* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

James Damore's labor complaint went over about as well as his trash diversity manifesto

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Re: Reason for firing

"IMHO anyone who publicly publishes anything deserves the consequences."

So what consequences do you deserve for publishing that comment?

A computer file system shouldn't lose data, right? Tell that to Apple

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Apple SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi insisted, "There's nothing we care about more,"

What, not even money?

Hands up who HASN'T sued Intel over Spectre, Meltdown chip flaws

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Great PR wording


"Various classes"

"Generally claim"

Impression conveyed: this is a noisy bunch of little people, nothing to really worry about.

BOFH: Turn your server rack hotspot to a server rack notspot

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Re: Silent treatment

Silence is also the best way to deal with cold callers. "That sounds just what I need. Can you hold the line a moment, I'm just talking to someone who called at the door. Shouldn't be long.". Press mute. Hang up when the phone starts whining.

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Re: Stairs - they go up and DOWN...

With the stair oil they only go down.

Ubuntu wants to slurp PCs' vital statistics – even location – with new desktop installs

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Re: Sounds like Windows

"the beta release of Devuan ASCII ... was only released a couple of days ago."

Now downloads, thanks. Will try the live version on SWMBO's laptop which currently has to run Stretch.

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"what is no less a fingerprint that has a sufficient set of data to identify individual users."

Really? Let's look at the list:

"Ubuntu Flavour & Version" That's a fairly limited choice. Almost all the installations at any one time will be split between very few options there.

"Network connectivity or not" A binary choice containing even less information.

"CPU family, RAM, Disk(s) size, Screen(s) resolution, GPU vendor and model & OEM Manufacturer" With enough cash you can buy kit with the same spec by the pallet. No serial numbers of any of them. How do you distinguish them one from another by this information or from the next pallet load of the same spec?

"Location (based on the location selection made by the user at install). No IP information would be gathered" That's time zone and maybe language. We've made a start on identifying the individual - it's somebody in the UK!!!!

"Installation duration (time taken)" That, indeed, can very. But if I go off and take a break whilst it's busy copying the files how, from the time I allowed, do you tell it's me?

"Auto login enabled or not" Another binary choice.

"Disk layout selected" This can be a bit of an individual thing. But in some cases, particularly if I were just trying "let's have a quick look" I'd let it default so that layout carries exactly the same info as the disk size because it's what the distro would always pick for the disk size. If I were building for a particular purpose I might customise that. And having built for a specific purpose when I come to built the next I might vary that according to what I learned from the last. What's more, if I were building for a particular purpose I'd set up LVM with plenty uncommitted disk and more to each logical disk as needed so what would be uploaded at install time might well not be what would be seen a few months later.

"Third party software selected or not" Another binary choice.

"Download updates during install or not" Yet another.

"LivePatch enabled or not" and one more.

So that's 5 bits of binary choices, some mass production data and some fairly general variable choices above that. You mention fingerprints. In forensic science we used to think in terms of discriminating power and frankly I don't see much discriminating power in that lot.

Getting GDPR understood is going to be difficult enough. Let's not make matters worse with disinformation.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"You can spot the Americans because they refer to personal data as PII"

From that well-known American site ico.gov.uk and its definition of personal data within the meaning of the forthcoming DPA:

"Personal data means data which relate to a living individual who can be identified"

PID would be a handy abbreviation. Unfortunately, that TLA has long established usage elsewhere so let's substitute Information for Data. PII it is, whichever side of the pond you're on.

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Re: Your survey questions

"Five negative options and only one positive. Maybe just a teensy-weensy bit of bias there?"

This is el Reg. Look at the slogan on the mast head.

No bias. All hands get equally bitten.

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Re: Blatant attempt to drive traffic to a commercial site?

I think I found the one you mean. Try running whois on them. It doesn't look anything like what I'd expect from an official EU site.

Googling GDPR FAQ brings up pages of ads, all from service vendors. Oddly enough it doesn't seem to bring up anything from the EU itself. Attempting to search the actual EU official site, http://ec.europa.eu for GDPR FAQ doesn't actually lead to anything like an FAQ although, bizarrely, even though I'm querying an https page entering the query brings up a warning that the information I've entered is to be sent over an insecure link.

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Re: Ubuntu will fail GDPR

"default Opt-in are illegal"

Only as regards collecting PII. There isn't any in that list.

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Re: What PII?

@Dan 55. I think you missed the import of the title. There's no PII in the list of what's collected.

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Re: What PII?

"How are they planning to send the information to their servers without sending your IP at the same time?"

IP address sent from other than a home location isn't likely to be PII. IP address sent from a home location isn't likely to be PII either as ISPs don't normally issue static addresses without charging extra. Not that that excuses a pre-ticked opt-in.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Me at work: Bloody European Union legislation making me change all my perfectly secure processes."

If you had to change processes to cope with GDPR then you must have been collecting PII. If so then those whose PII you were collecting might have different views about your assessment of perfection and security.

