* Posts by Dr Paul Taylor

275 posts • joined 15 Jul 2009


Ad tech ruined the web – and PDF files are here to save it, allegedly

Dr Paul Taylor

slippy maps

Hate those too. Where the mouse wheel means "scroll" is most contexts, it seems to mean "wildly rescale" on maps, making it very difficult to focus on a partlcular place and then move smoothly.

Kill Javascript!

Dr Paul Taylor

re-sizing and re-wrapping text

I agree with most of the sentiments of this project, but surely going back to sanitised HTML would be better.

I am finding it increasingly difficult to read small text, so a basic thing I do with web pages is to enlarge them. In basic HTML, the text gets re-wrapped. "Clever" web pages often have fixed line lengths, making this impossible. (I do also resize PDFs.)

Revealed: Perfect timings for creation of exemplary full English breakfast

Dr Paul Taylor

Exit from breakfast

Going on holiday next week, but because of B and C I can't get a decent German buffet breakfast but have to have the disgusting "full english". Not on is the taste of it repulsive, so is the performance of choosing amongst the slimy components. Yugh!

In conversation with Gene Hoffman, co-creator of the internet's first ad blocker

Dr Paul Taylor


In the 1980s, people advertised their academic preprints on email lists, telling readers how to get them using FTP over the Internet.

(Of course, since it was Not Invented Here, British universities weren't connected to the Internet until 1991(?). We had Janet, haha.)

Now we get things using the Web.

I know that there was Gopher in between FTP and the Web, but so far as I recall it was not The Thing for very long and I don't actually remember ever using it other than for a demo.

Did other people actually use Gopher?

London Greenwich station: A reminder of former glories. Like Windows XP

Dr Paul Taylor

language practice

Telling tourists on the DLR that they probably don't want to get off at Greenwich station. To add to the fun, "the first set of doors and the last set of doors don't open" at Cutty Sark, which is probably where they wanted to go.

Backbench Tory campaigner promises judicial review of data grab of English GP patients unless UK government changes tack

Dr Paul Taylor

Mr no papers Brexit

Things have got to be bad if I find myself agreeing with David Davis about something.

Report picks holes in the Linux kernel release signing process

Dr Paul Taylor

force majeure

I wonder what protection the Linux kernel master source has from interference by "higher powers" such as Tech Giants or authoritarian states?

To CAPTCHA or not to CAPTCHA? Gartner analyst says OK — but don’t be robotic about it

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Captcha.

You forgot to ask what "apartments" are.

Then there's taxis. Nowadays they could be any coloUr, but if there's one coloUr in particular that I'd associate with taxis, it would be black, not yellow.

It's all very well boycotting shopping sites that use these things, but this morning I needed to order repeat prescriptions, but the site forces me to enable Google's Javascript. For all I know, this could be shipping my medical records off to some American pharmaceutical company.

The ubiquity, lack of diversity and potential profitability of these things surely means that major hacker effort is being applied to breaking them.

On the other hand there are plenty of tasks that are simple to program and simple for humans to execute but beyond what it is reasonable to expect AI to do. Just pick a random question from a large collection of general knowledge things. It would take spectacular effort to parse such things.

We've been shown time and again that strong encryption puts crims behind bars, so why do politicos hate it?

Dr Paul Taylor

why the publicity?

What puzzled me about this story was advertising that it had been done by selling a compromised "encryption" system to the criminals.

The fact that the Nazi Enigma code had been broken at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing and was kept a Secret long after WWII. (1970s?)

I gather the reason for this was that were selling it to (both friendly and hostile) governments of "developing" countries around the World.

Dr Paul Taylor

many times the data size

The downside is that it requires many times the data size of the hidden encrypted data

You mean, like modern 1MB HTML-encrypted emails, containing the same information as the 1kb plain text ones we wrote in the 1980s?

