* Posts by Harry

425 posts • joined 17 May 2007


So, how many rhinos does a tram weigh?


So, how many rhinos *does* a tram weigh?

I can answer it ... none whatsoever ... trams are designed for carrying passengers, and do not usually have the specialist equipment that would be required to weigh a rhino.

Europe-wide ecommerce laws ahoy!


Goats are probably not covered.

There's probably not much you can do about selling dead goats.

But if he was flogging a dead horse, that might be another matter.

Faking reviews? You should fret about more than illegality


"You didn't have to go on the day to write the review."

Have you considered you probably could have earned even more, by finding who is behind the company concerned, making a list of some of the companies that it works for, getting proof that you didn't have to go on the day and then writing an article for one of the publications or TV programmes that specialise in exposing this sort of scoundrel ?

Or maybe bogus-review-busting could become the next major olympics sport!

Met arrest alleged Lulz hacker


"waiting for confirmation of claimed LulzSec attacks on the UK census"

They'll only admit it was attacked when they find the culprit (and can prove who it was). Until then they will continue to deny all knowledge.

Meanwhile, the government will go ahead with its plans to enforce prompt disclosure when businesses lose data ... having taken some time to ensure that government arms are excluded from the rules.

Samsung readies 'world's first' solar netbook


Yes, and ...

... while the laptop is not in use, you're hardly going to want to leave it unattended all day in the front garden to recharge.

Though it will probably give the next generation of kids a new excuse "Sorry Miss, I couldn't do my homework last night because there wasn't enough sun during the day".

Guy spills on girl in weird Huawei tablet teaser


I think I've sorted it out.

You don't see the screen, because she's so preoccupied with the appearance, touch and feel of it that she hasn't yet worked out how to switch it on.

But the guy watching certainly knows how to do it -- he's read the sauce code.

Site appeals feds' unprecedented domain seizure

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Sidestepping .com would be a great idea for most companies.

One of the most irritating things about the web is that you type in something like www.xyz.co.uk and it insists on diverting you unsolicited to www.xyx.com

And then ... because it has now forgotten that you wanted the UK site ... insists on you picking your country from a tiny dot on a map, which still only takes you to a dropdown showing all the countries in Europe ... which finally takes you to a page like www.xyx.com/uk

Sophos says sorry over Google Analytics false alarm

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"falsely warning users"

There's nothing "false" about warning users that web sites which use third party spyware *are* potentially malign.

Google does no evil, so it claims -- but nobody including Google will ever be able to *prove* it.

If a webmaster needs to analyse its traffic, it should be doing so using its own server logs and not implanting third party spyware.

Cabinet Office talks to Facebook & co about new ID system

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"social networks could possibly be involved"

That ought to be a *very* low possibility and one that only happens in the unlikely event that a privacy directive actually offers real privacy and insists that companies cannot disclose personal information to any party other than the one that the user has specifically given it to.

Social networks are known privacy leaks and indeed most of them are set up for the specific purpose of invading privacy.

'One size fits all' EU data law would undermine rights, says Clarke


"security, and freedom, and privacy are all possible"

In which case why, apart from incompetence of the relevant authorities, do we have companies selling or giving away personal information that nobody ever *asked* them to give away?

There's only one way to have privacy, and that's to insist that all personal information is strictly personal to the organisation it was given to, and is to be used only for the purposes that it was given. No selling, no sharing.

UK may have privacy laws, but they simply aren't being enforced.

BT cheerfully admits snooping on customer LANs


Windows Update

"BT describes the process as being similar to that offered by Microsoft with Windows Update"

Not very similar at all. Windows update is a recommended but *optional* facility. Microsoft cannot (or at least, does not) check or update windows components unless the user has *asked* for the service.

Credit processors targeted in fight against spam


"Its called Aiding and Abetting"

And if law enforcement requests information about the account holder through the proper channels and the credit card processor declines to provide whatever information it has, then that would also presumably constitute "aiding and abetting". You can aid and abet by witholding information as well as by providing a service.

Shutting the account down isn't the goal, catching the criminals is. Shutting the accounts down would only mean they set up a new account with different details.

But co-operation probably depends whether these credit card processors also serve legitimate businesses as well as the spammers. If they're set up mainly for processing dubious transactions, I suspect they will try very hard to pretend not to know who their customers are.

Radio 4 bumped off Freeview by Gaelic TV


"TNS System Three phones people up and asks them if they watch the channel"

You mean there are actually people that are stupid enough to *answer* unsolicited nuisance calls such as these?

If stupid people didn't exist, there would be no point in making unsolicited nuisance calls.

Stupid people, please get some sense! You may be stupid, but even being stupid doesn't justify perpetrating the making of unsolicited nuisance calls for survey or marketing purposes.

Apple, Amazon trademark spat turns surreal


Trouble in store

"Apple denies that, based on their common meaning, the words 'app store' together denote a store for apps,"

Right, so we better all get it out of our heads that a drug store is a store for drugs

, and ... ... ???

