* Posts by Lee Dowling

1183 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Mar 2007


Dish boss on ad-skipping service: 'I don’t want to kill ads'

Lee Dowling Silver badge


If you advertise reasonably, I really wouldn't care. The problem is sheer greed at expense of the thing I purchased. Long adverts, multiple adverts, adverts smack in the middle of important broadcasts and events, adverts showing over my programs, adverts talking over my program (i.e. any jokes in the end credits are lost), adverts sponsoring the weather (and mentioning it all the time), adverts sponsoring programs (and having splashscreens and even - URGH - product placement in them), having the adverts louder than the program, having the adverts unskippable (on DVD, etc.), having the adverts be annoying / attention grabbing (GoCompare / Cilit Bang, though the Cilit Bang man has learned to tone his voice down a bit now).

All these things just make me AVOID advertising and get in the way of the thing I *BOUGHT* (whether I pay enough for them NOT to have to do these things is another question entirely, I've still paid money for it, so I'm still a paying customer, and I'm still - therefore - entitled to a decent product). So I feel no sympathy about destroying their business by getting rid of their advertising.

To me, modern TV advertising is the equivalent of plastering posters over people's cars and private houses for 100 miles around to tell people about your product, whereas it used to be about having relevant adverts in relevant places quite discreetly and covertly (the equivalent of putting up a poster about a local group in the local community posting board). Making me HATE your brand, before I've even bought one of your products, doesn't help you.

On the Internet, I don't see much advertising apart from that that's done discreetly (looking at this very page now, I see a few "Play Flash" buttons that my browser has disabled by default, and a Jobsite ad which is below the page content, out of the way, discreet, basic and relevant. Do I object to or block Google Ads? No, for the most part they work that same way. Do I object to and block Flash ads, Java ads, popups, popunders, popovers, intermission screens where I have to wait and everything else? Yes. It's unnecessary, and it just puts me off and will stop me coming back to your site. I will also actually INVEST TIME in getting rid of you, which is NOT what you want as an advertiser because it will have a knock-on effect on your brands.

Advertising is not about drowning out everyone else at the expense of the good name of your brand (you won't, all you'll do is annoy me). It's about a subtle, relevant insertion that builds up subconsciously ("Oh, yes, I've heard of Jobsite, maybe try them?") and might even be useful for me (e.g. ads for offers related to dedicated servers when I'm googling for dedicated servers! So long as they get the hell out of the way when I'm looking for "dedicated counterstrike servers with no queue" or whatever).

So I feel no shame in blocking things (except I don't, for the most part, and certainly not because of the ads alone but the stupidity of running Flash/Java by default, etc.), avoiding things, and blacklisting brands that have annoyed me. They do a hundred times worse to me every day.

Curiosity raises mighty robotic fist, punches hole in Mars

Lee Dowling Silver badge

I reckon we'll discover that it was a rock.

Surely cracking the rock open would tell you more about the history of the rock, rather than just drilling a shallow hole into it and collecting dust?

But, to be honest, geology never interested me. There's a million times more things we could go looking for on Mars that might actually prove useful. "It had water millions of years ago" doesn't seem to be one of them (though, obviously, it's all science, and might have some third-order-knock-on-effect that brings about some real useful knowledge for exploration).

I'd still be much happier if we were just sending a thousand tiny robots there, and just driving them all away from a central spot. We'd get a lot more area covered, a lot more pretty pictures, find a lot more odd things that deserve closer attention and a failure won't mean failure of the mission.

Or maybe I just want to play "battle bots on Mars", so that when one "captures the flag" so-to-speak by finding something interesting, we can pilot all the rest to swarm over there and claim credit.

2e2 cloud cash fiasco puts NHS IT and biz 'over a barrel'

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: eportfolios

My bursar and I were discussing this years ago. It's the sort of thing that occurred to him just because of the different businesses he has to deal with. Occasionally, someone DOES go bankrupt, and the clients are left to pick up the pieces. As soon as any mention of putting necessary services (i.e. not just "run our website", which we can hand off to anyone within a day or two if there's a problem, and even have "backup" domains for, nor "provide online content" - but actually real services like thin-clients, running our library, etc.), then the question quickly arises about what happens if they go bankrupt.

Hell, I get staff who complain when BBC Schools change the content they have on their website, like I'm personally responsible for them phasing out 10-year-old Realplayer streams that the teachers have had in their lesson plans since before I started and not providing a replacement. They honestly expect me to "do something about it" (I don't know what, because all I can do is send a sternly-worded letter to the BBC, same as them - the way they talk you'd think I could just claw back years of archived copyrighted video material without the BBC being involved at all - hell, even Archive.org doesn't mirror RP streams).

So when we put something in the hands of an external business, we have to basically assume that one day they won't be there. It's not a problem - companies come and go - but we just plan what to do in that case, but we *do* have to plan.

My bursar in fact just read this post of yours, and we weren't surprised at all. The correct answers are obviously the last two - escrow accounts and DIY. Like RAID, backups, and everything else, you should never assume that something WON'T go wrong - you should just plan for it going wrong and finding out how you would cope with that. You can't stop things going wrong, but you can stop them being big problems if they do.

Lee Dowling Silver badge

I'll read this when I get home - I should have stopped laughing by then.

The Register Guide to Windows Server 2012

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: In your opinion

Calibre works pretty well as both an e-reader and as a ebook manager (for converting and sending stuff to a real device like a Kindle, etc.)

But, don't bother with this ebook.

Lee Dowling Silver badge


Given that I'm in the middle of downloading my Server 2012 disk images at the moment for a deployment later this year, I thought there might be something handy in there.

Even installed an ePub reader so I could look at it. It's a booklet, not a book (don't know the page size but it's barely "A6" from the look of it's Ladybird-book-size font), and it's pretty useless. Hell, the Wikipedia article is more useful.

Before you download, ask yourself if you really want an A6 pamphlet on how great Server 2012 is without any useful information, that looks like the sort of thing Microsoft would give out to people who've never touched a server in their lives.

11-YEAR-OLD code wizard hacks Greedy RuneScape geeks

Lee Dowling Silver badge

The school only used VB, so I was spending my school time productively on the products they wished me to learn.

The week before, I'd written an x86 assembly CD-protection-removal "crack" for a game I'd bought. It involved Ralf Brown's Interrupt List and MS-DOS debug.

Geeky enough for you? It was just a waste to use those sorts of things in schools when a simple Word macro or VB interface was enough.

Lee Dowling Silver badge


When I was 11, I wrote a thing in VB (I think it might even have been VB 1.0, I can't remember) which perfectly emulated a Windows 3.1 network login screen (I can't remember the underlying tech, but it was RM-branded and probably Netware-based), complete with working help file and everything.

You logged in as any old dummy account, ran that program, it went full-screen, it even intercepted things like trying to switch away or kill the program (this was pre-Ctrl-Alt-Del providing the logon screen), and it looked and worked pixel-for-pixel identical as a login screen. They you got your target to log in. It faked a password refusal. They would invariably try a couple of times and then move onto another computer. You come along and "log in" with your details and it would let you access ("Must have been typing your password wrong"), and in the user area would be left a nice plain-text list of usernames and passwords tried, which you could then go and try on the REAL login screen at your leisure.

Got admin access to the whole network that way, at least twice, and(because I'm nice) revealed how.

When I was 15, we got admin to the whole network in a way that was so obscure, I had to craft the defence against it for the school network manager, on an OS that had NO concept of security at all (it involved using Word macros to discover hidden drive shares, but it worked and was only about 200 lines of code).

Why is it surprising that 11-year-olds can do this? They *SHOULD* be able to do this already, rather than peeing about in Logo and Scratch. They shouldn't ACTUALLY do it, because of the legal issues involved, but they should be capable of at least worrying the network admin. And I'm a school network admin!

