* Posts by Dave Bell

1962 posts • joined 14 Sep 2007

eBay denies claims it's failing to thwart 'systematic fraud'

Dave Bell
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I am not sure I would buy a USB stick on eBay.

As it happens, I have had consistently good experiences with a particular High Street chain, and there is a British on-line store which I have found reliable, while the best powerbanks I have come from another High Street chain. All of these do some eBay trading, things such as end-of-line stock.

They's not selling the well-known brands but I know the stuff will work. And they're cheaper than similar items from supermarkets.

I am not going to name anyone here, but the shops worth checking have the same feel as the Woolworths of my distant youth.

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'Windows 10 destroyed our data!' Microsoft hauled into US court

Dave Bell
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Re: About time

I had bought Windows update CDs in the past, a couple of times. No big problems. Then the hard drive needed replacing, I was able to save the data, but the hardware change meant I needed to go back to the start of the stack of CDs, install and register that version, install each upgrade, and then ask myself, "Windows 10?"

I installed Linux

Six weeks later, the company responsible for some software I used announced (with a notice in the back of their cellar, behind a locked door labelled "Beware of the Tiger") that the Linux version of the software was an unsupported beta.

I found other software that worked. Last I heard, they still were not officially supporting Windows 10 users. As for 64-bit code, they have started working on it.

As for installing Windows...

Mandy Rice-Davies applies.

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Amazon dodges $1.5bn US tax bill: It's OK to run sales through Europe out of IRS reach – court

Dave Bell
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Re: Other countries?

I think most of the treaties are bi-lateral: the UK has its own tax treaty with the USA.

The way Amazon handles Kindle book publishing means I have to see my money go through the USA and the US tax system., which does make this subsidiary in Luxembourg feel a bit fake.

And I know the EU is getting a bit active about the tax deals, such as VAT rates, that Luxembourg did.

I don't just what all this adds up to, but there's far more questionable behaviour by these big American businesses with subsidiaries in the EU and large fees being paid for IP rights so as to avoid tax, if not outright evade it. It makes this report seem a little inadequate.

(Of course, if the EU is leaning on some countries about how they have set tax rules, it's easy to imagine a motive for some people's attitude to Brexit.)

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Blinking cursor devours CPU cycles in Visual Studio Code editor

Dave Bell
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One problem is that the developer environment has bits the user never gets, things like debugging tools.

There are ways of throttling a machine to see what lower resources, clock cycles and RAM, do to the code . This instance looks more like incompetence.

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How UK’s GDPR law might not be judged 'adequate'

Dave Bell
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Re: Optional

"then the damage to EU-UK relations would be so high that the European Commission’s mission in London would have to close, and the UK Ambassador to Brussels would become persona non grata."

"this month’s ICO conference."

What else might Sir Tim Barrow have done that wouldn't be in his Wikipedia entry?

And hasn't this anonymous guy heard of Brexit yet?

It all sounds bogus. Unless something really bad is being done that certain politicians want to get away from being peronally liable for, and that would have to be really extreme, not just lose-your-job incompetent.

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

Dave Bell
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Old laws, new internet.

There's been a lot of scary stuff in T&C lists, and at least some of it is about making the internet possible under copyright law. It has always been there, and sometimes the terms have been abusive.

The problem is that the internet depends on making copies of data, and the Berne Convention make the existence of copyright automatic. Part of it is a right to be identified as the creator.

At least the USA is signed up to the Berne Convention, but it's a minimum standard.

And that's why they want their non-exclusive licence to use your material. Just to make it visible to their other customers, there have to be copies.

Doing it in a way that would be clear in court is a bit tricky, but that problem has been as the root of a lot of arguments about the use of content. The scary part for me is that they rarely try to limit the licence to any particular service. It may be that they could be sued under bankruptcy law if Twitter went bust, and their T&C limited that use-licence just to Twitter, so that data had no value

This isn't entirely what the current argument about, though where you might sue an international company is a significant problem that the EU will care about. It comes with free trade. Likewise, where a company pays taxes.

It's another whole giant economy size can of worms that comes with deciding whose national rules apply to content.

