* Posts by Desk Jockey

264 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Jun 2009


Brit firm unleashes drone-busting net cannon

Desk Jockey


100m of range seems rather irrelevant to me. Who gives a crap about drones at 100m until they are practically over a runway? It is those 500-2000ft ones that really need to be shot down. Police marksman in a helicopter time? Or a really big drone capable of carrying this thing?

I can see the police wanting to use this to bag a perp on the ground though...

Scottish MP calls for drone-busting eagles

Desk Jockey
Black Helicopters

The ultimate smackdown?

While the idea of watching an eagle take down a pesky drone is quite thrilling it will only take the first eagle to get horribly injured by the rotors of a drone to set the animal rights nutters off!

Also are they really going to be able to tell an eagle to target that drone at 1500 feet that has just wandered into a restricted zone by an airport? Gives new meaning to 'double bird strike'!

Micro surface to air missiles. Go on, you know the plods would love 'em!

Bone-dry British tech SMBs miss out on UK.gov cash shower

Desk Jockey

Re: Yes but @ Harry Kiri

There may be some gems of truth in your original post, but the minute I read the subtle hints dropped in the article about the assessments being done by academics as a paper exercise with not even business cases being asked for I could immediately grasp the problem. I speak from experience in saying you just cannot understand a business or a new concept by asking them to fill in an application form.

I have had plenty of new concepts pitched to me by small businesses and startups. If at all possible, I will always try to visit their site, meet their engineers not just their sales managers and ask them to explain in plain English what it is they are proposing to do and how. I will also challenge them to show me any evidence on how successful their product could be (eg. field tests are best) and I will carefully read their body language and voice to see how shifty they are being when they reply. If I am meant to be awarding them some money, I damn well want to have some confidence that they will spend it properly. Plus visiting company sites is always a good learning experience and usually quite fun.

There are loads of Government sponsored ways of helping small companies progress these days, but loads of red tape and too often little understanding of how effective their programmes are or what it is that those companies really need or even that they know what they are doing.

Three-years-late fit-to-work IT tool will cost taxpayers £76m

Desk Jockey

A coincidence of course

It would, of course, be wrong to make any kind of link between all the companies involved in this saga and the 'donations' that they have made to the political parties... It will be similarly wrong to make such links between the current desire to reform the NHS and doctors' contract with similar donations by those private healthcare companies...

It would, of course, be conspiracy theory stuff to think that perhaps the sheer incompetence in the admin of these assessments and payments to these vulnerable people is an unstated government policy to reduce the benefit bill as vulnerable people are less likely to be willing or indeed to survive the experience of taking the government to court.. Thus the extremely high success of claimants' appeal rates is economically beneficial and with the costs being incurred by the claimants and the justice system...

There are, of course, no links between all of this and the hundreds or maybe even thousands of vulnerable people who are dead through suicide or indirectly because they could not pay for the life sustaining support that they needed...

In other countries that consider themselves civilised, the people responsible for this sort of thing, including top ministers, would be sent to jail. Should any top flight lawyers like to set up a crowsourced legal defence fund to help prosecute Iain Duncan Smith on behalf of these vulnerable people, please let us know!

Trident test-shot startles West Coast Americans

Desk Jockey

Re: Serious question about MANPADs

A MANPAD only has so much fuel. You cannot extend it by making the rocket larger otherwise it will no longer be portable. If done as a DIY job, won't be particularly aerodynamic or balanced either assuming it did not blow up on you! If it is possible to make it go higher, the manufacturer would have already done so.

You can in theory extend the height ceiling by sitting on top of a mountain to fire your MANPAD. You would probably be bloody cold as would the manpad electronics. However, factors against you are the reduced oxygen content at height giving the MANPAD motor less grunt. Also your window for locking on and getting the missile into the right place to catch the plan would be limited. Being on top of a mountain is no good if the plane you want to hit, in addition to its height, is a couple of miles to the side of you as opposed to directly above. This is why near airports is a high risk area, the plane is low and slow and everyone knows where the plane will be ie. lined up on the runway.

The airlines have already assessed where the high risk areas are and avoid them (Ukraine, Syria and now add Egypt to the list). They can't avoid everything in existence so just hope that a terrorist doesn't get hold of a fighter jet and simply shoot one (or more) down. Fortunatey religious fundamentalism and high technical intelligence and skillsets don't often go together!

Desk Jockey

Re: Cover story weirdness...

Relying on shaky mobile phone footage (at work so not able to view the videos) shot in the dark is not the best way of analysing rocket fuel colours. Using liquid fuels for any rocket fired from a submarine would be highly unpleasant for the submarine concerned. As there is no land for a looooooong way, let's assume it was a solid fuel booster!

They could have used the NOTAM to close airspace below a certain level to let normal traffic go past, but since the whole point of an ICBM is to go into orbit then height is kind of important during any test assuming nothing goes wrong at which point nothing being within miles of an exploding or erratic ICBM is VERY important! Regardless, no half wit would try to steer an ICBM around an airliner and if nothing else, keeping the airliners out is sensible to avoid some poor airline pilot having to explain why their pants smell of poop!

This is not necessrily sabre rattling. All equipment has to be tested at somepoint. Trident is bloody old and while they do upgrade the electronics and bits here and there, no one really wants to rely on a computer (particularly Skynet!) to tell them that it should all work fine... Of course the Yanks don't want people actually watching the Trident launch because the whole point is that it is meant to be a surprise!

