* Posts by Dave

642 publicly visible posts • joined 1 Apr 2007


Beeb invites net comments from unconnected


The Library

Of course, they're all reading it at work, the local library or a cybercafe.

I wonder how many people who have work access to the net don't have it at home from choice?

Data watchdog clears mobile phone directory



Nowhere did I ever agree to have my phone number in a directory, and my landline is also ex-directory. If I can find one, I invariably select the 'do not use this number for marketing' option.

What they should do is text everyone on the database to inform them of their entry on it and provide a free number to text a response to opt in/out/whatever. That way, if you don't get a text you're probably still safe, and if you do, then you know they've already got your details so actively opting out doesn't reveal anything they don't know.


@John Dougald McCallum

My solution to withheld numbers is called the answerphone. Telesales invariably don't leave a message, so I don't even need to call them back. If they do leave a message I still don't have to call them back.

However, I hope the 118800 mob use a valid CLI (118800, perhaps?) and that anyone who discovers what it is spreads it around real quick so we all know what to ignore.

Engineers are troublesome 'expert loners', says prof


Didn't we do this in the UK already?

Back in 1980 there was the Finniston Report for the UK government about the engineering profession. Back then they recognised that fresh graduates from university normally took another couple of years to have academia trained out of them and industria trained in. (i.e. welcome to the real world). At the time it resulted in BSc/MEng courses being offered by various universities in partnership with industry, to give targeted industrial training to complement the academic learning, so that turning up for work with a shiny new degree, the graduate already knew a lot about how the company worked, having had the practical experience.

I think it's been watered down a bit since then, probably because producing high-quality graduates costs money and the big defence firms that signed up for it mostly don't exist now. And yes, I did one of those early courses, and yes I think it was a better way of doing things.

Site news: Unique commenter handles coming


If it tells me...

I'm sorry I can't do that, Dave

then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow the pod bay doors in.

Brown to Sugar: 'You're hired'


Apprentice Brown

It's obvious, isn't it. Some time this week it will be necessary for Sir Alan to summon Brown to his boardroom and tell him "You're Fired". Hopefully with the TV cameras present.

Google eyeballs planted on 92% of top websites


Firefox Plugins

My solution is to block all that stuff with the ubiquitous Firefox plugins. I assume (possibly naively) that this removes me from much of this tracking.

Jacqui whacks shock jock crock



I trust he'll have the sense to sue in the UK rather than the US? Or if he doesn't, that the US judge will dismiss his case. Although, think of the US witnesses that Wacky Jacqui would be able to call to testify as to his character...

She's called his bluff, let's hope he doesn't waste any more of his (or our) money on it.

Dutch cat skinner publishes critics' personal details


Running Away

I'd never get a chance to do that - our cats tend to just not come back one day, presumably ending up as roadkill or just expiring due to illness (feline cardiomyopathy, an apparently healthy cat can just drop dead) under a bush somewhere. The only one that got taken to the vet was 21 and didn't have a bag-worthy pelt at that point anyway.

Cats are vicious creatures though - nice and cute and furry when controlling their humans, but lethal to mice and birds. There's probably at least a dozen little carcasses in our garden - I now leave them for whatever scavenger comes and takes them every few days.

As for publishing details - if she found them on-line via websites or whois information then technically the details were already in the public domain.

Hiding secret messages in internet traffic: a new how-to


Too late at night

My brain has failed to grasp this one. If I'm running Wireshark, it shows retransmissions, so it seems to me that the technique isn't particularly secret, more relying on the fact that in normal use people wouldn't be comparing the retries with the original. It shouldn't be that difficult to hook up a monitor that held onto packets until it saw the ack, and if it saw a retransmission, it could compare the payload with the original.

Water utility auditor resigns, transfers $9m offshore


Access Card

So why was his keycard still working? That should have been handed in as he left the premises for the last time. There's your fundamental security breach, they let him back on the premises.

Sockpuppeting British politico resigns from Wikisupremecourt



Wikipedia is actually fairly good on some topics, it has some well-written explanations. Just make sure you double-check the facts elsewhere before relying on it, and avoid contentious issues where vested interests will introduce bias (think evolution...)

Apple 'Kindle killer' rumor gets touch-screen



Most ebooks use E-Ink or similar for the display because it does not require power to maintain a static image. It's also somewhat slow at updating compared to an LCD as used on computer displays, so unless there's some new wizardry about to be unveiled, it's hard to have a single screen that does both jobs at a sensible cost.

'Chief whip' tweet suggests early general election


Hive Mind

Is it possible for the UK population to form a hive mind and generate a Twitter account? Quite apart from the fact that we need an election to clear the air a bit, the country is going to have to endure the Tories and LibDems raising the issue repeatedly until Brown does call an election.

