* Posts by Peter

279 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Apr 2007


Hoon: Not building überdatabase would be terrorist licence to kill

Peter Gold badge

@ is there anyone besides me

Sorry, can't help you. There's a reason I can't feel my legs.

(thank you, Rowan Atkinson).

Palin demands $15m to search her own emails

Peter Gold badge

$15M? More like $1k

OK; throw in another $1k for a new laptop so it can be used and then destroyed.

All it takes is one tech, a copy of Thunderbird and a fat TSA bloke to watch over him (may set a precedent to let them do something useful). And this will take an hour max, unless the White House has suddenly switched to dialup modems.

Who the hell is she trying to kid?

GooTube snubs McCain's call for DMCA favoritism

Peter Gold badge
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Payback is a bitch ..

No more comment required. Just a big, fat grin..

Laser raygun plane gets $30m 'extended evaluation'

Peter Gold badge

Just hope ..

.. the pilots are shielded from someone playing at ground level with a £20 laser pointer. They would never be able to live down the irony..


Bloke knocked up kebabs close to corpse couch

Peter Gold badge

OK, so we know what happened to the *second* body then..

Did someone check the corpse's passport ? It is a legal requirement to declare the origin of the meat..

Mine's the one with the cleaver in the pocket.

Gates predicts 'significant' US recession

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Gates, awarded an honorary degree from Harvard in 2007 after dropping out in 1975

Classic line, thanks.

OpenOffice.org overwhelmed by demand for version 3.0

Peter Gold badge
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Yippie - a patch for MS Office..

Hurray, now I can at least fix all those dead XML files that MS Office creates.

I have noticed that OOo is always able to open files and at least partially rescue the content of them where MS Office (which corrupted the files in the first place) simply would give up or crash.

I prefer OO, just because of that - and because it doesn't run VBA..

Canada sex shop heist shafts proprietress

Peter Gold badge

@ I'm curious

Thanks for that typo - "Leiderhosen" is a IMHO destined to be a classic for anyone understanding a bit of German.

The word is "Lederhosen", but Leiderhosen is soo much better given what they are. (Leider is sort of equivalent to "alas" :-). Quality!

Martin Sheen backs Paris for president

Peter Gold badge

She'll have my vote - the real one.

Trouble is, I'm not American. But that's OK for fake votes!

I think it's brave throwing a stick like that into the hen house. The risk is that the wannabee politicians woudl try to play games with it. Having said that, McCain already got a warning - if he doesn't recognise that he's in for some entertainment the moment his camp tries it again.

The kid's got brains - yeah!

DVLA: A licence to bill

Peter Gold badge

Actually, a clamping tip.

OK guys, since you mentioned clamping as well, here's how I got out of a car clamp in London: I asked the clampers to identify themselves.

For ANY company to claim they have the right to take your property hostage they will have to prove (a) that they are indeed acting on behalf of the landowner and (b) their identity as employee of said enacting company.

The argument for this is simple: such companies ALWAYS insist on a non-traceable form of payment. No cheques or CC, cash only. This is perfection for a scammer: just throw a couple of clamps in the car, hike to the nearest place with people that can be misled into thinking they did wrong (hang your own sign if need be, plenty to unscrew in London) and start collecting. More rewards for those towing such cars away - we're all so conditioned by now that nobody will assume you're just nicking the vehicle if you stick a big sticker on the windscreen first. I'm waiting for this to become a crime wave of sufficient size to cause a clamp down (unintentional pun) on those jerks.

OK, back to the story. The clamping goon naturally stated he was "authorised" so I asked him calmly to prove it. He couldn't, "but his mate could when he got back". I was at that point already talking to the police on my mobile (who advised me they wouldn't act, probably because that would mean effort, but the chimp in front of me didn't know that so I finished the conversation with "yes, of course, I'll ring you as soon as they have failed to identify themselves"). Chimp #2 arrived, no ID either, but "he'd ring the boss". Boss: "we are fully authorized", me: "yes, I'd say that too, but where's the proof?". Boss: "I'll get someone to you with proof in a hour", me: "Yeah, right, I'll give you time to print some fakes. You have two options. Either you tell these goons to unlock that clamp and get their IDs, or I'll personally walk them to the police station and you can go and collect them there in an hour with your paperwork".

