* Posts by Scunner

38 posts • joined 13 Jun 2016

UK.gov's smart meter cost-benefit analysis for 2019 goes big on cost, easy on the benefits



Power surge pricing?

Carphone Warehouse fined £29m for mis-selling mobile insurance to punters who didn't need it


Re: Other side of the insurance thing..

A 1986 vintage microwave oven? Do birds spontanously drop out of the sky into your garden every time you reheat a cuppa?

Accused hacker Lauri Love to sue National Crime Agency to retrieve confiscated computing kit


I think I get it now...

So UK law enforcement used a RIPA order to try to get him to decrypt his data, but weren't intending to prosecute him themselves. US law enforcement made an extradition request, but it wasn't backed with evidence to prove his guilt. As I understand it, the US constitution gives you a certain amount of protection against self-incrimination (i.e. pleading the fifth). The UK grants no such protection, hence RIPA. At the same time, the US isn't going to be troubled by any "fruit of the poisonous tree" concerns if the fact finding has been done for them in compliance with UK laws, even if the evidence gathering would have been illegal had they attempted it under US law.

It smells as if the law enforcement agencies in these two countries were trying to be cute by forcing him to self-incriminate in the more constitutionally lax UK, followed by extradition to the hugely more punitive regime in the US for the subsequent prosecution. That would be morally dubious, to say the least.

It's possible the US have enough to secure a conviction already - or maybe only enough to bully a plea bargain out of him. But it strikes me that given the unexplained delays in process the UK police probably have very little to go on. If the americans don't share their evidence with UK police pretty soon - and even then, only if that evidence is strong enough to carry a prosecution in an English court - then prosecution will be impossible in either jurisdiction.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for what Mr Love is alleged to have done, but if the police can't secure an honest conviction I won't have any problem seeing him walk away from this.

It's 2019, and a PNG file can pwn your Android smartphone or tablet: Patch me if you can


Re: Mines different...

"Hey sis... have you been messing with the ROM on my phone again?"

Holy crappuccino. There's a latte trouble brewing... Bio-boffins reckon 60%+ of coffee species may be doomed


Re: Add this to the list?

Agreed, the cavendish is awful. I've not had a Gros Michel myself, but I can recommend the variety they grow on Tenerife - smallish fruits but very sweet and excellent flavour.


Re: Add this to the list?

First they came for the bananas, and I did nothing, for I am not a banana...

+1 for the Gros Michel story - people take this stuff for granted

Say GDP-aaaRrrgh, streamers: Max Schrems is coming for you, Netflix and Amazon


Why would the streaming services have to shut down? All they need to do is respond to GDPR information requests properly.

The Large Hadron Collider is small beer. Give us billions more for bigger kit, say boffins


Re: New name needed

I think that "No-As-Big-As-Medium-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock" is the gonnagle you're thinking of...


Oddly enough I was thinking exactly the same thing!

London's Gatwick airport suspends all flights after 'multiple' reports of drones


Re: Droning

If they do get caught I doubt it'll be just a summons, as anti-terrorism legislation would probably be deemed to be relevant to what they've done. You can't cause the closure of a major airport and just expect a smack on the wrist as the only outcome.

Home users due for a battering with Microsoft 365 subscription stick


Re: Cheaper hardware ?

Based on the way subsidisation on phone handsets and contracts works (or at least used to), you might find that you only get the subsidy if you sign up to a minimum contract term on the subscription that more than wipes out the cost advantage.

And the next 7nm laptop processor will be designed by In, er, AM, um, Qualcomm: The 64-bit Arm Snapdragon 8CX


Re: If all you ever do is run Chrome...

Agreed. This chip looks like it might do very well in the underlying guts of said chromebook though.

Awkward... Revealed Facebook emails show plans for data slurping, selling access to addicts' info, crafty PR spinning


Re: Alternative business model please


European fibre lobby calls for end to fake fibre broadband ads


Re: Meat?

When, not where. He was commenting from 1973.

Sorry friends, I'm afraid I just can't quite afford the Bitcoin to stop that vid from leaking everywhere


Re: I've seen a definite uptick in these

"IBM. You would think that they might have got some idea about how the email system works."

You've clearly never used lotus notes then... <shudder>

Worrying Windows 10 wrecking-ball weapon weirdly wanders wildly on worldwide web


Re: Snap.

And for good reason. Randomly deleting your files must be number 1 on the list of things that an OS shouldn't do.

