* Posts by Saul Dobney

81 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Mar 2007


EFF urges Google to ground its FLoC: 'Pro-privacy' third-party cookie replacement not actually great for privacy

Saul Dobney

A missing dimension is that group-based systems may be vulnerable to knowledge leaking to other individuals in the group.

To take an example, even with privacy barriers up, it is clear that companies target advertising and marketing by IP address. Technically, because the IP is an ISP provided address, individuals themselves cannot be identified, but Google et all know the approximate location of the users and can use this to target based on group-based interests. But what happens is that information leaks across the individuals in the group. Adverts that one of the individuals sees, will contain information and clues as to what neighbours have been searching for. So although the advertiser is technically acting anonymously, anonymity may be breached as other individuals in the group speculate on which of their neighbours is looking for certain items - for instance health related, new jobs etc.

The completely rational take you need on Europe approving Article 13: An ill-defined copyright regime to tame US tech

Saul Dobney

Who should pay for the content filters?

What if free copyright is only available for five years? After that the copyright owner has to register and pay a fee to maintain copyright (which would go towards public copyright filters) - not a lot to start - say $50 per year per item for years 5-10 - but enough to ensure that only commercially valuable creations retain copyright. After ten years, raise the fee to $1000 per item. And after 20 years raise it to $10,000 per item, all with the copyright holder being able to re-register even if the registration had lapsed.

That way the big commercial successes retain copyright long term, but at a cost (which would reflect the fact that these are profit-seeking adventures), and secondly would ensure copyrighted materials are clearly registered, while low level works quickly enter the public domain. So if you're say a prolific photographer, you have five years to test to see if the photos are worth something, and then you register all those with proven commercial value, with the additional option to re-register (for the going fee) if anything else becomes successful later.

Public disgrace: 82% of EU govt websites stalked by Google adtech cookies – report

Saul Dobney

Is location and IP tracking being used instead?

The past 12 months, we've seen a big increase of tracking and targeting by IP address instead of browser. So in a multi-device, multi-person household you get targeting 'leaking' between the devices, some of which are locked down and some which are generally open to being tracked. For instance if my daughter browses for jewellery that then seems to result in ads and recommendations appearing on other devices in feeds and suggestions. It also seems there might be some leakage from neighbours - things they are interested in that we're not - based on location.

The risk is that if Google or other tracking company monitors say visits to family planning sites, or health advice sites, or unemployment advice, the system could easily leak this information inadvertently to family or neighbours simplying by displaying the wrong ad to the wrong person.

Archive of 1.4 billion credentials in clear text found in dark web archive

Saul Dobney

Re: Not because we are silly or lazy.

The password masher takes a simple password and mashes it against the domain seeded with some fixed options to produce a strong password. That strong password is unique to the domain, so the password doesn't get used anywhere else, so no password leakage. By hashing the domain, the password and some hidden fields, reverse engineering back to the simple password is very very hard, (more so since there's are additional level of personalisation possible). The simple password stays local, but doesn't need to be stored or written down itself, while the code for mashing runs locally, again so the password itself doesn't get exposed.

Saul Dobney

Re: Not because we are silly or lazy.

Use an offline 'password masher' that blends the domain name with a simple password to produce a strong password that is unique to each site you visit, while your simple password never leaves your desk.

How did someone hijack your Gmail? Phishing, keylogger or password reuse, we're guessing

Saul Dobney

Local password mashing

I use a password masher that takes a plain password, hashes it with the domain name and some hidden personalised fields to create a strong password which is unique to each domain. Runs locally, doesn't store passwords, and copy-pasting the strong password means key-loggers won't see it. https://www.notanant.com/pwdmasher.html

How to make your HTML apps suck less, actually make some money

Saul Dobney

Still too heavy...

Current web apps are too resource hungry and don't cache well, leading to over large downloads of things like frameworks, fonts, stylesheets and then bringing in too much asynchronously. It's pretty easy for a simple web-app to be requiring 1-2MB of download just to get started before rendering where a simple HTML switch to a new page might be 20-30kB if the cacheing is done well.

The second problem is that web-apps tend to be designed with one route/journey for use. Eg on an airline booking, the expectation is that you pick departure airport, departure date before moving on to arrival airport. Users don't necessarily do this. They see something on screen and click on it to see what happens, and the routing/journey model breaks down. As a result, designing a web-app is much less like web-development and much more like full software development in terms of skills, and requires much better design and testing.

