* Posts by Dr Paul Taylor

254 posts • joined 15 Jul 2009


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?

Florida man stumbles on biggest prime number after working plucky i5 CPU for 12 days straight

Dr Paul Taylor

Fermat primes

correction: 2^(2^n) + 1 3, 5, 17, 257, 65537

Gauss showed that regular polygons with this many sides can be constructed with ruler and compasses.

Detailed: How Russian government's Fancy Bear UEFI rootkit sneaks onto Windows PCs

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: Linux and out of date Windows machines

I was looking for the Linux angle on this story, but this comment does not supply it.

To install Linux I have to disable UEFI "security". Am I more vulnerable to this malware because I have done that, or less because I never run Microsoft?

Please excuse my naivety. It would be very useful if someone could give a link to an explanation of what one is supposed to do about UEFI when installing Linux, either single- or dual-boot. Thanks.

Talk about a GAN-do attitude... AI software bots can see through your text CAPTCHAs

Dr Paul Taylor

American imperialism

To add to all the other stupidity of Google CAPTCHAs, we have to recognise AMERICAN cars,

AMERICAN street signs, AMERICAN shop fronts, etc.

Check your repos... Crypto-coin-stealing code sneaks into fairly popular NPM lib (2m downloads per week)

Dr Paul Taylor


Why did we ever allow this cr@p on our webpages in the first place.

I was just checking out the "more computing power than Apollo 11" adage. In fact your bluetooth devices have more computing power than Apollo 11 had. This seems to be the best account.

So, FIFY, it now takes more computing power to load one poxy webpage than the whole world had when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon.

What the #!/%* is that rogue Raspberry Pi doing plugged into my company's server room, sysadmin despairs

Dr Paul Taylor

"That username has already been issued to someone else."

That's the reason why I am "Dr" Paul Taylor on El Reg. There seems to be no way of getting my login merged with my earlier "Paul Taylor".

UK.gov isn't ready for no-deal Brexit – and 'secrecy' means businesses won't be either

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: So join your local campaign group to stop this

Big thanks to Jamie for setting this site up on his server, where it is now live.

The rude AC appears not to have looked beyond the front page to the site itself. That front page was edited from something else in a considerable hurry in the half hour before I gave a demo. It was subsequently replaced with something cleaner. The program-generated main pages have no CSS, Javascript or cookies, but maybe (Jamie or) I will get round to writing some CSS to smarten it up later.

Dr Paul Taylor

So join your local campaign group to stop this


The campaign is desperately short of IT competent people.

It would be great if someone could offer me a Virtual Private Server with LAMP for this site,

Shortages, price rises, recession: Tech industry preps for hard Brexit

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: And all we can do...

To Loyal Commenter: of course I agree with everything you say, but I think you might be overestimating the numbers. A bit over a week ago I attended a presentation by a BfE person originally from Bristol that 50,000 had signed up on the PV website, FB, Eventbrite etc. Received wisdom is that you multiply such numbers by 10 to get the actual turnout.

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: And all we can do...

and go to the demo on Saturday 20 October at midday from Park Lane (Hyde Park):


and join your local campaign group: www.IStopBrexit.info

UK.gov withdraws life support from flagship digital identity system

Dr Paul Taylor

Government denying people their rights

I think you may have missed a big one. The date 29 March tolls a bell.

This sounded like a pretty simple IT project. Hate to think what might happen with "maximum facilitation" (a piece of Newspeak if I ever heard one).

Microsoft liberates ancient MS-DOS source from the museum and sticks it in GitHub

Dr Paul Taylor

Ah, 9900

My very first programming job. Instron in High Wycombe.

'This is insane!' FCC commissioner tears into colleagues over failure to stop robocalls

Dr Paul Taylor

Dont advertise your number

My residential number is not in the phone book and I only give it to friends, never to companies. So I rarely ever get robocalls; they do happen once in a while because they dial random numbers.

Voyager 1 left the planet 41 years ago – and SpaceX hopes to land on Earth this Saturday

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: 3.6AU per year

It's only a bit more than half of the orbital speed of the Earth, which is of course 2pi AU per year.

(Why am I not allowed to include HTML symbols like π ?)

Tech firms, come to Blighty! Everything is brill! Brexit schmexit, Galileo schmalileo

Dr Paul Taylor

Brexit Schmexit

That slogan was on EU in Brum banners in September 2016. (Credit Alan Suter I think.) When I went into the pub after the demo to "welcome" to Tories to Brum for their conference, people asked me what Schmexit meant.

IT systems still in limbo as UK.gov departments await Brexit policy – MPs

Dr Paul Taylor

Who smashed up the house?

The angry, stupid children have smashed up the house: and they are precisely the wrong people to fix it.

Agree with you completely, except that the angry stupid grandma and grandpa smashed up the house, leaving the children to fix it.

I have been of the opinion since Gordon Brown was in no 10 that we have no competent politicians in any of the parties.

That Brexit in action: UK signs pact to let Euro court judge its patents

Dr Paul Taylor

Re: the UK's planned exit from the European Union

no one said "well planned"

My comment stands nevertheless. There has been no "planning" at all, even bad planning.

Equally, brexit will not just fail to bring net benefits, it will not benefit anybody in any way at all, except perhaps American billionaires, and I now doubt that it will even benefit them.

Dr Paul Taylor

the UK's planned exit from the European Union

Of all the words that could be said about this, planned is not one of them!

AI boffins rebel against closed-access academic journal that wants to have its cake and eat it

Dr Paul Taylor

refereeing and typesetting

Thank you for the first journalistic article I have seen on this topic that says it honestly as it is: researchers do all the work in producing journals, publishers do nothing. Researchers always did the (research and authorship, obviously, and) refereeing, but for the last 30 years (thanks to LaTeX) they have done the typesetting too. In fact Springer mangled the typesetting of the last paper of mine that they published, despite repeated assurances from the editor of the volume that they wouldn't touch it.

Sysadmin unplugged wrong server, ran away, hoped nobody noticed

Dr Paul Taylor

Around time of this story, while I was working at South Ken Tech, a JCB sliced through the main power cable in the street. The power was not off for very long. However, this was before journaling filesystems, so the machines took an hour or more to do all their fscking to recover.

Facebook scandal: EU politicians should aim for straight answers, not star witnesses

Dr Paul Taylor

Liber facium delendus est.

No, Sierra Leone did not just run the world's first 'blockchain election'

Dr Paul Taylor

So what was blockchain used for?

So, a story that I didn't hear was false.

It would be nice to know, technically, what this company did use blockchain for in their observation of part of an election, and whether it was effective in identifying any fraud.



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