Soz SMEs, we're not interested in your direct biz

Desk Jockey


It is very hard to prove one way or another whether the Government is meeting this target. Not too bad for direct spend but a nightmare for figuring out indirect spend. Companies don't exactly have a checkbox in their accounting systems to say a supplier is an SME. While I am ready to believe the Cabinet Office is capable and willing of fudging its figures, saying that SMEs received less in total by 0.1% completely ignores the fact that total government expenditure is meant to have been savagely cut under this Government. Thus SMEs could well be getting an increasing share of a shrinking pie. This article criticises Government claims by cherry-picking the figures to use in that criticism.

Whatever criticisms you can make of the Cabinet Office (and there are many!) it is undoubtedly true that they have been making a concerted effort to improve SME spend by making the whole bidding process easier even if sometimes counter-productively. Right now a lot of European countries are looking at what the UK has done with its SMEs and realising that the UK is streets ahead of them. I can only imagine what it must be like for SMEs in those countries.The grass is not always greener elsewhere.

Vodafone didn't have a £6bn tax bill. Sort yourselves out, Lefties

Desk Jockey

Re: Re Amazon

This leads to a simple conclusion that Luxembourg should be kicked out of the EU!

OK I jest, but seriously, having a small office with a part time accountant based in it, holding board meetings twice a year there and claiming this is their permanent establishment is stretching things beyond farcical. A scenario where a company bases itself in a core market, let's say Germany or France as an example and takes advantage of their competitive tax system is what the EU laws were designed for. Luxembourg is a small country with very low expenses, is able to freeload off its larger neighbours (check out their nice and expensive armed forces for self defence!) while shafting the neighbours out of tax at the same time. The EU as a whole tends to believe that tax should be spent on socially important things like health, education and infrastructure while Luxembourg gets away with making money (and not a lot of it really by big boy standards) out of preventing that social investment from happening. It is going to lead to a lot of anger...

Although I would agree that the solution is to reform the laws not to punish the companies. Unfortunately reform of tax law is significantly linked with political corruption/funding.

Skin colour's irrelevant. Just hire competent folk on their merits, FFS

Desk Jockey

Societal failure

The biggest problem for business in being ethnically diverse is that they have to operate in an environment where society and governments have failed to properly ensure the workforce is ethically diverse. If the government has failed to ensure that everyone is guaranteed a good standard of education, for example predominantly black areas not having high quality schools, then a company recruiting on merit and requiring a workforce with decent education will hardly have any black employees unless they drop standards as part of a positive discrimination policy which will lead to disaster.

Ensure that everyone has the same access to decent education, opportunities and the same rights as each other and over time the numbers will start to match. Want to stop women being discriminated against? Well give men the exact same paternity rights and make it culturally acceptable for them to take it and after a while businesses have no financial incentive to pick a man over a woman at an interview. Likewise, any gay, black, asian, jewish or whatever, if they meet the job specs and all other things being equal, they stand just as good a chance of being picked by a business that genuinely wants good people.

No well meaning "do not discriminate" policy by a company will fix this problem although it can ensure that the problem is not made worse by having things like "macho teams".

About that UK digital biz renaissance? Not so fast

Desk Jockey

Ooh handy

Thanks for the useful tips in this article. I am actually meant to be analysing the growth of SMEs Small to Medium Enterprises) in my industry and how well they are doing. It is bloody difficult work because there is no checkbox in company reporting systems to say the supplier is an SME and of course by the nature of being SMEs, their status is somewhat fluid and so reliable statistic on them do not really exist.

Anyway, my industry tends to be dominated by several big players so the easier approach of finding out about SMEs is to get those big players to submit annual reports about their supply chains. Lots of useful data in there, but the challenge is trying to get it to tell you something useful. One thing is clear, just looking at a big database (like Companies House) and expecting it to tell you what you are trying to find out is not going to work. This is a basic error and any report that goes down this route deserves to be rediculed. Unfortunately, they make such useful political fodder...

Mad Frankie Maude hangs up his axe

Desk Jockey

The golden rule

The golden rule in Whitehall is that if Maude likes it, it is probably a bad idea and will be badly implemented! Not failed to be true yet.

The number of companies I have met who roll their eyes when you mention the Cabinet Office tells its own story. Maude and his young, naive but eager advisors are brimming full of ideas and jargon, but have no real concept of the implications of what they do or make others do.

I am sure there are some things they have done right, but there is a hell of a lot they have done wrong and so any claims of success or savings from the Cabinet Office should be treated with a great deal of suspicion unless independently verified by people with credibility in that field.

Elite: Dangerous 'billionaire' gamers are being 'antisocial', moan players

Desk Jockey
Black Helicopters

Re: General griefing

Although thinking about it, Frontier could make the system 'self correcting'. If a very rich griefer gains enough notoriety/bounties issued, the system authorities should issue a general bounty for their capture and send capital ships to get them. The griefer then gets the epic fight they are looking for! Once captured, the griefer can be brought to trial and a large chunk of their assets/cash confiscated. Just like in the real world. Now where should Frontier look for examples of such practice..? Oh hello Mr Putin, an ED fan are you?! :-D

Desk Jockey

General griefing

I doubt very much that even the few billionaires can cause a huge problem in such a big system. But to be honest how are you going to distinguish them from the run of the mill early access griefers who have far more time to grind away and so have massively upgraded their ships and are picking on the new players with inferior ships?