And your web-app has to fall-back to simple HTML because some users have work policies that limit or preclude access to third-party resources for companies known for tracking online behaviour.

UK Data Protection Bill lands: Oh dear, security researchers – where's your exemption?

Saul Dobney

Is consent needed to hold records regarding consent?

If a system asks for consent, and consent is not given, a) should the system store personal details to be able to demonstrate that consent was not given (and so show compliance) and b) in order to ensure the system doesn't repeat the consent screen on subsequent visits?

Or are we at the stage of the cookie-warning, where everyone will get asked the consent questions every single visit (eg for session management, IP security checks), unless they have opted in?

123-Reg customers outraged at automatic .UK domain registration

Saul Dobney

Could be worse...

British internet company Bitchief is particularly put out.

Hi Amazon, Google, Apple we might tax you on revenue rather than profit – love, Europe

Saul Dobney

Use tariffs on IP

The way to do it with minimal other effect such as effects on normal small businesses trading across borders, but not playing tax games, is to put a tariff on imports of IP (licensing on patents, trademarks, brands etc) at least equivalent to the corporation tax rate.

Currently, a tax-sharp company ensures places ownership of IP in a low tax country. The local subsidiary, actually doing the selling or work, is cross-charged a licence for that IP (ie imports it). So $1,000 of sales. $500 of normal costs. And then they create a licence fee for the brand or patent rights of $500. That's then $1000 of cost, and so $0 of profit in the subsidiary. $500 of profit moved out to the low tax country as licence fees.

A tariff on the IP fees heading out of the country would effectively tax the funnel so that business can't use this to maximise costs in order to avoid tax, so say 20% tariff on the IP which means 20% of $500 collected - exactly equivalent to as if the IP had been held locally.

'Password rules are bullsh*t!' Stackoverflow Jeff's rage overflows

Saul Dobney

Files as passwords

We're going in this direction, but basically make the password equivalent to uploading a file. It could be a proper security certificate, but for ease of use it could also be an image file which would be easier to recall for the user, and easier than continually setting up certs. That would make cracking hashes from a stolen database file practically impossible.

Users could then store the key files/images in an encrypted folder locally which means attackers would have to have the folder plus the encryption password for each user.

For additional security a small bit of client-side code could hash the URL (offer unique URLs for login) with the key file and only send the hash - that way the receiving server never sees the actual key-file after the account set up, so spoof sites phishing can't sit and harvest password attempts to use later to compromise accounts.

Why you should Vote Remain: Bananas, bathwater and babies

Saul Dobney

The EU cookie law

The EU cookie law.

How did it come about? Where did the proposal come from? Who voted for it? And why is the EU pressing trivial totally pointless directives over big stuff like fixing it so that people can work and earn a living wage without reams of government administration and interference designed to protect incumbents and pals.

Are EU having a laugh? Europe passes hopeless cyber-commerce rules

Saul Dobney

Could we have some commissioners with commercial experience please...

This looks confused. Some of the principles sound OK - a car rental company should not be charging different prices for consumers from different countries. But the details are all over the place and there's a huge potential for confusion with existing local laws and regulations - for instance some countries don't allow food to be shipped across borders, some require qualifications to offer certain types of products or services; certain types of promotions or marketing is limited.

It also seems to flip-flop. In one part a trader cannot be forced to contract, in another it says the website has to be available and a third says if he is 'pursuing activities' (which is a website?) he's not allowed to differentiate or refuse to sell by virtue of nationality or place of residence - which reads like if you have a website, you'll be forced to contract. And that opens up a minefield of legal risks including fines for breaking rules you've never heard of written in languages you do not speak.

In theory, you can offer to supply just in your country (the customer collects), but some people will be selling by drop-shipping, so have no physical premises from which they sell goods. And some will have exclusive distribution agreements or licenses for specific territories or areas. This might include service contracts such as on-site service that only apply to a given territory, dealer training etc. It's not at all clear how these would be dealt with.

And even with all this in place, you'll still get a Spaniard living in London trying to buy a present on her Spanish credit card for a nephew in German to be shipped by an Austrian supplier that will be refused because the risk of fraud is much too high, and there is no clear legal recourse for the trader. So it may very well act as another reason not to trade online - just like the EU VAT laws.