P.S. physics teachers shouldn't use words like "displacement" and make a password like "d15placemen7" from them. Hell, after that I guessed his next 3 passwords without even trying to write a program to do so. Teachers should also NEVER challenge a group of kids to "hack the network, because it'll be a learning experience and you'll find out that we're pretty locked down", especially not when there's a geeky-kid in the room.

Every single Internet Explorer at risk of drive-by hacks until Patch Tuesday

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: A question

I haven't yet met a distro of Linux that doesn't include a command that will automatically update EVERYTHING to the latest stable version. Even Slackware has slackpkg now (and that was THE FIRST Linux distro ever and is generally regarded as being only slightly behind Debian in terms of using up-to-date software). And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING from firefox to plugins to libraries to kernels to drivers. That's the beauty of aptitude and similar systems - it is literally that easy and if you want, they'll do it on a schedule for you. And it won't trash your OS or make it so you can't revert back easily (Windows Restore you say? Good luck doing that from unbootable computers like I've sometimes struggled to do, and even in the command-line environment of a rescue boot, you still aren't guaranteed to get back where you were).

And I've not YET had a single stable Linux update that broke something I used, even when I have some horrendously complex configurations and interdependencies (I'm sure they did somewhere, but I've never seen one), but I've had Windows Updates disabled on many machines because they would just blue-screen X% of the computers at random and require a rebuild if you just let them apply everything they want.

And, as you point out, Windows doesn't update Firefox and all the other programs and NOR DOES WINDOWS PROVIDE THAT FUNCTIONALITY. If the OS doesn't have a package management paradigm in it, then of course each app will end up bundling its own. But on Ubuntu, say, or Slackware, or Fedora, do you think that Flash installs its own cron job to check updates and bug you like mad if they are 0.0.1 versions out of date? No. Because it provides functionality to do that in a proper, centrally-configured way, and such junk wouldn't be allowed in.

Linux updating, and aptitude especially, is one of the things that Linux gets SO right that it's really hard to argue against it. Hell, I logged onto a 4-year-old netbook today to install a program I'd written for demonstrating at an open day. The program needed SDL and about 10 other libraries installed in order to run and the netbook was running Karmic Koala (which is technically obsolete now). A couple of clicks in the package manager, it ran off and downloaded 100Mb of necessary dependencies and libraries, and then it all "just worked". Those machines were basically bare-metal and it just discovered and installed 100Mb of random software that was necessary, downloaded it (with appropriate permission), installed it all in the right places, and did so in about five minutes.

Yet, on Windows, I still have games that take 20+ minutes to install .NET Framework, DirectX etc. libraries that ALREADY EXIST ON THAT MACHINE, in identical versions, but it just takes that long to check and find out, and usually involves downloading a pseudo-installer that downloads a real installer, that runs an MSI, that manually checks dependencies by trawling through filesystems, then downloads missing parts, and THEN starts all over again for the next bit of software. And, in the end, you still aren't guaranteed that you installed hotfix X needed to make it work properly (just had a piece of large, expensive Windows MIS software that needed a particular Windows hotfix installed, a particular version of NET Framework 1, and a particular version of NET Framework 2, etc. and at no point provided any hint that that was what was missing or where to get it from!).

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: So,

It does concern me. That people still are deploying / using IE 10 concerns me greatly. It doesn't affect me directly, however, but that doesn't mean that I a) have no opinion on a public forum on the issue, b) can't express that opinion and c) can't discuss the problem with others.

I commented on a Wii U page the other day but don't own one. Is that forbidden too?

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Oh no! That means every single installation of Windows where I let my users use Internet Explorer as their browser will have to be taken offline.

Oh. Already did that. About 10 years ago. Hell, I have user-agent checking on the proxy that filters the net and IE flags an alert (sadly, so do some old versions of Office and ancient applications that like to use IE as a "plug-in" to get their web access - nothing much lost by blocking of them also, though).

If you're still using IE, you really should have sorted out whatever-problem it was that kept you on it AT LEAST 10 years ago. You can say that all your ActiveX and backend software or whatever "requires" IE, but that doesn't mean you still shouldn't have sorted that problem - by moving to a system that DOESN'T need it.

Psst, wanna block nuisance calls? BT'll do it... for a price

Lee Dowling Silver badge

So the real question is, why does BT allow calls to come through with Caller-ID information that it can't verify is correct?

Caller-ID is a pretty standardised technology and even uses different signalling in different countries. Which suggests that, at some point, the digital/analog conversions the call undergoes pass on that Caller-ID in a text format that can be verified or - if unverifiable - removed. Appropriate punishments for foreign telcos that fail to pass on accurate CallerID would probably be to just remove CallerID from any calls from them to this country (and vice versa), which I imagine would stuff up any number of systems and cause complaints.

This would then allow BT to keep a whitelist of who is providing reliable CallerID (and thus trace spammers) and who isn't (and thus remove the CallerID and let people block unknown numbers as per usual).

But it's all a scam. They know EXACTLY who called who from what number if they even need to know (i.e. police investigations), and they know exactly who to bill or not (or they wouldn't be able to make money). They just don't care because even an unwanted sales call makes them money the second its answered.

I think they're picking at straws hoping people will sign up for this service, when they could do something similar in a SECOND on their network. Hell, why do I have to pay extra to block no-caller-id phone calls at all? Or even to SEE caller-id on a landline? It's all just about making money.

And because of the way that they just don't care, my landline isn't with BT (it's cable), and isn't used anyway and the second I get spam calls on it from ANYWHERE (I have an answering machine of my own, so I'd know about them even if I was out as it logs the calls), I'll be complaining or removing that service from my account.

Landlines are dead, for me because of years of spam on my parent's line that I couldn't block, and I imagine a lot of other people have similarly abandoned them. Hell, on my mobile if I get spam, I put it into a spam contact which has a silent ringtone (and about 12 numbers on it at the moment) and I *NEVER* hear from them again. I can't even do that on my landline without fiddling.

Give me a landline with a service where I dial a number, and it reads the list of previous phonecalls, and lets me BLOCK THEM PERMANENTLY with one press, and where fake Caller-ID *CAN'T* propogate through to my line, and then we'll talk about how much extra I might want to give you for that. Until then, forget it.

Tennessee bloke quits job over satanic wage slip

Lee Dowling Silver badge

616 has a good claim, being on contemporary documents at the time specifically as the number of the beast.

Anything "to the power", that's probably just nonsense. The history of basic exponentiation goes back to the Babylonians, but there's little evidence of it being common knowledge or used in the way we think (i.e. they probably only used it for "square" or "cubic" powers) until the 1500's. And you can sort of see why - there's no need to use it when it's just a short-hand for repeated multiplication, and the ones you're most likely to do if you're applying practical maths are squares and cubes, which have real, physical meanings, and they barely need a shorthand. Hell, throughout my maths degree I barely used higher powers than that for 99% of the time - there's really no need to.

But it's all a load of tosh anyway because nobody can agree on the number and so, short of just blacklisting all numbers, we're stuck with it. If your number is 666 and you resign, it says more about you than your boss's automated system. I also think the same about anyone who makes a fuss about 13 and similar numbers. Life's too short. How the hell does your God expect to do maths if you can't use half the numbers?

And even if you DO believe that, surely fear of the number is just the result of terrorism - being told not to do something because they are associated with something bad. And fear of an abstract concept, like a swastika (an ancient religious symbol, which I still say should have been used as the official symbol to demark toilets if you REALLY wanted to kill its use by right-wing sects), or a number is surely something that's "to be overcome" or whatever if you're a stout religious person.

I honestly see no difference between this and Ron Weasley not being able to say Voldemort. And that's a kids book, for goodness sakes.

British games company says it owns the idea of space marines

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Game over, man. Game over.

I say we take off and nuke the entire company from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

(Combining "space" and "marine" to refer to a marine - a common word for a certain sector of military personnel - that operates in space is not protectable. I mean, come on, what sort of idiots do you take us for? Now, if they were writing a WH40K-themed book or something, yeah, I'd be on your side. But they aren't. They're just writing a book about military people who operate in space, like just about every other sci-fi novel has for the last 40 years.)

