* Posts by A Bee

30 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Apr 2008

Father of Unix Ken Thompson checkmated: Old eight-char password is finally cracked

A Bee

He didn't immediately respond to a request for comment...

... as he was too busy resetting all his passwords.

As HMRC's quarterly deadline for online VAT filing looms, biz dogged by 'technical difficulties'

A Bee


In order to enrol in MTD, a company needs to select MTD software which has been approved by HMRC.

If you have an in-house integrated sales and accounting system, then either you use bridging software (pointless, destroys the point of itnegration) or you build your own MTD module, which has to be approved by HMRC. (Their web site says they will respond within 10 days.)

So we built our own module, tested it via the HMRC sandbox and submitted for approval.

Way more than 10 days elapsed. We heard nothing.

We submitted a support ticket. Got a response that they would look into it. Thereafter, nothing.

Not a positive user experience of something done for the benefit of HMRC, not for the benefit of the user.

Small Brit firms beg for 'light touch' as only half are ready for digital tax reforms due next month

A Bee

Making Tax Farcical

Just suppose that you run a small business.

Suppose you have in-house business systems that (inter alia) record VAT digitally.

Suppose you use those business sysems to generate the data to fill the seven fields that are needed by HMRC reporting once per quarter.

Then along comes Makinging Tax Digital, with a requirement to supply that data via the HMRC API.

Suppose that the API has no documented examples in the language used by your business systems.

You have three options:

1. Replace your business systems.

2. Spend development time on developing, testing and debugging a customised interface with the HMRC API.

3. Export from your business systems to commercial "bridging software" which interfaces to the HMRC API.

All in order to populate 7 fields once per quarter.

Which business problem does HMRC suppose that this solves?

Australia on the cusp of showing the world how to break encryption

A Bee

Crypto-busting bill

"... but we still don't know what will be in it."

Why not? Have they encrypted it?

SpaceX blasted massive plasma hole in Earth's ionosphere

A Bee

"1,770,000 square kilometers (1,099,827 square miles), more than four times the total area of California."

Come on, Reg, let's have some consistency of standard units. What you mean is 85.1904 times the size of Wales.

Mueller bombshell: 13 Russian 'troll factory' staffers charged with allegedly meddling in US presidential election

A Bee

This looks like a good move by Mueller; the indictment doesn't accuse the Trump campaign of anything, but at the same time identifies serious Russian interference in the election. That makes it more difficult for Trump to move against Mueller because to do so would be to side with Russia (and therefore demonstrate his own guilt).

Damian Green: Not only my workstation – mystery pr0n all over Parliamentary PCs

A Bee

So Many Questions

According to the reports I heard, the police passed on reports of material inappropriate for a work computer found on Mr Green's PC to the parliamentary authorities; they believed that an enquiry was underway, but they were never asked to give evidence.

Now you quote Green: “No allegations about the presence of improper material on my parliamentary computers have ever been put to me or to the parliamentary authorities by the police.”

So was there an enquiry by the parliamentary authorities or not?

What kind of enquiry doesn't look at the two primary sources of evidence?

Now, whilst I care about how Green (or anyone) treats staff and colleagues, I don't care whether or not he uses porn.

On the other hand, there should be rules about appropriate uses for work computers, not least for reasons of security.

Why are there members of the House of Commons falling over one another to tell us how lax they are about computer security?

Is your Windows 10, 8 PC falling off the 'net? Microsoft doesn't care

A Bee

It is not called Windows Ten

It is Windows One Ring

Dark net LinkedIn sale looks like the real deal

A Bee

Re: Password changes

@Steve K

Someone seems to have hacked your account and copied your post.

IBM invents printer that checks for copyrights

A Bee

"Still, it is not hard to see a practical application for the copyright-conscious printers in environments such as libraries or schools, where administrators would seek to limit the possibility of infringement from users wanting to print out partial or entire works."

Except that in UK schools, for example, there is a blanket licence to print limited extracts from copyrighted works, so the printer would need to know the length of the extract in relation to the length of the whole work.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows: The spirit of Clippy lives on

A Bee

"Microsoft Office is wedded to its file formats"

How's 2016 for forwards and backwards compatibility?

Will previous versions screw up its formatting? (See, for example, the unpatched differences between Word 2007 and Word 2010. The file format was apparently the same, but switching between them had the nasty habit of removing the spaces from between words.)

End well: this won't. European Copyright Society wants one EU law to rule 'em all

A Bee

Muddy Waters

Harmonisation should make it easier to navigate the legal labyrinth, but there's a hell of a lot to harmonise.

