* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

MSDN unleashes a fresh round of unintentional innuendo bingo

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"when Kenneth got himself going"


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"One of Kenneth Williams's most quoted lines is in his role as Julius Caesar"

My favourite line from that, aboard ship, was "Sic transit Gloria". Did they call the character Gloria just so they could use that line?

But when it comes to innuendo the whole of the Carry On series pales in comparison to Round the Horne.

EU negotiator: Crucial data adequacy deal will wait until UK hands in homework

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"Does anyone else notice how, throughout this technical and complicated international discussion about the future of border security, intelligence sharing and anti-terrorist initiatives that there is zero mention of things such as public safety, effective policing or common defence?"

That's because we've spent several decades with the EU as the vehicle for handling these at the European level and by leaving we exclude ourselves from that. It's up to the Brexiteers to explain how they propose to deal with the consequences - it was they who persuaded a small majority of those who voted to bring those consequences down on us. Or didn't they think it was important?

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What is the American government security sharing agreement with the EU like considering they don't have any say in what the Americans do?

A fig leaf.

It was simply a fudge to allow TPTB on both sides to pretend everything was OK despite a clear difference in attitude between the two continents. It was never going to be able to withstand a serious challenge.

By adopting the provisions of GRPR the UK should have been much better placed but HMG has insisted on providing itself with some exemptions and various iterations of introducing Investigative Powers Acts found to contravene the HCRE. The EU is going to be much less likely to admit such a fudge.

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In his speech, Barnier claimed the UK needed to have more "realism" about what is possible in the Brexit deal

That'll be a novelty.

Senior judge: Put AI in charge of reviewing social media evidence

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"Since Liam Allan every single one of them has to be reviewed and analysed for relevance. That can take a detective days."

Unless that can receive some automated assistance on the lines the speech suggested it's a requirement that clearly needs to be reviewed. It's not always appreciated that the vast majority of lab time spent in criminal investigations is occupied by irrelevant material. A directive that casually adds to that without understanding the consequences is asking for trouble. As per sillyfudder's comment below it would be far more sensible to let the investigation be guided by the statements in the case unless there's good reason to think that material more distant from the time of the offence would be relevant.

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They kept asking for the same evidence for (I recall) 2 years. only for it to be "discovered" the day before the trial, which was then cancelled.

Parts of the explanation might lie in Adam52's post, a requirement to go through everything and then the subsequent backlog. Unfortunately everyone only sees their own case and doesn't realise what else investigators are dealing with. That doesn't just apply to complainants and accused; I remember having a couple or so murders in my caseload and being chased by a uniform constable for a result on a taking and driving away as he wanted to get it finished before he went on leave!

I wonder what proportion of complaints actually get to court these days. Back in my day one would come in to work on a Monday morning, look though the weekend's new cases and realise that most if not all were never going to proceed beyond a report on the medical samples. Are the police and/or CPS being set targets as to the number of cases to go to court regardless of merit?

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Re: Magic Wand

"I hope for all our sakes that this is the ranting of an individual and not the entire government thought that AI will magic everything better."

You haven't read it, have you?

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I wonder how many commentards have bothered to read the speech. It turns out that he has several time been involved in attempts to get disclosure put on a proper footing. The AI bit comes in the penultimate paragraph where he deals with the massive amounts of data generated by social media users with verbal diarrhoea (my description not his) and he seems to be looking for technological solutions "including AI" to help, not to dictate.

In fact, he makes some excellent points about the prosecution adopting a proper investigative mindset - by which he means considering multiple possibilities rather than just assuming a given person is guilty and concentrating on that. He also makes a good point about differentiating between a complainant and a victim - the difference being whether there has actually been a crime, a factor that an investigator needs to consider. It's just a pity he doesn't extend that terminological debate to differentiate between a culprit and a suspect.

TL;DR It's actually good stuff. Read it for yourselves.

