* Posts by Cynical Observer

458 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Dec 2007


Europe considers making it law that your boss can’t bug you outside of office hours

Cynical Observer

It's all about the Balance

When I were a lad...1 (It is in fact more than half a lifetime ago.)

My first permanent & pensionable job included the work hours defined as Thirty seven and a half hours per week taking one week with another. 2 What was extra in one week could be balanced out the week after. A couple of hours this week for an external reason could be made up next week.

My then manager took me aside after a couple of months and explained, that if the job didn't broadly fit the hours defined in the contract then one of two things was wrong.

Either the role (including tasks and time) was badly defined.

Or the employee's approach to the role and the work as wrong 3

Figure out which it is and address it

Has stuck with me since - to the extent that when work mobiles became common place I'd power down the phone shortly after getting home. Out of hours was not categorically ruled out - but it is the exception not the rule and it involves a quid pro quo.

1Takes brief diversion for Monty Python sketch....

2Those of a certain age and/or background may recognise the phrase

3Including the possibility that they just didn't have the requisite skills

Megabucks in funding, 28 years of research, and Boston Dynamics is to be 'sold to Hyundai' for 1/40th of an Arm

Cynical Observer

1/40th of an Arm....


Quite a bit less than an Arm and an Leg...

</Heads for the door>

Gulp! Irish Water outsources contact centres to Capita for up to €27m over 7 years

Cynical Observer

Re: "new software and digital capabilities"

OK - as you asked. The name in Irish (which indicentally is Gaeilge - not Gaelic) is Éire

That accent on top of the E is called a síneadh fada (or more commonly just a fada) It changes the sound of the vowel, lengthening in.

Eire - that's a completely different word. It means Burden. (And yes, one would have to be a smartarse to reply to this with a post about Ireland being a burden so save it - they're old)

Just in the same way that you would not drop España into sentence written in English, it's poor form to drop Éire into a sentence written in English.

And the Republic of Ireland - That's the football team.

The country is called, in the English language, Ireland. (Section 4 of the Irish Constitution refers.)

UK COVID-19 contact-tracing app data may be kept for 'research' after crisis ends, MPs told

Cynical Observer

Dreaming up barriers to adoption...

It's almost as if they want the uptake with the contact tracing app to fall short of the 60% needed for efficacy.

Almost as if they are baking in a reason for failure from the beginning.

Making choices and announcements that work against adoption of the solution....

TeamViewer is going to turn around and ignore what you're doing with its freebie licence to help new remote workers

Cynical Observer


Looks like every man and his dog has flocked to Teamviewer.

Have historically used it to provide remote support to MiL.

Totally Borked this morning.

Big tech wants the ICO on EU data protection board in Brexit fallout

Cynical Observer

Unicorns! Get your fresh Unicorns!

From the articles defining the Board....

The European Data Protection Board (the ‘Board’) is hereby established as a body of the Union and shall have legal personality.

The Board shall be represented by its Chair.

The Board shall be composed of the head of one supervisory authority of each Member State and of the European Data Protection Supervisor, or their respective representatives.

This is going to be no different to Euratom, Europol etc

If you're not in the EU, you're automatically not in the agencies whose membership is drawn form EU states.

BT lab domain grab – 17 years after cheeky chap swiped 'em

Cynical Observer

Re: Martlesham Heath Re the Tower

@ Tom 7

One contact who was based there listed one of his pastimes as "Mountain Biking"

Seriously! In Suffolk!

Cynical Observer

Re: Martlesham Heath

It was claimed that the best view of Suffolk could be had from the top of the Martlesham Tower - because, according to the seasoned veterans, it was the only place in Suffolk where you couldn't see the bloody thing.

Boffins befuddled over EU probe into UK's tax rules for multinationals

Cynical Observer

Oh the irony - the sweet irony

There has been no shortage of opinion in the El Reg fora when the EU focused its baleful gaze on the operations of Irish tax law. And that gaze is always provoked in the first instance by a whiff of inequality in the application of tax law. That inequality is adjudged to amount to state aid. So... in Ireland, foreign owned companies used to benefit from a lower level of corporation tax than the indigenous companies. The EU said fix it and lo, they did. The Apple deal was adjudged to be state aid and the EU said collect the taxes, and lo, they must (though they would rather not!)

