* Posts by Graham Cobb

849 posts • joined 13 May 2009

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It's bizarre we're at a point where reports are written on how human rights trump AI rights

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Humans have rights?

but only as far as they are able to persuade state actors to permit them.

Not really. The point about "human rights" is to remove the need for us to each negotiate a contract with the state. It is to create a "norm" of rights that (almost) everyone can agree on so that pressure (domestic and international) can be brought on states to provide them.

As things change (new weapons, AI, pandemics, ...) human rights have to be maintained and updated.

So I’ve scripted a life-saving routine. Pah. What really matters is the icon I give it

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Address oddities

I avoid the second line. Technically our address is House Name, Road Name, Village , Nearby Town, Postcode. And if the website looks up the postcode, that is what it fills in - with the village name in the second line.

In the old days that was necessary - post went through the Nearby Town. But now it just causes problems I have had (important) deliveries returned to sender with "there is no Road Name in Nearby Town" - that is true but you were supposed to be in Village! Some companies' systems don't even print the second line!!

So, now I manually remove the Nearby Town and move the Village into the "town" field in the form. No one needs to know which instance of "village" this is - they use the postcode to get near and then they use the house name. At least they do if they can be bothered to keep going after they pass the point where the satnav says "you have reached your destination" - all satnavs believe the postcode is at the village shop, which is only halfway down our road.

My second strategy is to order so much stuff online that all the delivery drivers know our house. That mostly works: we see mostly the same half dozen people!

De-identify, re-identify: Anonymised data's dirty little secret

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: When is an ID not an ID?

This is a hard problem. What we need are some experts to help define the rules.

For example, take data from those cameras that watch traffic to help navigation apps (the commercial ones - let's put police cameras on one side for now). The data they collect includes a load of observations of the same number plate in different places over time. They then analyse that to understand how long it is taking traffic to get from (say) J1 on a motorway to J2 on the motorway at this time.

Now they realise that this data may be valuable at later time for other purposes (such as road planning). They could just sell the data, with the full reg number (or maybe a cut down reg number). Better, they could replace each occurrence of the same reg each day with a random number - so journeys for the same person could not be correlated across different days. Except that is probably not enough: many people make the same journeys every day so the person who leaves my village at 8AM, stops for 10 minutes in the local Sainsburys, then drives up the M1 is probably me. And if I sometimes take a diversion to my mistress on the way it can probably be spotted.

Like most hard problems we need multiple solutions working together. People selling data must make sure it contains no identifiers (nothing that definitely links samples together - not just email addresses, names or IP addresses but device fingerprints, etc).

They also need to make sure that data that is not critical for the purpose it has been sold for is removed - for example, age may not be necessary if you are calculating footfall for new bus routes. Thirdly, reidentification must be a criminal (not just contractual) act. And I am sure more.

Of course, Boris has decided the new ICO will burn all the privacy rules, instead of actually trying to fix these problems.

Australia gave police power to compel sysadmins into assisting account takeovers – so they plan to use it

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Exactly. This will do absolutely nothing against terrorists, against the child abusers who create CSAM, against the most serious organised crime. Those people understand encryption, understand that they need to use standalone encrypted services (not dependent on a third party), understand the need to employ people who can teach them about key management, etc. The encryption cat is well out of the bag and the serious bad guys - the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse - will be doing it properly, under their own control and unaffected by these laws.

The laws will, indeed, be used against the consumers of CSAM but it will mostly be used against people organising "illegal" demonstrations (whether BLM in the US or Extinction Rebellion in the UK), against trade unions, against asylum seekers and against people who are a threat to the powers that be. Some of them will be criminals, but not all. Some of them will be victims (of planted evidence, of taking down of legitimate sites or communications, ...).

Right to contest automated AI decision under review as part of UK government data protection consultation

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Data economy?

...likely evolution of a data-driven economy and society

Many of us see no need for, and don't want to be part of, a "data-driven economy". I see that as pretty much identical to having a "crime-driven economy" - why would I want one of those?

Concentrate the economy on real stuff and services that we want. Not on processing data about us.

If the services are attractive enough, and really beneficial to people (instead of exploiting them), then there will be no problem getting people to agree to the data processing that supports them. But different people will make different tradeoffs so everything still has to be based on personal agreement to permit the processing.

