* Posts by I could be a dog really

296 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Oct 2022


What's the golden age of online services? Well, now doesn't suck

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And for those of us in Blighty.

Hand up, I bet quite a few here were on Demon's "tenner a month".

Now, those were the days. They used to publish graphs of subscriber numbers, and some of us could look at the graph, point to a levelling off and say "ah, that's when <some problem> was limiting numbers", and then the following rise with "and that's when they did <some fix>". Back then, this dial up stuff was pretty bleeding edge, and it did need stuff fixed. Example :

Before then, internet email was SMTP and an assumption of the recipient server being "always on". This didn't work well with dial up when you were only on for short spells. Their initial fix was that when you had connected and started your email program, you could (IIRC) "finger post" and some software they had written would trigger post to try and deliver your mail. Later I think they got a trigger from when you actually connected, and then later still they added POP - oh the luxury !

And this was when even local calls were "not cheap", national calls a lot more so. At some point they added a pop at the Sedgwick exchange. Anyone that knows the place will know that it's a modest small town, and perhaps wonder why it had so many dial-in services based there (other dial up systems also had pops in Sedgwick). This was a quirk of the old calling rate system Post Office Telephones had, and which BT kept going for a long time. Exchanges were in groups, and you got to call at local rate to other exchanges in your own group, plus those of neighbouring groups. Sedgwick happened to be neighbour to a lot of exchange groups, and hence was a local rate call from a large number of exchanges - including mine :-)

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Re: Ah the good old days

I recall, back in the good ole days, that the membership secretary of a club I was in had children. You couldn't ring him during the day as he'd be at work. You couldn't ring him in the evening as the kids would have the line tied up from the moment they got home from school.

Openreach hits halfway mark in quest to hook up 25M premises with fiber broadband

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Apparently you can have an internal fibre splice box - but you need to ask for it, and that means you need to know you can ask for it.

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Actually, it's narrowband - your signal is carried on a single narrow carrier frequency (infra red).

HP printer software turns up uninvited on Windows systems

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What a silly suggestion, why on earth should MS pass up the revenue they can collect from third parties to shovel unwanted shirubbish onto our systems ?

Don't forget that we are no longer the customer, the purveyors of annoying adverts, slurpers of our search histories*, purveyors of questionable games/hardware (especially HP printers these days), and all the general riff-raff of the commercial world are MS's customers.

* Now that the whole system is designed around using the search box to find stuff instead of just filing it sensibly - and that search box configured to pipe everything we do (alongside all the other telemetry) to ... well we don't actually know do we ?

Stop shaming service providers for outages, argues APNIC chief scientist

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Re: This one is possibly well deserved shaming

Taking that at face value (I don't know anything more than I've read about it) ...

If we went down the aviation route, there'd be an investigation which might come up with a recommendation : operators should apply filtering to their inbound BGP process to detect such events and stop the inbound transfer before it affects their systems. Yes, that would impact on operations, more specifically it would stop any routing updates from being actioned and hence might cause some localised connectivity issues where routes around the world are genuinely changing for whatever reason. But that is arguably better than "a big chunk of a whole country" going offline.

What does seem bad is the routers disconnecting themselves - that's a cure being as bad (if not worse) than the cause.

No more staff budget for UK civil service, but worry not – here's an incubator for AI

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Re: Ooh ... so could we have an AI in the cabinet ?

However, there are important differences between the UK and WA.

To start with, population density is lower (by orders of magnitude). While large towns and cities will have similar pop. densities to UK towns/cities, I would hazard a guess that connection graphs showing who's met who will be significantly sparser in WA.

Then there's climate. AIUI WA is somewhat warmer and drier than the UK, and while we were lucky in that we had a decent (for us) summer when we found ourselves queuing outside everywhere, spending lots of time outside is good for lowering transmission rates.

So while there may be effects from the way things were handled, you can't just compare apples and oranges to come up with the suggestions regarding cause & effect like you have done.

Why have just one firewall when you can fire all the walls?

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Donning my pedant's hat, no there aren't four Es.

There is one E (E), one E-grave (È), one E-acute (É), and one E-circumflex (Ê). These are different characters, and it's understandable that in a language where their usage is high, having a multiple-key entry method for the ones with diacriticals would be "irritating". On a Mac, the keystrokes are Option-\,E; Option-E,E; and Option-I,E to get the E with grave, acute, and circumflex respectively.

At times during the years of doing It support I've had to deal with a number of different keyboard layouts, and even the more common French layout (at least on the Macs I dealt with, and IIRC as it was long time ago now) was annoying to use as it needed a shift to get numbers.

