* Posts by Paul

35 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Feb 2007

Archbishop says Catholics confusing confessionals with couches


Pedantry scandal hits article on church

Weren't the 10 commandments from God (via Moses), not the Church? Though I guess the Church can still claim credit for the 7 deadly sins.

@ac: just saying "...Williamson who is still refuting the Holocaust" - he's not REFUTING it, he's DENYING it. He'd need a lot of actual evidence to refute it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled debate...

Berners-Lee backs web truthiness labelling scheme


Re: That's not what he said!

@Chris, who said:

> Er, it is.

> "Sir Tim told BBC News that there needed to be new systems that would give websites a label for trustworthiness once they had been proved reliable sources."

> Keyword there is "give".

Actually, I don't think it is what he said. I think the key words are "new systems"! Notice he did not say "centralised systems".

There is no inconsistency between Sir Tim's "systems (plural) to give websites a label" (which you quoted) and "So I'd be interested in **different** organisations labelling websites in **different** ways" (which I quoted).

The article's conclusion (that Sir Tim advocates a central system), on the other hand, is nowhere to be seen in Sir Tim's actual words.

There is nothing inherently "centralised" about a system that allows various organisations to label websites. It's not so different from Digg, Redit, and various sites that allow their users to comment on or highlight websites.

If any organisation can use the same standardised format to associate labels with URIs (domains, pages, or whatever), then it CAN BE left up to readers to decide which labelling organisations to trust. There can even be (thinking laterally here) reputation facilities, perhaps implemented as more labels attached to [the websites of] the labelling organisations, so that if you prefer not to have your preconceptions challenged, you can stick to labellers who won't disagree with you. A "Last FM"-style label-scrobbler, if you will...

This is semantic web stuff, of the sort Sir Tim has been advocating for ages.

It doesn't have to be centralised.

It's just an extension of his previous ideas.

And standardising it "needs some work".

It could be quite good....

Dead Vulture

That's not what he said!

How do you get from Sir Tim's "So I'd be interested in **different** organisations labelling websites in **different** ways" to the article's "some kind of centralised accreditation scheme for websites"? It sounds more like Sir Tim's semantic web again than mind-control central.

Come on El Reg!

I'm still not convinced that the wisdom of mobs is aolways* a good idea though. When reading the web, remember Sturgeon's Law!

Of course I'll not stop reading El Reg - it's too funny for that - but bring back the dead vulture icon please...

*typo - but it made sense so I'm keeping it :-)

Reg readers rage at comment icon outrage


something with apostrophe's

for those grammer and speling flaims

HP inching away from Vista's bad rep?


never believe anything till it's been officially denied

So HP are denying having a *HUGE* R&D team working on this? Interesting wording.

Burned by Chrome - Fire put out


expect this to be fixed

This clause is unlikely to survive a legal challenge - it's manifestly unreasonable.

More to the point, this seems like a generic licence Google use for all their online services. The clause is unlikely to survive the first common sense review within the Googleplex, now that the problem has been pointed out.

Where's the google-with-a-halo icon (or the one with horns)?

Pentagon hacker McKinnon earns extradition delay


Several points - mostly being missed

Several things:

There is an imbalance in the treaty obligations. This is an outrage. The UK politician who agreed and signed it (the whole cabinet, given their doctrine of collective responsibility) should be castigated, and the UK should take the opportunity of US non-ratification to throw it out and start again. Unless the status quo ante was even worse, perhaps...

This imbalance does not affect the McKinnon case, since he has admitted to hacking the machines (even if his hacking simply amounted to walking through an open door).

The Law Lords' job WAS to assess whether the extradition request was in accordance with UK law - but UK law includes the Human Rights Act, and so those issues OUGHT to have been considered. Whether they were given appropriate weight I don't know - I have not read the judgement.

The punishment should fit the crime. In this case, the proposed punishment is massively excessive - even if you believe the US Federal prosecuting authority's claims that he was malicious and political, rather than a mostly harmless UFO nut.

The behaviour of the Federal authorities was abusive - if indeed they threatened him with a hugely unreasonable sentence in order to induce him to accept a somewhat less excessive (but still excessive) sentence in the US.

Imprisonment in the US system may in itself be a violation of a prisoner's human rights (or even cruel and unusual punishment, in the civilised world), due to the lack of protection from rape, assault and brutalisation from other prisoners and sometimes staff. This should be a consideration. Convicts are sent to prison AS a punishment, not FOR a punishment, if you get the distinction.

