* Posts by John Stag

165 publicly visible posts • joined 15 May 2007


ContactPoint goes live despite security fears

John Stag
Thumb Down

If it's secure then why do some children need special shielding?

Seems pretty obvious this thing isn't secure.

Another thing they haven't mentioned is access logs. All access should be via some personalized token (eg. smartcard) and access logs kept so we know exactly who accessed what information and when.

If they'd done this I"m sure they'd be trumpeting the fact so I can only assume they haven't.

I also see no mention of records being destroyed when the child reaches 16. All I see is hot air and a database of tomorrow's citizens being built in the name of "protecting the children".

So, what's the f**king difference between a Netbook and an ultrathin?

John Stag

Not sure.

My Netbook (Asus Eee PC 901) has a video port...

Thames windfarm execs: We need more subsidy

John Stag
Thumb Down

How's this for an idea...

They're building these things offshore because people don't want them in their fields.

I suspect that if you gave a tiny fraction of the difference in cost to the field owners they'd be falling over themselves to get them installed.

PS: The cost of building them is actually much worse because electricity has to be transported around (think big copper wires). The closer a windmill is to the consumers of its output, the less this costs.

Microsoft heralds 'record' prison terms for Chinese pirates

John Stag

$2 billion for a couple of years in the nick?

Where do I sign up to be a software pirate...?

French Senate passes bill to disconnect filesharers

John Stag

It only gets better for the ISPs

Wait 'til users start switching to lower-bandwidth (ie. cheaper) Internet plans after the second letter....that's when it starts getting fun for the ISPs.

Microsoft rushes out emergency Windows update

John Stag

Re: Mike

"I'm not sure anyone can possibly think that any software written by humans will be error free."

Well, yeees ... but who took the decision to have a Remote Procedure Call server permanently running in their OS.

RPC is *designed* to let other machines run code on your machine, and Windows doesn't let you turn it off because a second genius decided to use it for basic windows functions (ie. using the "remote" functions to run code on the same machine as itself).

Question: What's better?

a) Depending on RPC to be 100% bug free

b) Not having RPC enabled (except on fancy server farms which actually need it).

Bottom line, yes, blame Microsoft. Things like RPC, UP&P and ActiveX are broken by design.

Worse than that, people told them what would happen in the design phase but they went ahead and did it anyway because it made things like things like file sharing easier to configure if you leave all the machines wide open to network activity.

Top prosecutor warns against growing state power

John Stag

Re: "Full public debate before...."

Oh, sure, that's going to happen.

I think I can already tell you what the public will say.

AMD Fusion for Gaming

John Stag

Close other windows...

Can't I just type "WinKey+D" ?

McCain: Keep Shuttle flying, don't trust Russia

John Stag

Just dump the ISS....

The ISS is a now great white elephant in the sky - and a VERY expensive one at that.

We should dump it in the sea and spend the money on something useful - eg. robotic space explorers and on figuring out if the moon can be mined for He3 to solve the energy crisis

Lag log leaks - Home Office contractor loses entire prison population

John Stag

@ should we be automatically blaiming the goverment?


They're the ones who could enact laws to send everybody concerned to prison for a long time whenever this happens (the personal responsible and his superiors).

The only way to deal with this problem is to make everybody completely paranoid about carrying sensitive data around on their person. This sort of data should never leave the building in any form.

The current system is based on a bunch of greedy contractors trying to get a slice of government money at any cost. Wouldn't it be better to have people scared of taking this sort of contract unless they were damn sure of their security procedures?

AOL spammer jailed for 30 months

John Stag

New around here...

"How is this any different to the junk mail which I physically get shovelled through my door on a daily basis, for crap I don't need or want, such as kitchens, estate agents and credit card companies?"

Difference is: They pay to send that junk.

With Spam you pay to receive it.

Microsoft touts trustworthy browsing with IE8

John Stag

Why they work towards solving spam instead?

If they solved the Spam problem, how would people phish?

Microsoft has the clout to set up a new mail protocol with proper authentication and put spammers out of business overnight. They should set a deadline (eg. Jan 1st, 2009), put the infrastructure in place, push out the updates to Outlook, then throw the switch. So long as they don't try any underhanded tricks there's no reason why other people wouldn't follow suit.