The one thing about this game above most of the others that have similar issues is that you can run away if you know what you are doing. When a griefer tried to drag me out of hyperspace in my pants Sidewinder, I just kept the thing aimed at the escape vector. After about two minutes, they gave up the chase. That's the great thing about those teenage griefers, they have limited patience and I am quite happy to wait them out and leave them knashing their teeth in frustration!

I can't wait until Frontier get the multiplayer side of things sorted. At that point, people can properly form groups and call in their mates to give the griefer a good group kicking! You see the same thing in games like DayZ and it is funny to watch.

UK data cops warn Optical Express to stop spamming 1000s of customers

Desk Jockey

Should've gone to Spec Savers

Only they are at it too. While the ICO is at it, they should slap a notice on them too.

The really unfortunate thing is that Specsavers won a contract from the DVLA to do the eye tests. They then take those 'customers' and add them to their spam list. If you then request a copy of the test result, Specsavers refuse to send it to you citing commercial proprietary. Bloody effin' cheek considering it is a government contract AND you are allowed by law (called Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act) to request your data. This is on top of being marketed too to come in for further eye tests.

They should be fined, massively.

Elite:Dangerous goes TITSUP

Desk Jockey

There is single player

El Reg really need to stop confusing the difference between an offline and a single player mode. I get some of the complaints about no offline mode, but I have to say I understand why they have done it. The game really is more dynamic for it. Means you can't just find a single high return trade route and keep running it over and over to generate cash as over time that route shuts down and you have to use your wits (and some cool 3rd party price comparison tools) to find a new one. It does make a difference as otherwise you really do just do the same thing over and over.

The only legitimate whinge for me is by those who can't stay online to play it. Anything else is silly in this day and age where Steam and EA et al keep you online for their games. But then if you don't have a reliable internet connection, an MMO game generally is probably one you would avoid.

And yes there is a big difference between the online and solo mode. When you play online, piracy (the proper old fashioned kind) is rife and so trying to trade can be difficult especially in the starter ships. For those who want to get some experience and/or do some people trading before getting into the spirit of fighting all the time, the solo mode is great. I am using it to generate enough credits to buy and then modify a decent ship that I am willing to take to a gunfight! Taking the sidewinder in online mode without upgrades would be a very frustrating experience!

Branson sinks sub dream: Plan to explore Earth's bottom scrapped

Desk Jockey

Sub sim

Having been in a sub simulator I can promise you that the computer screens in front of you are the most exciting things you are likely to see! Unless of course they simulate some kind of emergency (hitting an underwater container in this case, complete with a loud bang and lots of shaking), but you don't really want to do that in the real thing!

A 10 hour simulation of a trip undertaken by a real sub, complete with full camera feeds would probably do just as well, is a lot cheaper and a lot less uncomfortable.

Brit gun nut builds working sniper rifle at home out of scrap metal

Desk Jockey

Re: Funny sizes?

Short story is that many of these calibers were invented over 100 years ago. Heck anything that is .50 or even .456 can arguably be traced back to the old British muskets. There was no sensible reason for making rifles use those calibers (way too big), but the gun inventors were used to it and arguably it gave them some leeway as manufacturing techniques were not as precise as they are now obviously. As for using old rounds like the Russian 7.62? Well they like it and see no reason to change. The Yanks love their .45 despite it being older than anyone alive and don't you dare suggest taking it away from them! So many people use the old calibers, it is just easier to keep using them.

5.56 rounds are a relatively recent invention and were a compromise between the big fat rounds and the smaller sub-machine gun like rounds. It was meant to be a suitable round that everyone could use hence it is known as the standard NATO round. New stuff 5.7, 4.6 etc are the recent attempts by gun makers to make something new, but has not gained a lot of traction.

A few weeks ago an old army officer told me about dodging a .50 round (I reckon it was actually .456) fired at him in Northern Ireland by a chap using a Martini Henry. Google search will tell you this is a Boer war era rifle and actually a predecessor to the Lee Enfield mentioned in the article. Despite being an old relic, the troops were pretty respectful of that round, it was pretty accurate and went a bloody long way down range. Anyway the chap got back circa 400 rounds of .303 courtesy of several GPMGs. The Garda probably had to mop out what was left of him.

Amazon hiring drone flight ops engineer in Cambridge, UK

Desk Jockey
Black Helicopters

Misleading job title

That is a safety bod job description, not a flight operations engineer. The two are completely different things.

The safety person needs to have a full understanding of the law and CAA rules and procedures. A flight operations person would actually be conducting the test programme itself. The two are meant to be separate for very good reasons.

It is good that they are recruiting this sort of person as their drone stands no chance of gaining CAA approval without it, but unless there is a credible test programme of probably at least two years duration, it just will not be credible. Let's hope they have the right test programme team and a credible plan. The CAA is not tolerant (with good reason) of fast go getters who can't prove their product is safe in an air environment.

Footie fracas: MYSTERY DRONE waves flag, incites Balkan brawl

Desk Jockey
Black Helicopters

@ James Pond

Or get one of those old style jetpacks. Disguise it as a large rucksack containing beer. Get it ready before deploying your drone and as the plod come for you, shoot up to the top of the stadium. Extra bonus points if you keep the drone under control and in the air showing off its banner etc thoughout! Supreme kudos award (and probably get invited to a chat show) if you also manage to ride rodeo on a stadium camera unit that is meant to record the match!

