* Posts by Emperor Zarg

89 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Sep 2008


The UK's Civil Aviation Authority asked drone orgs to email fliers' data in an Excel spreadsheet

Emperor Zarg

I could have knocked something up in SurveyMonkey.

The time a Commodore CDTV disc proved its worth as something other than a coaster

Emperor Zarg

I don't do this anymore. I feel much better now.

I used to work in Tech Support for a major PC manufacturer. When nothing else added up the question to go for was:

"Is it plugged in?"

Invariably, people got upset, made wild proclamations about their immense intelligence, grumbled when you tried to placate with them reassurances that you really didn't think that would be it, but y'know it's best to check just in case and a few moments of silence whilst they crawled under the desk, followed by a "oh, well, someone else must have unplugged it".

Cu in Hell: Thousands internetless after copper thieves pinch 500m of cable in Cambridgeshire

Emperor Zarg

Just maybe...

Not-spot communities taking matters into their own hands?

UK taxman told to chill out 'cos loan charge is whacking tax dodgers and whoopsies alike

Emperor Zarg

Re: This nothing new by HMRC

I have had this twice.

The first time I was a PAYE employee with straightforward tax affairs. The demand was for a preposterous five-figure sum, payable immediately.

The chap I spoke to at HMRC was incredibly belligerent and simply said I owed them money (I didn't) because the computer said so and I should pay up, or else. He wasn't joking. I wasn't paying anything I didn't owe. I dug my heels in and said that if they could demonstrate how they had arrived at the figure and it was valid, I would gladly pay it, otherwise they could go whistle for it. They couldn't, it got ugly and protracted but eventually, after several unannounced home visits, which scared the daylights out of my wife, they conceded that I didn't owe anything at all. I never got any kind of apology from them and consider that what they were attempting was simply extortion.

The second time, the amount was a less scary but not insignificant 4-figure sum. I spoke to a very helpful lady at HMRC, who, after a few days of investigation admitted it was an error. Having been through this once before, I demanded and received a letter confirming same.

Having mentioned the above to numerous friends and colleagues, several of them received similar letters. Most paid up without question.

US government upends critical spying case with new denial

Emperor Zarg

Re: As usual, the intel community lies to the people in order to protect itself.

They set up their database so that they can go on fishing expeditions, and they don't want to give that up, so they will fabricate any lie they need to in protecting their right to surveil whoever the hell they want to.

(emphasis mine)

Their ability to surveil, not their right. They don't have this right and they know it.

I predict a riot: Amazon UK chief foresees 'civil unrest' for no-deal Brexit

Emperor Zarg

Civil unrest is not a joke

I think the fragility of both our food supply chain and civilised society is underestimated.

If we abandon Brexit, a few EDL-types will kick off somewhere for a few hours and probably torch a some buses.

If we leave with no deal, under DExEU's own scenario planning (and not the worst case) the port of Dover will collapse on day 1 (i.e. 30 March 2019). Why? Because there simply isn't space to process the volume of trucks going through the port. Just a few minutes of processing time per truck rapidly adds up to a 20-30 mile queue.

Supermarkets will start running out of food within days, starting with the extremities in Cornwall and Scotland. This will spread nationally.

The above isn't my assertion, it comes from the Department for Exiting the EU.

The gridlock that began at Dover will extend to all ports of entry within a couple of days. At that point we are in serious trouble and it cannot be rectified quickly.

If the above is seen to begin there will be panic buying on a massive scale. That will cause the supermarkets to run out of food nationally within a matter of hours. Supermarkets in Britain rely on multiple JIT deliveries per day. Once those trucks stop arriving, the entire system breaks down.

You know what it's like at Christmas when the supermarkets are closed for one day - the shelves are often empty of basic staples. We have seen natural disasters such as the flooding in New Orleans have similar repercussions. This is far more serious.

Once they have gone without food for a couple of days, hungry people are going to become angry people and they are going to take to the streets in groups, either to look for food, or in more central locations, to look for the people that caused this to happen. Virtually everyone is going to be hungry. I in no way advocate this, but I predict that the life expectancy of certain politicians might be measured in hours in this scenario as the mob goes hunting.

Is the Government planning for this? Yes, they claim to be.

