* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

IBM bans all removable storage, for all staff, everywhere

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It's not for everyone but for most it could be good

"company certified sharing systems that can be controlled, scanned and safeguarded"

By whom? And note that the "whom" might be different for each verb.

You love Systemd – you just don't know it yet, wink Red Hat bods

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: As an outsider I find this fascinating

"Technology moves on, often in directions that we don't all approve of. Nevertheless you have to keep up"

Let's extend the direction metaphor. You're driving along when you realise the road you're on leads in the wrong direction, possibly in the direction of a dangerous flood. Do you keep up or do you take a turn in a better direction?

In your situation there may be no alternative. In the Unixy world there are: several BSD Unices and systemd-free Linux distros.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

the people with the problem with it are more of the Torvalds type, old school who want to use Unix-like systems


I have no problem with Red Hat wanting their semi-proprietary system. Unfortunately, in order to preserve their data centre presence they had to eliminate competition from non-systemd distros by ensuring it got into the likes of Debian.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The more people learn about it, the more they like it."

Translation: We define those who don't like it as not have learned enough about it.

Consent, datasets and avoiding a visit from the information commissioner

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Re: Glad to see the appropriate GDPR noises are being made

"Nobody is going to go after a customer/contacts database"

Some of us are going to do what we can to make life uncomfortable for those who don't behave.

One that I have saved up relates to an enquiry I made a few weeks ago. The enquiry was answered but soon after there was a "rate our service" request which, in fact came from a third party. The reply address was in the form first-party@third-party so I replied pointing out that my permission had not been given for my data (email address) to be passed to the third party, I wasn't going to click any links in a spam and I wanted my data deleted and confirmation that that had been done. The only response was a follow-up because I hadn't filled in their survey. Come GDPR day a letter will go out to the data controllers of both organisations asking them to explain themselves and pointing out the consequences if this were to happen now.

I suspect that in many cases the data controllers don't know what others, particularly sales and marketing are getting up to. If nothing else complaints like this are going to mean that many of the guilty get a well-deserved kicking from their data controllers.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"data processors are often engaged to form a contract between the subject and the controller e.g. a ticket sale for an event. If consent was not basis for processing, removal of consent is not applicable."

Once the processing for performance of the contract is over there is no ongoing basis for retaining the data. In your example there might be a basis for retaining the data until the event is over in case refunds have to be made but when that possibility has passed the entire basis for holding the data has gone. The data should then be deleted. However the entire basis for processing was performance of the contract and there is no basis in the form of consent for the ticket processing business to use the data whilst it exists for anything else such as trying to sell tickets for something else.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"First, you have to make clear to the subjects where you got the data and what you're doing with it, and – most importantly – why you have the right to do what you're doing."

Arse about face| You don't have to make it clear to the subjects where you got it. You have to make it clear to them what you want to do with it before you get it and ask them if you can have it. If they say no you can't have it. And if they change their minds subsequently you have to delete it.

(Note the exceptions of data used for the provision of a service, etc. or statutory requirements. Of course you need a name and address for delivery of goods but you can't then presume to use it for mailshots trying to sell other stuff.)

So when can you get in the first self-driving car? GM says 2019. Mobileye says 2021. Waymo says 2018 – yes, this year

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


You're not alone. Here in the Pennines we have much the same issues as Cornwall, less the peacocks but add in snow drifts and cyclists who wish to take no responsibility whatsoever for their own safety.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Asking the wrong question

"I want to know when they will be affordable for an average guy, like me?"

I doubt they'll ever be affordable to buy.

The legislative basis for their use, at least in the UK, seems, quite rightly, to put the legal responsibility for safe driving on the manufacturer. That means that the manufacturer rather than the owner will have to insure themselves. The manufacturer will, of course, pass this on to the customer. In the event of a straight sale, however, the manufacturer will only be able to have one opportunity to do that so would need to charge the customer for the vehicle's life-time insurance as part of the purchase price. That would substantially increase the price of a new car. The likelihood is that these vehicles will only ever be available for lease.

"What is the point of buying such an expensive object, that depreciates faster than you can burn £50"

To have one available when you need it. If your prime use is in the rush hour when everyone else wants a ride you'll be in competition with everyone else. If the numbers of available vehicles are such that peak demand is adequately covered they'll be mostly idle during the day and the costs per mile will go up to allow for that. If you have your own car now you'll still need your own AV. If you can manage by taxi now you'll use and AV taxi.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"lifts (elevators) had human operators and people were worried about riding in one without an operator. Things change."

