* Posts by Will

27 posts • joined 8 Aug 2008

Bing passes Yahoo! in Google runner-up stakes


I'm gonna use it

As (intelligent) consumers we need to balance the market. It is the first large scale "lightweight homepage" alternative to google. The stats here speak for themselves - we need balance, even if that' means to fight one evit with another.

Sims 3 pirated 180,000 times in three days


Means nothing without a ratio to sales

which obviously doesn't exist yet. Can we have an update after a week or two of release once we know a percentage pirated figure?

YouTube flooded with porn


@@ how will they ever stop this?

As has been pointed out, fleshtone scanners mixed with other heuristic scanning techniques would provide youtube with a subset of videos that could be moderated by a human. However if someone were to want to upload their footage to youtube and bypass this, I'd suggest the following (this isn't particularly expert advice, but these things always made things trickier for me when I was playing with image recognition - except for the hairy pornstars):

Film the porn in inverted colours

Use very hairy pornstars

Film against a background that is a diagonal gradient from reddish pink to tan brown

Avoid repetitive motions ;) perhaps utilise constant panning and zoom such that the motion on the 2d image appears random.

include other bright coloured objects in the shot such as bowls of fruit or modern art.

Hopefully that would get people started, and more importantly this will hopefully lead to some really surreal porn.

UK.gov to spend £2bn on ISP tracking


https - safe?

First thing I thought when I heard this was "bugger - gonna have to use https all the time now". However it got me thinking about that. If ISPs are in control of our communication layer, are https certs still going to work? Doesn't their complete control over that allow them to just manufacture their own certificates and set themselves up as the certification authority?

This isn't a point, it's a genuine question - is https really safe now?

Virgin Media sticks with Phorm


Phorm technology

Can we stop referring to Phorm's intrusions as "technology". As I understand it they just put a packet sniffer at a really fundamental level on an ISP's network. Then browsed everyone's cookies and bounced them if they weren't well phormed.

Glad I wasn't a victim, if you whitelist cookies it appears they bounce you forward and back for a while before finally giving you your requested connection.

Anyway - it's not their technology, just their behaviour with our technology.

French pass 'three strikes' file-sharing law


Anyone know if they are actually able to prove it?

I heard a while ago that spoofing IP addresses was able to cause cease and desist letters to be sent to network printers. If they haven't got a full proof way of tracking you then nasty people could seriously impact a business' ability to operate.

Anyone know the ip addresses used by Société Générale?

Microsoft's latest open-source release catches a wrinkle


April fools too late?

If it weren't the 2nd I'd think it was. So MS have said you can't redistribute their entire $bn product without the license in it. Duh? It's actually a pretty nice license, of course code under MS-PL can <includeshockhorrorhere">Only</includeshockhorrorhere> be licensed under it, as otherwise they'd throw away their heavily invested code.

Acer sued for shipping Vista-book with GB of memory


dogs everywhere are coming for you!

Dogs around the world are outraged by the suggestion that they are in anyway comparable to vista's performance.

Pugs, Daschunds, and Bulldogs specifically reared for Crufts, are currently riding the wave of performance (which is emitted by all vista boxes in order to leave your machine with a net negative) in order to challenge you on this.

I think "runs" was a little too extreme a term for vista performance.

China bars WoW expansion for showing bone



From "syndicate wars" I assume (oh how I long for another one)? But is it really so nefarious to own a fast server or 6? You guys are actually making them out to be "The 9"! Personally I'd quite like to see the church of the new epoch entering the market, so hopefully you're right.

Intel refutes SSD slowdown accusation


Bin as media hype

Until we see some numbers and methodology we can't really have a clue what's going on. If the reviewer of that other article has been hesitant about pubishing serious stats, I'd say it raises questions about the validity of his review. Until then I feel it should be - innocent until proven guiltly

Cocaine now cheaper than lager


@Mark - re:Stimulant?

Very true, however you failed to point out that he also incorrectly implied Heroin is a stimulant. Honestly Mark, wikipedia is *right there*, and depending on whether or not the Tories are trying to cover up getting their facts wrong it's sometimes correct as well.

