* Posts by Nick Askew

48 publicly visible posts • joined 10 May 2007

Google Wave - a developer's eye view

Nick Askew

Looks good but

How do they achieve that "what you type is what the other person sees" effect. I'll admit I've only watched the first few minutes so far but it occurs to me that each Wave instance must be polling the server for updates. I wonder how popular the wave will be with companies when they see that their bandwidth is being eaten up by all those polling messages.

But for the rest I quite like what I've seen so far. I'll have to watch the rest of the video before really making up my mind but so far it is not really a huge leap forward. I mean it is really just instant messaging that updates with each keypress and it is quite nice that you can add people to the conversation but I'm fairly sure other IM clients allow that already.

Nice thouch not using IE (still the worlds most popular browser) presumably it breaks.

Microsoft, Asus launch anti-Linuxbook campaign

Nick Askew

@Rich Harding

Hey that's my ring tone!!

I am slightly embarassed to have to admit that after clicking the 'Post Comment' button my IE7 crashed taking out all the other tabs too. At least Firefox would have realised when it restarted and offered to get those tabs back.

As I said it is all about familiarity and not necessarily the best tool for the job. Indeed I am certain many new features in commercial software are only there to keep ahead of the competition, including Linux.

Right I'll click 'Post Comment' again and see what happens.

Nick Askew

I admit it I like Windows

There I've said it. And apparently so do 96% of new Netbook owners. Or at least 96% of them prefer Windows to Linux. I too bought an early eee pc with Linux installed (Xandros I guess) and quickly upgraded that to Ubuntu and then after my Holiday I have to say it has sat unloved on a shelf. I will admit that this is partially because I am unfamiliar with Linux. I do regret not having had the Windows option at the time (I believe that was offered later).

While that advert really is quite sickening it does seem that ad men seem to be going down that route a lot these days. I mean who would have thought that aided only by a mediocre fizzy drink you can dump your girlfriend with such style.

And as for Windows messenger. I really do wish that it sat quietly in the background rather than forcing popping up adverts when it starts. But I think the point, Andus, of showing some parent setting up security for their child is to show that, with Windows, it is so easy that your average parent can do it.

What I am saying here is that Windows is more familiar than Linux to most people. Perhaps if it sat still long enough more people would become familiar with Linux but my experiences with Linux has been that sooner or later you have to drop into some command prompt to get your work done. Quite often it seems that the commands you then have to type have changed from one installation of Linux to the next.

When some people buy a new computer they want it to work just like the last one because owning the computer is not about how fabulous the kernel is, it is about turning it on and sending someone an email and doing it just like you did last time. This does not make Windows necessarily a better operating system but it does attract loyalty.

I'm guessing that if a big car manufacturer came out with a whizzy new way to control a car where the pedals are in different places and you use a joystick rather than a stearing wheel there would be some people who would see the superior nature of the controls and about 96% of people who would say they liked it the old way.

Deleted cloud rebuilds self from scratch

Nick Askew

Feet up time again everyone

When I started working many many years ago computers were only used by the secretaries to type up documents that had been hand written by someone else. The computers they used were terminals to a central system and when that system went down we were told that we would have to wait for our typing.

Then came the personal computer and every now and then one of those would fail and the person in question would not be able to work. Then they said network the computers and put everything on a shared drive. If that drive went down nobody could work on anything that had been on that drive.

Then desktop virtualisation came along and if that went down entire buildings of people could no longer work.

Not satisfied with that achievement it seems that the visionaries have decided they would like to wipe out the ability to work for an entire continent. What will they come up with next, a pad of paper and a pen and call it resillient computing?

Microsoft’s Silverlight 3 delivers decent alternative to Adobe

Nick Askew
Gates Halo

@JRallo Probably won't work on 2k...

"I bet it won't work on 2k, which adobe's does. Level playing field? not even close!"

I thought you might be right but actually it does work under W2K with both Firefox and IE 6. I really do hope that support widens for other OS's and other browsers otherwise it would seem pointless moving anything from Flash to Silverlight. However while Silverlight might be a late comer to the field it does seem to be quite well thought out and as long as it does not become yet another MS fad that is forgotten it really has potential.

Jacqui's secret plan to 'Master the Internet'

Nick Askew

@Ian McNee

I like the idea of having the signature that is all the banned words lumped together. But the problem is that you just cannot rely on everyone else to play ball. So rather than making your own signature contain these words, and risk being one of the few people that have done so, it might be better to simple hire a spammers botnet and spam everyone with the words. If we are really lucky some spammer will be reading this and perhaps do it for free.

