* Posts by Ian 35

35 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

Your pointy-haired boss 'bought a cloud' with his credit card. Now what?

Ian 35

The BoFH was this man

Of course, a lot of people now slapping themselves on the back for being elite system administrators were precisely the PHBs complained of here: they were able to buy a couple of Suns or, more recently, a little x86 server off a local budget and therefore declare UDI from the enterprise mainframe herders.

VW’s case of NOxious emissions: a tale of SMOKE and MIRRORS?

Ian 35

Not much diesel in the US

"Ford, Chrysler, etc will get away with a slap on the wrist."

Actually, it'll be rather different to that. The US car makers sell virtually no diesel cars, and diesel is rare enough that gas stations that sell it are signposted (there's a West Wing episode that hinges on this, as I recall). The US car makers are very happy for this to become a huge thing, because "diesel is dirty and the people that make diesel cars are foreign and dishonest" is precisely in their interests. VAG don't have big, slow-revving petrol engines of the sort beloved of US buyers, so selling premium petrol cars at sufficient margin is going to be hard for them, so the "here are some fast, clean, green, economical cars" was quite a good platform. Which they've just torched.

NHS slammed for MAJOR data blunders as scale of patient info sell-off is revealed

Ian 35

They thought volume was a risk, however

"They're not going to make a profit on this."

So why was insufficient demand for their services listed as a risk in their risk register? Any cost recovery scheme is going to be based on a particular volume, so that they can amortise fixed costs over the variable demand. If the demand drops to zero, the fixed costs don't get paid. If the demand goes above your planning assumptions, the fixed costs are paid and you can (subject to any costs that are fixed up to a point and then have a marginal component) book the extra as profit.

Ultrabook price vice prised open by flash-disk half-breeds

Ian 35

And there's the characteristics of the down-market laptop market...

The audience for macbook airs either has another computer, or understands cloud storage, or at least feels up to organising themselves to have external storage they plug into as required. So quite small flash storage is perfectly acceptable. But the sub-£500 laptop market appears to want huge amounts of onboard storage, either because they aren't realistic about their needs, or they don't know how to divide things up, or just because they are buying on larger numbers being superficially preferable to smaller numbers (the same reason undergraduates stagger around campus with 17" laptops).

So the market for low-cost Ultrabooks is inherently scuppered by the taste of their apparent audience.

The same thing goes, mutatis mutandis, for DVD drives: the Air market either doesn't use them, or certainly doesn't use them often enough to need to haul one around all day, while the £500 laptop market insists they need one onboard (cf. floppy drives back in the day).

IPv6 networking: Bad news for small biz

Ian 35
Thumb Up

Re: crazy academic led BS as usual?

What devices don't support IPv6? Windows XP does back to SP1 I think, OSX does back to about 10.4, even old iPhones done, iPads do, everything with Linux back to God Knows When either does or can, etc, etc.. There's problems in enterprise, but in residential environments most kit, apart from the router which is often the ISP's anyway, will support IPv6 perfectly happily, and is probably chatting amongst itself behind your back already.

Ian 35

MS Office still dominates?

But IPv6 is working in houses anyway. I only found by accident that my AppleTV was talking to my iMac over IPv6 because I happened to look with an analyser (geek) and found that even my iPhone was talking to the AppleTV to run "Remote" over IPv6. One of the Windows machines was talking IPv6 as well, even to the Internet once I had a tunnel up. IPv6 autoconf is extremely effective.

Ubuntu republic riven by damaging civil wars

Ian 35
Paris Hilton

Desktops Grandad?

As the mighty XKCD has it: http://xkcd.com/934/

I've used assorted Unix desktops since 1985 (Suns from SunOS 3 through Solaris 10, Macs, some Linux) and developed on a range of Unix back ends (Suns, AIX, Ultrix, Linux). I can't say the desktop was ever a major issue for me, and it's even less of an issue now when almost everything runs in a browser. The amount of intellectual and political capital being expended on an application launcher and some window furniture is astounding, and given all the the other problems the Linux marketplace has seems completely mis-directed.

Paris, because even she could produce a better market strategy than forking desktops that no-one cares about and then shouting about it a lot.

One in 10 Brits leaves web passwords in their will

Ian 35

I can't believe this is true

Only about thirty percent of people have wills, and they are disproportionately older. The idea that a third of those people have passwords in them, especially given wills tend to be revised only on the birth of children or the death of spouses, is fanciful.

