* Posts by Nick Ryan

3281 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

Microsoft seems intent on buying the gaming industry with $68.7bn purchase of troubled Activision Blizzard

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Here we go again...

This will produce yet more steady "improvements" which require any hapless game player to have a Microsoft Account, subscribe to whatever bullshit "Microsoft XBox Zune Gaming Bar Interface (TM)" foists on all unlucky users and so on. Essentially, a long term play to ensure subscribers, no matter how they are generated. If in the meantime the games as developed and sold make a profit, that's good, and promote Windows, that's better, but it's the continual subscription fees that Microsoft are after.

Did Activision Blizzard have any Linux support pending? This will quietly disappear soon enough...

Planning for power cuts? That's strictly for the birds

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Re: Boom .....

All hail the magic smoke!

What begins with a 'B' and is having problems at tsoHost? Hopefully not your website

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proalym ut if I were to guess, I'd guess that they have a poor/cheap infrastructure and no redundancy or failover let alone oad alancing.

Notes on the untimely demise of 3D Pinball for Windows

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Re: Windows 11 Upgrade?

It's more likely that Microsoft's cunning plan would be to force install it into every copy of Windows 10 & 11, particularly the "professional" and "workstation" versions (which naturally need games), with administrators forced to "opt out" of this through obscure PowerShell commands that previously stopped working due to other Windows Updates, requiring that an administrator spend countless hours working around Microsoft's instructions on how to use Microsoft's commands in yet another custom Microsoft PowerShell library. Ideally the PowerShell commands will be as badly written as possible to ensure that scripting them is near impossible and the PowerShell library will feel like abandonware as soon as Microsoft coughed it out.

In parallel Microsoft would promote it mercilessly within Windows itself, because that's what the OS is there for. The game will be free at first and then switched to a monthly subscription mode afterwards, linked to Microsoft 365 accounts. The activation of this subscription will be at the end user's discretion and not any administrators and to prevent end users subscribing to this "service", administrators will have to "opt out" of this through obscure PowerShell commands that previously stopped working due to other Windows Updates, requiring that an administrator spend countless hours working around Microsoft's instructions on how to use Microsoft's commands in yet another custom Microsoft PowerShell library. The subscription will be something entirely "reasonable" like £2.99 per user per month.

James Webb Telescope launch delayed again, this time by weather

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Re: Sometimes

Please look into things in more detail before coming up with stuff.

Do you think for a second that development of something like this will only use technology that was present in 1996? These things are designed by real, solid engineers and designed to be as flexible and accepting of new technology as late into the process as possible. These are the kind of engineers that don't design something to fail in three years, they design something that in three years it will as far as they possibly can be sure, it will still be working. This is the difference and why Mars rovers are still trundling around while your iPhone crapped itself 30ms after the warranty expiry.

Also consider that the imaging sensors that were put into orbit 20 years ago are so advanced and so specialised that they will put anything that you may consider current to absolute shame. Also whatever is put up now is so far ahead of what was previously up there that the difference is, well astronomical.

Would it be good to have really easy launch and recovery technologies where rapid prototyping and even early failure is an easily recoverable option? Quite likely, however that's unlikely to happen for a long time and while things are moving that way, solid engineering that lasts is still the mainstay of sustainable and long term science.

Developer creates ‘Quite OK Image Format’ – but it performs better than just OK

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Re: Colour me impressed...

Amiga HAM mode was more limited because only one of the colour components could be changed at a time meaning that horizontally different sections of an image take up to three pixels to transition from one colour to the other. The fringe effect was quite obvious but often obscured when used with a cheap display which created fringe effects anyway...

Thank you, FAQ chatbot, but if I want your help I'll ask for it

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Re: I am here to help. What can I do for you today?

They are the slightly more modern equivalent of the telephone menu system, although usually of less help.

Windows Terminal to be the default for command line applications in Windows 11

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Re: Been using it for a while

My guess would have been VT110 for colour, however it was a very long time ago...

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Also enjoy the ridiculous issue of the Microsoft Office link poisoning the URL. Links that work directly when copy and pasted don't work when clicked from Microsoft Office. Such wonderful support for standards. :(

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Please take the current one too. It's probably the most ugly, uninspiring and just plain awful bridge in London.

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Apart from all the bloody server applications that require the GUI to install. Because some lazy oink developer at Microsoft hard linked GUI libraries into the installer.