London flatmate (Julian Assange) sues landlord (government of Ecuador) in human rights spat


Re: So he DOES respect the law!

By default UK courts expect witnesses to give evidence in person, and only offer the use of video links under extreme circumstances - e.g. witness identity needs to be protected, or where a witness is considered too vulnerable and/or traumatised to give evidence in front of an open court. In this case the reason for wanting a video link would be that the witness is on the run from UK authorities for bail jumping, and wants to give video evidence so they can avoid risk of capture. I don't think any judge is going to grant permission for that, so this legal action will likely fizzle out fairly quickly.

Stroppy Google runs rings round Brussels with Android remedy


Re: Unbundling the app store would have been the right solution

It's an interesting point though. If this EU competition action does go through, and device do end up being shipped in the EU without google play etc. installed, but with the option of paying the google license fee to add the functionality post purchase, what would happen?

A lot of people would probably just silently curse Samsung, Google and the EU and pay the extra money with gritted teeth. But there would be some who wouldn't want to, and by default they'd now be getting a non-googly experience. That's a market opportunity, but would developers react to it by getting their apps into the other app stores or not?

Amazon are quite happy to allow their app store to be installed on AOSP-based phones. Samsung may have next to no app store presence at the moment, but they do have the largest handset presence in Android, so having their store installed by default would give them a big leg up. If anyone stood any chance of gaining from this, it would be those two.

On the seventh anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, we give you 7 times he served humanity and acted as an example to others


Re: He's probably rolling in his grave

Indigestion? You're drinking it wrong...

Brexit campaigner AggregateIQ challenges UK's first GDPR notice


Re: Has GDPR given the ICO balls or just a quick power trip

20 million could go a long way towards fixing that if they're allowed to keep any of the fines collected for their own use. Assuming AIQ don't just immediately claim insolvency and fold if found guilty, of course.

UK networks have 'no plans' to bring roaming fees back after Brexit


Re: Who's opinion would you trust most out of this lot?


Sadly I can only offer you one upvote, rather than the six that comment deserved.

Belfast's networks are hella fast, London's are in the bog


Re: Belfast Rocks

Whaddaya mean, *future* government? The future is now...

Boss regrets pointing finger at chilled out techie who finished upgrade early


So... what method did you use to get the infection onto his PC? </BOFH>

Amazon meets the incredible SHRINKING UK taxman


Re: Just say No to Amazon

"there is nothing in UK or EU law that requires a company to maximise its profits."

Of course not, there doesn't need to be. Shareholders like profits and the dividends that come with them - and they're the ones calling the shots (albeit through their appointed board).


Re: Just say No to Amazon

20k employees in the UK means there is a huge amount of employer and employee NI contributions and income tax flowing into government coffers from Amazon's activity - that's probably in the 100m range. And if they've shifted 2Bn of goods there's likely to be another 9-figure sum from VAT receipts. Those are the sums that HMRC are going to be paying attention to.

19% of 72.4m is 13.7m before any tax credits are taken into account. And there are always some allowable deductions to be found - it's hardly a surprise that Amazon has been able to find ways to bring down the amount that's payable. This is all above board - any other UK business would be able to claim the same sorts of allowances. So really, this might generate a few headlines but it's really small potatoes in the overall scheme of things.

If the UK government did have a crack down it might make it more attractive to shut down some of it's UK operations and build a few more fulfillment warehouses in Ireland instead. Result - less NI and Income tax for HMRC, longer delivery times for UK folk (unfortunately next day delivery is no longer available in your location), and whatever pittance in corporation tax is paid would end up going to the Irish government. I'm struggling to see what good this does anyone in the UK.

'Unhackable' Bitfi crypto-currency wallet maker will be shocked to find fingernails exist


Re: No need to hack anything?

Ooh, I'll play. How about breathable air?

AR upstart Magic Leap reveals majorly late tech specs' tech specs


Re: @Ashley_Pomeroy: Orient is racist - WTF?

As far as I'm aware, "the orient" is just another way of saying "the far east" (unless you're talking about the football team of the same name). It's therefore about the compass direction or the territory that exists in that direction, and has nothing to do with the people there - it isn't a racist term. The Orient Express was/is a fast train which travels in that general direction, so it's just a descriptive term explaining what the train does.