Can you talk and drive?

Nick Askew

Rabbiting on

To be honest that test was really hard. I realise it was only to prove a point but you would have to be an idiot to use a phone in a situation like that. I am sure I am not the only one to point out to a caller that I am driving and that my concentration may be elsewhere. The woman nattering on starts with the question are you driving and then proceeds to take no account of this fact when you are distracted.

But I am seriously tempted to go along with a ban on phone use in cars. Clearly that demo shows that even with a hands free kit at least some portion of your attention is elsewhere. In Holland even having a phone in your hand is an offense (although somehow cyclists do not seem to realise this).

US lawmakers to de-silence electric cars

Nick Askew


I really am unsure which side of the fence is more comfortable so I might just end up sitting on it here. As a cyclist I often listen for cars behind me before making a visual check, the sound of the vehicle really helps but I suspect that should only be in a belt and braces fashion. Indeed pitty the person who is blind and has to rely on hearing in a traffic situation but I suspect precious few of them will be riding bicycles.

While we are talking about bicycles, it was only yesterday that I saw some kid cycling along with one of those 'exhausts' on his bike and a little flappy thing that helped make his bicycle sound like a motor bike. There are other examples of artifically noisy vehicle too, most lorries and busses have beepers for reversing. Perhaps all vehicles could have such a thing attached as surely that is the time that a blind peron is most likely to be caught out as one of these new fangled things comes gliding silently out of a parking space. In fact it might be argued that all of us could do with a little warning in this situation.

On the other hand the quietness of electric vehicles is possibly a key selling point after the pollution benefits. Imaging a world where living next to a busy road does not mean you have to keep your windows closed to keep out the smell and the noise. Sure there are old gits who would say that the noise is a key part of a vehicle but those people mostly present infantile motoring shows. For most people living in big cities the prospect of silent vehicles is something to be welcomed and if we can couple in some kind of futuristic forward looking infrared camera system then the presence of errant pedestrians on the road need not be such a problem.

Pirate Bay guilty verdict: Now what?

Nick Askew


There seems to be two general arguments here. Firstly is it right or wrong to steal other people’s material (software, music, or video). The use of the word steal probably tells you which side of the fence I sit on. The second is should it be legal to knowingly provide a list of places that would be thieves can find the material.

The justification for theft that frequently seems to be being put forward here is that the big music industry moguls are charging far too much for their product and not passing that on to the musicians. Well you may be right, I believe RBS has a lot of money too, should we all be allowed to help ourselves to a chunk? I suspect most right minded people would argue that bank robbery is not justified just because banks are wealthy.

The argument that just because music industry moguls are greedy we are going to deprive them AND the artists even more somehow does not wash. To add to this hypocrisy is the fact that a quick check on Pirate Bay shows that people are quite happy to list material from independent labels that are not rolling in money. I am now less convinced than ever that the average copyright thief is really doing this out of a burning desire to stick it to the man and more out of their own desire to have something for nothing.

Now the argument that the Pirate Bay are not hosting any copyright material so should not or could not be prosecuted. Well obviously they are indeed not actually taking part in the theft but they are making it far easier for the would be thief to track down the material. Suppose I ran a site listing people who are known to have gone on holiday and their addresses. I might argue that this is done so that the milkman can make sure the order is cancelled or that a public spirited neighbour can keep an eye on the property. However if I then call that site ‘theprowlersbag’ and boast on television about how if I want something I just take it, then perhaps people might suspect my motives are not pure.

Should Google etc. also be prosecuted? Well it depends. What are their motives and what are their reactions when told they are listing something illegal? You Tube are quite prepared to delist anything if they receive a complaint. Can we consider Google to be complicit in other crimes such as child pornography, terrorism, helping drug suppliers. I’m sure that a quick Google on any one of these topics would lead to results.

Something I do find a little strange is the copyright rule in the UK that says someone buying a CD cannot make a backup copy. In the Netherlands you are indeed allowed to make a backup. Solving this should not require a change in law it should simply require the individual musicians to state somewhere on the CD that they are happy for you to make a copy onto whatever medium you like as long as it is for your own use and so long as you destroy those copies when or if you pass that CD on.