And back when we were Apple dealers, we used to have access to all the different localised versions of Mac OS - this being when it came on a few floppies ! It was fun to try out the different versions - German extended the menubar somewhat due to the long words, Japanese had a lot of "squiggles" (and Mount Fuji replaced the Apple logo heading the "Apple" menu), but all had some of the menu items in English as they didn't have localised words for everything.

Want a Cybertruck? You're stuck with it for a year, says Tesla

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Re: Easy to see why they might want to try a stunt like this

The specification would be an implied part of the contract - and in the case of cars would have been whatever the sales brochure said. A "can change anything at any time" clause is something that can, and does, get declared invalid by courts - especially in business-consumer contracts. Small changes that don't fundamentally change the nature of the product would be permitted, but significant changes would create problems for the vendor if challenged.

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Re: Seems reasonable

What happens after the manufacturer (or dealer) sells it isn't anything to do with them.

If people are able to flip a purchase for a good profit, then it's the manufacturer that's screwed up - they either should have made more, or they should have charged more themselves. With something like this, they could probably have got away with charging more, and managing the demand that way - and at the same time not created the scope for flipping at a profit.

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Re: Easy to see why they might want to try a stunt like this

Yes, it would depend on how big a change it was. If it's a different engine but otherwise of very similar performance then I couls see a court ruling that way.

But turning round and after the fact imposing controls on what you can do with it (such as selling it) would not be a trivial change and I would hope that a court would rule the other way.

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Easy to see why they might want to try a stunt like this

If there is pent up demand*, and limited supply, then those who got in early enough to reserve one can make a nice profit by selling it to someone keen to get hold of one and with deeper pockets. Tesla obviously think it's worth the reputational damage** by trying to control that secondary market - or else take a slice for themselves.

* I do have to wonder who it is that buys them, but it appears that plenty do

** Do they have anything left to damage ?

Of course, over on our (eastern) side of the pond, good luck trying to enforce such a contract. Also, even for those unfortunate to live where you have the best laws money can buy, I would have thought that a contract change AFTER you've put down your deposit (which constitutes a contract for them to sell and you to buy) would be void anyway.

What I don't see is any mention of dirty tricks like "any vehicle bought in the second hand market without our permission gets bricked by a remote firmware update" - with a hefty "fine" to have operation restored. But again, something courts over this side fo the pond would take a rather dim view of.

Introducing the tech that keeps the lights on

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Re: No requests, no retry, that’s why it takes ...

I must have given the wrong impression of what these systems were used for - even with today's tightened security measures, they wouldn't be getting many (if any) of the measures you mention. These (at least in our office) were mostly only doing stuff at what would now be called Official (forget now what that used to be), and a bit at Restricted. Slightly different upstairs in the NavArch's office - but they did have theirs in a separate room.

Back then we had no turnstiles at the site boundary, we just walked in and out and the security guys were happy as long as you didn't act suspiciously and had something that looked like your site pass hanging round your neck. We never did get round to "testing" the system - we had a bit of a bet that we could draw our own pass (as someone like Mickey Mouse) and get away with it for a while (long before cheap access to decent colour printing). My artistic skills weren't up to it, and we just never got round to trying :-( Once into the site, the offices were all open and you wouldn't get challenged as long as you didn't act like you shouldn't be there.

Ah, those were the days :-) These days it's a p.i.t.a. when you need to go somewhere on site and "computer says no".

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Re: No requests, no retry, that’s why it takes ...

This was before "pen testing" was something anyone outside of some very niche areas had even heard of. And a stand alone network before most people had heard of the internet. No hot swappable drives, the only removable media was on one machine in the admin's area, and no USB - hadn't even been invented back then.

But of course, much of what you suggest would not have been prevented by putting the system unit in a cage - assuming the cage had big enough holes for the user to be able to do normal day-day operations*.

It's easy to fall into the trap of applying current thinking to an age where things were "very different".

* Not that there were much on these, as Unix-like boxen, they stayed on all the time and people just logged in/out as required.

Bright spark techie knew the drill and used it to install a power line, but couldn't outsmart an odd electrician

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Yes, there probably is something about minimum physical size of the faceplate - to avoid the "upside down plug" issue. But for the actual connections, only that it accepts any conforming plug.

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Re: The File Server kept randomly conking out

In this case the server room was to one side of an otherwise almost empty upper floor of the building - new building, and they wanted scope for expanding the office. So a user had run an extension cable from the nearest socket they could find to where they were working (counting brochures or something).