Microsoft staff savage Ballmer at company confab

Ian 35

MS Office still dominates?

Yes it does. Office 2003. Or maybe 2007. 2010? Not so much. MS don't get revenue out of old software continuing to run. And Office 2012 is going to have yet another different UI. Smart.

Piles of unshiftable HP fondle-slabs choke Best Buy

Ian 35

"If you use the free zimbra server for groupware"

So that's six more sales assured, then.

Sunspot decline could mean decades of cold UK winters

Ian 35

It might be cold, but there'll be no skating

The skating on the Thames was partly because of the lower temperatures, but mostly because the Thames was much wider, much shallower and much slower-moving. The building of The Embankment and similar channeling of the Thames means that it is now far too fast moving to freeze without genuinely Arctic conditions.

Proper scientists: Old folk should drink more, not less

Ian 35

Now that's a job I fancy

Pierre-Louis Teissedre, PhD, Faculty of Oenology – ISVV, University Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux, France.

Booze for wrinklies: Good or bad?

Ian 35

And to fully piss patients off...

Rather like the new NICE guidance which says "all pregnant women are liars" and recommends CO testing even of those that say they don't smoke, the Psychiatrist's report (Psychiatry: how to become a consultant even if you failed your MRCP) says that GPs should demand a multiple-part questionnaire on substance abuse from every patient over 65, every year. The questionnaire is this one: http://www.naatp.org/pdf/secad/05speakers/41AnewSHORTMAST-GOct%207-1.pdf. Leaving aside the fact that it's got almost no evidence saying it means much (it's supported by stuff like http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12028172 --- and even allowing for the woeful rigour of the field, that's pretty thin gruel), patients asked to fill in a hectoring, finger-wagging survey every year are going to start assuming that everything else their doctor says is hectoring as well.

VMware 'buys' Mozy for its cloudy goodness

Ian 35


I bailed out after they decided that they didn't want my business on the terms they'd sold it to me, and having uploaded ~400GB they would now want several thousand dollars a year. So I jumped, closed my account and moved to Crashplan. Took a few months to get the upload done, but their software offering is far better and their reliability is far better.

Your census data will be kept secret - except from MI5, police, courts etc

Ian 35
Paris Hilton

Who gives a toss about genealogists?

Aside from the obvious point that people alive in 2011 leave a massively greater document footprint than people alive in 1911, so the idea that the census data will be all that provides information to your descendants in 2111 is faintly preposterous, why is the government funding something for the benefit of bores? The man who tells you that he's looked up his second cousins great grandfather in the census of whenever is a man you don't want to sit next to at lunch, and the government should no more concern itself about boring people and their boring hobbies with regard to census than it should underwrite model railways, orchid growing or geo-cacheing. Other people's hobbies are their concern, and if they're boring to me, well, at least they're enjoying it. But the idea that I should waste my time filling in a form for the benefit of bores yet to be born is laughable. The census has many uses and to me, the basic demographic information about me isn't interesting enough (or private enough) that I'm going to get worked up about it. But if the benefits is about Family Tree Bore Monthly readers, well, count me out.

Paris, because she knows who _her_ father is.

Oracle puts out Solaris 11 compatibility tester

Ian 35

2.1? hah

I have a binary compiled on SunOS 4.1.1, circa 1990, on a Sun 4/470 for which the source was lost. A couple of oddities had to be fixed under the platinum beta programme, but it has been kept running through to Solaris 10 (not really needed, but a handy test case).

Chicken Little report: Sat-nav dependency spells DISASTER!

Ian 35

What on earth are they on about?

"The RAE's Ploszek suggested to the Reg that the MSF signal isn't good enough to stand in for GPS, saying "at 60Hz, I'd suspect that it isn't going to offer enough precision"."

A man who can't tell the difference between 60Hz and 60kHz isn't to be trusted with sharp objects. The MSF time signal simply gates a 60kHz carrier, so the precision you can recover the edges to depends on the precision to which you can spot the carrier going away. That's of the order of a microsecond if you're keen enough.

Apple brands Intel 'Light Peak' as Thunderbolt

Ian 35
Jobs Halo

DVD Drives, Grandad?

Is there anyone who is in the market for a grand's worth of laptop who has any need for a permanently fitted DVD drive? What do people use these things for?