McKinnon really should be prosecuted and, if convicted and sentenced, serve his time, in the UK, where he lives and where he was when he is alleged to have committed the offence.

The hacking was ridiculously easy - the machines should have at least been password protected. This does not excuse McKinnon, but it should be a mitigating factor.

The prosecution in the US may simply be a way to distract attention from the woeful security in place, or a way to demonstrate toughness on terror. McKinnon should not be sacrificed for political expediency, and the security lessons should not be lost.

That's probably enough points for now.


UK Unix group vows to appeal OOXML ruling


it's not that simple

The legal question is not whether OOXML is a bad standard as such (it is), or whether the decision was a poor one (it was).

It's about whether the ISO acted according to its procedures and within its legal rights or, alternatively, whether the decision was "so outrageous in its defiance of logic or accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it."

Basically, to be overturned, a decision needs to be not slightly but extreeeeeemly unreasonable (and this one may not have been quite egregious enough). Or else the rules and procedures must have been clearly breached (and the Judge was not convinced of this).

If the Judge was very clearly wrong in this assessment (and it's not just a toss-up that could have gone either way) then there may be grounds for appeal. But it won't be cheap, and it is far from easy.

Verizon sends text messages to the big screen



Remove some unnecessary items? If only it were so simple. Apparently they are ALL necessary.

But here's the thing I don't understand. Why is it so necessary to buy extreme quantities of tooth-rot (TM) simply to watch a film?

Dear ISP, I am not a target market


Copyright violation ahoy!

> narcosis: If the keyword analysis process is offline then in order to

> scan for keywords would you not have to have a copy of webpage

> in order to analyze it offline ?


> MBurgess: Yes, a mirrored copy is analyzed."

That means that a copy is being made. We can do them for copyright violation if they are making unauthorised copies of web pages we write. Especially as the copy is not incidental to the process of browsing (and thus not covered by an implicit licence) - rather it is an additional, unnecessary copy, made for commercial purposes, for the commercial benefit of the ISP and Phorm.

Let slip the writs of war!

ISP data deal with former 'spyware' boss triggers privacy fears


Interception of telecommunications? Personally indentifiabl?

Alexander has a point.

Does this count as interception of telecommunications under UK legislation, in which case there could be criminal sanctions available. Private prosecution, anyone?

Aditionally, given recent research on how easy it is to un-anonymize "anonymous" data, would this count as personally identifiable information? I can't remember the wording of the test for "personally identifiable" from the EU Directive and the UK legislation.

Major HTML update unveiled


for those who demand implementations...

Note the following quote from the W3C statement of HTML 5 differences from HTML 4:

"The HTML 5 specification will not be considered finished before there are at least two complete implementations of the specification. This is a different approach than previous versions of HTML had. The goal is to ensure that the specification is implementable and usable by designers and developers once it is finished."

Spamford Wallace's MySpace riches come under attack


bigger fines

If the FTC is not allowed to seek punitive damages, can someone else file an amicus curiae brief during one of the cases the FTC brings, requesting just that. If they can demonstrate the harm these guys do, and how tied the FTC's hands are, perhaps a judge might be persuaded to set a more appropriate level of fines?

ICANN investigates domain name sharp practice


Chuck the wasters off!

Surely that's why there is a dispute resolution process for most TLDs. If you're planning on doing anything with the domain, why not register the trademark, and get the cybersquatters thrown off? Should cost a lot less than $800.

DARPA looking to kickstart raygun tech


division of labour

I guess the arrangement is that DARPA build tools that sound vaguely interesting, or potentially useful, and someone else figures out how to use them.

Accountants don't quite get that, which is why you need "possible uses" - they are not intended to be REAL use cases - they are just there to get the funding! The real applications can be figured out later.

After all, nobody thought liquid crystals with odd optical properties were going to be much use for anything, and look how that turned out.

Tories aim to ditch data protection laws


Maybe it's a trick?

I'm hoping they are just floating a fake policy, in the hope that Labour will nick it like they have nicked other Tory ideas. Please let it be a trick!

The only relief for me is that, as a resident of Northern Ireland, I won't have to make the horrible choice of which set of lunatics I want running the asylum, since they can't be bothered to organise effecitively here (or in the case of NuLab, organise at all).