So far they've only used their clout for monopoly enforcement. Isn't it about time they used it for something good?

Would a data notification law improve UK data security?

John Stag

Not just the breaches...

If the government wants their database, I should be notified whenever *anybody* accesses my personal data.

Name, date, stated reason for the access.

John Stag


"anyone breaking this basic code of conduct should be sacked _immediately_ without any prospect of appeal."

Not only sacked but criminal charges pressed and a high probability of jail time.

Personal data is a serious matter and should be treated seriously by serious people, not morons who leave government laptops in the back seats of cars.

How to beat AVG's fake traffic spew

John Stag

AVG is jumping the shark

What with this, the over-zealous zapping of innocent files (eg. it zaps VNC) and the new barrage of "notification" windows, it seems AVG has forgotten why people don't like Norton.

Cambridge woman in £90m 'leccy bill shocker

John Stag

"systems to ensure..."

How about this:

if ($customerType == DOMESTIC) and ($bill > 2000) then





That'll be $90m consulting fee please....

Dissolving the plastic bag problem

John Stag

"Are plastic bags really that bad?"

"Are plastic bags really that bad?"

Not when they're actually *in* the landfill, no.

The problem is that a lot of them end up in the sea, in hedgerows, etc.

Bletchley Park activates online donations

John Stag

Call me when they get paypal...

I'm still not sure they understand what "easy" is.

Hummer glummer on high oil price bummer

John Stag

Can they really not see this coming...?

They're in financial trouble so what do they do? Make bigger and bigger SUVs...

Are they really that stupid?

Tories would have to compensate ID vendors

John Stag


They should stand up and make a public statement that they won't compensate them.

So a few money-grubbing government contracters lose money? Doesn't bother me. They're lying to the government anyway if they're saying this can be done without going three-times over budget.

I'm sure most voters wouldn't care either. Given the amount of public anger over ID cards it could even encourage a lot of people to vote Tory - win-win!

OLPC and Microsoft punt Windows-only XO laptop

John Stag

@"how fast that laptop is changed for food"

Not very fast. XOs disable themselves if they stray away from their designated base station for too long. All the innards are surface mount and designed to make the effort of re-chipping one cost more than the thing's worth.

Even the XO's color is deliberately chosen - if you're an adult with a bright green laptop you'll have some explaining to do.

PS: A great big forehead-slapping "duh!" to you for thinking they hadn't thought of this ...

Windows XP SP3 blame game begins

John Stag

@ 62 Working

What kind of idiot company would apply a week-old service pack to all their machines?

I mean, what if the problem *had* affected you...?

Creative settles MP3 player capacity clash

John Stag

A whole reg article explaining "gigabyte"....but gets it wrong.

"Giga" is an SI unit meaning 1,000,000,000 - used in every walk of life.

"Gibi" is an IEC unit meaning 1,073,741,824 - used for calculating storage, and has been standard since 1999.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_prefix

The judge of this case is an idiot and the writer of the article needs to apply a service pack to his brain.

US lag sues over prison crash diet

John Stag

How to lose weight 101

"If we are in a small pod all day [and] do next to nothing for physical exercise..."


The human body uses most of its calories in maintaining body temperature. An hour in the gym only burns the equivalent of a couple of Oreos.

(New) dirt-cheap bots attack Hotmail Captchas

John Stag

@"no way you can implement charging for email"

What about prepaid stamps?

When I say "pay", I'm sure nobody would really pay in practice, there's no end of ways people could give you free stamps - ISP promotions, watching adverts, etc.

Also, if the stamps are reusable then you can use the stamps from your incoming mail - no need to pay for those.

London store brews £50-a-poop cat-crap coffee

John Stag

This story is soooo 1990s....

This story has been around since at least 1997:

eg. http://www.davebarry.com/misccol/decaf.htm

IFPI demands $2.5m in damages from The Pirate Bay

John Stag

I'm pretty sure the "Move to Egypt" is an april fool...

no content required

Microsoft makes final heroic grab for OOXML votes

John Stag

So what?

They won't ever need to sue anybody anyway because nobody will ever be able to implement OOXML even if they wanted to.

This "standard" is nothing but a sham - not even Microsoft is going to use it.

Soot almost as bad as CO2 for global warming

John Stag

So again the coal-fired generators are fingered...?