Marketing by opt-in, opt-out, consent or legitimate interest?

Saul Dobney

Make it compulsory to report where opt-in was obtained with a refernce number so iyou trace it back.

Apple, AT&T, Verizon named in $7bn VoIP patent claim

Saul Dobney

Re-examination should be the first step

The first step of a patent claim should be a full and detailed re-examination of the patent by the patent office paid for by the complainant including notification of re-examination procedures to any potential violating parties identified by the complainant.

That would A. strengthen the hand of legitimate patents, so encouraging settlement and reducing the need to go to court; and B. mean that if the patent office rejects the patent on re-examination, any subsequent legal action would be between the patent troll and the government as the complainant would first have to overturn the patent office's ruling before pursing a case against the defendants.

If the patent office finds the patent valid, it doesn't stop the defendants could still arguing that a patent invalid in court, but then that's at their cost.

For legitimate well-founded patents, the cost of re-examination would balance against the potential financial upside of winning. For trolls, they'd be discouraged from testing weak patents because they'd both have to pay and run the risk of losing the patent in the process.

'Apple ate my music!' Streaming jukebox wipes 122GB – including muso's original tracks

Saul Dobney

Sync gets confused with backup

I was using Humyo for a couple of years to keep a rolling offline backup of files. They got taken over by Trend and what was a backup service became a sync service with all the geewhizz-look-how-clever-we-are of developers ignoring the customer requirements. I took some old folders off my backup list. And so the new whizzo sync service decided I didn't want them and deleted GBs of files from my hard disk without warning or permission

Now I do the backup with tools I can control onto servers I control with server backup I can control. Cloud services should never ever delete. And if they think they want to delete, then they must must ask. There's a corporate liability suit for vandalism and wanton destruction of private property if they think otherwise.

Boffins urged to publish in free journals by science sugardaddy

Saul Dobney

Re: False

It would be relatively easy to add a weighting to the impact factor that favoured open access papers. Though probably a small effect to start with, over time it would accumulate as more papers get directed to open access in preference to similar clsed access journals.

Mozilla looses Firefox 43, including Windows 64-bit variant

Saul Dobney

Re: Old style search engine picker only available with CTR

I do a load of research and f you do regularly swap between search engines for different searches (eg Google in various countries, dictionaries, manuals, encyclopedia, film sites, Amazon, scholar cross-checking) the enforced switch to the new style search is really frustrating. The new style is just so clunky, unintuitive and such a step backwards.

Things like if you've entered some text, choosing a search engine runs the search instead of switching the suggestions list. And there is initially no obvious indicator of which search engine is default on the menu line - so if you have to start typing to know which search engine is set. At least in the old release you could turn the new style off.

Silicon Valley now 'illegal' in Europe: Why Schrems vs Facebook is such a biggie

Saul Dobney

Re: Simple solution..

"it's not even your image, it's an image of you. You have almost no rights regarding a picture someone else has taken of you."

This isn't copyright, it's data protection. In the US, public data is fair game. This is not the case in Europe. Under European rules, a business does not have the right to have information about you unless you consent in some way (which could just be being notified). It doesn't even matter if the image was taken in public or it's publicly available.

Technically the photograph is data about you and so you do have a right of redress. This is why Google can be compelled to remove images or personal information from search listings in the EU. And in other European countries like France it doesn't just stop with data protection, there are further laws about privacy. France is currently looking at whether Facebook's automated face recognition meets data protection standards as it's not clear that it does because of the lack of consent.

Intel's 6th gen processors rock – but won't revive PC markets

Saul Dobney

This is where I think we are going...

Seemless integration across all the screens we have now with pick-up-and-go-ness. Basically that means a tablet that responds like a screen when it's mounted on/close to the PC/llaptop controller, but can be picked up, walked away with as you move from sitting at your PC to taking the tablet on the train.

For instance, lets say I have a website I'm reading on the laptop. I drag the window to the tablet with the mouse as if it's just another screen for the laptop - it remains a functioning window - this isn't a simple file transfer - it just looks and responds like another screen. I then pick up the tablet and walk off still reading the website. The laptop shuts down. I still have the website/application and I don't notice that it is no longer on the original device.