Are they stockpiling food? Yes, they claim to be or claim they are about to.

We haven't had emergency stockpiles of food since the Cold War. All of the MAFF Buffer Depots and the food stocks were sold off in the 1990s. Sure, the Government can lease warehouse space, but the Buffer Depots were positioned in locations where they would be less at risk of looting, i.e. generally not in towns or cities.

There has been talk of using the RAF to fly supplies around the country. Frankly, this is pissing in the wind. There are 66 million people that will need food. The military are not going to be able to supply even a fraction of 1% of the population - and they will be busy keeping their own supply lines open.

Hungry people aren't likely to go to work, because they will be more interested in finding food, or figuring out whether mayo or ketchup goes best with shoe leather. Once people stop going to work, non-essential services start to break down. Food supplies will be provided for essential personnel such as the military, police, ambulance, fire, etc. but not for their families - this will cause familial difficulties and reduce effectiveness of the personnel involved.

After a few days of no food in the shops, widespread looting will occur as panic starts to set in. This will not be limited to shops. Any source of food will be a target: houses, corner-shops, supermarkets, petrol stations, warehouses, etc.

At this stage martial law will be declared, possibly localised to large towns and cities, under emergency powers granted by the Civil Contingencies Act and a curfew will be imposed.

If all active service personnel and reservists are mobilised in a policing role and combined with the total police manpower, they are outnumbered by civilians by over 200:1, which rises to over 400 : 1 if one assumes they operate a 12-hour shift (eg. 4-on, 4-off) . Those aren't good odds. Even well armed, they do not have the capacity to control every street in the country. As a result, they are likely to try to contain key installations, towns and cities. Most medium sized towns and smaller may be unprotected, which will result in total anarchy in more densely populated locations.

What about that stockpiled food? During the height of the Cold War when food stockpiles were at their largest, we had 6.5 million tons of food in 136 stores dotted around the country. The expected ration supply was 1200 calories per day, and for a greatly reduced post-nuclear-attack population. If supplies were at this level they could last for about 2 weeks, assuming that they could be distributed effectively. That might be enough time to restore the supply chain.

Do I think this will happen? No, because the Government knows this is the risk they are taking and they won't go through with it - possibly for reasons of personal safety.

Do I want this to happen? Absolutely not, this would be the worst possible outcome, but there are some cavalier attitudes out there thinking this scenario is impossible. It isn't.

Sweden leaked every car owners' details last year, then tried to hush it up

Emperor Zarg

It won't stop until we stop giving the Government our data and rescind their rights to use it as they wish. It seems everyone has forgotten that the Government is supposed to be the servant of the people.

UK PM May's response to London terror attack: Time to 'regulate' internet companies

Emperor Zarg

Re: Pen and Paper note, "Welcome to Britains' Open Prison"


"The fact that we're spending uncountable billions on ICBMs when the threat is from criminals with knives in vans clearly demonstrates the pointlessness of this gross white elephant."

Spot on.

Emperor Zarg

Re: Excuse to strip privacy, end of story

You said it yourself:

"... and then the security services finally have what they want in the ability to spy on anyone they please. However as we all know if you push the nutters too hard off the mainstream sites they have enough nous to set up their own networks, develop their own encryption tech and online meeting places"

This is not about preventing terrorism (or nutters, to use your phrase).

This is about spying on whomever they please and suppressing political dissent.

UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election

Emperor Zarg

Vote: El Reg

Is it too late to form the El Reg party before the upcoming General Election? A lot of eminently sensible and intelligent comments here and, I sense, a desire to genuinely improve the lot of the country.

I'd vote for you!

Emperor Zarg

Re: Word

Q: Is there a special word for that particular mixture of paranoia and hysteria?

A: Psychosis

They seem to suffer from it a lot in Whitehall.

Microsoft to spooks: WannaCrypt was inevitable, quit hoarding

Emperor Zarg

Re: XP

Government IT project that works properly... how about Electronic Vehicle Licensing?

Emperor Zarg

Re: Let's mention Microsoft's Policy of hoarding patches unless you pay up.

Or the NSA was preventing Microsoft from releasing a patch for this until the exploit appeared in the wild.