Boss took the sensible option.

The only thing I haven't done yet is forming a key squad. There is a nice hole in UK law which states that if you manage to remove the clamp without damaging it they have an enforcement problem. A group of people who have followed the MIT paper on picking locks or who participate in championships such as at http://www.toool.nl/ can could create a nice bit of havoc for a clamping team. They can also not prevent you from taking it off (without resorting to violence which gets them in the slammer). And they won't get help from the police either.

I would have had a little bit of understanding if these people actually did something useful. But ever since my late father in law got a ticket in front of the hospital when he got his cancer treatment they are off my Xmas list. And that ticket was never paid - they "cancelled" it after I wrote them two letters.

The last one contained his death certificate.

UK border facial scan tests hit by errors and breakdowns

Peter Gold badge

So, can we call this then ..

.. loss of face?

Mine's the one with the rubber face and the false beard, thanks.

Remote access tech nabs smut-fan laptop theft suspect

Peter Gold badge

@ Daft question alert

Not a daft question, but the answer lies in not relying on an IP address to make the connection.

Most remote control products use a central server to which the remote software reports, and picks up any remote control requests from there. You will find that approach when you start looking at how to get VNC to work past a firewall, and the whole approach is neatly wrapped up in a product called "Teamviewer" (add .com for the website) which is (AFAIK) from the authors of one of the many VNC implementations.

You can install the product as "resident" which means it has a fixed password, or in "on demand" mode (which obviously wouldn't have helped here :-) which is a bit safer as you need to give permission and the password changes per session - I'm personally not too keen on someone gaining access to my screen when I'm using my bank account ..

I can recommend it - it's free for personal use and it's the first program I have been able to let loose on total non-tech parents without there being a problem..

So there - not that daft, and an answer :-)

Another London BT exchange hit by thieves

Peter Gold badge

You've got it all wrong.. It's a cooling experiment

You obviously missed the experiments last week that showed just how much airco power you could save by throwing open the doors in the evening.

Those parts are just given a cooling off to save energy, that's all. They just moved them a bit far away.

I'd rig the lot, but the issue is that it could be an insider job..

Marketing body condemns 'draconian' Olympic law

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so, I guess..

.. there will be a large demand for GAMES supervisors whose palms can be crossed with SILVER to allow the use of banned words. That should happen in LONDON around 20:12 at night so such GOLDEN handshakes cannot be reported. That will make for a nice 2012 SUMMER.

Lemme see, that is then, umm, £140'000, thank you?

I spot a bad case of cranial invasion of the rectal cavity here. There must be a better way.

Oh, and what allowance does a London taxpayer get for their involuntary donation to the Games?

Ah. Thought so.

Data centers embrace The Great Outdoors

Peter Gold badge

Don't try this in London..

.. unless you want MORE equipment stolen.

The prime risk is that you provide an opening. Openings attract rats. Human ones. That is IMHO a problem you need fixing first.

ePassport tests put biometrics through their paces

Peter Gold badge

But why no shielding ?!?

What I want to know is why the EU has not mandated shielding in the passport cover? It means any idiot can read the chip from a distance with minimal effort. I don't know what the coding standards are, but if the RFID allows identification of country of origin, the door is open to construct hidden bombs that only go off if enough, say, French passports were in the proximity.

One benefit, though. If you work with comms equipment the lack of shielding may "accidentally" result in a toasted RFID chip. Not my fault, gov..

iPhone auto-correct puts Euro tongues out of joint

Peter Gold badge

Lovely feature: the ability to disable automatons

I must express my intense dislike of a lot of such automation. In a way, I find it insulting that software authors think we can't be trusted with our own languages and force this crap on us, and they are not the only mini-Hitlers that think that way. IMHO, this falls into the same hate category as "humanising" equipment:

- I would like to stick the head of the idiot who designed the reminder beep into my microwave in said microwave and switch it on (he planned ahead, won't work with the door open) - I didn't get to my age without realising that microwaving heats up things, thank you, and after 5 minutes this MAY just have become irrelevant. Its mechanisc, I like that I can ignore the damn thing when I damn well want to.