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Dave Bell
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Re: Long overdue

"gold-plating" is the usual term. Despite all the talk of "bad" EU regulation, it all has to be passed by these politicians who are telling us they can do better, and sometimes they have done some weird stuff.

Can we trust them?

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More brilliant Internet of Things gadgetry: A £1,300 mousetrap

Dave Bell
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Maintenance of an intelligent self-cleaning, mousetrap

Tabitha was officially recorded as "A very well-behaved cat."

When my mother died, several of the regular carers came to the funeral. They all asked how Tabitha was.

Can this Rentokil thingummy keep an old lady happy?

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Road accident nuisance callers fined £270,000 for being absolute sh*tbags

Dave Bell
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Re: so what happens to

The system has to transmit the caller ID from the source exchange to the destination exchange because that's essentially a packet-switched network. When it goes to analogue that necessity ends. Caller ID is the default, it's not making the number available to the destination that is special. You pay a little extra to receive it before you answer the phone, or you dial 1471 after the call.

Is he confusing the business line itself with a PBX that might be leased from BT?

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Dave Bell
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General Data Protection Failures.

At one point we got a very vague request for permissions letter from the Social Services Department of the Local Council, concerning my mother. They wanted a totally unlimited permission to share her data. It turned out just to be for making an appointment with the local hospital, but the request was to share everything with anyone.

At that time. some aspects of medicine, such as physiotherapy, seemed to be part social-services, part NHS. After my mother died, some of the support services moved from council employees to private companies.

The way Data Protection works seems to have become a sick joke.

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Dave Bell
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Re: Fuckers

I have had several of these scam calls in the last couple of days, both "Windows Technical Support" and a very similar "BT Telecom" fake call. So it may well be concidence that you called a genuine BT call centre in India.

One of them I was able to get CallerID on the call, which I was able to pass on to the cops.

They were all variations on "our servers are getting warning from your computer", leading up to expecting me to download software. I kept asking them if they had the IP address, or the MAC for the network interface and they kept insisting they had a Customer License ID that was "burned in" to my computer.

The first few times, I managed to keep them talking for a few minutes. The last time, they hung up as soon as I spoke. I wonder if they even know which phone number they are calling.

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What went up, Musk come down again: SpaceX to blast sat into orbit with used rocket

Dave Bell
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Re: Next flight but one

The static fire took place a few hours ago.

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Iconic Land Rover Defender may make a comeback by 2019

Dave Bell
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Re: Belgian Guns

That British-made gun was bad, but we hired the Germans to redesign it. It still could be better, there were a few odd choices that couldn't be worked around in the redesign, but it's hardly as dreadful as you imagine.

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Facebook shopped BBC hacks to National Crime Agency over child abuse images probe

Dave Bell
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There's a lot of room for argument over who to blame, but I think it's the cops who need to take a hand now. It's not just about whether the BBC should have reported to them, or whether Facebook should have called for sample images. Some of it seems to be context driven, such as a not-all-that-blatant pic of a schoolgirl attracting a flood of abusive comments. I am not sure the cops can set all that definite a line, but they're the one who have seen the pictures, not us.

At the end of the day, they might need to interview the people involved under caution, and ask to see the letters between Facebook and the BBC. We're not getting quite the same story from the two of them.

Both could have made mistakes in this.

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Uncle Sam probes SpaceX – but crack nothing to be alarmed about, we're told

Dave Bell
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Swings and Roundabouts

NASA and SpaceX have both recovered engines after flight and had the chance to examine them. NASA still lost two Shuttles, but not to main engine faults.

NASA and SpaceX should be talking to each other, and the NASA knowledge from the SSME should have gone into the SpaceX engines at the design stage.

Trouble is, Aerojet Rocketdyne makes the SSME, and they may not want to talk to SpaceX. It's one of the downsides of market forces and general commercial rivalry. Though, as well as the RS-25 from the Shuttle, Aerojet Rocketdyne is flogging a version of the Russian NK-33. The world is changing.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth is delayed, Ministry of Defence confesses

Dave Bell
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Re: The French

I am thinking Kerbal Space Program and asparagus staging, but not even the RAF are quite that crazy

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I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the API key

Dave Bell
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Are the Americans the best farmers?

