* Posts by Alan Mackenzie

101 posts • joined 11 Nov 2008


Brit data regulator fines five cold-calling fiends £405k

Alan Mackenzie

Oh, here we go again. :-( What's the betting that these "firms" will go bankrupt, failing to pay the fines, and then they will start up again, very soon, with new names and the same (lack of) faces?

These people were intimidating the old and vulnerable, according to the report. Why do they not receive prison sentences?

Brocade wrongly sacked award-winning salesman who depended on company insurance for cancer treatment

Alan Mackenzie

Re: A timely reminder

> "Health insurance is private in Germany for example".

Whilst that may be true, it is a grossly misleading way of stating it. The monthly fees you pay to a Krankenkasse in Germany are determined solely by your income and circumstances. OK, that's simplified a lot but is true in essence.

Bitcoin 'inventor' will face forgery claims over his Satoshi Nakamoto proof, rules High Court

Alan Mackenzie

What's the man actually alleged to have done which is wrong? Claiming to be Elvis Presley or Jesus Christ is normally regarded as evidence of mental disturbance, not crime.

So why is claiming to be the inventor of Bitcoin any different? How have the people persueing this legal action lost anything?

I just don't understand this.

Open-source projects glibc and gnulib look to sever copyright ties with Free Software Foundation

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Why assign copyright?

"Still, I don't think the policy is at all necessary, ....."

Oh you don't do you? Are you a lawyer experienced in the field of copyright? If not, what you think about the policy is of no consequence and no value.

Before instigating the policy of copyright assignment, the FSF took advice from such experienced lawyers, and doubtless get such advice revised at suitable intervals.

Those who dislike the idea of Free Software will be rejoicing at these moves - damaging Free Software as part of a personal vendetta against Richard Stallman by an unthinking hate mob.

FSF doubles down on Richard Stallman's return: Sure, he is 'troubling for some' but we need him, says org

Alan Mackenzie

Re: The world keeps turning

"So we have GCC with it's deliberately non-modular structure and Emacs which is an utter mess."

Oh, really? Emacs is _not_ an "utter mess". It is not an exemplary piece of well written software, but for crying out loud, it's 45 years old. It was superbly well designed, and decades later is still in use, maintainable, and maintained. (i'm an Emacs maintainer.) Emacs is also superbly user friendly, if not learner friendly, and was for decades one of the very few serious editors there was.

And yes, Richard Stallman is still involved in Emacs's development, and I'm happy that he is. His behaviour on the developers' mailing list is entirely correct, and he has this habit about being right in difficult questions to do with software. Maybe this is why powerful forces wish to marginalize him.

Do bullies like Red Hat, ever consider where their billion dollar per year turnover came from? It didn't appear out of thin air, it resulted from the vision, talents, and hard work of RMS and the people he inspired. It may well be that such a project could only have come from somebody like Stallman. It would seem that gratitude, and not just a little, is called for.

Popular open-source library SDL moving development to GitHub despite 'calamitous design choices' in git

Alan Mackenzie

Calamitous design decisions in git

In git, basically the internal structures are fantastic and the UI is utterly undesigned.

Mercurial has the same power as git, roughly speaking, but has a single well written comprehensive man page whose .bz2 file is a little over 100 kB.

git has a man page for every command (around ?150, I think), and their total bulk, again as .bz2s, is over 800 kB. Some of these git man pages are 2000 lines long, containing descriptions of reams and reams of parameters the commands take. The corresponding sections in the hg manual are perhaps 40 to 60 lines long. The ghastly state of the git documentation is the stuff of legend.

As somebody who uses both, I say Mercurial is by far the better piece of software.

Openreach engineers vote to strike amid changes to job grading structure

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Two sides shouting

I think it's fairly clear. Openreach's statement evades the issue, so it's them that're at fault. The CWU's point is that _future_ employees are going to be disadvantaged, a point that Openreach choses not to address. Reading between the lines, one can surmise that Openreach in their meetings with the CWU regard future emplyees, future members of the CWU, as none of CWU's business. It would appear that the coming strike is wholly justified, and I wish the union all the best.