For an office environment it works as follows. I'm building a presentation on the PC. I move it to the tablet screen (simple window drag as if moving it to a second or third screen) then take the tablet to the presentation and I can then show it on the projector (maybe another drag to the next screen). If I want to share it with colleagues I simply drag-copy to their screen and they can take it back to their desk to work with further.

The point being that the data becomes independent of the device and all walls are removed. Different devices just give different ways of seeing or controlling the data but work together to make moving across devices completely barrier-less.

Does it need superfast CPUs? i don't know. But I guess it does need super-fast inter-device communications and a hidden degree of parallelism to hide the connections. it probably means people working across many more screens at the same time in a much more flexible way (imagine 'handing over' a ticket just by dragging it from the salesman's screen to the customer's smart phone screen).

Windows 10 marks the end of 'pay once, use forever' software

Saul Dobney

Microsoft has realised the OS upgrade market is a fool's game. Vast quantities of money tipped into new shiny bits that, when the chips are down, no-one really wants to pay for. Microsft still makes the money on every time a new piece of tin is sold, old OS or new. And large numbers of different OS versions floating around just causes support and compatibility chaos. So basically they stop and save the money, fixes and drivers excepted.

The core bits of money are then Office subscriptions, refinements of games/appstore and data portability (aka the cloud). By standardising the OS it makes it easier to interconnect devices without the compatibility problem - eg linking a phone as a controller to devices like xbox, home automation etc. The OS basically disappears other than as an enabler for instance for secure interconnection. Money comes per device still with the gamble that Microsoft can make interconnect easier and more secure than competitors.

EU VAT law could kill thousands of online businesses

Saul Dobney

Re: This is a MASSIVELY irresponsible post

The problem is that many many small businesses selling knick-knacks online also sell services and downloads. Once you have the shop, adding downloads is trivial and obvious. A large number of 'crafters' sell patterns online (eg knitting, embroidery, jewelry design, CNC, 3d-printing). Self-help groups and special interest associations sell e-books. Teachers sell workbooks and study guides. Local bands sell their music or fan-club membership. Photographers sell photographs. Artists sell clip art and printable designs. Training companies sell online tutorials and tests. Tour companies sell podcasts, guides and route maps. Even, as one of my web-customers does, some of those almost pure knick-knack shops sell a site membership to give discounts to regular customers, or access to private or restricted content. All are affected because they have to know where their customer is at the time of purchase. And almost all are not companies, are below the VAT threshold and have no experience with VAT or VAT rules in the UK, let alone in 28 countries across Europe.

Unfortunately having got 28 countries to agree so many years ago, I can't see 28 countries agreeing to suspend the rules in a couple of weeks because they didn't realise how prevalent selling content would be online by now.

Finally, a USEFUL smart device: Intel boffins cook up gyro-magneto-'puter bike helmet

Saul Dobney

Re: All that safety...

Hearing is most useful when passing parked cars and blinded junctions joining from the left as the sound of an engine acts as an alert for something about to pull out. In mainstream traffic where cycling with the stream with one vehicle behind you it allows you to judge the proximity and attitude of the driver behind including if the engine note changes as they plan to overtake. You still look, but sound acts as an early warning.

Sticky Tahr-fy pudding: Ubuntu 14.04 slickest Linux desktop ever

Saul Dobney

Re: A slice off the top

That'll be because screen resolutions have got worse (ie from 1920x1200 to 1920x1080 or worse, a lot worse...). Means I've delayed upgrading my currently laptop in the hope that someone in the PC world sees the light, and I might even switch to Linux to stick with the decent screen resolution I have now.

What's up with that WhatsApp $19bn price tag? Answer: Voice calls

Saul Dobney

I get confused here. Why is VOIP with Whatsapp any different from Skype or other VOIP? Don't telcos already ban or curtail this type of traffic? And telcos already know who you call, where from etc. so why is Whatsapp different? Isn't there a risk that adding voice brings in other regulatory bodies who might spoil the party?

Wouldn't the main reason be to get at better location-based advertising? Users will have their phone on and will be receiving chats. So Facebook tracks the location and sends localised ads/offers/coupons via chat based on location, demographics or other profile information that it has. The coupon is scanned off the phone at the till (or payment by phone) and then 'liked' to friends in the vicinity.

