* Posts by Paul Taylor

28 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Jan 2008

Acer debuts thin and light notebooks for the masses

Paul Taylor

what watt?

> and reckons the smart adapter this means tha saves 1,752 watt per year

> – or 15 watt bulb to be lit for 116 days.

What is a watt per year? Does this mean that its power consumption varies with age?

Come on, I don't expect this kind of ignorance with units from a techie site.

Web giants urged to bar Phorm

Paul Taylor

got acknowledgement for opt-out

I received an acknowledgement from website-exclusion@phorm.com that mentioned the name of my website (so it was not just a blanket autoreply) and said that they had excluded it.

It's noticeable from the various web pages and email addresses that "webwise" and "phorm" are essentially the same thing.

Paul Taylor

I've asked for exclusion of my site

My puny little site has nothing of any commercial interest, but if we all write to ask for exclusion then they will have to spend time dealing with the requests.

The advice on the webpage cited is essentially to put "Agent * Disallow /" in your robots.txt, in other words to opt of of being indexed by Google, and thereby to lose all of your customers. Thank you, very helpful.

You have to email website-exclusion@webwise.com to get excluded. There is no form or other kind of automation, so some poor sod is going to have to read through all of the messages. That is, unless they ignore them.

The advice in the autoreply from this email is that your contact details have to be up to date with "whois", whereas individuals registering .uk domain names can opt out of having these on the public pages. Another attempt to bully people into surrendering their privacy.

Bletchley Park fires up replica Turing Bombe

Paul Taylor


Neither the article nor the Bletchley Park web site explains where they got the valves from for the reconstruction. Does anyone still make them, or were they reclaimed from other equipment?

Indefinite liability for online libel must end

Paul Taylor

So even the Victorian ruling was crazy!

> An article appeared in a newspaper in 1830 that defamed the Duke of Brunswick.

> He learned of that article 17 years later and sent a servant to buy a back issue

> from the publisher (and, for good measure, he obtained a second copy from

> the British Museum).

> The court ruled that the action was not time barred:

>> an act of publication occurred when the servant took delivery of the paper.

Parcelforce website cold-shoulders Linux lovers

Paul Taylor

FF on MacOS 10.3

I tried using the ParcelForce site with Firefox on MacOS 10.3. It didn't actually refuse to talk to me, but at some point there was a crucial button that, probably as a result of the typefaces, was too far across the fixed width panel to be accessible.

French court fines Google over trade marked keywords

Paul Taylor

they're standard French words

I wouldn't have known that "voyageurs du monde" and "terre aventure" were names of companies if you hadn't told me. Why shouldn't I type these ordinary French words into Google and expect to get a variety of travel companies back? Why should one company be allowed a monopoly on ordinary words?

Home Office denies remote snooping plan

Paul Taylor
Black Helicopters

re: go back to real crimes, like burglary and GBH

Don't you understand? PC Plod is jealous because everyone else's job nowadays, whatever it's supposed to be called, just consists of sitting behind a computer screen, and he wants to be the same. He just wants to type "burglary at 123 Acacia Ave" into Google and get a signed confession back. So the plan is to log every activity, thereby turning all crime into computer crime. Anything that can't be logged didn't happen.

Junk science and booze tax - a study in spin

Paul Taylor

A glass of red wine for me, then.

> "statistically significant reduction of all causes of mortality ... for moderate drinking." Moderate is defined as men who drink between 29g and 43g daily, and women between 14g and 29g daily. Respectively, that's about three pints of beer for men, and a couple of glasses of wine for women. Per day.

What!? I can't drink that much beer - I'll be up all night!

Phisher-besieged PayPal sends users faux log-in page

Paul Taylor

Fault of the mail-reading prograns

"Recipients who configured their systems to read email as HTML wouldn't notice the link was incorrect unless they were paying close attention."

As the first comment says, this is a reason to use plain text mail readers.

But surely the GUI ones could help here? They just need to parse the HTML, recognising obfuscations such as http://www.bank.com@blah:phishery.com, and display suspicious links (such as those whose sites don't match the From: address) in a different colour!

Visa trials PIN payment card to fight online fraud

Paul Taylor
Thumb Down

Nationwide already has it, but for pointless things

Nationwide BS issued its customers earlier this year with calculator-like gadgets that generate one-time passcodes. I thought for one foolish moment that they might be used in the way that Steve Medway and Giles Jones suggest.

But no, the only time when I have been asked to use this gadget is to pay utility bills. That is, after I have already entered my online banking password, and (separately) set up the details of accounts to which transfers can be made. In other words, the online payment situations that are least in need of extra security. I can only suppose that this is another weapon in the campaign to bully me into using direct debit.

My brother is also a Nationwide customer, but currently lives in the US. He was sent one of these things and had to use it to transfer money between his own British bank accounts. However, having not used it for a while, he mis-typed his PIN. so the gadget blocked the card. As a result, he had to send card and PIN back across the pond so that someone could put it in a Nationwide ATM to re-set it. So the entire security benefit was negated.

