* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

‘Whatever happened to Vladimir Putin?’ and other crap New Year prophesies

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Re: Y2k

"known about and attended to the first time a final mortgage payment date was given as being 1900 when a 25 or even 30 year mortgage was arranged"

Probably apocryphal but...

A consultancy was approached by a US state land registry for a new system. The clients specified two character dates. With Y2K fast approaching the consultancy pointed out the difficulty. The client insisted. Further analysis showed that the registry held documents going back the the C18th. At which point the consultancy declined the job.

I suppose it's the last sentence that makes it sound apocryphal.

Future imperfect: A UK broadband retrospective

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Re: Hmmm the Alcatel 'Snotblob'.

"When I had my ADSL installed in 2001 it was still a two engineer job. You had to have a ADSL box installed in the house. Was rather nice to have a proper purpose built box installed just where you wanted it in the living room."

Same date, a zero engineer job as far as I was concerned if, by engineer, you mean someone from BT. With the help of a cousin the master was <cough> relocated from the hall to the meter cupboard in the porch (no convenient power near the old location) and a cable pulled back to the hall with a slave socket on the original box, another telephone cable & a Cat 4 (yes, 4) to the upstairs room that was to become the office. Add a single splitter to the master and plug the slaves into that. Let Nildram know the new number & plug in the ADSL box which, IIRC, we'd brought from the old house and add a wireless access point. Also add the phone base station there sitting on top of the cupboard where we can see the missed call indicator when we come in.

ADSL box in the living room? SWMBO wouldn't want it there & anyway the meter cupboard kept a rat's nest out of site & out of mind.

Prez Obama snubs UK PM's tough anti-encryption crusade at White House meet

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Re: The horse bolted the stable long ago!

"Cameron isn't after cyberterrorists, he's after votes."

True. But if he thinks the way to get it is by banning their favourite apps he's greatly misjudged the twittering classes.

BMW: ADMEN have asked us for YOUR connected car DATA

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Weasel words

"had so far resisted requests"

Should be "under no circumstances will accede to requests at any time in the past or future". Not that it will affect the probability of my ever buying a BMW.

Young CHAP CUFFED in Blighty over Xmas Sony and XBOX hacks

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Is there more?

"unauthorised access to computer material"

What lies behind this? Are there suspicions of him being involved in the BIG Sony hack?

Fertiliser doom warning! Pesky humans set to wipe selves out AGAIN

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Have you ever heard of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)?


You'll get sick of that iPad. And guess who'll be waiting? Big daddy Linux...

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Re: iOS and OS X

"non-commercial developers listening to complaints from users... go on, pull the other one! Not that commercial devs always do listen (far from it)"

Six of one and half a dozen of the other in my view. If either side were to produce what every user agreed was the ideal product they'd still go ahead & try to fix what wasn't broken. Commercial devs need to have the next version to sell, non-commercial just because they want to.

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Re: THere's a missing "Sponsored: Canonical" at the bottom of this article...

"And as usual you'll see some Linux ...Android."

Just think again about what you wrote there.

Apple v Ericsson: Yet ANOTHER patent war bubbles over

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Re: Strange how fruity patents are so valuable

'I have always wondered why friends with "sent from my iphone" sigs...'

I've always wondered whether they're bragging, complaining or apologising.

Stop viewing Facebook at work says Facebook at work on Facebook at Work

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users (sorry, people)

The word you were looking for is "product".

PlayStation-processor-powered plutonium probe prepares Pluto pics

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"As New Horizons screams"

In space nobody can hear...

Google v Oracle: US Supreme Court turns to Obama in Java copyright war

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Re: Turkeys voting for Christmas

"So by making it an ANSI standard that surely makes it free to use? much like anyone could implement an ANSI C compiler."

And is it your contention that standards can't contain licensable IP? If so what do you think all these Samsung/Apple/MS/Google/whoever pissing matches are about? (Apart from those about rounded corners, of course.)

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Re: Turkeys voting for Christmas

"There's nothing with "copying" SQL, as it's been a standard since the 80's"

Nevertheless it was originated by IBM. It may be a standard but are any intellectual property rights FRAND? As IBM has owned Informix for a good while as well as DB2 they could give the opposition a bit of a problem if this ruling suddenly made SQL a copyright API. Umpteen years back royalties on Oracle? Larry might have to sell his boat.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Turkeys voting for Christmas

"Which API is that? Oracle is a lot of things and has a lot of products (in-house and acquired), but I must have missed the API upon which they built their business."


