* Posts by Martin Nicholls

160 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Feb 2008


Apple iPhone 4

Martin Nicholls


Have really gone down hill lately. Time was you could chuck your nokia around and it'd survive no worries.

I remember back in the day dropping my 3210 in a river, could see the screen lit up and working at the bottom with full signal. Fished it out, dried it - worked first time.

This is the sort of thing I expect to see in a phone test.

Two infosec blunders that betrayed the Russian spy ring

Martin Nicholls
Black Helicopters

Silly point

Those people tend to be diplomat types, working at embassies and whatnot, register themselves as working or a foreign governement. If russia or whoever wants to keep track of them when they're around moscow or whatever they can.

The media attention is how useless these guys were, they appear to have been under watch pretty much from the word go.

As for your comment about the CIA/MI6 et al - they tend to not be stupid enough to get caught when they're doing truly covert work and/or they tend to turn 'natives' as opposed to sending in their own guys. Established local intel tends to be better and less risky.

The 3G coverage picture that can't be published

Martin Nicholls


"Ofcom's refusal to think of things from the customer's point of view"

What's new? I mean seriously. This is the way it's always been with OFCOM - if it's not BT's comms strangehold and persistent monopoly and gouging of customers, it's mobile phones; lets not even discuss the 3G auctions.

Also you can get reasonably useful charts from a few years ago that show how useless Vodaphone and O2's networks are - if everybody relied on those it would push them to convince OFCOM to update their publicly available charts - assuming they've bothered to improve their respective networks.

iPad bandits stake out NYC Apple store

Martin Nicholls


It's easy enough to do, you have software on there that you know the access key to. Said software is flashed onto the ROM

If sim changes or you 'ping' it, via say sms or it periodically fetches a page from the interwebs and then knows it is stolen - and can email/sms/whatever it's location every now and then.

If it's on the if Apple gave a shit about third party developers at all this would be really easy to do, because you could do it in the same way as you do on any other device (winmo, android et al).

Of course they don't at which point it's up to apple to offer the option. Maybe some real physical security options would be nice too, a fingerprint, smart card, facial recog options would be an idea.

Renew your firearms licence via your iPhone

Martin Nicholls
Black Helicopters


What are you selling here exactly?

Nobody has ever suggested criminals will disarm because it's illegal, it's pretty obvious that isn't the case.

That said criminals here *tend* not to go tooled up with guns to the average robbery or mugging in the street, mostly because the punishment is worse for the gun crime than for the crime you're actually trying to commit, they also know they're unlikely to meet another gun on random chump #74.

Ofc there's innocent gun deaths but in the main they tend to be mostly crossfire in criminals trying to kill each other (which tends to be only 1 person at a time), which if they would learn to shoot right would be no bad thing, then let SOCA clean up what is left over.

It's pretty telling that after the original ban there has been no mass killings in the UK, and the next one was with the weapons that are still legal for civilians to own. Actually in all fairness, the legislation-to-killings ratios in the stats globally speak very clearly for themselves. The more you legislate the less people die.

And no I'm not part of any "do-gooder pressure group", I just have an IQ that actually registers or better.

The US locks up more of its citizens than any other country in the world (including china), still has the death penalty which also clearly doesn't work and yet still has the highest levels of gun crime in the 'civilised' world - that's where that sort of thinking gets you.

Apple not yet dominant enough for anti-trust action

Martin Nicholls


You don't have to be a monopoly to be anti-competative. It was microsofts position, but that was arguably due to market failings rather than anything Microsoft did to get into that position.

The market is an oligopoly, it's right that everybody in the market has a checkup every now and then to ensure things don't go wrong.

Be nice if we can trust the regulators to do this rather than have them using an it's not Microsoft so we'll leave them alone aproach, when Apple is clearly damaging other players.

Microsoft rejects porn, iPad protesters fake it

Martin Nicholls

This is why...