Vatican declares 'the internet is blessed'


Broaden your horizons

I find that I've gained enormous benefit from the friends I've made on-line. I married one of them, back in the days before it became popular to meet via the internet. I've visited parts of the world that I might not have had the incentive to do, and met some of my on-line friends during the process. So why is it bad? Perhaps because I'm one of those who prefer to spend my time talking to friends, wherever and however, than sitting in a cold, draughty church with someone droning on up front and trying to get a bunch of reluctant people to sing? Oh, and I've been known to go shopping on Sundays as well.

Taxpayer coughs for AOL Connie's flat


Drain Cleaning

£1,036 seems a bit excessive. When my drains developed a blockage I went down to the local B&Q and bought a set of drain rods for £15. That fixed the problem.

No I'm not going to use the Paris icon, it's too obvious.

Government rejects Lords' surveillance criticism

Black Helicopters

Wrong Planet

Or at least I wish they were on a different one. I don't trust the government with any of my personal data and do my best to avoid giving them more than I have to. If that means being less co-operative with police investigations (as in no I will not willingly supply them with DNA or fingerprints because I don't believe they'd destroy them afterwards) then they can reap what they sow. Part of the Lords' reasoning for abolishing ID cards back in the '50s was because it would cause a breach in trust between police and public, I believe that with the present state of legislation we are already suffering such a breach.

Google News stumbles again


And Today...

I was getting refused or 'page contains no data' from www.google.co.uk earlier this morning, so they've still got a dodgy cable somewhere.

Apple patents all-seeing display



I think there's a bug in El Reg's comment code, it wouldn't let me have '419' as a title a few days ago. It won't allow numeric-only titles.

Franco had one ball: Official


Which side?

Is there a correlation here? Did they all lose the left one, resulting in a bias to the right? Do communist dictators lose the right one?

Please kill this cookie monster to save Europe's websites



This could get interesting, with some of the Phorm statements that to avoid them logging all your stuff you'd need one of their cookies. Hopefully they'll have to find a more sensible way to control their opt-in, given that I don't give them permission to modify my computer (storing a cookie is a modification).

Asus to slash retail Eee PC line-up


Oh Dear

I guess if it's Windows-only then I won't be buying one. I'm still happy with my AspireOne running Linux.

Banned US shock-jock demands Clinton intervention



If the US wants to let him over here, they'll just have to lighten up on who they're prepared to let into the US. Given that they appear to be aware of this aspect, it's not surprising that they've coming down on Jacqui's side.

She's got to get one right occasionally, exception to prove the rule and all that.

Malware infested MPs' PCs inflate leak risk


@Richard Porter

They're perfectly correct, and using government-approved mathematics, just like the Treasury.

Unsafe at any speed: Memcpy() banished in Redmond



Last time I looked, memcpy has a length parameter, unlike strcpy. Admittedly it's obscured by the size_t so there's a bit of brain work required to convert to bytes for real buffer size, but it's there. I assume the new function has an explicit check (i.e. slower) to accomplish the same thing at runtime but can still be broken by a programming error in specifying buffer size.

UK.gov international net clean-up plan gathers dust


Onto a loser

I can't quite see the US managing to ban much, given their First Amendment. Even if their government did try it on, hopefully it would get thrown out by the courts. Perhaps we need one over here now that the government is demonstrating excessive cluelessness regarding the internet.

Airline websites forced to clean up


Unexpected Charges

Hasn't one airline mentioned in your article just decided to charge people 40 Euros to print out a boarding card at the airport?

Expenses row MPs warned to change cash card PINs


On the Bright Side

Next time you make a mistake with the taxman or other government official over money, you've now got a precedent to call upon, "it was a mistake, here's the sum in question, no need for any charges or fines".

Watchdog bans Natasha Richardson ski helmet ad


419 ads

Does this mean that all those adverts from Nigerians where they mention the death of someone and some free money up for grabs can also be banned from re-use by the ASA?

Mine's the one with the million dollars in the pocket.

Oh, and you've got bug in your comment software, it wouldn't let me use just '419' as a title.

eBay fees rejig will still hit casual auctioneers


Five bits of tat

So if you're an infrequent seller and you have a one-off bit of kit costing $100, you put five bogus free listings for five rocks from your garden at $0.10 to use up the five, then list the $100 item at original fee cost. Adjust the number of rocks if you have other real low-price items to list.

Or (b), don't use eBay.

Asda clamps down on killer teaspoons


Time to Leave

Given that I don't normally carry anything that 'proves' my age (even credit cards probably don't count now), I'd just give them one chance to relent and then leave the whole trolley load behind and walk out.

Swedish chopper chief demands fireproof bras


Inside Knowledge

Perhaps the CO is married to one of the female pilots, or is dating (or has dated) one of them? In that case he might have first-hand knowledge of what they wear under the uniform.