Preserve the concinnity of English, caterwauls American university

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Re: funny

"Am I scratching blood from my nose."

Did you upset him so much he decided not to teach you about question marks?

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Re: I'd settle...

"The commonest examples being lose and loose!"

Surely the commonest are its and it's. Have and of are also strong contenders.

Windows 7 MARKED for DEATH by Microsoft as of NOW

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Re: A definitive date

"2020 will be the year of the Linux desktop."

By then I think I'll be on the FreeBSD desktop. Debian 7 will be the last Linux desktop for me.

What do UK and Iran have in common? Both want to outlaw encrypted apps

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Look on the bright side

No DRM in streaming. No DRM on Blueray. All TV free to air....

Hawking and friends: Artificial Intelligence 'must do what we want it to do'

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Re: motivation

"the example of an AI that is tasked with making paperclips efficiently.

Given this as a motivation the logical conclusion as he sees it is the elimination of human life ... as very early on it would be clear that preventing anything from interfering with paperclip production is one of the essential tasks."

Clearly someone with no acquaintance with industrial production systems. The realistic task would be more along the lines of "make 200,000 boxes of paperclips" and especially "don't make more than we can sell".

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Re: "Our AI systems must do what we want them to do"

"AI will do what we told it to do, not what we want it to do."

Or not even that much. And anyway, as ever, it's 10 years ahead.

Peers warn against rushing 'enhanced' DATA SLURP powers through Parliament

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Making hay

When you can't find a needle in a haystack what you need is a lot more hay. Obviously.

Had a data breach? Well, SPEAK UP, big biz – Obama

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Works both ways? No?

"The plans would make it a crime to sell this data to overseas firms."

How about making it a crime to obtain data from overseas firms (by US Gov)?

20 years on: The satirist's satirist Peter Cook remembered

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Re: "greatest British comedian of all time "

"Tommy Handley, Max Miller, Spike Milligan, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Morecambe and Wise, Peter Cook"

And let's remember Lance Percival as another of the greats of that time.

Then there were some great singers who appeared on those shows, Millicent Martin, Cleo Laine, Marion Montgomery, Annie Ross...Duds reduced a few of those to laughter if they were brave enough to duet with him.

We just didn't realise how lucky we were.

Tax Systems: The good, the bad and the completely toot toot ding-dong loopy

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Re: Tobin/Robin Hood Tax

"We have one in the UK.

It's called Stamp Duty, and costs 0.5% on share purchases."

And at a larger rate on property sales.

Given sufficient capital it would be feasible to handle house sales by an agent taking your existing house in part-exchange. Because the transaction tax would be taken twice there's no chance of this happening except, maybe, on corporate-funded relocations (something like that actually did happen to me).

What happens, therefore, is that agents and solicitors end up arranging long chains of transactions all set up to happen on the same day so each deal is only subject to a single transaction tax. If something goes wrong with one link in the chain the whole thing is delayed or collapses completely. If you need to move for work without the employer paying relocation you can end up renting in one place for months at a time which your family stuck hundreds of miles away (been there too).

It's an enormous deadweight effect which has a bad negative effect on mobility of labour.

MI5 boss: We NEED to break securo-tech, get 'assistance' from data-slurp firms

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Re: Discrepancy

"Did they already know what they were going to find though?"

I suspect that that's what's happening in the Microsoft email case. Anybody who's seen anything of it in the media and had dodgy emails on Hotmail/Live/Outlook/What's it called this week would have long since deleted them. They already have the text & want someone of their own to be in a position to introduce it in court as evidence. Going through the proper channels would result in some Garda going to court & testifying that there was nothing of significance on the account; that wouldn't do at all.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: oh no

"Is the register going to start using BBC stock photos showing "hackers" wearing balacavas in darkened rooms with binary in their eyeballs?"

I don't know because I block all their images now. I suggest you do the same. It saves a lot of time and insults to the intelligence.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I’ve said before and I’ll say again MI5 does not browse through the private lives of the population at large."

Just those using Yahoo visual chat. Or maybe that was GCHQ, not 5?

"You should not imagine that MI5 is always arguing for new powers or more tools"

No imagination required. We keep seeing them do just that.

I'd like to see him start again and specifically address:

Due process. Maybe he could find a date to tackle this one in June when we'll be celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta which brought this into English law. Restoring it would be a good contribution to those celebrations.

Presumption of innocence. If the population at large are to be presumed innocent than he doesn't need blanket powers. If he doesn't presume the population at large to be innocent then he should come clean and admit he rejects one of the basic precepts of British law.