In somewhere like Belgrade, the plod would probably 'solve' the problem by shooting you and your drone out of the sky. For more civilised locations I expect netting to suddenly become quite popular. Whether someone will propose something that can be aimed to shoot netting at an offending drone is also a distinct possibility.

Britain’s snooping powers are 'too weak', says NCA chief

Desk Jockey


Or maybe you could do it the old fashioned way and actually try to penetrate those suspect organisations that want to do 'bad things' using humans? When not having children with the greenpeace hippies they might actually be able to give you valuable intelligence of the sort you cannot get from intercepts? There is a reason why the Russians and the Israelis are considered to have the best domestic intelligence agencies in the world and it isn't because they rely on expensive high tech to do it.

Policing used to be about people. That is why Peel was so adamant it had to be part of the community, not shut away in buildings dealing judgement from afar. Seems like those in the police and at the top have significantly lost sight of that.

Want to see the back of fossil fuels? Calm down, hippies. CAPITALISM has an answer

Desk Jockey

Re: The problem with this article...

You shouldn't be thinking about the existing rigs. Those are sunk costs so in that respect, reducing demand would not increase the price. The issue comes with finding more oil fields and moving or building more rigs. This is very expensive and justified by the fact that the companies will get a huge quantity of oil, thus making the costs of getting new sources of oil worth it and thus spreading out that huge initial cost. Reduce the demand and that initial investment has to be paid back sooner as the business case for taking a decade or two to recoup the cost is not as strong as it was.

Other factors include logistics. Oil is transported in massive supertankers because you get economy of scale benefits even though those tankers can be pretty expensive to build and run. Double the size of a normal big tanker, but not double the costs sort of thing. Now there is less demand, so the operators fill the super tankers up (not worth ordering the smaller ones until the super tanker has to be replaced), but instead of doing 1 or 2 stops to unload, it now does 5 stops to 5 different ports. Every time you go into a port you pay fees, plus that super tanker had to travel more, pay crews to be out for longer etc. That increased cost comes right back into the oil price.

This does not take into account any tax or subsidy changes that might result from governments believing oil is no longer as important as it was. Tim Worstall might be able to explain it in something smaller than a full blown thesis, but right now I don't have enough background knowledge to cover what is a very complex area.

Desk Jockey

Re: The problem with this article...

Yes Tony I think you are right, but the issue is that wider economic changes would result. Hence those arguing that any kind of move to reducing the use of fossil fuels (including going for hydrogen) will lead to significant economic re-adjustment may have a point.

Those plastics and chemicals made cheaply using oil benefit from being a tiny fraction of the total oil use. Oil is cheap because it is pulled out of the ground in enormous scale. Now I never think we would stop burning fossil fuels in reality (classic car drivers unite!), but the minute you massively reduce the scale, the per unit costs go up. So all those plastics and chemicals present affecting so many things important to daily life will increase in costs. Some people argue this would be a good thing, go back to getting your fruit and veg in biodegradeable paper bags instead of landfill plastics for example.

Hence there is an enourmous vested interest in continuing to drill for oil even though, from an individual economic point of view, going for some kind of renewable tech would be much better. £5000 to power my house for 10 years without paying those utilities more than a token connection charge? Yes please. Run a car from that too? Why not? The answer, as always, lies in finding that very practical (and cheap) technology and bringing it to market despite all the people that don't want it to succeed.

WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?

Desk Jockey

Re: Desk Jockey The pimps!

Come on, lighten up. I have always wanted to call journos a pimp, don't deny me this wonderful opportunity! As the freelancer did get paid for his pimping efforts (albeit by a different client) I still maintain he is a pimp!

"could you imagine the possible damage to the country if this twit had got to the position of making really important decisions up against really experienced and immoral politicians like those" Like a certain Dr Liam Fox when he was a SENIOR Minister in the Ministry of Defence? Put the sarcastic laugh on because the Mirror has not done us a favour, that horse has well and truly bolted and a whole load of incompetents are in charge. Just remember that unlike any other industry, politicians don't need qualifications or to pass a formal job interview to get the job! This story/expose is effectively pointless and does nothing more than wreck one family and humiliates a Swedish model, there are far worse offenders for corruption and stupidity that the papers should be exposing (not literally!).

"You may also want to consider that the British Secret Service (allegedly) randomly test their employees, members of the armed forces, senior civil servants and senior MPs with such entrapments". Needless to say I will not be going into details of what I may/may not know allegedly happens, but believe me this does not happen. The British security service does not need to bother doing it because plenty of other foreign governments are trying it. In this case, resources are better spent watching the spooks rather than the MPs. (google Mike Hancock, former MP for Portsmouth and the case of his 'assistant') Something even junior ministers are briefed about when they first start their ministerial job...

Desk Jockey

The pimps!

I don't see any public interest defence in this case at all. The newspaper just went out to cause serious embarrassment to an MP, not to find out if there was a genuine story about illicit children and affairs etc.

Having not read of the details of what that rag did, it would be amusing if they implied 'sexual' favours using that image? If so, surely they makes the journo a pimp? Worse still, a pimp promising sexual favours without the consent of the person being pimped! Isn't that a criminal offence?

Whether from comitting a civil copyright offence or a criminal 'soliciting' offence, that paper deserves to be in trouble...