However, if you think GDPR impinges on this you need to look again at what it collects (not that I'm excusing pre-ticked opt-in) and at what you understand by PII.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Its really worrying when someone like that doesnt grasp GDPR, and theres no soft opt-in"

That was my initial thought. However, having read what's collected there's no PII in that so they seem to be OK on that score. However, as Canonical is a UK company you'd expect them to reflect European attitudes to pre-ticked boxes.

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Re: Sounds like Windows

"Disclaimer - I run one of the Devuan mirrors."

Have an upvote for that and for providing the info. It should really have been one for each.

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Re: Sounds like Windows

"Learn the difference between a FOSS kernel and a commercial distro.".....

Maybe one in a thousand of the UK population does.

ITYF the proportion is higher amongst Linux users (other than Android users of course). Windows users? You're probably right.

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Re: User needs

"Windows users like your mum and dad dont know anything else and/or generally wont/dont care."

My parents are long gone. I'm the senior around here, a Linux user and Unix user since well before Windows was even a thing. SWMBO (who, in fact is really the senior round here) is right now sitting working on her Debian laptop. Two of my older cousins have also been converted to Zorin. It's my children and grandchildren who're on Windows.

TL;DR Stop making ageist assumptions. And put the apostrophes in "don't" and "won't".

PM urged to protect data flows post-Brexit ahead of Munich speech

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Re: 5 eyes

"any agreement should explicitly exclude UK being used as backdoor for getting EU citizen data to USA."

We all know it won't.

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"I think you mean generated by a rather dim AI that just generates random, meaningless phrases."

No. Worse. By a committee of political advisors.

The phrases will be equally random and meaningless but the committee'll convince themselves they mean something.

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The speech will already have been written. It's a bit late to be advising her about what to say.

Facebook told to stop stalking Belgians or face fines of €250k – a day

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"The cookies and pixels we use are industry-standard technologies"

The old everybody's doing it excuse.

A few fines on this scale and everybody won't be doing it.

Transport for London to toughen up on taxi firms in the Uber age

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"It also one of the few major public transport providers that is now expected to operate without a subsidy (major infrastructure projects excepted)."

That's a pretty big exception. Every time infrastructure subsidy in the north is mentioned it seems to be because another cut is being reported in what's promised (but not delivered).

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Monitoring movement of traffic and people in the capital is a crucial part of TfL's work"

The former, maybe. The latter? Well, it doesn't fit very well with those professed concerns for data protection.

When it absolutely, positively needs to be leaked overnight: 120k FedEx customer files spill from AWS S3 silo

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Re: Expand GDPR

"This sort of stuff happens when some techno phobe suit, often and older man, can't or can't be bothered to remember his password"

Older man? Sounds more like a millennial.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Expand GDPR

"I suggest we expand GDPR. Expand the scope to the whole world"

If the operation covers any EU residents it will be within scope. For those of you who are non-EU residents dealing with non-EU businesses, you need a regulatory system that will look after you better. At least even the Brexit-minded HMG has to put it into UK law so it will apply even when we're outside the EU.

If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

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Re: Conversely, I basically issue no laptops.

"What annoys me is the waste of a setup like that where the laptop spends it's entire life docked and the lid is never even opened, which seems quite commonplace."

Hot-desking?. In that case, however, thin clients might be even more to the point.

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Re: Brilliant!!

"Remember those?"

Yup. Used one as an office machine for a while. Kermit and an RS232 lead plugged in an it was my terminal to the Unix box. When Windows came along it was a great thing. I could have several of those little 5" screens on the go all at the same time.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"In a lawyer's office, especially, I would not want to manage the logistics of issuing a laptop that goes home with them with all kinds of stuff on it."

In a lawyer's office the logistics of providing a full size PC at the various courts they might have to attend would be even harder to manage.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Yah know, to listen to you guys, you'd think the only stuff worth knowing was computer stuff, and anyone who doesn't understand computer stuff must automatically be, like, yah know, an idiot, and computer guys are gods who know everything that's worth knowing."

I drive a car. I don't do it for a living and it's a long time since I was able to do stuff like take the head off and reseat the valves (MGBs were nice to work on). Nevertheless I need to know where all the controls are and what they do. I also need to know which side of the road to drive on, what the various road signs etc. mean.

Back in the day I used to be a laboratory scientist. I needed to know things like how to set up a microscope, how to balance the tubes in a centrifuge etc.

In short, I, like everyone else need to know enough (NB enough, not everything) about the tools I use to be able to use them. Why should it be different when the tool in question is a computer, especially when it's being used as part of one's job?

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"Doctors are the same way."

In my student days I knew quite a few medical students. Ever since I've never been able to regard the medical profession with the expected degree of awe.

Former ICE top lawyer raided US govt database to steal aliens' identities

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Re: Ok, but 'why' though?

"Conscience? Yeah, they have heard of it!"

Not convinced.

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Re: What a stupid idea

"I'd rather sentence people like him to public service."

Given the circumstances of his original crime that would appear to be handing him further opportunities.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: @Doctor Syntax

"In the end it was another great example of the quality of Government recruitment and vetting"

And exactly the sort of failure to be expected again* should govts get their wishes about back doors.

And probably again and again and again.

