* Posts by Laurence Penney

17 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Oct 2007

JP Morgan has a Playmobil moment

Laurence Penney

Just out of the frame…

… are the Bilderberg lizard men:


Sleazy Aussie 'hot babes' network goes MIA

Laurence Penney

Facebook returning to its roots

Wasn’t this the very reason Facebook (or Facemash) was created in the first place?

Nokia C5-03 budget touchscreen smartphone

Laurence Penney

Text doesn't reflow on iPhone either

Of the browser, you say "the text doesn't re-flow". Text doesn't reflow on the iPhone either, so what's the problem?

Google Maps boss to Germans: 'We don't want to invade you'

Laurence Penney

Google's data collection in Berlin


Naked iPod touch dangles its FM radio

Laurence Penney
Jobs Halo

Another nail in DAB's coffin

If the iPhone gets FM radio, then no government would ever dare turn off the transmitters!

Wikipedia's Gallery guy hung up to dry?

Laurence Penney

Copyright in copies of old 2D art has simply not been tested in UK law

In the article: "Under UK law, photographs of public domain artworks can be copyrighted..."

It's often misleading to use 'copyright' as a verb. Copyright is the monopolistic right to make copies. People and organizations can claim copyright, or are awarded copyright automatically by the state.

If the Wikipedian in question had been British, he may well disagree that the state had made an automatic grant of copyright to the NPG – only a court can decide whether the NPG's claim is valid. Though the NPG claims copyright, and is willing to defend it, the fact that there has not been a clear judgment in a UK court, regarding copies of out-of-copyright 2D objects, means it is far from certain that the NPG would win.

iPhone compass evidence surfaces

Laurence Penney

Maybe can work at all angles

Wouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine an electronic compass that doesn't depend on the angle of the device. The accelerometers can work out which way is up, and therefore which combination of axes to read from the compass chip(s).

Merchants and punters cry foul over Verified by Visa

Laurence Penney

Rang all my phishing alarm bells

securesuite.co.uk rang all my phishing alarm bells when I encountered it trying to book a Brussels Airlines ticket in Dec 2007. I investigated, because I really wanted the ticket. Googling led me to this page, containing stories of disgruntled, confused people:


I decided it was probably genuine but didn’t want to risk it. Amazingly the airline has a phone number where I got the ticket at the same price(!), so I thought I'd ignore the problem.

At this time the 'whois' info was no longer "cyota, 8 west 38th street, new york", as it had been in late 2006, but was now something more suspicious: "cyota, 7 Shenkar Street, Herzelia, ny, 46733, IL". Wikipedia told me that Herzelia is a suburb of Tel Aviv.

Who was this company, cyota? How come an Israeli organization, bizarrely with "NY" in its address, was mediating between me and my bank?

Upon further investigation, Cyota, appears to have been an Israeli security firm, headed by one Amir Orad, and bought by RSA Security in 2005:





So a defunct company name is listed as the registrant. It was all very weird. I called my bank's helpline. They had never heard of cyota.

An hour or so later I needed an advance train ticket. First Great Western also use securesuite.co.uk - I also really needed that ticket so bit the bullet and gave my damn date of birth to the annoying “3D Secure” window. All totally against my anti-phishing self-training.

The next day I went into my bank to complain about the security problem. They've never heard of Verified by Visa, SecureSuite, or cyota or course.

As of October 2008 the whois info has changed yet again: "8200 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1100, NULL, Mclean VA, 22102, US". EasyJet, whose site I use a lot, now uses Verified by Visa, so I'm resigned to using the horrible system.

Apple revamps iPod line-up

Laurence Penney

Re: Geography

Chris says: "What? London is roughly 5,000 miles from Beijing, in the East of China. San Francisco is nearly 6,000 miles from Beijing."

iPods are not delivered by crows:

- Taiwan to San Francisco: 5844 miles

- Taiwan to London: 9839 miles

- Taiwan to London, avoiding Suez Canal: 13153 miles


Kindle fails to set light to unsold e-book pile

Laurence Penney


It's insensitive of Amazon to name a device whose aim is to replace books after a means to set them on fire. (Conversely, burning all Amazon Kindles would do absolutely no damage to literature.)

BBC iPlayer upgrade prompts new ISP complaints

Laurence Penney

Re: Public Service

@James Bassett...

Was it Sir David Attenborough you were thinking of, in his 30 April 2008 speech on the theme of “The BBC and the future of Public Service Broadcasting”?


