* Posts by Barrie Shepherd

320 posts • joined 6 Feb 2008


NASA hires Nokia to build first 4G network on the Moon as part of plan to boldly go back to lunar surface by 2024

Barrie Shepherd

Re: 5G

....and a MPS (Moon Positioning System) constellation to keep it all singing from the same timing sheet.

Australia sues Google over data collection practices that merged DoubleClick data to create single user profiles

Barrie Shepherd

An Australian government body takes a private entity to court because they are doing what the Australian Government has legislated other Australian government entities, and pseudo government entities, should be able to do.

Such hypocritical irony "We can, you can't "

(Not that im defending any of Googles actions which are considerable overeach anyway)

UK govt finds £200,000 under sofa to kick off research into improving mobile connectivity on nation's crap railways

Barrie Shepherd

I can save the Government some of the £200,000.

The chances of working through technical issues, permissions and protocols for attaching any sort of equipment to the Overhead Line Equipment structures is naff all.

As part of the 25 Kv AC overhead line system the structures are also part of the traction 'Earth Return' path. Active electronics attached to them will require considerable protection from the high currents and impulse noise in the contact wire while trains pass through drawing potentially 200 odd amps.

Any power supply, for the BTS, will require considerable filtering and will itself have to be protected by, externally, becoming part of the return current system to prevent dangerous touch potentials. What about battery support? where will that be located? There is often little room in the railway corridor for more infrastructure. In many cases there are no general power supplies (as in domestic types) in the vicinity of the track anyway, providing those will add to costs. Tapping the OLE power could be an option - but at high cost and unreliability, as sections of OLE can be isolated for railway maintenance activities. (as a side note I don't think the Railways supply agreements for the use of OLE power allow them to use it for non operational purposes anyway) Solar cells and the like is even more infrastructure to go wrong (and be stolen).

Providing telecoms links to the units will offer similar complexities.

Then you have the matter of BTS maintenance. The Railway Electrical Engineers will most likely refuse access to the structures, to maintain the BTS equipment, unless under an isolation i.e. the OLE disconnected and earthed. You can't have some random Telco tech climbing ladders up the gantry to attend to a broken BTS. The permissions and protocols for work on OLE are onerous, and take time to arrange, but they need to as 25 Kv is unforgiving.

When there is a derailment the OLE tends to suffer significantly so any BTS will be wiped out.

Ask yourself why the Railways signal engineers do not save money and attach signals to the OLE? It is just far too problematic, even passive signs (speed limits, restricted clearances etc.) are, in most cases, considered a no no.

Then ask why Network Rail spent millions building new towers/rooms for the the GSM-R equipment if they could have just stuck it on the OLE gantry.

This has been talked about in many railways over many years and large scale implementations, to my knowledge, have never materialised. I'm aware of some limited implementation on some European lines for GSM-R but am not aware of any public BTS kit attached to OLE structures.

The report is thus simple;

No option for using existing railway operational infrastructure exists. Improvement of public wireless coverage in the railway corridor can only be effectively achieved by Telcos developing stand alone masts and infrastructure, preferably a safe distance from the railway safety zones. Some opportunity exists for sharing of existing railway buildings and apparatus rooms but it is not considered that this opportunity helps in many areas where existing coverage is poor. Improvements in wireless distribution, inside trains, can be made but these will only be successful if Telcos provide the necessary improvement in coverage and capacity to the areas along the rail corridors - much as they do for the motorway corridors.

(please remit £199,999.99)

Brit police's use of facial-recognition tech is lawful, no need to question us, cops' lawyer tells Court of Appeal

Barrie Shepherd

Re: This is legislation which affects everyone, immediately and continuously

"A non-vote is a vote for the status quo."

That didn't work for BREXIT.

UK police's face recognition tech breaks human rights laws. Outlaw it, civil rights group urges Court of Appeal

Barrie Shepherd

Re: What's a "Human Right"?

" if the Thin Blue Line accuse you of a crime in one place and AFR "catches" you elsewhere, it will help you. "

The problem with that argument is that 'you' don't have access to the ANPR and 'the thin blue line' will not go trawling through ANPR datasets because it may prove their suspicions wrong, and they may have to declare it to the defense.