I'd imagine the NSA would want to keep harvesting as much data as possible from their use of the exploit, for as long as possible. They would only have given Microsoft a green-light to release the fix once the situation had reached a crisis point. As Microsoft will be legally prevented from ever revealing if this is true or not, we will never know.

74 countries hit by NSA-powered WannaCrypt ransomware backdoor: Emergency fixes emitted by Microsoft for WinXP+

Emperor Zarg

Re: Conflict of interest

In the case of the NSA (i.e. the original source of this exploit), there is no cyber security mission and they are not responsible for providing advice or guidance to businesses or individuals. Their primary remit is to gather information and to use it as a weapon.

I really don't think they care that the weapon can be turned on friendly assets. They think they can know everything by capturing all the data in the world. It's a seductive theory. Seductive but wrong.

Confirmed: TSA bans gear bigger than phones from airplane cabins

Emperor Zarg

Laptops are still going to be on the aircraft, just in the hold instead of the cabin - well, assuming their owner doesn't care about keeping the laptop that is. If someone has made a laptop bomb having it in the hold doesn't make it much less of a threat.

In the Daallo incident the laptop had been through security and reportedly used a timer device. The laptop could just as easily have been in the hold. Furthermore, that incident happened at Mogadishu, an airport which is conspicuously absent from the list.

Emperor Zarg

Re: The list of airlines

And by way of follow-up, now that the full list of airports and airlines is available I have done some quick research and noticed that no US carrier flies to any of the airports on that list (meaning the operating carrier, not codeshares). Therefore no US airline is directly affected. Coincidence?

This appears to be an easy way of discouraging the use of non-US airlines when travelling to the USA from the Middle East.

Emperor Zarg

The list of airlines

Saudi Arabian, Royal Jordanian and I'm sure I read somewhere Qatar Airlines and Emirates Airline are on the list too.

I bet there is no US airline on it. They all use the same airports. What is this? Thinly veiled protectionism?

FBI boss: 'Memories are not absolutely private in America'

Emperor Zarg

Re: Based on bad assumptions

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Governments need to stop acting like the enemy.

They are perpetrating massive acts of hostility against all of us and fail to comprehend why this is wrong, unjustified and unreasonable (or maybe it's the population that fail to comprehend). Any rational person will take steps to protect him/herself from such hostile actors.

Planned Espionage Act could jail journos and whistleblowers as spies

Emperor Zarg

A long fellow wrote:

It seems obvious that this bill casts citizens as the enemy of the rulers.

Well, the Government have been acting like the enemy of the people for quite a while now.

Brexit White Paper published: Broad strokes, light on detail

Emperor Zarg

Re: TL:DR We want it all but we want to keep the same prices as now from the EU.

So spake John Smith the 19th:

To keep the Conservative party together.

To stop supporters going to UKIP

May can try keep the Conservative party together all she likes. It won't help her.

May desperately wants to be seen as the rightful successor to Thatcher. The problem is that public opinions of Thatcher are extraordinarily polarising.

Millions of Labour supporters despised Thatcher with vehement intensity since the miners strike, which was acceptable, to Thatcher, because they would never have voted anything but Labour anyway. The approach to Brexit risks a similar turning point in popularity for May, only this time many Tory voters will be alienated too.

The Conservative Party is doomed.

UK's new Snoopers' Charter just passed an encryption backdoor law by the backdoor

Emperor Zarg

Re: Don't worry: it won't affect the bad guys

Given how trivial it would be for the evildoers to circumvent, one could perhaps infer that the IP Act is not really intended to protect us from said evildoers.

Small ISPs 'probably' won't receive data retention order following IP Bill

Emperor Zarg
Big Brother

Is there a whitelist?

Can we have a regularly updated list of ISPs that have not been asked to comply with the data retention order? So we can...use ... er... avoid them, obviously.

Facebook pays, er, nope, gets £11m credit from UK taxman HMRC...

Emperor Zarg

Public infrastructure?

Jo Maugham QC: [...] the structure of its business continues to be driven by the desire to make the smallest possible financial contribution to the public infrastructure it uses."

What public infrastructure would that be?