I'm never buying a microsoft or apple phone. I could care less about the porn - never did understand the point on phones - it's the control that makes me vomit.

Not thanks guys I'll install what I want on my phone. Fk you and your worthless appstores.

Martin Nicholls


Doesn't read like that to me.

"Screw giving end-users the confidence of what will be available on their devices"

Same can be said for both platforms.

We're totally missing the point here anyways, the OS developer shouldn't get to decide what you install at any point ever.

The only time the OS developer should prevent you installing software is in extreme circumstances with malware.

End of story. You shoudn't even be tied into any kind of application store.

Anybody ever does any of these things you need to run in the opposite direction very quickly.

NHS Trust boards spew out oceans of paper

Martin Nicholls


I did same and was expected to fill in a form online.

Guess it depends who the health authority is.

German boffins develop sharkskin paint for ships, planes

Martin Nicholls


Do I have to be the idiot who says just cover ships in PTFE - should keep the old barnacles off too.

Probably frinkin' cheaper too.

Same goes for aircraft, cars, bikes, wind turbines et al

Exam board deletes C and PHP from CompSci A-levels

Martin Nicholls


"Last I looked, C# was only available on one platform and only had one development environment..."

You looked wrong, google mono and sharpdevelop.

Martin Nicholls


Tories take over and the world ends.

PHP is the only language where pay held up and there weren't mass redundancies during the election.

C is a crazy important language anyway - everything useful is written in it.

C# is the future, and coincidentally is a great reference language, because it takes everything that's been learnt about writing software over the years and boils it down into a new language with an excellent feature set. Microsoft's implementation taking the most beautiful language ever written and effectively turning it into faster Java not withstanding.

Java is just useless across the board and it can only be a good thing it's going out the window.

Delphi? Come on. Python is pretty ugly too. Not saying PHP isn't but at least PHP knows it is, Python thinks it's God's gift to software developers and falls waaaay short of the mark.

I mostly take issue with the killing of C and C#, they're quite possibly the most important languages on the planet right now, everything we have is written in C so you need to know it to maintain all other code, and C# is the future.

And no; this stuff isn't too hard, if they can't get to grips at A Level they probably won't at Uni either.

If we're really trying to create a generation of totally unemployable people why not just teach them all Fortran and have done with it?

Microsoft defends death of free video in IE 9

Martin Nicholls


... Can't do anything but hold it's ground, for a bunch of obvious reasons, so who gives a damn?

If they round on theora without doing something solidly useful about 264's licensing it's going to be PR armageddon.

P.S. this is why Steve Jobs fails.

McKinnon's mum fights for civil liberties in parliamentary run

Martin Nicholls

The guy...

.. is either criminaly responsible or he isn't - if he's not safe to be in society he needs to be locked up in Broadmoor or whatever.

Martin Nicholls
Jobs Horns


.. just before you vote is it Conservative or Lib Dem policy to remove these things?

Give than a lot of local and county councils are lib dem and tory, and they get to decide if they're going to be installed or not - ask questions there first.

This ideal that it's national gov't installing cctv, speed cameras el al is absurd.

All I'm saying...

Global warming dirt-carbon peril models are wrong, say boffins

Martin Nicholls


I always thought the overdrive theory was related to the methane locked up in the ground in Siberia and under the ocean and whatnot - when you get past a certain temp the permafrost melts and releases stupid ammounts of methane and you have a big problem because it's way way worse than CO2.


Never heard this theory before, not totally convinced by the commonly accepted science part.

Missing Soviet nuclear electrocar FOUND ON MOON

Martin Nicholls



Put the adobe software down. We all know it's impossible to get to the moon/it's a global lizard people conspiracy et al.

'al-Qaeda suicide cat' sends US Iraq war robots out of control

Martin Nicholls
Black Helicopters


"This is famously the location from which US Air Force "Predator" and "Reaper" robot aircraft are controlled during missions overseas*"

Also 39 Sqn RAF operate their MQ-9's from there until they possibly eventually come back and operate from RAF Waddington as some time possibly in the distant future after the Rapture or whatever, just to bring in a .co.uk angle.