Even if the ANPR data showed your car to be somewhere else the prosecution will claim that is no proof 'you' were in it (that logic only works in reverse when 'you' are considered the driver for all ANPR detected offences unless 'you' can prove otherwise.

Health Sec Hancock says UK will use Apple-Google API for virus contact-tracing app after all (even though Apple were right rotters)

Barrie Shepherd

Re: "we discovered a technical barrier that every other country [...] is also now hitting."

".............. our mainstream media sites are now written by semi-illiterate cheap or zero-hour arts grads who copy what they read on Twitter or what press release was emailed to them - without any sort of fact checking or independent thought at all."

As is Government policy it would seem.

Winter is coming, and with it the UK's COVID-19 contact-tracing app – though health minister says it's not a priority

Barrie Shepherd

It's all Apple's fault, apparently.

But we all knew that before HM Govm't spent a load of money trying to develop something that they knew would not work in the Apple walled garden.

But hey why listen to the technologists when BoJo has spoken (probably with Cummings's arm pulling his vocal chords.}

UK govt publishes contracts granting Amazon, Microsoft, Google and AI firms access to COVID-19 health data

Barrie Shepherd

Lost it's purpose - no longer Public Health more a profit scheme

I really don't get it.

To be effective the Gov. need as many of us as possible to use the APP and submit to the Track and Trace activity.

So why make the whole thing an effective commercial activity guaranteed to put a lot of people off installing the APP, and engaging with the system, given that every Tom, Dick and Harry will potentially have access to what may be sensitive personal data - even if claimed to be 'anonymised'

How much more support would there be for the simpler, non centralised APP, and Track and Trace activity only accessible to Health Professionals, and the data protected by Law from snooping (read RIPA) and use for ANY other purpose.

I guess the answer is the COVID virus has already taught the government that they have a compliant population, that accepts draconian restriction to their lives, so why not collect a load of data which we can sell off to commercial operations and provide material for endless PhD Thesis's.

It's not that we can legally get on a train and head to London to protest about the whole sorry mess - as we are under effective house arrest.

(Now waiting for the 'If you have nothing to hide.....' response from No 10.)

Legal complaint lodged with UK data watchdog over claims coronavirus Test and Trace programme flouts GDPR

Barrie Shepherd

Re: So what's the problem?

"So what's the problem?"

The problem is that this is a Public Health data, something which my be very personal.

Historically data about your health matters are personal and not shared outside of the medical practitioners who need access for your treatment.

The Government has refused to put any legislation around the Track & Trace activity to limit the reach of what the data may be used for or who can legitimately (for health reasons) access it.They intend to retain the data for 20 years! Why?

The data will be passing across the sight of at least three private organisations and will be viewed by employees of those organisation. Those employees will be using their own personal computers with, apparently, no audit of security. In other words the whole activity may have more holes than my kitchen sieve.

Then consider that, without legislation prohibiting it, the data will be available to any Tom Dick or Harry who has been granted access to data under the RIPA laws.

At least Australia rushed through very simple legislation to prevent abuse of the data or access for any other purpose than fighting Corona. I would urge those of you interested to read though the page and a half to see what abuses the Australian Government felt may occur if the tracking data was not protected


If you bought a CRT monitor, TV 13+ years ago, hold on a little longer, there may be a small check for you

Barrie Shepherd

Oh for the day when there is a class action against lawyers for taking too long to agree settlement in a class action.

Contact-tracer spoofing is already happening – and it's dangerously simple to do

Barrie Shepherd

"Sounds very like some sort of euphemism to me. In which case "I should be so lucky...""

If it's the euphemism I'm thinking of the Govt. made that illegal from 1st June - so maybe the questioning is more to do with getting you to self incriminate than 'contact tracing' :-)

Twitter, Reddit and pals super unhappy US visa hopefuls have to declare their online handles to Uncle Sam

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Question (not a Merkin)

"however Americans are entitled to the protections of their constitution in whichever country they happen to be in."

Dont tell them that they will be wanting to carry guns down Whitehall. The American Constitution ends at the boarders of the US, Americans are subject to the rules of the country they are in.