Giuliani's Call of Duty: defeat Noriega in epic boss battle

Desk Jockey

Re: I respawn my case

No sports people SELL their image through their agents so that they can get revenue from product endorsements etc. IF EA use their image without their consent, the sports person can sue them for loss of revenue on a marketable commodity. A newspaper using an image to highlight the same sports person scoring the winning shot etc as part of its reporting of a game does not have to pay them. I can't claim to be an expert in this area, but this is a commercial transaction and while EA might try to get away without paying, the potential hassle is not worth it and the cost is pretty small in comparison to all their other costs.

Noriega has not marketed his image like a sports person and in view of the fact he is a part of history (and his image in itself is not considered to have commercial value) he would be unlikely to make a case that he should be paid for it.

Desk Jockey

Re: I respawn my case

We are talking about the US here. You can (and people do) stand on a street corner yelling obscene things like "I hate n****rs" and your right to free speech is protected by the 1st Amendment.

Remember the film U571? The one where Hollywood gave the credit to capturing the enigma machine to US sailors completely ignoring the historical fact that British sailors did that and several died in the process. Artistic licence, 1st Amendment and all that so the families of the sailors had no legal recourse for this tactless re-writing of history.

So saying that someone who is a convicted murderer might have indulged in a bit of kiddy fiddling and satanic rites isn't exactly going to pass the threshold if the examples above are anything to go by. On the other hand saying the respected CEO of a company who has not been charged or convicted of anything has defrauded investors probably would land you in the dock for reputational damage. The point being that he actually had a reputation to protect!

Noriega on the other hand...

Desk Jockey

Re: I respawn my case

Ugh no, if you are/were a public figure (being a despot counts) then you pretty much give up your right for your image to be used in material. That is the price of public office and/or being a celebrity. The exception is where you might have an expectation of private life, for example being in the garden spending quiet time with your kids. Why do you think there is such a big deal about celebrity wedding photos? If a paparazzi gets an unofficial photo of a celebrity wedding, that couple will struggle to drag that paparazzi to court even though they did not give their consent.

How else can you tell history (even in an entertainment setting like a video game) if you can't use an image of the person? They are hardly likely to give their consent! Since he is a part of history, using that history to create a story or put forward a point of view is a legitimate part of free speech under the US constitution. In the UK, the court would say he gave up his right to not having his image used when he became a public figure and famous.

Microsoft vs the long arm of US law: Straight outta Dublin

Desk Jockey

European data protection

I would have appreciated an explanation of how Euripean data protection laws have failed in this case?

If the data is held/owned by a European citizen in a European country then one would assume that the US government forcing disclosure through its US arm would put that company in breach of the European law. I would guess because this qualifies as the company giving data to a third party without the user's consent (the US Govt counts as a 3rd party because it is not a legitimate authority for forcing data disclosure in a European jurisdiction hence it needs to ask a legitimate authority to do so on its behalf). You would have thought Mircrosoft would argue that a US court cannot force it to break the law in another country.

However if a US citizen's data is stored in a European jurisdiction, is their data afforded the same level of protection under European law? Of course the US Govt would be able to make a request to that European Govt for disclosure and as it was on a US citizen I would guess it would be amenable to that request, but does the US Govt still have to make that request or is it assumed that the data (by virtue of belonging to a US citizen) comes under US jurisdiction?

No matter to me, I still wouldn't store any sensitive stuff on US servers, but I curious to know where the law stands on this. We all alreadt know the US courts have a very loose definition of jurisdiction when it suits them, it is the European side that counts.

Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone

Desk Jockey

Incompetence all round

I don't condone police abuse of power or their complete farce of safeguards when using RIPA, but in a lot of the cases mentioned by the author he overlooks the fact that journalistic incompetence and high level politics at newspapers is also a significant factor.

The journalist profession needs to take a long hard look in the mirror when asking the question of why the police and those in power are not being held to account. Politically biased editors and owners of newspapers are one obvious reason. Another is the unhealthy relationship of the media with the police and those in power. Also a significant is fact that too many journalists are downright incompetent (I speak from experience not just reading about it). If you are going to take evidence from a police whistleblower then they should bloody well take steps to protect their source, use encryption etc. they should also actually do some proper investigative journalism so that they find additonal evidence which helps to hide the source of the initial information.

Funny enough, giving information to the press as a police officer or civil servant in itself is breaking the law. Can this be used to stifle legitimate whistleblowers? Absolutely. But in either case, the journalist should assume the police may investigate and take the appropriate steps and do a proper bit of investigative journalism. If you can't do that, you don't have much credibility for accusing the police of abuse of power.

Excessive state surveillance/control and piss-poor journalism. That is why those in power are not being exposed or held to account.

Desk Jockey

Re: Passive resistance @Gene Cash

That is piss poor advice that would not work well in this country so I would strongly advise you NOT to follow it.

If a police officer stops you in the street and asks questions, act polite and helpful and answer their questions directly with no extras. Don't volunteer stuff, but don't appear unhelpful. Being confrontational is what gets them interested in you and you should assume that if they want to, they can take you in for any damn reason they please so don't give them that reason. Yes you may feel it is an invasion of your privacy and that they are being a racist ****, but getting riled about it makes it easier for them not you.

If you appear helpful (even if in reality you are not being helpful at all) it makes it harder for them to charge you with anything. If they then ask you to come to the station (don't assume you actually have a choice by saying no!) just politely say you would like to help them, but could they call the duty solicitor please. You will only help them with their enquiries after you have got legal advice. Stay polite and watch them grit their teeth in frustration.