Similarly, the EU said that the deal that Amazon had with Luxembourg amounted to state aid and that it must be set aside so that the playing field is level.

And now the EU says that a tweak spun into existence by George Osborne is unfair - because domestic UK companies cannot avail themselves of the same benefit that foreign owned companies can.

But hey - this is the big bad EU picking unfairly on the UK...

Because that's a better tagline than pointing out that the UK Gov screwed up.

Didn't install a safety-critical driverless car patch? Bye, insurance!

Cynical Observer

Only if your car has a new improved rev counter...

Cynical Observer


From one Cynic to another....

The particular instance was in Ireland (I did say other jurisdiction) and looks like it may have been closed by now

Importantly, they seem to have brought in the "Proof of Postage" counting as "Proof of Delivery"

Cynical Observer

Re: Safety Critical Patches


Releasing buggy software and then in effect having the users find the bugs is all too common a practice. In a car it would be criminal negligence at best.

Finding the bugs in this case is easy - they're on the windscreen

Cynical Observer

Re: So...


... then spend the rest of your life wondering if you can be bothered to root the car to install the latest patch

What's the betting that rooting the car for this purpose will fall foul of the law -

And our survey says you're UNINSURED

Cynical Observer


So if your car inexplicably fails to install a safety critical update, you get blamed? Because I'll bet that the software vendor will say it works just fine.

Possibly not. One argument used in another jurisdiction to beat escalation in fines due to speeding tickets could work here. There was an issue about proving that the original ticket had been delivered - because they were sent out unrecorded delivery.

Argument ran - "All my other post has been and is delivered satisfactorily, the ticket cannot have been sent correctly as it was not received." Judgement was that the ticket was not correctly served in accordance with the law and case was thrown out.

Software vendor/car manufacture could/should be required to prove that the recipient car has successfully installed the patch - checksum or some such calculated from the patch and the VIN might be a start.

Cynical Observer

Re: Safety-critical updates?

Had similar thought - on slightly different timelines. Patch released at (for argument's sake) 12 noon. Accident at 2pm. Is that negligent? Or is it a reasonable delay?

If it's the second, what constitutes a "Reasonable Delay?" What if I don't update for 1 day? 2 days? Where exactly is the threshold?

Do autonomous cars come with a data tariff and 3g connection? What if I'm in the Scottish Highlands or the Welsh Hills where coverage is poor?

This has shades of being as poorly drafted as the Government's psychoactive substances abuse bill.*

A recent prosecution for using nitrous oxide was thrown out as it has a legitimate medical use. The accused wasn't using if for that purpose but case dismissed nonetheless.

You can yacht be serious: Larry might be planning his own version of America’s Cup

Cynical Observer

Re: Left hand down a bit!

You know what's going to happen now....

Everyone is going to have a jibe at Larry's expense.

Cynical Observer

Re: Only one rule:

SELECT winner FROM LarrysBoats;

You can't find tech staff – wah, wah, wah. Start with your ridiculous job spec

Cynical Observer
Thumb Up

@ James 51

No training in case they get poached and people get treated as interchangable.

In another life, I was a software trainer (most enjoyable job ever) and your point came up one day in class. This was the first course one of the delegates had been sent on for years - for the very reason that his boss was afraid that the staff would get trained and leave.

Quick as a flesh, one of the other delegates responded

"Go back and ask him, how bad might it be if they don't train you and you stay?"

EU: No encryption backdoors but, eh, let's help each other crack that crypto, oui? Ja?

Cynical Observer

Re: Refreshing


Or as I heard it described this week...

Shitting on the Cake and then threatening to eat it.

Icon for your stab wound

'Cyber kangaroo' ratings for IoT security? Jump to it, says Australia's cyber security minister

Cynical Observer

Other Australian Animals are available

Dingos, Wombats...

I know - how about Dingbats

Beware the GDPR 'no win, no fee ambulance chasers' – experts

Cynical Observer

Re: A good thing too

No. Not really. Take for example Dyson and JCB. You voted out because they recommend it? But Dyson has offshored how many jobs? His faith in the country is that robust?

JCB lost court cases in Europe - are we really to believe that this didn't colour their opinion?

Some of your reasons would seem to stem from personal dislike of individuals. But people come and people go. Jean Claude will be gone in a few months.