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Re: Never trust anything

In my defence, I claim too many early starts and late nights :-(

You are of course completely correct.

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Re: I did my house

Ah, but that blue/brown cable you see is a later replacement for when we [moved a socket|put a nail through the old one|insert your own excusereason here] and replacing an existing cable isn't notifiable.

It's interesting that the form you get asked to fill in when selling a property asks about electrical work done since 2005. I'd be very worried if there wasn't in most houses by now, and all they need to say is "don't know" for details and "don't have any" for documentation for the common situation of a house being sold by a deceased person's heirs.

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Re: I did my house

Being pedantic, "Part P" is irrelevant. The entirety of Part P of the building regulations is :

P1. Reasonable provision shall be made in the design and installation of electrical installations in order to protect persons operating, maintaining or altering the installations from fire or injury.

Just one paragraph or 28 words. That's it. See page 2 of the approved document. doc.

What causes the confusion is that previously there wasn't a "part pee", so no law/regulation explicitly stating that electrical installations had to be safe ! But, at the same time, the building regulations changed to bring a lot more works into scope for notification (IIRC it was Annex 4, could have been 2, at the time) - including most electrical works beyond simple replacement of fittings and adding sockets to existing circuits. So for a lot of works, you had to either go down the notification route and pay a fee to your local council, or use a member of an approved scheme. Naturally, this provided a feeding frenzy for the charlatans who were quite happy to stir up the confusion in order to extract more money from the non-knowledgable public, and so "part pee" became synonymous with restrictions on doing your own electrical work.

In reality, there had been no change, anyone who is "competent" to design, install, and test the work is permitted to do it - all part P does is enshrine in law that it has to be safe. But the changes in building regulations notification requirements (which affect far more than just electrical works) meant that it became more complicated (and expensive) to do it legally. In 2013 the notification requirements were relaxed (part P was not changed) because it was recognised that the overall effect was to drive a lot of works "out of sight" and thus was creating hazards that would not be present if people could do stuff openly (and freely ask for help).

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Re: The File Server kept randomly conking out

I recall a call from a client - I wasn't on the hell desk, but I did get consulted. Apparently the UPS we'd provided must be a "pile of s**t" because it was sat there bleeping and driving people mad. This was odd because a) it had been working fine for a while, b) it was in a closed room and no-where near any desks. A colleague accessed the server with the UPS monitoring on and it showed it was in overload - hmm ...

So the customer was asked if they'd plugged anything in, especially into the spare sockets I'd carefully labelled "UPS maintained - IT only" in the "supposed to be kept locked" server room. Only a fan heater for the empty space upstairs we were told - "that was the only nearby socket".

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Re: Never trust anything

It was the "kitchen fitter who (almost) knows which wire goes where in a socket" issue that created our rather restrictive new UK building regs in 2005. Thankfully it was recognised that these went too far, and in 2013 the restrictions were largely reversed. But there's still enough (along with changes in BS1676, a.k.a. The Wiring Regs) to reign in the worse of the kitchen fitters who should even be thinking of changing a light bulb.

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Re: Not Unusual

Not sure if that has been banned in the current UK regulations now though

It has, and for "a long time". The "rules" (BS1767, a.k.a "The Wiring Regs") have required cables to run in "safe zones" for a long time. For a light switch, that would typically be vertically up from the switch and within the width of the accessory. Doglegging and hiding it behind the door frame would not comply. Mind you, in one of our properties, I was adding network/TV points, and as I followed the line of the power cables (I was chasing out the original single TV coax, and adding a larger conduit), I realised that they drifted across by a full eight inches between the sockets and the ceiling. Must have been on a real bender when they did that - or perhaps, the sparky did it right, but then a following trade moved stuff before it got plastered over.

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The RFC (Ring Final Circuit) to give it it's proper name did in fact save on cable compared to radial circuits at the time.

Back when* the norm was one or two sockets per room (at most), you would run your "ring" around the middle of the house taking the shortest route that visited each room. You'd have one socket in each room fed directly from the ring. Where you wanted a second socket, at the outer side of the house, you'd run a spur off the first socket in the room. Compared with an equivalent number of sockets, all on radial circuits, that was a significant saving in cable.