Silverlight 3 and 4 to 'open up new areas' - Microsoft



Silverlight is aiming to be as "installed" as flash. Are they going to open up Direct3D? ok, security would be tricky, but the benefits! 3D apps are actually quite small if you've been careful. Flash (I just mistyped it flawsh, but I think that represents the flourish that a designer would put on its pronunciation) has introduced 3D and MS need to catch up / not get left behind again.

Digital Britain: A tax, a quango and ISP snooping


Anonymised data?

What is the point of collecting anonymised data on repeat infringers - all you'd know would be that 'someone' was doing it, but you wouldn't know who.

iPhone SMS error bug won't go away


They took my ringtone away

There are few pure pleasures in this cruel modern world. So why has iTunes deleted my monkey island theme ringtone? why?

Extreme porn law goes live - are you ready?


@change of habit

Nice point, I assume there's already some rules around this, but if your storing your data off site. Who "possesses" the material? It's going to start getting fiddly when you introduce remote storage, as you then have to tie a person with an account, with the plausible case it was not breached, with the argument that the material on servers they don't own is possessed by them.

Police search another Tory MP's office


it all seems a bit fishy to me

I'm just not buying his story. The police are not foolish enough to raid an office of another MP, and then lie about having arranged an appointment (a fact that I don't think the MP has actually denied).

I think it was a standard polite thing till someone pointed out to the MP that he shouldn't really be handing out his constituents letters, when he panicked and started up this whole thing.

US teen clocks up 14,528 text messages


Don't suppose anyone has any stats on what this would cost AT&T?

I suspect that AT&T really won't be too bothered about this volume of texting. A quick check of my phone looks like text messages are just the ASCII character set, and you only get 160 characters per text. So I would have thought that apart from the handshakes to actually send the messages, this is costing them peanuts - 160B per message.

Any thoughts / stats?

Confusion reigns ahead of comms überdatabase debate


I hope I've just gone and read the right thing, as that was really boring

Ok, sharing confusion with other commenters on how this should work, I've gone and found what I think is the directive, and done my best to understand it.

Points I've noted:


Number 13 of the "whereas" bit at the start states: "In particular, as regards the retention of data

relating to Internet e-mail and Internet telephony, the obligation to retain data may apply only in respect of data from the providers’ or the network providers’ own services."

which I assume means that if you make sure you're using different email providers and voip providers to your ISP you're not being tracked. Which in turn suggests that this is almost completely useless for intelligence purposes.


This isn't just about emails. It also covers voip calls, sms messages, etc.

3) This only appears to relate to companies responsible for the transport of the data (ISPs), so if you happen to run a data centre I think you're ok (but don't take my word for it).

Am I on the wrong track, or have the UK implemented a more detailed law?

Mobiles finally admitted to English hospitals


Don't present a *significant* risk. Won't interfere with the vast *majority* of medical equipment!

Does anyone else not think that statements like "Don't present a *significant* risk." and "Won't interfere with the vast *majority* of medical equipment". Imply that since a hospital is about making people better, rather than checking your voicemail, this is a little concerning.

I'd much prefer it if they would allow their use when they could confirm there was NO risk, and their lack of interference with ALL equipment.

Sky demonstrates 3D telly vision


You don't need 3D glasses!

Maybe it's a niche thing, but there have been autostereoscopic displays out for years that don't require you to be wearing any glasses. I worked with one 6 years ago, DTI3D have a whole range of them. Sky would be better off trying to push this technology rather than pushing their current lack of technology.

iPhone 3G finally unlocked


If only O2 were the biggest problem

It's not just O2 that are an issue (though their customer service is rubbish). The biggest issue I have with the whole malarky is that I have to have iTunes installed. Yesterday it installed an update, that bindled quicktime in and changed all my media file associations! Apple software is bordering on malware with its intrusive nature.

First steps with offline Silverlight and Live Framework


Nice article, but not enough background / tech info

A nice article, but you did throw us in at the deep end. It would have been nice to get an overview of what exactly Azure/Mesh offers in terms of offline functionality, and how you interface with it (is it a browser plug in, a COM object, or an app?). I don't know Mesh / Azure, so this one left me having to look stuff up in between paragraghs.

I did try writing an offline client without Azure (just a win app) that used silverlight, however found that there was no way to bridge between the silverlight app and the windows app without either using a COM object or creating an httplistener and messaging with web requests over the back ip address. It would have been nice to get further info on what Azure offers compared to this, rather than just having a go at the MSDN forums speed.