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"Why not just give the evidence to the defence in the first place?"

I think this is what he refers to as the keys to the warehouse solution in para 17 (judges making speeches apparently can't get out of the habit of numbering their paragraphs). He points out that it simply transfers the problem and doesn't solve it.

Visa fingers 'very rare' data centre switch glitch for payment meltdown

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"In this instance, a component within a switch in our primary data centre suffered a very rare partial failure which prevented the backup switch from activating."

So the primary switch failed and took out the backup rather than t'other way about.

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If it was the backup switch then presumably the primary has already failed unless the backup was firing out packets that interfered with the rest of the network.

Capita admits it won't make money on botched NHS England contract

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Re: Just where are

the 'successful' public / government IT projects?

Under the radar because success isn't newsworthy. I've been on a few with one of my clients. One by one they eventually lost the contracts to the usual suspects. Go figure as to why that might be; I couldn't possibly comment.

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Re: Hmm

"But thats the problem, in house IT doesn't work, in house IT is lazy and takes advantage of working for public services."

More likely the in house IT in public services are running around like blue-arsed flies because their numbers have been cut and cut and cut again and there aren't enough left to do the job. There's probably not many between the techies who know what they're doing and what needs to be done and the PHBs who have no idea about either. So the solution is to outsource it, a process managled by the said PHBs with entirely predictable results. Usually it goes to an underbidder who then load on extras when they discover what needs to be done. In this case it looks as if Capita failed to discover what needs to be done before attempting to do it with even more predictable results.

Um, excuse me. Do you have clearance to patch that MRI scanner?

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Re: Computerised medical devices need TWO computers

"All control of the medical device is on one computer that runs the approved (and often years out of date) software for the device."

There's an additional problem if that computer fails and the approved S/W is unable to run on current H/W. There's a periodic need to update the S/W to keep up with what's available in the market place.

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"If hospitals don't buy their equipment (from an industry where all the players operate very similar licence terms) people might die."

If the regulators include security requirements in order to get and keep type approval they won't have anything to sell unless they take action.

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Re: obvious solution ...

you need to revert back to 20th century safer technology having to burn DVDs of all the scans etc. and carry them manually to computers of doctors.


The important factor is the outcome, not the technology.

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Re: obvious solution ...

"they...don't want / can't tolerate the disruption of a massive overhaul."

It needs to be presented to them in the form of "You can have the planned disruption of the overhaul now or you can have the more serious, unplanned disruption of something like Wannacry later with the media and public pointing at you and blaming you. Which is it to be?".

National ID cards might not mean much when up against incompetence of the UK Home Office

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Re: ID isn't the problem

"So the only way the government doesn't have information on you is if you're not from the UK, entered illegally and live illegally while not working, driving or renting. Which seems pretty much an edge case."

So if they've got all that information why would they need to issue me with an ID card - they know who I am?

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"Two of Javid's predecessors, Charles Clarke and Alan Johnson, have popped up with their answer: identity cards."

Given it was electorally toxic I'm not surprised by such a helpful suggestion.

Now Microsoft ports Windows 10, Linux to homegrown CPU design

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Re: Real opportunity to move forwards

"They may very well include DRM. Again, is this necessarily bad?"

If it comes up with false positives, yes. How do you know the version running the display panels was hooky? Could it simply be that they were isolated from the internet & couldn't phone home to be verified? You do not want your radiotherapy machine to lock up in the middle of your treatment because it suddenly decided it wasn't running legit Windows.

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Re: So have they ported Edge to this EDGE architecture?

Maybe Microsoft made the names coincide deliberately. Edge becomes MS branding across a range of product types?

Strip Capita of defence IT contract unless things improve – Brit MPs

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Re: "notorious IT outsourcing bungler Capita"


They're not even profitable these days.

You can see why if you look at the case of them not forwarding NHS mail and storing a backlog. Back in the old days they'd have got either the forwarding or the storage added to the contract as an expensive extra, probably both.