Meanwhile, I have only been asked to use "Verified byVisa" for transactions for 4 and 12 pounds. Not for booking flights or hotels or any other large purchases.

Unfortunately, the banks and most of their customers believe that complicated implies secure, and don't have a clue about security protocols.

IPS dismissed 14 over data protection

Paul Taylor

Voltaire & Byng

Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres.

BBC's TV detector vans to remain a state secret

Paul Taylor

Only need a licence if you watch live

I got hassle from the TVLA in ~1992, 2003 & 2007. The last lot of mail was extremely offensive, beginning from the assumption that I was breaking the law. Only on page three was the possibility entertained that I didn't have one of the damn things, and then I was invited to "update their database", after which they would come and check! However, despite giving them neither my name nor my telephone number, eventually I got a phone call, from a guy who was extremely polite, and began with "I presume you don't have a TV?".

As I gather that they have got even more aggressive now, my line is that I do not intend to apply for a licence NOT to have a TV.

There was an OUT-LAW article in El Reg in early 2007 that I can no longer find a propos of watching football live on your computer at work (not that any El Reg reader would do such a thing). As the technologies cannot be kept apart indefinitely, I contacted Kim Walker of Pinsent Masons. The gist of his advice was that you only need a licence if you watch LIVE, not from an archive. He referred me to their web pages at

www.out-law.com/page-6993 7465 and 7504

I also contacted the BBC, basically to find out whether I was welcome to read their news website. (This has annoyingly more and more video on it, usually consisting of some ugly politician or journalist talking to a camera.) Going via the BBC website got no response, but then they launched the trial for the archive, so I subscribed to that essentially as a way of getting an answer to my question. I got a personal, but anonymous, reply that also said that I only needed a licence to watch TV LIVE, and in particular not to participate in the archive trial.

Obviously you should not take that as legal advice, but I can forward these reponses to anyone who needs them; contact via PaulTaylor.EU

Das überdatabase: Inside Wacky Jacqui's motherbrain

Paul Taylor
Black Helicopters

not the content of our email

The most chilling part of this story is the vehement denial that they intend to store the contents of our phone calls and emails. We all know what it means when a politician denies something.

I once thought that the quantity of data involved would be our safeguard, but Moore's law is against us. I'm sorry to day that every El Reg reader who has contributed to the spectacular improvements in hardware over the last 30 years has been an accessory to this new tyrrany.

What kind of tyrrany is it? I have been trying to work this out. Plainly completely different from anything else in history. The nearest analogy I can think of is the Spanish Inquistion - a society in which conformity in minute detail is ruthlessly enforced. Whilst obviously there aren't going to be any burnings at the stake, Big Brother will think nothing of handing over the details of our lives and our opinions to our (potential) employers, insurers, etc, so that Heretics will be unable to get jobs or healthcare.

Royal Society: Schools should show creationism 'respect'

Paul Taylor

Teach a genuine debunked theory

This argument that we should teach creationism as an example of how to challenge ideas in science isn't going to go away, we should have a good reply to it.

We should teach a genuine case-study of a scientific hypothesis that had some evidence in favour of it, but was shown to be wrong. The best example is phlogiston.

This lasted for about a century, coincidently being born more or less at the same time as the Royal Society.

ASA rules against citing 'hits' in ads

Paul Taylor

Objective measure?

I was hoping that one of the comments might point us to some objective study of how to count non-robot visitors to a website, or even an algorithm for doing so.

Knights Templar to Vatican: Give us back our assets

Paul Taylor

While they're at it...

How about some other Franco-Catholic attrocities, such as the "Crusade" against the Cathars, ie the genocide in the Languedoc in the early 13th century, executed in part by our very own Simon de Montfort, and the St Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572?

Black hats attack gaping DNS hole

Paul Taylor

Freeddom2Surf aka pipex aka Tiscali

quoth www.doxpara.com, "Your name server, at, appears vulnerable to DNS Cache Poisoning. All requests came from the following source port: 32785"

Oyster system failure causes travel misery

Paul Taylor
Black Helicopters

Rotten oysters

Why isn't there an independent web site for publishing complaints about this system?

After the breach of privacy, the thing that most irks me about is is the 3 quid fine for not touching out.

The system is inherently misconceived, because the same action is used for both entry and exit, and there is no way of checking or correcting the status. The equipment is also faulty.

I have re-touched my card on exit on the instructions of a ticket collector, only to discover later that I've been charged an extra 4 quid for a journey that I never made. And this was after asking a booking clerk to check it.

I have had the system check me in, without opening the gates. It probably happens the other way round too, but not to me so far.

The part of the system that I use most - the DLR - has no gates, but readers that are invisible in either light rain or moderate sunshine. The ones on bendy buses are also illegible in the summer. There is no way of knowing whether you're checked in/out or not.

All of this is plainly designed to allow them to collect as many fines as possible.

One of these days it is inevitable that I will be stopped by an officious ticket collector after a reader has failed to check me in. It would be useful to have some legal advice from OUT-LAW about what to do in this situation.