Security - how does diminished cooperation improve security?

And trade - Oz has said its first priority is a deal with the EU because of the market size.

I appreciate it's a big ask but please, more than just a list of words, why did you make the choice you made?

Cynical Observer

Re: A good thing too


But can you explain why?

Screw the badgers! Irish High Court dismisses Apple bit barn appeals

Cynical Observer

Re: No Operational Justification for placing a Data Centre anywhere in Ireland

@ Uberseehandel

The EU is the largest trading bloc in the world. Placing a data centre on its periphery in an isolated nation with poor infrastructure and an under-educated workforce only makes sense if the sweetheart deal lasts.

To answer this in Irish - What complete and utter shite!

Under-educated? Time was the only thing Ireland had to export was graduates - and even today, its education system punches way above the country's weight.

By dint of being a good European nation, Ireland has benefited with structural funding which has seen extensive improvements to the major arterial roads. And, as been pointed out, once this is up and running, infrastructure is largely immaterial. The irony is that Ireland, especially if is "accepts" the Apple windfall, is about to tip over and become a net EU contributor rather than a beneficiary .

As others have schooled you on the error of your post, probably best that you just let this one go.

Cynical Observer

Re: Creating 150 jobs

How many will be suitable for unemployed local youngsters? How many will go to highly skilled incomers, who move to the area, buy a house (and inflate prices for said local youngsters), and then fail to blend in to the community. Sure, some extra business for the village shop, but at what a price?

Derrydonnel, the site for the data centre, is approximately 20 miles from Galway City, a city with a population of c80,000, a university with 18,000 students, a long record in drawing tech companies to the region - go back to the days of DEC before Compaq swallowed them, Northern Telecom before their woes, Cisco and others.

The other towns in the area are smaller with many of them acting as feeders to Galway but the next largest Tuam has a population of 8000 and is only 15 miles away from the site, Athenry with 4000 is even closer - 5 miles away.

It's more than likely that the population will be able to supply a competent workforce - beyond the extra demand in a local shop.

Like or loathe Apple, at least they didn't shove this into Dublin suburbia as so many things in Ireland seem to.

Cynical Observer

Time to brush up on your geography

Brian McDonagh (a landowner in nearby Wicklow)

That's like saying Peterbourough, a town that's near Birmingham.

According to this article from Irish media outlet Fora, it looks like McDonagh had hopes that a data centre would be built on his Wicklow land.

Two locals, Allan Daly and property lawyer Sineád Fitzpactrick, have joined up with Brian McDonagh, a landowner who bought a €22 million site in Wicklow from Ulster Bank in 2007.

McDonagh’s idea was to develop the area into “the world’s largest data centre”. It was not to be and he was denied planning permission.

For that reason, it has been suggested that the site Wicklow would make a more suitable location for Apple’s data centre.

The reader is left to draw their own conclusion.

Top of the radio charts: Jodrell Bank goes for UNESCO World Heritage status

Cynical Observer

Re: UNESCO World Heritage (minus USA)


It's just you.

Rejecting Sonos' private data slurp basically bricks bloke's boombox

Cynical Observer

Re: Crap like this...

@tin 2

Doubt it.

The App was discontinued by its original authors when they sold it. The new authors never successfully brought the "New Super Revised Improved Version" to market.

The installed version (on my and the other's devices) was installed from an APK and the permissions were subsequently stripped.

To use your words from another post in this thread ...

Also means that nobody thought to put in a billion lines of every-movement code by then so we're good :)

Cynical Observer

Re: Crap like this...

@Mark 110

Given the way the teenagers hide out - we don't need that. For some reason they seem to think that my taste in music leaves a lot to be desired.

Cynical Observer

Crap like this...

...reaffirms my belief that picking a simple Bluetooth speaker with half decent sound quality was probably the right decision in the long run. Yes it may be limited in functionality compared to the Sonos - but it's a damn sight cheaper and will continue to function quite happily for many years - at least until the Bluetooth specs deviate wildly at some future date.

'Israel hacked Kaspersky and caught Russian spies using AV tool to harvest NSA exploits'

Cynical Observer

Symantec was the first to jump, with its CEO Greg Clark telling Reuters this week it will no longer let governments inspect its source code. Clark said: “Saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to let people crack it open and grind all the way through it and see how it all works’” poses an unacceptable risk to customers.