- The persistent nagging of practically EVERY software package on Windows post install which wants to restart the box while you're working (it's MY system doing work for ME and it's MY decision to interrupt my work), to the point that you have to be incredibly careful what you type because the damn thing could pop up, interpret a keystroke not meant for it and nuke your fight to meet a deadline by downing the box, losing your work and let you swear for 5 minutes while it reboots and sorts itself out (assuming you're lucky and the update didn't bluescreen the house of cards called Windows). Yes, auto-update is off now, thanks.

- The Tamagochi bleep of a Motorola v3i when you're not immediately check whatever event happened this time (which eventually earned it being replaced by anything-but-Motorola after it met an unfortunate accident involving the floor, my heel and accelerated full bodyweight).

- the "instant" spellcheck which means that you cannot flow a constant, focused stream of thought onto the system without a - hang on, what's wrong with "spellcheck"?

The term "user friendly" does NOT mean "assume the end user has room temperature IQ, design accordingly". It means making technology capable of adopting to the specific user in question. It means not ramming something down an end user's throat without offering him/her the opportunity to choose otherwise. It means checking with users if whatever you've invented actually has a use so the end user doesn't have to remove it.

User friendly means thinking from the users' perspective, and from this specific, technically capable end user's perspective I would gladly like to reacquaint a number of designers with their creations.


Peter Gold badge

Just enable more languages, RTFM

I SMS in 3 different languages on the Jezus phone (when I use it, my Sony Ericsson P1i gets more use). All you need to do is enable the international keyboard for the language you speak, and you can switch between them with the button left to the spacebar (the virtual one, of course).

However, I agree that auto-correct is a pain, and not just on a mobile. Whole generations of users now write "teh" instead of "the" because their error gets corrected and thus re-inforces that mistake instead of correcting it.

Cray, Intel, and Microsoft birth baby supercomputer

Peter Gold badge

To all who laugh at this effort

Guys, there are too many unknowns, and there ARE people out there who look for power without the upfront pain (there will be pain afterwards IMHO, but then they have spent the money).

This could be a good move for MS (and Cray) - it's IMHO *way* too early to tell. Distributed computing has at lest the ability to make Windows a bit stable, and ought to be enough to keep up with animated cursors. Having said that, if history tells us anything it's that MS engineering will soon get rid of those benefits..

Wait and see. Meanwhile, I'll stick with Linux. I go for what works for *me*..

OMFG, what have you done?

Peter Gold badge

OK-ish, but for the width

OK, I can see the logic (hey, I actually *read* the article!) and the only thing that bogs me is the fixed width of, what? 800? It feels claustrophobic, frankly, especially since the side panels have to somehow fit in as well.

So you're right, I'm hereby handing you stick for the fixed width. For the rest I can see what you're trying to do and it would be unfair to yell at you yet, I have to use it for a while first (translated: I may still in a week from now, though :-)

And I liked the old icons MUCH more..

Furse should not resign, she should be sacked

Peter Gold badge

Bottom line is that you're mentioning Windows..

I thought so. Here's a scary one for you: somewhere in the 90s (around the time of NT 4.0) it became "fashionable" to use Windows for process control systems as well. Fashion equates to "not being decided by logic" and today we are reaping the benefit of that idea: a mad scramble to get those systems at least a BIT secure.

Your observation is thus no surprise: again a case of people who have no clue dictating to those who have, instead of letting those people do what they're paid for. But it's exactly that sort of micromanagement and "politics ueber all" attitude that made me leave that whole scene.

There is a small flaw in your argument, though. The lot at the top isn't entirely useless. Their job is to get clients in, which they do. The mistake they made was to make decisions outside their competence as well - QED..

Apple revamps iPod line-up

Peter Gold badge

@ You can just ..

Of course there is an IT angle:

- it's hardware

- there's firmware and software involved

- for the first time, someone makes a device that reacts to young male activities when used to display porn (also rumoured to be an IT activitity). If the shaking feature cannot be switched off it will greatly reduce repetitive st(r)ain injury amongst that population as it would switch tracks.

Call if you need more help, always a pleasure..

The Hadron Collider: What's it all about, then?

Peter Gold badge

Just imagine ..

.. the LCH accidentally creates the first hyperdrive. We'd all be very impressed in the few nanoseconds before we plunge into some distant sun ..