Right-to-repair warriors seek broader DMCA exemptions to bypass digital locks on the stuff we own

Alan Mackenzie

> A barrage of lawyers for Apple (and many others) are even as we speak drafting a response about how this law is necessary to protect their intellectual property.

Yes, they're fiends in misdirection. Their so-called "intellectual property" isn't in any danger, thus taking about "protecting" it is a nonsense.

Git your ass to the cloud! Gitpod hooks up with GitLab to take on GitHub Codespaces

Alan Mackenzie

Back to the 1980s.

I remember working on developing code on mainframes, back in the 1980s. It was slow and frustrating, and the mainframe was prone to crash. The user interface to the editors of the time wasn't that brilliant, either.

Then we got PCs, which were little more than toys to begin with, but steadily improved to the supreme software development environment they are today. Even Windows rarely gives the BSOD nowadays.

Now, it seems we're going to be devloping code on central servers. Expect them to be slow and frustrating when there're enough simultaneous users, and expect them to go down every now and then. The user interface via a browser isn't that brilliant, either.

What comes around, goes around.

We're not getting back with Galileo, UK govt tells The Reg, as question marks sprout above its BS*

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Hard Brexit

Britain is NOT heading towards a "hard" brexit. It's heading towards a crash out. A hard brexit is what Teresa May attempted to negotiate. A soft brexit was rejected by "our" politicians the moment the referendum result was declared.

Top 5 billionaires find that global pandemics are good for business – and their wallets

Alan Mackenzie

Re: true story

Ha ha! The irony!

Half crowns (2 shillings and sixpence) ceased to be legal tender in 1971 at the time the pound was decimalised. Eight of them would have been worth a pound, at a time when a pound was a lot of money. I hope you got your gift _very_ early in the 70s. ;-)

This NSA, FBI security advisory has four words you never want to see together: Fancy Bear Linux rootkit

Alan Mackenzie

Modules in Linux?

What are these "high value" targets doing, using a Linux kernel with modules? It's perfectly possible to build Linux without modules (I do). A mechanism like modules is bound to introduce security risks. So why do it?

Developers renew push to get rid of objectionable code terms to make 'the world a tiny bit more welcoming'

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Shut it

Green and orange will cause you trouble in Ireland.

It could be 'five to ten years' before the world finally drags itself away from IPv4

Alan Mackenzie

How many IP addresses do we actually need?

> ... and those alterations are exactly the same as the ones we'd have to make if we only added the 16 bits you seem to be suggesting we should've added -- which, incidentally, would be by far insufficient for the internet and would lead to needing to replace the IP protocol a second time.

Well there are ~10^14 48-bit addresses. That's of the order of 10,000 addresses for every person living on the planet. That would surely be an adequate number of them.

But, just in case, we could have expanded to 64-bit addresses. There are ~10^19 of these - around a(n American) billion per living person. That would certainly suffice up until the Sun turns into a red giant and starts boiling off the Earth's oceans.

But, no. The IPv6 designers went for 128-bit addresses. Why?

UK government puts IR35 tax reforms on hold for a year in wake of coronavirus crisis

Alan Mackenzie

Re: One-nation Barmy

If employment rights are to mean anything, there needs to be a criminal process and jail time for anybody who violates them.

Human-rights warriors crack on with legal challenge to UK's lax surveillance laws

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Pragmatism

"If the objective is to detect and prevent crimes before they occur,", you say, as though that were something reasonable. That is a pretext for putting a telescreen in every room of every house, and on every street corner in the country.

Crime is an essential part of any modern society, it's one of the things which keeps society moving. It must be kept at a reasonable level, yes, but its impact is less than that of the total loss of privacy you seem to favour.

Personally, I would rather risk being at the sharp end of a terrorist's bomb than have my privacy eviscerated.

If servers go down but no one hears them, did they really fail? Think about it over lunch

Alan Mackenzie

"EU" plugs

These "EU" plugs (they vary from country to country), at least the German version, stay put so well, you can hardly get the damn things out of the sockets. Unlike the well designed British plug which you can get a full hand "power grip" on, the German plugs only permit a delicate finger grip on them. And the force required is much higher than for a British plug. Often you end up wiggling the thing side to side to get the socket to relinquish its death grip.