Lifts just go up and down a fixed route which they don't share with any other lifts, cyclists, pedestrians or stray animals.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

This is basically the automotive industry version of what "the cloud" has done for IT infrastructure and everyone wants to be the new AWS.

Lets not forget that one of the features of "the cloud" seems to be massive breaches of personal data left swinging in the breeze in ill-secured cloud backups and the like.

With vehicles it will be unacceptable to leave safe operation* to the customers as the risks to life and limb dwarf the severity of the risks from cloud. There won't be a "new AWS". AWS can shuffle all the responsibility for third party damage onto its customers; vehicle manufacturers won't. It's not just a huge potential market for manufacturers, it's also a hugel risk.

* The opportunities for gathering, mining and subsequently leaking personal data are the same or worse than the cloud but now only a side-issue.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"when will people other than beta testers get in them?"

When they do the correct term will be "guinea pigs". The unfortunate aspect of this is that while the guinea pigs who get into the cars will be volunteers those in the surrounding traffic or on foot will be innocent bystanders.

I've made the point before but it still needs reiterating: compensation for death, injury or damage to innocent bystanders and their property should not rely on them having to take on manufacturer or insurance funded lawyers in court.

Windows Notepad fixed after 33 years: Now it finally handles Unix, Mac OS line endings

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Notepad++

"a new machine and vim hasn't been pre-installed"

Is there a Linux distro that doesn't come with vim installed with all the vi synonyms already linked?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Priorities

"I can't see anyone really using Notepad what with the superior better alternatives of Notepad++ and Atom"

I can. The millions upon millions of Windows users who just use the PC as it came without realising that a text editor is something for which there are alternatives other than a full-blown word processor.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Even so I assume that it will continue to be the case that if one wishes to distribute, say, a set of notes for which .txt would be perfectly adequate the only way to be sure the recipient will be able to read them easily is to use the overhead of a PDF as older machines will probably never get the revised Notepad.

Every major OS maker misread Intel's docs. Now their kernels can be hijacked or crashed

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I'm impressed

"I used to know a DEC technical writer who knew so much about the VMS file system that the developers used to consult her when they were in doubt as to just how something worked."

But if the documentation was as good as you say why would they need to ask?

Windows app makers told to think different – you're Microsoft 365 developers, now

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "We want to do things because they're the right thing to do, not just because we can"

I think someone kidnapped a Microsoft manager and sent along a look-alike.

Yes, people see straight through male displays of bling (they're only after a fling)

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Gender bias...

"My bag contains a lot more than the typical male pocket contents of keys, wallet, travel card + phone."

So does my wife's. She also complains of it being too heavy. I think it might contain a mini-black hole or at least a moderately sized anvil.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I've been both

"I have bought two new cars in my life too.. The Dan phase(s)."

Same here. I'm not sure how the 2nd hand MGB which was one of the cars in between fitted into the Dave and Dan scenarios. It was more a case of "this is the time to have one while we can still fit the children into the back seats".

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: bike attire

"I usually wear the rain suit and bicycle clips - also guaranteed to repel the opposite sex."

And what do you wear when you're cycling?

Risky business: You'd better have a plan for tech to go wrong

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @Doctor Syntax


Yes, I take the point that things were less critical then. That was, indeed, the point made in the article. My point was that if one were looking for reliability to match that one might first consider an integrated system from a vendor able to supply everything from hardware to application. We have, in fact, the converse. We are building architectures with multiple points of failure.

When I retired a decade or so ago we were moving in that direction. I worked on distributed systems where multiple service providers cooperated on contract: one specialist supplier might face the customer, collect data and passed it on to another to provide the actual service. There might even be more providers than that, possibly with a prime contractor in the middle. But the lead time to deliver might be hours and each provider's system would be relatively self-contained.

Moving into today's architecture with,essentially, the lead time gone, every link is a potential point of failure and yet there seem to be more of them. Back in the day there was at least the ability to rely on the fact that any libraries used were on the local system and only subject to change under change control. Now we're liable see reliance placed on Javascript downloaded on demand from repositories completely outside the service provider's control.

So why, having gone to a trading environment with no slack in it, are we seeing businesses accepting more and more possible points of failure? Is it simply over-confidence? The price paid seems to be in data breaches and TITSUP episodes.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Of the two scenarios the mainframe with everything from H/W to applications provided by a single vendor seems less risky then a tangle of boxes, network OS and apps sourced from everywhere. And yet the suggestion is that the former belongs to a time when, allegedly, the cost of failure was greater. Does this contradiction stem from familiarity breeding over-confidence?

Adobe, 'hyper personalisation' and your privacy

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Re: Choices

"You'll be left with a stark choice: agree to their use of your data, or don't use the service."