Windows 8.1 to freeze out small business apps

Saul Dobney

I don't mean open as in open source or open as in friendly, but open as in opposite to 'closed' or 'walled-in' in that you could dig around the innards and tinker and make things work. Want a different graphics card, load in a new driver and away you go. Want to automate some Excel, tinker in the back with VBA. Not pretty (and often not secure) but it allowed for a lot of mix-and-match hardware and a lot of custom in-house programs and scripts to get things bolted together.

Saul Dobney

Why is Microsoft aping Apple? Apple has always been a consumer electronics company (it took them a couple of decades to realise this mind). Microsoft on the other hand has always been business and developer focused. The bits which made Microsoft strong were the openness of their systems, compatability and relative ease of development and deployment with low entry costs which created a big third party infrastructure.

The Apple model doesn't work for business customers because businesses need the flexibility to tweak, customise and innovate to stay ahead of the competition, and they need volume-based administration, security and management specific to the business needs to keep those systems running. When Microsoft tries to apply consumer logic to businesses and to wall-in users or programmers, more often than not their products fail.

More brutal PC numbers from Dell as revenues stay flat, profits sink

Saul Dobney

Resolve resolutions

Still waiting for Dell to sell a 17inch laptop with a screen resolution as good or better than the ones were buying 6-10 years ago. They just don't seem to be listening despite enquiries.

Superstar cluster-Zuck as Facebook tries out celeb-only edition

Saul Dobney

It's about money, always about money

Been waiting for this as a logical next step. I'm guessing is that the VIP areas are more like private fanclubs. The sort of place ordinary folk will need to pay to join, but with Facebook taking the subscription (probably on a share with the celebs). Publicity needs means celebs will still have some bits public, but then use the private space for exclusive or early release bits. So want to keep tabs on your idol? Pay for the privilege.

Ahoy! Google asks US gov't to help sink patent 'privateers'

Saul Dobney

There is an easy better way...

The simplest approach would be that any case involving patent infringement should require a re-investigation of the contested patent by the Patent Office prior to further legal action. Only if the Patent Office review concludes there is still merit in the patent, could any other court action take place. This review could be done for a fixed few thousand dollars in an open format (ie open for submissions from the public, but at the judgement of the patent examiners).

Once the Patent Office has stated there is still merit to the patent, the rest of the court case a judge/jury led investigation of the validity, if infringement has taken place, and to what level, and with what financial impact can take place and then sanctions and penalties.

Patent trolls would then be required to pay upfront for the initial re-examination (a barrier to frivolous claims). If the Patent Office throws out the patent at re-examination, the trolls would sue the Patent Office, not the target company and so, only strong and pre-tested cases would make it to the courts.

Netbooks were a GOOD thing and we threw them under a bus

Saul Dobney

Do Microsoft/manufacturers understand the market any more?

It seems to be becoming difficult to buy equipment now. Everything is a bit of a mis-mash. I don't think Microsoft/manufacturers understand that people now have several computers, tablets, phones and these are used for different tasks. Instead we still seem to be trying to shoehorn one computer for everything. I can't get a decent screen'd laptop for proper production work. I'd like something small and neat with a keyboard and a monitor connection for light travelling. I have tablets but they're for browsing/info gathering. And I have a phone. I don't need one thing trying to be all of these.

Dell launches Sputnik Linux Ultrabook

Saul Dobney

Further screen downgrades

The last three laptops have all been 1920x1200, now everywhere I look I have to downgrade to 1080 at best for the next one. You'd have thought people like Dell would have taken a leaf out of Apple's book and realised some us who do a lot of work across a lot of applications (and don't care about playing HD videos) actually want more screen real-estate, not less.

Google's UK grip slips a bit, brutal dominance basically unshaken

Saul Dobney

Google's search results have gone downhill

I'm probably not a typical Google user (instant turned off, 100 results per page, personalised results turned off), but I am a longstanding intensive user and in the past six months the quality of Google's search has totally gone to pot. Way too many results from individual sites particularly Youtube (but also ehow, fixya). I almost have to search with a permanent -youtube option. I did a few checks about a month ago and of the 100 results on the first page for some searches I actually only had 5-6 different sites listed. In some cases a single site had 40+ of those links from the first 100 and it wasn't even that they were good quality results.