Revealed: Remember the Sony rootkit rumpus? It was almost oh so much worse

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I understand the efficiency of filename file type encoding compared to file type identification codes at the beginning of a file. With filename file type encoding, as in file extensions, the claimed file type of a file is in the directory index and very quick and efficient to separate out. Where file type identification codes are the only method of deriving a file's claimed type, the first few bytes of every file has to be read in addition to the file directory index. This is considerably slower than just parsing a directory index. The file type identification codes also have to be managed in a largely consistent manner because otherwise they would be duplicated - not that this wasn't a problem with file extensions but it's slightly less obvious to the user that there is a file type ID clash.

While it's not impossible to have a file system where the file identification bytes are included in the directory index this introduces a fair bit of extra overhead and this was at a time when a floppy disk was pretty much cutting edge storage technology - neither fast nor high capacity and any bytes saved was a good thing. [I'm aware of the irony of this given how wasteful the DOS floppy disk format was by way of usable storage space compared to capacity, e.g. 0.72/1 and 1.44/2]

Filtering on file types was not something that was useful only for an icon based interface either as a text based interface that would list only compatible file types is much more useful than one where you only know that the file you are trying to open was an image file and not a document when you try to open it. Naturally, this can happen anyway when it comes to changing file extensions, and I know of far too many apparently tech literate people who have tried to changed a file type simply by changing the file extension... /sigh

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Re: About Sony...

From those that don't remember this - the Sony rootkit was awful in another way too: It was very easy for other malware to piggy back on the Sony rootkit implementation and be hidden as well. Pure "genius"... firstly for the root kit and then to have it implemented in such as way that other malware could use it.

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Re: You have to wonder

They do look similar but an RJ11 socket is smaller than an RJ45 and it would take a bit of a feat of stupidity or brute ignorance to somehow shove an RJ45 ethernet cable into an RJ11 socket.

If he happened to have an RJ11 cable and plugged one end into the phone socket and the other into the slightly larger RJ45 socket on his phone then that would be much easier. Although the RJ11 cable would be obviously too small for the RJ45 socket, however users...

USB-A plugs fit just perfectly into RJ45 sockets of course...

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Re: You have to wonder

The mayhem would really depend on what the USB devices actually were... USB storage devices containing unpleasant or unwanted content or USB killer devices that would discharge a huge burst of electricity into the USB port?

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It was called Outlook Express and it may as well have been specifically designed to be a virus propagation platform.

It didn't auto-run executables, however it was a trivial process to cause it to execute pretty much anything. Usually without letting the user know. Combine this with Microsoft's brain dead insistence that nobody really needed to know what the real file extension of a file is (hiding file extensions is one Microsoft's most stupid general UI things to date) and you could have a safe looking file which was an .exe which presented the icon of an image (extracted from the file itself) which was really "xmas.jpg.exe" but shown to the user as "xmas.jpg" with an image icon.

It was replaced by Windows Mail which really wasn't much better in many ways (an absolute horror to use and failed to work with many SMTP implementations until they were hacked up to "support" Windows Mail's broken interpretation of standards and special Microsoft extras. It also feels like some of the really crap rendering and editing code from Outlook Express was moved into Outlook...

UK and USA seek new world order for cross-border data sharing and privacy

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I find it unlikely that it will include any notions regarding data protection or trust.

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Re: Nice drafting

The also accidentally left in a couple of spurious words that should not have been there and the intern who typed them has been fired:

The two nations want a regime that "promotes and advances interoperability between different data protection frameworks, facilitating cross-border data flows while maintaining high standards of data protection and trust."

Pension cold-calling financial services biz cops largest ever fine from UK data watchdog

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Re: in other

Which is why fines such as these should be directly applied to the person, or persons, that is the owner of the company. Otherwise they'll just have creamed off the illegally gotten money and can just apply the fine to a disposable organisation.

A tiny typo in an automated email to thousands of customers turns out to be a big problem for legal

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Re: What was I thinking?

I remember the marketing manager/co-owner of a place that I worked at utterly red faced when she walked up to me and showed a flyer that we had sent out the week before to promote one of our products with a special offer:

Buy 5 for the price of 6.

We had to laugh at that one, not least because none of us had noticed it but also because absolutely none of the recipients, even those who called to take advantage of the offer, mentioned it either!

Replaced several times but still live and kicking: Windows Forms updated for .NET 6.0

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What's particularly notable is that despite some odd standing-on-head-and-clapping implementations within the VCL, the layout engine that it exposed by default was considerably superior to almost anything I've come across since. Yes, it caused some nasty redraw issues but in general it was stable as hell. Working with variable display DPI resolutions in an appropriately designed form using the VCL was almost easy as long as the interface was constructed in a sensible manner and dynamic code didn't make assumptions.

