* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Buses? PAH. Begone with your filthy peasant-wagons

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: toll lanes

"This is only half true." etc

Interesting - a couple of downvotes.

Over the years, from school, through university to work I've used a wide range of ways to travel - on foot, cycle, motorcycle (does a BSA Bantam count?) car, bus, train and tube, individually or in combination. I've managed to miss out horse riding, ferries & flight but I think it was a fair sample.

The single worst commute was by train and tube from High Wycombe to central London in pre-privatisation days. No matter whether it was walk or drive to the station, train to Marylebone or Paddington, one tube or two all the rides, walks and waits for trains and tubes added up. At best they added up to at least an hour and a half each way or, as I regarded it, the equivalent of two extra full-days work a week, unpaid and unproductive. The Paddington route ran alongside the traffic jam that was the A40 and was clearly a better solution than that, but efficient? No.

I'm aware that for many an hour and a half each way would be less than many experience. But it's not what ought to be an acceptable way to expect people to live in what's supposed to be an advanced society.

But, my downvoters, don't you realise that your presumably preferred trains, electric cars or whatever aren't the solution? They're part of the cause of the problem. Every advance in transport since the invention of the horse-drawn omnibus has facilitated the clustering of workplaces into ever larger lumps, ever increasingly separated from where people live. It's an unsustainable mess. We ought to be looking at how to fix it, not doing more and more of the same.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Bus lanes

"Indeed the only thing I’d have reservations on allowing in bus lanes would be buses."

The stop-start pattern of buses is so different from that which other road users are trying to achieve that it makes sense to segregate them in their own lanes. If only the damned things would stay in them!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: There is no "best" form of transport

"But parking is seen as encouraging cars, and cars are bad."

Seen by whom? By the self-same planners who've spent the last 60+ years carefully constructing this mess!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Some points

"I'm a single guy living on the outskirts of a major city, so YMMV."

And I'd guess you have a direct bus route reasonably convenient to work from home.

At my last gig I had a car commute of about 40-45 minutes all being well. Once I tried to work out if I could do the trip easily by public transport. The best I could come up with was a three leg journey by bus. It was, of course, much less direct than my car journey. Between the first two legs there was a 20 minute wait. Between the last two there was a 4 minute gap which could have been tricky as the intermediate leg included the transpennine section of the M62 which couldn't be relied on for such critical timing. It worked out that I'd have had to leave home at about 6.25 to get to the client site at just after 9.00 if everything went well. I didn't bother working out the return journey.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Buses are like HS2

"HS2 does not solve transport problems and is a centrally planned solution to a non existent problem."

AIUI the journey time is one of the problems its supposed to solve, the other is the lack of capacity. Unfortunately the latter is a current problem to be solved by HS2 in n years' time.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: toll lanes

"Trains and tubes run on a managed, dedicated route, so are more efficient if you have a station nearby."

This is only half true.

They're only more efficient if you have a station nearby at both ends of the journey and if they're directly connected by a single route. I always assume that those who laud public transport are those for whom that is the case.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Driverless. It's the future don't you know.

"an electric model with the most pathetic of batteries could do whatever it can manage before heading off to recharge"

Probably right in the middle of someone's journey.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The best urban transport

"Cycle lane put in road that is barely wide enough for car..."

One local stretch of road which has had a cycle lane for years is wide enough. Today, however, was only the second time I've seen a cyclist riding along there. He was on the footpath. The other, some years ago, was riding at night in the middle of the car lane.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Use Broadband, not the bus !

Actually the "prehistoric need for a daily physical commute" isn't that prehistoric. It's very largely the product of post-war town (don't laugh) planning.

I grew up in one of the Pennine textile-producing valleys. In the '50s there were about 4 buses an hour doubled up in rush hours. That worked out very well. Most people worked in mills and had a potential work-place a short distance from home; in some cases their nearest mill would be closer than their nearest bus-stop. Typically a bus-seat would be occupied by several different passengers in the course of a journey as most passengers' journeys were small part of the route. And because some people who commuted travelled up the valley and some down the buses didn't need to make empty outbound trips.

Almost all the mills have now closed. But they haven't been replaced by other workplaces. The predominant theory of town planning seems to have been to separate workplaces and residential areas into separate zones. The workplaces have been concentrated in cities employing so many people that they need residential catchments of over a thousand square miles plus clusters of trading estates largely adjacent to motorway junctions. So the local mills have been replaced by housing (brownfield sites!) mostly inhabited by people commuting to the various cities 20-30 miles away.