However, the real saving comes from having fused plugs - that's what makes the RFC practical. By having fused plugs, you could use fixed cabling and fusing that supported a "full load" (13A) at at least two sockets, while employing diversity to allow many more sockets. When it was introduced, the cable would be the old imperial size of 7/0.29 (said as "seven stroke oh two nine") which was roughly comparable to 2.5mm2 in metric cable. With a current carrying capacity of somewhere between "teens"A and 27A depending on whether fed by fuse or MCB (miniature circuit breaker), and how/where it's installed, as a radial it would not be allowed for it to be protected by a 30A fuse or 32A MCB. It's the division of current between the two routes (each way around the ring from the supply point) that makes it feasible - though there are issues if you have a lot of load close to the supply in one leg.

So the use of fused plugs allows the circuit to be fused at far greater than 13A (or the pre-BS1363 common size of 15A) and thus have "many" sockets on one circuit; and it's the ring arrangement that allows a smaller size cable to be used. Between them you save both on the length and copper content of cable needed.

These days, when there are less plug-in electric heaters used**, and a requirement for many more sockets feeding lower power equipment, there is a move back towards radial circuits. If you are a masochist, you can use 4mm2 cable and a 32A MCB. But more normally, you'd use a 20A MCB (or 25A if you can get them to fit the consumer unit) and 2.5mm2 cable. Particularly with the latter, you can do a new (re)wire with radials without significant penalty - as you point out, with the number of sockets needed these days, RFCs aren't the cable saving they once were. "Multiple" 20A or 25A radials also gives you better segregation if a circuit goes faulty - particularly now that RCBOs (residual current device with overcurrent protection - effectively and RCD (residual current device) and MCB in one device) are common and cheap, allowing a separate RCD per circuit.

* Don't forget that BS1363 which introduced us to our now ubiquitous square pin plugs with fuses was introduced in 1947.

** Given the standard arrangement of a single 15A socket in a couple of rooms, you could not plug in two powerful heaters into one socket without blowing the fuse. Having a 15A radial with more than one socket would be equally impractical. As an aside, at church we were without heating for a while due to a failed boiler, so we had to use fan heaters to take the chill off and keep our coats on. When a fuse blew, someone expressed surprise as he'd "used two different sockets" - without realising that they were on the same radial circuit and protected by a 15A rewirable fuse. I'd already worked out which sockets were on which circuit, and plugged one heater into each circuit - he'd moved one.

Going off on a tangent, BS1363 does not specify the dimensions for a socket. It specifies in detail the dimensions for the plugs (max/min pin size, pin spacing, even the shape of the ends of the pin. The requirements for the sockets are merely that they must accept any plug that is within the tolerances of the specification - e.g. maximum pin size without over-stretching any spring contact, and minimum pin size while still maintaining contact pressure. Do not ever plug in any of the so called "safety covers" as not one of them on the market complies with the dimensional standards of BS1363 and so can damage a socket - causing a fire later when there is nothing to connect the previous use of the safety cover with the failure. They also create a whole litany of other hazards that don't exist when they are not used. For more see the Fatally Flawed site.

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Re: Other folks' DIY

Yes, it's quite normal to find pipes (and cables) sat in notches in joists and touching the underside of the board. In our house (1940s ex-council house) we have concrete joists (timber was in short supply at times during the 40s) with a batten fixed top and bottom to take nails for floor and ceilings.

When I started on the "lift boards and see what horrors I find" stage of some works, I found that a) some ****tard has cut the battens in a wavy line, b) cut away long sections leaving boards effectively unsupported, resulting in c) board actually supported by the pipes in places. Only been here a few years and I know there are more horrors to uncover - but already there must be a few people with a burning sensation in their ears.

"In theory", if the ****tards cared, it would be quite simple, almost trivial, to run pipes where they should be (in the centre of the joists, not notched into the top). But do they do that, do they ****. Cables have no excuse - they are flexible enough to fit without needing a straight line of holes and access to feed pipes in from the end.

Icon expresses my feelings at some of the stuff I find.

When it comes to personal data, we're on a highway to hell

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Re: complete map of driving from his Tesla

the bank/agency that holds your loan/lease has its own module (independent of the manufacturer) installed on your car that also knows your location at any given moment

Citation ? In general, no they won't. What's more, in the EU it would be ILLEGAL to fit such a unit without the owner's permission. Having a requirement for such a unit as a pre-requisite for getting the finance is a bit of a grey area as data protection laws are clear that (to paraphrase) you cannot use lack of permission for slurpage as a reason to refuse provision of a service.

The only situation I'm aware of where the fitment of an extra unit is routinely done is in the insurance market where some insurers offer a product aimed at younger/inexperienced (and I imagine, those with a bad history) where the premiums are lowered in return for fitment of a monitoring black box - thus allowing the insurer to reduce it's risk and hence justify a lower premium.

can brick your car without due process

Citation ? Again, in general no they can't.