Laughing UK health secretary launches COVID-19 Test and Trace programme with glitchy website and no phone app

Barrie Shepherd

Heard on the radio this morning that the Track & Tracers have been told to use their own PC's for this work i.e. not issued with secure PC's. What can of worms does that open?

I will be putting the appropriate numbers in my telephone black list which will divert the calls to Lenny.

Highways England waves around £62m contract for National Traffic Information Service after brief chat with vendors

Barrie Shepherd

Re: While They're Tinkering

"a) have public access to the traffic cameras back"

Motorway cameras are still available https://www.motorwaycameras.co.uk/

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Utterley Useless

"And as for smart motorways ........"

Biggest oxymoron ever !!

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Utterley Useless

"You forgot the excessive use of the variable speed limit system when neither the traffic volume nor current conditions justify it"

Don't know about the rest of the country but they are honest about it on the M1 Nottingham - Sheffield North section - the lovely overhead signs proclaim "Speed Restrictions for Air Quality Control" - on a road running through countryside with hardly any residences nearby.

Record-breaking Aussie boffins send 44.2 terabits a second screaming down 75km of fiber from single chip

Barrie Shepherd

Staggering - I was impressed when I started work in 1970 and we were squeezing 960 telephone channels down a 4 MHz coaxial cable! Then we got 30 channels down an ordinary telephone quad and the rapid expansion of digital comms began.

This development just shows how innovation can continually improve the things we thought were already at "maximum smoke"

Campaign groups warn GCHQ can re-identify UK's phones from COVID-19 contact-tracing app data

Barrie Shepherd

"The existing legal framework for the app, currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight, is inadequate to protect people from misuse of their data, as noted by the Joint Committee on Human Rights."

Australia has a two page Act to cover this;


Take that and add a "cannot be accessed via RIPA" clause and it's done and dusted.

Importantly it also addresses third party coercion or abuse;

9 Coercing the use of COVIDSafe

(1) A person must not require that another person:

(a) download COVIDSafe to a mobile telecommunications device; or

(b) have COVIDSafe in operation on a mobile telecommunications device; or

(c) consent to uploading COVID app data from a mobile telecommunications device to the National COVIDSafe Data Store.

(2) A person must not:

(a) refuse to enter into, or continue, a contract or arrangement with another person (including a contract of employment); or

(b) take adverse action (within the meaning of the Fair Work Act 2009) against another person; or

(c) refuse to allow another person to enter premises; or

(d) refuse to allow another person to participate in an activity; or

(e) refuse to receive goods or services from another person; or

(f) refuse to provide goods or services to another person;

on the ground that, or on grounds that include the ground that, the other person:

(g) has not downloaded COVIDSafe to a mobile telecommunications device; or

(h) does not have COVIDSafe in operation on a mobile telecommunications device; or

(i) has not consented to uploading COVID app data from a mobile telecommunications device to the National COVIDSafe Data Store.

UK's Ministry of Defence: We'll harvest and anonymise private COVID-19 apps' tracing data by handing it to 'behavioural science' arm

Barrie Shepherd

With each revelation this APP is quickly becoming a dead APP - much like the parrot.

Huge if true... Trump explodes as he learns open source could erode China tech ban

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Yeah right

"You call that satire now, but you just wait and see what happens if the orange oaf gets to see it"

He would not recognise it as satire, probably does not know what satire is. Would probably rant about closing down Open Sorce.

Barrie Shepherd

Brilliant - could be a script for a revival of Spitting Images's "The Presidents Brain is Missing".

NHS contact tracing app isn't really anonymous, is riddled with bugs, and is open to abuse. Good thing we're not in the middle of a pandemic, eh?

Barrie Shepherd

Underlying Legislation

I've posted in a previous thread asking why there is not underlying legislation to support the APP and make it clear the data is for a single use only.

The Australians have manged it in a couple of pages, well worth a read to see what issues they perceived could occur - for example secondary use along the lines of "You can't come in here unless you have the APP on your phone" becomes illegal, as does "You must download the APP to come to work"

Worth a read to see what the Aus government thought could go wrong! (it's only a couple of pages)


Surprise surprise! Hostile states are hacking coronavirus vaccine research, warn UK and USA intelligence

Barrie Shepherd

So will the NHS centralised Track & Tracing APP will be secure from snoopers? /s

Maybe that's why Sirco will be doing the track and tracing so that when the data from the APP is leaked it will not be the Governments fault? /s

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Barrie Shepherd

Mandarin Power Strikes again

Once again the centralised Mandarins show their colours.