Apple rethinks battery bondage

Nick Askew

Patent? This?

I am sure I am being something of a party pooper here but my Senheiser wireless headphones had a base station with a charging slot about 10 years ago. While one battery was in the headset the other was being charged in the base station.

Devices that can wirelessly telly you the batteries are failing include countless things including wireless burglar alarms and even Wii remotes.

Surely they cannot be claiming to be patenting the idea of standardised batteries with a standard battery charger!

Perhaps they deserve credit for thinking about the end of life of the battery though. Unless you know differently.

14-year-old charged with impersonating Chicago PD

Nick Askew

Thank heavens for that

I thought it was just me thinking that police men were looking younger lately.

Coming soon: Pills to 'turn down' your ears at clubs

Nick Askew

Just me

Perhaps it's just me but when I'm at gigs I pop a couple of pill like devices into my ears. They work instantly and you can reverse the effects just as quickly should it be necessary. What a barking mad invention.

Conficker Autoplay ruse gets teeth into Windows 7

Nick Askew


Windows 7 could, upon clicking on such an icon, send the screen kind of dark and pop up a message saying 'open folder to view files' needs your permission to continue ....

I'll get my coat

US woman says Ubuntu can't access internet

Nick Askew
IT Angle

Dumb users or dumb IT Folk?

Not so long ago I'd probably have thought this was a Linux problem, user problem, or a combination of both. However I've just helped my parents upgrade their computer and they have been thrown by a move from one windows version to another. It made me realise that not everyone is comfortable with concepts like an operating system and what it means to have a computer with a different operating system.

A lot (if not all) of the comments on here come from people in the IT industry and so phrases like "Operating System" do do phase us. However we seem to be generally blind to the plight of the non techie and that is a failing of our industry as much as, if not more than, any failing on the part of a user of our products.

In an ideal world the sales man at Dell would have quizzed her at length about her intentions but he is on commission and does not have the time. Her course supervisor might have advised her of minimum requirements of a machine needed to follow the course work, actually I suspect these probably exist and that Ubuntu and OO meet those standards. Her ISP might even have provided drivers for her hardware, I find it strange that there is some restriction actually but perhaps she has a USB modem or something similar.

US lawmaker wants health warnings on video games

Nick Askew
Gates Halo

Hello Halo

This comes around the same time as the conviction of some American 17 year old for killing his mother and attempting to kill his father (by shooting) for depriving him of his Microsoft fix. Perhaps the warning is aimed at the adults that purchase the game and not the kids.

But then I grew up around guns and it never did me any harm. Baaaaaaah Wibble Wibble

National Safety Council seeks total* cell-phone driving ban

Nick Askew

Driving and talking

I don't tend to drive all that much now, but when I did I used a hands free device and used it to receive calls and then explain to the caller that I was driving. That is within the law where I am living.

Actually driving while eating, or drinking could well be illegal. If the officer sees you and you appear to be affecting your driving you may well be stopped. I am sure that this could be arguably extended to singing along with the radio, arguing with a passenger, or picking your nose.

And as for the self righteous cyclists who believe they are nothing but victims. Well since giving up the car I cycle to and from the station every day and the idiots I see on bikes way outnumber the idiots I saw on the road. Cycling without lights, while using a phone, ignoring traffic lights, hell even ignoring road markings saying which direction to go in and who has priority. These people are a bigger danger to themselves (and other road users) than the average driver. Perhaps none of these "idiots" live in the UK but it would surprise me if that were the case.

There are laws in place already that state that you must drive with care and consideration for other road users. Using a hands free set does not exclude this possibility but it can, when used wrongly, diminish it. Clearly using communications while in charge of a vehicle is not always dangerous otherwise the emergency services, pilot's, and no doubt other groups I've overlooked would simply not be able to go about their business without crashing into each other.

US doc demands $1.5m for donated organ

Nick Askew

Oy vey

If there is any justice the judge will tell the guy forget the money take the kidney back! But only the kidney and not one drop of blood.

I'm sure there is a story in there somewhere, oh wait!

New Scientist goes innumerate in 'save the planet' special

Nick Askew
IT Angle

Growing pains.

I'm guessing I suppose but Tim's get out of jail card is the fact that he is saying that growth does not necessarily imply more use of resources but in the real world it usually does imply that. Growth does either require the more efficient use of the same resources or for people to value the end product more highly. If people stop valuing the end product (perhaps because the bank is threatening to take their house away or has squandered their pension) then the price will go down and growth will only be achieved through the production and sale of more product and that will require more resources (for example two beer swilling, fag smoking, singers rather than one).