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Re: Missed opportunity

Except ASP.NET web forms was also Microsoft developers pretending that an HTML page was a modal system window, murdering it with unnecessary and accessibility failure JavaScript and then trying to foist this broken model onto many developers.

It's not that it couldn't be used in a sane way, however that took a lot of effort and experience from a competent web developer of which there is/was a dire shortage and a windows client application developer tends not to be a competent web developer. It was always obvious that something would be repeatedly and fundamentally broken on a page as soon as the on-hover status bar of a web browser showed "PostBack" all over the place...

Calendars have gone backwards since the Bronze Age. It's time to evolve

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Re: Wishful thinking...

Very much...

PowerBI has/had a lot of potential as an interactive reporting system but is riddled with really dumb implementation issues and strange absences of functionality that would be consistent with other part of it and the editing interface is incredibly poor in many places but quite good in others, just to add to the frustration. After all pulling data from a Microsoft SQL server database using a Microsoft Connector into Microsoft PowerBI one would hope that the data would make it through un-mangled. Unfortunately such a hope is dashed upon the shores of Microsoft's endemic incompetence.

Report Builder is quite good by way of a non-interactive reporting system but has an interface so bad in places that often the only way to fix anything is to quit it, load up the XML file in a suitable editor and both fix the stupid and manually enter the values and configuration required.

As for Crystal Reports... maybe sometime closer to the dawn of time it didn't feel like it was developed by a room full of vindictive monkeys mashing their keyboards trying to produce something that was so large, bloated, unwieldy which also delighted in as many weird inconsistencies as possible that it was usable... but I just can't remember a usable version any more.

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Re: Its a surprisingly hard problem

Nicely presented example of why it's hard.

The extra thing to add to really cause pain is different time zones (one would have thought that US developers would have this down OK as the US has many internal time zones, but evidence shows otherwise) as well as many clocks going backwards and forwards every year, and the varying point in the year that this happens.

Managing clocks going backwards and forwards is annoying enough in a scheduling system locked to a single time zone (been there, done that, felt the pain many times) but add in multiple time zones and events that can span them across a clock change and it's pretty horrible.

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Re: Start Date

Not just the Outlook development team, but it should definitely include the Microsoft Exchange / Microsoft Exchange 365 Online team as well. It almost brings a smile to me knowing that with Microsoft 365 using Exchange that Microsoft can suffer in the way that everyone else suffered for years with the horror show that is Microsoft Exchange management.

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Re: Start Date


A single, fixed* point in time is all that is needed. The most important thing is that the standard is agreed and adhered to across the world. The start point in a year really does not matter as it is an arbitrary point in time and there needs to be one, similar to how the worldwide 0 line (prime meridian) for longitude is the Greenwich Meridian. It could be any line around the world and one is as good as the other (as a plus side it being based in Greenwich really annoyed the French for many years who wanted it based on a line in Paris).

* In reality, only mostly fixed, but it's fixed good enough for most purposes.

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Re: By hand!

Then restore from backup.

You did make a backup didn't you?

Or were you waiting for the calendar reminder to do so? :)

It started at Pixar. Now it's the Apple-backed 3D file format viewed as HTML of metaverse

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Re: Please, no

The TOC has to be somewhere and the beginning of a stream, as in the container, is a good place for it. The end certainly isn't and it's not particularly efficient to repeatedly include it within the content either.

If video or audio is streaming then a TOC just cannot exist because one does not know the exact length nor the exact data offset within the stream(s) that would be referred to in the TOC. Just like how you couldn't write a Table of Contents in a document and not have to go back and fill in the page numbers after you've written the content.

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Re: All this "Metaverse" talk...

The same things are true of many niche technologies, however things do progress and improve.

There are non-game usages of VR headsets, but that's an aside as just because something has a current primary usage that is there for entertainment, is that a bad thing? Markets and industries do not work in isolation, there is a lot of cross over between them and while there may not be a huge amount of cross over from VR headsets outside of gaming and entertainment, it's definitely there. It's relatively early but the teaching, architecture/engineering and medical fields immediately come to mind.

We're not going to see executives in a board room all plugged into VR to examine their annual report and accounts, but that's just the kind of nonsense from Hollywood that we all have to suffer with and ignore and shouldn't be used to detract from real usage.

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Re: Don't let the idiots that made the web retarded design it's replacemet

Are you an out of work Macromedia Flash "website" developer?