Of course, across the pond where the population have clearly not questioned their prospective votees on this enough for it to be of more importance than the "requests" from their corporate sponsors, it would seem that corporations can do this sort of stuff with impunity.

bricking your car remotely

It will be interesting to see the first manufacturer to actually do this in Europe or the UK. It would definitely be a popcorn event to see the manufacturer being sued for damages - plus criminal damage and.or unauthorised access to a computer system would be two potential criminal charges that come to mind.

And don't forget, there are many things that cannot be waived by signing a contract - we have laws that effectively say "if you put this sort of thing in a consumer contract then it's void BY LAW even if the consumer apparently agreed to it". It's there specifically to stop dodgy contractual terms being used to remove consumer rights.

Meta, YouTube face criminal spying complaints in Ireland

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... will be whether the script which detects the adblocker does in fact send the information back to the server ...

For the specific law the complaint cites, that is irrelevant. He is not challenging a breach of GDPR (as pointed out, the regulators have demonstrated their inability - or outright unwillingness - to deal with that), but a breach of a law that says "you may not do something on someone's computer unless they give you permission".

In the first case, he's set the DNT (Do Not Track) flag, yet the sites are still running tracking scripts on the computer. Regardless of what they might do with the results, the script is running when the user has not just "not given permission" but actively refused permission (by setting DNT). That is a criminal offence.

Icon for for how I'd like to thank Alexander for his efforts over the years. It might be interesting if you are unfamiliar with his history to go and look up what else he's been calling out in the past (hint, lookup Phorm).

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Re: Blocking unwanted connections with a hosts file

This is indeed a known tactic since so many people now block third party cookies etc. by defualt.

And, as you might expect, the providers of defensive tools haven't been sat back twiddling their thumbs - and AIUI there are options now for blocking such stuff. The difficulty is that some sites (not that many, but some of them will be important to the users) use similar hierarchies for legitimate reasons - hence needing a certain amount of whitelisting.

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Re: Blocking unwanted connections with a hosts file

Well at the moment it's still an "optional" feature. It's not a browser based DNS client, but the browser using DNSoverHTTP[S] (or DoH) where it stuffs the DNS request into an HTTP packet and sends ot to the configured DoH server. This does bypass the ISP who is unable to interfere with or snoop on DNS exchanges, but it hands one organisation (typically Google by default) a "useful" haul of DNS query information from your browser.

Suits ignored IT's warnings, so the tech team went for the neck

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Re: Pointy hair boss man

I could upvote you for the tale, but also downvote you for the ending - so I've done neither.

The problem is that the person responsible doesn't associate the costs with his decisions. Now he's told others that it's your fault. So having had your reputation sullied, you leave with a spring in your step ?

Had you included that you'd kept records of the earlier exchanges where you'd warned of the costs, and "accidentally" let others see that (especially his boss), then you'd have had an upvote.

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Even for a person of that "calibre", that's cruel - but justified. And it's why so many times I've done stuff by email that would normally been done verbally, just so it's easy to keep the incriminating evidence.

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Re: One does wonder...

Obviously this is actually a story about someone who couldn't present a business requirement clearly enough to be understood

That can only be written by someone who hasn't met the type of person who starts with "what's the price ?" and responds "I'm not spending that on anything" regardless of the business case. I've personally witnessed that - a myopic business person who knew the price of everything but hadn't a clue (didn't want to have a clue) about it's value to the business. To add an IT angle, he wasn't prepared to pay us to do his network cabling properly and bodged his own complete with badly fitted plugs, regular Cat5e running outside (and even buried), and consumer grade switches hidden wherever he felt was easiest for him - and of course it was then our problem when his EPOS system (which was a pile of rubbish anyway as one of the "I don't pay that for anything" things was an EPOS upgrade to something that would work in his business) kept falling over due to network failures. We had the satisfaction of charging him more for fixing the faults than it would have cost to do the job in the first place - and he eventually stumped up for an EPOS upgrade (again, costing more than if he'd done the right thing in the first place) when he finally realised what it was costing his business not to. His approach to property maintenance, H&S, pretty much anything was the same. It was a business that needed a licence to operate, and eventually licence renewal was refused as long as he had any involvement in the business.

Then with another work hat on, I recall us constantly being told by the manglement to be proactive - to look ahead and (effectively) do stuff before it becomes a problem. But needless to say, any time we went along and (like this story) said "it would be a really good idea to upgrade the network because ...", we just got told "let me know what that's happened and the network can't cope".