Morbid joking aside, did anyone spot that 26 countries have actually managed to do something together?

That's worth celebrating in itself. I'll treat myself to some lhcconcerns baiting, I think.


Brit trio convicted for liquid bomb terror plot

Peter Gold badge

BBC has a liquid bomb demo video

They messed it up a bit to stop it from becoming a instruction video, but the article here [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7606892.stm] has video footage.

Segway shock army to invade Department of Transport

Peter Gold badge

@ The Future (Daniel)

"the future for the human race?? well i picture an amorphous blob"

No, no, that's another politician, and that isn't Segway related. He has two Jags..

Keep your facts straight, please.


Burned by Chrome - Fire put out

Peter Gold badge

Evidence Google is now a BIG company ..

I think they simply screwed up here. Yes, the terms were plain unacceptable, but it appears a recycled template and they have fixed it now. Shame it needs a good bash before they caught that one, but look at the bright side:

People are actually starting to *READ* EULAs !!

IMHO that is a profound change, because this means it'll be a matter of time before the dodgy stuff in certain other EULAs gets objected to.

Cloned US ATM cards: Can they fool Brit self-service checkouts?

Peter Gold badge

@ Unless you own the PIN machine, this will continue to happen (Brent Gardner)

You obviously haven't read up on cloned SIMcards, have you?

But you're right: the secure terminal isn't..

Now Hollywood is chasing UK downloaders

Peter Gold badge

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your letter.

After reading your letter, I have not found a valid basis to change my behaviour or how I use my Internet connection. I would, however, like to warn you that taking any of the actions you detail will have consequences and could result in legal followup.

.. the idea is to goad those idiots into correspondence. The moment they'll try to act it'll become apparent just what a bunch of goons they are (notice that teh above does not amount to an admission :-). And legal time is expensive - serves them right.

Microsoft, Nikon release shutter on patents

Peter Gold badge

Nah, you're missing the point.

No more high quality shots of blue screened systems at, say, the Olympics.

One down, a gazillion to go ..

Brit firm to demo serious flying robo-saucer in 2009

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Open Source the controls.

If they can build some kind of mathematical model of how its flight is controlled and make that available I bet there will be a substantial amount of people willing to code guidance, even just for the hell of it (you'd need quality control, of course, but it would quite a cool thing to do).

Offer 3 prizes:

- to be named and included in press

- get to see it work, personally

- get one to play with (assuming you have friendly neighbours, which may not last after you've taken out their windows).

Could lead to decent jobs for some people as well, just prepare for awkward questions when it flies off with your laptop still attached. No insurance will believe you (my laptop flew off with a flying saucer)..


British boffins perfect process to make any item '100% waterproof'

Peter Gold badge

What happens when you treat a water bottle?

Just curious - do you end up with a bubble of water hovering 1 inch off the surface or what?

I have another good use for this: car windshields. Stuff like Rain-X works well, but needs bi-weekly renewal, and nano coating seems less effective after half a year, but both are good enough to repeat the effort to maintain the result. I can also see this work for seats and windows in general.

And it would be a fantastic practical joke to give someone a treated towel ..


Geek tech takes hoovering to new heights

Peter Gold badge

@ Mis-read the title

Yeah, it sucks. But that's the point :-)

Yeah, coat..

Aussie has answer to save Earth from asteroid attack

Peter Gold badge

Forget Mylar - bubble wrap!

Look, if you just wrap it in bubble wrap it'll land softly. Afterwards just unwrap the thing and use it as a new mountain or something. Obviously you need one with a higher melting point but I'm sure that can be solved.

And the bubble wrap can be recycled for stress therapy.

There. Any more problems?

Lag log leaks - Home Office contractor loses entire prison population

Peter Gold badge

@ Enough & black lists

Blacklists won't work.

They'll lose them..

Cybercrime bust highlights PIN terminal insecurity

Peter Gold badge

Sorry to blow our horm, but the problem *is* solved..

Could I humbly suggest you look at www.axsionics.ch, a Swiss startup? I'm working on the docs so if you want decent details mention it (once I have this I will send El Reg a token to play with, give me a couple of weeks).