From here on, Red Hat's new GPLv2 software projects will have GPLv3 cure for license violators

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So, having made a composite of two licences what's the actual result? Surely it's neither GPL v2 nor GPL v3. GPL v2.1?

Developer’s code worked, but not in the right century

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Re: Date format history - somewhere?

"sure, pedants will find exceptions"

I don't think I've seen one that adopted that. Things were generally spelled out, often using regnal years - in fact the realms covered by the regnal years still included France well into the C17th.

Here's a Derbyshire lease: "the twelfth day of September in the fourth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord James ye second by the grace of God England Scotland France & Ireland King defender of the faith &c Annoq Dom one thousand six hundred eighty eight "

That one was on the cusp of replacing regnal years by AD years. A few decades later and into the C18th this is the somewhat terse date of my 6x great grandfather's Will: "the twenty first day of October Anno Dmi 1720".

By the time of my 5x great grandfather's Will this had got abit more wordy: "dated this twentythird Day of November in the Year of our Lord one Thousand seven Hundred forty and nine".

That continued into the C19th with my 3x ggfather: "the twenty seventh day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fourteen".

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Re: The HAVE been robbed: The Internet is international - and so are many supermarkets.

"The quarter around September 1752 ... was bad news for renters."

Thanks for that. I'd not thought about quarters. Yearly contracts were adjusted by moving the financial year end back by 11 days to April 5th.

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Re: The Internet is international - and so are many supermarkets.

"Now - of what does that remind me?"

An 11-day booze?

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"It was Excel"

When all you have is a hammer...

See also https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/06/18/home_office_loses_bid_to_reduce_number_of_potential_claimants_from_2013_data_error/

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Re: Hills

"For your Devon bonus, pronounce the name of the small town spelt Woolfardisworthy."

Isn't that one of those with several correct pronunciations?

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Re: Because computer dates are numbers but real dates aren't

"You're confusing the Julian calendar with the Julian Day."

Oh no I'm not.

"The calendar is extinct"

Not if you're dealing with historical material. Just because you don't it doesn't mean that nobody else does. It's building in assumptions like that that lead to failures.

If you have a Unix-like system with TZ set to one of those for "England and its colonies" (to quote the original man entry) run

cal 1752

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In terms of weird formats does anyone remember the TACS serial number as given on the phone's label and its relationship to the hex format CellNet needed to activate it?

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"I have an application that extracts the likely date content from free text postings."

Thursday before S Dunstans day, the year abovesaid [25 Edward I]

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Re: What did you break by getting little details like dates wrong?

"You are supposed to remember the date of your wedding anniversary."

I can remember the month, year, approx day of month and day of week. cal does the rest.

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Re: No standard for epochs - @katrinab

Unix counts seconds since the epoch, hence the approaching Unix Time "Apocalypse"

From then link: "On January 19, 2038 03:14:08 GMT all computers that still use 32 bit Unix Time will overflow."

In 20 years time will there be anything outside of museums still using 32-bit Unix time?

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Re: The Standard Date Format?

"I think year 0 on computers should have been end of last Ice age in Ireland"

What's your reference site, Littleton, Sluggan or something else? And are you including pollen zone I or even I, II and III as ice age?

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Re: Because computer dates are numbers but real dates aren't

Get into historical dates and you have more complications. Julian or Gregorian? Different countries switched at different times and the start of the year isn't necessarily the first of January. (Unix cal always starts with January. man cal, at least back in V7 days, listed that as a bug.)

Then you get documents with the year given as regnal years and/or the rest of the date relative to a church feast or saint's day. Such documents may relate to property.

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"those standards mostly say: think about what you're doing, do it consistently"

I'm not sure low level customer service agents are allowed to think what they're doing but consistency seems to matter, even if it's done badly. Once something goes wrong any complaint leads to the same wrong being repeated.