Coal fired generation of electricity is the real bad guy in the world, releasing huge amounts of dangerous contaminents into the air (radiation, mercury... you name it, they've got it), CO2, soot, etc.

The sooner we get rid of them, the better.

Vista SP1 customers get free support

John Stag

...and meanwhile the XP service pack has to wait.

Windows XP SP3 has to wait until all this is sorted out?


This is the real difference between Microsoft and open-source - Microsoft decisions are all about politics, the end users don't matter (it's not like they're going to stop buying Windows - it comes on every new PC).

Sequoia attack dogs kill review into e-voting discrepancies

John Stag

What "trade secrets?"

This is a glorified adding machine. It adds up votes, nothing more.

Dell gets in a state over SSD claims

John Stag

Flash memory hasn't worn out since the early 90s. Get over it.

"You can't write to flash as many times as a hard disk"

New types of flash memory together with wear leveling means the SSD will probably last much longer than a hard drive.

Please apply the appropriate upgrade patch to your brain to stop the knee-jerk posting to message boards every time somebody mentions "SSD" (you and all the other morons who are doubtless busy typing as we speak).

"which probably won't work too well with NTFS (it fragments quite a bit) as it writes in sequential order to even out the wear on the flash blocks."

SSDs have zero seek time so fragmentation isn't any kind of a problem on SSDs (in fact it's a good thing as it works as a natural kind of wear levelling).

Home Secretary in ID card gaffe

John Stag

Security is a human problem.

You can have the best firewall ever devised by man but when the employees are losing CDs in the post it won't do you much good.

Employees can also be bribed, blackmailed, and do stuff out of sheer boredom (looking up famous people, etc.)

Any tech-centric discussion of security is utter stupidity, but you can bet that that's what the contractors are selling them.

Stroustrup and Sutter: C++ to run and run

John Stag

Anybody who trashes C++ doesn't understand it.

This myth needs busting.

I too started in assembler, went through C and now I do C++.

C++ is no more "bloated" or "slow" than C is, but is a lot more flexible and allows you to do a lot more stuff. Most importantly of all, it manages memory several orders of magnitude better than C does (and bad memory management is where all those machine-owning buffer overflow vulnerabilities come from). Sticking with C really is a mistake.

As for people still using VC++ 6...

For C++ development you should really upgrade to the Visual C++ Express. It's free, it's a much better compiler, much more standards-compliant, and the IDE is very similar to VC6 (none of the terrible Visual Studio bloat).

I'm using the 2005 edition, I'll look at the 2008 edition when it gets to SP1.

Nine Inch Nails cracks net distribution (maybe)

John Stag


Would it really be so hard for them to put the free stuff on a different server so the paying customers get decent service?

This isn't rocket science.

Security boffins unveil BitUnlocker

John Stag

the attacker needs to get physical access (basically, steal the laptop)

Um, yes, but the whole point of bitlocker is to prevent people getting at your data if they steal the machine.

Investors cheer Toshiba plan to drop HD DVD

John Stag


At best these new video formats are only about 50% better than existing DVD.

Wake me up when there's a video format which makes me stop dead

and go "Wow!". Until then these are just expensive DVDs.

eBayer invites buyers to rip him off

John Stag

It's just as easy for sellers to rip you off...

Cry me a river..It's just as easy for sellers to rip you off:

a) Promise the item has been sent, wait a month and say the post office returned it and you put it in the post again, it should be there in a couple of days. Repeat until the 60 day reclaim period is up.

b) Send wrong item, get buyer to send it back, promising to refund the postage. Dally around using variations on method (a) until 60 days pass - you got the money *and* you got the item back!

Remember to always use negative feedback as a weapon - after all, the seller has the last word even though the buyer sent the money five minutes after the auction ended.

c) Send broken goods and put tiny disclaimers in the auction that the buyer should always pay for postal insurance and the seller is not responsible for damage during transit. Use tit-for-tat feedback to enforce your position. Finally, after much bargaining say you'll change it but buyer has to pay return postage. Best case scenario: You offloaded a broken item onto some poor sucker for full retail price. Worst case: You sell an item and make a small profit.

d) Sell stolen foreign goods which are the wrong region/language for the buyer. Put this fact in tiny writing in the middle of a fifty page garbage-padded description. Use tit-for-tat feedback to make sure the buyer doesn't complain.