City sugar daddies mulling £10bn bid for EE, say sources

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Lucky, lucky customers

I wouldn't worry myself about it. If the price is right for you, buy. Otherwise, don't. It's a simple rule that holds quite a lot of weight when it comes to your own money.

To be honest, EE is already too expensive for not enough actual value for me, so they're in no danger of seeing any of my money anyway. But apparently they have enough to hire Kevin Bacon to make a fool of himself, and to sponsor everything in sight (weren't the BAFTA's the EE BAFTA's this year?), so obviously they're making money somewhere. God knows where, I don't know anyone who uses them.

The same applies to my Virgin connection. When it gets too expensive, I'm out. Simple as that. I have a (deactivated) phone line from BT in the house if I need it (just gives me an automated BT woman at the moment, so it's obviously "live" even if I'm not paying for it), so that's easy to switch to any ADSL provider I like, we don't use the landline at all, and the TV we get is the cheapest they do only because it was part of the package deal. I actually have to switch over from FreeView every time I turn the TV on because it defaults to it, and we barely watch broadcast TV as it is anyway. I'd be quite happy to cut the Virgin, live off a 3G modem for a while, and source an ADSL supplier for equivalent price - it wouldn't take long to find one. I was half-considering putting a cheapo ADSL package on it anyway, because I've gotten rather good at making Linux routers perform IP failover and load balancing over multiple Internet connections at work.

But at the moment, I have no need to change.

In the modern-era, companies have to stay competitive. It will literally take me seconds to cancel the Virgin Media TV and switch to FreeView (it actually TAKES EFFORT to watch Virgin channels in preference to the same channels on Freeview, and it would save me money!), I can activate an ADSL line in days if need be and satisfy myself with a 3G dongle for the interim for only a pound or two (not counting putting my smartphone with 3G into "AP mode"), and the phone line? If it was that important I'd actually pick it up and check messages every month or so, but I don't. If it really came to it, I'd get a phone "for free" with any ADSL connection, or just buy a Skype number or SIP provider or whatever. Same for my mobile phone provider - if it came to it, a contract SIM is nothing and can be had same-day, even keeping the same number (my current number is about 10 years old this year, I think, if not more).

Not everyone has that choice, of course, but in inner-city areas where you have the most customers and the majority of your revenue, your customers have the most choice. Short of some illegal price-fixing, you can't really raise prices too much without making a loss overall.

Vote with your wallets, people. And if the company is still a success, well done to them. But it doesn't mean they'll see *MY* money.

Seagate squeezes out 4TB desktop monster

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Can I format it in FAT16?

Yes, a quick Google says that still even as of Windows 8, you can mount as many NTFS drives as you like (NTFS allows all sorts of fancy mounting now) but if you want drive letters, you can still only go up to Z:. So, basically, if you want things to "just work", you can still only go to Z:. It won't crash and burn, but you'll have to play about if you actually want to use the data on them.

BTW: My post was wrong, apparently that machine was running a Linux 2.2 kernel. And still allowed more than 26 accessible drives / devices without anything "special" being done. Progress, eh?

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Can I format it in FAT16?

I did this once, with an old Pentium that I had Linux on and had an awful lot of old hard drives in it for archive-access and each had at least four partitions on it.

Windows throws a fit, and won't name the drives after Z:, and Linux just adds more letters to the /dev/ entries. At least, that's how it worked years ago when I did that (think it was XP and early Linux 2.6). Hence, I was able to remove the problem by removing the Windows partitions present on the drives and saving myself several partition names for zero loss.

The Register Android App

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Can't say I'd use it.

Can't you just provide an RSS feed, or decent CSS on the website? On the few occasions I might be tempted to keep an eye on The Reg from a phone, I'll just load up Opera thanks, even on my (apparently ancient) Galaxy Ace. No installs taking up more space than I have, no separate program to be security-audited (i.e. don't use it for a year and see if it breaks for others), no specialist hassle to see the content, and no waiting for the app to come out / be fixed / get updated.

Like Slashdot, I'd just much rather you practised what you preached and did the right "IT" thing - just provide a website that isn't locked into a 1920x1600 viewing in only a particular web browser and was designed properly. The entire WAP generation passed us by because of exactly this - by the time people worked out how to do it properly, websites that hadn't bothered but just made their content more accessible actually out-performed and out-classed them. Hell, I've never even loaded up the BBC website on a mobile, even back in the WAP-compatible days, except to laugh at the technology. Just load up a "proper" browser, which isn't beyond the means of any modern device, or even an ageing smartphone, and look at the "proper" webpage.

How about we forget the Android stuff and finally publish an AAAA record in your DNS, eh? But I guess you'll write at least another 10 "IPv4 is gone, everyone should scramble to IPv6" articles before that happens - just like Slashdot do about once a month.

Antivirus update broke our interwebs, howl Win XP users

Lee Dowling Silver badge

"Actions have been taken to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future."

Like the million-and-one previous occasions by just about every AV vendor there is.

And what actions? Putting the damn software you're writing on a single test machine (or even test VM) running one of the (claimed) support platforms once per release? Otherwise known as the most primitive testing regime known to man?

Cable Cowboy lassoes Virgin Media with HUGE £15bn deal

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Dear Customer

Not being funny, but you signed a contract.

Presumably they had some expense that would only be recouped for them if you saw out the contract in full (i.e. installation, cabling, whatever), and by moving you expected them to just release you from that contract at a loss to themselves (there's no guarantee the next resident in your house will use Virgin Media, because they are not bound by your contract).

It's no different to clauses on phone companies, car leasing, or other things. If you agreed to the contract but didn't see out the full-term, and that causes the company a loss (like taking out a £35 contract with a "free" iPhone, and then trying to change to someone else a month down the road and still keep the iPhone), then - yes - an exit fee is perfectly reasonable.

Though I quite often advise people that a reasonable interpretation of a contract they have signed often overrides the words actually written, in your case I don't think they could. Otherwise you would have people who "signed up" for Virgin Media one month and then scarpered the next and the company would go bankrupt just through installation costs.

It might be "sneaky" but it was in the contract, and clearly stated, and there's a good reason to have it in there, and reasonable warning. And if you hadn't breached the contract early, you wouldn't have had to pay it - I presume.

Fairness overrides contract law very often. But I don't think it's fair to sign into a 1, 2 or 3-year contract and then abandon it halfway through because you moved house and didn't want it any more, and the "penalty" is probably a lot less than it would have cost you to fulfil your obligations under the agreement otherwise (that could be only a few months of payments if you had the higher broadband, TV, phone and mobile package, for instance). If you'd remained a Virgin customer, or you'd not signed up to that long a contract, or you were past your initial "non-profitable" part of the contract - as agreed in the contract - then they wouldn't have charged you.

Shocked Zynga investors get a penny per share

Lee Dowling Silver badge

When I first signed up to Facebook, Zygna was complete spam. All my friends were playing FarmVille and whatever else and for the most part I ended up just blocking the apps.

Hilariously, someone still managed to "send" me something to do with Farmville. This was still pre-paying for things on Facebook, so I logged in, took one look at the actual numbers on the game and literally - within a week or so of very casual play - had more "virtual money" in the game than those people who had been spamming me about Farmville for months and playing it every day, tending their crops for hours on end.

I "spent it" all on crap, spammed all those other friends with the crap I sent them, then blocked every Zygna app that appeared from being on my Facebook.

Since then, my Facebook was so locked down that I saw literally nothing but my friends posts and the adverts on the right. Just lately, I've been getting random spam again but, from what I can see, people just aren't playing the games any more. It was a novelty to have a game where you could "ask your friends for help" or whatever, and send each other virtual cushions or whatever it was, but it wore off very quickly. The games themselves really had no balance or strategy to them. Literally within days of just creating a field of the most profitable crop, harvesting, and keeping selling it off, I was able to "afford" virtual items that my friends who'd played for months couldn't.

