* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Addicts of Facebook and pals are easy prey for manipulative scumbags – thanks to tech giants' 'extraordinary reach'

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Some Data Protection and other ideas

"Just make it illegal for companies to sell, or otherwise provide access to user data to third parties. No more hiding behind skilfully crafted "terms and conditions" that have to be accepted."

The GDPR seems to have that covered, particularly in Articles 5 & 7

Personal data shall be:

(a) processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject (‘lawfulness, fairness and transparency’);

(b)collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall, in accordance with Article 89(1), not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes (‘purpose limitation’);

(c)adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (‘data minimisation’);


(1) Where processing is based on consent, the controller shall be able to demonstrate that the data subject has consented to processing of his or her personal data.

(2) If the data subject’s consent is given in the context of a written declaration which also concerns other matters, the request for consent shall be presented in a manner which is clearly distinguishable from the other matters, in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. Any part of such a declaration which constitutes an infringement of this Regulation shall not be binding.

(3) The data subject shall have the right to withdraw his or her consent at any time. The withdrawal of consent shall not affect the lawfulness of processing based on consent before its withdrawal. Prior to giving consent, the data subject shall be informed thereof. It shall be as easy to withdraw as to give consent.

(4) When assessing whether consent is freely given, utmost account shall be taken of whether, inter alia, the performance of a contract, including the provision of a service, is conditional on consent to the processing of personal data that is not necessary for the performance of that contract.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Trustable social networks?

"just the step of having to download a usenet client and enter a news server address was too much of a hurdle for most muggles"

Usenet client? It's the same as my email client (actually it's the same as my browser as well as I use Seamonkey rather than separate Firefox and Thunderbird) so it's nothing extra to download. Admittedly using a separate client seems to be too much for the muggles using webmail but apart from that, is entering the address of a news server harder than entering the address of Twitbook? In fact, history says it isn't - look up Eternal September.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Regulation is badly needed - Steps: 1-3

"more gummint. that'll fix it. **NOT**"

Bob, back in Europe we do occasionally have the view that the government's job is to represent us so if we see the need for big, alien corporations to be brought to heel then not only is there nobody other than going to do it for us but government, it's the government's job to do that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Regulation is badly needed - Steps: 1-3 #4

Yup. 3 A/C posts all saying the same thing, all at similar times. Do I hear an axe being ground?

We need to talk, Brit Parliamentary committee tells Mark Zuckerberg

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Given that this had lead to bad publicity on a such scale that even the Great British Public is starting to realise than FB might not be an unalloyed Good Thing it's possible that they might realise that Zuk not appearing is the sort of dickish move that they could do without.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: About time

"Zuck is an American citizen, meaning he can safely ignore any such summons. If a British or Commonwealth citizen, or someone living in the UK, did that, they would risk being jailed for committing contempt of Parliament."

Why not just prosecute him for non-attendance. After all, the US believes its laws apply everywhere so why shouldn't we do the same?

BOOM! Cambridge Analytica explodes following extraordinary TV expose

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: FB vs CA

"For example, Tony Blair was supposedly on the 'left' but look at his record - hugely wasteful PFI schemes"

If you look at the record of the Blair government there's a consistent approach of taxing the future. PFI, student loans, Brown's stealth taxes. They look as if they're doing popular stuff but there were bills to become due in the future. We're now in that future.

As to whose side he was on, that's easy. His own.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Collapse of Facebook

"people even call the police when FB goes down."

So what? Numpties have been known to call the police over all sorts of minor stuff. Just Google for call police trivial

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Collapse of Facebook

"I see FAR MORE Facebook adicts now than nicotine, let alone illegal drugs."

So? There'll be another one along any minute to take its place.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Popcorn

"You can sue for libel, you can't sue for slander."

Citation needed. Libel maybe easier to prove if you have the piece of paper it was written on. Slander would need you to produce a witness unless a recording exists.

British Level 4 driverless pods are whizzing along ... er, a London path

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"governed max speed of 9mph"

Combined with the absence of anything other than cyclists going faster it should keep down the injuries to the public collateral damage.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the surface of Olympian Way is not maintained to the same standard as a proper road"

Do you mean it's better? It would be hard for it to be maintained worse than some of the roads round here.