Google Analytics — Yes, it is a security risk



Can I just point out that while we all loved the horror and world ending devastation of Dan's DNS exploit, it is not really practical to code websites on the assumption that DNS is exploited. I mean, most people use DNS servers that have since been patched. The exploit was months ago, and to suggest that third party components are wrong because the end user might have a duff DNS provider is basically saying "but what if the end user is comprimised". If they are, then THEY are broken, not your site.

If someones DNS has been poisoned then the whole internet is wide open for risks. As was pointed out when the exploit was published - it broke the internet. You can't base security on the assumption that DNS might be poisoned, it's just too bad an exploit for a server to be able to protect a client from (SSL does help though).

More importantly, DNS is of course served to clients, so to attack the site you would need to directly attack the DNS server of someone you knew was going to visit that site. You would then need to hope their DNS server wasn't patched. You would then need to hope that their DNS server hadn't already cached "google" (fat chance).

The reference to the DNS exploit being required to expose this hole is just about proof that the hole isn't really there.

Hotmail holdouts grumble about 'pathetic' new interface


To those who say "it's free - you get what you pay for"

While perhaps it's in some ways a reasonable argument, email addresses are increasingly becoming part of our identity. It's no trivial thing to change your email address, so if you've signed up for a service, then someone else comes along and buys that service, then screws with it, it means you're locked into something you didn't sign up for.

Personally I think it will be interesting to see how personal email address ownership develops. Unlike your phone number, you obviously can't take it with you when you go somewhere else as it's tied to the domain. However a personally owned transferable email address (possibly have some kind of digital signature and an overall "email address routing service") would be quite an interesting prospect. It would be good if we could jump our accounts between yahoo, hotmail, gmail etc. dependent on who was offering the best deal.

SQL Server 2008 moves on, wants to stay friends


Last one @BlueGreen

Ok, on the point that Microsoft SQL Server is a DBMS and not a database, we can agree to disagree about how important such accuracy is in an article.

WHERE Col IN (a,b,c) would break down to OR's rather than AND's, so would only be the same reasoning if all the values were null.

yes, you are correct with the "unknown" evaluating, my point with "obviously evaluates to false" should have read "fails to evaluate to true". I was trying to explain the reason for the error without muddying the water. However it seems I have misunderstood what you were arguing. I believed you were suggesting that the behaviour was illogical by the quotes "It's an obscure behaviour", and the main problem is actually the sql standard and the weirdness it contains". However you clearly know the logic, so we'll also have to agree to disagree on the obscurity and weirdness (I think it's pretty common and expected behaviour).


back @BlueGreen

I'm sorry but I totally disagree. It is not brevity to refer to a DBMS as a database, it is just incorrect. It's like referring to Microsoft Windows as Microsoft Office. Such errors really annoy me because some people do not know the difference and have their misconceptions re-enforced.

As for your beef with nulls, Please do read about the meaning of null, it should help you to realise why we have to jump through such hoops when dealing with it.

A brief explanation of it is that null is considered an unknown value. As a result you cannot safely say that 5 != null, because that null value may actually be 5. So given that WHERE Col NOT IN (a,b,c) is basically broken down into WHERE Col != a AND Col != b AND Col != c, if a, b, or c is null then this obviously evaluates to false.

Another common mistake with null include not realising that (a != b OR a = b) can actually evaluate to false if a or b is null because a neither equals be nor does not equal b, we can't be sure of either (I'm not sure if some optimisers would actually remove this statement though - they shouldn't).

picking a fight with the SQL standards is a very brave fight to pick, they were not written lightly. Can you imagine being without null, you clearly need it given that you're using it and encountering issues. So with the necessary evil of nulls come the explicit handling of the case in your logic.


For a little while you seemed like you knew what you were talking about

"In summary, then, SQL Server 2008 has some nice features and is a database that I shall certainly be using more of"

Sorry to burst your bubble, but SQL Server 2008 is not a database. SQL server has never been a database (it does create some, such as "master", but that's not the product).

Please learn you subject area before reviewing such a product.

As for @BlueGreen, read about "null", you clearly don't understand its meaning.


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