The combination of rising population due to the extra housing, a greater proportion of the population being out of walking distance to their employment and the length of the commutes ensures that the old bus service couldn't cope so the car has to take over. But the current roads are simply the roads that were there all along and aren't really able to cope.

It isn't sustainable. And yet it's what 60+ years of town and country planning has worked towards. Adequate public transport is a joke; only a limited proportion of commutes fit neatly onto public transport routes.

Frankly I don't see how it can be fixed. Ideally the answer would be to convert some of the city centre workplaces into residential for those prepared to live and work there and replace them with a combination of home-working and workplaces out in what are currently the commuter belts to restore the balance. But the redevelopment of the old mill-sites into housing isn't easily reversible. As redundant mills the sites had a single owner wanting to sell. Now they have many owners of whom only a few at any one time wish to sell. Short of compulsory purchase it wouldn't be possible to reassemble a plot large enough to build a workplace and the whole notion of developing brownfield sites was to avoid using up more greenfield land.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Use Broadband, not the bus !

"And in London there will be a big poster on the site saying 'Mayor of London' as if the Holy Floppy-Haired Twat even knows about the place."

Probably his newt-bothering twat predecessor wouldn't have known it any better.

Online armour: Duncan Campbell's tech chief on anonymity 101

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Is TOR still secure?

With reports of nodes being taken over is it possible that entry nodes as well as exit nodes could be suspect? If an attacker has control of entry and exit nodes it would be possible to correlate the traffic between the two and work out who's talking to who.

Split could force NetMundial Initiative back to the drawing board

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"very constructive, frank, and candid discussion"

That's one where they send in the cleaners to get the blood off the carpet.

Hackers pop German steel mill, wreck furnace

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Separate LANs

At my last gig (several years ago, given that I'm retired) there were several separate LANs. The nature of the business was secure processing of personal data on behalf of clients. LANs for production systems were kept separate from the office and development systems. If we needed to inspect live data for any reason (to find out how the clients had failed to pass well-formed XML this time) we had to use a specific PC in a secure area under supervision.

It's what was needed to be done there and it's what needs to be done more generally. If data has to be passed across networks then implement some secure bridge that only passes carefully sanitised data, e.g. CSV rather than spreadsheets, checked against attempted buffer overruns etc.

It may seem inconvenient to have air gaps. However having a furnace full of solid steel, yoru customers' credit card details stolen or all your servers' contents dumped online brings home the true meaning of inconvenience.

Bring back big gov, right? If only the economics, STUPID, could tell us more

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: old ways of doing things

"One of the biggest factors missed out in the report is that nowadays the UK is a player in a world market."

The UK has been a player in a world market for a very long time. The difference between then & now is that we used to run that market.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

One thing that mucks up your comparison a bit is that politically 45-73, at least in the UK, covers both Labour & Conservative governments. And Big Unions didn't really become powerful until Wilson's time.

Another factor is that any change in policy is going to have a lag before it becomes effective. How long is that? Does it vary from one change to another? And does it vary between different parts of the economy?

FURY erupts on streets of Brussels over greedy USA's data-slurping appetite

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Digital consulates

That's known as safe harbour. It only works if the host country respects the inviolability. It's not working.

I think the committee of MEPs who looked at this post-Snowden bottled out. Instead of issuing vague threats about looking at it again they should have said safe harbour is cancelled, no new arrangements allowed, a short period allowed to repatriate data from existing arrangements, all data subjects with data currently in safe harbour to be warned and safe harbour status only to be restored if & when the US show that they deserve it.

The Shock of the New: The Register redesign update 4

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Still not there.

"Top Art in stories - now editorially selectable"

Clear the message hasn't got through to enough editors. I tried removing the block on images from regmedia but quickly reimposed it; overall the site's better without any images than it is with these almost entirely irrelevant clonkers hiding the top of the stories.

Movie industry's evil plan to destroy the internet is going precisely nowhere

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Alternative solution

"Why don't we just change all the DNS entries for Sony. If they can't be found, then a lot of people would be extremely happy."

If they couldn't have been found Sony would have been extremely happy now. Or at least less unhappy than they now are.