Just to muddy the waters a bit, up until last week, the place of supply for goods delivered over the internet was the supplier's location. Now, for VAT purposes, the place of supply is the customer's location.

If the applicable tax law is that of the customer's country, shouldn't the applicable copyright law also be that of the customer's country?

(Both things would be easier if harmonised.)

Shazam! Record labels shovel $9m into name-that-song app

A Bee

Wake Me up...

... when there's an App that recognises a song when I hum it.

(The "what's this tune going round in my head" app.)

Apple to grieving sons: NO, you cannot have access to your dead mum's iPad

A Bee

Why Do Apple Think They're Different?

The way that UK financial institutions work is that there is a value threshold (I forget what it is, but it's way over the value of an iPad).

If the deceased's holding in that institution is below the threshold, they will release the holding on the basis of a copy of the death certificate and a copy of the will.

If the value is above threshold, then they require a probate certificate - that is to say, the will must have been proved in court. This is a standard procedure that requires the executor(s) of the will swear an oath that the will is genuine. They then get as many certificates as they need to send to the financial institutions who then act on their instructions.

Why is Apple different? A probate certificate should function in the same way as the court order - it says there is a genuine will which allocated the deceased's property in a particular way.

Isn't the iPad (and code) part of the deceased's property?

Vile Twitter trolls thrown in the cooler for rape abuse tweet spree

A Bee

Would it be too much...

... to expect any rational motive for their actions?

Why did they pick on this particular target for their abuse?

UK smut filter may have sent game patch to sin-bin

A Bee

Re: There have been stories like this...

You write as if "crude filters" are a thing of the past.

Let me assure you that they are still in place.

See http://beewaxing.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/the-invention-of-paul-roostercroft/

Fasthosts goes titsup after storm-induced power outage

A Bee
Big Brother


The data centre is probably in Gloucester for the convenience of our friends in Cheltenham.

Parody is illegal, say barmy bureaucrats

A Bee

More clarification needed

Parody ain't black and white. The grey areas may be in need of clarification (which I don't think the consultation delivers).

If I write lyrics to somebody else's tune, then if I want to do anything public or commercial with that work, I need the permission of the copyright holder of the tune. (Why should it be otherwise?)

On the other hand, if Mitch Ben or the Heebie Jeebies (Angus Deayton, Michael Fenton Stevens, and Philip Pope) write a parody in the style of someone else, they should have the right to create original works for the purpose of taking the piss.

The parody has to come close to the original to do its job, but somewhere there's a crossover point, where melody or lyrics (in the example of a song) move from parody to appropriation. At that boundary we have more jobs for m'learned friends.

[Holmes icon because some wazzacks are still trying to claim copyright for Conan Doyle material.]

Intel mad for power, but stacked-up dies keep MELTING!

A Bee



Heavily-looted mobile phone barns issue 'safety first' missives to staff

A Bee
Black Helicopters

Brings back happy memories...

A few years back, there was a spate of muggings and thefts of lap-tops from a railway station near Amsterdam which was frequented by the staff of an electronics company, and also by employees of a consultancy company.

The electonics company staff received a corporate memo (along the lines of the Carphone Warehouse one), telling them to look after their personal safety as a first priority.

The consultants received a memo from their parent company telling them to password-protect their hard drives.

Mozilla lights fire under Thunderbird

A Bee

For English Readers of A Certain Age

When they get to Thunderbird 5, will it be resident in the Cloud?

(Mine's the blue one with the sash.)

ID fraud prevention week fights UK's fastest growing crime

A Bee

Re: Expect a call from your bank selling

It's not just your bank.

I got an Identity Theft sales pitch from Staples this morning. Their solution to Identity Theft? A shredder.

NASA moon-bomb probe strikes rich seam of fruitcake

A Bee

"Think of the planets in terms of forming a sentence."

Verb (imperative): Study

Noun: Physics

Who snapped first?

A Bee

@Alex's Silly Question

I am not the pathologist whose comment Alex requested but....

To have a heart attack in these circumstances, you have to be predisposed to heart attack (otherwise everyone struck by a police baton and pushed to the ground would have a heart attack).

Heart attacks are caused by blockages in blood vessels around the heart. (Predisposition to heart attack usually means that those vessels are constricted and are therefore more vulnerable to blockage by blood clots than vessels in good condition.)