US declares emergency after ransomware shuts oil pipeline that pumps 100 million gallons a day

Dr Paul Taylor


The Imperial gallon is 4.546 litre, the US gallon is 3.785 litres and the US dry gallon is 4.405 litres. Which one do you mean? The metric system was invented to clear away the confusion of different units of measurement across the (European) continent. Let's use it!

Australia proposes teaching cyber-security to five-year-old kids

Dr Paul Taylor

#1 lesson

Teach them never to answer "security questions" on an incoming call.

Better, make it a criminal offence to phone someone and ask "security questions".

Splunk junks 'hanging' processes, suggests you don't 'hit' a key: More peaceful words now preferred in docs

Dr Paul Taylor

"Are those raisins or do you have a rabbit under the counter?"

OK, I give in. From what language did that come, and what was the original?

Even Google doesn't know.

Dr Paul Taylor


Rudest word in the Galaxy, according to Douglas Adams.

Or, for a real example, "curva" is a perfectly innocent word in the west of Europe, but an expletive in every language of the east: Albanian, Greek, Hungarian, Lithuanian and Romanian, as well as all the Slavic ones.

The perils of non-disclosure? China 'cloned and used' NSA zero-day exploit for years before it was made public

Dr Paul Taylor


The only difference between your approach and having a larger program broken into strong, orthogonal modules is semantics.

I was about to upvote you for an insightful comment, until I realised that you were using the word "semantics" in the ignorant way that politicians do, rather than in its technical sense in theoretical computer science.

British owners of .eu domains given an extra three months to find a European address

Dr Paul Taylor

Can you name another counterexample besides Leave.EU?

Also, let's leave aside the "stop paying the club subscription" arguments - the "UK" "government" has never used .eu web addresses, so far as I am aware.

But lots of British people and companies who identified as Europeans and used to be European citizens, but have now had their citizenship stolen from them, chose to use .eu addresses.

I am one of those, but since I have plenty of friends in proper European countries, my .eu domain has been safely registered elsewhere.

Other top level domains don't require residence or citizenship. Or have I underestimated the COmmercial importance of COlumbia or how many TeleVision companies there are on the island of TiValu?

Generally Michel Barnier and the EU bigwigs behaved very well during the Brexit disaster. The monumental stupidity of invoking Clause 16 over the EU's failure over Covid vaccines was breathtaking, but probably isolated. But what some EU bureaucrat has decreed regarding British .eu domains is at the level of schoolboy spite.

Web prank horror: Man shot dead while pretending to rob someone at knife-point for a YouTube video

Dr Paul Taylor


I don't do "social media", so maybe I'm just a snowflake, but never before reading a page of comments on El Reg have I been so sickened by the views expressed. Judging by the votes, apparently these are the majority.

In civilised parts of the world, people don't get a constitutional right to carry guns.

Maybe I'll get a hundred down-votes for that. If so, I will revel in it.

'Best tech employer of the year' threatened trainee with £15k penalty fee for quitting to look after his sick mum

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: My masters degree

A master's is typically a one year course that bolts onto an existing degree

Technically, yes you can't get a Master's degree unless you already have a Bachelor's degree in something. Classics, for example.

However, many universities offer "conversion" MScs (for graduates in other subjects), which compress three years of a computer science BSc into one year.

It is remarkable how graduates of apparently non-mathematical subjects sometimes turn out to be very able programmers.

Google Mail outage: Did you see that error message last night? Why the 'account does not exist' response is a worry

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: You Get What You Pay For

If you look up the MX records of the addresses you write to, you will be astounded how many people allow Google to read and censor their incoming email.

Google has decided that my personal domain is all spam, but doesn't return any error messages, as a result of which my emails have been going into a black hole for months.

Anybody else had this issue? Any ideas what one has to do to persuade Google to accept one's emails.

Big IQ play from IT outsourcer: Can't create batch files if you can't save files. Of any kind

Dr Paul Taylor

boot meet ass

Let's cut out the cruelty to animals (donkeys).