Judge spanks SCO in ancient ownership of Unix lawsuit

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Any of the BSD's, I prefer FreeBSD

Yes, as time allows I'm looking at it. I think that's where I'll be going.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I'm not sure that SCO fell on hard times because of competition with Linux. Back in the day it was a well regarded Unix system but expensive. Had they dropped the price a little & maybe offered a freebie (as in beer) 1 to 2 user system I'm not sure Linux would even have got off the ground and they would certainly have kept a healthy slice of the server market by not playing fast and loose with backwards compatibility. With Caldera they could also have had the chance of being a major Linux player as well. AFAICR it was the new management who decided that litigation might be more profitable that caused the problems.

As I had a few clients using SCO & find its eventual fate disappointing. Not to mention that, with systemd & friends turning Linux into a non-Unix-alike system, a healthy SCO would be just what a good many sysadmins need right now.

Hackney council leaked thousands of locals' data in FoI blunder

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Hackney Homes and the Council takes data protection very seriously"

This must be a meaning of take seriously of which I was previously unaware.

Do these muppets really think that simply saying they take it seriously actually mitigates the offence in some way? And do they really think we believe them?

If, instead of the usual knee-jerk phraseology they actually admitted that they hadn't taken it seriously enough they'd actually get a little respect for their honesty.

Microsoft fires legal salvo at phone 'tech support' scammers

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

It's a start

When are they going to have a go at the "confirm your login on Hotmail/Live/Outlook" spammers?

EU VAT law could kill thousands of online businesses

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Amazon is a seller of physical goods...

"Freelancers and independent artists don't usually have trade orgs"

Maybe not independent artists but for freelancers there's the PCG. Being retired I'm no longer a member but I wonder what their take is on this.

Sony hackers dump more hunks of stolen data, promise another 'Christmas gift'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Wow. Just wow.

"I'll bet long odds that the few folks that pointed out that this leak was happening were the first ones out the damned door. Too much risk leaving them around."

Logically this would be a bad idea. Now the law suits have started they'd be star witnesses. OTOH logic & big media?

Ofcom mulls selling UK govt's IPv4 cache amid IPv6 rollout flak

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: IPv6

"Out here in the sticks I'd be lucky to get one pigeon a day, and I have to share that with my neighbour"

Maybe collared doves would be OK.

Or pheasants? Don't just shoot the messenger, shoot it and eat it.

Banks, UK.gov must work together to beat cyber-nasties

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

'Banks currently view cyber attacks as a "technical" problem, rather than an issue which merits "board-level attention,"'

Post-Sony maybe this view will be a bit easier to change.

Ofcom's new broom Sharon White sweeps into office

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I think we should be told.

These canned statements of which you write - are they ring pulls, wind-up keys like corned beef or do you need a tin-opener?

Plusnet could face DATA BREACH probe over SPAM HELL gripes

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: How big a problem and why?

"I'd be curious to identify common factors among those affected."

They were the ones copied before the USB drive filled up?

'Shadow IT' gradually sapping power and budget from CIOs

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Obstacle or Enabler?

"They gave me a CMS (I'm the web person) that didn't work in the company browser, but I was forbidden to download a browser where it would work."

Who was "they"? If it was IT then they did a crap procurement job if they didn't ensure it would work with their approved browser (or approve an acceptable browser). If it wasn't IT then it sounds like you're a minor offender compared to whoever put in the CMS. Unless, of course, that was also you.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: One Day

"And all because someone did an MBA."

At some point MBA courses will start using the Sony cockup as a case study, especially if it proves terminal. When that happens MBAs will finally be given a clue that this security stuff matters.

In the meantime it might be a good idea to start a rumour that the initial Sony break-in was via a BYOD - at best it'd be useful FUD & possibly even true (you heard it here first).

Hold the front page: Spain's anti-Google lobbyists lobby for Google News return

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I'm still puzzling...

I can't help you there. I've just blocked all pics from elReg. The downside is that even relevant pics are blocked but overall the S/N ratio is improved.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Prospect of death concentrates the mind

Isn't it amazing that they never manage to think "What if?" until "if" hails into sight?

Four tuner frenzy: The all-you-can-EEat TV Freeview PVR

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


Alternatively build a box to run Mythtv. A Hauggauge card has 2 tuners per card. Plug in as many as you think the motherboard can handle and add as much disk as you please.

BOFH: Capo di tutti capi, bah. I'm having CHICKEN JALFREZI

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Gina says, appearing out of nowhere.... Honestly, it's like watching a magician at work. Even though you're watching you still can't work out how it's done. Like how that cup of scalding hot tea ended up in the PFY's lap. Magic."