Can't see that sitting sitting well with 45 Orange and Co. With the latest pronouncement by the Deputy AG that "...there has never been a right to absolute privacy", US TLAs are not going to be happy with the loss of any attack vector.

Expect a Twitter rant from The Orange One in the not too distant.

Oooh Popcorn! ------------->

Ex-Autonomy CFO begs court to toss out US fraud allegations

Cynical Observer

Re: That's not who should be in court

You employ these people at a fairly stiff day rate to discover exactly the kind of shenanigans that this guy is now in the dock for, and it is clear they didn't do their job at all.

Woah there AC! That's a dangerous assertion. If it's clear that they didn't do their job, then it might also be asserted that it's clear that the so called shenanigans have taken place. Conversely, if they did their job, and if they did it correctly then someone in HP badly screwed in structuring the deal.

That's what Mr Hussain is going to be court for - to determine if said shenanigans did take place. But until that happens (assuming that the US courts take the standard "We are the World" approach and insist on proceeding), he has a right to the presumption of innocence.

NASA readies its asteroid warning system for harmless flyby

Cynical Observer

Not GMT.

UTC is the time standard. GMT is the zone - which of course is different to BST.

Now just need to wait a couple of weeks for the annual "Let's scrap daylight savings" discussion best carried out over several ------>

Equifax: About those 400,000 UK records we lost? It's now 15.2M. Yes, M for MEELLLION

Cynical Observer

Fully agree that it wouldn't take a dedicated miscreant very long to retrieve such info but here's the question that follows the suggestion that people should use some other value.....

Who is going to feel happy telling lies to a credit rating agency - knowing that the leeches share info and that getting wrongly flagged with one can make life just that little bit awkward.

The better approach is surely to educate the agencies (and others) so that they stop asking for it in the first place?

Cynical Observer

Time for a New Best Practices

Any answers to security questions – such as your mother's maiden name – given to Equifax during an account signup should now be considered compromised, the NCSC warned, and should be changed for other websites, if possible.

About five years ago, we started to see large UK public sector bodies reject things such as Mother's Maiden Name when configuring security questions. As others have pointed out, it's too easily known and some users will simply consider it to be immutable - they will refuse to misrepresent mum's maiden name. Date of Birth falls into the same category.

The silly thing is - this isn't friggin' brain surgery (or rocket science). Ten years ago, at least one UK bank saw the merit in allowing customers to define their own memorable question - it can be as simple as first Car/first pet/first office location/first love. It strictly speaking doesn't actually matter as at the end of the day, it's only a string of alphanumeric characters.

Perhaps it's about time we started to define a list of questions that are best avoided - and point to the Equifax incident as that watershed moment when it was decided that things had to change.

Brit bank fined £75k over 1.5 million text and email spamhammer

Cynical Observer

Re: Pathetic


Not enough - that's only 56p per message.

If the ICO/HM Gov really want to stamp this out then fines should be in the order of £2 per message sent (text or email makes no difference) and the liability for these fines is transferable to company directors in the event of the company liquidating/going bust. Hound the bastards all the way into personal bankruptcy if necessary.

Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs

Cynical Observer

Re: Progress

@John B

It has been postulated that the true reason that there are never-ending roadworks on the UK motorways (especially the M6) is that the government does not own a field large enough to store the traffic cones...

Leaky-by-design location services show outsourced security won't ever work

Cynical Observer

Except, that's not the case.

I'll admit, I was of a similar opinion, that the only people who locked down FB etc where those who had a close relationship with some hoary old IT bod. However, when I went looking for supporting evidence, it turn out to be not the case.

5 Myths About Teens and Technology Every Parent Should Ignore

The Truth about Teens and Privacy

Apparently, not only do today's youth get the concept of privacy, it is in fact a multilayered, multi faceted part of their on-line existence.

I recall one former work colleagues surprise when he found out that his teen age son had about a dozen FB accounts - all active for very different connections.

How much for that Belkin cable? Margin of 1,992%?

Cynical Observer

Re: How much for that Belkin cable?

Indeed. But it would have been wrong to change what was quoted text. And seemed pretentious to mark it "sic"

But well done on missing the point - that the article is devoid of numbers that would have lent context to the article

Cynical Observer

How much for that Belkin cable?