In short, it's a trusted display (graphical OLED), combining more or less all of your above comments. To address question one upfront: no, the use of biometrics does not mean that a "disconnected" finger is of use (or its friendlier equivalent, the copied fingerprint a la Chaos Computer Club). The reader is quite good at rejecting fakes, and you have to "name" your fingers - only you know which finger "g" is, for instance, if you used the word "frog" to name them.

A message for the token is AES128 symmetric dual cert encrypted, so it has to (a) come from a defined source (the token accepts 128 different origin certs) and (b) has to be encoded for that token or it won't be able to decode it. It picks that encrypted message up via a screen animation, and after taking a valid fingerprint it will show it, together with a password if an answer is required. So, "To: BT, A/C Household, Val. GBP 125,23, PIN ABC45F" is quite possible (or "Please call us on +44 1234 4568") - and that PIN is also meaningless to anyone but you and the sending server because it's a One Time Password, generated on the card.

This means that a Man in The Middle Attack won't work, and -VERY- important, that you do NOT need a secure terminal. There is no reason why you can't use one of the card's channels as a payment method, which ends the need for secure terminals altogether. Instead, you just pop up an iframe in the POS display (or an external one), supply the required finger sweep, read the message and enter the PIN (numeric or alphanumeric) if required. Ditto at home - regardless whether your system is virus infested or not.

To give you an idea where I'm coming from, I was consulting private Swiss banks on next generation eBanking, and the basic premise there too is that we have to assume the client PC *is* infected. Yet, you still need to supply secure eBanking.

Expect to hear more from us soon :-).

Apple's AppStore closes in on $500m in software sales

Peter Gold badge

For a bit of balance..

I have been using mobile phones since the Motorola "brick", and was one of the first people in London to have a NEC P3 (yes, I'm that old :-). Presently I have two Motorola V3i (nice pocket form factor), a Sony Ericsson P1i (which also has Tomtom nav software installed) and a 3G iPhone (not my choice, it's a company phone). The Motorola's only ever come out if I need to travel far, mostly I use the P1i as I found the iPhone an iPain in the neck to use after the initial excitement about the gloss had worn off and I actually had to USE it.


- a switch to make it silent. Briliant for meetings.

- adding 3rd party to call - one button!

- grouping SMS conversations - but it's also irritating

- looks - nice display, decent form factor, black's quite OK

- iPod inside. 'nuf said - and videos work very well on it too.


- all have to pass "Start" - bleagh

- not really multitasking, thus sloooooow app switching

- SMS length or delivery feedback? Easy to overspend, oh , sorry, they get a cut of that

- app store. It sucks as the sole route. Easy for plebs, irritating for anyone else. Stalin may have liked it.

- apps - limited range, not open platform (Symbian now is, hurray).

- is "location" really a choice? Maybe it goes all the way back to Apple? Don't know - would like to know.

- PIM sucks. Not design, just switching in and out is a royal pain to the point of not being usable in Real Life

- the camera and software sucks seven ways to Sunday. It's been a while I had such a bad camera in a phone.

- can't use songs as ringtones. Pathetic lock in, which really was the last straw for me.

- no Bluetooth file transfer

- app authors appear to like putting suggestions in the box where you need to type - so you have to erase all that

- no cut & paste...

I have gone back to the P1i. It has a sensible keyboard, a decent OS, OK apps to go with it (that also sync with my PC desktop) and is in general quicker. It has a rather acceptable camera (which also doubles as the input for the business card OCR scanner app that comes with it) and is capable enough to combine PIM with phone - provided you use a headset. It's not perfect, but it WORKS, and does so reasonably fast.

I have the iPhone because the work we do uses web graphics, and an iPhone is easier to carry than a laptop. But it can't beat the Sony IMHO, so I suspect people espousing other iPhone-alternatives probably have a point too. It's OK for the average person, but as a working tool it needs a lot of improvement. But hey, it's an Apple iPhone 3G beta, no?


EDS hits TfL with restraining order

Peter Gold badge

@ FFS People!

I think you need to losen up.

(and that one was deliberately mizpeled :-).

Thy evil overlort (dang, done it again).


PH, 'coz she doesn't need to spell.

Top-secret Android handset surfaces on YouTube

Peter Gold badge

Can't you just Google for it?

I mean, everything's on Google, no?

OK, coat..