Patent flame storm: Reg hack biteback in reader-pack sack attack

Saul Dobney

First thing is that patents are good in that inventors should be encouraged to invent. It would even be a good idea if copyright became more like patents (20 year limit for a start). The problem is the gaming of the system. Things are being patented without sufficient invention, and there is a confusion between things that should be copyright (rubber band display effect), versus patentable which should be physical in their nature.

For instance, X on a website/fixed screen is 're-invented' to become X on a mobile device, or X over a network and then becomes 'patentable' again simply because the base form has changed. We can envisage X on a foldable/rollable screen-based device will be the next round of patents or X within a 3D display system.

The point of a patent is that it's about invention of something new. These types of 'extension' is never and can never be an invention - a simple clarification of this point by the patent office would greatly reduce the scope for trolling.

Review: Raspberry Pi

Saul Dobney

The interesting projects seem to be ones that are more hardware based - so writing software to control things like motors, sensors etc where the controlling computer sits on the device giving it some autonomy.

The Pi is small enough and cheap enough that you can add it to lots of wheeled devices then program the devices to be dodgems, or catch, or football... and see what happens.

Publishing giants sue open textbook startup over layout

Saul Dobney

The probable comparison will be with TV gameshows or theatre productions where there is copyright on the 'format' of the show even if the precise content is different. Copyright on maps may also have a similar precedence. However, the text book manufacturers may be shooting themselves in the foot. There is no dispute about the content and changing formating or rearranging the order of the content is relatively easy and could be done via crowd-sourced editors quite quickly. The law suit draws publicity, and attracts the interest of crisis-stretched educational departments. The publishers could easily win the battle only to find themselves opening a war they'll never win.

Facebook: 'We didn't patent stalking logged-off users'

Saul Dobney

Straight from the Big Brother manual

How on earth did this get to be a patent?

On the other hand Facebook aren't trying to hide their intentions...

"In one embodiment, a method is described for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain ... logging the actions taken on the third-party website in the social networking system ... correlating the logged actions with one or more advertisements."

"the actions taken by users can be correlated to the vast array of information attributes that the social network system maintains in order to improve analytical and targeting processes"

"...the user can be informed of online activities that the user's friends have taken outside the social network system ... Social ads thus allow advertisers to enjoy the credibility that consumers naturally give to their friends through word of mouth advertising"

"One benefit of mixing the newsfeed stories and the social ads in a single list presented to a user is that there may be little or no differentiation between advertising and general information that a user would want to know"

"The user's experience can be integrated between the third party website and the social network system such that the information is used in both domains"

"...If the user clicks on a particular friend, the social network system may communicate to the third party website a list of items that the friend has purchased"

Skype: Microsoft's $8.5 billion identity tool

Saul Dobney
Thumb Down


So all that Skype spam I get with fake IDs seeking connections is good ID data?

HP's UK PC boss: We're going nowhere

Saul Dobney

Been saying this for a long time

My guess is that no-one's done good quality price research here yet. A good quality full-specced sub £170 tablet will sell in huge huge volumes because people will buy several (it's a bit like Nintendo DS's once one child has one - all the children in a family have to have one). I can be reading tech news while watching football on TV, while my other half reads the Daily Mail and the children mess around on Facebook for instance.

Apple's shown there is demand at the luxury end of the market (a bit like a coffee table showpiece) but it's not at a one-per-child price. Rather than compete to sell one against Apple, compete for the much larger volume of several per household.

Man reveals secret recipe behind undeletable cookies

Saul Dobney

Europe is very different

In continental Europe there's this thing called Privacy written into various national constitutions and actually European Human Rights directives, which says even stuff which is apparently public is still subject to privacy rules. The exception is if you can show an explicit public interest. A shop tracking a customer does not have a public interest defence - the only way allowed in certain European countries is for the customer to have agreed to the data collection (explicit opt-in). Even if you think the information is public. Without the opt-in the shop is not allowed to do it. The principle is that organisations/businesses hold the minimum information. Information being public is not a defence.

As you're in America, I'll give you some time to pick your lower jaw off the floor.

Isolated human genes can be patented, US court rules

Saul Dobney

Wrong call

The judgement is interesting to read - including the dissenting judge. Hopefully this will go to the Supreme Court because it is weird. They say that the isolated DNA for the specific gene does not exist in nature and is therefore a created entity - as such it can be patented.