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Tell me again how this vaunted back door won't be harmful because you can trust governments to keep your data safe.

Oh sh-itcoin! Crypto-dosh swap-shop Coinbase empties punters' bank accounts

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Re: Sounds about bloody right

"Yet doesn't have the cash in the bank to cover a months rent?"

What seems to have happened is that unauthorised deductions took away the money that was there for the rent. If this was your bank account would you blaming yourself for the purchase that was charged several time without your say-so?

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Re: Cryptocurrency

"The real problem was speculating in an unregulated market with almost all your money."

The problem here doesn't seem to have been punters speculating with almost all their money. It was the payments processor taking more money than had been speculated.

I hope the refunds will also compensate for any consequent damage to those who were driven into the red.

Say goodbye to a chunk of that sweet Aruba payout, hedgies – judge

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"That $17.13/share gets them $39.2m, some $17.3m less than the $56.5m they would have netted at the $24.67/share deal price."

I hope that price only applies to the plaintiffs, not the rest of the shareholders. If it does apply to the rest then maybe they'll sue the plaintiffs for the difference.

Astro-boffinry world rocked to its very core: Shock as Andromeda found to be not much bigger than Milky Way

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Re: What a waste of time and money

The point is that our monkey ape brains


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Re: What a waste of time and money

"Isn't there something more useful that we can spend the money on?"

Back in the C17th people took to puzzling about these things. I suppose if you'd have been alive back then you'd have said much the same thing. It was one of the things which lead to our understanding of Newtonian mechanics which has served us well ever since.

People didn't stop thinking about such things and noticed a few discrepancies that didn't quite fit with the Newtonian view. Maybe if you'd been alive you'd have said the same thing then. Out of that came the theories of relativity and out of those came a whole lot of other stuff from nuclear energy to the clock corrections necessary for GPS to work.

But in your view it's still a waste of time and money. Me? I wonder what's the next lot of useful stuff that's going to come out of it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: "By measuring the escape velocity, scientists have recalculated the galaxy’s mass and size."

"So, you can observe the speeds of stars that actually have escaped the galaxy, and those that haven't."

I'm not sure whether they'd spot the stars that have escaped but the maximum measured velocities of stars in the galaxy is likely to be just under escape velocity.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Films / TV-shows ever dramatize the collision of galaxies?

"with the exception of Trump, of course"

Other politicians are available and also ignorant of science.

HomePod, you say? Sex sex sex, that's all you think about

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Antibiotics for flu?

Not unless there's a bacterial secondary infection.

BBC presenter loses appeal, must pay £420k in IR35 crackdown

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Re: Hypothetical?

"Shouldn't they be looking at her actual contract, not just a hypothetical one?"

Of course. But that's why IR35 was brought in. It enables HMRC to invent a contract which puts the worker in the worst of positions: the engager doesn't provide employee benefits aso they have to be paid by the freelancer but HMRC can up the tax take by pretending that this isn't so.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Any news on whether the BBC pays their side of the bargain?

"Additionally, at this wage level if she had been with the BBC in 2016-17, her name would have appeared in the Pay Disclosure Annex of the BBC's annual report - potentially increasing the number of highly paid women and thus directly impacting the BBC's gender pay gap."

This would be another advantage for the Beeb. If they'd both been directly employed and she was paid significantly less than, say, Harry Gration, the Beeb could have been on the hook under equal pay legislation. With freelancers each arrangement is independent. Now it's gone political, of course, that isn't such a big concern.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Any news on whether the BBC pays their side of the bargain?

"She was a highly paid presenter, reportedly on over 100K a year. If she's not been paying NI on that wage then she's certainly not 'poor'."

As a freelancer she will have been paying both employer's and employee's NI from such portion of that sum as she takes as salary. Given that there's no guarantee of long-term re-engagement or, indeed, payments should she fall ill, she should have banked a good deal of that payment for future income should the engagement cease. She would also have to make her own provision for pension. These are issues that HMRC neglect to take into consideration. They only really understand PAYE as that's how they're paid. Their employment includes a degree of permanence not available to freelancers. It ought to be valued as a perk of the job and taxed accordingly.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Any news on whether the BBC pays their side of the bargain?

"Presumably the BBC should have paid NI and pension stuff too"

I believe HMRC are responsible for enforcing compliance with workplace pension scheme legislation. Are they providing such a scheme for their IR35-caught freelancers? If not, why are they not prosecuting themselves.

Top tip: Don't bother with Facebook's two-factor SMS auth – unless you love phone spam

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These 4% of turnover fines. Does one cover everything or can they be fined for each category of infringement? May 18th is getting closer.

Microsoft's Windows 10 Workstation adds killer feature: No Candy Crush

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Re: A thought.

"Not had much luck finding hex socket workstations from a quick search, so a limit of 4 does seem reasonable"

It could be that you're seeing H/W designed around limitations imposed by the S/W licensing.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Consumer refers to who's paying

"Certainly, if you had already paid for Windows 7 or 8.1, then Microsoft had, for a limited time, allow an upgrade to 10"

That's "allow" as in "force by every possible means including reversing accepted GUI usage".

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