The LAMMA show happened last week, and is focused on new tech for farming, and some of the older stuff, and I remember, back in the Nineties, seeing devices that were aiming pesticides at individual plants in a field. GPS isn't quite precise enough on it's own, look up "differential GPS", but a combine harvester with a yield meter could record just where the good and bad patches were in a field. Back then, with that sort of detailed info, it wasn't always certain what the fix was for the bad patches, it need some old-fashioned farming knowledge to get the "why".

John Deere produced a magazine called "The Furrow", and cousins in the USA sent my father a subscription. They were just catching on to stuff we had been doing in Europe for years. and average yoelds of crops such as wheat are still much lower in the USA/ You might wonder why the Americans still use bushels instead of the tonnes the rest of the world uses.

Times have changed, but US farming still looks a bit reckless. It came from the EU, but we had regulations on applying pesticides and fertiliser, things that work out as saving money, even though the overt purpose was to stop them getting into water supplies. I have heard about nitrates getting into American rivers and lakes: they cost money, and the protection rules British farmers have to follow to avert that mean they they're not throwing money away. Precision farming is part of that.

It's the same for pesticides. America allows pesticides that are banned in Europe, chemicals that, here, needed special protective clothing to use. and there is all sorts of detail about the droplet sizes of the spray I had to pay attention to. Also the wind. Yet I see American reports of really bad spray drift, suggesting the chemicals never reach the crop. More money wasted.

The trouble was that the politicians would say things such as "This only puts an extra 1% on the costs" and didn't seem to know the difference between the net and the gross. They haven't changed. It's possible that the politics of farming is dominated by land ownership, and land speculation, soaking up subsidies, rather than the problems of growing a crop.

It's still hard to beat a skilled man on a tractor, but when you can't afford more than one man per thousand acres a robot looks tempting. Back in my distant youth, even with tractors, you needed over 10 men per thousand acres. My father was, in his youth, ploughing with horses.

A lot of this stuff depends on imports. It's a long list. John Deere is an American company, though they have factories in Europe. We import fertiliser, pesticides, and fuel for tractors. We still have some British companies, but for many things it's one source for all of Europe. And it's just pot luck whether that source is in Britain or not.

The paperwork on the fertiliser I bought, most came from a factory near Rotterdam. The production depends on supplies of natural gas, and most now comes from Russia via a pipeline.

At least we still have good farmer. I am not convinced of the politicians and financial whiz-kids

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Allow us to sum this up: UK ISP Plusnet minus net for nine-plus hours

Dave Bell
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I'm not sure how useful that map is.

The highest number of reports are where a lot of people live.

It does look as though London, for example, it getting hit worse than Birmingham, but none of use know enough about the Plusnet network to know what's different. In the past, I've often been told I am somewhere close to Milton Keynes, presumably because of the IP address, but the helpdesk staff seem to be based in Sheffield.

In the past, with other companies, I've known that a particular cluster of equipment had failed, but I wouldn't like to guess where my connection goes physically. The connection is working for me, but if it wasn't I doubt the red spot would show on that map.

Milton Keynes, incidentally, is legendary for having something falling down on it. There's a song.

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TfL to track Tube users in stations by their MAC addresses

Dave Bell
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Each MAC is supposed to be unique, so it's going to be hard for this not to be Personal Data.

It's possible that a different number could be assigned each time an MAC enters a station, and used in the tracking records, so that the tracking data for a device can't be combined across multiple visits. That might work and be legal without having to get permission.

As a very occasional visitor to London, I'm not that bothered. But anyone thinking an MAC address isn't personal isn't thinking this through. And that's what worries me. Just a hand-wave about de-personalising the data isn't enough. Did the people planning this know enough?

(I know enough about law and technology and stats to ask awkward questions around the intersection. It's a little worrying that I might know more about MAC addresses than the lawyer, and more about the law than the techie.)

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Facebook Fake News won it for Trump? That's a Zombie theory

Dave Bell
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Just what is Facebook?

While it isn't a universal, the idea of the "common carrier" as being a necessary protection for internet operations isn't a bad one. Here in the UK it is pretty weak in such contexts as libel. But a publisher isn't a carrier.