'Don't panic: We're still Delicious,' says Yahoo!-owned Web2.0 outfit

Ian 35

There's a market, albeit a small one

Pinboard.in charges a signup fee for their delicious-alike service, that fee being $0.001 x the number of current users, so it pays to get in early. Since the delicious rumours broke at the end of last week, the price has gone from $7.45 to $8.45, so a thousand people have signed up. Which is $8000 in revenue, so nice work for a few days for a service that probably runs on a pair of commodity servers or a bit of EC3, but hardly the stuff of billion dollar market floats. I suspect that sets a real value: there will be people who have various reasons to need a collaborative or a centralised bookmarking service, but most people either don't need it, or have it as part of something else (I've never had much luck with the MobileMe bookmark sharing, but it's alleged to work) or tolerate not having it unless they can get it free.

Apple Mac Mini with Snow Leopard Server

Ian 35

They work well as network gateways, actually

Unless they're radically different to the previous model, you have two options for using them as a gateway (as I am). Firstly, they take the USB Ethernet adaptor sold for Airs, so you can add extra physical interfaces (I believe you can add several; I've only tried one). Alternatively, they support VLAN tagging, so you can take a trunk port into a switch and then break out onto multiple physical networks: that's what I do at home. Both are supported by virtualisation, too, so you can use a Solaris or Linux VM as the actual last port of call before the Internet if you trust their firewalling more.

Giffgaff says some subscribers yakked for 9 days a month

Ian 35

Tragedy of the Commons

"Someone, somewhere, offers a great thing that many people appreciate.

Then a tiny handful of knob wipes turn up and shit all over it like baboons with dysentery."


Apple ships Mac OS X 10.6.5 update

Ian 35

SSL for iDisk

At last.

Government will shred ID card data

Ian 35

IL5, eh?

Had the government actually deemed NIR data IL5 at the outset, and said so clearly, I think more than a few infosec professsionals might have felt slightly better about the whole misbegotten programme. Except, of course, an IL5 NIR would have been so expensive as to be impossible in the first place...

'External experts' replace Oracle on £13.2m Uni IT project

Ian 35

£500 a head

£13.2m, 26500 users: £500 a head, give or take. That's quite a lot of money, and it would be interesting to see the business case for it. If it's about lecture theatre scheduling, you could build several dozen more for the money and be a bit less efficient. If it's about cost-reduction, it's perhaps 200 person-years of burdened costs, so over a 7-year cycle you'd want to see perhaps 30 fewer staff in the administration function. As an IT project for a single-site small enterprise, it fails the ``hmm, that sounds a lot'' test, and any subsequent fail on the part of the implementation team (and to lose one partner could be considered a misfortune, but two looks like carelessness) is in a way a side-show. Although as it will be pushing up acquisition costs, opportunity costs, later opportunities to buy more modern solutions and generally tying the enterprise in knots, that can't be totally ignored.

Google's encrypted search casts shadow on web analytics

Ian 35

This was inevitable...

...once Phorm tried their product on the market. So perhaps all the e-commerce people who jumped up and down excitedly at the thought of what the Phorm offering might do for them should actually have thought about the unintended consequences.

UK hot-swaps leaders - Brown out, Cameron in

Ian 35

Contactpoint isn't DNA

Contactpoint isn't anything to do with DNA: it's a national register of children so that social services can be co-ordinated. It's a hideous mess, and a dangerous accumulation of power, but it isn't a DNA register.

Retailers fooled by fake and borrowed IDs

Ian 35
Paris Hilton

Don't believe it

I certainly don't believe the claim that nearly half have used a stolen credit card to purchase booze, fags or porn DVDs online. Firstly, the market for online booze sales involves couriers calling at the house, so hard to do without parental involvement. Rates of smoking aren't that high. And given the huge amounts of online porn, isn't buying DVDs a bit 1990s? If ~50% of parents are having their credit cards misused, why is there no spate of chargebacks? Why aren't the credit card companies saying anything about it?

Paris, because she know how to use daddy's money to _make_ porn.

Oracle: Mine is bigger and, um, more integrated

Ian 35

Pillar is solid kit

I'm a great fan of the ZFS Sun products --- Bryan Cantrill has slept on my floor --- by it also has to be said that the Pillar kit is very impressive in hardware packaging and architecture terms. There's a niche for both, I think.

Police snapper silliness reaches new heights

Ian 35

Simply sack 20% of the police

If they've got time to piss away on this sort of nonsense, they don't have enough work to do. Any policeman who arrests someone for a non-offence should be disciplined.