BT: We're shuttering final salary pension scheme

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Why the shortfall...

"The actuary for the fund has determined that the fund is so over capitalised that their liabilities will never get to their reserves."

Australian regulation may be different but in the UK such determinations are made by HMG. HMG has always been a bit optimistic - or maybe pessimistic in terms of estimating life span. They instituted public and state pension schemes which are basically Ponzi schemes - pay now, get paid later except that the pay now part was actually paying existing beneficiaries an the get paid later bit would come from other people's payments. And just don't look at the fact that pay now and get paid later all goes via the general taxation pot. With reasonably pessimistic estimates of life span this was supportable - you'd pay now for your working life and get paid later for a few years if you were lucky.

In contrast because private or occupational pension schemes attracted tax relief (one of Gordon Brown's stealth taxes was to reduce this) they tend to get treated as tax scams. Schemes are rated as overfunded based on optimistic forecasts for annuity returns and these aren't going to return to the forecast levels until interest rates go up - if they ever do.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Nobody has offered a Defined Benefit pension for years.

"Blame that nice Mr Gordon Brown for doing this."

Three times over, well, to be fair (to Gordon Brown? What am I writing?) maybe 2 1/2.

1. Taxing income from pension scheme investments.

2. Being in charge when his tax officials insisted on companies taking a contribution holiday on account of the scheme being at risk of being over-funded.

3. Running a hugely stupid economic policy that didn't see house prices as inflationary, resulting in stupidly low interest rates, huge debts, economic collapse and the imposition of even lower interest rates which continue because nobody will take the economic risk of hoiking them up again. I recall that at that before the collapse he was prancing on the world stage (Tone emulation?) berating those who wouldn't do likewise that they should join the UK & US in this wonderful economic policy.

1 lead to pension scheme incomes falling from investments and 2 from incomes falling from contributions. 2 was predicated on assumptions about the returns of annuities on which the valuations were based. 3 torpedoed those returns (which are based on interest rates) because it made the assumptions turn out to have been wildly optimistic. Add to this the positive feedback loops between pension scheme effects on share prices and share prices on pension schemes.

For which shenanigans Borwn is now paid a pension from the grateful British public and got a University teaching job and various economic advisory roles; fair enough providing he teaches "what I learned from my mistakes".

Meanwhile pension schemes in general, not just BT's, have been blighted for keeps.

Facebook confirms Cambridge Analytica stole its data; it’s a plot, claims former director

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I think CA have been given too much credit or US citizens are just gullible and easily manipulated."

Most elections tend to be driven by a relatively small number of voters changing allegiance or even making the decision to stay at home or go to vote. CA don't need to have been very effective to have made a difference.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @AC Fake News!!

"That's the real question."

And in the EU the answer is "no".

Nest reveals the first truly connected home

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: I've said it before and I'll say it again

"Like most of the IoT stuff, it's a solution waiting for a ..."

As PT Barnum said, there's one born every minute.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: The question is...

"What if putting one of these in makes your insurance invalid?"

I'm sure the vendors will be happy to sell you reassuringly expensive insurance. If you've bought the product and are already paying the subscription for that they know they can keep squeezing more out of you.

I couldn't give a Greek clock about your IoT fertility tracker

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Glamping?

Replying to my own post - as far as I can make out the inscription just says GOOGLE. Who'd have guessed!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: El. Reg. You complete and utter B*ast*ards!

"Having been tickled by the concept of the Antikythera Mechanism"

You've come to el Reg to effectively admit you've never heard of it before now?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Glamping?

The Gaidhlig[1] word for database is "stor data".

And almost on that topic - does anyone here read ogham? See today's (Saturday) Google doodle.

Office junior had one job: Tearing perforated bits off tractor-feed dot matrix printer paper

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Apart from decollators there are also collators. Client had one. The decollator was apt to deposit the sheets in exactly the wrong order for binding up into books. Plus two-up stationary might need to have the left and right leaves inter-collated. The mechanical collator was there to sort all these things out but was always busy on another job when it was needed. I ended up doing one in S/W which rearranged the print images before they went to the printers. It grew an increasing number of options as they found more things for it to do.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Dot matrix refuses to die

"Quite interesting that US airlines still love their dot matrix printers."

