* Posts by Paul 5

42 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

DBA locked in police-guarded COVID-19-quarantine hotel for the last week shares his story with The Register

Paul 5

Re: And this is why the Aussies are on top of it

> > I do hope Boris has the balls to stand-up to the PC brigade...

> It's not the PC brigade, it's the airline industry brigade.

It's the libertarian phalange in the parliamentary Tory party, some of whom were elected after the purge of ideologically impure members just before the last general election.

Paul 5

Re: No, the UK pushed the problem into care homes.

The health service wasn't overwhelmed, it effectively shut down for everything but Coronavirus. Where are the numbers for the harm caused by this?

That would be the excess deaths over the average for the time of year - for example, see this article on fullfact.org, or check the Office of National Statistics. It's of the order of magnitude of 20K extra deaths in April. Unfortunately these excess death figures also include COVID-19 deaths outside the hospital/care system, or who were never tested, or who were not included in official statistics.

Paul 5

Re: due to the ineptitude of Boris and his cohort of fuckwits.

As Prof David Spiegelhalter said on the Andrew Marr show yesterday, while there is little point trying to make detailed comparisons between the UK and the other badly-performing countries in Europe, there absolutely is value in looking at what is different between those poorly performing countries and the countries which are doing a lot better.

Dominic Cummings may not like people to do that, in case it shows up any weakness in government policy - past or present - but finding out what works well can only be good for the country.

Paul 5

Re: What a shit hole

The Novel Cononavirus' plan is the same as for any other highly infectious virus - spread exponentially until contact between potential hosts is reduced and R drops below 1. The Government's response is more in line with the magic 8 ball - Better not tell you now / Outlook not so good / Reply hazy, try again!

BT's Wi-Fi Disc ads banned because there's no evidence the things work

Paul 5

Presumably this sort of mesh will work best if you're not daisychaining them all. If your house and hub location permits a sensible topology, it shouldn't be that bad. And even if you have a couple of hops, it may well be better than power line adapters.

Yes, Ethernet would be better, but she who must be obeyed may take a dim view of cables lying around, or holes being made in walls must so your gaming works better.

As for interfering with every tom, dick or harry on the street - surely if the signal was that strong you wouldn't be needing repeaters in the first place?

Judge: Georgia's e-vote machines are awful – but go ahead and use them

Paul 5

Re: Scanning?

First, there is no American system... Fourth, there is no American system...

Are you arguing he should just have said "the American systems are stupid"?

If the systems are so insecure, and cannot be replaced with something more secure, then there is clearly SOMETHING wrong.

Giffgaff admits to billing faff, actually tells folk to turn it off and on again

Paul 5

Re: * Posts by Enemy of the State 2 posts • joined 29 Jun 2018

Where I am, the O2/GiffGaff network is better than EE, but I expect the situation varies like that in many places outside London. I reckoned the GiffGaff tariffs seemed quite reasonable for things outside of the normal UK call/data/text bundle that the rest of the networks compete on. Was thinking of switching. But what are these EU roaming surcharges you mention?

EU bods up GDPR ante: Threatens legislative laggards with ‘infringement procedure’

Paul 5

I checked the link. It says, "[the UK] has supported more than 97% of the EU laws adopted in the last 12 years," and adds that "the UK seems to have diminished its influence in the European Parliament in recent years, as a result of self-distancing of some of its own party delegations from the EU’s mainstream political families, as well as due to the results of the latest EU elections in the UK."

So there you go. We hardly ever (3%) get EU rules the government don't want (the working time directive would be one of those exceptions, and a good thing it was too). Even recently, we still "won" 86.7% of the time in the 2009-15 period. And the recent (but hardly catastrophic) loss of influence is down to UK actions and choices.

Of course it will get worse in about 18 months.

Early indications show UK favouring 'hard Brexit', says expert

Paul 5

Re: "how we label our food"

Possibly because some loon had scheduled the vote for the end of term when a lot of students were moving away from their registered addresses.

Paul 5

Re: "how we label our food"

A majority of those who voted... if I recall correctly it was about 37% of the electorate who gave the overwhelming mandate for Brexit.

