* Posts by Tom Melly

136 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Apr 2007


A stranger's TV went on spending spree with my Amazon account – and web giant did nothing about it for months

Tom Melly

Why is anyone blaming anyone but Amazon?

This is a clear and serious problem with Amazon, yet, somehow, some commentators on here are suggesting the customer is at fault? Are you insane (or just work for Amazon)?

Like the Death Star on Endor, JEDI created a ton of fallout and stormy weather in cloud market

Tom Melly

"That's the joke," as Cartman would say...

Latest sneak peek at PowerShell 7 ups the telemetry but... hey... is that an off switch?

Tom Melly

Plain text output

Has anyone worked out a way to set the text output to plain ascii by default?

The seven deadly sins of the 2010s: No, not pride, sloth, etc. The seven UI 'dark patterns' that trick you into buying stuff

Tom Melly

And the Amazon Prime is one that almost anyone can fall for (or once at least). The bastards don't even give you a "Welcome to Prime!" splash. It's vile.

Uber won't face criminal charges after its robo-car killed woman crossing street

Tom Melly

Still don't get it

How is a system where you are encouraged to both relax and stay on a trigger-finger alert ever meant to work? It seems like the worst, most dangerous, combo possible.

UK transport's 'ludicrous' robocar code may 'put lives at risk'

Tom Melly

I still remain puzzled by the whole notion. Relax, except stay really, really alert in case the AI bugs out.

Looming EU copyright rules – tackling Google news article scraping, installing upload filters – under fire from all sides

Tom Melly

Re: copyleft lunatics?

The ones I've come across tend to claim that artists can make their income by giving Ted Talks or something. That's JD Salinger fvcked then... (well, also dead, but you get the point).

Um, I'm not that Gary, American man tells Ryanair after being sent other Gary's flight itinerary

Tom Melly

EE Shenanigans

Not quite the same, but EE have me down in their system with a misspelled surname ("Welly" instead of "Melly"). Everytime I speak to them, and they address me as "Mr Welly", I laugh and correct them, and they confidently assure me that they've just updated their system and fixed it. This has been going on for bloody years (yes, I've been an EE customer for years - I'm an idiot).

I can only assume that they're updating a node, and the central db keeps 'correcting' the update. Or maybe they're just a bunch of wazzocks who can't find their arse with both hands.

Consultant misreads advice, ends up on a 200km journey to the Exchange expert

Tom Melly

Reminds me of a recipe...

... that helpfully mentioned at the very end that you should add two tablespoons of chopped thyme halfway through cooking...

Memo to Microsoft: Windows 10 is broken, and the fixes can't wait

Tom Melly

Contrarian view (sort of)

Not disagreeing with the general thrust of the article, but didn't the testers find most of the bugs? The problems seem to have stemmed more from MS then not bothering to investigate the reports.

Morrisons supermarket: We're taking payroll leak liability fight to UK Supreme Court

Tom Melly

Re: Just another tax.

Not that relevant - a bank can pay back the stolen money, and has a clear responsibility to do so, negligent or not. In this case, we talking about a punitive fine that, IMHO, should only be issued if the company can be shown to have done something wrong (which doesn't seem to have been the case).

Tom Melly

Does he crash it whilst on company business or during his own time? Besides, not that relevant unless the driver had no insurance.

Tom Melly

Re: I expect to be flamed

Unlike the LIBOR stuff, the employee here was acting against the interests of the company, so there's no question that Morrisons encouraged this by any means.

I honestly can't see how they're liable, since I can't honestly see how they could have prevented this. The guy wasn't acting out of ignorance - he damn well knew what he was doing was wrong.

Still using Skype? Good news! After HOURS of meetings, Microsoft reckons it knows when you're Not Active

Tom Melly

God, I hate skype. Is it really possible to fuck something up so badly by accident?

A story of M, a failed retailer: We'll give you a clue – it rhymes with Charlie Chaplin

Tom Melly

Credit - what if...

What if credit had never been invented? Would the world be a better, slower, greener, place?

Redis does a Python, crushes 'offensive' master, slave code terms

Tom Melly

I'm not one of the "it's political correctness gone mad" crowd, but what slightly irks me about this is the US-centric take on this. Outside of the US, slave and master tends, reflexively, to refer to the Romans rather than the US.

Hello darkness my old friend, what happened last week in Redmond?

Tom Melly

Skype - what is going on

What is it with Skype and MS? I mean, at this point I just vaguely assume they hate it and want us to hate it too.