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Re: USD is ****ing awful

Particularly as the US is one of the three remaining backwards countries that still use Imperial units. They certainly should not get to mess up the spelling at the same time as not actually using the units.

US scientists, and similar, in general use metric units so their work remains valid and usable throughout the world. Things have a nasty habit of going wrong when they don't.

Data transfers between the EU and the US: Still unclear on what you're supposed to do? Here's an explainer

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Re: Pointless

It was never the UK's problem.
/Sigh. Get your head out of the Daily Express.

The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is an international border. Just like the border between mainland UK and France, just without the sea in between. As the UK is no longer a part of the EU, it is a foreign and therefore there is a hard border now.

That implementing, or even considering, a hard border between NI and the Republic was one of the most retarded things that even the belligerent fuckwits slobbering around the UK parliament could come up, while carefully promising two mutually incompatible situations: a) there would be no customs border between NI and the republic and b) there would be no border between NI and the remainder of the UK. That an international agreement was had that softened this stupidity was pretty much a miracle, however the arch cretin Frost who came up with this, touted it as an amazing thing, is now blaming everyone else for this international agreement, that he wrote and signed, and blaming the EU for sticking to their obligations within this international agreement, that he wrote and signed.

This is not down to the EU. This is down to the gross incompetence and wilful belligerence of the UK government.

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Re: Pointless

Regimes like the US have always failed in data protection; There never has been any and the BS of Safe Harbor and the like change absolutely nothing.

Is a US based organisation going to be taken to court and fined, potentially a large amount of money, by a US data regulator (there isn't one) for misuse of non-American personal data (i.e. the data of an individual who pretty much has less legal standing than a dog in the US)? No

Is a non-US based organisation able to take a US based organisation to task about their abuse and misuse of personal data, which due to Safe Harbor and so on is nothing more than a contractual dispute? Good luck with that one too and if somehow the non-US based organisation won, the damages would be limited to the value of the contract which would be dwarfed by the cost of the case.

Remember when you thought fax machines were dead-matter teleporters? Ah, just me, then

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Re: Car :easing and patches

The data compression for fax was Run Length Encoding (RLE) therefore any patches of solid black or solid white were very efficiently encoded. The absolute pits was dithered black/white sections to make grey.

I'm reasonably sure that later fax transmission encoding did include better compression schemes that coped better with dithering, however I suspect as these were not supported by lots of existing fax machines they didn't take off much and it wasn't long before email became much more prevalent.

It feels like the only reason that utter technology luddites like solicitors only stopped using faxes recently because of covid lockdowns. Their reasons for continuing to use fax were all total and utter nonsense, of course. For example, "security"...

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Re: Car :easing and patches

Inevitably the "senders" number was faked - caller ID was and still is entirely trust based.

Upcoming Intel GPU to be compatible with Arm

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Re: Compatibility?

I was wondering this too. There are quite a few examples of high end GPUs being connected to RPis, the issue appears to be only of Intel's making and nothing more.

It's one thing to have the world in your hands – what are you going to do with it?

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Re: Isaac Watt

Even odder way to spell Thomas Newcomen.

HPE's Aruba adopts DPUs, but in a switch, not a server

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Scratches head...

Reads the article again...

Googles for more information...

Scratches head again...

So... what they are proposing is pretty much moving some general purpose computing onto a bespoke, manufacturer specific device that's out of reach of the normal software management and anti-malware practices. It may be good for performance, but it's likely to be rather less good for management and accountability.

Microsoft admits to yet more printing problems in Windows as back-at-the-office folks asked for admin credentials

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Re: printer drivers that require ADMIN access

it's a problem with Microsoft at the root cause of it all.

Not that this excuses the printer manufacturers from developing some of the worst abominations of software developer this side of Samsung, but Microsoft really did not help whatsoever.

Even when Microsoft eventually bothered to put in place standard TCP/IP print driver port, the printer manufacturers (who would typically make a room of monkeys mashing keyboards look like a highly talented room of developers) still needed to support the older OSes. As a result they are not going to create what would essentially be entirely new drivers to link to the new MS provided print driver port and maintain these separately to the support for older OSes. Some did, of course, but not many and they also were highly unlikely to go through their back catalogue of printers and create new drivers for all of them.

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Re: printer drivers that require ADMIN access

For well over a year the Microsoft Photos app in Windows 10 just crashed immediately every time print was pressed - the only way to print an image was to use the old Windows 7 Picture Viewer - or use Microsoft Word or some horror like that. It was a way around the problem, so can't really fault users for doing that at this time.