Just as this article oversimplifies the sand example by ignoring energy input it seems the New Scientist article is somewhat oversimplifying growth by implying it always means using more resources when really it only usually means that.

Royal Society of Chemistry requests 'Italian Job' ending

Nick Askew

just at that moment...

A builders van laden with bricks arrives. The gang tell the two brickies that for a share in the gold they should load up the front of the bus with bricks. The gang then transfer the gold to the van and hot foot it away but not before pushing the bus off the cliff 29 or so minutes later.

Of course the moto of the film being that crime does not actually pay they convert the lot to stocks and lose it the next time some banker sneezes.

Nintendo to limit DSi games with DVD-style region locks

Nick Askew

I'm sure it would be wrong of me ..

.. to suggest that this is simply a move to halt the online purchase of games from other cheaper regions.

Kentucky commandeers world's most popular gambling sites

Nick Askew
Black Helicopters

We are doing this for your own good.

"We're not sure what the difference is between a state like Kentucky reaching half way across the globe to shut down a gambling site and, say, a government like China's trying to silence websites that violate laws forbidding dissent policies toward Tibet. "

Well, to me, the difference is huge. While China might not approve of my reading about the way they deal with Tibet they are not actually closing the sites or preventing me from reading the content because I am outside their territory. On the other hand this arrogant attitude is typical of America thinking they have the right to police the (virtual) world with heavy handed tactics. Just because certain states in the US feel their own people are not capable of responsibly handling their own money we must all suffer.

People (including the reg) seem happy to berate China because of their firewall and yet somehow time after time it seems they have it right. OK having a great firewall of the USA or Europe might not be popular if the governments involved choose to ban content (such as gambling) that most of the world would view as harmless. But if this case proves anything it is that not having a firewall round the USA is no garuntee of freedom of speech.

RIAA filesharing target Jammie Thomas wins retrial

Nick Askew

Let's ignore the rediculous penalty...

...and focus on the crime. Is there anyway that all the people who have posted comments such as "You mean you have to be able to *prove* that the person you accuse of stealing has actually, you know, *stolen* something?" are so naiive about file sharing. I mean you install your file sharing client put a bunch of files in a folder and wait. What you are waiting for is for someone to come along and download files which you may or may not legally own. Once those files are on the downloaders machine they no longer legally own them so both parties have taken part in copyright theft. You would have to be supremely stupid to not understand how file sharing works. So the very act of placing copyrighted material in the shared folder is sufficient proof of the intention to commit the act of copyright theft. If the rights holder happens to get there before the crime can happen then that is all well and good.

"If I possess a balaclava and a crowbar I'm guilty of theft." No! But if you are at the top of a ladder in the middle of the night outside a house you have no connection with and you are wearing your balaclava and carrying the crowbar then you can bet that plod is not gonig to wait for you to actually break in.

UK.gov 'to drop' überdatabase from snoop Bill

Nick Askew


I can see that there will be a thriving trade in offshore secure proxies, unless, of course, the goverment plans to ban https also. And if you think that is unlikely well I've worked for employers that do exactly that in the name of security as they reason that if they cannot scan it then they cannot be sure it is safe content I'm viewing.

Olympic ticket scammers still going for gold

Nick Askew

How could we block these scammers?

Well if we also had a Great Firewall of Europe then perhaps blacklisting and indeed blocking these sites would be simple. Oh how the Chinese must be laughing at our backward western ways.

Jeremy Clarkson tilts at windmills

Nick Askew

They work

"Debate continues as to whether this speed system improves driving – or encourages bad habits."

Debate no more. The Dutch have had these installed for some years and generally the traffic does seem to obey the limit through the zone.

Tailgating is also very rare because there is no point. Actually, Jeremy, here is a way that could work. As you enter the zone you get yourself in front of a huge lorry, then slam on your brakes at the right moment so that the lorry is right on your tail. Should not be too hard after all most lorries love nothing better than to spend the day sitting a couple of feet of the arse of the lorry in front. Now you will know that the first camera has not seen you and you can go as fast as you like towards the second camera.

I'm sure the possibility of death under the wheels of a lorry is only a small price to pay if it means getting away with a speeding fine.

