* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16449 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Internet luminaries urge EU to kill off automated copyright filter proposal

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One solution to the problem of automated take-down requests for non-existent URLs would be to charge the IP lawyers a handling fee, say $10, per erroneous request. Even a lawyer would baulk at having to pay a million handling fees per day. We might actually see a few IP lawyers being bankrupted.

UK! watchdog! slaps! Yahoo! with! £250k! fine! for! 2014! data! breach!

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Re: They'll never levy a maximum penalty

"If Yahoo isn't a maximum breach given the number of people involved"

It's not just the number of people, it's the length of time they sat on the breach before reporting. That's the sort of thing that lifts fines into the higher tier under GDPR.

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Given the multiple failures here, including the long delay, this really was a case for a maximum fine if only to signal intentions about dealing with similarly egregious failings under GDPR.

EU-US Privacy Shield not up to snuff, data tap should be turned off – MEPs

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"Meh they'll just fall back to model clauses"

I think GDPR has probably killed a lot of those.

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Re: Disagree

"You have to give your trade partners time to comply."

How much time do they need?

As the article says, it was set up, reviewed after a year and some matters were found to need attention and, months later, still outstanding. Then the CLOUD act has made matters worse. They're not going to comply, at least not under more duress than just continuing threats to shut it down without doing so.

AFAICS the only effective pressure will be to shut down and put the ball in the US's court if they want it restarted.

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It was always a fig-leaf, not a shield. Giving them until Sep 1 is just another fudge. Just call it dead and gone until the US comes back with an already implemented package that's compliant with EU law.

Devuan ships second stable cut of its systemd-free Linux

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Re: systemd-free?

"the vi vs emacs holy war was getting old"

You could always try nvi vs vim

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"I upgraded an RC1 install"

I forgot to mention one small bug.

Entered "view some_file".

???? What's that?

apt-get install nvi

Same thing

It turned out that /etc/alternatives/view was linked to mcview.

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Re: systemd-free?

"I still don't get why people are so disgruntled by Devuan."

They're True Believers who see any disparagement of the great and good systemd as heresy and Devuan supporters as heretics.

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Re: Is it Upgrade Season or...

"I can never keep the two straight."

If you can't remember, try one, then the other, then the first one again.

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Re: systemd-free?

"My concern is that if the people that care about running without systemd all migrate to Devuan, and if Devuan developers put little effort into pushing their changes upstream into Debian, then there will be that much less reason for Debian Developers to maintain the choice."

My concern would be more along the lines of what happens with Devuan changes pushed upstream. It's not likely that if a package is maintained by systemd fans they will accept any changes based on keeping it independent of whether systemd is running. My long term concern is that so much stuff becomes so systemd dependent that Devuan becomes unsustainable.

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"The project's last release candidate was released in May, and as you'd hope, not much has changed between then and full release."

I upgraded an RC1 install and expected that to be a fairly long process. It wasn't. Now I need to find out how to get KDE to see the Wacom tablet and to find a less fashionably fugly set of trimmings for KDE5.

Computer Misuse Act charge against British judge thrown out

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She phoned Guildford Crown Court, where the case was due to be heard, “to ensure that the trial judge was not someone who knew her or her daughter,” according to Mr Justice Davis’ written ruling. Judges are subject to strict rules that prohibit them from judging cases where they have a personal interest.

Now the whole thing makes sense. Having a case abandoned midway through a hearing because of something like that is not good.

Which? calls for compensation for users hit by Windows 10 woes

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"Won't Microsoft argue that it's free"

No. They wouldn't be able to complain about piracy.

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Re: software giant still needs to work a little harder

"MS has worked extremely hard to beat the sheep into their fenced garden."

Gardener with neighbouring sheep farmer here: sheep have to be kept out of gardens.

Astroboffins trace mysterious noise from hard rock in space

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The radiation must represent a loss of energy so their spin should slow. Is there a mechanism to spin them up again?

IBM to GTS: We want you to 'rotate' clients every two years

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"the right skills in the right place at the right time."

Knowledge of the (client) business being supported is one of the right skills.

Open Source Security hit with bill for defamation claim

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Re: Waiting for the other shoe to drop

"Bruce Perens becomes the new owner of the copyright of OSS's code"

More likely his lawyers. It's their fees that are to be paid.

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Re: Freudian slip?

I doubt it was a slip. The translation reads: "Our client is losing but we want them to keep paying our fees for the foreseeable future."

Tech rookie put decimal point in wrong place, cost insurer zillions

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Re: As a work experience...

"On completion, the tape and sheets were passed to the checkers. The checkers then fed through the tape and typed the data from the coding sheets again."