Companies such as Facebook seem to depend on being whichever needs the least work when the writ arrives, even when there is reason to think they're the other. What strikes me as making a difference is the way that so many news publishers on the internet use Facebook as a gatekeeper. If you want to comment on a story on a news site, maybe your local newspaper, you log in with your Facebook account, and there's no alternative.

This seems a reason to class them as a publisher. How is Facebook, thrusting "selected" adverts to you, different to one of those advertising monthlies, tied to a locality or to an industry, which is printed on paper and arrives through your letterbox?

And there are rules against adverts that look like "editorial" material.

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Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

Dave Bell
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Who will want to fly from England?

Are the people who can afford this going to be based in London?

Short answer is, we don'r know what Brexit will do. But I am not sure that there will be an airport sufficiently near New York with a local passenger pool that can sustain this. Paris, maybe, but don't forget that aircraft need reserve fuel for the unexpected, to get to an alternative destination, and the extra distance to, for instance, Frankfurt, might soak up that margin. And, even with TGV in mainland Europe, if total journey time matters, getting to the airport is critical.

It looks like all the eggs in one economic basket-case.

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WileyFox Swift 2: A new champ of the 'for around £150' market

Dave Bell
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A suggestion for a test

I know some of these things are getting a bit old, no longer the white heat of modern technology, but I like the idea of seeing what works. I bought a second-hand Google Nexus because there were non-obvious problems with things like the magnetic sensing, and controlling my cheap phone for Google Cardboard was a struggle.

Well, we're past the cardboard cut-out stage, and you can get decent plastic phone-holders that work for specific models. Though it looks as though the idea is starting to fade.

It would still be a good thing to know whether it matches the Google standard for the magnetism sensor. Does that magnet on the Google Cardboard holder work? Or does it match some other phone? Is the sensor in the right place to work?

Another test: I know Pokemon Go is past the peak, but does it work? Maybe you can think of some other augmented reality game that would be a better test, but look at what a smartphone has to be able to do to make that game work.

As it is, all we get are a few pictures. And, really, that's a pretty simple problem. I've gotten better results with 80-year-old technology. What do those pictures really tell you about the Smartphone?

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Portable drive, 5TB capacity. Hmm, there's something fishy here

Dave Bell
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I found a review from 2010, it was an easy search.

500GB or 320GB, there were two models, but USB2 so a bit slow for today.

But you can store a huge amount of data in 500GB. What on earth is this guy doing that 500GB on a powered-down drive isn't a useful amount of backed-up data?

(If it's the only copy, it isn't a back-up.)

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Dave Bell
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It may be a typo, GB for MB, but only 6 years old?

500GB isn't ridiculously small, even today.

OK, what you're doing with your computer might involve far more data than what I do with mine but most new PCs I have seen are still using 1TB drives. I have a 2TB drive in mine. It wouldn't be outright silly to use this drive to store another copy of a back-up, and leave it sitting there unpowered. It's old enough that I wouldn't want to trust it for the sole copy of anything, but I wouldn't call it junk.

If it is a typo, and it is only 500MB, well yeah. And that size, the actual drive might be IDE rather than SATA, but typo or not, this whole thing makes me wonder how much I can trust The Register

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Pay up or your data gets it. Ransomware highwaymen's attacks on small biz octuple

Dave Bell
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How do the crooks get paid?

What puzzles me is that the ransom demands appear to require an electronic payment. (I have seen a couple of screen captures.)

How the heck can they get their money through the banking system without being tracked down?

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UK privacy watchdog sends poison pen letter to Zuckerberg et al

Dave Bell
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Re: Delete your account

Facebook have shown that they have no concerns about distributing lies and abuse.

While it's more common in the USA than in the UK, news media are using Facebook as the gatekeepers for comments on what they publish.

Facebook claim, with not much evidence, to only have accounts with real people, despite the lies and abuse. They don't seem to be willing to let real people adopt masks to hide from abusers, and if I were in that situation, could I trust them with my real identity?