Only if they withdraw from the market altogether because what you outline is what incurs the big fines.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Why do they all have such lame examples of personalisation

"passing the GPDR in appearance."

I don't see how doing what you say gives the appearance of passing GDPR, nor do I see a sham front end doing anything other than attract bigger fines.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge


The saga of Tim's attempts to get information out of Adobe suggests they weren't very good at personalising their approach to him.

And:"I haven't thought through all of the access and deletion requirements for that but that's something that we’re working on."

Isn't it a bit late in the day for that?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

I can't help thinking that when we're able to push back* in a meaningful way it may well be that businesses start asking serious questions about what their marketing departments have really been doing for them all these years. If we can actually make them question the value of that it may be a more effective way of dealing with the data-slurping industry than more direct action.

* a typo almost made that into "punch back" which might even fit better.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Why do they all have such lame examples of personalisation

"Personally, when I'm pressed for time and need fuel, any forecourt I'm passing is perfectly acceptable"

And you certainly don't want to waste time getting your car washed. The fact that they thought their scenario meaningful tells us a good deal about their thought processes.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "People are buying experiences, not products"

Just this. It's marketroids who think selling products is beneath them; "experiences" sounds so much more prestigious (or something).

Customers, OTOH, just want products which are fit for purpose. If they get an experience it's likely to be the bad one of discovering the product wasn't fit for purpose.

Where to find dark matter? $34m says go look 2km under Canada

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Slac wimp detector

"As a result my only real prejudice is against Welsh rugby players who become psychopathic PE teachers."

I wouldn't be so picky. Just make it PE teachers (psychopathic is a tautomerism).

Admin needed server fast, skipped factory config … then bricked it

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: C'mon, Dr. S, this kind of trolling is beneath you.

"Clearly there was something wrong with the unit."

Isn't that what I've been saying? But not Japan/Taiwan in the 70s but the US in the '60s. Although it was a "product" it was probably a built to order job, maybe even a one-off. It's at least 40 years since I set eyes on the beast and I'm trying to rack my brains as to what the handle was actually on. I think it might have been a component that we eventually replaced with our own design, in part because it was the weakest link in terms of trying to get it to hold a vacuum.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: C'mon, Dr. S, this kind of trolling is beneath you.

If any part of the external chassis is "hot", for any reason, there is a flaw in either the design or the implementation.

Not necessarily hot but definitely giving a tingle that shouldn't have been there, hence the extra insulation. Having a satisfactory solution - and enough other problems - we never investigated further but put it down to insulation good enough for US mains not being good enough for UK.

In elfin safety terms in that lab it was relatively minor. One research student nearly burned down the lab twice. SMBO made analar meringues - at least the sucrose was analar - in the same oven we used in the open lab for evaporating benzene off of samples. Another drying oven ended up with no fan blades: the HCl content of what was being dried had eroded them. And it took me years to realise why one sink had always leaked: the HF that was sometimes disposed of in it had dissolved the glaze.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Lightning icon required =========>

"A red anode was a warning from which you could recover."

We had a valve PA system (mono) in our hall of residence using a pair of 807s. Periodically it would go unstable with the familiar red anode syndrome. Simply swapping them round didn't work 807s were expensive on student finance in the early '60s so I bought an extra one. I then swapped one of the old ones for the new one. Periodically the same problem would reoccur and I then swapped them round again to get a stable combination.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"With proper controls, 240V AC is not a problem."

We had a piece of lab kit - a radiocarbon dating system, not less - that was made in the US. All the power supplies etc. were specced for 240V so no problem there. Insulation however... A piece of steel rod, part of a handle, acquired a length of rubber gas tubing solved that.

Equifax reveals full horror of that monstrous cyber-heist of its servers

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Medical records also

"When the Government fines these big companies why don't they have to split the fines with the people who suffered damages?"

Because the fines are part of criminal law and damages are part of civil law.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: And how...

There is a "Legitimate Interests" loophole under Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (47) which will allow them to reply with a nice "Go away and pester us no more" letter I'm afraid.

And if the interests they cite aren't legitimate that's a letter that gets forwarded straight to the ICO or whatever you local regulator is.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: And how...

"If anyone wants to feel a bit sad, have a look at the AA's new GDPR terms and see what they consider legitimate interest."

Any company who decides that what they consider legitimate interest is going to have to persuade the relevant regulator that they agree. Remember that it's trying to bend the rules that brings the really big fines.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: And how...

"Have people not been to burger king lately? I went the other day and it was £7.15 for a burger meal"

And why should you need Equifax or its lookalikes for that? There are totally anonymous credit reference services you can use provided by the Bank of England and the Royal Mint.