Israel confiscates visiting iPads

Martin Nicholls


I hate Apple as much as the next guy, but less channels, less power - where's the problem?

All it means is apple devices may ocassionally lose out because they can't tune to the right channel or maybe they have slightly less range, possibly if you ignore the fact that EU wifi environments are technically more noisy...

I can understand the Isreali government banning it from their own purchasing, but people just bringing them in for their own use, especially as travellers?

Also this should apply to any device with WiFi comming from the US - it should be a clear policy, all smartphones from the US are banned because they're pretty much all wifi, laptops? forget it! and so on...

It actually doesn't make much sense, and you'd expect to see it for a European (or japanese for that matter) traveller to the US more than vice-versa, but that never happens.

McKinnon's mum stands against Straw at general election

Martin Nicholls


"The fact that the Gary McKinnon extradition case has exceeded the lifetime of this current Parliament, is a scandal which belies any promises of swift or fair justice, made by this Labour government"

The reason it's lasted so long is they lost more court cases than Microsoft have been involved in. Maybe time to realise you're on the wrong side of the law.

Or as somebody involved in the original investigation put it: he could have been tried, convicted, done his time and been out by now.

The only thing labour did wrong was let him have so many appeals.

iPhone 4.0 SDK bars un-Jobsian code translation

Martin Nicholls


"the sooner it dies and is replaced by HTML5 the better"

This is where your post dies an early death and stops making sense, just in case you wondered.

Adobe man to Apple: 'Go screw yourself'

Martin Nicholls


It's cheap as hell and completely irrelevent to the point anyway, you think that what. Apple are locking out Adobe because they can't afford a Photoshop license??

Martin Nicholls
Jobs Horns


This is why the world has competition law, and also I assume this is more locking out Adobe (because it's designed directly for avoiding the kind of vendor lockin that Apple lives by and not many years ago would go crying to the DoJ that Microsoft were doing).

As somebody was saying the other day in a well put together article on another site, Microsoft is becomming the place for creative professionals to be, apple is just a dumb consumer electronics moron farm.

This kind of stuff and the likes of the Courier is the evidence btw.

Oh yeah and i s it me or is this more a direct attack on Air Mobile than anything else?

How a Tory gov will be the most tech-savvy in history

Martin Nicholls

This is...

.. the Tories who use windows + .net for all their own stuff and sit in rackpace hoping and praying?

As opposed to labour who use PHP...

Know which I think are better at tech, and it obviously aint the tories even though I'm no Microsoft hater.

Civil servants who don't have a clue are the problem, and they're in theory completely party independant - so you're just gonna get the same guys screwing everything up, some of these people may have 40 year careers messing up the country and they're the people doing the real work.

I also saw something with the words Open Source and Apple in the same sentance - I like to read articles like http://www.macvicar.net/blog/2009/02/apples-relationship-with-php.html to remind myself what goes on whenever I hear that kind of thing.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 embraces - yes - HTML5

Martin Nicholls

Alive and kicking...

How can you call for OGG is dead, long live king h264 when Moz hold all the cards and they can't for legal reasons, patent reasons and general principle - put it within a thousand miles of their browser.

Sure you can plug in support but the problem is this - nobody is going to do this.

I'm not judging which codec is better either, because it's kinda obvious.

That said we need a new codec that isn't encumbered before any of this is going to be useful.

Martin Nicholls

Screw HTML5...

Where's the real XHTML support.

Microsoft and Apple being so pally lately is really starting to grate.

Nobody who does webdev professionally gives a damn about HTML5. Because it's useless.

Go away Apple, go away Microsoft, would you please. You're both damaging the internet like you both have been doing for decades.

Microsoft cuts out paste

Martin Nicholls


Been buying windows mobile phones for years. Looks like my current one is the last I'll be buying.