Providing you don't tear it up at the folds one of the good things about fan-fold paper is that it keeps the entire document together. Can you imagine the cost of holding a flight while someone searches for a misplaced sheet from the passenger list?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Grief, possibly death.

"he was about to become the first person strangled to death by a printer."

Probably not. Not the first, that is.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: spirit duplcator sensory memories

"pretty much anything to do with chemistry practicals."

Nothing in a decent school laboratory should be able to pass H&S.

Having said that, although in all my years working in a lab we never had anything but the old-style lab coats with a few buttons we did ban one of the peroxidase tests for blood. It was carcinogenic (one obstinate bloke kept using it and was in due course treated for its specific cancer, papilloma of the bladder). I wasn't pleased to discover that my daughter's lab was still using it years later.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Lost count...

"In short. recruitment agencies, in the main, are only just above insurance salesmen in the ethics stakes."

In the sort of circumstance you describe I don't think they get as far as ethics stakes. They need to tackle competence first. Including the one who sent me someone else's contract. Same name, different skill set.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Lost count...

"I'm trying to get hold of Hermen in the Berlin office but he's not answering - do you know if he is in today?"

It's been known to work the other way round.

UK to relative in Vancouver: "Our daughter's going to Quebec. Can you meet her"

Relative in Vancouver to UK. "You meet her. You're closer."

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Lost count...

"Seeing as you never quite know how far apart places really are unless you have experience of travelling there"

Being able to read maps is a big help.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: out of paper!

"university days (a quarter of a century ago"

What it is to be young - only a quarter of a century out of University.

"when some puppet tried to send a postscript image file directly to it, where for certain files rather than printing out an image on a nice single sheet, it tried to print out a few random characters per page on every page in the tray until it ran out."

Getting the printer control characters wrong on FORTRAN could and did do this with fan-fold.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Speaking of carbon paper...

"They still use hand signatures to go across all three copies vs using a tablet for a signature."

Ah. Signatures that look like signatures. That's getting rare these days.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Ah, the "good old days" ...

"Can't you just print it 3 times?"

There are these things called requirements and if the requirement calls for it to be printed in a single pass so there's no possibility of one "copy" being different/altered (regulators can be fussy about these things) then 3-part NCR it is.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Ah, the "good old days" ...

"I think we were all startled at the amount of tape that reader had managed to cram into itself:"

ICL card duplicators had interesting ways of cramming cards into output hoppers. User standing nonchalantly beside the duplicator that was swallowing his stack of cards but not looking at the hoppers. One of them was somehow managing to crease the cards as they went into it. The hopper was filling up with a sort of random corrugated cardboard. Fortunately it was only one hopper.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: out of paper!

"Doesn't matter how many times I say to fill it to the top, never gets done unless I do it."

An old saying: If it's everybody's job it's nobody's job.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Speaking of carbon paper...

"Can't remember the last time I saw anyone else use carbon paper."

As recently as yesterday evening. Should have been a month ago but my local Civic Society couldn't take subscriptions because the carbon in their receipt book had worn out! They've now got a new sheet.

UK.gov told: Draw up code of practice for cops bulk-slurping car plates

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Alas not, GDPR allows a get out clause for govermints and lawn enforcement."

This raises the question of what is sufficient for policing. One option would be a private prosecution against a chief constable under section 191 of the forthcoming DPA. That's the section which provides for personal liability of "a director, manager, secretary ... or a person who was purporting to act in such a capacity" arguing that the practices of ANPR use exceed what's appropriate.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No problem with ANPR, within limits

"Particularly as it is not related to Brexit"

The Data Protection Bill is related to Brexit if HMG want an adequacy rating for GDPR.

Whois? More like WHOWAS: Domain database on verge of collapse over EU privacy

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

It should be simple enough. Natural persons resident in the EU (or UK when the new DPA is in place) have an option from the registrar to hide personal details just like any other data subject. Where appropriate these details can be obtained from the registrar by going to court, obtaining a warrant and presenting it to the registrar. If the court disagrees about what's appropriate they don't get the warrant. It's pretty well how any other online business will have to operate. Why do they think they need to be different?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"I get over 100 emails a week offering me SEO services"

I'm not sure whether it's an improvement in Hotmail/Live/Outlook filtering but I now get very few.