Excel Hell: It's not just blame for pandemic pandemonium being spread between the sheets

Dr Paul Taylor

If your only tool is a hammer

People actually use Excel for things like modeling, tabulation, accounting and so forth.

then every problem looks like a nail.

If you have tabular data -- where the rows and columns have clearly established meanings as numbers or strings -- then ok use a spreadsheat.

Otherwise use an appropriate tool.

It’s happened again: AT&T sued for allegedly transferring victim's number to thieves in $1.9m cryptocoin heist

Dr Paul Taylor

Relying on phone numbers

Much as I agree with the 24E6 eggs comments, the central point of the article is the reliance on phone numbers.

Increasingly, financial bodies (including HMRC) insist that you give them your (mobile) phone number "for security" --- exactly so that they can send you "codes" to do exactly this.

At least twice banks have refused my business because I wouldn't give them my phone number(s), even though I had provided plenty of evidence of solvency.

So, power to Seth Shapiro and Michael Terpin. I hope they win their cases against AT&T and that banks take notice!

You can get a mechanical keyboard for £45. But should you? We pulled an Aukey KM-G6 out of the bargain bin

Dr Paul Taylor


I rather liked the Sun 4 keyboards, with function keys on the left, right and top (and arrow keys in an actual diamond). I rescued three of them from a skip, but they don't have connectors that are compatible with anything else. Anyone know how to re-wire them?

UK snubs Apple-Google coronavirus app API, insists on British control of data, promises to protect privacy

Dr Paul Taylor

The clocks were striking thirteen

In which country did Orwell set his book?

Something a bit phishy in your inbox? You can now email suspected frauds straight to Blighty's web takedown cops

Dr Paul Taylor


Reg commentards often make very intelligent comments about IT issues, so I am surprised by the silly ones here.

Obviously a service like this isn't going to achieve anything if the emails have to be handled by humans.

However, if there's a dataset of a million alleged phishing attacks, at the very least the domain names and IP addresses can be harvested and counted from the bodies and Received: headers of the emails to highlight the ones that ought to get some human attention. Equally, anyone trying to defame legit sites would be found out to.

Indeed, isn't such a system known as a **honeypot**?

It would be nice if the article had gone into more detail to say whether this is actually what is being done, or whatever other tricks they have up their sleeves.

Boffins examine interstellar comet Borisov to find out what its home was like. Pretty unpleasant, it seems

Dr Paul Taylor

Temperature for yokels

Also, please can we get rid of this Fahrenheit nonsense. My ability to divide by 9 etc in my head is not what it used to be. Once upon a time I understood that 68F was room temperature. I **never** understood large negative or positive Fahrenheit temperatures.

Star's rosette orbit around our supermassive black hole proves Einstein's Theory of General Relativity correct

Dr Paul Taylor


TO think that Asimov placed the capital of the Galaxy at its centre. Not a very friendly place,we now know!

Kepler telescope is dead but the data lives on: Earth-sized habitable zone planet found after boffins check for errors

Dr Paul Taylor

Kepler's law

every time the more distant planet completes nine orbits, Kepler-1649c has circled its star four times

Other way round, maybe?

We lost another good one: Mathematician John Conway loses Game of Life, taken by coronavirus at 82

Dr Paul Taylor

Conway in Cambridge

The Atlas of Finite Groups was published while Conway was still in Cambridge. Before then, it consisted of a huge scrap book that lived on a table in the DPMMS (Pure Maths) common room, containing the character tables of the groups.

I knew him well when I was a student in Cambridge from 1979 to 1986.

Conway's lectures were always lively, popular and full of insight.

But it was next to impossible to take notes from them. I remember attending one in a room with two parallel sets of blackboards that moved up and down on pulleys: he drew diagrams on one, with arrows across to the other one, and then moved the boards around.