ProtonMail deletes 'we don't log your IP' boast from website after French climate activist reportedly arrested

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Nothing is unencrypted in modern smtp

I have my mail server set up to add a warning in the subject line of received mail if it crossed a link that did not use starttls. Very little mail now triggers the warning, but some still does.

And, of course, the headers are completely unencrypted inside every forwarding node - and no one knows what they choose to log (they might choose to take a full copy of every email they see).

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Tor

Possibly true, but that is certainly beyond the capabilities of all except really major agencies like NSA. And even for them it is likely they would need to know in advance - I am sure they don't collect per-packet traffic data on all links on the Internet everywhere.

The main advantage/purpose of Tor is to prevent blocking of access to sites/data. Anonymity is a lesser goal but, in my view, is still likely to be quite effective except in particular, targetted cases.

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Tor

Yes, for tracking of IP connections it would probably require the 5-eyes to bother to use their resources and data - not likely for much except terrorism.

However, Tor is not a magic privacy screen: there are plenty of possible mistakes that can still be made using Tor for privacy and anonymity. As a simple example, if you have a ProtonMail account and have ever sent a message to anyone's personal email address, they could be contacted to ask if they know who you are or anything about you, or their address can be correlated with clearnet emails to try to get some idea of who you might be. So, never forward, CC or send any message (however innocuous the message itself is) from your ProtonMail account to anyone who knows who you are (and certainly NEVER to your normal email account). Obvious in hindsight, but easy to forget.

And there are many other mistakes it would be easy to make. Tor only protects IP addresses, not other ways of finding out who you are.

Norwegian student tracks Bluetooth headset wearers by wardriving around Oslo on a bicycle

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Tracking by sitting in a white van and watching is perfectly reasonable.

We need police. We need detectives. But what we don't need is pervasive surveillance.

Tracking which takes significant resources (at least one person - more for a 24-hour surveillance) is fine: the powers-that-be have limited resources and can prioritise them. That means they are surveilling those they deem the most serious - the rest of us can get on with our lives unmolested.

That is the trade-off society has approved for many years. Society does not approve of surveillance of everyone all the time.

Israeli firm Bright Data named as enabler of Philippines government DDOS attacks on opposition groups

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: You know you're in for some fun and games...

Just because the Israeli government is appalling in several ways, including tolerating some firms who are global pariahs, that does not justify abusing all Israeli firms, just as it wouldn't justify abusing all Israeli citizens.

I certainly would not be happy if people started holding me responsible for the actions of Priti Patel, for example.

Samsung: We will remotely brick smart TVs looted from our warehouse

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Sounds good! If you get anywhere maybe El Reg would consider an article on the story?

Google Groups kills RSS support without notice

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: RSS isn't dead.

Because it works the other way around, RSS is very different from providing a mailing list.

1. The receiver decides the frequency. I update some feeds every couple of minutes to get a scrolling headline view. Others I check once a day or less.

2. The site doesn't have the hassle of dealing with mailing lists. Particularly the issue of your list being declared as spam by some receiving site or other every day, and even your sending mail server appearing on blocking lists.

The small effort of generating the necessary XML is tiny (and completely automated) compared with, particularly, the hassle of maintaining a mailing lists.

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: RSS isn't dead.

And I got this story using Tickr, which shows me continuous rolling headlines for The Register, BBC News, and Sailing, Rugby and Motor Racing news. I also use RSS to feed me daily summary emails from other sites which I don't bother to track in real-time.

I suppose I shouldn't mention this because now ElReg know that if they want to get rid of me all they need to do is yank the RSS feed!

Fancy joining the SAS's secret hacker squad in Hereford as an electronics engineer for £33k?

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: No comment

Maybe its a new way to find spies? If someone with those skills agrees to work for that money, then they must (i) have someone else really paying them, and (ii) some reason to want that job very badly. So, obviously, a spy.

COVID-19 cases surge as do sales of fake vaccination cards – around $100 for something you could get free

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Easy to copy

That is where the civil liberties issue comes in. There is a very reasonable case that the doorman needs to know the individual in front of them has been vaccinated. However, there is no case that they (or the government) should know the identity of the person standing in front of them. That is the problem that needs to be solved.

Note: for international travel the situation is different - international travel requires proof of identity and always has. But travel, and use of various services, within the country must not require proof of identity or else we lose crucial liberties we have fought for many times.

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Enforcement it going to be tough

Not a bad idea to research but think carefully about the quality of the sources. Mainstream media certainly have biases but so does every source. Scepticism needs to be applied to both mainstream and alternative sources, and the bar should be higher for unknown or non-expert sources.