It's much better for buyers to feel safe then it is for sellers. The sellers must be making money despite the bad buyers - if they weren't, they'd stop doing it.

Remembering the Coleco Adam

John Stag


"Oric-1?... a strange graphics scheme, where the foreground/backgound colour of a row of pixels was determined by a some preceding attribute byte in the graphics memory, but said byte took up 6 pixels on the screen!?"

Yep. Each byte of screen memory had six bits of graphics and two pixels of color information, making anything other than character graphics impossible to program (or at least, very very slow).

I think it's the main reason the machine failed - games programmers refused to touch it and without games a machine was nothing in those days.

John Stag

Bold text?

"...lacked fundamental elements such as boldface print."

How exactly is a daisywheel supposed to print bold text?

IFPI wins Danish block on Pirate Bay

John Stag

Edit your hosts file...

Edit the file "c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts" add the following line:



Ballmer! explains! hostile! Yahoo! bid!

John Stag

One less toolbar / homepage-hijack for me to clean up...

Yahoo's entire business model seems to be based on installing toolbars and hijacking people's homepages.

If Microsoft thinks that's worth 44 billion then it doesn't bother me. Here's to a cleaner Internet without them.

Pirate Bay slapped with copyright charges

John Stag
Thumb Up

I find my torrents via google...does that make them guilty?

@Anonymous Coward: "I'm willing to pay".

Me too. I'd willingly pay a license fee in return for access to all the BBC archives like people in the UK have...but I can't. I live in Spain and there's no legal way for me to access the BBC content.

Sites like PirateBay put it up for free so what am I supposed to do?

The problem is mostly with the content providers, not the pirates. If stuff was easy/cheap to get legally then I'd probably cough up a subscription rather than go through all the hassle of torrent sites (which are full of fakes, scams, trojans, etc.).

PS: Content providers need to get very realistic about their fees. I'm not willing to pay £5 for an episode of something that I'll watch exactly once.

SAS extends fingerprint ID system for domestic flights

John Stag

Do they destroy the data after the plane lands safely?

I don't mind this sort of thing so long as it comes with garantees that the data is only used for the stated purpose, nothing more.

Of course this never happens. There's always a copy sent to the NSA or they keep it for a couple of years, "just in case"...etc.

Amateur code breaker honoured for defeating Colossus

John Stag

The laptop was only 280 times faster...

....which is not much when you consider that computer power has generally followed Moore's Law.

Did you read the article? The program was written in Ada.

Toshiba HD-EP30 HD DVD player

John Stag

Why I don't care about HD...

"1080p does make a real difference to the amount of detail visible on screen. Whether you can actually make it out when you’re watching a film will depend on how big your TV is and how far away from the screen you’re sitting"

So I have to sit in just the right spot to be able to see a difference?

Call me again when there's something which makes me go "Wow!"

eBay: 'We will lower listing fees'

John Stag

$5 product with a shipping fee of $25

Assuming you can read, why is this a problem? You know the final price before buying...

As for not being able to leave bad feedback for buyers, that's a brilliant idea. The occasional seller getting ripped off shouldn't be an excuse for all those sellers who say "I'll leave feedback after you do". A couple of times I've kept my mouth shut and left no feedback rather than have my 100% feedback wrecked by a moron seller who already took my money.

IMHO it should go even further. eBay should give me automatic positive feedback if I pay via paypal within 24 hours of end-of-auction. Take the seller completely out of the loop.

Scottish Government to block wind farm plan

John Stag

I find it amusing...

...that the very people who are demanding alternative power are always the first to object when it's built near them.

Vista SP1 RC Refresh 2 tweak out now

John Stag


Ummm....for many years that was the excuse for Vistas lateness - "it will be delivered when it's perfect!".

In the end it came down to marketing people pushing out a half-finished product because they "didn't want to miss another Xmas".

Microsoft rides PCs and Xboxen to rich Q2

John Stag

So that means...

So that means that all those "biggest fine ever" anti-trust fines are about a week's profit. Maybe less, because I'm sure they'll deduct it as an expense.

One of those every couple of years...that must hurt badly. No really.