"Oriental", on the other hand, does refer to people from the orient, so perhaps could be construed as racist. However, I don't recall ever hearing it used as a pejorative term in itself, and personally consider it to be a pretty much neutral descriptor for people originating from SE asia (c.f. Caucasian, African, Asian). N.B. To a Brit, Asian means somone from the indian subcontinent, and oriental or SE Asian means someone from China and it's environs. I guess you could argue the case that indulging in such categorisation is wrong, but I'm not seeing racism here either, really.

I will agree that racist terms for people from the far east do exist, but I'll refrain from using any here because that kind of language has no place in a civilised forum. I seem to remember the former presenters of Top Gear being quite well versed on the subject, which is one of many reasons why I don't have any time for them.


Re: talks about things that he hasn’t actually experienced ...


The media just don't want to be exposed to legal action. Calling politicians out for lying implies intent to deceive, whereas mis-speaking, claiming incorrectly etc. doesn't - it leaves open the possibility that the politician concerned may simply be reporting their understanding of things in good faith. Yes, we know the people concerned are actually lying, but media bosses don't want the headache of having to prove that to a libel court.

I'd argue it isn't even a new phenomenon. It's just that the alternative facts are more easily noticable now that fact checking can be done in near real-time by anyone who actually cares for truth and accuracy. It's not just a right-wing tactic either - it's lies and spin across the full political spectrum, because it works.

Which brings us to the real problem - a large proportion of the population doesn't care about truth, they just want their political leaders to look good in a suit and sound like they care about them. Modern politics (and marketing) is more and more about finding a tribe of people who will support your position no matter what stance you take. Political debate as we knew it has died because it's expensive and difficult to change opinions among the educated members of the electorate, but cheap and easy to use emotive arguments to get the vast mass of the uninformed to follow you unquestioningly. And if you call their man a liar, it makes YOU the bad guy.


Re: Should have been pretty obvious

AR is only really useful in applications where it's vital that the virtual and real worlds be bonded together within your field of view. The marketeers probably need more sales than this very narrow niche would allow for, so they're talking it up as a solution for other use cases, most of which are idiotic.

Warehouse fulfilment wouldn't need fancy integration of virtual objects with real-world ones - a simple HUD overlay showing a route map and destination details would suffice. If this isn't actually being done already it's either because the productivity gains are too small to be worth the development cost, or warehousers are pursuing entirely different means to improve efficiency (another commentard suggested robotics, which seems far more plausible).

'Fibre broadband' should mean glass wires poking into your router, reckons Brit survey



The term "full fibre" seems to be taking off as a synonym for FTTP.

Maybe the term "fake fibre" should start being used as shorthand for FTTC.

Unfit to plead before a US court? You may face 'indefinite detention'



"It's an offence if you do naughty things to a computer outside the UK from inside the UK. It's an offence if you do naughty things to a computer inside the UK from outside the UK."

First part of that means that he could (and should) be tried in this country. If the US authorities are refusing to assist the UK Police and CPS with their investigations they should be told to bugger off with their extradition request - why should assistance between law enforcement agencies be one way only?

Lack of sufficient evidence to support a case proceeding to prosecution should be an absoute bar to extradition being granted. If the UK were trying to extradite a US citizen (or practically any other nation's citizen) I am sure it would be.

Don't buy Microsoft Surface gear: 25% will break after 2 years, says Consumer Reports


Re: Surface problems are two-fold

I wouldn't rely on that. Hardware and software are different divisions. Left hand, meet right hand.

Europe will fine Twitter, Facebook, Google etc unless they rip up T&Cs


Re: Long overdue

"Then how do you explain the IP Act and its predecessors such as DRIPA?"

Easy - the average voting punter doesn't pay any attention to stuff like this, so they can get away with living the draconian dream. The government needs to be careful about taxation and immigration issues, but otherwise they can get away with pretty much anything they like.

It's a bleak view of the situation, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

If fast radio bursts really are revving up interstellar sailcraft, here's the maths


Re: Astrophysicists think

<snip>...about 0.7c ...To decelerate the ship is aimed directly at the star in the destination system...<snip>

So if your sail has a malfunction you're going to hit the star at 0.7c? Well, if you've gotta go, you might as well do it in style...

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a drone? Is it a car? It's both, crossed with Uber


Re: "The internal combustion engine" [...] is designed to use fossil fuels

"I take your point but I would offer that these engines really are designed specifically to burn fossil fuels. "

Yes, modern internal combustion engines are tuned to burn specific fuels. This is a good thing, as building a general purpose "can burn anything" engine would be likely to involve making compromises which would lower efficiency - you noted this yourself in your point about engines using different blends. But this really is besides the point. Modern engines are only designed for fossil fuels because this is what's available today in bulk quantities, relatively low cost, and with a widely established supply chain to enable you to get more of them wherever you are.