Alternatively it might be a consequence of the fact that I've got into the habit of writing back if I've nothing better to do and saying that oddly enough they seem to have omitted their own domain name from their pitch so I can't check whether they're any good at getting their own site on first page in Google if I search for first page in Google. This is usually accompanied by a critique of their written English; I'd expect them to take especial care of this when presenting themselves. I usually finish up by pointing out that the address they've spammed is my spam bin and if it's typical of the list they bought they've been overcharged. The trick is to sucker them into reading through what's initially a helpful-looking the whole reply before telling them just how crap they are.

Of course they're all lead generators. I only ever had one who passed the lead on to someone who claimed to have a UK branch (situated above a language school operating out of a shop front in Longsight): probably a cousin. I wrote back pointing out the crapness of the reference sites he gave. With any luck the ?cousin got shafted for incompetence.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: An open registry of who owns domains is important

"The EU has passed a law that (either intentionally or unintentionally) undermines the Internet, and that when enforced in the fashion they like would actually terminate any contract that violates it. In essence, if you owned your own domain the EU is saying that the contract you signed is no longer valid – meaning it is quite possible that you no longer own your domain."

Could you cite the clause or clauses which say that?

Brit retailer Currys PC World says sorry for Know How scam

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"One punter was ordered to pay an extra £40 or she'd be sold a blank laptop, Which? said."

Fine. Let's see, advertised price includes the OS so that'll be £40 less than advertised. Yes, I do have Trading Standards on speed dial.

Brexit in spaaaace! At T-1 year and counting: UK politicos ponder impact

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

" Such a pity we have the wrong people in the wrong room with the wrong drivers and the wrong mindset."

And he seems to be one of them. Never heard of him before. There might be a reason for that.

FYI: There's a cop tool called GrayKey that force unlocks iPhones. Let's hope it doesn't fall into the wrong hands!

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Woah! Some much tin foil, so many hats.....

"Whilst I appreciate privacy is important, security is also, and if this can help stop bad things happening, great."

You're reading it wrong. Security is indeed important and this makes bad things happen from a security point of view.

Take that, com-raid: US Treasury slaps financial sanctions on Russians for cyber-shenanigans, 2016 election meddling

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Wot? Not even expelling a few diplomats?

Fermi famously asked: 'Where is everybody?' Probably dead, says renewed Drake equation

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Just look at how we monkey around with extinction level warfare, are xenophobic, live in the world controlled by the sociopathic likes of Putin, Trump and their buddies, and a race that is bent on subverting all scientific benefits towards destructive means"

Hove you considered the possibility that relative to the rest that might make us the good guys?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Too little info

"If humans disappeared today, how long would it take for another technologically advanced species to arise?"

Good question. Technology is boot-strapped starting with easily accessible stuff and we've used the easily accessible stuff. Of course our rubbish dumps now contain a good stock of material for anyone who finds them but the remaining fossil energy sources are going to be harder to exploit.

Airbus CIO: We dumped Microsoft Office not over cost but because Google G Suite looks sweet

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

“We want to force the organisation to make the change and drive a true transformation, and not just do a tool upgrade.”

Forget about the choice of tool. This is the sort of verbiage to worry about.

“let people go to the information that they need for their jobs… almost the opposite from an environment that is based on email where you receive whatever it is that others decide you can receive.”

Nice. Plausible deniability. No email with your name on the distribution list telling you not to do something you just did or vice versa.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Well, let's just hope...

"When the internet's off, there's no work done anyway"

Only if you do your work on someone else's computer. If you don't it's quite likely that more work gets done. Unless you count browsing el Reg and watching cat videos as work.

Google to 'forget me' man: Have you forgotten what you said earlier?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: What DOES the EU Want Google to Be?

Then, the EU says "Google, you MUST police the Internet for us, only YOU have that power!".

This seems to be something of a misrepresentation. The EU mandates a right to be forgotten as a general right. It's not specifically about Google. In this particular case a plaintiff has raised the right against Google. It could equally be against any other search engine.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"The delisting would be a specific url / news article when the search term was NT2's name."

How would the URL/news article be specified? If it's just existing material listed in the court case it wouldn't protect against someone rehashing the material and publishing a new article. The only way to deal with the latter case would be for Google to review any new material featuring the name or variants of it as they're encountered.

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