Dancing to power London nightclub

Nick Askew

Sprung club

I've been to a couple of venues in Holland where the entire building is sprung. It really is quite something to feel when the entire crowd is jumping. I mean if they can get several hundred tons of concrete building bouncing then I'm sure the energy must be substantial.

Street View spycar prowls Inverness

Nick Askew

Not sure what to think?

Seems to me that the Reg is suffering from indecision here. Not so long ago you were running stories informing photographers of their rights to shoot when, where, and what they please and now two stories in two days getting your knickers in a twist about Google doing exactly that even when they have promissed to blur faces.

How to beat AVG's fake traffic spew

Nick Askew
Gates Halo

AVG immitates IE6

Anton suggests you redirect IE6 users to a page saying update to a later browser. Firstly I'd call such a site broken, just as I'd call a site that says this site is optimised for 'XYZ' browser broken.

But secondly it would only be a few minutes work to change the browser that AVG is immitating and then you would be back to square one (they did it once remember). If AVG were being smart they would make sure they immitate whatever browser the user is using. The reason being simply that a clever malware site might redirect IE6 users to something harmless and then IE7,FF,Opera etc to the real malware so bypassing the AVG pre-scanner completely for users of those browsers.

I am really unsure how AVG think they can morally justify this behaviour or what they hope to achieve. The people with most to gain out of cracking the AVG link scanner are the malware vendors and you can bet they are not sitting around thinking they should give up but are furiously finding a way to spread their muck even to AVG users.

Halo Bill because he would never do anything so underhand.

DOJ sinks another EliteTorrent admin

Nick Askew

I really don't get it (clearly)

When I was young artists spread the news using Radio 1, TOTP, and people copying tapes in the evening and sharing them with mates at School. The last of these was illegal, we all knew it was illegal but we still did it. Most if not all the bands I have in my current collection were probably initally listened to on a crappy quality copy on a C90 cassette. Obviously those 'originals' have long since been replaced by the higher quality vinyl and later on with CD and now mp3's ripped from those.

The difference as I see it with file sharing of mp3's or films is that it happens so massively and easily that fewer people bother to go and buy the original and when the original is an mp3 why would you. It has moved from being an acceptable (although much complained about) loss leader to simply being a loss of sales.

It baffles me that anyone tries to defend the downloading of these files as some kind of victimless crime. Of course there is a victim and mostly it will be the artist or more likely the mug who is prepared to go out and buy the original at a price that is perhaps higher than it might otherwise be.

Defending the idea that a listing site is not actually hurting anyone also seems strange. Sure they are not actually copying the files or distributing them themselves but they sure as hell are making it far easier for other people to do so. Would these people also condone a site that listed the people who have booked holidays through a travel agency along with their addresses and travel dates? I mean what legitimate purpose can you possibly put a file listing site to?

Think tank slams paedophile paranoia culture

Nick Askew

Suddenly it dawns on me!

About two weeks ago I was pushing my bike through the bike shed when our daughter ran off in the direction of the exit where she could see her mother waiting for us. She ran down a ramp and fell over, a complete stranger picked her up and set her on her feet making sure she was OK.

Until reading this article it did not occur to me that this person was probably a pervert who clearly must have had another reason to help our child. Luckily I can now top up my paranoia and keep our child really safe but not allowing her out of our site. But what kind of terrible parent does this make me that I could not immediately recognise this danger? I think I may have even thanked him for helping!!

The war on photographers - you're all al Qaeda suspects now

Nick Askew
Thumb Down

Can't photograph this


Some years ago I was in Stamford in the US and saw a building I liked the look of and thought would look interesting against the blue sky. I was preparing to photograph it when a couple of heavies came out and told me that photography was not allowed. Well clearly Google are allowed but I wasn't.

At the time I just moved along quietly assuming the building might have had some military significance.

Bosch, Siemens: Vorsprung durch kinder und technik

Nick Askew
IT Angle

They probably will go to Asia

"One major tech CEO told the FT: 'We can always go to Asia to find our engineers.' "

I suspect the truth is that they probably will still go to Asia to find their techies. So having been told at an early age to study hard and prepare for a career they will later be told "it's cheaper to out source you" and "it's your own fault for not being more flexible" or perhaps I'm just a winging, bitter software engineer :-)

Canadian toddler dies after VOIP 911 call

Nick Askew

Makes you think

I am currently working on a similar system for a European country. Clearly this is a terrible event for the family and hopefully a wake up call for the Canadian authorities and possibly it should be here too.