Reasonable expectations of personal and commercial privacy. If organisations we use in the course of regular - innocent - communication are to slurp data how does he propose to prevent this being (a) sold for corporate profit by those organisations, (b) sold for personal profit by individuals working in those organisations, (c) passed, for profit or otherwise, by his organisation and his confrères as industrial espionage and (d) secured against intruders who might grab the data to be sold for profit.

US kills EU watchdog's probe into EU cops sharing EU citizens' data

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Re: No point in kicking a dead dog.

"If you've been under a rock, the latest incident in France will allow the spook agencies to continue to mine private data and share it with the other international agencies."

Irrelevant. The IRA managed to plan and carry out such atrocities and worse for years without the use of the net or mobiles. And not much assistance was given by the US governments it looking at the financial support given by Irish Americans. The US needs to stop being all take and no give.

"And considering the alternatives... its not a bad thing unless you're a terrorist."

If we're to occupy the high moral ground in relation to terrorism we've first of all got to get there.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

It seems an odd way to end the investigation. The Ombudsman has been unable to perform its statutory duty therefore the agreement is failing to meet its statutory obligations and should, therefore, be considered illegal and either closed down forthwith or suspended until the Ombudsman is able to give it a clean bill of health.

The EU needs to play hard-ball on these matters. All these arrangements, including Safe Harbour, should be ended until such time as the US is prepared to prove its bona fides.

Cryptowall's ransomware's tough layers peeled

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"I'd like to see more information about how it's anti-VM features are supposed to work."

From the linked article: http://blogs.cisco.com/wp-content/uploads/cryptowall-2.jpg

Yup, that's code in a Jpeg.

Erik Meijer: AGILE must be destroyed, once and for all

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Re: Blaming the tools...

"We have a daily standup"

I take it you've never suffered from back trouble?

FBI boss: Sony hack was DEFINITELY North Korea, haters gonna hate

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Re: What difference does it make

Actually they are - or should be - talking to other countries as well. Every time the US takes umbrage at another country they go looking for allies to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with them. With the nuppit Blair they succeeded. Post dodgy dossier, however, they've been finding it more and more difficult. They need to start building credibility much wider than Soccer-Moms and Red-necks.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

@ AC

"For those naive enough to think that the fact they haven't shared all of the evidence means it doesn't exist, well there's little hope for you getting far in life without your tin hat anyway."

You need to realise that they haven't shared any evidence. None. All they've done is make allegations and expect the public to believe them. In any forensic context the purpose of evidence is to convince the public or at least the public's proxies, jurors, of allegations (or denials in the case of the defence). In such a context evidence is what's presented and tested in court. If it hasn't been so presented it's not evidence, it's just allegations.

The question of whether to withhold intelligence material or present it as evidence isn't new. At some point, if you believe in the rule of law you either have to present that material as evidence and have it tested or shut up; just saying you have it doesn't cut the mustard. Having had a lot of your methods outed should make a decision in favour of disclosure easier - if you've got nothing left to hide... Another major factor here is that the US has taken retaliatory action. Even though it has done this without due process it might be wise to present the evidence that would have been produced had due process been followed.

For instance in this case it's being claimed that some messages were sent from addresses "used" by NK. In what way were they used? In their allocation block? In servers outside NK but used to host some service for them? If the latter, what sort of service? The Little Leader's Hotmail A/C?

We are seriously being asked to believe that someone who is capable of a break-in of this magnitude is incapable of covering their tracks in sending messages; is that so or is it more credible that someone who achieved the break-in is also capable of routing their messages to mislead? Sceptics have pointed out that the claims on behalf of NK didn't start until the media had made the link to the film; what's the timing of these messages from alleged NK servers in relation to that link being made.

FYI, although there were circumstances when a tin hat and maybe a Kevlar jacket would have been useful, I've got quite far in life. Part of that has involved looking quite critically at what information alleged evidence actually provided.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


Where I come from - which is the best part of half a working lifetime in forensic investigation - if you think you have evidence you'll present it in public in a forum in which it can be challenged. If you don't do that you don't have evidence. If it fails the challenge you don't have evidence. If it passes the challenge you've finally got evidence.

On that test Comey doesn't have evidence.

It's really hard to imagine anything which would create sympathy for the N Korean regime. Washington needs to step back, take a long look at what it's doing and realise that it seems to be making serious efforts to create such sympathy.