If someone came up with a scalable way of making a cheaper hydrocarbon fuel from renewable sources we'd all be using that instead in very short order - existing vehicles would be retired or adapted to the new fuel type as need be. Biofuels haven't managed that so far, and have also suffered from the political implications of edible crops for bioethanol in countries where there are people who don't have enough to eat. There are people looking into using the sea to produce a biomass source (algae) as the raw material for biofuel, to avoid this competition for arable land. As far as I know it's still early days yet, but it would be foolish to write it this off just because the fuels we use in our vehicles at the moment have fossil origins.

Lap(top) of luxury: Porsche Design revs up 2-in-1 Windows 10 slab


Re: Built in Taiwan

Styled by the Germans

Built by the Italians

Privacy standards by the Americans

That fits with the sentiment of the original...

Yeah, that '50bn IoT devices by 2020' claim is a load of dog toffee


"The report predicts the IoT as a whole (including software and system integration efforts) will be worth $322bn by 2027, exploding from $1bn next year to $73bn by 2018. The number of devices will, they say, barely break one billion by 2020."

So the market will be worth $73bn the year after next (and presumably similar if not more for the two years following that), yet there'll only be 1bn devices by 2020? 73 * 3 = 210, in other words $210 per device... isn't this obvious bollocks? Or does this headline figure count the entire cost of the device, including the non-IoT parts of it (this would be quite a lot on the average connected car, for example)... in which case it's still bollocks.

The truth is, no-one knows, but the marketeers and analysts are having a field day regardless. Wake me up when any of this crap does something useful without being a security nightmare...

Milk IN the teapot: Innovation or abomination?


Re: According to the science:

The way I heard it was this; Tea was originally drunk without milk - if you've got really good tea it's still the "best" way to drink it (personal preference aside - it is the best way to be able to really taste the quality of the tea). The fashion for tea drinking brought with it a fashion for using very delicate porcelain cups to drink it from (fine china - named as such as that's where both tea and cups came from). These had an unfortunate tendency to crack when very hot tea was poured into them. Someone came up with the bright idea of putting milk in the bottom of the cup, which behaved as a heat sink for the hot tea, and reduced cracking in the very expensive cups. It also changed the flavour of the tea, which many preferred - and hence the British custom of milky tea was born.

In a historical sense Orwell was wrong on this one. In practical terms I'm with you both though - modern ceramics are cheap and robust, so thermal damage isn't a problem any more.

In my experience black tea brews better with freshly boiled (not reboiled) water that's still bubbling, and milk should only be added after the teabag or infuser has been removed. Adding the milk when the bag is in situ brings out all sorts of awful flavours, probably due to the milk interacting with the tannins in the leaves. I'll make an exception to this rule for masala chai though.

Symantec swoops on Blue Coat in $4.65bn deal


Re: Certificate Authority buys enterprise grade SSL decryption biz? What could go wrong?

You have a point. That said, if Symantec do this it will be noticed, and very quickly browsers will no longer trust any certificates which have been issued by their certificate authority. So all they'd be doing is flushing their CA business down the toilet. Browser makers won't do it until abuse has happened though.

MITM technology in proxies is just an enabling technology - it's not really good or evil in itself. In the workplace it's a way of protecting your business against malware in HTTPS. This is good in that it protects businesses from threats, but also bad in that it potentially impinges on the privacy of the company's employees. You try to mitigate that by telling employees that use is monitored. Doing MITM on generic internet HTTPS traffic for sig int purposes (GCHQ, NSA etc.) is bad because of the 1984 overtones, but also good in that the primary purpose of such activity (primary *stated* purpose, at least) is to gather intelligence on terrorist threats - and stopping terrorist plots from coming to fruition is a good thing. The spy agencies don't seem to be interested in mitigating the problematic aspects of this activity though, which does suggest they're not being entirely up front about what it's really all for.

You can argue the toss about whether a particular usage of the technology is justified or not, but it's a bit pointless trying to claim the whole idea is evil and should be banned, or criticising the companies who make the products. You don't attack car companies because their products are used as getaway vehicles in bank robberies. You go after the bank robbers. Save your ire for the spooks who abuse the technology, not the technology companies themselves.


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