Investigator ridicules UK visa site


important report

The report seems to have a comprehensive account of what went wrong, and how it should be fixed - and the best criticism the first comment can come up with is that the chapter headings explain what the chapters are about?

It occurs to me that Nigeria is not the best place to deploy an untested, insecure system. I await the emails... "My husband made millions from fraudulent visa applications, and I need your help to get the money out of the country".

Accused web terror trio change pleas to guilty


defending freedom?

Many freedoms seem to be under attack today. Is the freedom to advocate murder the one we should be concerned about, now that the freedom to shout 'fire' in a crowded theatre is denied us?

Open sourcers rattle EU sabre at BBC on demand player


re: some facts

Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

If the BBC only has rights to distribute content for a limited time, that in itself does not prevent them from distributing the content in an open format (they already do this with MP3s, in their podcast trial).

When the limited period expires, the Beeb can stop distributing the files.

The BBC are not responsible for what licence-payers do with the content once they have downloaded it - and if we're talking about on-demand downloads which are only available for a limited time, the situation is not very different from off-air recordings using VCRs, DVD recorders, or whatever.

Besides, giving users a file they can watch or listen to on any of their hardware (iPods, PCs, linux machines, MP3 players) is a good thing. DRM hinders this.

And finally, pirates can already crack DRM and make the results available via fileshare networks. The idea that preventing users from listening to programmes on their pod players will guarantee that content is not copied is just laughable.

Albanians swipe Bush's wristwatch


Time to recycle the old Romanian joke

George Bush is visiting Albania, in talks with the Albanian Foreign Minister. Leaving, he notices his watch is missing. Bush doesn't want to spoil his only friendly trip on the tour by accusing the minister of stealing, so he mentions it quietly to the Albanian President.

The Albanian President leaves the room and, two minutes later, appears with Bush's watch.

"I hope there wasn't an international incident", Bush says.

"Don't worry, my friend", says his host, "He doesn't know it's gone. I picked his pocket!"

Indian dealers are squealers over Microsoft piracy raids


maybe it's marketing?

Could this be part of a push to get people in India and other low-cost markets to BUY the low-cost, low-functionality version of Windows?

Then the users/dealers can apply the patch (which will soon appear) to convert it to the real thing, and everyone can claim victory (unless you look too closely, or want software to be free, or something).

GPL to undermine Microsoft's Novell deal?


depending on where GLP3 is used

This all depends on how much of the code MS distributes is actually relicensed exclusively under GPL v3, and no longer under GPL2. Otherwise MS can carry on with GPL2 distribution, and nothing changes,

Hilton to go down for 23 days


Are you trying to fix the wrong problem?

Surely the problem is not that the, er, highly talented young lady is going to a prison where she won't be stabbed or raped - the problem is that a lot of other people are being sent to places where they WILL be stabbed or raped.

Sexual assualt should not be part of any civilised justice system, yet it seems to be a de facto (though not de jure) part of the sentence for too many offenders. Whatever happened to making the punishment fit the crime?

Microsoft puts a figure on open source 'patent infringements'


I sense fear and confusion

You don't have to enforce patents to avoid losing them - you may be thinking of trademarks there.

Software patents exist in the US and parts of the EU. There are periodic attempts to "harmonise" EU rules to "clarify" what software can be patented, EU-wide. A previous attempt failed, but the issue is working its way through the system again.

Many software patents are trivial, obvious, or have undisclosed prior art. If you're rich enough, and not in a hurry, you can often get them invalidated through the courts. But not always. A number of the MS patents may fall into this category.

This is not about lines of code in the kernel or in applications - it is about any code at all that does some very specific things that MS though of first (or patented within 6 months of someone else mentioning the idea).

In some cases, it may be possible to achieve the same effect in a slightly different way, and avoid the patent. Or not. It depends on the details, which of course we don't have. That's where the FUD comes in.

Some enlightened countries remain free of software patents. But if you're providing services via the web, no doubt some overpaid lawyer will try to argue that you're infringing in the US. They seem to claim jurisdiction pretty much everywhere these days...

Sun may never set on British Empire's pint


Too many laws

We should convert Europe to the Furlong / Firkin / Fortnight system. It's at least as logical as arguing for ages (never mind legislating) about whether people should be allowed to sell stuff in pints.