Financial Conduct Authority: No need to look any closer at insurers’ use of Big Data

Paul 5
Big Brother

Snoopy McSnoopface

How can insurance companies' use of your social media data (which seems rather intrusive) meet the data protection requirement that data must be fairly obtained?

How intrusive can they be when demanding disclosure?

Or will they just add a big "log in with Facebook" button to their sites and grab everything that way?

Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

Paul 5

doesn't increasing income for the BBC mean WE will be paying more?

So, says Comrade Orlowski... "discretionary spending. The mandatory telly tax prevents the BBC from benefiting from it."

And, if the Beeb WERE allowed to benefit from all this lovely lovely discretionary spending on telly, then "...Sky has increased its revenue 34 per cent year on the year. Why wouldn’t BBC revenue go up by a similar amount, or even more?"

What does this mean? Abolish the licence fee (which stops UK viewers from subscribing to BBC content) and the subscribers will end up paying on average somewhere north of 34% more?

Ignoring the risk that splitting discretionary spending with yet another new player (the BBC) may not give them ALL an extra 34%, HOW, exactly, is getting viewers to pay MORE supposed to be a good thing for anyone outside the content-pricing cartel?

Are we getting a little carried away with some kind of neoliberal fundamentalism that hates to see a "market opportunity" (read chance to charge people more) go to waste?

Government's 'Google Review' copyright rules become law

Paul 5


It's entirely appropriate for the question of whether something is a parody to be decided by a court - Parody is more a "know it when I see it" thing than something that is straightforward to define.

As for quoting complete works for purposes other than parody or "traditional" fair dealing, that's a different question

GCHQ attempts to downplay amazing plaintext password blunder

Paul 5

Surely that is how you train people to write down their password?

Guess who'll grab Facebook Sponsored Stories payout? (Hint: Not the victims)

Paul 5


This time, Mr Orlowski explains the basic issue well. And he may have a valid point - the legal process could be diverting money to organisations that work for the companies who lost the class action suits. Or not. It is surely the job of the lawyers for the plaintiffs to ensure that the defendants' payouts don't go to shills who effectively work for the defendants. They should be doing something to justify their $8M cut of the winnings (bit steep that - good point again, Mr O.).

On the other hand, Mr Orlowski's well known mistrust of anything connected with Google leads him to all but claim that the EFF and ACLU are some kind of front for the googleplex ("...already beneficiaries of Google donations, and have taken policy positions on causes close to Google's interests that are entirely in line with Google's..."), just because Google finds itself occasionally opposed to exploitation of internet users by (other?) big businesses. That seems a bit of a stretch. Even for him.

Maybe the money isn't all being wasted on fronts for the defendants after all.

How can the BBC be saved from itself without destroying it?

Paul 5

Re: The BBC is ... the vampire. Literally. It sucks peoples' money away

That argument (that commercial quality is squeezed out by BBC's free-to-view, ad-free quality) only makes sense if the BBC shows a version of every possible quality programme, so there are none left for commercial broadcasters to show. There are plenty of possible topics for investigative journalism or other quality shows that have not yet been aired by Auntie. Note that most of them are made by commercial independent production houses anyway...

So, if a commercial broadcaster wants to show quality commercially-produced content (instead of the usual commercial dross), the BBC cannot possibly stop them by showing it first.

After all, the BBC also shows dross - and that does not stop commercial broadcasters from showing dross too!

The real reason the commercial broadcasters have the dross to quality ratio that they do is simply that the dross is cheaper to make, and, sadly, has a bigger audience. Which is why we need a broadcaster less completely shackled by commercial imperatives, with a mission that includes quality. Otherwise it's loads of channels with nothing to watch...

Paul 5

one difference

one difference might be that the BBC does not cut lumps out of the "identical" quality entertainment or whatever to make space for ever-increasing amounts of advertising.

You pay for the entertainment through a license fee, a subscription, or through having it interrupted by ads.