Being hostile just encourages them to put the handcuffs on you. Being polite and watching them grit their teeth in frustration is far more fun! This advice comes from police bloggers and lawyers so I suggest you follow it, not some bullshit about carrying a card and being passive aggressive!

Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM

Desk Jockey

Re: sick of it all

You should care even if you don't get to vote in it.

If Scotland votes yes, YOU (the taxpayer) will have to foot the bill for moving stuff around, relocating Trident etc and a whole host of economic changes. There might even be some implications at a European level too. For all we know, the Scots might even try to dump all their debt (a large chunk created by Scottish banks) over the arguments about currency union. Either way, the British economy (both Scottish and the rest) will take a hit as people get jittery feet and various sectors have to be re-organised.

If Scotland votes no, the Westminster politicians on your behalf (and not giving you a say in it) are going to offer them all sorts of sweeteners, quite likely involving taxpayer money.

So yes, directly or indirectly your life will be impacted by the results of this vote. Which is sort of ironic really because this is what Scotland has been complaining about in regards to Westminster politics. They get shafted and don't have a meaningful say in what happens. Now they have found a way to do it to those south of the border. Who knows, it might just make people realise how terrible our politicial system has become and actually campaign to do something about it.

Gunmaker finds KILLER APP for Google Glass

Desk Jockey

Marketing rubbish

The US tried this about a decade back under the Future Soldier concept. After the usual insane amount of money was poured in and using excessively expensive components that makes this tech look last century, they junked this idea. Probably for a good reason.

If this company has not figured out the reason why the US military junked it (despite the hype, it made shooting accuracy worse?) and fixed it then this product isn't going to last very long or make any meaningful impact. Except possibly more people get shot instead of the deer by the incompetents trying to use it!

MH370 'pings' dismissed as false positives

Desk Jockey


Actually this theory put forward by the naval officer is highly credible. What you have to remember about underwater acoustics is that they are heavily influenced by currents and warm/cold water layers and so pings can bounce between the layers for a very long way. With several ships and subs in the search area, presumably using their active sonar to try and find the wreckage, the pings are likely to get transmitted a long way and distorted so someone else could pick them up thinking they were the jet's black box.

When they announced nothing had been found in the promising search area I did think to myself that I bet it was a case of the search ships and subs running interference with each other.

LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

Desk Jockey

Re: altitude overflow?

And for every other air traffic controller in the world they make a habit of checking the secondary radar returns from the aircraft to make sure its altitude is ok. Failing that they radio it and ask. In all circumstances a human brain is keeping an eye on the airspace and making sure everything is safe. Including the air traffic that doesn't really file flight plans or generate large radar returns like gliders.

Meanwhile somewhere in the US some moron decides that computers should do this job which means that finding a parameter that the computer cannot handle in an airspace environment was all but inevitable. No doubt the air traffic controller at LAX knew the altitude of the U2 and knew it was not a problem for them, but entered the altitude into the system because they are meant to otherwise the system does not know where its logged aircraft is at. And so the mayhem began!

I have a mental image of the controllers yelling at the computer, "Noooo, stop doing that. Shut up you f****** thing! Oh f*** it, turn it off."

Never send a computer to do a human's job.

BT snatches crown: Soars to top of complaints list

Desk Jockey

Which BT?

It would have been helpful if this article had made clear which part of BT Ofcom were referring to. Technically there are at least two different companies with BT in the name that are heavily involved in broadband provision, let's call them BT Retail and BT Wholesale.

I don't subscribe to BT, but they p*ss me off all the same. That is because BT Wholesale (Openreach) wrecks my line on a regular basis and I have to hassle my ISP when then has to hassle BT and pass back all their pointless questions before several days/weeks later they send an engineer to fix whatever stupid thing the previous engineer had done. It almost tempts me to go with BT Retail in the vague hope that as they are sort of related to BT Wholesale, they might be able to fix the problem faster and at least I can just clearly blame BT rather than the ISP who has not done anything to wreck the line.

If the Ofcom findings include BT Wholesale then that is not a surprise as no doubt a large number of complaints is being generated by ISPs. If it is BT Retail, this just shows how crap they are and that using them to beat up Wholesale is pointless.

EU legal eagle Legal: Data protection reforms 'very bad outcome' for citizens

Desk Jockey


Your point above is very incoherent. First you say human rights should not be used this way and then you say it should be there to protect freedom and ensure due process. Right to property (intellectual and physical) and not having it arbitrarily taken away from you is a fundamental human right. Without it, you might struggle to make a living and feed yourself and thus your right to life can be infringed. This is not abusing the human rights laws because it is a well known and much used tactic for the political types to take away the money and propoerty belonging to the opposition so that they are trapped/imprisoned by poverty and thus unable to cause political disruption.

The legal points raised by Monsieur Legal, if true, are bloody important points. You can't deprive someone of their livelihood by doing a piss poor implementation of what could be a valuable service. Thousands of disabled people are wrongly denied benefits because the UK Government gave a piss poor contract to ATOS and told it to do a crap job. Imagine this being done on a European level, it would be awful. Having said that I get her pionts about going over old ground over and over again. European negotiations are like that, you just have to suck it up and prove to the legal types that you have addressed that issue in section X of the bloody document and if not, what wording do they suggest please. A common complaint I can relate to is that legal types too often tell you what you can't do and not enough time being helpful by suggesting a good way forward.