I can speculate on two contributions to heart attack in this case:

Firstly, stress contributes to heart attacks (apparently by increasing blood pressure - a process in which the body "deliberately" constricts blood vessels. Where blood vessels are already constricted, recovery from stress tends to take longer than it would do in someone in "normal" physical condition). I would contend that being attacked by the police was a stressful experience.

Secondly, blood clots are formed by platelets which can form in response to damage to blood vessels - clotting is part of the process of repair to damaged caused by contusion - for example, being struck by a baton. So where there is bruising, there is increased formation of clots. It may be possible that some of the clotting agents are swept along in the blood stream to areas where they are not needed - and in the case of already constricted blood vessels, to places where they do damage. Clotting is not an instant process (otherwise all wounds would heal instantly.)

So, I can imagine a chain of events from assault to heart attack.

For a more informed view, a pathologist and a coroner are required.

BT silences customers over Phorm

A Bee

The BT Gulag

The problem that BT got into with the forum threads was that they deliberately restricted threads, and, by way of a sweetener, they created a limited number of threads (eventually one) in which they invited questions about Webwise.

Since Webwise had not been implemented, all the questions were about how it was going to work, and the only people who could answer those questions were BT.

BT did not answer the questions. (And they steadfastly did not answer the questions about when they would answer the questions.)

Furthermore, since the people who were asking questions were the ones who knew about Phorm and were therefore convinced that it was a thoroughly bad idea, all of the questions were hostile.

As BT did not answer the questions, the questions became progressively more hostile.

BT had two ways out: they could have made the honest admission that spying on their customers was a bad idea. Instead, they took the Stalinist approach.

Mine's the MAC.

Government Gateway login details found in pub car park

A Bee

Not Quite to type

It is unlike ATOS Origin to be so careless with data.

A few years ago, there was a spate of violent muggings, some involving the theft of laptop computers, from a railway station frequented by personnel from ATOS Origin and one of its clients. Employees of the client company received a memo giving them advice about personal safety. Employees of ATOS Origin received a memo reminding them of the steps they needed to take to keep their data secure.

Mine's the one with the encription keys on the same ring as the car keys.

EU mulls intervention over BT's secret Phorm trials

A Bee
Paris Hilton

Toothless Tiger

In the full text of the ICO response on the cable forum, they say "BT’s view is that as the 2007 trial was small scale and technical in nature and no adverts were served, it would have been difficult to frame any advice for customers about the operation of cookies, and obtain any relevant consents for the processing of traffic data"

In other words, "we don't have to tell customers that we're sharing every detail of their browsing habits with a third party because we're not using it to generate adverts".

That bit of BT sophistry should have been given a good mauling by the ICO, instead, the toothless tiger didn't even attempt a gummy suck.

Paris, on the grounds that she'd appreciate the last comment.

Virgin Media distances itself from Phorm 'adoption' claims

A Bee

Don't celebrate too early

Note the quote from Virgin Media's Webwise page: "Webwise is a technically complex application which could be implemented in a number of different ways and it will be some months before we can confirm if the service will be made available to our customers and if so, how and when it would be deployed."

That could be read as "We're going to keep quiet until the fuss dies down, then make our move".

Don't let up the pressure - it still stinks!

Home Office defends 'dangerously misleading' Phorm thumbs-up

A Bee

Re: Just for Giggles

It should be noted that Phorm say that they will not include porn in their profiling.

I believe them.

It should also be noted - and emphasised over and over again when this business comes to court - that the profiling is done in software.

So whilst I believe Phorm now in this respect, I also know that their software can be updated, and that in future they will come under commercial pressure to make more money by looking for opportunities to expand their profiling. Because it is software, they can adapt it to scruitinising anything they wish.

For me, the big issue with Phorm is that it is the thin end of a wedge. I do not want to have to wait for the abuse to happen before a legal challenge is mounted, I want the potential for abuse to be prevented.

A Bee

Presumed Consent

Amongst many others, there is an interesting difference between the level of detail between the Home Office assessment and Bohm's with respect to the presumed consent of Webmasters to access by Phorm.

The Home Office makes the assumption that "because it's on the web, then a search engine can get to it, therefore it's open to anyone, including Phorm".

As Bohm points out, that ain't so. In common with many others, my web site has some private areas. The private areas do not have links from anywhere else on the web, so search engines cannot find them. However, because Phorm follows the user, not a spider, if I've told anyone how to get to the private area, then Phorm can follow them there - and it does not give me, as webmaster a way of preventing this (aside from restructuring the pages by encryiption).

Phorm is presuming a consent which I do not grant!