Not content with wanting a centralised APP, immediately alienating people with a central data slurp, they then announce that rather than use Public Health staff, located in local communities to exercise the track and tracing tracing activity - people who are already trained in these tasks - they have apparently awarded a contract to Sirco to carry out this work. What price the data privacy/security when the data gets into Sirco? (Remind me how well was the prisoner tracking implemented?)

At least Australia implemented simple legislation to allay public fear about scope creep and unintended use of the APP.

Worth a read to see what the Aus government thought could go wrong! (it's only a couple of pages)


Nine million logs of Brits' road journeys spill onto the internet from password-less number-plate camera dashboard

Barrie Shepherd

For anyone who has driven in Sheffield, and is concerned about the breach and the overreach it has revealed, Sheffield City Council have a Subject Access Request web portal;


You can make a request concerning CCTV footage. The response from Sheffield, when it comes, should give insight into what they do with the data, how long it's stored and who they allow to access the data.

I hope their inbox is quickly filled!

Barrie Shepherd


"A number plate isn't classed as personably identifiable and as it was taken in a public place, you'll be hard pressed to get this through."

I am the only driver of my car, Sheffield Council will have access to the DVLC to identify registered keepers (hence drivers) and the cameras will also capture facial images in some cases. As a one off that may not hold much weight under GDPR but the entering all the collated information into a database with a mechanism to track individual cars (i.e. drivers) in real time, and historically, seems to be overreach. It is also unclear who has access to the data base and camera images, how they are archived, for how long and the security of that information.

If I operate a home CCTV system, that covers any areas outside of my property boundary, I am open to GDPR Subject Access Requests and must respond to anyone making such a request. Sheffield City Council, as far as I can tell, do not have any exemption (in relation to this camera network) from individual Subject Access Requests.

Lets hope that residents of Sheffield put in a few SARs to see what the response from the mandarins is.

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Always abused

"I put in a right to be forgotten request to the management company of the local Waitrose carpark. "

I like your style:-)

I shall start doing the same. In fact if we all made GDPR take down applications, the day after being scanned by these money grabbing inventions, it may overload their systems.

Barrie Shepherd

The evil in me thinks that the Reg should have just published the errant IP so we could all have a look in at our wives/girlfriend/mistresses/boyfriends all going about their daily 'business'.

That way far greater exposure, of the level our Authorities can track us, would have occurred and the 'embarrassment' (if indeed they have any) of the Authorities would have been far greater.

Barrie Shepherd

"However, it is important to be very clear that, to the best of our knowledge, nobody came to any harm or suffered any detrimental effects as a result of this breach."

Oh that good makes it all a non issue the /s

Not that they have any way of knowing

UK snubs Apple-Google coronavirus app API, insists on British control of data, promises to protect privacy

Barrie Shepherd

"So it can measure cummings and goings?"

Mainly to the massage parlour I'd suspect!

Barrie Shepherd

"It'll be the Crapita-19 app."

It'll be the Crapita£-£19£ app.

Fixed it.

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Taking back control

"I saw yesterday that Tony Bliar's so called think tank believes that in the face of this pandemic, forgoing privacy is a goid thing."

That is a very good reason for thinking it's a BAD thing!

Barrie Shepherd

"Stupid people can't understand this, there's something broken with their brain that makes them incapable of understanding that sometimes, it's ok for an enforcement measure to be <100% effective if it brings other social benefits. Doesn't compute for them. "

I think in this case it is the pseudo Law makers (Chief Cunstables, DPP, Ministers on podiums) who can't work out that a person driving to an isolated location and spending time on their own does not pose a threat to the virus spreading.

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Difficult choice

"And don't forget the Patriot Act"

Or the CLOUD Act https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CLOUD_Act

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Oh, Grandma what big eyes you have.