It is worth finding out which statistics and claims have been validated by independent experts, and which are the (interesting but not independently validated) calculations or research of one source.

Boffins propose Pretty Good Phone Privacy to end pretty invasive location data harvesting by telcos

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Great work going nowhere

It's an interesting idea, which could be taken up by some vendors to include as an option in the standards.

I would like to see operators offer this as an option for their MVNOs. Then, even without legislation, this could be used by MVNOs who wish to promote their privacy as a competitive differentiator (for example, maybe someone like AAISP might choose to offer this). Legislation (to require all MVNOs to use this) could follow some time later.

Initially only MVNOs one would be likely to trust anyway would use it (but even then they can say "look - even if Dido Harding became our CEO she wouldn't be able to screw up your privacy"). But it could become a valuable competitive feature in time.

Apple responds to critics of CSAM scan plan with FAQs, says it'd block governments subverting its system

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Who creates the hash?

I assume there are test images for this (developers, testers and trainers certainly do not want real child abuse images hanging around on their test systems) and their hashes are included in the database.

How long before people start sending those around? Will a real person check the image is really illegal before Apple terminate the user account and the police are called?

UK data watchdog sees its approach to government health tech during COVID-19 outbreak as 'pragmatic'

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Government needs to be brought under control

I understand pragmatism in the face of the pandemic. However, government Data Protection Impact Assessments must not be treated as optional. The government already ignores them and maybe does them after the decision instead of before. This was happening before the pandemic, and is happening in areas nothing to do with the pandemic.

The DPIA is seen as a barrier to quietly outsourcing valuable contracts to their mates, and something that might reduce the value to their mates of the data they are handing over. It is essential that the ICO forces government to do meaningful and complete DPIA's to protect us and ensure probity.

Microsoft's Cloud PCs debut – priced between $20 and $158 a month

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Windows on Windows

I don't think browsers are up to virtual call centre applications - but I may be wrong, it is a few years since I was last in that business. They certainly don't want any of their data (or, worse, personal information about any of the people the call centre deals with) stored locally on a device in the minimum-wage employee's possession.

As for the small business... if it means they can save money on IT support and compliance it might be worth it. Don't forget these people have no in-house IT capability and rely on a local IT business to do everything from replacing hardware to maintaining security and manage document control. As things like printers start to automatically connect to Microsoft's service and resellers offer services for backup (with ransomware protection), industry-specific compliance tools, etc the SME may find the cost worthwhile, particularly if they can keep using older PCs as clients.

In any case, Microsoft obviously believe they can make money, and I am sure they are not (yet) targetting this at the corporate information-worker's desktop. Office 365 etc are the products for those.

I have said before, and been downvoted before for saying it: Microsoft aren't interested in the Windows desktop market long term - they are only interested in the cloud. They are happy for Android or Linux to capture the client if they can. About the only exception is gaming.

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Wonder who it's for

I don't think that is the target (at least today). I believe the target is businesses where the PCs are transient - all identical, created, used for a few hours, destroyed. Mostly running a single application (mostly call centre or customer care apps). Sometimes they need 10 at the same time, sometimes they need 1000.

There is a lot of money in call centres and other outsourcing. Particularly if you can use very low paid people by using a cheap device they already own (PC or tablet).

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Windows on Windows

If your company is running VDI then this isn't useful for you. Quite right.

But if you are setting up a company with a lot of users, doing simple work which can be done remotely and needs to be flexibly scaled (by number of people) then you are the target for this.

Think about any zero-hours, flexible scaling, job which is done remotely on a computer. Virtual call centres is a big one (inbound and outbound). Chat-based customer service. Facebook/Twitter/YouTube moderation. Anything which is outsourced, with highly variable demand, which can be done from home with flexible staff.

That is the target, for now at least. Later I believe they really do want to displace on-prem systems for many more people - think about your local estate agent, or the small accounting firm who handles the accounts for your contracting company.

Euro watchdog will try to extract $900m from Amazon for breaking data privacy laws

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: But will they actually have to pay?

Every fine, if it is paid along with legal costs is passed on to the customers.

Only in a non-competitive market.

In fact, many regulators and many other companies would be very happy if Amazon's prices went up a small amount. The customers may not be so pleased, of course,.

Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Spot-on analysis

Dear Reg, can I please have an option to hide comments from people who can't be bothered to read the article?

eBay ex-security boss sent down for 18 months for cyber-stalking, witness tampering

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: What about EBAY

I can believe that there is no evidence to prosecute anyone higher up. That is the purpose of the civil action mentioned in the article against the company and several executives (former CEO, etc), I assume.

You MUST present your official ID (but only the one that's really easy to fake)

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Yep, Priti Patel and David Blunkett were two of the most authoritarian Home Secretaries we have had.

Privacy proves elusive in Google's Privacy Sandbox

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Cheeky Jokers

Note to regulators: Breaking up the online ad trusts (primarily Google and Facebook) would be a much more effective (and widely supported) way to support news and other information businesses than breaking the internet with stupid link taxes.

Once Mercedes have to go back to paying for advertising "space" in high end magazines and relevant motoring or motorsport forums, instead of paying Google to get access to people who already own an Audi, are over 45, have at least one speeding conviction and wear square-rimmed glasses, the more likely these media are to survive.

Remember the bloke who was told by Zen Internet to contact his MP about crap service? Yeah, it's still not fixed

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Oh Fawkes ...

It happens with almost all MPs who are in the governing party.

However, I still write to my MP as requested by several campaigns. Not because I expect it to make any difference (or even for him to read my well-reasoned and individual comments) but because all MPs weigh their correspondence.

My MP is an ambitious young so-and-so, who is a (very) junior minister. So he definitely won't be supporting anything but the government policy, whatever his constituents say. But, I like to believe that, for some issues, MPs do report how much mail they are getting on the subject. So I make sure I write to him on anything I consider important, just for the small chance that he reports that this issue is causing grief, even in his safe seat, and should probably be left to quietly drop.

Or, at least, to avoid the feeling that "if I had written, it might have made a difference, this time".

Akamai Edge DNS goes down, takes a chunk of the internet with it

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Bad days happen to everyone

Because the frequency of these outages strongly suggests an unwise faith in the Continuous Deployment religion in the most fundamental services the net relies on.

I used to work in Telecom Billing. Those guys looked at their colleagues running the network core working on their CI/CD processes for evolving the cloud core and just said "No. If the network goes down for 24 hours that's certainly a pretty bad day. But if Billing goes down for 24 hours that's real money we can't recover!"

Some things are just too important.

Watchdog slaps down Three's claims to be building the UK's 'fastest 5G network' – again

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Cloud Core bollocks

Actually, it is a real technical term with a real meaning in the 5G network architecture.

However, it makes no practical difference to ordinary users (it may be more relevant for some of the network's industrial users and partners looking to use features designed for stadiums, factories, or edge computing).

Tomorrow's wireless world will be fatter, faster, and creepier

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: This is stupid

I think you are wrong.

Of course you are right that people aren't going to care much about higher video data rates, although there is probably at least another (power of 10) order of magnitude to go when considering very large screens (wall sized).

I think there will be three main sources of demand for higher wireless speeds which will keep us going for another 3 or more orders of magnitude yet.

1) Capacity - as another commenter mentioned, if you are in the business of providing these services you want to be able to serve everyone at once, accessing different content, so need to be able to source the data at hundreds of times the rate of the consumers.

2) New applications. High bandwidth and very, very low latencies are required for things which appear to be responsive to humans. Things like VR gaming, education applications, digital assistants and many consumer and business 'AI' services, all hosted in clouds, will require very low latencies to make them appear friendly (the "uncanny valley" effect).

3) Wireline replacement - in high-end domestic and, more importantly, in business environments, people want to move away from wires, so things like backup need to work well over wireless.

Verified: UK.gov launching plans for yet another digital identity scheme

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: What's the high level picture...

I think the problem, as the government sees it, is that they don't get to track everyone with the current situation.

THIS!!!

I have multiple identities, day-to-day. I always have had (my family have always called me by a different name from my school or work colleagues). I have always had multiple email addresses since I started using email (about 1978) and for many years have made sure every service I use has a different email address (yes, I use software to track these). I have multiple mobile phones (now only 2).

I am not a criminal and am not trying to hide anything. I compartmentalise. I see no reason why one entity I do business with needs to know about my relationship with any other. I see no reason why a financial company needs to know my age or marital status. Etc.

The government must restrict its concept of identity to the minimum they need to be able to run the government. They need to provide a consistent identity for international activities and for things like tax. They should not be providing identity services for use by any commercial entities.