In those days there were SIX student maths societies in Cambridge (the University one and five "college" societies, three of which have since folded). Every year the secretaries would fight for who got Conway to give a lecture to their society.

Although I did my PhD in category theory,

For Part III (equivalent to MSc) I was the only student who took the exam for Conway's course, which was about sphere packing, leading up to the 24D Leech Lattice and the monster group.

While I was a PhD student after that, I would be sitting minding my own business in the Pure Maths common room and Conway would come and sit beside me to describe his most recent construction of the Monster Group.

Lost in translation and adrift in cloud storage

Dr Paul Taylor


If you're working in a country that uses a different language, maybe you keep a dictionary on your desk? Especially if it looks like a word in the local language? Or ask a native speaker?

You get fibre, you get fibre, you all get fibre: UK Ministry of Fun promises new rules to make all new homes gigabit capable

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: In-house cabling...

the POTS line by the front door

and with obligatory exposed cable near ground level, just to make it convenient for burglars and others to sever.

At last, the fix no one asked for: Portable home directories merged into systemd

Dr Paul Taylor

Abandoned my home directory years ago

When I started using Unix (variants), /home/pt consisted of my files and a few dot files.

Now it's completely over-run with other programs' crap.

So my filespace is /paul and /home/pt has lots of symbolic links to it. When I upgrade, /home/pt goes out with the trash.

I don't want to take the trash with me when I move to a new Ubuntu version, any more than I do when I move house.

Is everything OK over there, Britain? Have you tried turning the UK off and on again? ISPs, financial orgs fall over in Freaky Friday of outages

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Turn the UK on and off again

Well, after four years of general fiddling with the switch, the UK has now been turned off.

It needs to be smacked upside the head.

It has probably needed that for a 100 years. Maybe it will get it.

As for turning it back on again, we'll have to see about that.

You know the President is able to shut down all US comms, yeah? An FCC commish wants to stop him from doing that

Dr Paul Taylor

Rest of the World

"Fog in Channel -- Continent cut off".

The is a difference between shutting down Internet access in Iran, Egypt and Kashmir and doing so in the country that controls it.

I said before that we need a European Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Looks like we need a European Internet root node too. (Someone better informed may tell me that already exists.)

Newly born Firefox 71 emerges from its den – with its own VPN and some privacy tricks

Dr Paul Taylor

Google maps

I was going to upvote you until I saw you use Google Maps.

Streetmap.co.uk far superior for Britain. OpenStreetMap improving elsewhere.

I'm still not that Gary, says US email mixup bloke who hasn't even seen Dartford Crossing

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Dartford Crossing

(This seems to be the only comment that is pertinent to the article.)

My previous "tenant" (actually a local businessman who sub-let my house to his labourers) registered his vehicle at my house and drove through the Dartford Tunnel without paying. When I took the house back, I told Dart Charge exactly where to find him. They persisted in sending threatening letters, with exponentially increasing amounts owing until eventually bailiffs turned up, after new tenants had moved it. When I complained, they demanded proof that he wasn't there any more.

Dot-org price-cap scrap latest: Now ICANN accused of snubbing registrars with 'sham' public comment process

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Difficult solution

Most features of the Internet [Protocol] can work their way around obstacles because it was designed to be de-centralised and dynamic. The problem is that the root node is necessarily a singularity in this design. It's like the feudal system, where the king owns everything and everyone else is just a tenant, albeit with intermediate landlords too. King ICANN can charge whatever rent it likes.

Having a new domain doesn't solve it. Companies and people who have built a reputation based in an established place in cyberspace can't move any more easily than when they have built factories and houses on land.

Maybe we need a Magna Carta for the Internet.

It's Prime Minister Boris Johnson: Tech industry speaks its brains on Brexit-monger's victory

Dr Paul Taylor


How is it, in the 21st century, that someone gets to be PM simply because he himself thinks he's entitled to it?