"..............what are the chances that they WON'T come up with some lame excuse to link in our medical records and then let some third party process the data "because our systems are overloaded with all this tracking" ......"

I bet Crapita are already writing the Tender documents (together with their pricing response)

Capita to continue managing Brit teachers' pensions well into the 2020s

Barrie Shepherd

Given the Government, and close to Government (i.e. QUANGO), contracts this outfit continues to under-perform on I wonder if the Mandarins, in purchasing departments, will ever understand that cheapest does not mean best and that in future contract awards previous performance MUST be given weight against the tenderer.

The number of failures and questionable outcomes from the hundreds (Thousands?, Millions?) of contracts Capita has 'won' should be sounding alarm bells all over the place and certainly across the desks of the National Audit Office.

Why should the UK pensions watchdog be able to spy on your internet activities? Same reason as the Environment Agency and many more

Barrie Shepherd

Re: And yet

"First of all - as in the USA and other countries - you can only vote for someone who is an official candidate. (Why?)"

Last time I checked anyone can stand to be a Parliamentary candidate in the UK subject to appropriate oversight (citizenship etc.) and payment of £500 https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/elections/standing/

Many Ballot forms have independent candidates on them. - I myself (residing in a 'Red Rosette' constituency) have voted for the Monster Raving Loony party as a show of protest!

A paper clip, a spool of phone wire and a recalcitrant RS-232 line: Going MacGyver in the wonderful world of hotel IT

Barrie Shepherd


In my working days (before Ethernet was the norm) I dealt with many systems using distributed data connections using RS232/422. There was always a need for a modem eliminator or reversed cable and it is ingrained in my memory that a modem eliminator is 4 to 5, 6 to 8 to 20, with data on 2 & 3, 7 data ground.

A couple of years ago I was asked to assist with a problem between two pieces of equipment connected by RS 422 over 1 metre of cable. The suppliers at each end were blaming each other. Their local staff did not understand RS connections. A simple observational exercise showed that ones mans DSR, CTS, DCD was not the same as the other. I made up back to back D25 connectors in a double ended shell, transposing the appropriate wires, with a switch in the DCD line marked 'Energise', and stuck a label to the unit it saying "Interface Dongle".

I showed my 'significant' knowledge by using the switch to fail the link. I should have potted it and charged them £500 apiece.

Ofcom waves DAB radio licences under local broadcasters' noses as FM switchoff debate smoulders again

Barrie Shepherd

Re: And another thing

"If you put DAB radio into an Amazon search, very few of the results have that woody effect."

There's no wood left in the Amazon to make them with :-)

Barrie Shepherd

DAB receivers are power hungry compared to FM - I don't think anyone disagrees with that.

So who is going to model the extra power and resources (for batteries) that would needed should FM be closed down?

Yes Aquiva may save energy/money at the MUX, broadcasting less power, but the population uses more power to listen. So how does promoting DAB help 'save the world?'

Mind you as DAB causes corona virus, trees to die, birds to drop out of the sky, along with reading your brainwaves and triggering cancer clusters I guess the conspiracy theorists, that lurk in social media, could well cause it's downfall /s

Barrie Shepherd

Re: The government needs to commit to DAB+ first, and not cheap out on the bit rate

"Using the improvements to pack even more channels into the bit stream will however undo the advantages."

Which is what will happen (Digital TV being an example) so we will be no better off.

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Complete the migration to DAB+ before faffing with FM

"With the rolling out of 4G network sharing in blackspot areas, and the increase in reliable coverage, wideband audio over LTE will probably be more available."

It is hardly efficient use of emerging 4/5 G spectrum/coverage to have hundreds of cars driving around streaming multiple radio stations. And then there would be the cost in network charges to the users.

I would also hazard a guess that it would be impossible, irrespective of fill in stations and site sharing occurred, to be able to hold a audio stream while travelling down a motorway for 1 hour or so.

Perhaps OFCOM could consider the value of the DAB spectrum if it were used for 5G - and leave FM alone but release licenses for narrow band FM for those broadcasters who don't need stereo or audio quality outside of the 300 Hz - 4 kHz telephony specs?

Barrie Shepherd

Re: A couple of points to note

"Agree with other commenters here about OFCOM. Their remit seems to be to do the government's bidding rather than representing spectrum users."