TL;DR version - some people are 110% immune from the most expertly crafted business case if it doesn't align with what they thing they should spend (or not spend) their money on.

YouTube cares less for your privacy than its revenues

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Re: Cognitive dissonance

Yes, sorry I mis remembered and didn't re-read the article properly.

I vaguely recall that there have been cases of data mining showing something before the person realised it - but that's just vague memory and I can't put a finger on any examples. I believe it is a known that people can change habits subconsciously without having realised (yet) that the underlying event (such as becoming pregnant) has happened.

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Re: Cognitive dissonance


There was a case a few years ago where Target were profiling customers based on purchases - linked by the loyalty card, credit card, anything they could. <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/>A 16 year old girl started getting coupons for baby products</a> ... and I suspect many are ahead of me already on this. Her father was outraged and had a good rant at the local manager ... how dare they be sending this sort of stuff to a 16 year old, blah, blah. Shortly afterwards, she realised she was pregnant. Yup, Target's data mining had picked up on her being pregnant from her changes in buying habits - before she knew.

After that, to avoid the "creepy" aspect, they added a load of randomness to hide the targeted nature.

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Re: Cognitive dissonance

But the other Golgafrinchans later died from a disease picked up from an unsanitised telephone handset ...

Otherwise, your proposition does sound tempting.

Tenfold electric vehicles on 2030 roads could be a shock to the system

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Re: People vastly overrate the amount of at home charging

A colleague told me a story ...

Someone he knows (who I presume has "a bit more" disposable income than I do) bought an EV, and not a budget model. He also bought a 3phase diesel genny that lives in a shed in the back garden and runs on red diesel. The car charges from a high power 3 phase charger. My colleague did say "it only costs him [redacted] to charge each night", but without knowing how many miles that represents there's no way of knowing how that compares with just running a diesel car in the first place.

I do have thoughts if permanently fitting a small genny when I build my garage. Hooking up the cooling to the thermal store would capture most of the waste heat, and it would be good for a) carrying on like nothing's happened when the power cuts start*, b) running 3 phase garage tools when I want to instead of using a single-2phase converter and significantly limiting the size of stuff I can play with, and c) well when there's a real feed in rate for the solar PV** ... err no I never thought about that ...

* sooner or later we'll be getting power cuts when demand outstrips supply and the weather isn't the wright sort of weather for the renewables.

** look forward to having a tariff that pays you to dump your stored lecky (in battery banks) into the grid when demand is high.

Progress towards 'Gigabit Europe' is slow, with UK also lagging

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Re: Eh?

It may be a case of "area is fibre enabled but there's nothing to your flat", which is no different to "area is wired but there's no wire you your flat" (which at one time used to be a real thing with the Post Office when you wanted a phone line but they c.b.a. to put in some more copper and the existing cables were full). But where fibre isn't currently available, they still provide copper to the premises - but it's now something called SOGEA (single order generic ethernet access) which means there's no copper back to the exchange, only a FTTC connection back to the green cabinet and you have to use a VoIP option for your phone. I know this as we've recently changed providers at church, and this came into play (no plans for fibre in the foreseeable future).

Millions of smart meters will brick it when 2G and 3G turns off

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Re: No corruption here.

The suppliers that got hosed failed because they were clueless. What they should have done was forward contract for supplies at the prices they needed - and only sold at that plus their profit margin. Same thing happened here in the UK - many suppliers went bust because they'd sold long term fixed prices, but not done the same thing on their supply side - they gambled and lost. Others got it right and are still in business.

As to switching customers, agreed it shouldn't happen. Do a quick search and you'll find plenty of stories of people getting switched to pre-pay without even knowing thanks to the remote switching ability. It was so bad that Ofgem had to effectively tell the energy companies to stop doing it at all. In one article, IIRC the supplier did a phone call hearing with the judge, and in under 2 minutes he rubber stamped something like 300 warrants. Many people have found their lights going out because their credit has run out, but they didn't know they were on pre-pay, and couldn't sort things out - think (for many people), no lecky = no internet, no internet = no ability to go online and sort out the online account stuff that's needed for top ups. And for many people, no lecky = no phone so they can't phone their supplier either.

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Re: No corruption here.

And don't forget that the service life of these new meters is shorter than the old ones they replaced. That's especially so for the gas meters that are now battery powered. So before they've finished rolling out the new meters, they'll already be replacing the older ones - and that's leaving aside the issue of replacing the ones that have stopped working, stopped when changing supplier, etc., etc.

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Re: No corruption here.