Irish data cops are shoving a probe right into Google's ads

Alan Mackenzie

Here we go again. :-(

"We [ICO] have been engaging with representatives of the adtech industry and recently hosted an event to discuss the data protection implications of current and future industry practices."

Yet again, supposed regulators treating scoundrels like honourable gentlemen. I bet these scoundrels are really afraid - they'll run rings round the ICO. It's a good job the public prosecutor doesn't treat armed bank robbers like this.

These advertisers have been knowingly breaking the law for a year now. How about some prosecutions instead of "engaging" with the criminals?

Bug-hunter reveals another 'make me admin' Windows 10 zero-day – and vows: 'There's more where that came from'

Alan Mackenzie

Being a decent human being

Just being a decent human being doesn't pay the rent, nor buy food. I don't know, but I'm guessing that finding these vulnerabilities takes weeks and months of research. Couple that with the fact that much of this research will be speculative and yield no fruit. Maybe it's Microsoft and friends who should start "acting like grown ups" and start paying these researchers properly for their results.

Let adware be treated as malware, Canuck boffins declare after breaking open Wajam ad injector

Alan Mackenzie

No wonder we have this trouble

> It (Canada's data protection regulator) made a series of recommendations to remediate violations, only to have the company sell its assets to Hong Kong-based Iron Mountain Technology Limited.

No wonder we have this trouble. The directors of that company knew full well what they were doing, and that they were breaking the law. What other type of fraud, when detected, is just met with a polite request to stop? When are such directors going to start getting substantial gaol sentences, like lone teenage crackers do?

US: We'll pull security co-operation if you lot buy from Huawei

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Really a case of reaping what you don't sew ...

Er, haven't we been here before?

You wear what you sew, you reap what you sow.

Two Arkansas dipsticks nicked after allegedly taking turns to shoot each other while wearing bulletproof vests

Alan Mackenzie

How come it's assault?

The two idiots _consented_ to be shot by eachother. Just as in a boxing match, the two contestants consent to being punched in the face.

So how come they're being charged with assault?

Bloke thrown in the cooler for eight years after 3D-printing gun to dodge weapon ban

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Because

So, in the USA, there's a right to own nuclear bombs, is there? Surely that is covered by the right to bear arms too.

Now, hold on. This may shock you... Oracle allegedly juices its cloud sales with threats and shoddy on-prem support

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Reap What You Sew

No, you _wear_ what you sew.

You reap what you sow.

Brit hacker hired by Liberian telco to nobble rival now behind bars

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Trial in the UK

The crime was committed in England, even if the effect was felt elsewhere. Therefore the English courts, correctly, had jurisdiction.

ICO has pumped almost £2.5m and 36 staff into its political data probe – but only 2 are techies

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Plenty of ways to interpret this

At least the said officer will be well protected against ionising radiation.

Microsoft: Come and play in our Windows SandBox

Alan Mackenzie


"Nothing is persisted".


Persist is an INTRANSITIVE verb. How about "Nothing persists"? Shorter and much, much better!

Remember Misco? Staff win protective award at employment tribunal

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Taxpayer?

Yes. The ex-employees of that firm are taxpayers too, and one of the things they paid tax for, along with millions of others, was a sort of "insurance" against unlawful dismissal by their employer.

That said, there was no mention of any sanctions to be taken against the ex-directors. That is worrying. Will they be free to do the whole thing all over again?

Expanding Right To Be Forgotten slippery slope to global censorship, warn free speech fans

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Extending national sovereignty is a terrible idea...

> This isn't International Law here. This is attempting to extend one particular country's law over other country's, in a de facto sovereignty grab.

No, not at all. Compare with the law of confidentiality: if you leave the country and divulge secrets somewhere else, then come home again, you'll be liable for penalties, whether civil or criminal. Is that also a sovereighty grab? If not, what's the difference?

PPI pushers now need consent to cold-call you

Alan Mackenzie

With a "British or Scottish" accent

With this sort of ignorant arrogance, who can wonder that around half of Scotland wants to revoke the Acts of Union.