On a wider point, the European Convention on Human Rights was written by a British judge because the judges from the other European countries at the time didn't really have a clue. (this topic is basic history for all law undergraduates) Therefore the Brit position that it is not suitable for Britain is very hypocritical because it was the Brits who wrote it! There is nothing wrong with the principles outlined in the ECHR. But there are a lot of lawyers making a lot of money abusing those principles and driving through bad national laws or policies as a consequence. Remember that when you next read a Daily Fail article on this or hear yet another politician/pundit spout off complete rubbish about human rights. It is British law that is the problem, after all the Scandinavians, Germans etc don't have big problems with it.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or human rights advocate.

iCan't quite hear you: Apple teams up with Danish firm to make hearing aids

Desk Jockey

Re: Marg'ret!!!

An example of Noise Cancelling would be for example cutting out wind when you are outside. Otherwise you end up with that sound like someone blowing into a microphone pretty constantly. That wind noise stops you hearing the person trying to talk to you or pretty much anything else!

Unfortunately NC when activated also seems to stop most sounds from more than 2 meters away or anything quiet or high pitched. It is a bit of a bugger in busy traffic and any other noisy environment when you need to have situational awareness. I don't know if very high end machines have solved this. Sensible hearing aid users turn it off and if they want to cancel noise they do it manually or wear a woolly hat to get rid of that wind effect.

The benefit of a smart phone controlled hearing aid would be that you could set profiles. For example one profile for outside with NC on, another profile for a quiet indoor environment with noise gain turned up high. Thus adapt your settings to your environment rather than letting the NHS set the environmental parameters for you (often badly!) as with the current set of machines.

Desk Jockey

At bloody last!

Digital hearing aid wearers have been waiting for this for ages. At the moment they have to go to the hospital to have the hearing aid adjusted or tweaked which is done by physically plugging it into a computer. A process that involves wasting a lot of time because the NHS keep rotating in nurses with little experience who just follow the handbook and seem incapable of getting the settings right, necessitating several time wasting visits to the hospital. They get mortally offended when the users suggest giving them the equipment and software so that they can go home and do it!

Getting a smart phone to interact with the hearing aid is a no brainer, not only for tweaking settings but also to let the phone pipe the audio directly into the aid, and it is frustrating the manufacturers have taken so long to even think about it. I think Apply will have to up their game for making the two different technologies work though. Modern aids can last up to 2 weeks on one battery because they are amazingly power efficient. Adding more wireless tech will probably drop that somewhat if they are not careful.

Huawei was never interested in buying Blackberry

Desk Jockey

Better security in-house

I actually read that statement from Huawei to actually mean, "We know the NSA have penetrated Blackberry because that nice Mr Snowden told us. So instead we will develop our own secure systems, with the help of the nice chaps from the Chinese Interior Ministry, which the NSA will then have to develop a lot of time and effort into penetrating."

I think the spooks might actually be disappointed. No easy backdoors into the Politiboro.

Ryanair boss Mike O'Leary hits Twitter: 'Nice pic. Phwoaaarr!'

Desk Jockey

Re: Vote with your wallet

"I think you'll find that Ryanair operates within the same safety and operational framework as the other Airlines in Europe...have addressed allegations in these areas which have been shown as unfounded"

You don't work in their PR department do you? Sounds like it...

I actually work in an aviation environment so I have a bit of a better clue than most. Ryanair may be comliant with the regulations, but their attitude and certain practices leave a lot to be desired. Meeting the minimum standards does not a safe service make. By the same token throwing lots of money in with little detailed thought also does not guarantee safety.

Threaten litigation all you want. Most of the people I know who can be considered experts in aviation matters make a deliberate point of not flying with certain airlines, especially those with bolshy hard nosed CEOs who somehow make a supposedly sustainable business model out of treating both their customers and suppliers rather badly!

Desk Jockey

Vote with your wallet

I actually pay more to avoid flying with Ryanair. I cannot stand the way they make travel feel so uncomfortable and I know enough about their cost cutting techniques to know that their flights are barely safe, particularly when it comes to pilot rest and having enough reserve fuel. No sane person should want to get on their planes!

If people want Ryanair to change, there is no point complaining about it, they don't care. The answer is to fly with someone else until Ryanair lose so much money they change their ways. Unfortunately people are too fixated on the price or simply too dumb to realise this. Sometimes it is cheaper to pay more up front so that you spend less on transit costs, lost baggage etc.

Ofcom flogs ex-military 4G spectrum, but ONLY the iPhone 5 can use it

Desk Jockey

Radar love

Someone had better want these bands and pay good money for them considering how much pain Ofcom have gone and put all the aviation radar users through. A goodly number of aviation radars (the ones that stop planes crashing into each other) operate witihin the 2.4ghz to 3.1Ghz band and quite a few have needed modifications to allow this spectrum to be sold off. I just hope those modifications work as advertised otherwise there will be more pain to come...

The target: 25% of UK gov IT from small biz... The reality: Not even close

Desk Jockey

Re: Unrealistic target

Ah that much abused system used by several high profile individuals, including upper management in the BBC and local councils, to help them minimise their tax? The one where Treasury has banned Whitehall departments froms using?

Desk Jockey

Unrealistic target

Of course those Whitehall departments are not going to be anywhere near the 25% target by 2015, it was a pile of crap to start with.