But, lets say I apply a process to an extract of human DNA. If in doing so, I get sections of DNA that fall under the patent simply by the process of snipping and extraction, I can't see how the patent has been breached. These samples would be elements discovered and are not creations as such. The ruling is perverse - it's like patenting an animal's fur or skin. The fur does not exist in nature other than as part of the animal which is the test they have applied here. But the process of even though that fur or skin or leather has useful properties, simple removal or extraction does not make it any less natural. Just because DNA is a molecule, doesn't make it any less like fur, skin or flesh.

Google plans cheapo YouTube programs

Saul Dobney

Buy a TV channel

Take it as a loss leader. Make the programmes. Put them on real TV, then put them on Youtube. Use Real TV ads to part fund the process, and repeat. Eventually you get a channel on Youtube from all the series Google has part-funded. Or buy a TV station.

Microsoft, Nokia, and RIM's wasted R&D billions

Saul Dobney

You only see the winners

There are huge numbers of new ideas and new start-ups pursuing new ideas. You only notice the ones that win out at the end of the day. Why? The problem isn't having the idea, but getting the implementation right - Microsoft had tablet touch screens in the OS before Apple; it had a pocket device OS. It didn't get them right. But it had them.

From a pool of start ups, you know something will develop, but you never quite know what will be best. A corporate can hammer away billions trying to guess. Or it can co-invest small sums with potential winners and see which ones thrive and which die. Going for a single company-line approach will always have the risk of being too slow and simply not hitting the sweet spot.

Microsoft embraces ARM with Windows 8

Saul Dobney

Running late

Microsoft's risk has been developers moving out of Windows to program apps and mobile phone devices. Particularly if corporate IT depts move to developing for non-PCs. They have to bring Windows and .NET to ARM and small devices. It's just surprising it's taken so long for them to see the danger.

Jobs savages 7-inch tablet competition

Saul Dobney
Thumb Up

For once he's right

Tried a 7inch tablet UMPC at 800x480 and it's just too much of a compromise. Webpages are either made smaller and unfocused and unreadable on a zoom out, or get clipped one side or the other with too much scrolling left and right needed. May be a higher resolution 7" screen will work, but it doesn't make a good web-experience.

High Court: Moderate user comments and you're liable

Saul Dobney

Blog-spammers charter

Does this mean you can't clean our spam entries from comments sections without then falling foul of Chapter 19?

ARM boss forecasts mass migration to netbooks

Saul Dobney

Additions not replacements

Multiple systems, not replacements. There are a lot of us now out there with a number of computers in the family, each for different purposes. Netbooks are sort of like magazines lying around the sofa. A film comes on, you flick over to Rottentomatoes to see if its any good. Or just browse for houses/cars/books/gadgets while the footie is on the TV. Or to save buying the paper in the morning, you just pick up the netbook/iPhone by the bed and flick through the newspaper sites without bothering to get out of bed.

Cheap. Fast start up. Cool on your lap. Readable resolution for the web. WiFi. Simple to keep charged/long battery life. Don't know if it will be ARM or Intel, but it certainly isn't Windows. And as price is the key (sub $250), I'm not sure that it's Apple either.

Hotmail phish exposes most common passwords

Saul Dobney


Add a random token to the login URL. Offline the user hashes his or her password with the URL+ token. The user log-ins with the hash. The real password is never sent and it can't be worked out through a man-in-the-middle attack. Easy to implement, impossible to phish.

Texan judge outlaws Word

Saul Dobney

Think this is what it's about

There seem to be three parts to this

1. Something to parse a stream and break it up separating out the mark up from the content - creating content as a flat file/continuous stream and an index based on the mark-up (the metamap)

2. The principle of a flat file with a metamap. This is obviously ancient technology since it's the basis of all market research and stats software (eg SPSS and VAX based survey software)

3. Something to rebuild the document from the flat file and ad hoc indexes. Again market research software would fit here rebuilding individual questionnaires from data plus a question map.

The first should be obvious but I can't find a specific example. Obviously parsing a text file for control data pre-exists - It's the way email works, or earlier forms of EDI etc but it might be claimed these might not produce a direct map and data separation?

Junk email volumes hit high

Saul Dobney

Less too...

For me it dropped from 1000+ a day down to about 50-100 around the first/second week of May. I assumed that some of the bots had been turned off.