Finally, linking this weekend's Oyster failure to the story about a third of the working population needing CRB checks, no doubt the police will come up with a story of a stabbing or rape over the weekend where they could have caught the perpetrator if only they had had complete Oyster records.

Tech giants team for online ID cards

Paul Taylor

old browsers

"Other information - such as whether or not the browser is over 21 years old - could also be verified by the website by querying ..."

$USER_AGENT, maybe? Nice to hear that they don't insist that we use this morning's release of IE/FF/whatever.

Are there any "adult" browsers? Or have I misunderstood something?

Boris' crime map plan comes unstuck

Paul Taylor

but which streets?

Thanks for the links to the Met's crime maps, but basically they're only suitable for bean counters.

I can't make much use of the info on house breaking, but it would be useful to know whether I'm more likely to be mugged in such-and-such a street on the way home from the station, or in the parallel one.

Ex-Sun chief to fight Davis in '42 days' by-election

Paul Taylor
Thumb Up

He needs an opponent to make his point

How about applying some basic philosophy of science here? David Davis

can't claim victory for his stand unless there is an opportunity to falsify it,

ie another candidate standing against him. Kelvin MacKenzie sound like

an excellent choice of straw man. The votes can kill two birds with one pebble.

Google Translate speaks in (more) tongues

Paul Taylor
Thumb Down

ok at German but useless at Italian and Spanish

I have found Google's translator ok at German but useless at Italian and Spanish.

The obvious problem is that (the gender of) the subject pronoun of a verb is omitted in these two languages (whilst that of inanimate nouns and adjectives is stated repeatedly, eg "lA miA cartA bancariA e` arrivatA"). Less clealy explicable is that Google doesn't understand the use of impersonal pronouns, eg "se puede hablar Espanol" ("you can speak Spanish", but literally, "it can speak itself Spanish").

My Italian teacher once set us a passage from Italo Calvino, whose vocabulary is enormous, even though he came from Argentina. In order to avoid spending several hours turning over the pages of the dictionary, and knowing that Google couldn't actually render it into English, I looked up the passage on the web and fed it to the translator. I still had to look up a couple of hundred words!

On the other hand, just try reading something in Japanese without it!

Apple update trick triples Safari share

Paul Taylor

What about giving it to their own users?

Apple may be foisting Safari on Micros**t users in an underhand way, but I have one of their laptops and couldn't work out how to download Safari v3, so I switched to Firefox.

In fact, Apple stopped talking to me ages ago, since I won't upgrade from MacOS 7.3. I'm thinking of Linuxing the thing now. I only got it in the first place because I didn't realise how good Linux distributions are nowadays at recognising hardware. In fact, several times now Ubuntu has recognised hardware and filetypes that the Mac couldn't.

So, bye bye Steve!

Bladerunner and biometrics: Heathrow T5 unveiled

Paul Taylor

Your dabs

"Civil liberties campaigners worry that bio-data hungry police and security hawks will peck at this digital cache of biometric information, but BAA assured me that the building will wipe each passenger's details from its mind within 24 hours"

You're an exceedingly credulous lawyer if you believe that this "assurance" will last beyond the initial hype.

BT 'security upgrade' causes email headaches

Paul Taylor

Use another ISP

I have a BT line but ADSL from Freedom2Surf, which handles my outgoing mail, whilst Daily forwards incoming mail from PaulTaylor.EU. F2S doesn't mind the different From: address. However, it did get into a big jam last week, probably through over-enthusiastic spam filtering, so I just changed the forwarding at Daily.

BTW, is there an organised campaign against BT's penalty charges for those of us who are not willing to give them unrestricted access to our bank accounts ("direct debit")? I asked them to explain how receiving payment by standing order cost them anything, but their reply was just more "good news" about "direct debit".

Euro lawyers see tortuous road ahead for Microsoft's Yahoo! bid

Paul Taylor
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Microsoft monopoly

"The obvious initial fear could be that Microsoft would bundle search into Windows. "

Shame on you! Can't you think of a more imaginative conspiracy theory than that?

A lot of (naive) people think that the Internet = the Web = their search engine. If Micros**t own both their PCs and their search engine, it has total control over their use of the Web. Micros**t Windows will make them use Explo*er, which will send them to Micros**t Yahoo!, which will deny knowledge of any web pages that haven't been created by Micros**t tools, and deliver its own search results in a form that only Explo*er can render. A much more effective way of disposing of your rivals than just making their code run v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

Major HTML update unveiled

Paul Taylor

Still way inferior to TeX

All web-related software is a huge pile of crap, that only ever seems to get bigger and crappier.

When he invented HTML and HTTP, Tim Berners-Lee was at CERN, surrounded by mathematicians and physicists. At least a significant proportion of these people must already have been using LaTeX. Yet after two decades, the typographical output of web browsers is still way inferior to what TeX could produce when Don Knuth first released it. I say that <i>even for plain text</i> - whilst there are very good programs like Hevea for translating a decent language (LaTeX) into HTML/CSS crap, the result on the web browser is still awful.