Mozilla mauls Microsoft on IE, Windows 7 bundle


Uses for IE

When I've had a new Windows install, the first thing I do with IE is go to the Mozilla site and download Firefox, which gets installed as default browser. Then I use IE for Windows Update and pretty much nothing else, unless it's a work machine and I'm inside their firewall accessing Sharepoint.

Linux is not a dominant force in the desktop environment, much as some might like it to be, and usually comes with several browsers bundled. Apple gives less choice, but then you probably knew that when you signed up to their culture and bought one of their machines.

Conservative US shock-jock to sue Wacky Jacqui


Where to sue?

So is he going to sue in a US court or a UK one? Any US judge worth his gavel would probably say it's out of his jurisdiction, any UK judge would hopefully invoke the Streisand effect and throw the case out - had he not made a fuss about it, I suspect that most of us would have cheerfully forgotten him within a week. Or perhaps find in his favour and award him a penny in damages but not costs.

Open source closes gap on Microsoft's next Silverlight


Re: Why

I'll second this one, the trick is to ignore it and hope it fades away. I have enough other plugins to maintain, I don't really need another one that largely duplicates functionality that I've already got.

Safari, Opera browsers patch-shy, says study



If it's that bad on updates then your university needs to update its 386 machines to something a bit faster. It doesn't happen that often, and I find it very quick. The fact that it restores your tabs if you want means that a reboot isn't that painful.

T-Mobile getting out of blighty?



That's a scary thought. I'm morally opposed to giving Murdoch any of my money and I don't think my contract has a get-out clause I could invoke if he got his hands on it. And I just started a new one :-(


Free phone unlocking?

So if they decide to terminate my contract before time, I assume they'll unlock my phone for free so I can use it on an alternative network?

They've been pretty good since I shifted to them a couple of years ago, customer service was pleasantly good when I screwed up an upgrade. It would be a shame to see them go.

Firefox users caught in crossfire of warring add-ons


NoScript Adverts?

I have to say I never really bothered looking at the page. I was aware that updates to NoScript caused it to open a tab when I restarted the browser, but most times I'd click the little X and close it before it had even finished rendering so I didn't even notice what was on the page. I guess if he's being paid per ad fetched then some money got made when I restarted the browser, but as I only tend to do that when it crashes, it's not often.

Kebabs pose 'no danger whatsoever', Russians claim


@Luther Blissett

Ugh! Where's the mind bleach? I have this vague, formless image of the Rt Hon. Home Secretary in the same pose as Alicia Silverstone.

Obama declares war on Ireland over tech tax avoidance


@Eddie Edwards

Python scripts? Surely old Monty isn't being brought back? Although, let's face it, some current government thinking on both sides of the Atlantic would be more suited to being part of a cult TV comedy classic.


Britain Finally Wins

Isn't it ironic that a country that was founded because it didn't like paying taxes without voting rights has managed to develop an institution like the IRS over the years. If you're in any way associated with the US you're going to be taxed wherever you are in the world, whether you've got a vote on the matter or not, and the IRS will find you wherever you try to hide.

BOFH: Spontaneous Legal Combustion


Not Hard

I thought 5B was rather soft, actually.



I only had a chocolate chip cookie and I ate that at tea break this morning.

Home Office 'ring of steel' fails the pig plague test


Exit Checks

They might count them in reasonably reliably, but so far this year the passport check booths at Heathrow T3 have been unmanned more times than they've been manned when I've passed through. That means they don't know who's still here.

Bye bye BlackBerry mail


Push Email

I've got push email on my Nokia S60-based E71. It talks quite happily with my IMAP server at home. It even has a free add-on that lets me sync my work email with the company Exchange server and has enough awareness of corporate policy to make sure I've got a lock code on the device to make it harder for thieves to gain access to my data. So, no Blackberry, no Windows and it's not an iPhone.

Jacqui drops central snooping database



I'd like to propose an extension to SMTP to allow users to connect to other IP addresses at random (determining the participants still TBD), do a TLS and SMTP handshake and then send a pile of random data to /dev/null at the remote site. That way it's hard to do deep packet inspection of content in transit, seeing as it's encrypted random data, and by sending it all over the place, it's hard for the government to determine which connects are real information and which are random data.

Microsoft's idea of Family Protection? Block Google



Don't let Gordon Brown know your thoughts on taxes. As far as he's concerned there's no difference between avoidance and evasion, he wants all of your money, whether he's entitled to it by law or not.

Budget reaction: Credit insurance good, all else bad



My car is ten years old this month. It's low mileage (about 70k), I've had it since new and it just passed its MOT with no problems. What's the point of changing it?

Microsoft targets Barmy Army with Silverlight


Re Urrr...

Don't tell Microsoft - they'll end up showing pictures of empty grounds in India, while the real action is in progress in South Africa.