This local council paid HOW MUCH for an SD card?!

I don't know - the article doesn't actually say and I couldn't find a link.

I'm sure there's some really juicy numbers in the survey - but please why not actually give at least the equivalent of they spent £#### on an Xgb card.

Bearing in mind that 100% margin is a doubling in cost price, coughing up a 1095 per cent margin on an SD memory card. is 11 times bigger than that. But on what starting price?

Devil's in the detail.

The quote is my comment on last year's version of this story and pretty much stands without needing to be modified. Either a link to the survey or some indication of actual prices paid would provide some much needed context.

Edit: The Link to the Survey (Email Registration Required) IT margins benchmarking study 2017: The avoidable cost to business

Lenovo spits out retro ThinkPads for iconic laptop's 25th birthday

Cynical Observer


Cynical Observer

Re: Not "nipple"....

I can't find it on my keyboard....

Cynical Observer

Re: Only have one thing to say to Lenovo....

The Toyota Hilux of Laptops?

He's no good for you! Ofcom wants to give folk powers to dump subpar broadband contracts

Cynical Observer

Marvellous idea - now if only there were a Universal Service Provision requirement on all the broadband providers as well.

When you have a choice of one path back to the exchange - because there are no competing wires, this might serve to keep the buggers a little more honest in their marketing spiel - but will in reality do feck all to make it go faster.

So while a good start - it gets a Could do Better from me

Blade Runner 2049: Back to the Future – the movies that showed us what's to come

Cynical Observer

Demolition Man

..for confirmation that using biometrics as passwords is a truly stupid eye-dea

Russian spies used Kaspersky AV to hack NSA staffer, swipe exploit code – new claim

Cynical Observer

Re: "It is alleged"

It is alleged that CIA never tried to kill Castro. Or any other world leaders. Really. Telling the truth here. Honest. Cross my heart.

Well played! Casting doubt in the negative to strengthen the positive - which you haven't actually proven to be true.

It is alleged that you didn't know what you were doing.

Li-quid hot mag-ma: There's a Martian meteorite in your backyard. How'd it get there?

Cynical Observer

The chances of anything...

But he said it was difficult to know which idea to believe because the uncertainty in the measurements was so high (PDF).

Can't help it.... Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds

European Commission refers Ireland to court over failure to collect €13bn in tax from Apple

Cynical Observer

Those who do not learn from history....

The corporate tax rates in Ireland have always been a source of irritation to some of the larger EU nations - France in particular if memory serves. When the EU complained about different rates for inward investment versus indigenous companies, Ireland harmonised the rate - downwards to the consternation of said larger EU nation.

I'm surprised that they haven't played much the same hand again.

While accepting the tax payment form Apple, they could announce that said payment now allows them to lower the corporate tax rate to 8%. That's lower than anywhere else in Europe, lower than Donald Trump's postulated amnesty tax rate and will probably serve to hold/attract investment in Ireland for another decade or two. If the multinationals actually paid at the applicable rate, Ireland would probably be better off all round.

CAVEAT: This will probably all go out the window if the EU switches to a tax system that factors in turnover and where the revenue is earned.

Schrems busts Privacy Shield wide open

Cynical Observer

Put the popcorn on please

This one is going to run and run... and run.

Strikes me that it's analogous to a comparison between two security ethoses of years ago. The first granted pretty much full access to everything by default and then selectively removed if from those area that a user was not supposed to see. The second granted nothing by default and then opened up areas that the user was supposed to access.

The two systems were almost fundamentally incompatible and making them work together was the mother of all bodges.

This feels similar - the US approach demonstrates a "We'll take everything until you bitch at us" feeling, the European, "We say companies can only have the minimum that they need."

And it's not going to be truly resolved until mindsets start to change - hopefully with a pronounced bias to the European position.

Now - Salted or sweet popcorn? ---------------------------->

Smart burglar alarms: Look who just tossed their hat into the ring ... It's, er, Ring

Cynical Observer

Re: No chance


Qualify wirelesss in this instance.

Piggy backed on WiFi and networked - I'd agree, it's a solution looking for a problem - best not to go there.

But wireless sensors communicating directly with the alarm base station in a dedicated closed autonomous system - they have a role in buildings where a wired solution may not be so easily deployed.