“[Ofcom's Chief Executive, Ed Richards] says [public service broadcasting] is broadcasting that aims to do four things: to increase our understanding of the world; to stimulate knowledge and learning; to reflect the cultural identity of the United Kingdom; and to ensure diversity and alternative viewpoints.

“You could argue that good situation comedies - like Porridge - increase our understanding of the world; that gardening programmes stimulate knowledge and learning; that East Enders and Coronation Street reflect a UK cultural identity; and that even reality television such as I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here ensures diversity and alternative viewpoints.

“But I am pretty sure that programmes like those are not what OFCOM means by PSB. There must be something missing in that definition and I suspect we all know what it is. When we talk about PSB these days, we are referring to programmes that, for one reason or another, only attract small audiences.”

Also note the transcripts of Stephen Fry’s and Will Hutton’s speeches in the same series:



Apple gets into mine-sweeping, missiles and storage

Laurence Penney

iPod & Touch UI to save energy

Why is it that if you tell an enviro freak that you choose to pay the train fare rather than drive or fly, they'll still bash you for not squeezing your tin-cans flat before throwing them in the recycling?

The best thing Apple could do with this tech is to push their UIs onto embedded devices that report & control energy usage. I'd adjust my central heating this way, gaze at Tufte-inspired graphs of my energy usage, analyze my driving style and habits for best economy, check my barcodes to tell me where I'm being profligate (after getting my supermarket to RSS them to me). And be able to put things in perspective.

Oh yeah, Apple should give it away for energy-saving installations too.

Asus 8.9in Eee PC surfaces

Laurence Penney

@ DeepThought

At least DABS are more honest than LaptopsDirect, who have said the 4Gb eee is "2-7 days" away, continuously for the last 5 weeks, during which time they've failed to send me mine. Cash taken, naturally.

Gollum to play Haddock in Tintin

Laurence Penney

Live action won't work? See the play!

Simon Greenwood, in denying that live action could ever quite work, you sound like you haven't seen the stage play. Inexcusable for any kind of Tintin fan!

It started at the Barbican last year, has just done a short tour and is now in the West End. I saw it in Cardiff. It is amazing, truly unmissable. Please go and see it.


It's on at the Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, London till Jan 12.

Call 0870 060 6631 now.

(To El Reg: I have no affiliation whatsoever with the production.)

Finger-chopping jihadis derail MPs scanner system, claims MoS

Laurence Penney

Screen preceded flour

In the interests of accuracy, I can inform you that the glass screen, separating the strangers' gallery from our MPs, was installed during the 2004 Easter recess — a little over a month before the purple flour incident. Thrower Ron Davies sat in one of the two extension galleries where Lords' guests sit. Those seats remain ideal for small missile attacks.


We'll beat Microsoft and Sun, says Adobe's chief software architect

Laurence Penney

@Tom Chiverton

Do most computer users know whether they are installing an application or an ActiveX control?

Since AIR apps will be easy to write – far more people can write Flash and HTML than can write old-style native apps – lots of new cool, "free" (ad-funded) apps will appear every day. Each of these will suggest it alerts all your friends about itself, in order to add community lurve to the experience. The coolest and most popular of these won't have "brand trust".

Laurence Penney

ActiveX all over again?

>>But is an AIR application secure, given that ... applications have the same access to the hard drive as the user? Lynch talks about ways in which users are protected. "The application installer is signed, and then the end user is informed about the rights this application is going to have,” he says. Beyond that, Adobe is relying on brand trust and internet reputation to help users make safe choices. He adds that AIR is not making the internet's security problems any worse.<<

Isn't this just what Microsoft used to say about ActiveX?

If these AIR things are easy to write, and people happen to like the stuff they do, then people will install them as merrily as they add Facebook applications today, or even as gaily as they head to cool websites. The fun stuff doesn't come from sources with "brand trust". Facebook apps and websites can't easily damage your computer, of course, so this works well - average users don't need to be security experts.

Before AIR dies, there'll be certificate impersonations (Victim: “Hey, it said it was signed by Аdobe!”. Adobe: “No, that wasn't us. Shame you didn't notice that A was cyrillic - Unicode 0410, not 0041. Goodbye.”) Then will come such smug declarations as: “When PCs started out, people were putting floppy disks on their refrigerators with a magnet, stapling disks together, and not backing up files. Gradually, people caught on. They adopted [other] practices, and the same thing will happen on the Internet.” (That was John Browne, Microsoft's product manager for Internet security, talking about ActiveX in 1996.)