Unencrypted traveler data laptop disappears then reappears

Peter Gold badge

I like this one..

Clear: yeah, even cleartext

Focus: those with enough money to afford the program, i.e. those with enough money to give them the mother of all headaches in court.

Well done!

Austrian official fuels Skype backdoor rumours

Peter Gold badge

It's not the first time I've heard this

I've heard this in circles I expect to have real knowledge of such a capability, so I treat Skype like any other phone: potentially tapped.

If I want secure comms I'll set up an Asterisk server with VPN and accounts for those I want to talk to..

Apple seeks iPhone reverse engineering expert

Peter Gold badge

Classic fallacy

Same problem with a penetration test: you will only prove that one specific person with a specific skillset and specific tools could or could not break the phone at that specific moment he/she/it tried.

Whoever gets that job should (a) ensure legal protection, AFAIK it's illegal to do this - there are no exceptions in the law that make doing this legal, even if you have permission and (b) realise that it's a time bomb: it's you against a gazillion others, and you will get the blame if they find a way in.

Doesn't surprise me the job's still open..

American data pimper exposes ad equation

Peter Gold badge

Breach of computer access laws

Given that such data is collected without consent I would assume a case against these people for illegal access and use of computer solutions is likely to stand up. The shenanigans with the government are simply a way to take the eye off the potential for individuals to go after this mob with class action.

Having said that, IANAL. But the door appears to be open rather wide..

Quantum of Solace trailer teases fans

Peter Gold badge

What did they do with the Aston they trashed?

I'm more curious if someone has been able to film the Aston Martin seeking the deep and use it in the film. There are VERY few films where they trash such a car, and this one looked thoroughy trashed when they fished it out of the lake.

"Oops" would have been a masterful understatement :-)

OpenSUSE 11 a redemptive OS with a Mactastic shine

Peter Gold badge

We'll see

From experience I'm not going to judge a distro until it's (a) actually released and (b) has about a month worth of use so the patches are up to date. I switched long time ago from RH to SuSE and then OpenSuSE - but that's because it matches what *I* need. I also run an Ubuntu desktop but I'm halfway between desktop and server for my needs and OpenSuSE seems to be right on the mark.

I'm looking forward to it.

US woman sues over exploding thong

Peter Gold badge

OK, inquiring minds want to know ..

.. which eye is she talking about?

The dodgy mac, thanks..

NY street-cleaning truck swallows dog

Peter Gold badge

Can we get one for pigeons?

I'm pretty sure we can get some serious wear and tear on a few of those machines at Trafalgar square :-)

Standard sales tactics: drop a load of stuff on the ground (seeds, in this case) and then offer to hoover them up again. Including pigeons.. Just keep the kids out of the way, mainly because they could clog up the machine :-).

Apple under the gun to master the iPhone's 'second album'

Peter Gold badge

You can change oil?

Wow, interesting. Mine just has a light that comes on every 30 000 miles or so that it wants to the garage..


UK is not a surveillance society, MPs claim

Peter Gold badge

Obvious conclusion..

Of course he would say that the UK is not a surveillance society.

What else do you say in front of a camera?

Boffins prove the existence of jet-setters

Peter Gold badge

Of course they don't move around much..

.. with current fuel prices. Duh.


Google defends open source from 'poisonous people'

Peter Gold badge

I actually *want* names in code.

I look at it from the developer's side. All they sometimes get from all the hard work is recognition. Who am I to deny that? They have to eat too, and I actually prefer myself to employ people who can prove they've coded in Open Source because it means they are capable of collaboration and integration (and I'll figure out the personality issues myself, thanks). The approach as described in the article would deprive these people of the one benefit (other than experience) such project could bring them.

This comes, of course, with a caveat: each piece of code must be seen as a contribution, not as a territory. It's courtesy to debate a change to someone else's code, but "ownership" must not get in the way of improvements, and THAT arbitration is the true role for a project leader - the big picture.

So, philosophically I can understand what they try to do (although it looks rather self serving from one angle) but I don't agree. And that's fine. Differences of opinion make for debate (not arguments, debate) and that is just as critical for quality as good coders. There is no better way to kill the quality of a deliverable than to stop debate or prevent dissent from being listened to.

Just look at the first days of Terminal 5..