People have been using UserIDs with no obvious connections to their real name since the earliest days of Usenet and email. That is not the same as being untraceable. That is part of why we have laws protecting personal information. I am not hugely bothered by Facebook selling a service that delivers an advert for a third party to one of their customers. They don't have to tell anyone else who I am to do that.

Unfortunately, they have lousy selection methods, and do tell other businesses who I am. Because they don't do the delivery, they suffer no penalty for incompetence. They can even get away with "killing" their own boss.

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Panicked WH Smith kills website to stop sales of how-to terrorism manuals

Dave Bell
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The truth

"Blue Peter" once explained how to make explosive from fertiliser and another common material, as used in quarrying. Getting the required kaboom required the use of a ready-made commercial explosive as a primer. The speed of the shockwave from the fertiliser-based explosive is pretty slow. You get rock rather than gravel.

The books you mention can not be relied on. Some of their sources have deliberate errors and omissions that could lead to the bomber experiencing a premature detonation.

One of the things we are losing is knowledge of what competent "Terrorism" looks like. Compare what is happening now in England with what happened to the French railway system in 1944. It wasn't just the Resistance (which was doing what "terrorists" do), there were air attacks as well, but it was shut down.

OK, we don't need terrorists to shut down the railways. we have the government for that, but we scare pretty easy. Go find "London Can Take It" on YouTube. "Some shops are more open than others."

There are days that I wonder why politicians want us scared.

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Brexit judgment could be hit for six by those crazy Supreme Court judges, says barrister

Dave Bell
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Can we trust Parliament?

I've worked most of my life in businesses directly affected by EU decisions.

Before they take effect in the UK, they have to be made into UK law by Parliament.

I really don't like the idea of Parliament free to act as it wishes. What sort of mess would we be in without the EU? Where would we be without the conflict? If EU law is so obviously bad, why has our parliament put into effect so much of it?

I know that in some cases, civil servants patiently explained why a particular implementation was silly, and our politicians went ahead and did it that way. And I had to live with the consequences.

It may be that the core of the problem is the cabinet ministers rather than parliament, but I cannot trust them to do a decent job

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What should the Red Arrows' new aircraft be?

Dave Bell
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Re: Hawk T2

The US Navy uses a Hawk variant, and the USAF is working towards a decision on its next fast jet trainer. A next-gen Hawk for RAF training is likely but not certain. And because the Red Arrows fly the same plane, with good reason, all we can do is guess.

I wonder what the effect of Brexit and the slump of the Pound will be. It might mean BAe will be building a lot of Hawks. The original is old enough that it's not so different from starting from scratch. and that will be the big part of the bill.

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Half! a! billion! Yahoo! email! accounts! raided! by! 'state! hackers!'

Dave Bell
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Re: Have account from 2004.. or so...

I think they did. I have a Yahoo account for posting to a mailing list, and I changed passwords recently. There was nothing in the emails I got, but I had to change when I logged in recently to post something. There must be a lot of dormant accounts, and they must know it, but that huge total looks impressive.

I know other companies which pull that trick of never deleting an account, possibly to mask a falling customer base.

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Lenovo denies claims it plotted with Microsoft to block Linux installs

Dave Bell
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Re: I just got...

One of the interesting little things I came across is that the current nVidia driver, which I think is the ten-month-old one you mention (v352.63) is the same version number as a beta video driver for Win10 (and, of course, I have been told graphics problems are my own fault for using a beta driver).

What I have noticed is that Windows drivers get fairly frequent upgrades with settings tweaks for specific games using DirectX, and I can't remember the last time there was any reference to OpenGL, which made that helpful advice even more stupid, because the person giving it knew I was using an OpenGL program on Linux.

(I am running Linux Mint 17.3 and I cannot rule out there being a later driver version used by Mint 18.)

With Windows 10, I am told, nVidia lost its advantage on graphics, but that's down to the new DirectX version.

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Dave Bell
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The best upgrade to Windows...

It's not entirely wrong that the best upgrade to Windows is called Linux, but even companies which have supported Linux in the past are losing their enthusiasm. And it doesn't look like a coincidence when this happens at about the same time as the game engine they use is bought up by Microsoft.

And then, whenever you hit problems, the response from all and sundry is RTFM!