UK's Intellectual Property Obliteration office attacked by Parliament

Paul 5

Intellectual Property is Theft - Marx (Groucho)?

Orlowski and the All Party IP Group want patents, copyright and trademarks collectively to work as absolute "property rights", rather than (as they originally were, and should be) market interventions, to BOTH reward innovators AND TO encourage the spread of innovation.

Framing all IP as a property right encourages the RIAA / MPAA / Cliff Richard view of copyright as an *absolute* *entitlement* to extract cash from consumers for as many decades after the death of the original innovator / creator / author as their lobbyists can persuade the government is OK.

It ignores the broader economic costs of "monitizing" everything - like having tolls for every few miles of road, it makes ordinary commerce so much more difficult. And it encourages rent-seeking entities like patent trolls.

The IPO may not have got all the questions right - but they are right, and Orlowski and the APIPG and paymasters are wrong. The current IP framework needs to change, to be fit for the economic needs of the current century.

UK judges quietly declare text chat can be obscene

Paul 5

this could be serious - and it's not about pr0n

Has the Court of Appeal thought this through?

If "publication" now includes sending a private message to one other person, then emails, texts, and possibly phone calls (over the internet, or by plain old-fashioned telephone) are publication.

This may mean many more things are covered by the law of libel (instead of mere slander). It may mean that copyrighted "content" is much more strictly controlled (not allowed to quote stuff over the phone / IM; not allowed to have background radio / CD playing while on the phone; not allowed to joke on the phone or by IM about blowing up Robin Hood airport).

It's possible that common sense will intervene, but I'm not optimistic.

Republican filibuster blocks Senate Cybersecurity bill

Paul 5

that is NOT the job

It's not the opposition's job to destroy the government - it's their job to advocate an alternative (where they disagree), and convince the people that their alternative is better, and that they would make a better government, come the next election.

If they put destroying the government ahead of the national interest, they are not doing their job. And a rational electorate (and truthful media) would quite rightly punish them for it.

Twitter airport bomb joke conviction binned in common-sense WIN

Paul 5

every person in the chain of events taking every joke seriously?

Whether or not "national security ops" are as overworked as you suggest, you must know that the Crown Prosecution Service has the time (and the duty) to consider the context of an act -- especially if the act is just writing something, before deciding that the writer deserves to have his life ruined by a conviction.

Prosecution is not a trivial thing that can be undertaken on a whim, or "just in case" the act might have been serious. Apart from the unjust suffering, it's a huge waste of time and money. The courts have real cases they could be hearing instead.

The "joker" at the CPS should be disciplined, sacked, or prosecuted.

Ex-gov man McCluggage on G-Cloud's slow descent

Paul 5

To bespoke or not to bespoke?

McCluggage says: "People come in and say: ‘I need to bespoke this'."

Do real people (as opposed to empty suits) actually speak like this? Bespoke is now a verb?

Enough gratuitous verbing, I say!

Biz law reform: Bad news for lawyers, good news for hippies

Paul 5

fair point... so here's what to do

Good point. The Bill was unclear, but the explanatory notes are helpful:


Part 6 of the bill repeals section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 so as to provide full copyright protection for the period of the author’s life plus 70 years. Creates a power to amend exceptions for copyright and rights in performances without affecting the existing criminal penalties regime.

I suspect this is just implementing EU directive 2006/116/EC


So it MAY be too late to stop this right now, since the government MUST implement directives... Our anger should be directed at the European Parliament and the Council, for passing the directive, and at our government of the day for supporting it, and at the labels who lobbied for it.

Write to THEM!


It's a good opportunity to push for rebalancing of rights, "for the 99%" - at the EU and international treaty level.

You'll have to battle the "don't you know there's a recession on" brigade, and the "think of the businesses" free-marketards and lobbytards of course. Since we throw "tards" around such a lot at el reg. But a more liberal regime will almost certainly stimulate the economy, overall.

Paul 5

actually, not so much

Hang on. I don't think this is an "extension to copyright for artistic works, extending it to the author's life plus 70 years."