They were probably smaller* radiators. Design back then was for fairly high temperatures, a flow temperature of 70 or 80˚C would not be uncommon. With high water temperatures, you need a smaller* radiator to get the heat out. With lower flow temperatures, you need a much bigger* radiator in order to get the same heat out with a much lower temperature differential.

* smaller and larger not necessarily in size, but in heat transfer surface. E.g. for the same size panel, adding finning increases the surface area, going to a double panel with finning on both will give more heat that either a single panel or a double panel with either no finning or finning only on one of them without adding much to the physical size (just a bit thicker).

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Re: No corruption here.

Except when it turns out they aren't. How does "over reads by 600%" sound ?

That's not because they are (so called) "smart", but due to poor design of electronic measuring vs a Ferraris disk when faced with a non-sinusoidal load current. But of course, you aren't going to get a "smart" meter with a Ferraris disk for measurement.

Net neutrality is back in the Land of the Free – for now

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Re: Needless

Really ?

I bet you know a lot of people who were, but they don't realise it - or more specifically, they don't realise what they've been missing out on because they've not had the opportunity of seeing what they could be having.

The biggest factor is the ability, without net neutrality, for the big players (and lets not forget that in many places in the USA, there is no option of "I don't like this ISP, I'll move to a different one") to simply kill competition by unfair means. So big ISP wants in on the streaming market ? All they have to do is prioritise their own traffic, and throttle that of any competitor. Then users see that the competitors offerings are "rubbish" (low resolution, pauses, buffering, etc.) and move to that offered by the incumbent ISP. You will probably claim that it wouldn't happen.

Alternatively, it allows the ISPs to effectively blackmail certain online businesses into paying to be unthrottled.

Well it's been proven that it does happen. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/att-wireless-carriers-throttle-youtube-netflix-mobile-video-content/. And it's not new.

At stake is the ability for someone to come up with "the next big thing" and be able to get it from idea to reality. While ISPs can act as effective gatekeepers to what their customers can access (at reasonable speeds), they can control such startups - with the ability to throttle them out of existence (having launched their own version of course if it looks promising), or kill them with transit fees which a typical startup won't be able to afford. Most of what we take for granted these days started off as something small - but now it's a lot harder to new players to get started, and ISPs (absent restrictions) have the ability to make things even harder.

Corner cutting of nuclear proportions as duo admit to falsifying safety tests 29 times

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Re: All my sympathy.

Actually, the biggest health risks around Fukushima are non-nuclear.

Lets not forget that (from memory) around 20,000 - that's twenty thousand - people died from the tsunami itself. Few have, or will, die from any radiological issue. There is some nuclear contamination, but that is fairly easily dealt with with the help of a geiger counter and a trowel (you find the tiny bits, pick them up with a small trowel, and pop them in a bucket). The contamination over large areas with chemicals, oils, human and animal carcasses, and a toxic chemical called sodium chloride, is a different matter. That non-nuclear contamination is a much higher risk.

Oh yes, I forgot the societal issue. For obvious reasons the Japanese are rather concerned about the effects of radiation. So just the thought that there might be any contamination is enough to cause stress and anxiety. Not knowledge that there is contamination, just the belief that there might be. As a result, very large areas were evacuated that didn't need to be - and that's caused problems of it's own.

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Re: Don't worry folks...

Yeah, it's hard to get through to someone who is ideologically opposed that you can have highly active stuff, and long lived stuff - but the highly active stuff is safe after a few years, while the long lived stuff cannot be highly active. As mentioned, there's only cobalt or caesium (I forget which) that has an inconvenient half live meaning it's fairly active for a fairly long time (a few centuries).

But it's clear that AC (like many) isn't going to allow any facts - easily verifiable facts at that - to get in the way of ideology.

Not to mention that because of this, the anti-nuclear lobby is actually responsible for a lot of the "waste" we have to deal with. For example, the plan with the old magnox plants was basically to let them cool, defuel them, then leave them for around 100 years for all the highly active stuff to decay. Then just cut a hole in the side, walk in, and carry stuff out - it really would be that low in activity by then. But the "oh no, we can't do that" brigade insist we do things in the most expensive and hazardous way possible - and then complain about the cost !

Another statistic that AC will probably refuse to accept is "what's the largest contributor to radiation dose for most of the general public ?". In the Uk the answer is ...

... drumroll ...

medical diagnostics, specifically things like CAT scans and the like. They make up 40% of the total annual dose (on average). In the US it's higher at around 50% - because they tend to do more diagnostic imaging.

IIRC the next highest is natural background radiation - higher if you live in Cornwall or around Edinburgh which have lots of radioactive rock.