Liverpool declares itself an ID-free zone

Ian 35

Better than a nuclear free zone

Islington's declaration as a nuclear free zone was pointless because no-one was planning to base IRBMs outside the Upper Street Fish Bar. The only things that might happen --- the roads carrying a convoy (unlikely) or the white train going through the local railway lines (possible) --- were outside the local council's ambit. Liverpool and ID cards is different, as refusing use of council channels of advertising and, say, declining to accept an ID card as a substitute for other ID when doing business with the council, will actually materially affect the programme.

RAF's new military airlifter finally lumbers into the air

Ian 35

Defence Procurement as a Game

The problem is that all through from the 50s to the early 80s, defence procurement was a game. No one _really_ thought that a war starting with either a pre-emptive nuclear strike by the Russians or the the 2nd Shock Army streaming through the Fulda Gap was really winnable, or even fightable in a meaningful sense, so the whole military-industrial complex turned into a game. Lots of money, but no real outcomes. Falklands proved the stupidity of that: we had a navy that couldn't defend itself against essentially third-world forces, so would be totally incapable against anyone serious, an airforce that could only engage in pointless raids over a long distance, raids that a proper carrier could have provided hour in and hour out, by dredging scrapyards and an Army that was woefully undermanned. But since then, it's not got any better. The Air Force continue to fight not even the last war but in fact the early parts of the second world war (hell, by 1943 the game was up for short-range interceptors), the Navy has a few sub-hunters for a submarine threat that doesn't exist and non-functional air defence pickets for a fleet that no longer exists and the poor bloody Infantry pick up the pieces.

Britain could use a large, conventional or nuclear carrier with a fleet of low-tech aircraft. INdeed, for present problems, the Ark Royal circa 1972 plus some old Buccaneers would be a seriously useful force. The air force should just be all loaded onto carriers, but if they can't manage that should stop pissing about in fast jets (to fight whom, exactly?) and see if they can buy some decent ground attack aircraft, while the Army should get some decent helicopters.

Lord Carlile: Police are taking the proverbial on terror

Ian 35

Never Talk To A Policeman

It's US, but it's just as true here:


Tell them nothing, nothing, without a lawyer being present. The idea that they are acting on anyone's behalf other than their own is just laughable.

Phorm: How it went down

Ian 35

It was obvious that it would fail...

...for any number of reasons. But mostly because the people they were marketing it to --- industry insiders --- weren't the people whose consent they needed --- punters.

The reference to Google in the article highlights this: the people KE needed to convince were punters, but the only people who care about Google's dominance of the advertising market are industry insiders. I crossed swords with Peter Bazalgatte on the same topic at the Convention on Modern Liberty thing (he is, it has to be said, a really nice guy) and his main concern was about the paucity of money for content creation: again, that sells Phorm to media companies, not end users.

At no point did KE come up with a direct benefit for punters. Oh sure, there were some incredibly vague indirect ones --- this will make money for ISPs who will cut your bills, or this will make money for content providers who will make good programmes. But ISPs are hardly sympathetic poster-children, and content is not in short supply.

Speaking personally, if an ISP wants to make more money, it should charge me more and I'll see if I want to pay, and if content providers want to sell me premium content for more money, they should ask for my money. The idea that I will give my attention and, by implication, my money (advertising only makes money if the viewers buy the products) in preference to just paying my money is silly.

Still, it got me to leave BT as a customer after having been customer #2 in my exchange one of the architects of the Project Ascot trials of ADSL in Ealing in 1996, so they can't say that Phorm didn't have an impact.

That Digital Britain report in full

Ian 35

But of course by 2015 most new cars will come with DAB head units anyway.

Why would world-wide car manufacturers go to the effort of producing a radio specific to one, small market?

Pressure group demands UK apes China net filter plan

Ian 35

Look at their `faith'

mediamarch heartily endorses the Christian aspirations which have been publicly displayed, ever since 1931, at BBC Broadcasting House in London. We recognise that these are in accordance with Philippians 4:8, and the wording used is as follows:

"This Temple of the Arts and Muses is dedicated to Almighty God by the first Governors of Broadcasting in the year 1931, (Sir John Reith being Director General). It is their prayer that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace and purity may be banished from this house and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful, and honest and of good report, may tread a path of wisdom and uprightness."

mediamarch and its supporters are committed to campaigning on behalf of all those who are being harmed as a result of the increasingly explicit violence, sex and bad language in media content. Those affected range from both the victims and the perpetrators of media-fuelled crime, through to couples struggling with dysfunctional relationships, and to young girls who become anorexic in their pursuit of stick-thin 'beauty'.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12)


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