This change applies to "effect of exploitation of design derived from artistic work" - which cityam.com says means: "Encouraging investment in design by extending copyright protection for mass-produced art (e.g. designer chairs, lamps) to the life of the creator plus 70 years."


Not sure what the current period is... or whether people really need the extra decades to break even on their designer tables.

But it's not quite such a disaster as El Reg thinks. Sir Cliff is not getting his copyright extension. We will just lose the right to make pooh bear chairs or Mickey Mouse ears for an extra 20 years or so.

But still, if they are going to look at copyright, maybe they should be decreasing it. A lot.

Paul 5

it's not just the copyright TERM that is being changed

It's not just an increase in copyright term - made without any evidence that it will benefit the economy, and in the face of the clear evidence that it harms the interests of citizens, consumers, and those who wish to build creatively on old works.

The Secretary of State is taking the power to issue orders and regulations (instead of needing laws) that will "add or remove" exceptions to copyright!

Given the Government's attitude to consumers (as shown by the increase in the already extraordinary length of copyright), what direction do you think these virtually un-scrutinised changes will go in? If they need to INCREASE copyright protection, what's wrong with legislation that can be properly scrutinised?

Planet-wide cloud dream burst by nations' laws - BSA

Paul 5

one size fits THEM

@Ken - the BSa don't want a one-size-fits-all design so much as a one-size-fits content publishing conglomerates who like to "monetise" personal data without inconvenient privacy rules to get in the way.

Possibly it won't fit the rest of us so well.

Plods to get dot-uk takedown powers - without court order

Paul 5

slippery slope?

The slippery slope argument is a bad one in principle - but it can highlight legitimate concerns.

The usual government response, sadly, is "we won't use the powers in that way", or even "we will include guidelines [with no legal force] to ask people please please not to use the powers in that way".

What OUGHT TO happen is that the primary legislation should include both strict limits on how the powers can be used, and credible deterrent penalties for breaching those limits. And a mechanism for detecting, reporting on, and prosecuting breaches of those limits.

The penalties should include fines to the organisation, in proportion to the harm done, and penalties for the INDIVIDUALS abusing the process. BOTH components to the penalty are essential.

Unfortunately, that never seems to happen.

It's almost like they didn't want to prevent misuse of the new powers...

Oxfam's 'Grow' world hunger plan: More peasants

Paul 5


I saw the citation after I'd written my comments. Interesting paper, although I think it concentrates on some historical markets, rather than speculation on today's global markets, with their increased (in real terms) amounts of capital and frequency (and thus, perhaps, volatility). They also mention, but don't really address, the issue of asymetrical information flow in the market, which significantly affects outcomes. Another poster has pointed out the issue that can arise when trades are faster than the information on which rational trades could be made. The paper also concentrates rather a lot on then-widespread philosophical objections to trades not involving real goods.

Of course none of that answers my other points - about the effect that the higher end prices has on the overall economy, the issue of fairness and sustainability of prices to producers, the effect on displaced farmers of industrial-scale agriculture in a mid-african-style economy, and the doubtful benefits to such an economy of a large influx of now-unskilled workers.

The goal may be to get to a more prosperous and inclusive economy (perhaps with less waste than ours), but the huge shocks from industrialisation of farming, without any way to deal with the human collateral damage, may not be the best way to get there.

Paul 5

speculation reduces volatility?

I'd like to see proper citations for the claim that speculators reduce volatility, along with an examination of the effect that speculation has on the price paid by consumers (or manufacturers or users of the raw material) and on the price received by the original growers (or miners, etc). The effect of speculation on copper prices seems to have been less uniformly rosy than the advocates of speculation suggest - it seems to have quadrupled or more the end price [handwaving citation: BBC Documentary "Bubble Trouble"], and I'm not sure how well it will work in the food market. I'd also like to see a more considered and thoughtful examination of how the "pain" of displaced workers is likely to manifest, and how it might be relieved.