Pluto is more alive than Mars, huff physicists who are still not over dwarf planet's demotion

Alan Mackenzie

Stop this playground spat!

Pluto is whatever it is regardless of whether one calls it a planet or a dwarf planet or anything else. Who really cares? It's a unique and fascinating object. So, all you astronomers, get out there, study and explore it!

Big Tech turns saboteur to cripple new California privacy law in private

Alan Mackenzie

Re: 'My hosts file is currently 12,492 lines long'

AC. there's a lot you can do about the slurpers of your online purchases: stop buying online! Go down to your local shop, like you've always done, up until recently, and buy things in cash. It's not difficult.

SUSE and Microsoft give enterprise Linux an Azure tune-up

Alan Mackenzie

At what cost?

We can be sure that if performance has gone up, and store usage gone down, by around a quarter in both cases, there will be some cost to be paid. Some features of Linux will be unavailable, or the security will be down, or something like that. Why didn't the writer of this article find this out and tell us?

Astroboffins 'sprinkle iron filings' over remnant supernova

Alan Mackenzie

Slack language

The supernova did not "explode in 1987". That was merely the date the supernova was seen. The actual explosion happened around 168,031 years ago.

The glorious uncertainty: Backup world is having a GDPR moment

Alan Mackenzie

Serve them right!

How come this is being presented as though it were a new problem? There's been a data protection act in Britain since, since, ..... was it 1983? I can't remember any more. That was 35 years ago, and it also contained the right to have false or outdated data deleted.

Organisations and manufacturers have been arrogantly violating this legislation for decades, since respecting it would be expensive and inconvenient, and the legislation was toothless.

Now I look forward to massive penalties to be suffered by those who've been holding unlawful backups for all these decades. It won't happen though. It never does with data protection. :-(

Openreach consults on shift of 16 MEEELLION phone lines to VoIP by 2025

Alan Mackenzie

I've been changed to VoIP, and the change most definitely isn't transparent.

Previously you just plugged a 'phone into the wall socket, and it worked.

Now, you have to buy a router, you have to _configure_ it, for goodness sake, and you have to plug the telephone into that. You also have to pay for electricity to run the router, 24 hours/day, 365.25 days/year. I doubt the telecoms firms give a fig about the excess CO2 they will cause to be generated.

To say nothing of your 'phone not working when the electricity in your house fails. Great for emergency calls.

AWS won serverless – now all your software are kinda belong to them

Alan Mackenzie


"Serverless"? "Lambda"?

What on earth is the article's author talking about? There's little intrinsic evidence that (s)he understands this h{im,er}self.

Glibc 'abortion joke' diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed

Alan Mackenzie

Re: info

I disagree with you profoundly. Info is likely the most useful and user friendly doc system there is. What it isn't is beginner friendly; being a sophisticated system, it takes time and effort to learn and get used to. Examples of its features include typing "i" followed by a word to look up that word in the index/indices, moving directly to the page where it is defined; "u" to go to the heierarchically containing page. There are hyperlinks and search facilities.

Indeed, it is hard to believe that Info is older than HTML, given how many of its features are missing from HTML.

OK, this time it's for real: The last available IPv4 address block has gone

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Compatibility

128 bits for an IP address? No wonder nobody wants it. That's more addresses per person on the planet than there are cells in her/his body with a lot left over. You can be sure somebody, somewhere, somehow, has worked out how to use these redundant bits abusively.

I can remember the 32-bit IP address of my ISP. Comes in handy for connecting when there's no DNS available. No way would I be able to memorise a 128-bit address.

How many addresses do we actually need? Clearly 4G of them aren't enough. But ~100 addresses per person would surely do. That's an extra 8 bits. Add on a further 8 bits for a bit of slack, and we'd end up with 48-bit addresses, what the 6 in IPv6 suggests.

Who on earth thought that 128-bit addresses was a good idea?

BT pushes ahead with plans to switch off telephone network

Alan Mackenzie

Who's counting carbon dioxide emissions?

Yes, I've been through this process already, in Germany.