I assume AC also belives that long term safe storage is impossible, however nature has proved it can be done "Most of the non-volatile fission products and actinides have only moved centimeters in the veins during the last 2 billion years".

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Re: How did they find out?

In reality, most modern kit doesn't need calibrating.

But, without a calibration regime, there is no way to KNOW that it's still in spec.

Where possible/practical, it's now common practice to have daily checks of the equipment. For example, suppose you send your meter in for cal, and it's found to be out of spec. That means, for "some indeterminate time" it's readings would be wrong. But you don't know if that indeterminate time was "since yesterday", or "since 5 mins after it's last cal" - so potentially a year's (depending on cal interval) worth of bad results.

I only do "hobby and mates" amount of sparky work these days, but I just had my MFT and a couple of other items calibrated as the price at the wholesalers for their "calibration day"* was "attractive" - as you say, the report basically just said "in spec, no adjustments". But I also have a Calcard - so can check the MFT every day I use it, on the basis that a fault in the MFT, and a simultaneous fault in a passive card of resistors that exactly cancels the MFT fault across multiple values would be "so unlikely as to be not worth considering". In between, it has been a few years since it was last calibrated and I've just relied on checking with the Calcard. One of the other meters was a Megger BM10 - never calibrated since my father got it when it was being disposed of from work, several decades ago, and it was still in spec.

* Where they get a calibration house to come in and do a load at once at the wholesaler's premises. Saves carriage each way, plus for those actively working, they can drop the MFT off in the morning, and pick it up in the afternoon which means they don't lose out on several days of work while it's away.

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Re: How bad can it be?

One of the outcomes from SL-1 was a change in design policy such that it should be impossible to go prompt critical (or possibly critical, I don't recall now) by withdrawing only one rod. Hence, the same accident as SL-1 wouldn't be possible unless you deliberately pulled out more than one rod. Interesting how many of our safety rules/policies/laws come about after a "perhaps we ought to do something to stop that happening again" event.

You've just spent $400 on a baby monitor. Now you need a subscription

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Re: "the sudden imposition of subscription fees"

UK specific.

Well technically they still need the warrant - they just don't need to send someone round.

In practice, have a quick search - in one case, a judge rubber stamped a few hundred warrant requests (in bulk) via a phone hearing that lasted just a couple of minutes (presumably long enough for some misinformed underling to state that "yes we've gone through all the alternatives and this is the last resort" even though they actually hadn't. Another quick search will bring up the related fact that disconnects have rocketed in number since the remote facility came along with "smart" meters.

Online tracking is alive and well in link decoration

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Problem is that while most of us don't have a problem with ads that are a) reasonably sized in relation to the page content, b) static (i.e. not a disco lightshow), c) don't rely on tracking my travel on the web and knowing more about me than I do, d) don't consume 110% of my available resources. OK, that would mean more ads in total - but that's a small price to pay for a "free" web compare to the cesspit we have at the moment.

The home Wi-Fi upgrade we never asked for is coming. The one we need is not

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Re: Not the ISPs Router

Why oh why can't FTTP be speed symmetric?

Because such things are still determined by the marketing types who still think it's a reasonable way to try and coerce businesses into paying more for a connection. What services you have available are not determined by engineers who would say "as much as the kit will do", it's determined by those with a mindset of "how can we persuade people to pay more". And they still persist with that thinking years after the upload speeds of FTTC have meant that for most small businesses (and techie users) it's enough and hence not worth paying more for a business connection.

Some years ago we had a client in a town that didn't have great ADSL speeds. Unfortunately they didn't ask us before signing on the dotted line as their ISP had managed to sell them a very expensive symmetric "bond a few DSL lines and present it as an ethernet port" service which actually had a slower download speed than their ADSL. That's the sort of marketing led problem we are still up against.

No, no, no! Disco joke hit bum note in the rehab center

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Re: This feels hinky

Think of "ring tone" as being a short (1 sec perhaps) sound, played repeatedly with pauses in between. That you'd only ever have a second or less of ring tone - which is less time than many people take the phone off the hook and get it to their ear.

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Re: So the system didn't cut the ringtone when the phone was picked up

I'd put it down to :

Phone rings by playing short track, then pauses, then plays track again, pauses, then ...

If the track is only a second or two long, then no problem - many people take longer than that to get the phone from the hook to their ear, hence the ring has stopped before they start listening/talking.

It's still a bit of a shortcut (to be polite) not stopping playback when taken off hook, but understandable if you make certain assumptions about the sound file being very short.