The problem, as I see it, is that the only 'spectrum users' that OFCOM understand are the ones paying them money, or potentially could be paying more money. Joe public is not considered a 'user' just a receiver!

DAB in a moving vehicle is really annoying. The total cut out (which always occurs at some interesting part of the programme) During the drive (when I could), of the 2 miles to my local station there were 4 200m sections of the road where the signal always blanked out two at traffic lights where you are invariably stopped - so the only positive about DAB is that it is consistent. FM may get scratchy but it never just collapses in a heap of silence.

My other gripe is that the DAB broadcasters do not support TA (Traffic Alerts) - something very useful when on a long journey.

In a domestic setting DAB's processing delays, in different suppliers equipment, means that it is no longer possible to have the radio on in two or three rooms at a time as they are all out of sync.

The DAB signal is more sensitive to local movement, short term fading and multi-path reflection because it is not from 'many local transmitters' but, in my case, is from a mast on a hill 30 odd miles away.

.....and don't get me going on general DAB audio quality...........

Rant over!

Sunday: Australia is shocked UK would consider tracking mobile data to beat pandemic. Monday: Australia to deploy drone intimidation squads

Barrie Shepherd

Re: And still

"And still, the drones are much less invasive than tracking that has been covered here in recent days. ......But the drones don't easily allow perfect identification or tracking. Mobile phone tracking does"

But I'm currently allowed to leave my mobile phone at home should I want to go off for a day out in Derbyshire. (Not that I can at present because of the politzi road blocks now set up around the English Counties)

Barrie Shepherd

My Australasian friends were laughing at me about the Derbyshire drone use and just sniggered that I now lived in an Eastern block police state (not withstanding the Australian draconian internet/mobile meta data laws)

Great! - some karma today - they are now facing the same overreach by the Police.

Very soon policing will be conducted by 'Officers' in secretly located control rooms with just drones patrolling the streets. The officers and their families will not live in the community but in large secure gated cities where they will be isolated from the problems the rest of the population face.

I expect George Orwell to rise from his grave soon and shout out 'Told you so'

Drones intone 'you must stay home,' eliciting moans from those in the zone: Flying gizmos corral Brits amid coronavirus lockdown

Barrie Shepherd

"That Port Toilet video has a very unconvincing .........................."

Maybe but according to the council it is equipped with speakers;


"Neath Port Talbot Council has teamed up with South Wales Police to survey hotspots where people are not following government measures on social distancing.

The drones are equipped with speakers that will transmit messages directly to the public."

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Don't give them ideas...

"Necessity is the mother of invention. Give someone a good reason, and they will invent a drone with an attachment for a remotely firable airsoft gun."

More likely a Taser

Barrie Shepherd

Re: Common sense, what's that?

"I suppose you might have a motor accident and put additional strain on the NHS. But if that is the concern they should ban use of motorcycles and reduce all speed limits by 10 mph."

Please please stop giving them ideas.

Google to appeal against €7m fine from Swedish watchdog for failing to remove search results under GDPR

Barrie Shepherd

I was under the impression that the right to be forgotten rules, as they applied to Search Engines, were about preventing searches by name revealing web pages that covered the matter the respondet wanted to be forgotten - NOT taking the page off the interwebs.

e.g. If dirty rotten scoundrel did not want his name to be used to find a connection to his involvemnt in the fleecing of old age pensioners then Search Engines had to make sure a search for his name did not turn up the pages about the fleecing of pensioners. There was no obligation to NOT report the pages in a search for the term " fleecing pensioners".

The BBC used to report on instances where some of their news pages had been de listed from named person searches but were still availabe in context search results. https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/entries/1d765aa8-600b-4f32-b110-d02fbf7fd379

The pages were still available on line and in search reults if other search terms are used.

To be completely forgotten a responent would need the Courts to deliver takedown orders to individual web hosting organisations which won't work for those outside of the Courts jurisdiction.

On the face of the article, as reported, it does seem that Google has been dealt a raw hand by the Swedish Courts, who appear to want to operate as a world censor. Maybe the takedown orders that Google have "mishandled" related to a wealthy Swedish businessman/politician?



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