Same thing happened with cards and probably with key-to-disk data entry.

It probably got ditched on grounds of expense.

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Re: Sometimes rookies save the day

"This young chap hesitantly approached his boss and explained he got the impression that the engineering department had designed a 100 km subsea pipeline, but that the procurement department was about to invite bids for 100 miles"

One of the first tasks I had as a young researcher was proof-reading a paper based on someone's thesis. This was in the days when papers were set in metal type and I think this was final page-proofs. The subject was sea-level changes and the original levelling was done in feet with both imperial and metric quoted in the paper. I realised that all the metric conversions were wrong; the error went all the way to the thesis and nobody, not even the external examiner, had noticed. No nice meal, though.

* The levelling staff was calibrated in decimal feet: feet and 10ths of feet which I think was quite common back in the day.

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Re: Lloyds

"A single byte can store 256 years."

You can also use a longer integer to store whole dates or even date & time depending on the length and resolution of time but at some point you have to convert between integer and human-readable form and vice versa. Part of the the issue is the formats which those humans wish to use. In particular people like to write years as a couple of digits and if that's the case the programmer has to make some assumption about how to fill out the missing digits. Prior to late C20th the assumption would be that those were 1 and 9. Nowadays we tend to have assumptions based on some sliding window - it the provided digits are less than some amount it's 2 and 0.

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"Hey, I'm retired."

The great healer. However we're still the victims of such slipshod stuff whenever (insert latest IT balls-up here).

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indexing by the numeric column ID is measurably faster

If you only need a few columns but SELECT * then you're losing performance in the amount of surplus data you're cramming into the pipeline from the database.

Personally, I value readability over "optimisations" like this

It's not just readability. It's the fact that such "optimisations" are just errors waiting to happen - as in this example.

Interactively I might write a SELECT *, but that's only the first step to putting together a proper script to get out the data I want. More years ago than I care to think of I wrote a few little programs which would delve into the Informix system catalogs to write code snippets of SELECT, variable declarations & the like which could be incorporated into a program (!! in vi lends itself to that) which would then be edited down to what was needed; just as effortless lazy as SELECT * but a good deal safer.

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Re: Old school

This was the same accounts department that wouldn't let us buy computers because the computer budget had been used up.

We instead purchased a number of "electronic logging machines".

According to legend a Botany prof at QUB was having problems getting the University to allow a departmental vehicle. Successfully smuggled into a list of things such as microscopes was a VW Microbus.

Unfortunately it got written off by someone making a rather sharp turn into the road where the glass houses were; by the time I got there the vehicle was a rather ancient Mini. We probably knocked a few bits off the sump cooling fins driving it up mountains.

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Re: Lloyds

"Why do you think the Y2K bug ever existed if not to save some memory?"

That and 2 characters in data entry.

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Screams with pain.

Apart from anything else one would hope that columns are being selected into typed variables and that this would likely throw an error if they get out of line. Of course if everything's a string....

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Re: Lloyds

"Similar problem back in the 1970s with an insurance company. Memory is expensive"

And not only in the '70s. In the '90s I kept saying -and being ignored - that we needed more memory in an HP-UX box. Then an OS upgrade put it into thrashing. An engineer with new memory was summoned up PDQ with promises (huh!) to take more notice of what I said in the future.

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"Old code only referred to the fields by number, $row[0], $row[1], so a new column in the middle offset all the subsequent ones."

There's your problem right there. It's an SQL system so nobody of any competence should do that. Had the code been adapted reused without changes from something older?

I do recall working on a system that took a series of rent payments for a period, stored them in an array and then put them into a series of columns in a single row on the basis that it would be more efficient - not when you had to search all the columns to find out which payment had been missed rather than look for the row with a zero in it.

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"Never even got a proper apology"

Did they have a junior clerk called Pester?

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"We had a guy once who inserted a new row into a table, offsetting the others."

Sounds more like a new column. Presumably this wasn't an RDBMS or else it was pre-SQL as all the columns would have kept their original names and the end result wouldn't have been affected.

In defence of online ads: The 'net ain't free and you ain't paying

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Re: Free IS the problem

"Because hosting isn't free. Never has been."


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Re: You brought this on yourselves

They may not get the same level of "analytics" they are used to but they get to know you saw the ad and if you clicked on it, which all they really need to know to get paid.

For which, frankly, the advertisers are probably better off. It enables the advertiser to put the advert on a page where it's relevant to the content. That context is almost certainly going to be more relevant to the viewer than any amount of "analytics" which are, of course, just something for which the advertising industry can con more money from the advertisers.