HTC Desire is looking good about now.

What's next, remove the exchange support?

Jobs: I'll decide what to do with Apple's $40bn cash pile

Martin Nicholls


Yeah because Microsoft's market cap is about 251Bn, which means you'd need to find about 400+ Bn to get get shareholders even slightly interested...

And I'm pretty sure MSFT hold a fairly decent wedge of Apple shares anyways.

And because I can't be bothered to write a seperate comment:

"Which makes sense with the iPad coming down the pipe" - yes, because it's going to be a catastrophy.

Industry groups leap to Chip and PIN's defence

Martin Nicholls
Big Brother

Cash on cards

They're actually rolling that out but it's contactless, go into boots you'll see they already have the readers in (well in quite a lot of their stores).

While we're on the subject of boots' card readers, the new pads are of much better quality, the pin buttons are much better for typing your pin at speed :D

Martin Nicholls

They are, but...

They're missing it in a different way -

What they're really missing is that there's several proven weaknesses in the system; this one, the fact that the pads aren't secure as they're supposed to be, the fact that the encryption isn't very strong at all and that you can copy the cards extremely easy (and a few other glaringly obvious problems).

Thus the system is totally broken because it points to the possibility of there being even more weaknesses.

Think like in encryption, if there's even a hint a cipher is computationally weak you don't go within a 100 miles of using it. The same should be true for chip&pin, in that the system should be gradually replaced by something else - what are the odds that the system is designed to be replaced gradually as it stands and that a replacement is even being discussed?

US school comes out fighting over webcam spy claim

Martin Nicholls


"This feature has only been used for the limited purpose of locating a lost, stolen or missing laptop"

Which is evidently not the case or they wouldn't have the image?

Just the list of laws this kind of thing would break in the UK alone is incredible.

Odds of the parents reading this are zero, but they shouldn't forget relevent child protection legislation.

Silicon Valley plane crash kills 3 Tesla employees

Martin Nicholls


3 Tesla employees die in a plane crash, cue nutjob conspiracy theories.

People die and accidents happen, y'know.

Tesla employees can't live for eternity and have a sucky product. Where's my hydrogen burning car?

Opera plays chicken with Apple iPhone police

Martin Nicholls


If Microsoft wrote IE for blackberry (though I don't know why you'd want it) you'd be able to install it.

The question with the iEverything is not one of imcompatability, it's one of vendor lock-in.

Indeed you can use the obscure APIs themselves as indication of vendor lock-in in it's own right, but the real issue is Apple picking and chosing who the let use their platform, which would have no legs to stand on in a US (Sherman Act) suit or when the EU inevitably start proceedings.

Martin Nicholls

Why would...

.. anybody want a browser other than IE?

Apple don't get to decide is the problem.

If Apple are going to vet all software on their platforms then the test should be "is it malicious" and not do they compete with us or if we apply our moral standards or taste would we install it?

Apple shouldn't get to decide because it's anti-competative in a way Microsoft wouldn't even dream of - the hammer legion would go nuts if Microsoft blocked safari, opera and moz from their systems, that is the test which should be applied.

There's lawsuits on the horizon.

Martin Nicholls

Opera are worthless..

.. but I'd love to see a Microsoft + Moz + Google + Opera v Apple court case. You can't arbitarily lock other providers out of your platform because you feel like it.

Microsoft almost got broken up into tiny little pieces for not even doing that. Shame Microsoft are friends with Apple now because Jobs doesn't deserve friends like that - I'd love to see Google eat Apple alive just for fun.

Researchers rip iPad apart to reveal Apple's profits

Martin Nicholls
Gates Halo

On Microsoft...

"On the other hand, that enthusiasm never translated into wide takeup of Microsoft's attempts at tablet PCs"

Of course Microsoft have never actually done tablet. They do know what tablets are all about though - Inking, which there's no possibility of doing with the iPad which Gates will clearly recognise.