Social networks have already violated the spirit of GDPR

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I wuld love to see a EU law using GDPR"

"A EU law using GDPR"? That's meaningless. GDPR is an EU law.

"to force all companies to wipe out all existing data"

It does that in that it gives you the right to be forgotten. You can go to any corporation and demand (within limits) that they delete any information about you. There are limits. These include any information which is held by statute so if you're the director of a business you can't tell Companies House to forget you. They also include information necessary for performance of a contract so if something was sold to you with a maintenance contract* you can't tell the vendor to forget you without giving up the contract.

"Too much palm greasing going on in politics"

It's out of the hands of politics now: it's primarily in your hands with the regulators watching your back. And recent news suggests that in the UK the regulator will be very keen to do just that.

*However I don't see that registering something for guarantee entitles passing on the data to someone trying to flog maintenance contracts. If Homeserve try once more....

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The test of GDPR will come

"IMHO, simply moving the domain where your data supposedly resides to somewhere outside of Europe is not enough to 'get around' the GDPR."

Close. GDPR, by design, makes it irrelevant where the data is. It's where the data subject is that matters.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Next-gen to the rescue

"We, by which I mean most non-millennials, do not yet understand the problem that they have created"

We do, however, realise there's a problem. The Facebook generation, maybe don't so it's we who have to do the heavy lifting here.

Zombie Cambridge Analytica told 'death' can't save it from the law

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the ICO must give 5 business days notice to the subject of a data warrant as the subject has a right to appear in court when the ICO makes an application to a judge to oppose the warrant."

Thanks for the detail.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Pass out the torches and pitchforks!

"But I'm seeing a uniformity of posts here so far that seem kinda vicious, as if CA was staffed by actual demons in human form rather than living, breathing fellow humans."

I think there's more variance than that. Some of us are more interested in the enforcement of the actual C21st law rather than reversion to medieval practices.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Directors claim data has been destroyed as per the request of Facebook before ICO were involved"

Contract - even if this was involved - does not override law. If they were destroying evidence having been told to do so by Facebook doesn't excuse them.

"nice delay the ICO provided btw, nothing suspicious in that at all"

I'm not sure of the law here off the top of ny head and CBA to go & read it but commentary on subsequent changes to the new DP Bill passing through Parliament suggests that their hand were tied by the current DPA. So no, nothing suspicious, but a need to get the forthcoming DPA right. Entitlement to turn up at 5am with a sledgehammer and preferably a few uniformed bobbies would be ideal.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Who would you hold criminally responsible as there is more than one director?"

All of them.

"Will SCL now close?"

ICO has already said it won't make any difference. That was plainly stated in the headline.

"If it does what legal rights do the ICO have?"

It's not so much rights as authority. It has the authority to go after those who were officers of the company when the offence occurred.

"Would a judge side with the ICO?"

Side isn't the right word. Judges are impartial and will impartially conduct the relevant tribunal. If the defence haven't a leg to stand on (or, indeed, f they have) they'll proceed according to the law.

"What if they claim they don't have the data to give?"

They'll need to prove that they never had it, difficult given what they already supplied, so either they give it or they admit to having destroyed evidence which would be an offence in itself.

"I don't think they'll get anything."

Who's they? I think SCL or its directors are going to get what's coming to them.

IT systems still in limbo as UK.gov departments await Brexit policy – MPs

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The Agri & Horticultural Development Board impact study reckons most british farmers..

"But hey maybe the fishermen won't have to abide by the hated fishing quota system?"

And those who depend on the hated EU as a market for their catch (because we're only really keen on a limited range of species) aren't going to be able to sell what they do catch.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Whatever deal was negotiated with the EU was, it was always going to mean massive changes to lots of IT systems."

And it was always going to be on the EU's terms because beggars can't be choosers.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Shock

This fairly simple situation has been turned into a mess met reality.

Yes, I knew you'd come out with the "no true Scotsman" line but maybe not quite so soon.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Excuses Excuses.........

"indeed the key administrative change that caused the problem was authorised while Labour were in power"

As the Home Sec of the time confirmed (maybe the brainwashing does wear off sometimes).

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Excuses Excuses.........

"The mess that is the negotiation is just a convent excuse to plaster over the militant incompetence that is a government IT project."

I think you'll find it was the other way around in a year or so's time. The militant incompetence of a govt IT project will be used to explain the mess that was the negotiation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I was talking about the civil service not wanting to do Brexit"

Of course not. Whatever's said about the Civil Service they have a much better grasp of reality than do politicians.

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