So if the games were rubbish, weren't balanced, and have now become adverts for spending real money, and people have stopped playing games on Facebook anyway, I don't see why Zygna is worth anything at all.

Don't get me wrong, I abhorred the Free-To-Play culture of gaming for years but just lately I got into things like TF2 and it's actually quite fun to play - the base game was always pretty good anyway, even back in the TF days - but the added value of: get a "rare" item, sell it off, rinse and repeat, etc. does make it more "engaging". It's not something I'd put money into, generally speaking, but I did pay for a few things on TF2 basically because I think Valve do a wonderful job and I bought their "map pack" that pay the community map-makers a bit too (probably a pittance, but it's something). But the game has to be fun and playable, if you're making a game, and even more so if you're making one where you expect people to pay. TF2 is actually good at getting out of your way and not requiring you, or spamming you, to pay money for things. I felt my payment was more like one of those "pay what you think it's worth" kind of indie deals, in terms of TF2.

I don't see Zygna making games good enough to do the same. And even Facebook itself is starting to die off, just waiting to be replaced by the next fad. I don't think Zygna is worth anything at the moment, and in the future it's only going to get worse. I'm just shocked that they actually make any profit at all.

Kickstarter project says open source can blast Death Star costs

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Sirius - The Disclosure Project

I once had an in-depth conversation with someone who genuinely believed that a "crystal" placed in their house by a "healer" helped improve their fortunes and reduce illness within the household.

I also witnessed a "reiki healer" who put a woman on a stool, got her to close her eyes, and the woman "saw colours!".

I'd actually prefer for things like this to be funded by people "who believe", rather than paid for either by myself indirectly (the reiki class was part of a residential weekend for sufferers of a condition my ex-wife had). That way, a kind of natural selection will take place until they either learn about the world or they are bankrupt. By comparison to some of the things I've witnessed, all of that is pretty tame, though.

People are dumb, on average, and half of them are dumber than that.

(On that note, I just got off the phone to a Microsoft customer service rep who told me that my school's volume licensing hasn't yet been activated on the correct accounts because "someone didn't spell 'administrator' in your email correctly in the database", which begs two questions: 1) why was someone typing in my email given the automated junk I've been going through for several weeks which has the correct spelling all over it and 2) why can't someone who works at Microsoft in the volume licensing department spell - of all things - administrator?)

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Look at "reverse auction charity shares" for a different angle

"The fundamental problem with Kickstarter, IndyGoGo, and Crowdrise (insofar as I have been able to assess them) is that there is NO project management there."

Actually, I thought that was one of the greatest strengths. Granted 90% of stuff on there is spam, but 90% of the stuff on eBay is a con too, yet it still works out okay.

Take the Defense Grid 2 kickstarter, for example. The company behind it had a recent successful DG title (with several successful DLC). It had just handed off CS:GO to Valve. It had plans for DG2. But it couldn't get funding, probably because someone looked at "criteria to assess the degree of success" and decided against it. They got SOME money from investors but not enough. They had AMD giving away LOTS of graphics cards in support of the kickstarter, and sponsors from people like Razer and other gaming outfits to push the game through. And *still* they couldn't raise enough, and had to do a kickstarter to get the project rolling.

Kickstarter isn't for those things that have a 100% proven market with secured funding and extreme project management. It's for those projects who just can't take off but have a good idea. That comes with a certain amount of "caveat emptor", of course, but leads to great things. I have supported three projects on there: DG2, Elite:Dangerous (because it was cheap and they've been trying to fund a decent Elite game for DECADES now and made no progress with traditional investors), and DiceCards (a pack of cards with a rendered image on them that depicts various dice, spinners, tokens, etc. that you can use in lots of games - no more carrying around 20 odd-shaped dice or missing that vital stupid dice that has weird probabilities, just draw a card and you're done). Two are major commercial projects that just couldn't get the funding despite having the proof of prior project management and delivery. The other is a guy who's had a wacky idea that he's sent to the printer's and wondered if anyone else used.

Kickstarter is actually more hilarious for the stupid things people back, than the sensible things people don't. Hell, there's a project on there that's got hundreds of thousands for a "programmable" LED torch.

Android gets tipsy on Wine, runs WINDOWS apps

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Strangely relevant

I wrote a little maths program for the school I work for, which has gone down very well and been taken into their standard lessons now. It tests the kids, writes out their results to a network-accessible SQLite file (even simultaneous network access of 24 kids to the same database shared over SMB doesn't worry it - SQLite - what a library!).

Problem is, I wrote it the program in C for Windows using SDL libraries. Now, you *can* recompile it for ARM, throw it through the Android SDK / NDK and run it as a "Android" thing, as far as I'm aware, and get close to something that works on Android without needing to change the code (Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection, written in C, was made to run under Android in this way: http://chris.boyle.name/projects/android-puzzles) . But it's a bodge. A horrible, horrible, bodge. That, after hours of fiddling, I couldn't even get a test program to come out the other end that would work on a tablet. Sure, that's mostly just me and my setup, but it was really horrendous and involved lots of downloading, setting up, reconfiguring, recompiling, etc. just to get to that point.

But, Wine on Andriod, even if it's slow-as-molasses? That, I can use. Hell, I could just throw the same executable at the devices as I do at the network (probably just have to change the path of the network file to a local file) and have done with it. Fabulous. And I don't use enough of the internals of Windows to actually worry about WINE not supporting it or not being able to perform fast enough doing it.

So, where's the download?

Ten 3D printers for this year's modellers

Lee Dowling Silver badge


Though there are a couple of models in the "affordable" range there, they seem to be the cheap junk that has poor quality output. They literally look like someone's attempt to make their own inkjet printer and though I don't doubt they work and are "good enough" for a lot of things, that's all I think of when I look at them. What are we talking about? Three stepper motors, a control board, some supporting struts, belts, chains, gears, and a heated nozzle with a box of raw plastic on top. Just what is in there to cost several thousand pounds?

When the prices come down to something *sensible* for what is basically an inkjet printer but requiring less tolerance, less specialist components, a small bit of heat, and a Z-axis motor, then I can look at them. And though a lot of inkjets are subsidised by their ink costs, there's nothing stopping a big-name manufacturer doing the same for the 3D plastic source material either (stick it in a funny-sized box with a heater, market that as "ink" for the printer, done).

I'd love to have one to tinker with but they are basically tinker-toys at the moment, so anything past £300 is out of the question, and you need to get something vaguely useful out of them for that price quite easily. We're just not there yet.

Incidentally, I went to the BETT exhibition last weekend and despite there being a 3D printer on every stall last year, this year there was nothing. Not one. They can't even sell them to schools who do have the cash to invest in them.

Honestly, I expect to pay £50-100 for a "homebrew" one of these (i.e. the price range of a half-decent commercial inkjet, or some large homebrew lego project), and £300-500 for a full commercial-quality one. Until then, I don't see what market they serve.

Java open-source frameworks 'pose risk' to biz - report

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: You don't understand the recent vulnerability reports.

I agree that acting on untrusted data is the prime concern here and nothing to do with the commands used, but I think the OP's point is that you can quite easily end up using quite complex commands that have knock-on effects that you may not even realise. Both are a concern, and both shouldn't be present in production code without suitable testing. But without KNOWING that X involves Y, especially if it's not obvious, someone could easily use those on untrusted data thinking they are "safe". Like gets() or sprintf() - fine if you KNOW their limits and dangers, but if you don't it's easy to do silly things that can cause you lots of trouble.

UPnP scan shows 50 million network devices open to packet attack

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: There are other solutions @Lee dowling

I have a Steam account full of games. Over 500 at the last count. I play a lot of CS and similar games with "cheat prevention". Hell, I still technically use IRC occasionally for file transfer and all sorts. I've been gaming since DOS and once gamed over a network formed by a special DOS packet driver and some parallel and serial cables daisy-chaining machines together.