I say wait for the courier before doing *comparisons* if it ever sees the real world (apparently there are real versions being played with inside microsoft though), I gotta tell you though to say Microsoft's experience even in the current devices doesn't show would be a giant shambles.

The question of course is if there's a market. All 7 fanbois asside can Apple carve out a new market like it did with the iPhone? I can't see it - and they'll never get real tablet users because it doesn't do a whole bunch of listable things you'd want a tablet to do.

Touch interfaces are great but you ALSO need a stylus, there's no working round that.

Racist content on US server 'within UK jurisdiction'

Martin Nicholls

A Book.

The book analogy seems off to me.

Surely the test should be - if you wrote an news article for a California newspaper from within the UK with the same content, sent it by snail mail and it was published in Cali - would that be under UK jurisdiction.

If the answer is yes have at it, if the answer is it's Cali's legal system's problem then it should be the same for content on the internet.

El Reg reader assembles own iPad

Martin Nicholls
Paris Hilton


"the release of Apple's paradigm-busting iPad"

i.e. that better be, else I'm off.

Spooks scour gambling sites in terror finance probe

Martin Nicholls

We have to...

be EXTREMELY careful with anything related to the FBI and gambling. Certianly no British taxpayer funds can go into any joint investigations for some really obvious reasons.

FBI aka US Federal Govt logic dictates (attachements to the SAFE Port Act) that if you're involved in gambling you must be a terrorist - which has led to some seriously bizzare arrests and convictions which are retroactive punishments which are illegal in the EU.

Essentially the FBI can't be trusted with anything our police dig up, such information should be kept clear away from them until at least the relevent EU v US WTO cases are dealt with.

"Casinos have always been great ways to launder money, and now you don't even have to do it in person, you can do it from the privacy and anonymity of your couch, through a proxy"

The money laundering regs exist for a reason and the cover such establishments. There's data pushed around and checks can be and often are done (as an online gambler - poker is my thing - I've had money laundering checks done several times). The issues are likely to be related to US cards for example where the checks can't be reliably done.

A lot of the big casinos are UK and related countries listed, if you think they don't get audited (a few are listed on the FTSE) you're out of your mind.

H.264 video codec stays royalty-free for HTML5 testers

Martin Nicholls

What everyone's forgotten..

Is h264 can't go within a thousand miles of anything GPL due to the pattents.

Forget linux for a start, and forget anything licensed in anything that smells of the GPL's pattent clauses.

The GPL sees the edge of it's license as the process boundry not the source code, which is where the legal minefield comes into play.

Which also happens to be why it'll never be anywhere near a vanilla debian or ubuntu install for example.

And reg: stop calling everybody involved in open source freetards, even if they're just users, it's fairly annoying especially when the subject is so important like this - where these people can do basically want they want in 5 years.

Adobe to Jobs: 'What the Flash do you know?'

Martin Nicholls

If you're Adobe...

.. surely you call Apple's bluff and kill flash on Mac?

See how long apple users can go without it?

I would :)

The other one is you've just shown your hand to Adobe, Microsoft and Google (you know, those people you keep slagging off) - who all have more seats on the tech comitties of the w3c, so why /wouldn't/ they drag html5 out to 2054 at this point?

Plus are we really moaning about Adobe when 95% of Mac users are Adobe <product> using graphics people? Come on...

Windows 8 possible July 2011 release?

Martin Nicholls

Timing is key...

"All of this could be interpreted as a company running scared of the competition"

Or it could be interpreted as a company who has an OS spare given it just released one that shouldn't really have existed...

Sun takes over MoD's UFO bureau

Martin Nicholls


"But the unlucky prof reckons that Sun-readers might help fill the gap in Blighty's knowledge of outer space"

Knowing the average Sun reader I find that HIGHLY unlikely.

Also can we decide if it's UFOs or Aliens.. because the MOD used to track UFOs not aliens.