How is it possible to take a fairly simple, established, concept, and produce an interface that's so confusing and so badly laid out that each time I use the damn thing, I find myself flailing around trying to spot how to send a text message or share a screen.

Recent versions are increasingly unreliable when it comes to relaying messages.

Is this seriously a product MS wants us to use?

Scam alert: No, hackers don't have webcam vids of you enjoying p0rno. Don't give them any $$s

Tom Melly

My fairly ancient mum got one of these...

... needless to say it freaked her out a bit, and trying to explain to her what was probably going on was tortuous to say the least. She was mainly concerned that they might have used special effects to create some porn starring her.

Did you know? The word 'Taiwan' would crash iOS thanks to a buggy filter for the Chinese govt

Tom Melly

Just out of curiosity...

... what do the Chinese government do about personal encryption? (e.g. PGP)

Ticketmaster gatecrash: Gig revelers' personal, payment info glimpsed by support site malware

Tom Melly

Re: Clear as mud

I'm not asking for a forensic breakdown - just "X co. got hacked, we got passed a list of potentially affected cards, and monitored those accounts for unusual activity."

The bottom line is that I've no idea which company dropped the ball, and I would like the option of no longer using that service.

Tom Melly

Clear as mud

Hmm... my CC was used fraudulently a few weeks ago. My bank, FD, stopped it and issued a new card, but have been very reluctant to clarify what they know about the fraud, where it originated from, and how they spotted it, although a rep on the phone did drop a clue that I wasn't alone.

Still in the dark, and puzzled as to why the bank is being cagey.

You know that silly fear about Alexa recording everything and leaking it online? It just happened

Tom Melly

At a guess...

... I'd say that the problem occurred because the software made too many assumptions. It thought it heard the wakeup call, so it then anticipated a command or request, and so on and so on. It essentially did something rather 'human' (albeit via algorithm) - it looked for a pattern where none existed.

TSB's middleware nightmare: Execs grilled on Total Sh*tshow at Bank

Tom Melly

Best Bits!

The two bits that cracked me up were when he said it was disappointing that customers were hanging up before anyone could speak to them and 'acknowledge' their complaint. This was with an average wait time of 30 mins.

The next best bit? That that 30 mins doesn't include anyone who hung up after, say, an hour - it only includes people who actually spoke to someone.

Whoa, Gartner drops a truth bomb: Blockchain is overhyped and top IT bods don't want it

Tom Melly


Reminds me a bit of the XML craze a few years back, when it seemed that everyone was using it as a solution. One product I came across, which shall remain anonymous, used it in a db for storing data. The fields themselves didn't define what the data was; the xml wrapper around the data did that. Ran like a one-legged dog.

That doesn't stop XML being a good solution to many problems; just not all problems... The blockchain will find its uses in time; for now, its fans need to calm the fuck down.

'Computer algo' blamed for 450k UK women failing to receive breast screening invite

Tom Melly


"There are a number of linked causes, [including] issues with the systems' IT and how ages are programmed into it," he said.

I'm struggling to work out how that's anything but vaguely technical, "it's really complicated", speak for a massive bit of incompetence by a programmer, irrespective of what sort of time-scales they were working on.

Leave it to Beaver: Unity is long gone and you're on your GNOME

Tom Melly

A Curious 'curious'?

"Curiously, if you upgrade you'll be asked to opt in rather than out."

Perhaps it's just me, but that doesn't seem curious at all - it's completely logical.

Machines learned to assemble IKEA’s semi-disposable furniture

Tom Melly

Am I the only one...

... who quite enjoys assembling Ikea stuff?

Donkey Wrong: Arcade legend Billy Mitchell booted from record books amid MAME row

Tom Melly

Give me Strider or give me death.

Auto manufacturers are asleep at the wheel when it comes to security

Tom Melly

Re: Obviously...

That's not how probability works - nor assassination attempts.

Uber-Lyft study author jams into reverse gear over abysmal pay claims

Tom Melly

In my youth, I worked as a car-courier for a few months (some stuff's too big for bikes). I lost money every day. AFAICT, the model seemed to be based on a high-turnover of drivers and another sucker along in a minute. Charged you a fortune to put the radio in the car as well.

NHS: Thanks for the free work, Linux nerds, now face our trademark cops

Tom Melly

Not sure about this

Having a plausible alternative when negotiating with MS seems like a good strategy. Sucks to be the linux guys though.

So what happened with the patent judge and the Euro Patent Office?

Tom Melly

How has he survived?

Genuinely confused - who is supporting him and why?