For me the only logical procedure should be that VOIP calls (nomadic or otherwise) should direct the operator to a script that is similar to the mobile script. In other words the operator would ask "Where are you calling from?" or possibly "Are you calling from ....?" rather than assumig that some billing address (which could be different from the installation address) is accurate.

Yahoo! pimping malware from banner ads

Nick Askew

Ah yes! Content for free.

I sympathise with all of you with your struggle against advertising, especially malware disguised as advertising. It is clearly the responsibility of the agents to vet the adverts they are pushing onto other peoples sites. So Yahoo clean up your act!

But those of you who object to advertising on principle, and install ad blockers just because you don't want to see adverts, are forgetting something. The sites that display adds sometimes use that to keep their sites free. For example this site is showing Google adds and has been for a long time. Perhaps you would prefer to pay a subscription fee for the reg.

Right I'm off to click on a few adds to help keep the reg free.

Google starts Street View in Europe

Nick Askew

Streetview ads

Here in Holland we already have a company that has been doing this for years. One day a colleague and I saw them going around the streets where we were working and thought of a brilliant plan. We will sell advertising, go round with a big billboard advertising something and get it into as many frames as possible. If that doesn't work we could always get Google to pay us to bugger off.

But seriously I cannot see how it is the responsibility of the individual to identify themselves and get themselves removed. Surely, just like the Borings, the damage is already done as the images are already out there.

BBC should not pay for fibre, Ofcom tells MPs

Nick Askew

Are you sure you have paid for the bandwidth?

Or did you pay for up to that bandwidth?

My folks have recently decided to ditch the dial up modem in favour of a shiny new ADSL connection. Trouble is that the nearest exchange is at the other end of some very long bits of copper that zig zag across the Welsh landscape. The result is that their connection is better than dial up but not all that impressive to us townies.

So how does BT get away with selling to them? Well the contact states a figure that is the maximum they can expect not the average or even minimum. As far as I know this is the same for us city folk where we have contingency to deal with. This means that if all my neighbours start downloading movies then it will cripple my connection too and there is little I can do unless I buy a dedicated wire.

Sure roling out fibre will be an improvement but, just like the roads, given time and enough teenagers and over zealous content providers, even the widest bandwidth can be used up.

But is it just me or have these people simply forgotten how to use their video/hdd recorders. What is wrong with simply recording it and watching it later, that's what we did in olden days.

Anti-paedophile group targets child abuse sites

Nick Askew

Perhaps a great (fire)wall of Europe would not be so bad

Clearly the idea that the governments of Europe could sensor what we see on the internet apalls a great number of people. I would argue that in other areas this is accepted, television, radio, and printed materials are already subject to controls.

Still I would have no problem with the idea that a site that is (deliberately) hosting a virus or hosting a phishing site might suddenly find itself blocked from European eyes. Perhaps this could be a little more flexible than the Chinese equivalent with a public list of blocked sites, the reason for the block, and the option to circumvent the block if you are prepared to take the risk that your IP will be logged.

We could extend this to cover any illegal form of pornography, sites that promote terrorism, and I'm sure people will think of many more categories for the sensor. I know, this is still censorship and could lead to some governments censoring political viewpoints they disagree with but, as long as you have the option of circumventing the block, those that really want to see the content still can.

I'll get my coat!!

Brit tourist blags his way onto Iron Man set

Nick Askew

Don't you know who I am?

I'm Nick Askew, yes THE Nick Askew.

Works like a charm every time.

Spam filtering services throttle Gmail to fight spammers

Nick Askew

Don't delete SPAM accounts

Don't actually delete the SPAM accounts, just silently bin everything they send. This way the spammer has no idea if they are still getting through, unless they SPAM themselves just to see if it's still working.

Of laptops and US border searches

Nick Askew

Travel less is one option

Personally I am choosing to travel less often to the US. This way I do not need to worry what is on my laptop, mp3 player, various memory cards, or even the state of my underwear.

I have nothing on these devices that I wish to hide and I totally respect the rights of customs to inspect the devices in the name of security. The reason I want to keep away has nothing to do with with the nature of the laws but everything to do with the way they are enforced.