The problem is that an economy is a bit complex, and that there are many different effects of any one change. And sometimes those who get all dewey eyed about the profits to be made from speculation gloss over the harm that unfettered speculation does to the rest of the end-to-end trade in the comodity. Just as the fans of industrial-scale agriculture gloss over the harm done to displaced farmers who are expected to "move to the city" (shanty town sector, presumably) and get jobs in the lucrative drug, crime or prostitution sectors of the economy. The main problem of African economies is NOT a shortage of labour, and it won't be solved by a deluge of displaced peasant farmers.

Canadian prof: Wikipedia makes kids study harder

Paul 5
Thumb Up

re Fear Itself

@Veni, Vidi, Velcro - well spotted. I reckoned that was what was going on too: "Not only am I going to grade this, but I'm posting it on Wikipedia and we'll let them tear it apart with your name attached, too."

But to answer "how useful is in depth knowledge of the biographies of obscure authors, really?" I think the lasting value would have been teaching more rigorous habits of thought, research and attribution - not so muct the detail of any one assignment (though there is some value in nearly any knowledge -- and there is a degree of value in English Lit graduates having a knowledge of English Lit).

Government shells out £2m for ID card compo

Paul 5

why not surcharge the incompetent ministers responsible

Why not surcharge the incompetents responsible for the signing of contracts which had big penalty clauses when they knew they were likely to be cancelled (or changed, due to mission creep). Even if all the money is not recovered, it might make the current crop of ministers think twice before ripping off the country like that.

It worked that way when Tory councillors sold off houses on the cheap - so why not with new Labour ministers - or are ministers too important to fail?

EU Commission proposes new directive on storing air passenger details

Paul 5
Big Brother

what EXACTLY is the problem this will solve?

Clearly there are privacy implications to this database.

So what is the value (for fighting terrorism) of an archive of anonymous passenger flight records going back however many years? What problem will this solve (even assuming anonymisation works)?

If there is no point, get them to throw the data away after the month is up (if you trust them - and imprison them if they turn out to have retained it).

And what exactly is the point of tracking people who fly, while ignoring train travel, ferries, and car journeys. Unless they want to bring back the big brother car tracking programme Labour proposed...

Maybe we should all have permits saying where we are allowed to live, and apply for passes to leave our home town?

Ryanair wins ihateryanair.co.uk because of £322 ad revenue

Paul 5


So Nominet think that "RyanAir" and "IHateRyanAir" are similar? Really?

Similar in the same way that "Walk" and "Don't Walk" are similar, I suppose.

ACTA leaks - but secret squirrel stays secret

Paul 5

Just say no

Nobody is "bound to continue to respect the confidential nature of negotiations until all parties agree to the greater transparency that the European Commission is seeking".

If the negotiations on the future shape of the laws that govern us cannot be carried on in an open manner, consistent with democratic principles, then the EU - indeed all democratic parties - should walk away from the table, and refuse to implement anything based on what the remaining lobbyists and undemocrats produce.

If it's really that important, it's important to do it democratically and openly, so that all voices can be represented - not just corporate lobbyists.

Twitter bomb joker found guilty

Paul 5

Not a threat?

Hmmm... Paul Chambers did not intend the message as a threat, and the airport manager who first found the message didn't either.

(From the article: "Off-duty manager Shaun Duffield who stumbled across the offending Tweet days after it was made told a court on Monday that the message was not taken as a credible threat and had no operational effect on the airport." From the Telegraph: "He alerted airport security head Steven Armson who said he graded the threat level of the message as "non credible" but had no choice but to pass it on to police Special Branch")

So far, harmless jobsworthiness. Following procedures. No real harm done.

Yet Paul Chambers was barred from the airport, according to other press reports at the time. Was this just some spiteful or anal-retentive jobsworth who barred him? What sort of person thinks a bad taste joke deserves a ban? Such penalties should not be handed out secretly - who made that call? Name names!

Then the CPS decided that there should be a prosecution under the Communications Act. They considered that he had used a "public communications network" and sent a "threatening message" and that prosecution was in the public interest, and an appropriate use of (scarce) resources. Or maybe they thought they could get a quick conviction and make their monthly quota. Whatever. The individual who made this clearly inappropriate and abusive call should be named and shamed.