My household is also not just me. Hell, half the time I'm gaming with someone else in the same house (my girlfriend and I often play on a remote server of mine - we both come from the same IP in that case to the exact same server but simple NAT means you will ALWAYS come from a different port - the server detects it the same as every game on the planet does - problem solved without lifting a finger or even noticing), on the same connection, who hasn't "tweaked" their machine at all (but I'm in control of the router which has ZERO UPnP options enabled and port-forwards only for things I need it for, not single applications - and certainly not games - running on my laptop). You can torrent from N machines simultaneously, for any number of N (may not be as fast as if I opened every port, but it works just the same). Hell, my girlfriend is never off Skype to her parents who also use Skype, from an Italian house with a router that doesn't even support UPnP (it predates anything like that). I haven't got any special setup - a cheap cable modem (used to be an ADSL router before that, but same thing applied there) with UPnP turned off, a software firewall on the machine in default settings (so yet-another-thing that gets in the way of port-forwards of UPnP doing its job anyway) and NOTHING plugged into programs about port-forwarding or anything else.

The wireless in the house covers not just PC's and laptops but game consoles too, and even CCTV (which, admittedly, does have a single port-forward so I can access it remotely from my phone but also does NOT support UPnP anyway!). None of them have problems download, updating, streaming, or playing online (the only "problem" is sheer bandwidth if we're all watching iPlayer and doing things at the same time).

I don't expect the lay-person to sort ANYTHING. There is nothing to sort. Everything works, unless you're running a SERVER. That's the only reason to have exposed ports. And if you're running a server, and exposed to the Internet, you should damn well know what you're forwarding and where and control it. But UPnP fixes this "problem" that you describe by letting ANY program on ANY computer on your network as ANY user to open ports to point at whatever they like, without anything in the way of decent authentication. It's literally a handful of lines to expose your port 139/445 on your laptop to the world as, say, 11139/11445 and then tell someone about it. For every legitimate program that "benefits" (i.e. the programmers can be lazy in implementation and lessen the cost of running a single external "connection handler" server), there are a million that will abuse it.

I don't even use IPv6 yet because I refuse to abandon the NAT that provides this arrangement (and hence gives the need for port-forwarding and UPnP) BY DEFAULT. IPv6 supporters have something against NAT and won't support it, and though I'm all IPv6-ready and working, there's nothing I'll do about it until I can just translate the external address into an internal NAT'd address and thereby DELIBERATELY blocking internal services from being made external without my express knowledge. Because NAT'ing just causes me that few problems and solves that many that I won't do without it.

Disable UPnP. Go do it now. Any problems you have will still be there, and you're unlikely to notice any difference. The worst that happens is you won't get as many incoming connections on a torrent swarm, but to be honest, the torrent protocol handles this wonderfully by getting others to act as intermediaries (sound familiar to running an external server?) and after a while you'll be at full-whack anyway.

But, even if you're telling the truth, if your programs are that crappy that they can't detect two different users on the same IP but from different ports (and most of the "cheat prevention" things you mention are actually to stop ghosting so they are working EXACTLY as designed if they rely on one IP = all the same house, for instance), or can't knock their way out of a NAT'd network like just about every home broadband user on the planet has, then they really need to take a course in simple networking.

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: There are other solutions

I have disabled UPNP on not only every machine I've configured but every network too. In fact, I don't even think about it specifically - my network interfaces just don't expose anything to the net except those things I MAKE exposed, and there is nothing capable of responding to UPnP requests anyway (that's all sitting behind the firewall machine - Internet -> Firewall -> Network and the Linux Firewall doesn't know what UPnP even is).

And I have NEVER had a problem, and nor have any of my users (in the school I'm in now, there is precisely ONE port-forward, accepting packets from precisely ONE IP (my home address) and redirecting them to precisely ONE internal IP (a remote-access server)). An ordinary person has NO NEED to forward a port, at all, ever, whatsoever. Skype works, FTP works, TeamViewer, media streaming, etc. all just work. Every game on my Steam list works perfectly online (except for Worms Revolution, but that's just crappy coding and not limited to just me having problems, and nothing to do with UPnP).

If you want to set up a home game server, or HTTP server or whatever, I would class you in "not an ordinary person" and the two minutes it takes to learn how to make an exception for a single-port are not exactly taxing on such a user (and much more secure - everything OFF by default, and punch holes only where absolutely necessary).

UPnP is not only dangerous (any application with any privilege on your computer can punch holes in your firewall to redirect external ports to wherever they like), but unnecessary. It's been switched off since the day I read about it after seeing it in my router's configuration page, and it's NEVER been turned on on any machine I own. It's stupid, and useless.

Turn it off. See what you actually MISS.

Wii-U boat torpedoes Nintendo's '¥20bn profit' into ¥20bn loss

Lee Dowling Silver badge

The Wii-U isn't something I'd touch. That's pretty telling for a Nintendo product, given that I've owned most of the things they've pumped out over the years and been pretty happy with them.

The "screen" controllers are too expensive (the backward compatibility might be there in some games but there's no real guarantee of that, and thus it's much more expensive that the Wii was for many years in comparison). The Mario game is too much about having two half-decent players trying to do everything on the same screen (which is not the thing to do in the casual market, because it either gets crowded, or you have to suffer fools, quite a lot). And I haven't seen much else that actually entices (about the only other thing I've stumbled across is that zombie game, and that's just NOT something that anyone who owns a Wii for casual gaming will rush out to buy - wrong genre, too much stress on quick action, etc. from what I saw).

As such, I honestly haven't even looked at it in a shop. I have a Wii, it does for what I bought it for (quick, cheap console to plonk a child in front of, or to bring out at random dinner parties where random adults - mostly non-gamers - just want to bowl a few balls on something they understand even if they never game). I don't see the point of the Wii-U.

Can I even transfer my store games from Wii to Wii-U? How does that work? Do I have to abandon the games I bought on the store for the Wii?

Personally, I think Nintendo would have made a lot more money with a Wii (or Wii upgrade) that allowed multiple Wii-Fits, had HD graphics and let you use an Android / iPhone app to turn them into additional controllers (or even screens, maybe) over Bluetooth (though that would have hit their controller sales, it would have made the console much more appealing, especially in the "we need one more controller for everyone to be able to play" scenario).

I didn't "get" the Wii-U. I owned a Gameboy, a SNES, an N64, a Gamecube, and a Wii. But I don't "get" the Wii-U at all.

Review: Intel 335 240GB SSD

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: 7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare

No different to bad / reallocated sectors that spinning media now transparently re-allocate on-the-fly when there's a problem and barely bother to tell you about it via SMART reporting (it's a minor statistic published nowadays, doesn't even warrant a more detail SMART warning/error report).

There is no way to ensure that the data on a drive isn't still present (and, no, nobody has ever recovered "historical" data from a magnetic drive even with the most expensive hardware in the world - go research it - but that doesn't mean that you overwrote everything, as you worry about with SSD). It doesn't matter the technology.

Don't give away drives that had your personal data on if you're worried about this. Do what every sensible person in the world does - just destroy the drive. No problems, no issues, no time wasted waiting for a disk to write several times over its entire capacity (if it can even do that any more), and no worry about "what you might have forgot" in terms of reallocated sectors, low level formatting, on-board Flash cache, etc.

Burn the damn thing down to ash. Problem solved. No matter what the technology.

Lotus 1-2-3 rebooted: My trip back to the old (named) range

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Never used Lotus 1-2-3, but I had something called LotusWorks on my first PC, which was kind of based on Lotus 1-2-3 (and certainly was compatible in terms of files, IIRC). It was FABULOUS. An integrated DOS Office suite where you could multitask and even split the screen.

That was my first real introduction to proper word-processing (and not just throwing characters onto a screen and being able to change them), spread-sheets and databases. Damn thing is near-invisible on Google now, though, but it was fabulous at the time.