Unfortunately, nobody has actually written the manual. You get a mass of uncertain fragments on a Wiki somewhere.

That's an American company

If you want to see this stuff being done properly. linux support, documentation, and all, I commend to your attention Squad, the Mexican publishers of Kerbal Space Program. My personal network of acquaintances overlaps with software engineers in several companies, talented people, and most of them outside the USA.

It's possible that a lot of the people at Microsoft and Lenovo can talk to computers.

Perhaps they haven't noticed that we're not computers.

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Brexit makes life harder for an Internet of Things startup

Dave Bell
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Re: It may be better; or even worse.

"The main reason is not the CE legislation in itself but the way UK civil servants gold plate them."

The UK had problems when area-based farm subsidies were introduced. We didn't have a central tax record of who owned what. So some rules had to be set on the measurement and the use of records that did exist. Those rules set a higher precision standard than anywhere else in the EU, one that on real-sized British fields needed an precision of distance measurement of less than a metre,

What official figures that existed, from Ordnance Survey mapping, assumed a horizontal plane surface. A 5m height difference across a field led to a bigger error in those figures than was allowed if you measured the field.

People on the inside noticed, protested, and were ignored. It may have been part of the same pettifogging desire to be sure that nobody gets a penny more than they are entitled to which drives the current handling of benefits and state pensions.

So I reckon this happens at the Sir Humphrey level, where neither the civil servants nor the politicians are likely to have post-GCSE qualifications in science and engineering matters.

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Linus Torvalds won't apply 'sh*t-for-brains stupid patch'

Dave Bell
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There's a lot of it about

Over the years, I have come to see a pattern. The people who write code are good at communicating with computers, not so good at communicating with people. In the past, somebody with some skill at writing could produce an "unofficial" manual that usually managed to be well-organised documentation. Now we told to look it up on the web, and watch YouTube videos.

I don't really expect Linus to be subtle, and he is likely dealing with too many people for who subtlety is a waste of time. What I see of this "bad language" is more about intensification than insult, driving the point home.

He doesn't know all the tricks. He doesn't use dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes or satire.

Just using good English should be enough, but have you seen any recent documentation?

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Samsung's million-IOPS, 6.4TB, 51Gb/s SSD is ... well, quite something

Dave Bell
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There are so many choices within RAID. I have seen it argued that some styles of RAID don't make as much sense now, with huge drives, as they did a decade ago. If you're using RAID 5, how long will a faulty 2TB drive take to rebuild? Even simple mirroring takes time.

I am really not sure of my sources on this, but I am almost glad that this is so far out of my budget.

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Making us pay tax will DESTROY EUROPE, roars Apple's Tim Cook

Dave Bell
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Re: I don't get it.

I don't disagree with that, but I would rather not be living in a country that conducts such an experiment.

There are signs that British governments are OK with the proles being experimental subjects, without asking for formal consent.

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Dave Bell
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Re: I don't get it.

There are several big, questionable, deals in the EU. And every country in the EU is supposed to at least stay within the rather generous lower limits on tax rates, both VAT and corporation tax.

Apple, Paypal, Amazon, Starbucks, Google, they all take advantage of the tax differences and other details of international tax law. Until there was a recent change in VAT rules, those ebooks you bought from Amazon were taxed at a special, low, VAT rate. Now, for virtual goods, it's the country of the buyer which counts.

There are local taxes in the USA too, and it can get complicated. They affect where big businesses have their warehouses. Customers are expected to pay the tax on "imported" goods in some states, but enforcement is patchy.

What we're getting from the EU looks more like the Rule of Law than what has been happening. You have to wonder just what some British politicians are running away from.

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Having offended everyone else in the world, Linus Torvalds calls own lawyers a 'nasty festering disease'

Dave Bell
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Re: So, to sum up...

I expect to be dealing with a lawyer soon.

Her family has been working with my family for generations. She knows her stuff. We meet to get specific jobs done. It's likely to be another will. It's something essentially routine.

This instance does sound more like an outsider trying to stir trouble. It needed lawyers to make the GPL. and I have seen enough cases of tech-industry lawyers straining to understand what they are dealing with. At some point there will be a test case.