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"It takes just one bad apple"

There are good ones?

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Re: The thing is... it's nothing new.

"Am I evil?"


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Re: The thing is... it's nothing new.

"They try to disguise the junk mail as government mail, and since there can be consequences for not replying in a timely manner to government mail (say a tax audit notice), it makes things difficult."

I have one sitting here waiting for me to take it to post (PPI bastards). It came in a brown envelope very like OHMS stuff.

"As for trying to return it, they'll probably just repackage it and RE-resend it. They have the infrastructure you lack to outwait you."

However it had a return envelope inside to send it back. If everyone did that that they really wouldn't be able to cope. Their infrastructure will be set up to handle a small percentage of returns. Overwhelming that means that they would lose their genuine responses.

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Re: Targetting the ignorant?

"should not."

should note, not not!

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Simple solution. Host the ads off your own server then my ad-blocker won't even work. That will, of course, mean that you become liable for any malware you serve up so you'll have to take care about what you host.

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Re: On & Off

As the phrase "this generation" typically refers to the youngest generation of adults/consumers, this generation has never been the target audience of salaried journalists, unless you're specifically talking about gaming hardware.

And "this generation" is particularly ridiculous in terms of el Reg readership's age range which must span at least 40 years.

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Re: Just one thing

"The closest thing I have to a cow is a box of frozen burgers in my freezer."

The closest thing I have to a cow is the neighbour's herd but so long as the wall between us keeps them out that's OK.

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Re: Targetting the ignorant?

"They aren't targeting you, or almost all readers here. They are targeting those too stupid or uneducated to figure out how to block unwanted stuff. "

The difference between those who block ads and those who don't isn't necessarily one of education or of a desire to be targeted, it's just the technical knowledge.

A few weeks ago a Times columnist, archetypal arts graduate (1st at Oxford apparently) so not entirely uneducated wrote an article about GDPR welcoming the end of spam by not responding to "Please may we continue to spam you" emails but then adding something about ads in terms suggesting he didn't know* about ad blockers. Apparently he'd already posted the gist of this online to great popular acclaim, something those castigating GDPR as yet another unwanted bit of Euro red-tape should not.

* It could be the case, of course, that as the Times is available online as well as in print, he did know about ad-blockers wouldn't be allowed to let on about them in public.

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Re: Too little, too late for advertisers

"Simple solution: page hit count. Been done in the past by many."

An even better metric is the number of comments.

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Re: The thing is... it's nothing new.

"It makes it very convenient to drop all that crap off."

At election times if a party worker comes delivering bumf when I'm working outside I'm often tempted to point to the green bin.

(OT A few years back instead of the usual single sheet of most parties the Greens produced a multi-page newsletter. Whoever delivered that one couldn't even be arsed to put it in the letter box or even get as far as the doorstep.. They simply dropped it as litter on the path So much for green.)

PETA calls for fish friendly Swedish street signage

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"When is a strawberry dead?"

Good question. The juicy bit is dead when you've eaten it but the seeds could still be alive when they come out the other end.

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Re: If numbers count

"those animal-righters should have themselves infected with malaria or an other Plasmodium species a.s.a.p."

And let's not forget tapeworms either. Or lice and fleas.

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Re: Wow.

"And how are you supposed to know that someone is a ve...."

The same way you get to know someone uses Apple.

Have to use SMB 1.0? Windows 10 April 2018 Update says NO

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Re: FFS microsoft

"wonder why MS can't let you override it by group policy that you can apply to only certain laptops as needed while you wait for the big wigs to finish approving the migration to the new cloud based ERP"

Perhaps you could arrange it so it's just their salaries that don't get paid one month...

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Re: So for a while now...

but still has a broken keyboard

Perhaps you should look up the meaning of the expression "taking the piss".

England's top judge lashes out at 'Science Museum' grade court IT

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Re: On the up-side

"You know, your system is supposed to DO something."

Have we got to the stage where a system isn't considered to do something unless it has a direct internet connection?

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"When you're standing up in court being confident that you can quickly find the piece of documentation you need, and see its contents, probably while also paying attention to what someone else is saying or while speaking yourself, is fairly important."

I'll second that from the point of view of the witness box. I'd want both my original statement of witness, reception forms listing exhibits (double sided) as submitted to the lab and lab notes (single sided as lab notebooks took carbon copies) to be quickly accessible.

In my day there wouldn't have been any alternative to hard copy but I can't imagine any electronic form being as rapidly accessible other than a very wide hi-res screen capable of displaying several A4 images side-by side. And, going back to the OP's point: A4 not A5.

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