You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

Emperor Zarg

Some important fire safety advice

I wouldn't normally take the role of fire warden, but... never leave your washing machine or tumble dryer running unattended or running overnight. They are one of the leading causes of domestic fires.

I fear that any potential savings from smart meters could be easily offset by a significant increase in fires caused by people setting appliances to run when they are not in the house - or worse - when they are asleep.

Sysadmins: Poor capacity planning is not our fault

Emperor Zarg

Re: "get senior management to take the issues seriously"

Repeated requests for more memory turned down until an OS upgrade put the system into severe thrashing at which point the vendor was summoned to add more memory PDQ and promises made to be more responsive to requests in future.

Sounds like your Change Management process was borked as well.

Update your iPhones, iPads right now – govt spy tools exploit vulns

Emperor Zarg

Re: Freedom.

I've said this before, but I think it's worth repeating...

The motivation of a commercial enterprise is patently obvious. They want your money and want information about you in order to exploit you as a resource. I make judgements about which commercial enterprises I choose to engage with.

The motivation of state actors is considerably less transparent and offers no choice.

Emperor Zarg

Re: Phone Security

I always assumed that the BES or BIS server had a direct connection to Fort Meade. Canada is one of the Five Eyes, so a high degree of cooperation should be expected.

UK gov says new Home Sec will have powers to ban end-to-end encryption

Emperor Zarg

The good old days

I can't help thinking that the Internet was a much nicer place before Governments stuck their big noses in it.

Isis crisis: Facebook makes Bristol lass an unperson

Emperor Zarg

When will this nonsense end?

It's a good job there isn't a terrorist organisation called Frightful Alarming Cold-hearted Enraged Bastard Odious Oppressive Killers

Maplin Electronics demands cash with menaces

Emperor Zarg

Who do they think they are?

Demanding money from suppliers? Who do they think they are? Tesco?

Emperor Zarg

Screwfix have gone the same

It can only be a while months before they decide to relocate the Screwfix counters into B&Q stores to "make things more efficient and lower costs"

It went the other way here... they closed a B&Q and opened a tiny Screwfix nearby. Its like a DIY version of Argos and is virtually impossible to get served in. In a vain attempt, I tried using click & collect, but it turned out that provided zero benefit in store as I still had to join the massive queue.

UK Home Sec makes concessions to please Snoopers' Charter opposition

Emperor Zarg

Concessions for special interest groups

Privacy concessions for journalists. Privacy concessions for MPs. Mooted privacy concessions for lawyers

What about privacy for, y'know, normal people?

Bank in the UK? Plans afoot to make YOU liable for bank fraud

Emperor Zarg

No point going to the bank branch. Barclays have already removed the people and replaced them with ATMs - this, in a city centre branch. Already, the new automated system has "lost" two deposits. A 100% deposit loss. Interesting quality control there.

Vendor: Do we need Quality of Service with shared storage arrays?

Emperor Zarg

Application I/O Demand

All manner of technology solutions are available, but none will help unless there is a thorough understanding of the problem to be solved, namely: very few people really understand the I/O requirement of their application. Start there.

Then think about what technology you need and what tools and processes must be in place in order to manage it properly.

What to call a £200m 15,000-tonne polar vessel – how about Boaty McBoatface?

Emperor Zarg

Re: OK Then

The main purpose of Democracy is really to ditch stupid leaders without the bother of a bloody revolution?

That seems to have worked well...

Labour: We want the Snoopers' Charter because of Snowden

Emperor Zarg

Re: Voting

All the sensible people seem to be El Reg commentards. What we need is an El Reg party.

Emperor Zarg
Thumb Up

Re: let's not pretend

@first AC Re: let's not pretend - it is a travesty that I can only up vote you once.

Emperor Zarg

Re: A necessary evil?

So what you're saying is: we need a revolution?

Emperor Zarg


If any of us attempted this it would considered to be corruption. Funny how it's ok for party whips.

Lessons from history for UK Home Sec Theresa May's Investigatory Powers Bill

Emperor Zarg

Re: Easier ways than targeting a headline making 'locked down' iPhone.

Or - Theresa May has no choice but to keep pushing this because the Whitehall mandarins are already holding something over her? Nobody is immune from coercion.