When I last changed my setup, I was informed that VOIP was all that was available. That means that tens of millions of households have to leave routers uselessly burning electricity 24 hours a day, on the off-chance somebody might call in the next few minutes. That must be quite a few power stations worth of juice.

And then there's the degradation in setting up. Previously, you just had to buy a handset, plug it into the wall, and it worked. Now you've got to _configure_ something, namely a router. No problem for me, but it "earns" the telecom compainies a fair bit from those who can't do it themselves. And those handsets weren't, in the main, crackable over the telephone network. Who'd say the same about their router, these days?

WhatsApp agrees not to share user info with the Zuckerborg… for now

Alan Mackenzie

It'll be a win for the data protection of UK customers when ....

... the responsible executive at Facebook spends a couple of years in a UK gaol.

Until that's a possibility, they'll continue to giggle at what passes for "data protection".

Thomas the Tank Engine lobotomised by fat (remote) controller

Alan Mackenzie

Just as a matter of interest, the U-Bahn lines 2 and 3 in Nuremberg are entirely automated - there is not even a figurehead "driver" in the train. The doors are opened and closed on a timer. There are sensors to detect anybody falling off the platform at stations.

It works well. For example, short trains run every three minutes rather than longer trains every six, given that there is no shortage of drivers. It still doesn't prevent the trains being sardine cans, though, in the rush hour.

Mumsnet ordered to give users' real life IDs and messages to plastic surgeon they criticised

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Errm ...

No, there is no such thing as "UK libel law". It's English libel law. Scottish libel law is quite different.

Outage-hit Lloyds Bank in talks to outsource data centres to IBM

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Licence not license

> Sorry to be a pedant ....

Why are you sorry? You don't need to be! You've just educated me about those two words' spellings, for which, thanks.

Facebook hires Hillary Clinton to lead assault on fake news*

Alan Mackenzie

What about the mainstream media?

Suddenly Facebook, Google and so on have caught up with the mainstream media in fake news stories. And the MSM do not like it, previously having had a monopoly on such "news". There is little doubt that the MSM's lies have influenced elections, and politics in general, to the detriment of democracy (or what now remains of it).

If you have any doubt about the MSM's lies and distortions, just read Stuart Campbell's blog at http://www.wingsoverscotland.com for a few days.

So, when are we going to get a facility for flagging up fake news in the Daily Mail, or the Daily Express, or even the Guardian?

How-to terror manuals still being sold by Apple, Amazon, Waterstones

Alan Mackenzie

Re: Half assed measures

For some reason, I read that as "Theresa Mayhem". Not sure why.

Alan Mackenzie


> "It is illegal to carry any sharp or bladed instrument in a public place (with the exception of a folding pocket knife, which has a blade that is less than 7.62 cm (3 inches))."

I think not. People regularly buy knives at kitchen shops and carry them home. For that matter, I routinely carry hypodermic syringes. Or is it one of these ludicrous laws that everybody breaks, which the police can then use to harrass people they don't like?

US Treasury to launch pre-emptive strike on EU's Ireland tax probe

Alan Mackenzie

> ".... unless the assumption is that The State (or at least one of them ,if not several) owns your goods, your work and your arse."

No, that's not the way it is. All people (and companies) based in a civilised land benefit massively from that civilisation: the infrastructure, the education, the policing, .....

The other side of that is that everybody is bound, both by duty and by law, to give a certain moderate part of their earnings and/or wealth to maintain the civilisation which sustains them. The fact that large international companies and many rich people evade this obligation is a large part of the reason why so many countries have a massive national debt and why so many people are so poor.

I hope the EU authorities are thorough in their investigations, and that if Ireland and Apple have been guilty of transgressing such piffling regulations as do exist, they will both be punished suitably. Some hope!

Microsoft promises free terrible coffee every month you use Edge

Alan Mackenzie

International customers?

Most people I know restrict themselves, whether as customers or otherwise, to a single country at a time.

Falling PC tide strands Seagate's disk drive boats. Will WDC follow?

Alan Mackenzie

Re: OT but you started it

"Strand" is the German word for beach (noun). The English verb "strand" might well originate from the notion of your boat being stuck on a beach at Aberystwyth harbour for lack of water (but I'm too lazy to investigate this).



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