Edit: Screenshots here: http://www.danielsays.com/ss-gallery-dos-lotusworks-r10.html for those that are interested.

Star Trek saviour JJ Abrams joins the dark side: Star Wars VII

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: James Bond @Lee Dowling

"Yet here you are posting an essay on a news story about new Star Wars being directed by the new Star Trek director?"

Apparently it's forbidden to post on a public article, and mainly on a subject which concerns the post you replied to (i.e. whether people will abandon a film franchise "just because" or will plod along buying things from it regardless), without being a "fan" of the particular example the article is about, then?

Just because I *skimmed* the article, and skimmed the comments, and cherry-picked an interesting (and relevant) side-question to reply to doesn't mean I actually care about Star Trek/Wars at all. Hell, if that was the case, this month I've apparently got to be an expert on / fan of the Oric-1 (never owned one), helium-filled hard disks (don't exist yet), cryptography (I am, but let's not get into the gritty details too much), Twitter (don't use it, except for work, believe it or not), Gangnam Style (can't stand the tune), OfCom, and about four dozen other subjects.

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: James Bond

What do we think? I don't know. I haven't watched a Bond since the first Daniel Craig one. The guy was more wooden than a entire forest - strangely his acting as a side-character in one of the Tomb Raider movies was infinitely better, and if you can't do justice to Bond on your first outing (my personal thoughts on "rebooting" Bond back to the darker Fleming original aside), on your first serious "big break", then I have no interest in subjecting myself further.

Similarly, Red Dwarf I haven't watched since Series 8 except as literal "test" episodes for myself. The whole "Back To Earth" thing was a shambles that I didn't even get through the first full episode of. I gave them another go for Series 10 and - although I watched two episodes of that - I was so disappointed that I'd rather just not watch them. Certainly, I consider my Red Dwarf DVD collection complete without them, as I do my Bond collection without Daniel Craig.

Personally, I don't "get" Star Wars. And Star Trek is like the equivalent of "ER in space", as far as I'm concerned. Interesting enough to watch, not enough to become a "fan" of. Unfortunately, I find Trek even worse than that and wouldn't bother to buy the DVD, and the movies - dear God, no. Star Wars was great if you were a kid of a certain age for the first 2/3 movies. All the modern ones? I have literally never seen past about 10 minutes of them.

Bear in mind that I do have a terminal case of nerd. Honestly. I am every male character from The Big Bang Theory all over - they have even "pinched" some of my own lines. I don't get the Star Trek / Wars fandom but if i did, I certainly would enforce any "blacklisting" of a certain movie / actor / director quite happily.

At one point, I would have been the sort of person who buys a "complete" box set, just because. "Supporting the film I *do* like", I used to think of it as. And then I realised that all I'm doing is paying people to destroy my favourite movies in retrospect.. I gave my Blackadder series 1 disc to my ex last time I moved and never bothered to re-buy it - but I have the others. A "complete" set to me now is whatever I enjoy watching - like having Matrix but not having those other unmentionable sequels. Having Alien and Aliens (best movie ever) and (yes, I admit it) Alien 3 and then nothing else from that franchise. It makes life more fun, it doesn't destroy your impressions of a good movie, and it saves you money.

I can't be the only one.

The Oric-1 is 30

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Why is it that all these companies go bust, or get "acquired" several times, and the directors still end up directing some huge companies in the same sector? I mean, I know in the 80's there was an awful lot of churn and it was the done thing to tank a company into the ground, lose all your developers, then start up another company, poach all said developers and start again as if nothing happened. I just wasn't aware that it was common practice among hardware companies of the time too.

I'm not sure I'd want to deal with a company whose director, or even a senior staff, have a history of bankruptcies, millions of pounds of debts, failed companies, etc. Isn't it about time we had some decent legal framework in place to make sure you can't just build a "tech" company, spend money you don't have to do something (cable companies laying cable, building hardware, deploying software, etc.), abandon it when you can't afford to pay the debts you've run up, declare corporate bankruptcy, and then move on as if nothing happened to another company doing exactly the same?

Helium: Can it prevent the onset of Shingles?

Lee Dowling Silver badge

To join onto my post, I actually liken it to CPU's a few years back.

Sure, it was possible that we could all eek out another 500MHz out of the top-end chips and do things that way. But, actually, most people never hit that kind of bottleneck. And, sure, we could invest in hyperthreading and get more done that way for certain compromises, but most serious computers just switched it off. But you could just slap another CPU core down on the die at the more ordinary clocks and it's actually MUCH more useful, and much more valuable to the average user. And now dual-core is seen as a minimum, quad-core is pretty ordinary, and even 8-core machines no longer raise eyebrows. Meanwhile, all the hyperthreading and single-core-but-3.5GHz guys are stuck in very specialised niches where they can be.

All that research is going to be wasted in just the same way, unless you can provide real VALUE for doing this. A slight increase in disk speed at the cost of writes? Few are going to take that payoff over just using SSD which improves almost everything.

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Or, you could just start pricing SSD's sensibly and then putting your research into SSD instead, and then everyone would be happy.

I'm honestly holding onto money from a year, eighteen months ago to replace one of the two 1Tb drives in my laptop with an SSD. Given that I can't get past 256Gb without going into the realm of more than my laptop is worth, I've continued to hold off.

If you're really worried about speed, you'll be using SSD's by now anyway. If you're not, you're holding off for SSD's to become more affordable. All the stop-gap and major research required to get to the next stage of magnetic disks isn't really worth it unless you have an urgent need for it. Just make a cheaper SSD. A 512Gb SSD should cost no more than 1.5-2 times a 256Gb SSD, especially if you have models that ALL use the same board but just extra chips (or different capacity chips) on them. Fact is, that's just not true at the moment. As soon as it is, it'll mean that 1Tb SSD's will become viable and then we'll ALL have one.

I started with a 20Mb hard disk back on a 386 (and that, we paid a fortune to upgrade from the stock 10Mb disk). I'm not stranger to good-old-spinning-metal. But the fact is that I'd be loathe to buy anything with SSD's in at the current prices, but - like 99.99% of all people and networks - don't need to go mad on hard disks when a cheap one will do. If this raises the costs of hard disks for a speed improvement inferior to an SSD upgrade - and SSD doesn't change, nobody really wins. But if they could just forget about magnetic recording entirely (like audio cassettes, video tape, professional audio, and a whole host of other sticklers for magnetic recording have already done, the only real exception being backup tape that can take DAYS to do its job) and instead make SSD's a bit cheaper, everyone wins.

Silly gits upload private crypto keys to public GitHub projects

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: but ...

Without getting deep into the maths (which I was trying to avoid because there had been only little mention of the maths at the point I posted), I was trying to show that what you call a "key" in terms of an SSH key file is NOT equivalent to what you might refer to as a key in mathematical cryptographic terms.

The simple fact that you can derive a public "key" (file) from a private "key" (file), but not the other way around, was what I was getting at. It's a combination of more than just a single number.

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: but ...

No, they are not equivalent. Maths modulo high primes is the entire security BECAUSE it's not a mechanism that you can just reverse like that, and the private key is not "just a prime".

In general, the private key contains both the public key and some other large prime, whereas the public key is only a large prime (to get a simple analogy). The public key is actually derivable from the private key (that's how you MAKE a public key!) but NOT vice-versa (or PKE encryption would be useless). The private key contains extra, private information that should not be revealed and is not in any way derivable from the public key within a reasonable length of time.

If you swap the keys, not only does the file format checking code freak out, but you'll find that you can't get any further. The internal mathematics does (sometimes) involve commutative ciphers when playing with these primes internally, but the "keys" you get out of the end of it are NOT interchangeable.

Lee Dowling Silver badge


Although I doubt that every hit is for a key file that shouldn't be exposed (rather than a bug report mentioning it, or a code comment, or even a slice of code that looks for that line as a sanity check or similar, not to mention test keys and examples), it's still a stupid thing to upload if you are working on software.