I no longer have a burning hatred for Jewish people, says Googler now suddenly no longer at Google

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Isn't it two different things? You "report to" your boss (Fred Bloggs) and "report into" the organisations above your boss (Networks Division).

NASA fixes Hubble Space Telescope using backup power supply unit, payload computer

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

And you really believed they only make shoes there?

Teen turned away from roller rink after AI wrongly identifies her as banned troublemaker

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: "If" - Context

Yes, it is a major design flaw that the system tells the operator its assessment of the match. It should just display the top three matches from its database, with no further comment, for every visitor and let a human judge if any of them are the same.

The flawed design is so obvious that the creators of the machine should probably be prosecuted for racism.

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: "If" - Context

Or, they could consider their reputation as an entertainment venue in that community and just apologise.

Restoring your privacy costs money, which makes it a marker of class

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Unreliable?

No, nextcloud and owncloud work identically for this. It can work reasonably well with 2 devices as long as they both support all the fields you actually care about. But with multiple devices it gets pretty unreliable because they often use different fields for the same information.

Calendar generally works better (as long as Outlook isn't involved) just because people don't use the unusual fields so much. Contacts often make use of many unusual or unstandardised fields which are unsupported on other devices or supported in different ways (one device may allow only a single value for a field, another device supports a list, another device restricts the values in some way - such as validating postcodes, etc).

Graham Cobb Silver badge

p.s. just in case anyone feels like jumping in to work on this... the big problem is ontological: the devices don't know what they don't know. Combined with the standard sync protocols not providing changes, only the resulting entries.

The simplest case is... if two devices sync one day, and the next day they sync again and one device is missing a field, the other device doesn't know whether the user deleted the field (so it should also delete it) or the device just doesn't support that field and never recorded it. It then gets much more complex with multiway syncs and very different types of devices.

Graham Cobb Silver badge

The reason is that PIM syncing has never been treated with any importance. It has been my main topic of interest as an open source developer, and I have worked with several projects making serious attempts to address it (Opensync, GPE, SyncEvolution, ...) over the last 20 years (as well as even more hacks - for Psion, for Rex, for Outlook, ...). Unfortunately, not since Philippe Kahn has anyone really invested in trying to solve the general problem.

Currently, the best solution for phones and PCs is to use Nextcloud (running your own server or using a commercial service) as a single point of synchronisation - most phones can sync at least contacts and calendar to Nextcloud and so can Thunderbird. Unfortunately even that is unreliable unless you have the discipline to only ever make changes from one of the devices (ideally the one which supports the most fields - normally Thunderbird).

Iffy voltage: The plague of PC builders and Hubble space telescope controllers alike

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Good thing it doesn't use USB C

Yesterday my wife's work laptop (about 8 months old) suddenly started popping and emitting smoke when she had the USB-C charger connected (manufacturer power supply - no cheap chinese knockoffs). She got about 2 more hours use from the battery but it can't be charged any more.

This was using the second USB-C port - the first one had already failed in exactly the same way a few months ago! But the company hasn't been able to get any new laptops (with their particular spec) from their supplier for months so they haven't been able to replace it. She is currently left using an old Microsoft Surface!

Apparently this is a known problem with this laptop model - the battery charging circuitry is known for blowing up the USB-C ports. It will get replaced under warranty, of course, but one wonders if the problem would have occurred with the old-style barrel connectors.

Linux kernel sheds legacy IDE support, but driver-dominated 5.14 rc1 still grows

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: I. AM. OUTRAGED!

You can still get USB-to-IDE adaptors, which worked (at least for me) for data recovery from an IDE disk.

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: 37 year old interface standard?

I only started working on data comms (WAN and LAN but not internal computer networks) in 1980 but I still have a collection of breakout boxes, gender changes, 25-pin-to-various-other connectors, coax ethernet terminators, etc.

All through the 80's someone would introduce a technology to speed up comms by using more wires but these were quickly obsoleted by technology just making serial comms 10-times faster (with less cost and more reliability by not needing so many connectors on backplanes and so many working wires in cables).

Eventually even internal computer comms went to serial with SATA and USB.

Belgian boffins dump Starlink dish terminal's firmware, gain root access and a few ideas

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Geofencing development

This reminds me of a colleague (in the early '90s I guess) who participated in the standardisation process for data comms using satellite phones. A rep from another company rather pompously asserted that because the existing satellite phone standards included, as a mandatory requirement, the phone reporting its precise position (using GPS data) that could be used as part of the routing for the data (actually I think it was probably mostly for billing - so the country concerned could get a cut).