OK, now I get it. Gina = Genie. Panto season coming up.

El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Eh...

It really says something when the only way to say something psoitive is to scratch around to find something that wasn't done that would have made it worse.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Crap Crap Crap Crap

"PLEASE don't give them any bright ideas."

Well, if they did it would probably solve a difficult problem - whether to continue visiting this site or not. Disqus would certainly tip the balance.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Don't talke this personally

"You get points for trying, though."

No they don't. It wasn't broke so they shouldn't have fixed it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: El Reg Redesign - leave your comments here

What part of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" did El Reg not understand?

Time to charge up the cattle prod.

Specific problems?

Humungous pictures, even if they're relevant, blocking the top of every article.

Top of article link to comments now reduced to a wizened little appendage.

Adblock & Noscript probably shield me from come of the other problems.

Denmark BANNED from viewing UK furniture website in copyright spat

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Thanks Danes

"I hadn't heard of Voga.com."

Neither had I. They've got some nice stuff there.

REVEALED: Titsup flight plan mainframe borks UK air traffic control

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Hmmmm

Standard operating procedure.

Car-crash IT: HUGE write-off for Universal Credit - PAC

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Of course it's not a shambles.

Not by DWP standards, it isn't

Uber? Worth $40 BEEELLION? Hey, actually, hold on ...

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Maintenance

"Driverless car arrives at your home and is foul - press the 'it's foul' button, it'll go to get cleaned whilst a replacement makes its way over to you. "

It's Saturday morning. The next one is in the same condition as is the one after that. At some point it dawns on you that either you get in anyway or you miss your plane.

Do you even know who your customers ARE?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: From a customer's PoV

Which now closed local branch did you have in mind?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

From a customer's PoV

If I go into a traditional shop I pay, take what I've bought & the shop has no idea who I am. If I buy online the trader needs more information - the payment will be by some electronic means & there'll need to be an address for delivery - unless it's a download. But once that's done there's no need to retain that information, indeed doing so contravenes the DPA.

So no, traders, you are not entitled to know who I am. If you want me to register my email address I'll look elsewhere unless I envisage trading with you again & think that it would be to my advantage to give you the address. If I look elsewhere and there's no alternative you'll get my spam bin address but if I notice you sending me any spam there you'll get a brusque mail back, aimed as high up your org. chart as possible, telling you that not only was that spam unwelcome but it has blocked you off from receiving any more business from me.

My identity is not yours to manage. It's mine.

'I don't NEED to pay' to watch football, thunders EU digi-czar

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

'There's no technical reason why iPlayer can't work for me, and I'm perfectly willing to pay a subscription if that's what it takes... but I don't have the option. There's no technical, legal or financial reason for this - it's purely a matter of "f*** off, you filthy foreigners".'

The reason is that it's the Beeb. You're confusing it with a competent organisation.

Boffins: We have found a way to unlock the MYSTERIES OF SHEEP from old parchments

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Kudos to Proc. Roy. Soc. for not hiding behind a paywall.

Sacre block! French publishers to sue Adblock maker – report

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Ad Neaseam

I just saw a mention of this in Another Place (as they say in the HoC):


It seems to fit the bill nicely. The user doesn't get bombarded with ads, web-sites get paid and, contrary to what one might think, the advertisers who pay to not get their ads seen also gain. Because the user doesn't actually suffer the ads they don't build up a negative response to the advertiser.

It might need a bit of tuning, however. "Clicking" every website might be excessive, it would need a maximum bandwidth setting.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: There are other ways

"But be creative -- mix up the envelopes first.

Never send it back to where it came from."

What I'd like Hotmail to do is add a button "Forward Spam". It would forward copies of each of the emails in the junk folder to the return addresses of all the others.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: There are other ways

"like so much junk mail getting thrown into the bin unopened"

Why do that? Just post it back to the bar stewards. It's their junk, they can dispose of it.

So this Saudi Prince calls and asks why he can't watch movies ...

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: An IT Manager asked me to raise a formal Change Request...

We designed this system so that everything to do with setting up a new product (no, not just setting up a product code) could be done through a proper GUI interface by business users. All the surrogate keys & what not would be properly fitted together. What management decided they wanted was a full-blown procedure written out for IT support with hand entered SQL. Horses & water....

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