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Printing has always been the unfashionable end of Microsoft's hap hazard development strategies.

The Printing API alone demonstrates Microsoft's utter inability for any form of consistency, giving a flying crap about anyone other than North American users (because everyone on the planet uses inches and US only paper sizes, right?) and as for the tortuous API level machinations required just to get or guess basic printer capabilities let alone perform some printing... argh.

They had a real opportunity to do it well, the OS could have easily provided print preview which all applications could have benefitted from, but Microsoft probably wanted to keep that to their Microsoft Office suite rather than have the OS do anything useful. The OS printer system could have been expanded to cater for modern printers, but instead they left it in a limbo for printer driver manufacturers to expand in their own bespoke and non-standard and non-interoperable ways. It's brainless decisions like this that led to print drivers being as extensive they are now, simpler drivers and more standard systems tend to have less exploits.

So now, because of Microsoft's wilful abandonment of the printing system for years, on top of unstable and badly written drivers and hacks on top of the operating system, we have a series of exploits. Exploits targetting drivers that passed Microsoft's tests (when this used to be a thing).

Now drivers require administrator level access to install when they should be simple. Drivers deployed from a damn trusted server require administrator level access to install, which is disruptive as hell, but we're back to the same dumb stupidity when much of Microsoft still thinks that all users should be give local administrator access to the system they use - the fucking installation process pretty much dictates it.

As for Windows 11 having the same problems being a surprise? No surprise at all, Windows 11 is just a reskin of Windows 10 with a PITA installer that insists on fictitious hardware "requirements" to install.

/rant :)

Boeing 737 Max chief technical pilot charged with deceiving US aviation regulators over MCAS

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You missed "non-executive"

Judge in UK rules Amazon Ring doorbell audio recordings breach data protection laws

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Did I read that correctly? He put a camera up on someone else's property? Isn't that essentially vandalism and/or damage? If someone put a camera on my wall without asking I'd remove it.

McDonald's email blunder broadcasts database creds to comedy competition winners

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I had similar with Netflix, they insisted that I had an account with them and that I signed up with them despite me never having done so and having never gone through any email verification process but was still receiving account emails. Then they stated that because I didn't have an account with them that they couldn't talk to me or provide support... /genius

Config cockup leaves Reg reader reaching for the phone

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Re: Cisco commands are live too

The scenarios that can bite a long time after are those that can really be hard to track down as a result.

For example, the difference between live and stored configuration. Make changes to the live configuration and test to make sure that it works. Then forget to save the running configuration. Nothing bad happens until an unspecified period of time later and the system is restarted for whatever reason and it reverts back to the previous, stored configuration and things stop working.

Opt-out is the right approach for sharing your medical records with researchers

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Re: NHS Data Slurp As A Threat

From memory thirty was the published average for the number of dwellings covered by a single post code.

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Re: Shirley there must be an acceptable third option

It's the selling of the raw data and transferring it to regimes with absolutely no worthwhile data protection laws (i.e. the US), that is the key issue.

Once copies of data is out in the wild, they will never be anything other than "out there".

Allowing access to anonymised data in the manner that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) provide - where accredited researchers may work on the already anonymised data and then provide the output to ONS staff who vet it and then transfer it from their network for collection. This provides a high level of data protection while not allowing access to raw data to predatory organisations only interested in using and abusing it for financial gain - and while I can see the medical benefits of large dataset analysis, the money comes from the abuse and use of the data for financial gain which is where these companies like Palantir come in.

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Re: NHS Data Slurp As A Threat

This is where it is absolutely critical that US based "no data protection here" type organisations NEVER have direct access to the master data. Access to very carefully curated and anonymised datasets, that's palatable, but never, ever access to anything beyond this.

IDC: Global PC market growing pains in Q3 due to 'softening' of sales in America

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Sigh... yet another idiot "economist" expecting perpetual growth. Perpetual growth is not possible. Saturation happens.

Even when a disposable non-reusable market is created, it will never have perpetual growth.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the BBC stage a very British coup to rescue our data from Facebook and friends

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Re: Can't get my head around this concept

It's because the UK is not like the US where there is absolutely no worthwhile data protection laws in place at all. As a result, the UK must change to ensure that they are similar.

Similar to the NHS. It's utterly wrong that people in the UK can be treated and recover from injuries and as a result society as whole benefits where the "American Way" where if you can't afford it you can damn well die in pain or live in discomfort or debt for the rest of your life is so much better. For those who can afford it and are charging for it.


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