Expert gives Congress solution to vote machine cyber-security fears: Keep a paper backup

Tom Melly

Obligatory link (and a good point):


Official: Perl the most hated programming language, say devs

Tom Melly

Re: A glaring omission

I'm not sure SQL is considered a programming language (and, as a general rule, the more your SQL looks like a program, the more likely you are to be doing it wrong).

Tom Melly

A puzzled fan...

I love Perl - for certain jobs, namely mine, it's a god-send. And I never get the complaint about perl + regular expressions. That's what regular expressions look like - anything with regex support is going to look the same.

As for too many ways to do things - sure, you can write cryptic code, and head off down obscure structures, but then you're just an arse.

Dumb bug of the week: Outlook staples your encrypted emails to, er, plaintext copies when sending messages

Tom Melly

So, if the attacker has both the encrypted and unencrypted versions, can they work out the private key? I assume not, since, thinking about it, that would make encryption about as useful as Theresa May.

What is the probability of being drunk at work and also being tested? Let's find out! Correctly

Tom Melly

Yes, I was advised to use this approach when calculating the chance of two people in a room of twenty sharing a birthday. It's almost impossible (well, lot's of increasingly tedious fractions) to calculate the chance of it happening, but the chance of it not happening is a lot easier.

Google, Bing, Yahoo! data hoarding is like homeopathy. It doesn't work – new study claims

Tom Melly

Re: Homeopathy doesn't work??

Unsurprisingly, it works no better than a placebo - it's just that placebos work brilliantly (even, oddly enough, if you're told they're a placebo).

Massive iPhone X leak trashes Apple's 10th anniversary circus

Tom Melly

Re: Apple has redrawn the poo emoji



It's official: Users navigate flat UI designs 22 per cent slower

Tom Melly

No surprise, and even more of a problem for some.

My wife still cannot navigate or use a UI effectively, and flat designs have just aggravated the issue. I can no longer point her towards useful clues as to whether a single-click or a double-click is required - flat UI seems to depend on familiarity with the technology, rather than imparting it intuitively.

P≠NP proof fails, Bonn boffin admits

Tom Melly

Re: sha256 hash

The point, afaik, is that we can't be sure that it's difficult to come up with a solution.

Stephen King's scary movie reboot provokes tears from 'legit clowns'

Tom Melly

Re: Survey

I like them, I suppose. I mean, I'm certainly not frightened of them, and a good clown is a good clown.

Google bins white supremacist site after it tries to host-hop away from GoDaddy

Tom Melly

Is this a free speech issue?

These twats can find somewhere else willing to register and host their domain. Google are no more required to accommodate them than I would be required to let them come and make a speech at my barbecue. Or have I missed something?

Security robot falls into pond after failing to spot stairs or water

Tom Melly


... it discovered its purpose in life was to fetch the butter.

The curious case of a Tesla smash, Autopilot blamed, and the driver's next-day U-turn

Tom Melly

Binary driving

It's a bit hard to say with the fairly low sample size, but what makes me uncomfortable about self-driving cars is the requirement that, in a single environment (behind the wheel), the driver has to flip between two different states of engagement.

At the moment, it all seems a bit in the anti-Goldilocks zone.

Tom Melly

Re: Shock news. US drivers actually use safety belts?

Heh - I saw something very similar. A car got hit side on in Cambridge Circus and flipped. Hell of a smash, but we helped the driver out, who seemed unhurt. The hard thing was stopping him from going back to the car (which was leaking fuel) to retrieve a cassette from the stereo.

Make sure your Skype is up to date because FYI there's a nasty hole in it

Tom Melly

What is it with Skype's interface? Why is it so hard to navigate? Just finding the messaging area is harder than managing IRQs most of the time.

Tech can do a lot, Prime Minister, but it can't save the NHS

Tom Melly

There was a brain-dead interviewer on the BBC the other day who couldn't seem to get their head around the reason for the rise in dementia. "So, people are living longer - could you explain why that leads to more dementia cases again?"

FWIW I used to work on a renal ward, and the number of very old patients who should have been allowed to die of renal failure (a very pleasant death, relatively speaking), who are kept alive on dialysis only to develop dementia was both maddening and heart-breaking.

Senator blows a fuse as US spies continue lying over spying program

Tom Melly

The US is such an odd mix of freedom and authoritarianism that the increasingly schizophrenic nature of its inhabitants may be the only reasonable response.

Gig economy tech giants are 'free riding' on the welfare state, say MPs

Tom Melly

Blame NuLabour

Tax credits were/are a disaster, and basically helped establish the model - low wages and let the state pick up the slack. Quite clever really - appeals to both their voter base and the employers. Pure poison.