality

No, it's a matter of praising a govt for doing the right thing and blaming them for doing the wrong thing. The only weird thing here is that you seem to be assuming govts are consistent.

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Re: It will tell me how much power an appliance is using...

"They dont seem to be particularly smart meters"

But they're still smarter than the politicos who were sold on the idea.

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Re: UK market specifics

"wasn't aware of the crapita angle though"

i would have been safe to assume it, however.

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Re: In the news over the weekend...

"If you want to know how much juice you using then use something like this:"

Even simpler - just read the specs of the stuff you've plugged in.

Sleepy eNom bombs websites in HUGE DNS OUTAGE – remains silent despite gripes

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Re: Maybe

One of the basics of customer service is that you ensure your customers are kept informed when problems like this happen. Even if you don't particularly care whether your customers are happy or not it helps you by keeping them off your back so you can get on with fire-fighting.

Scotland to get National ID system 'by the backdoor', campaigners mull challenge

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Re: Why the fuss?

" I really don't know what peoples problem is"

It's a point of principle.

OK, they're not ROBOT BUTLERS, but Internet of Home 'Things' are getting smarter

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Re: Automatic Video Recorder?

"There are several comforts I now appreciate."

Number zero: electricity.

Yes, it was in Yorkshire. How did you guess?

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Re: Ifttt

You're solving the wrong problem. http://dilbert.com/strip/1998-10-13

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Re: All your pizzas are ours


My solution is simpler. I don't buy anything that shouldn't need to go online but wants to.

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Re: With a camera in the fridge...

"The light will have to come on whenever you access the image from the camera - at least, that's what they'll tell you - so you still won't truly know if the light goes out, and instead have to continue taking it on faith"

In Schroedinger's fridge the light is both off and on.

The secret of Warren Buffett's success at Berkshire Hathaway

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"but it's really not all about their being perfect stock-pickers at al"

OTOH how much did they invest in Greek bonds?

Grab your pitchforks: Ubuntu to switch to systemd on Monday

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Re: It's a question of complexity vs democracy

Whilst I agree with you overall Firefox did start from a corporation: Netscape. And it was actually forked from the Netscape suite which has been continued in open source form as Seamonkey.

But let's be grateful to those who carried on with open source Unix in the form of BSD.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: So Someone Please Tell Me...

"Why should I give half a shit about whether systemd is used on the distro I use for my home computers?"

Same answer as to previous similar questions. Not at all until something goes wrong at boot time. Then you find the logs are binary (unless you adopt the keeping-a-dog-and-barking-yourself option of exporting them to ASCII and unless the something wrong included that bit not working). And you find, as I did with Upstart which is similar in this regard, that there's nowhere to insert debugging statements.

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Re: Lucky us!

" in case the triad RedHat/Suse/Ubuntu falls victim to corporate interests. "

That triad are corporate interests. It's Debian that's fallen victim.

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"Plus, if you want to still use your init scripts within systemd, you can just configure to to use them."

Until someone decides that this is unnecessary & removes the facility. Can you guarantee that wouldn't happen?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the journal is stored in binary format with the configurable option to offload the logs to the current syslog system. it won't make any difference to someone who does not dabble in system start up."

What was wrong with ASCII? ASAICS this is obfuscation for the sake of obfuscation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"they have init scripts"

Oops. ini files.

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Re: oh well

"But then, I knew it was coming, which is why I'm sending money to devuan."

If I thought it stood a chance I would too. But I think more & more package developers are simply going to assume that systemd & friends are there & use some of their APIs. Eventually so many packages will need adapting to run in a systemd-free environment that it won't be possible to cope unless, of course, devuan succeeds to the point where it becomes the main Linux distro. I think those of us who want to keep using a Unix-like environment will migrate to one of the BSDs so I doubt that that would happen.

Bad news: Robo-cars will make you work billions more hours. Good news: In 2040

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Packet collisions first, real collisions next

"The farther away another vehicle is the less you would need to know about it.... forming a mesh network"

Here's part of the problem. If you have a mesh network at least some vehicles will retransmit messages. How does a vehicle decide whether the source is sufficiently far away that it can afford to not retransmit some particular message? If there's a long chain of vehicles a message might need to be passed back to all the vehicles which need to brake ASAP after the lead vehicle. OTOH messages from the opposite carriageway are presumably of no interest to anyone.

And "at least some vehicles" in the previous paragraph raises another part of the problem. Just some? If so, how should it be decided which should retransmit and which should stay silent? Once large numbers start to be involved strange emergent behaviour could be exhibited - all retransmission ceases, everything tries to retransmit or maybe the whole collection flips between these modes.

I see what you've done, there, twiiter.com: Tweet troops tackle tech twin

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Re: All these came after they started

"Not to mention variants like nitwitter.com.

That was the name they should have adopted in the first place."

Or the simpler twits.com

Bank of America wants to shove its IT into an OpenCompute cloud. What could go wrong?

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"I worry that some of the partners that we work closely with won't be able to make this journey,"

I wonder how many of those partners have big banking accounts with BoA. Maybe they'll make their journey elsewhere.

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