For starters they are still locked into huge contracts with the big usual suspects that are too expensive and traumatic to get out of. It takes time to migrate the whole thing over which can only start towards to end of those contracts. Then the civil service don't have the manpower or the knowledge (no decent IT person works there on that salary) to be able to undertake the migration and so they need to draw up a new contract with a big trier 1 suppler and mandate that the supplier funnels 25% of the work to SMEs, which they will find all sorts of creative and self benefitting ways of doing.

Having tried to use those 'centralised services' I can promise you they are anything but quick and easy. The bureaucrafic hoops are horrendous and so why would anyone bother? They will just find other ways of getting hold of what they need, usually in a hurry, from an established route where some other poor sucker went through the pain of sorting out the red tape.

Government IT is a mess and the politicians are not making it any better. Maybe if they stopped taking bribes from the big companies they would look at the problem more objectively?!

Tory think tank: Hey, civil servants! Work with startups to save £70bn

Desk Jockey

In the real world...

Civil servants are forced to combine requirements due to inadequate resources, a vague hope of getting economies of scale and because politicians don't understand what complexity means. This leads to a monster requirement that only a big provider can deliver and even then it still ends up being a mess.

Said big provider cannot be properly punished for poor performance because they donate to political parties and so the government will never actually give itself the commercial means to beat those companies with the ugly stick (ie. big fines). Worse, those companies are able to implement technical strangleholds on those IT systems so civil servant cannot give the next contract to someone else without having to buy a totally new system.

The procurement laws are so ridiculously complex and convoluted that civil servants are not allowed to do small and simple procurements that a normal private company can do. This means they have to go back to creating big contracts because the small companies cannot or will not do the stupid dance (it costs them ruinous amounts of money) to satisfy those procurement laws.

Break up those contracts into smaller chunks, ensure all equipment and software is compliant with common standards and properly train and then trust the civil servants to be allowed to do small scale procurements rather than the jack of all trades, master of f**k all stuff and then maybe the benefits outlined by this policy exchanged can be realised.

You can't blame the civil servants for not delivering when the same sort of idiots who know nothing about how to actually run things keep being voted in charge over and over again!

UK gov dials 999 over Serco prison escort fraud claims

Desk Jockey

Re: Not necessarily good that it was privatised.

"As I never tire of saying - the public sector can outsource financial risk, but it can't outsource the risk of failing to deliver the service."

Not just you. The junior and middle rank civil service has been saying this for years, but no one at the top, in Parliament, the Media or even the General Public wants to bloody listen.

Even in the private sector the message is not going out very well which is why those banks suffered those massive IT failures and suddenly realised that outsourcing their tech support to India was not that good an idea after all. Only such private banks are meant to be allowed to fail, no wait...

United Nations to grill US over alleged NSA bugging of its HQ – report

Desk Jockey

It is a big club

Which big/major power with a seat in the UN doesn't attempt to hack and eavesdrop on the UN's calls? Will all the true innocents please put their hand up! Nope, don't see any hands. Will any of the UN staff who are surprised by this put their hands up. No don't see any hands there either!

This is not exactly a well kept secret. Everyone just pretends they are being good. I think the NSA would do it just to keep in practice and to make sure there are very few systems they cannot crack if they need to. Come on, they even put a lot of effort into trying to crack their own systems.

Planting a bug in the General Secretary's office would be seriously bad form however. Best not get caught doing that...

As for the Americans stealing trade secrets, nooooo, it is those pesky commies that do it, American capitalism is so good it does not need to stoop so low. Honest!

Probation officer gets TINY fine for spilling domestic violence victim's ADDRESS

Desk Jockey

Re: Incoherent

Went and checked the relevant DPA bit quoted (Section 55). Subsection 1 clearly states accessing when you are not meant to while subsection 2 clearly states disclosure is justified where the individual is doing so as part of their job, to assist detection of crime and court proceedings or has a reasonable expectation that the data controller would approve the disclosure.

It is very hard to pin a criminal prosecution on someone for being stupid as opposed to wilfully malignant!

Desk Jockey


Unlawfully accessing personal data..." As it reads either this story is total b*ll*cks (because it misses out key details) or the rent a quote lawyer doesn't understand what unlawful accessing means!

She was a probation officer, possibly looking after the case mentioned and thus one assumes had a lawful reason to access that database for carrying out her job. As I read it even if she was not supposed to access those details on that database, she did not access those details in a personal capacity (helping out a mate, being curious etc) nor did she give her login details to an unauthorised user to access the details thus she was guilty of gross misconduct and being a complete idiot rather than committing unlawful access. She made a serious error in judgement and was sacked for it. Unless the story is missing something, she did not hack the database to access details she was not allowed to see which is closer to what I consider 'unlawful access'.

She was guilty of not protecting someone else's data to which she was responsible for protecting and I suspect that is what the fine was about. But then this term includes muppets leaving documents on trains or thowing them into bins etc and hence is not as harshly punished as unlawful access. If you want to punish someone for stupidly handing over data to the wrong person then put them in an appropriate category rather than trying to make the unlawful access charge stick which is something completely different.

Does the RSPCA have your gun licence or car registration? NOBODY knows

Desk Jockey

Be afraid

Of course there is no way the RSPCA could be infiltrated by the animal rights/Greenpeace nutters who then use their access to the police databases to help their group conduct better 'direct action' campaigns! Knowing where the fox hunters or the scientists working in animal testing labs keep those shotguns is in the public good don't you know!

OK, enough with the sarcasm, but it can hardly escape anyone's attention how inherently dangerous this level of access could be in the wrong hands.