Or if I may be so bold to link to an astrophysicist with a clue about what he's saying (no offence Professor Pillinger) but: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xag3oOzvU68

Compulsory perv scanners upset everyone

Martin Nicholls
IT Angle


The ECHR with the EHRC - though this is going to be a huge problem for us in the ECHR too.

The DNA thing is pending appeal - which we'll lose and get fined even more for before anything else happens.

Same deal for stop & search without cause.

New inside out hover-magnet fusion reactor debuts at MIT

Martin Nicholls

Giant fail in the sky.

"different from the humdrum tokamaks and laser-ignition chambers which have thus far offered such disappointing results"

Uhm what? Dissapointing to whom?

"The governments of the world would never allow anything which threatened to solve such a major problem as this -- people might talking about freedom if they did"

And by governments you mean the lizzard people who put explosives in the twin towers right?

"What if fusion is based on a huge misconception that we just haven't discovered yet? We seem to have been at the same stage for about 20 years with no more progress"

That's because you're not paying attention, the values of Q are going up all the time, we're just finding new ways to do it - and after the ITER which builds on JET is finished DEMO (DEMOnstration Power Plant) is planned, which if the name doesn't give it away is intended to be a demonstration commercial reactor which will actually produce electricity and continuiosly run.

The trouble of course is this stuff is crazy expensive and takes a long time, because it's exceptionally hard to do science and engineering which is only just becomming possible to do.

It's not a big leap to say projects like the ITER are more complex that the likes of the LHC or the ISS, just the LHC is a giant (scientific) leap into the unknown JET and ITER and other such projects like HIPER are actually incremental science we basically know works - just like I said, they're huge financial and engineering tasks.

Most of the technology in the LHC didn't exist when the building started, so lets not get ahead of ourselves assuming solid science doesn't work when it provably does.

SourceForge bars 5 nations from open source downloads

Martin Nicholls


No, seriously, Cuba?

I kinda get North Korea, it's not like the average North Korean is going to miss out anyways.

I kinda get Iran right now, though frankly - I know a bunch of Iranian guys who play a big role in some fairly important Open Source projects, so this isn't really workable anyway.

But Cuba? Come on, seriously now. Venezuela sure, I could understand that...

América para los americanos eh?

Technology vs policy: Election smackdown!

Martin Nicholls

Policy wins...

... unless you're voting conservative.. Because they haven't told anybody what theirs are yet but they're still winning in the polls.

Go figure?

Full-body scanner blind to bomb parts

Martin Nicholls
IT Angle

Can we make title optional or what...

"Thermite isn't very dangerous, you can cause a small fire on board at most"

If you light it in the right place it would be crazy-dangerous on an aircraft.. Stuff will burn through anything and you can make it in seconds - though you wouldn't even get through a standard metal detector with it let alone anything else.

These scanners aren't the ones they're trying to put in airports here though. These look like cheap knockoffs, though even the ones we're rolling out supposedly would't have caught the christmas bomber guy.

Berserker Bing bots bring down Perl network

Martin Nicholls

Let out early for Good Behaviour

"The behaviour of the bonkers Bing bots contrasted with the good manners of other search engine agents from the likes of Google"

The rantings of somebody who has never seen Yahoo's monster in the wild.

Plus a good server admin knows how to use IPTables (or better yet a hardware firewall) in anger - but then I guess these guys are Perl people so calling them good server admins may be a little premature...

2010 will be the year of the net tablet, claims analyst

Martin Nicholls


This is how tech news (and tech develoment) is working now? -

Apple fanbois think up something they want..

Tech press decides they're going to do it..

Steve Jobs decides if he wants it..

Apple not-so-secretly builds it..

Tech press whips up the hammer legion into a frenzy of "Microsoft can't do this" (even though they have done for years) self-congratulatory orgasms..

Some lazy analyst who can't be bothered to do anything today decides (knowing that apple are releasing said product) that it's the year of the iWhatever-related tech..

I mean seriously, is this what it's come to?