Maybe he should have gone for a Jury trial - or have Labour removed that right?

The District Judge Jonathan Bennett found Chambers guilty of sending a message by means of a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to the Communications Act 2003. Mr Bennett said: "I am therefore satisfied, so that I am sure, that the defendant sent the message via Twitter and it was of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live.

"Furthermore I am satisfied the defendant was, at the very least, aware that this was of a menacing nature and I find him guilty of the offence."


Two points:

This has not made Britain a safer place (and seriously - any slight possibility that people will be more careful before they tweet is outweighed by the fact that you can be prosecuted for such tosh).

This cannot have been the sort of threat that Parliament had in mind when outlawing menacing messages over public communications networks. It's a clear case of creeping increase in scope!

Soon we'll all be terrorists. And I hope that saying that doesn't get twisted into an endorsement of terrorism! You get locked up for that.

Why you subsidize Google's Soviet-style Net

Paul 5

That really would be a subsidy

>> "Do you want Google to pay for BOTH ends of every

>> connection to any of their servers?"

> It's not my call, it's up to people who pay the bills.

> I'll describe it another way: the spread of costs as they are now

> means Google receiving a subsidy from producers.

It's not really "up to the people who pay the bills".

If all users are going to pay for both ends of all connections (or is your complaint uniquely directed at Google?), then the ISPs will be double-charging everyone, and there will be a very real subsidy - by all Internet users, to the networks.

Who wants that sort of world? Apart from the networks, obviously...

The charging model on which the internet is based is that users of any type pay for the cost of their connection to "the Internet" (incoming and outgoing traffic), and once connected, they can connect to any other machine which is part of the Internet. Also that network operators choose which other network operators they exchange data with, in order to get the necessary connectivity to the whole Internet.

You seem to be proposing a new mechanism. It's up to you to show exactly how that would work on the real-world Internet, and to show that it is more efficient, and fairer, than the current scheme. You have done none of these.

Paul 5

minute proportion

@ Rolyon

The google costs would be a minute proportion of any site's costs, for sites with a significant bandwidth requirement (and bill). For sites whose monthly traffic is comparable to the level of search engine robot traffic they receive, their bandwidth bill should be very small (if it isn't, you're on the wrong tariff). And if the spidering is taking up too much traffic, there is robots.txt to keep them out.

But we agree the author has things backwards (from any perspective but that of the telcos, perhaps).

Paul 5

what's the problem?

So you pay for the bandwidth you use to download google videos, and if you have a website, a minute proportion of your site's monthoy traffic allowance is used by google to look at your site so it can tell other interested users who might be searching for that sort of thing -- and that's somehow a bad thing? Or a subsidy someone is paying google?

I wonder who else could possibly be collecting such "subsidies"....

Do you want Google to pay for BOTH ends of every connection to any of their servers?

Europe's ISPs object to secret copyright treaty talks

Paul 5

turned out not to be true?

How can you say that "rumours of... border searches of iPods and computers for pirated music... turned out not to be true" when the proposals have STILL not been released? At best you could say "have been neither confirmed nor disproved".

Why the sudden outbreak of credulity towards ACTA?

Tories would take an axe to Labour IT policy

Paul 5

Why not bill the cabinet for the colossal waste?

If the current administration signed contracts that were unreasonably expensive and wasteful, and in addition had the sort of lock-in clauses described, is there any way that they can be individually and personally surcharged - just as local councillors who wasted money (by selling houses cheap to their mates, for example) have been?

Google-fixated EC chiefs ask Europe to revise copyright law

Paul 5

Good news for consumers? Unlikely!

Is this by any chance code for new ways for the content marketing industry to claim owndership of public domain works?

An Enclosure Act for the 21st Century?

Ryanair requires web check-in, shuts down website

Paul 5

@why don't...

Some of us need more luggage than will fit in one carry-on bag. That's the sort of foolish extravagance that means we can't get the standard price (plus tax / airport charges).

Besides, electron cards are being phased out right left and centre - mine was "upgraded" some time ago...