My colleague suggested that as a major market for satellite phones (at the time) were militaries and spies it was unlikely most of the phones would be reporting accurate locations, despite mandatory requirements from the CCITT! He suggested that if they looked at the data they may find that a surprising number of phones are being used at the North Pole. Of course, at that time, it was nation states which were being talked about - I never knew if/when terrorists realised they had to acquire satellite phones which didn't report their location.

It will be interesting to see if SpaceX geofencing remains unbroken.

The James Webb Space Telescope, a project dating back to the late 1900s, may launch this very century

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Please Please Please go to (latest) plan.

I don't get the argument about colouring.

E-M waves are a mixture of frequencies. Surely the important scientific information is (the fourier transformation of) that spectrum for each point the telescope can distinguish? The tiny subset of that information that happens to be perceivable by cells in the human eye is almost irrelevant.

I presume that would be much too much information to process, store and communicate down to earth. So, some compromises are made. How does Hubble do image data collection? Does it use RGB and normal graphics formats? With compression? Or does it use more than 3 detectors? or detectors programmable to different frquencies and multiple passes?

And what will James Webb use? If it is infrared it certainly can't be using standard RGB. Is it also using 3 frequencies to look for? Or what?

Whatever the mechanisms, the most important scientific data is presumably in the numbers themselves. But visualising them can be useful for both scientists and the public at large. There can be no expectation that the visualisations use accurate colours, particularly for the data outside the visible spectrum. But it might be useful if they tended to map the range (red for lowest frequencies, violet for highest).

Microsoft wasn't joking about the Dev Channel not enforcing hardware checks: Windows 11 pops up on Pi, mobile phone

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Does anybody

I said "most business users" not most businesses. All the large company users I have dealt with in the last few years are (complaining about) using Outlook on the web. Microsoft have made it almost impossible for large companies to justify running their own mail service any more. Same with sharepoint and web-based Office.

Microsoft have a clear and unambiguous strategy: they aren't interested in PCs, or in the local apps they run - they are only interested in cloud services and all Windows is for, nowadays, is to provide access to the cloud, with increasingly limited capabilities offline.

The only PC markets they seem to still care about are very high-end workstations (video editing, engineering apps, ...) and gaming.

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Does anybody

But fewer and fewer.

Not because Windows is losing numbers of users but because the "serious work" is increasingly being done on cloud servers not on the desktop in front of the worker.

Of course, many people still run heavy, serious local apps - but they are a tiny minority. Most business users are using Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the web. The only "serious work" app run locally for these people is the front end for their company's video meeting service,

Data collected to promote public health must never be surrendered to police

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: 'Freely provided data'

You are required to provide some data. There is no way to make sure it is accurate.

The issue is that in order to get accurate data for public health, governments must agree — in law — that our freely provided data can only be used for public health. No exceptions..

This isn't just some ranting on The Register - the point is that if governments don't do that then they won't get accurate data, however much they huff and puff and threaten and winge.

America tops ITU's Global Cyber Security Index, UK in tie for second with Saudi Arabia

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Uhhh... you count the number of countries that have a higher score and add one. That is what the words "Estonia is 4th" mean: they mean there are 3 countries with a higher score. Whether some of those three have the same score or not is irrelevant - how could the ranking of Estonia change if the ITU discovered they had got the Saudi score wrong and added 0.01 to it?

Is this misunderstanding of ranking the reason the median appears to have increased?

Huawei dev flamed for 'useless' Linux kernel code contributions

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Who's the student here?

Feel free to join the list, or read the archives.

The btrfs maintainer prefers to receive tidyup changes in large chunks. Yes, they require careful review to make sure they really are not changing code, and that changes to comments, text strings, etc are correct, but it is easier to do that for 100 changes in one go, once a year, than 100 separate patches spread at 2 each week.

One rule you quickly learn if you want to commit to Linux is to follow the rules set by the relevant kernel subsystem maintainer.

BMA warns NHS Digital's own confidentiality guardian could halt English GP data grab unless communication with public improves

Graham Cobb Silver badge

Re: Honestly

I find Firefox Temporary Containers addon helps a lot (particularly when combined with Multi Account Containers). Not perfect, but it allows me to not bother with the cookie settings for sites I am using once to look something up or print some tickets or something. Reduces risk of having that visit correlated with something else.

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