Linus may be right about this lawyer, but if he thinks he doesn't need a lawyer at that discussion, he's dangerous too. Law and computer programming each have their own jargon, and I have certainly come across computer programmers with a strange idea of what the law says. You can see the same with other specialised areas. It is perhaps the biggest problem in politics, finding somebody who really knows what they're doing, who you can trust to give you advice.

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Breaker, breaker: LTE is coming to America's CB radio frequencies

Dave Bell
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Re: errr cb band ?

That's the classic CB band. It also has the range to be useful for truckers. There was, for a few years, also a UK band somewhere just short of 1 GHz, but it flopped.

I suspect few writers for The Reg are old enough to remember, and they were possibly playing Elite at the time. CB does things that mobile phones do not, mostly because of the one-to-many aspect combined with the range. It isn't so good for the things you do with a telephone. Even in England, mobile phone coverage, whether voice or data, can be patchy.

I don't remember CB ever being the miracle it was being sold as, but maybe it was useful on heavily-used roads. It seemed to sell more on the gloss of being something American and "sexy", and I think they were showing The Dukes of Hazzard on TV.

You haven't lived until you have heard a Yorkshire farmer pretending to be one of the good ole' boys.

4-10, Good baby...

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Apple beats off banks' bid for access to iPhones' NFC chips

Dave Bell
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Re: Confidentiality and NDA's

I remember some of the people worried about contactless payment with credit cards, and I think some of the fears are relatively simple to deal with. I suspect the fear of illicit card scanning is greatly exaggerated, but a screened card case is a simple fix. (They still look overpriced.)

Some of the technical details just don't get reported, but we do get warned about interference between cards. How much of that under-reporting is down to lazy journalists, and how much is down to confidential information?

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Dave Bell
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If it's true that one of the banks involved won't sign up to confidentiality, why should I trust them with my money.

Yes, there is the security-by-obscurity argument, but it looks as though Apple are willing to talk, just a bit picky. And, after that SWIFT story this week, I think it's good that they are.

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UK IT consultant subject to insane sex ban order mounts legal challenge

Dave Bell
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Re: "He was found not guilty, therefore he is innocent"

The concept is there, but it's not simple. Sometimes a pattern of lesser offences is significant, but it isn't easy to present them to a jury as evidence. It will be argued about in each case where it comes up. And sometimes it gets argued several times, in different courts. In this case, this is the first step of such a chain of arguments.

Anyway, I knew a few magistrates. Apart from anything else, the police were known to have a list of favourite magistrates. I could see why. Some could have been more sceptical.

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UK's mass-surveillance draft law grants spies incredible powers for no real reason – review

Dave Bell
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Re: Hiding messages is easy....

Good encryption is hard.

At the moment, using encryption is in two classes. There's the automatic "secure sockets" stuff that might be analogous to putting a letter in a sealed envelope, and is used for stuff like your internet banking. It's like the sealed envelope because it takes effort to open and read without being obvious. And that's why people such as GCHQ target their bulk collection.

Then there are the more personal systems. If it's detected, it's very likely to be attacked. It will be seen as a strong factor in filtering systems. Something is being hidden. Some ciphers, even a Caesar cipher or ROT-13, are trivial to break but they deter a casual reader. The Telegraph Codes of a century ago kept privacy, the telegraphist couldn't just read the message, and they reduced the number of words needed. In the World Wars you could use them, but only a limited set were allowed. One spy ring used tobacco orders to send counts of battleships in port. They got caught.

And at the other end of that range are the codes and ciphers used by governments. You know where they're coming from. And some are mathematically unbreakable. But there are problems in using them. A one-time-pad needs keys to be distributed which as are as big as the message traffic, and sometimes silence is a message in itself.

Probably reading this website makes us all a little bit more interesting to GCHQ, all these stories about hacking and nuclear war and encryption.

Do you want to play a game?

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Penetration tech: BAE Systems' new ammo for Our Boys and Girls

Dave Bell
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Re: Amazing the amount of research and design...

The British Army has long had a preference for soldiers hitting what they shoot at. Some of it has taken on an element of myth, but even something such as the "Mad Minute" was judged by counting hits on the target rather than shots fired, and the soldier could get extra pay.