Newspapers often have a weekly column where a journalist manages to sort out various customer issues with big companies. Inevitably the problem has gone round a C/S loop several times without success, gets fixed as soon as it gets tackled out of loop and turns out to be some combination of "unique" and "computer" issue. The only thing unique was that it got handled by the company's press desk who needed a sensible answer. Up to then it had probably been handled strictly according to the C/S scripts with all the consistency that ISO 9000 and the like dictate. A few decades back the talk was of "empowering" C/S. That's been killed in the name of consistency.

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Re: Re : Can someone explain to me...

"Why this wasn't tested offline first before applying it to a LIVE database ?"

No test database?

Asylum seeker spreadsheet data blurt: UK Home Office loses appeal to limit claimants

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"The Home Office has been contacted for comment."

I'd like to see their comments as to whether this spreadsheet was the actual tool used for day-to-day management of their operations, why nobody checked to see if it was the appropriate form of this data for release and what in-house IT expertise they have for supporting staff.

It looks suspiciously like the consequence of the "if the only thing you have is a hammer..." approach to using spreadsheets for everything.

What can you do when the pup of programming becomes the black dog of burnout? Dude, leave

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Re: I don't recognise this. ...

"I'll be on-call if I'm getting paid."

My attitude (mostly in the days before mobiles) was "If you can contact me and I'm able to, I'll come in but no amount of pay is going to tie me to sitting by the phone all weekend".

Audi chief exec arrested over Dieselgate car emissions scandal

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"Genuinely shocked that he didn't have enough money to get out of being remanded."

Would that even be possible under German law at this stage in the proceedings? Even if it were, given that, as per comments above, the charge is witness tampering, bail might not be allowed.

Pwned with '4 lines of code': Researchers warn SCADA systems are still hopelessly insecure

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Re: Back in the day

"you read that correctly, 24-bit"

I started out on ICL 1900 so 24-bit seems perfectly normal.

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Re: SCADA systems running windows

Not ideal, but at least they have the right attitude to the security of such "IoT" devices

It makes the manufacturer suffer for their own attitude. I think, even if it's not ideal, it's some sort of local optimum.

... Aaaand that's a fifth Brit Army Watchkeeper drone to crash in Wales

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Re: Savings

"this is not some groundbreaking design"

It seems to have broken the ground several times.

Boffins offer to make speculative execution great again with Spectre-Meltdown CPU fix

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Re: To Stop Futures and Derivative Plays as Presently Planned for the Past ..... Believe in Miracles

"I thought this was buzzword bingo."

No. Just AMFM

Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist

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Re: They finally did it...

"I'll bet they won't use it themselves."

Don't be too sure. Taking a whole archive home to run on a PC. Using gmail for Company business. The people whose job it is to break into other people's stuff don't seem that interested in protecting themselves. Is it any wonder they don't see what's wrong with their idea of the public running back-doored devices?

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Re: tamper-proof screws aren't

"There are various screwheads around that are claimed to be tamperproof, but really they're just mildly inconvenient."

We had a new HP tape drive with a shipping bar secured by Torx screws back when they were new and supposedly uncommon. The engineers who came to set it up were a bit taken aback to find it already being used. My cheap screwdriver set already included a range of Torx bits.

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"I'll stick to my (not quite quite as easy to compromise) padlocks that I paid $20 dollars for"

I'll stick to the ancient Yale monster securing my shed. It's older than I am. Probably considerably older. It looks more like something built in a shipyard than a lock factory. OTOH it wouldn't be that hard to break through the side of the shed...

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Re: Where did you get that $20 padlock?

"Probably half the padlocks in a 10 mile radius open with the same key."

For years it seemed every filing cabinet I saw had a lock with the same key number.

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Re: Yeah - but if I am a "common criminal" I'll definitely find another non-indiegogo to pawn

"PETA will be on the case."

That's OK, the dogs will eat them.

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