Perhaps it's just bad luck on my part, but every one of the customs officials I've encountered at US airports has been an utterly objectionable tyrant that seems to want to inflict the missery that is his or her life onto the travelling public. Yet somehow their neighbour to the North seem able to employ well adjusted happy people to perform the same job.

Should Europeans pay to receive phone calls?

Nick Askew

Compulsory Caller ID

I agree with Neil, cold callers are a waste of my time at the moment and most of them withold their ID making it impossible to screen them out. I could always say I'll never answer my phone if the ID is witheld but then some of my customers also withold their numbers.

If they go for the model of receiving party pays then they should also introduce compulsory ID.

Tool makes mincemeat of Windows passwords

Nick Askew
Gates Halo


So reading the article I've come to the same conclusion that this is nothing to do with the OS as such. Sure Windows or any other OS could disable Firewire DMA but then no devices would work. The suggestion of not allowing new connections is a bit of a red herring because this is not at the OS level it's harware. If the owner of a machine has enabled (or rather not disabled) Firewire then they are at risk.

This means that the best you could hope for is that Microsoft release a patch that disables Firewire by default and the user has to actively enable Firewire when they need it. If the device is removed then the OS must disable Firewire DMA and the user must enable it again when connecting the next device.

How long before people post complaints of Microsoft has for some reason made using Firewire difficult.

Sun will swallow Earth: Official

Nick Askew

Looking forward to

The planet being enveloped by the sun as it grows.

The moon wandering away from us causing the earth to wobble on it's axis.

Huge lumps of rock hitting us from space.

Global warming causing floods.

Ice ages causing the water to retreat.

A massive volcano erupting and filling the sky with ash, smoke, and noxious gasses.

Tidal waves wiping out coastal communities.

and now we have to contend with the planet doing a nose dive into the Sun!!! Great.

Tiscali and BPI go to war over 'three strikes' payments

Nick Askew

Well for once I'm siding with the 'bad' guys

I never really found myself able to side with the music industry in the music industry verses their customers battle. But this is clearly different, the music industry have evidence of an infringement and then pass that to Tiscali with a note to say please enforce your own terms and conditions. And Tiscali wants them to pay to send a letter!!

Suppose it was the police writing to say we suspect this IP address is owned by a kiddy fiddler, would they want money from the police too?

The music industry has already spent money trying to detect these people involved in copyright theft. In an ideal world, where people respected other peoples intellectual property rights, that would not be necessary.

MP calls for law to force online shops to verify customer age

Nick Askew

In my day...

In my day we got the older kids to do the shopping for the alcohol, tobaco, or pornography. Clearly even if you bring in a law that say's you cannot sell credit to minors someone will go along and buy it for them.

A simple solution would be to tell the industry that anyone buying goods to be delivered, where ther is an age limit, must sign on receipt and show proof of age just as they do and did in high street shops.

US switches off the incandescent lightbulb

Nick Askew
Gates Halo

Replacement Traffic Light Bulbs??

I remember reading a study that showed that using LED traffic lights benefitted everyone (except the people who have to replace the bulbs) because they are brighter, cheaper to run (although more expensive to create), more compact, and run almost forever (so you don't need the bloke and the ladder).

So why would the American government suddly decide to exempt traffic light bulbs? Could it be that while telling the American people what they must do they would rather not apply the same rules to themselves?

And regarding the use of lighting in entertainment, LED's are making an inroad there too.

eBay glitch wipes out 11 year-old account without a trace

Nick Askew

My (lack of) Space

Similar thing happened to me with my MySpace account. I woke up one morning to find that there was no sign of my account and all the help desk had to say was -

"MySpace will not restore deleted accounts. If you deleted your own account, please create a new account and note that if you wish to remove it, the deletion is permanent.

If your account was deleted by MySpace, please review our Terms of Service in order to better understand our community rules. If you wish to create another account on MySpace, please heed these rules in order to avoid future deletion."

No matter how many times I asked the question 'Why was the account deleted?' this was the only answer they were willing to give so now I have a Facebook account :-)

Electro-optic film set to foil DVD shoplifters

Nick Askew

Useful idea

A single pressing should be sufficient. Disks would be made protected by default and unprotected as late as possible in the distribution chain. So a small retailer could buy from a distributor and they would have the option of taking the DVD protected or unprotected. This way warehouse theft is also reduced.

However I wonder how long before El Reg is reporting that someone has cracked the mechanism with an old mobile phone, a coat hanger, and some sticky back plastic.