Labour will create FUD and then abstain on UK Snoopers' Charter vote

Emperor Zarg
Big Brother

Of course they're going to abstain

No MP is likely to actively vote against this bill when they already know that their every electronic secret is in the hands of the current Government.

FBI says it helped mess up that iPhone – the one it wants Apple to crack

Emperor Zarg
Big Brother

Re: Last chance for privacy?

What is this thing you call privacy???? Is this your first visit to El Reg?

Big Brother is born. And we find out 15 years too late to stop him

Emperor Zarg

Re: Keyboard-warrior outrage

I think the problem of what the Security Services should do is actually quite clear to most people. They are there to protect Us Good People from The Bad Guys, to paraphrase what you wrote. They do not appear to be actually doing this.

The number of Bad Guys is infinitesimally small. The drag-net approach being used at present hoovers up everything belonging to Us Good People. Pretty much all of that is material that no Government has any business collecting. Even if they do nothing with the information, the problem is: they still have it.

We have, in most, if not all Western countries, a basic presumption of innocence and a right not to have our lives and correspondence interfered with by the State. These basic tenets of law appear to have been trampled in the rush to find Bad Guys. Any surveillance action which finds itself suspecting the entire population of the planet is very clearly mad, out of control and a long way down a very dangerous path.

It must be stopped.

Emperor Zarg

Re: Privacy huh?

The motivation of commercial enterprises is fairly clear. The motivation of Governments that want intimate details of our lives, much less so. And far more sinister.

Emperor Zarg
Thumb Up

You've been upvoted

I don't think I have ever upvoted so many comments as I have on this thread. So much sensible commentarding. Thank you.

Emperor Zarg

Re: Wel, F***k me....

It was put into place without proper government oversight, without parliamentary assent, without the mandate of the nation.

I held this view until today.

I think it had all the oversight the Government wanted. None.

And that is the problem.

The Government should not have the ability to anything except in full view of the public. They repeatedly demonstrate that they cannot be trusted. They are supposed to be acting in our interests - and if they are not, that makes them the ENEMY.

Emperor Zarg

@NigelD Re: Curious

I also do not buy this sort of argument. It seems to go hand in hand with the 'you should not mind being spied on if you have nothing to hide' view. No. Enough.

The question is now how do we overturn this nonsense?

The traditional way of resolving this is: a revolution.

And that is precisely why the Government want to keep tabs on all of us. They are probably already making a league table of my past, present and future indiscretions, that will be ready for publication ... be left on a train ... be inadvertently photographed in the hands of a Government minister as he walks into No. 10 ... mysteriously appear in the public domain should I ever decide to step out of line.

Sysadmin's £100,000 revenge after sudden sacking

Emperor Zarg


In the mid-90's, when leased 64k lines were still ridiculously expensive, we set up an inter-office mail relay using ISDN. The hardware was Sonix (became 3com) Intermezzo ISDN30 concentrator at the central office and Sonix Arpeggio Lite ISDN2 routers at the branch offices. The arrangement was brilliant. The mail gateways would transfer any waiting mail once an hour (ha!) and then drop the line - the ISDN circuit then being idle and therefore not costing anything - but the routers would spoof packets to make it look like the line was always up. A nice, cost-effective solution, for the time.

However... a firmware issue on the Sonix Arpeggio Lite caused it to bring up the link for just a second and then drop it again immediately. Every minute. Nearly 1500 calls a day. From every branch office. I don't think we had per second billing on our Telecential (remember them?) ISDN circuits. Nobody noticed until the rather large bill came in.

GCHQ can hack your systems at will – thanks to 'soft touch' oversight

Emperor Zarg

Get me a hazmat team - the whole thing is contaminated!

By the sound of things, we have to consider every ISP and CSP to be potentially compromised by state actors - if not GCHQ, then the NSA, PLA, FSO, RSPB or whomever.

By their own admission, they engage in CNE against deliberately nebulous targets and without proper judicial or ministerial oversight whilst simultaneously failing to keep adequate records of who or what they were exploiting or to what end.

Therefore, any device which has ever been connected to the internet must be assumed to be compromised; any data contained therein could have come from anywhere and could not be considered as evidence in court. Seems like an own-goal to me.