And part of why there is all the fuss about getting the ballistics the same is that it lets the soldiers keep hitting the target. You can get more penetration by increasing the velocity, but that changes the path of the bullet. And that means new sights, and makes the stocks of old ammunition less useful.

Most of the effect of the new round has to come from the difference between steel and lead when it hits armour.

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Dave Bell
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I have seen WW2 figures for how much brick is needed to reliably stop a bullet. People were told that they needed four bricks thickness, a bullet would go through the equivalent of a cavity wall. At least walls were often corbelled out at the base, partly because of the different building of foundations.

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Dave Bell
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Possibly "bulleted blank", a wooden bullet to increase the gas pressure so something such as a Bren gun could operate, giving the right shape to reliably feed into the chamber, and depending on a muzzle attachment to shred the bullets.

One of the factors in all this is the cost of making the steel bullet. Casting lead is an old and fairly cheap technology. The steel bullets will need totally different machines. Even the gilding metal stage will need some changes.

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Oculus Rift will reach UK in September – and will cost more than two PS4s

Dave Bell
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Re: Google Cardboard

Ever driven a 2CV? For many things it is sufficient.

You don't need to buy a Rolls-Royce to be comfortable.

I am not sure that the Oculus Rift is going to be all that significant, certainly not when it's tied to one specific type of computer by a fixed connector.

Ten years ago, Charles Stross was writing "Halting State", which involved commonplace virtual and augmented reality. You can see these gadgets as faltering first steps. but we do have augmented reality now, computer data overlaying the real world.

It's not the 2CV, or the Rolls-Royce, that matters. When do we get the Pokemon GO?

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Vodafone: Dear customers. We're sorry we killed your Demon

Dave Bell
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Re: Just goes to show....

I went onto Gmail while I was still a Demon customer, and set up my own domain name, which has an echo of my Demon domain name. The domain name is still running, and it forwards to the gmail.com address. no problems. When broadband came to the district, the choice of sources was limited, BT wasn't quite so open to competing ISPs as it is now. I kept up my personal domain because it was cheap, and I was never quite sure the ISP would continue. I am on my third different broadband provider.

Demon was a slightly geeky provider. It surprises me that the customers still using the name have apparently never done something as simple as get their own domain name. And we don't know how many of the residue addresses are just there to catch ancient references. (You see it with Linux, advice on problems that was written a decade ago and invokes software sources that don't exist any more)

I can't really say that I am sad that Demon is vanishing, but I know people who worked there in the early days, and sang scurrilous songs about elves and veterinarians with them. In it's way, it is as significant as the last flight of an RAF Harrier, the end of an age, for reasons which may have nothing to do with the viability of the machines.

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London cops waste £2.1m on thought crime unit – and they want volunteer informers

Dave Bell
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The story misses so much of the context.

There is a lot of abusive commenting on social media, much of it repeated and directed at particular people that may well be a breach of the particular site's Terms of Service. And the companies seem to do fuck all to enforce their own rules.

This isn't one guy saying something rude. These are sustained verbal assaults by relentless mobs.

There's a problem. I know people who have been victims, the blatant cases have a scale and level which goes way beyond what most of us would say. The fears of intrusion are based on these misconceptions.

I am not sure the informants are a good idea. It would be better if the police took steps that gave victims confidence that the law would be enforced, and encouraged these assaults to be reported.

Do some research: take a look at the case of somebody such as Milo Yiannopoulos, treating both sides with a degree of scepticism, as the Police should do in a similar case. Judge it on the evidence, not on your fears or wild claims of censorship by the state.

I am not sure I trust The Register on this, their story seems conveniently ignorant of such cases. And I am not sure I trust the Police. But having them move in may have a lot to do with the failures of the company and the community. Billions for capitalism. Not one cent for civilisation.

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The curious case of a wearables cynic and his enduring fat bastardry

Dave Bell
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Re: Fat chance: women's or kids jeans

I have to shorten the legs on my jeans. Duck''s Disease waddles in the family.

I can use my late mother's sewing machine. There's a simple trick to it that keeps the look of the hem. There's a "magic seam" video on You Tube.

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