And, as the blog points out, it's called a PRIVATE key in several places for a very good reason. Hell, most software that utilises them (SSH and Apache for a start, I believe) won't let you have them with certain UNIX permissions on the file because they KNOW how stupid that is to do and they'll just refuse to continue.

It is very interesting, though, what a well-crafted search can do. This is why I never listen to the "oh, no-one will ever know it's there but me" arguments that some admins try to use. They don't need to KNOW it's there. They just need to go looking for things that they know are interesting and the computer will help them find it. I've seen any amount of "private" website administration URL's in the past that were explicitly listed in robots.txt - they were bright enough to know that someone might find their secret area, but too stupid to realise that robots.txt would point you STRAIGHT AT IT if you were querying directly. Of course, the real security thing to do is just not have those folders accessible, which solves all your problems immediately. You can't stumble across a folder that doesn't exist, or is hidden behind a PROPER access control.

If you have something that needs securing, secure it.

This is also the reason I hate any and all "indexing" of documents or files. I don't CARE how well you think you've designed the system and encrypted the indices and whatever else. There's no reason to run through my documents folders and even network shares, and record details of everything in there. A file search through a folder is rare enough, and quick enough with modern hardware, that I don't even need an index to find anything I want within a reasonable time and - done properly - does NOT leave traces of even the searches I performed, or the documents I have, on my user account.

"Oh, look, the administrator's private account with no privileges just searched for a file on the network called X..." - Guess what the next target they will look for is - EVEN if you only use administrator accounts for the absolute minimum where they are necessary - all that does is raise the probability of that file being "interesting" to someone.

Twitter must unmask racist French twits or face $1,300-a-DAY fine

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Mmmm

"Something similar to this happened to Spamhaus as I remember."

It did, but it initially moved to move the case to higher US courts, which was the mistake (i.e. recognising any sort of US jurisdiction by asking them to move it to a more appropriate US court). To quote Wikipedia:

"The court, presided over by Judge Charles Kocoras, proceeded with the case against Spamhaus without considering the international jurisdiction issue, prompting British MP Derek Wyatt to call for the judge to be suspended from office."

"Spamhaus subsequently announced that it would ignore the judgement because default judgements issued by U.S. courts without a trial "have no validity in the U.K. and cannot be enforced under the British legal system".

And though it went through several rounds, the damages supposedly awarded at each stage were never really collectable. In the end, the suit resulted in a $3 (yes, three dollar) judgement, with costs to be met by the other side.

But if you start from the very beginning saying "You have no jurisdiction", you are not recognising the court jurisdiction at all. As always, such things are best handled by a lawyer, anyway.

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Mmmm

I operate several websites in the UK.

If a US court decides to instruct me to do something, because of something on those websites, I'll write back a nice letter pointing out that they do not have jurisdiction.

If, and when, an EU or UK court does the same, I will comply 100% fully with the law.

At no time is it illegal to not comply with a foreign court's ruling that lacks jurisdiction. Otherwise, quite literally, some court in the Middle East, say, could sentence a Brit for being gay even if they never stepped foot in the country that the court is in, and even if the offence is perfectly legal in Britain.

The question really is who has jurisdiction? And what portion of Twitter can be told what to do by a French court? Because even if they have "twitter.fr", for example, the chances are that the server and the data have never, ever been deployed in France and that not one Twitter employee has ever set foot in the country on business. In that case, about the worst they could do is threaten certain Twitter CEO's that they might be arrested on entry to France (which would result in a very interesting case should it ever come to court, but would likely be thrown out before it even started because of the laws on jurisdiction), and maybe confiscate the domain name.

Even if you HAVE jurisdiction over some entity - say, Twitter France Ltd or whatever - then that jurisdiction is only over them, not their US parent. You can fine them. You can sanction them. But what you can't do is make the US data holders do anything. Most probably they would get the US data holders to at least filter the material from France, but equally they could just dissolve the French company because it can't comply (and wouldn't want to annoy the French courts) and have done with it.

Jurisdiction in the modern era is really, really complicated in terms of knock-on effects, but also really, really simple in terms of the law. I'm not in France, so I can't commit a crime which comes under French jurisdiction. It's not quite so simple electronically, but you can't "fine" someone electronically either - you have to take it to a court.

The Supreme Court of Outer Mongolia can send me all the legal demands they like. Until they go to a British court and get the correct paperwork (e.g. extradition, etc.), they have no jurisdiction over me. The worst they can do is freeze my Monogolian assets (none), stop me entering the country or arrest me on entry, or apply to a British court. And the trial at the British court will almost certainly be more costly and difficult than whatever they are sending me letters for.

The British court is the only one with jurisdiction over me at the moment. However, if I was - say - committing fraud or hacking into the Whitehouse, I quite reasonably expect to see an application for extradition come through to a British court. With companies, who can't be "extradited", that's much harder. And with crimes that aren't crimes in other jurisdictions, that's even harder. And when there's no legal presence in a particular country at all, that's even harder.

The big question really is: What does the French court and the prosecutor expect to achieve, and would it harm Twitter's international image not to comply more than it would to comply?

'Op! Op! Op!' Gangnam Style earns Google $8m

Lee Dowling Silver badge

You're maths is off.

ZERO POINT 69 cents per play.

That's only 3500 times as much as your highest-earning track on YouTube. Which I don't see as unreasonable if what you put up isn't worldwide top-10 "hits" that start social trends, but something smaller.

But, anyway - if it was that bad, you wouldn't do it. Or you're doing deliberately knowing it's a loss-leader in order to get actual revenue elsewhere.

And, to be honest, even on the largest of sites I've run, you'll make more money from just having decent, relevant content - and Google ads - than you'll make any other way from the same content. My brother runs a Scouting site that - until he gave up Scouting just recently - pulled in enough from Google ads each year to fund the site hosting, etc. and a couple of trips for the kids (it still pays for its own hosting, but he doesn't really "work" on it as much any more). It's been running since 1997, at least, and that's always been the case. Hell, when tent suppliers and camping companies phone him up, they could never offer more for even a huge, direct advert splat on the front-page than Google were giving him for random ads anyway. The money he got wouldn't have provided a wage, but he did a damn sight better than the 0.000192 cents per click you were getting in terms of revenue per visitor.

It makes me wonder what you're doing, why you bother, and why you think Google should give you "free" money for whatever it is you're doing.

Ofcom mulls dishing out a world of hertz for RFID tags, radio cars

Lee Dowling Silver badge

If you have the brains to have a smart meter, to monitor it regularly, to test all your appliances against it, and change your usage of such appliances because of what you find, you didn't need a smart meter at all. You just needed a cheap £10 plug-in power meter and/or maybe a slightly dearer one with magnetic clamps to test lighting rings etc. without electrocuting yourself.

Smart meters aren't for consumers. They are for the utilities. To combat fraud (though I doubt they are losing anything to the average home through that), to save on money on meter readers, and to start implementing their next great project - how to cut off the electricity to paying customers (which is one of those business plans that's really doomed to failure without 100% uptake and support from the customer).

If I wanted a pretty little graph of how much electricity I'm using, it would take about 10 minutes and things I have in the house already. Why that application requires dedicated spectrum, I have no idea. Wouldn't it be cheaper and easier to just piggyback on the GSM infrastructure like almost all of those embedded-type applications that need remote telemetry already do? Hell, I've built a GPS box for my car that talks over GSM, and it was literally cobbled together from my bits-box (old 3G modems and ancient PCMCIA GSM modems are very handy for that sort of thing), and my employer reboots their ADSL modems by text message from a similar setup I built.

Microsoft blasts PC makers: It's YOUR fault Windows 8 crash landed

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: IT's what happens when you don't listen to your customers

Since when did MS get to dictate what people produced or stocked? Whether you can have their badge or OS, okay, bit overbearing - and been hung over the coals in terms of monopolistic practices before - but if that's what you want to do...