Brussels changes its mind AGAIN on .EU domains: Euro citizens in post-Brexit Britain can keep them after all

Dr Paul Taylor

Evidence of change of public opinion

Best for Britain polling by constituency, November 2018. Try any of the polling companies for national figures.

Grav-wave eggheads come closer to nailing down Hubble's Constant – the universe's speedy rate of expansion

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: gravitational waves ripple through space at the speed of light

In the event that was mentioned, involving the collision of two neutron stars, the three gravitational wave detectors triangulated its position and triggered the radio telescopes. So the gravitational and electromagnetic waves travelled the same distance in the same time.

The bit that I find implausible in all of this is the estimation of intergalactic distances - way beyond what can be done with parallax.

Eggheads confirm it's not a bug – the universe really is expanding 9% faster than expected

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Saying God did it, with extra steps

While I was studying Italian, we had to make a presentation about something. I chose Galileo, because it would be easy. I now have seven books on my shelf by or about Galileo, most of them in Italian, which I struggled through. One of them was chiefly concerned with arguing that Galileo was not an atheist; it was obvious that the author was a nutter before I bought the book, but I did so because it contained the vocabulary that I needed. I still don't understand why Galileo was condemned by the Inquistion. The most likely reason is that he was clumsy with academic politics. I can relate to that.

Adi Shamir visa snub: US govt slammed after the S in RSA blocked from his own RSA conf

Dr Paul Taylor

More privacy 200 years ago

200 years ago, he said, people had more privacy than anyone does today.

Yes, 200 years ago the State had very little idea of what was going on anywhere.

But your neighbours knew absolutely every detail of your life and most people had no way of getting away from them, and even if you did you would have become an outsided wherever else you went.

Fine if you conform. Not so good if you don't, for example if you're gay,

Dr Paul Taylor

UK conferences in April

My group at the U of Birmingham has three, in successive weeks after B-day. My colleague from Slovenia said he was coming on 30 March, so I urged him to get here by 28th and stay in my house, but he said he'd prefer to be stuck in Frankfurt [airport] than in Birmingham [with his mates].

ReactOS 0.4.11 makes great strides towards running Windows apps without the Windows

Dr Paul Taylor

Because it's there

This quotation is attributed to George Mallory, regarding climbing Everest, not long before his death trying t climb it.

Accused hacker Lauri Love to sue National Crime Agency to retrieve confiscated computing kit

Dr Paul Taylor

I was going to say that if it's five years old, it probably can no longer run a web browser!

Post-Brexit plan for .EU tweaked: No dot-EU web domains for Europeans in UK, no appeals, etc

Dr Paul Taylor

who it will affect

I haven't seen any proper usage of .eu in the UK so I can't see whom it will affect.

As I told you the previous time this came up, this affects me.

So cut the stupid comments, please, and tell me where is the serious complaint from the UK IT industry?

The Large Hadron Collider is small beer. Give us billions more for bigger kit, say boffins

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Size vs position?

The aerial pictures on El Reg and the CERN sites are taken from different places (respectively west and northeast of Geneva) and the rings appear to be in different places too.

Attention all British .eu owners: Buy dotcom domains and prepare to sue, says UK govt

Dr Paul Taylor

Our "ridiculous" Queen

The alternatives are vastly worse.

Dr Paul Taylor

Does anybody actually use a .eu ?

Yes, I do and I have every intention of keeping it, come what may.

Having the fourth most common English surname and what I think may have been the most popular boys' given name when I was born, I couldn't get a reasonable .uk domain name, so I went for .eu.

It wasn't a political statement in 2007, but now it is.

Fortunately I have friends and colleagues in proper European countries who are willing to re-register it for me.

Generally speaking I have fully supported what the EU side has been doing over brexit, but this is a piece of gratuitous nastiness. It doesn't seem to have occurred to the bureaucrats in question that British people with .eu domain names are likely to be pro-European and in no way responsible for this catastrophe.

Is someone (an ISP) organising a protest about this?



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