Don't let Paris Hilton do bird


who is dumber?

Funny how some of the people who think she's a dumb blonde can't spell...

Was Gerry Adams in the IRA? Don't ask Wikipedia


I looked that up on wikipedia

I had a look at the article history.The other editor may have been overenthusiastic in removing your contribution entirely, but I can see why he might have reverted your edit - phrases like "many new sources as well as local knowledge..." and "some may argue that..." are not attributions, the "local knowledge" phrase sounds like "original research" (which Wikipedia does not favour) and Ivan Foster's website is perhaps not the best source or most impartial source for analysis of the IRA Army Council.

You did have some good links as well though, and made relevant points. If you're serious, why not take it up on the talk page, as he suggested?

That said, your other edit (Jeremy Beadle has small handitis) was reverted as vandalism within the day, so I'm not sure how seriously you're taking this whole wikipedia thing.


what I edit three times is true

No :-)

Wikipedia thinks it's an encyclopaedia, which it isn't, quite. But it's still a very useful website. Its discussion pages are an excellent - and sometimes entertaining - resource. And it's taking some steps to improve quality.

Uncritically accepting its claims is about as sensible as uncritically accepting El Reg's line that it's rubbish.


lot of rubbish written about wikipedia

There is a lot of rubbish written about Wikipedia - generating lots of heat, and little light. It's not the same as an encyclopaedia - but neither is it useless.

If there is a continuum of reliability running from say Holy Writ (if you're a believer) or Dawkins' stuff (if you're the prophet Richard), through scholarly journals, then proper Encyclopaedias, then press websites and blogs (in reverse alphabetical order), finishing with conspiracy sites and Fox News.

Wikipedia fits in there somewhere (probably below Britannica and above most blogs). You shouldn't blindly believe it, but that's true of most sites. There is no completely reliable fact checking, but there is enough that it's better than my blog, say.

So use its information, discussion and links as a basis for further investigation. Don't get distracted by the pro or anti hype. It's a useful collection of information, but no more than that.


it seems that wikipedias processes work

It looks like wikipedia's self-correcting processes are working, at least in this case.

The wikipedia article now mentions in its introduction the accusations against the party leader, and his denial - as it did before this register article was written - so readers are aware of the controversy.

When the register article was published, the admin mentioned was actually under investigation for questionable judgement and actions, and subsequently lost admin privileges.

If anyone is interested in the background, they should check the Wikipedia article's discussion page. In their own way, these pages are often as interesting as the articles themselves...

For what it's worth, the wikipedia article is rated as "B", which means: "Useful to many, but not all, readers. A casual reader flipping through articles would feel that they generally understood the topic, but a serious student or researcher trying to use the material would have trouble doing so, or would risk error in derivative work."

No idea how you'd mark a Register article on such a scale :)

The Economist de-rails Microsoft media love in


piss off?

For Alex and the other US readers:

piss someone off - annoy them

piss off - go away (somewhat offensive when used as imperative)

pissed - drunk (I believe it means annoyed, in the USA)

Orange doles out an IOU to Christian pareidolians


flame of the week entries go here now?

I didn't know you could enter for flame of the week by the comment forms. Well spotted, "why oh why"!

Survey: young Brits ready to embrace evoting


How well informed are those being questioned?

This is precisely why policy shouldn't be driven by focus groups and opinion polls, but by investigating the actual issues (like whether the system is secure, and can be SEEN to be secure; what EVIDENCE there is that it would increase turnout; and whether there are other simpler, more cost-effective ways of increasing voter participation and reducing cynicism).

$1bn lawsuit takes novel approach in fighting spam


the botnet problem

If there have not been harvesting bots so far, there will be now. Perhaps its time that the ISP industry started to take botnets seriously, and routinely fenced off users who were found to be infected.

Remotely detecting infection is an interesting problem, but there should be a few giveaways - like when a stream of spam or a DDOS attack starts...

James Cameron finds grave of Jesus & Son


Will the real Mary please stand up?

It's even more difficult for catholics than for the rest of us, since they apparently believe that Mary went up into heaven as well. That's two bodies too many.

Except, I wonder how many people there were with those names in first century Jerusalem. Wouldn't it be embarrassing if Cameron had found the WRONG grave?

And for goodness sake, what is the DNA supposed to prove?