But to tell a manufacturer (sometimes direct competitors in certain industries) what to make, and expect them to make it, and stock it, and push it - where does that come from? If people aren't buying product X, I'll be damned if the company that makes software to go on product X will tell me to make more or stock more or sell more, and that it's my fault their software isn't selling. They could ask, politely, given certain balancing rewards for myself but to dictate it?

MS really just don't know what their customers, suppliers, partners, or anyone else wants. They are solely interested in just selling whatever junk they can make by any means necessary, and everybody else better play along. Maybe that's why they have to buy a part of Dell to actually make a break into the hardware side.

We really need a manufacturer's revolt in the PC market, where people just say "enough", and start selling Android, or even Apple(!) desktops as "PC's" and so dilute the meaning to the point where Windows doesn't mean anything any more.

Cautious Brits less likely than US firms to puff on clouds - survey

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: 'The UK attitude is it is inherently less safe with a third party'

The problem isn't the safety - it's the liability.

At the end of the day, no matter what service provider you use, you are taking on the liability and passing off the chore of actually doing the job. Sure, you can get contracts that pass the liability on, but you still have to go to court, those sort of agreements cost more for a reason and, at the end of the day, you still don't win. You still have to explain how your data got somewhere else.

It's not a question of whether I trust Amazon not to lose my data or disseminate it or not. It's a question of whose neck it is if I do that. And the answer, generally speaking with ordinary business contracts, is *mine*. Even if I can go to court and show I took reasonable steps and that whatever-provider failed in their contractual duty that they agreed to - it's still the hassle I have to endure, still the argument and cost of doing that, and - ultimately - still my neck.

"Oh, I gave all our data to this tramp in the street who said he'd look after it for me, but he didn't" is no different, in the eyes of data protection law and similar to "Oh, I gave all our data to this reliable multi-national in the street who said he'd look after it for me, but they didn't".

And while my neck's on the line - I'll take it upon myself to do what's necessary. And that means putting it only on systems under my control, as far as reasonably possible. "Cloud" junk and third-parties just confuse the issue in order to "reduce" costs (but the reduction never really filters back to give anyone any more money - Amazon or whoever still have to buy machines, put them in a datacenter, put my data on them, secure it, etc. etc. etc. AND CHARGE A PROFIT).

Hydrogen on demand from silicon nanospheres - just add water

Lee Dowling Silver badge

I don't want to refill anything. Water is a finite resource too, not to mention purified water sufficient to perform this trick and the silica needed to make it work in the first place.

I want something that will last 2000+ charges and still work without me having to top it up, like the £50 car battery I use as the most powerful example of this, or the Li-Ion in my laptop, or the £2 AA rechargeable. As soon as we get to the point of "just add" anything, that anything will become more expensive, especially if you have to do it every charge (sure, you can top up an - old - car battery with some purified water and even acid if you're determined, but it's literally an occasional thing compared to how often the battery is depleted and recharged - i.e. every trip - and with modern batteries you can literally have a car go for ten years of use and not require maintenance at all and still hold a full-enough charge in winter).

Hydrogen fuel cells hold no special place in my geek-heart. All you do is shift the product I have to buy from batteries (which I buy so rarely it hardly matters) to little fuel canisters to charge the batteries. And until those fuel canisters give me the equivalent of 2000 times the run time of a set of batteries, I'm still running at a loss there.

They may be "greener" (in some senses) but they are far from ideal and may even be worse than we already have (now we have to make fuel cells, and canisters that can hold a dangerous fuel safely, and the fuel itself - instead of just a battery). And from a consumer point of view, they have to have fuel be sold for literally PENCE before they become advantageous over conventional batteries (and how long before kids work out a way to make those fuel canisters explode by some trick, and they buy up the stock on Halloween?).

Fuel cells are a step backwards, until they can literally recycle (like a rechargeable battery) or do not exhaust their fuel over their lifetime.

How to build a BONKERS 7.5TB, 10GbE test lab for under £60,000

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Just how many readers do you think have 60 grand to throw at a "test lab" that don't already know how to do the same thing cheaper and better?

Honestly, Reg, that's the sort of thing I see on gamer forums with idiots throwing thousands of pounds at Microsoft in order to run a storage array. I don't expect it on here.

I'd have been infinitely more interested in the article if it wasn't just "let's throw money at something that's not a problem if you have that kind of money", and even more if it wasn't focused solely on MS (which the writer claims he doesn't have the correct licensing for any further upgrade at the start - not surprising after the amount he's already wasted on it).

Give us something "real world" that isn't aimed at people who could do a better job and write a better article than your own writers.

Germany's RTL pulls free-to-air channels off terrestrial TV

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Broadcast TV is dying anyway, over any service. The fact is that cable, for example, can offer interactive and on-demand TV which DVB-T can't. Sure, YouView would have you believe the opposite but that's basically a cheat using an Internet connection (the DVB-T side of it is entirely inconsequential).

And after DVB-T, DVB-S (satellite) is the next candidate for removal anyway. The one-way nature is on its way out. I no longer wait for scheduled programs to appear on broadcast services. I tell my TV what to watch and watch it (manually or automatically). The stuff on 4oD is some of the best of Channel 4's archives. I'd rather watch that when I like than just about anything they show at the fixed times they've decided upon. Same for even iPlayer. Many's the time I've read about something interesting on BBC and then watched it on iPlayer the next night, 24 hours after it stopped showing.

Gone are the days where we revolve around the TV schedule. My ex-father-in-law talks about the days when Hancock was on TV and all the pubs would empty to go and watch it. Those days are pretty much gone. Now they go TO the pub with a recording of it (whether time-shifted, or whatever) so they don't miss out on either. Or watch it AFTER coming home from the pub, long after it's finished.

Broadcast TV is dead. It's just a question of when everyone notices. Cable can survive because it *can* offer on-demand viewing. The satellite version of the same really relies on huge amounts of bandwidth showing movies at enough staggered times that you can watch at a more convenient time (or some kind of Internet connection anyway). The terrestrial TV could never have coped with it, just by the way the technology works.

I'll be glad when I don't see TV listings published in papers. I give it until my daughter gets to my age, at the outside.

AT&T 'violates net neutrality' by NOT charging twice for same data

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: Why not just use Wifi?

Because Wifi doesn't receive phone calls, which is probably the primary purpose of having a phone connected to a mobile phone network.

And the ONLY people with femtocells are - because of the stupid policy to not supply these devices without an awful lot of fuss and threat from the customer - people who can't get a mobile phone signal at home and buy them in order to get that.

The whole data thing is a side-issue. But it would be quite nice for myself to get one of these (once they stop the messing about with not supplying them openly) so that I get better reception in my 1930's-build, solid-brick house which is a matter of a hundred yards from a huge cell-phone tower and I'm lucky to get 1 "bar" inside (and can lose a phone call by standing in the wrong place in my house).

Ideally, I'd like them to just boost the signal from the tower but that's asking a bit much for one customer. The next best thing is a femtocell. And I have Wifi on my phone, so it hardly matters except as a side-issue for data - but what DOES matter is getting phone calls when people ring my widely-publicised phone-number (I don't even care about ringing out - I have a home phone that's NOT widely-publicised because I don't want it to be).

And, yes, there are redirections you can do through third-party providers to make your phone calls get rerouted but, to be honest, that's a lot more hassle than just not doing anything, giving the revenue to the landline company instead, and waiting for the day when femtocells appear as something you can actually just order like any other normal, desired product.

SimCity to teach SimMaths and SimScience at school

Lee Dowling Silver badge

Re: It is dumb

"If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."

But, yeah, you don't learn from software unless you've learned from elsewhere first.

I work in schools. Secondary schools now literally have interactive multimedia DVD's with animations of bunsen burners because the kids can't be allowed real ones. You can even get chemistry software where you tip beaker of substance A into bowl of substance B and it goes "boom" and fires the virtual beaker across the virtual room when you happen to create a particularly bad reaction.

Life really is that pathetic these days.