BAN email footers – they WASTE my INK, wails Ctrl+P MP

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Re: Obligations

"What a lot of people don't realise is that under the Companies Act 2006 Private Limited, Public Limited or Limited Liability companies (so most companies in effect), email correspondence to people outside your organisation must include your company name, registration number, place of registration and registered office address. This is the same as the requirements for hard copy letterheads and order forms in the Companies Act 1985."

Thanks for this reminder. Now who is responsible for enforcing this?

What I have in mind is all the companies, especially financial, who follow up any contact with marketing spam, usually send as from themselves but by a marketing company. And often with no other mention of their own domain other than noreply@crassbank.com as the From: address. Whose company info should be on such a missive? The bank's? The marketing spammer's? If the marketing spammer puts the bank's info on something they send is this an offence all of its own?

The FCA, bless their toothless grimaces, are likely to take no interest in banks training their customers to respond to phishing. But an offence under the Companies Act might get some action.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


"If you send the message directly to the public MX, you have the same expectation of confidentiality as if you sent it first class to their mailroom. If you encrypt the connection using SMTP/TLS you have the same expectation of confidentiality as if you sent it to their mailroom in a locked container."

No. If you send it without encryption you have the same expectation of confidentiality as if you sent it on a postcard.

This is an expectation which we need to improve on with a new generation of email protocol.

It's 2015 and ATMs don't know when a daughterboard is breaking them

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Re: Free-standing ATM

"well they have tracking devices in them now."

Good idea! It makes it easier to recover them so they can be refilled.

Yes, we need two million licences - DEFRA

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Re: Weasle Wording?

"Glad I'm not the only one to have noticed that."

But did you notice the miss-spelling of weasel?

If Europe is against US's Irish email grab, it must pipe up now

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Re: Sloppy corporate structure. Sloppy security. Sloppy access rights

"It does seem weird to me that a district judge is abrogating treaties, I did not think that this was in their remit."

I seem to remember reading somewhere that there is something very odd about the way the US handles treaties. Something along the lines that individual states aren't bound by the treaties the Federal Gov't makes.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Sloppy corporate structure. Sloppy security. Sloppy access rights

"I'm pretty sure no-one in the US has access. But, as the district judge has realised, they can give orders to the people that do, even if they are under European data protection laws"

If nobody in the US had access I don't think there'd be a problem: Judge orders MS/US to pass on the orders. MS/US passes on the orders. MS/IE says "Got the orders. Sorry, can't follow them, local legislation forbids.". MS/US tells judge they passed on the orders but they were countermanded outside their (MS/US's) remit.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Sloppy corporate structure. Sloppy security. Sloppy access rights

"Presumably Microsoft et al would have to come up with some kind of technical rather than managerial scheme"

As I've suggested before, a franchise scheme should work. An Irish owned and staffed company would have the franchise to run MS-branded email services for European subscribers with all servers located in European countries under European legislation licensing the IP from MS. I doubt that setting that up would be beyond the abilities of MS lawyers and if necessary I'm sure they could take a little advice from their opposite numbers at Starbucks.

No wind-up: Second New Year's honour for Baylis music box

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Editorial standards slipping

"Department for Culture, Media and Sport."

Should be Ministry of Fun.

Metrics house hails Apple DOMINANCE of X-Mas phone 'n' slab sales

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Re: Short memories

"You laugh, but revolution it was nevertheless."

Maybe you didn't notice but the author credited Apple with the mobile revolution, not the smartphone revolution. As if nobody had a mobile that wasn't a smartphone.

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Short memories

"Apple, the company that started the mobile revolution with the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007"

Ah yes, I remember the tin cans & string we used for 20 years or more before that.

Survey: Tech has FREED modern workers – to work longer hours

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Re: Internet is a necessity

"The rest of us have 2 choices, either work all the hours the boss says to work, or like me, only work the hours the boss pays you to work."

The third option is freelance. All the hours worked are billed.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No Surprise


Internet = web

Email = Email

NORKS? Pffft. Infosec bods BLAME disgruntled insiders for savage Sony hack

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Re: to massacre the language!

Modern grammarians say that there's no reason to object to a split infinitive. But I still think it's an inelegant construct.

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Re: No shit, Sherlock.

"(1) the Admin or other privileged operator who screws up accidentally; ...Recent troubles with POS terminals"

Given that at least some POS hacks have been achieved via subcontractors given access to an unsegmented LAN perhaps these should be attributed to screw-ups.


Doctor Syntax Silver badge


The Galaxy & Playbook are refurbs.

DON'T PANIC! Latest Anonymous data dump looks old hat

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On the day after Christmas

Maybe we could have a new carol

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me

A DDoS attack


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