OK, glad that's settled and perfectly understood. By Apple at least, but probably not by any other intelligent being.

Ofcom: Luvvies, TV signals can share spectrum


Re "Ofcom reckons wireless microphones can happily use the whole range"

That sounds good until you read the rest of it :

"Ofcom reckons wireless microphones can happily use the whole range of digital television frequencies without preventing anyone from watching Dr Who."

Which is a bit like saying "you can whisper in a pop concert without preventing others from hearing the performance". Yes, certainly. But there's no guarantee that the person you are whispering to will understand what you are saying. Ofcom would have to allow the radio equivalent of "shouting" to stand any chance of being "heard".

Yes, the aerials may be 10m from the ground, far enough for little of the wireless mike signal not to reach the TV aerial -- but the converse isn't necessarily true. You have around 0.02 watts competing with umpteen megawatts -- only a very small fraction of a percent of which has to reach the ground to blot out a radio mike working on the same frequency.

Boffins herald end of stiff screens

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RIPA to be changed to demand full consent to monitoring

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The law shouldn't ...

shouldn't be changed to require consent to spyware.

Instead, it should be changed to PROHIBIT spyware altogether.


Re "A tourist with a radio, who does not pay a UK TV licence"

There is not, and has not been for a very long time, any requirement for a person (whether visiting or UK resident) to have a licence to receive BBC *radio* transmissions.

Radios needed a licence circa 1960 but it has long since been abolished.

Exploit-wielding boffins go on free online shopping binge


In practice, this would probably be harder to get away with.

It might take some time, but a good accountant would probably spot that his company has shipped x thousand pounds worth of stuff through a particular web site but the site has only paid y thousand for the goods.

Every transaction presumably leaves a record -- so knowing there's a mismatch, it ought to be easy to reconcile the records with the actual shipments and voila -- why has Joe Bloggs of 99 Nonesuch Street been sent 27 DVDs on 13 different dates and we've never had payment for any of them ?

Unless 99 Nonesuch Street turns out to be the local pub, its pretty easy to know where to begin making enquiries. And even if it is the pub, chances are that the perpetrant will try it once too many times.

The reasonable probability of being caught would surely act as a deterrent to actually doing this, except possibly for downloads where the the delivery address is an IPv4 -- though even that is probably traceable.

What will we do with 600MHz?


How about ...

... using it for the replacement of that grotty quasi-obsolescent DAB that ofcom is hopelessly trying to promote, but everybody else knows simply isn't fit for its purpose ?

UK.gov opens Red Tape Challenge regulation-slash website


"they'll use this as some form of justification"

As always, if the concensus agrees with whatever they've already decided to do then they will write a song and dance about how they're listening to the public, while completely ignoring anything that conflicts with their original preconceptions.

As always, the decisions will be made according to which vested interest manages to "shout" the loudest, provide the biggest income or bribes or just be best friends with those who make the decisions. It won't have much if anything to do with merit.


"And what happened to the Cones Hotline?"

Ah, we're back on ice cream vans already?


So, no regulations ...

... ice cream vans can come round at 4am and triple their volume.

Yes, there are probably regulations that can be simplified or abolished altogether. But most of them do exist for a good reason.

Perhaps more useful would be to rewrite regulations which are needed in plain, brief, simple English that most people -- public and business alike -- can understand.

The law should exist for the benefit of the citizens. It should not be written in a fuzzy and archaic language which serves only to generate income for lawyers.

Ofcom Radio pokes at potential pirates


"triangulation kit will easily identify a location on the horizontal "

So get close to the tower block and turn the detectors on their sides ?

The rules of radio waves probably work pretty much the same in the third dimension as they do in the other two.

Dig deep! Radio asks taxpayers for blank cheque


"coverage is now 86 per cent "

I'm supposedly one of that 86 percent.

If I'm typical, then there's a very good reason why people aren't going for DAB, and that's because it very often sounds worse than prehistoric Radio Luxembourg on a very bad day. At least Luxembourg only faded out, it didn't give constant bubbling noises and other annoying defects.

It's probably not DAB's fault though. Somehow, I suspect it has more to do with trying to squeeze twenty stations on a bandwidth that's only adequate for ten.

So maybe the best thing for all parties would be for half the stations to drop out of DAB altogether, leaving the others to each have their proper share of the bandwidth.

Failing that, just wait until there is a better, internationally agreed standard.

Mozilla ditches Messaging wing, eyes social webby sweetshop

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Thunderbird ...

... is an excellent, trustworthy product and the indexing enhancements introduced over the last couple of years make it a program I most certainly wouldn't consider replacing with anything else.

Please, keep up the good work.

Australia, give up your fixed broadband!


Re "Maybe you should read the article again"

Maybe the article should have been written on April 1st.

Or maybe it was, and the Reg took 3 days to read it.

Nigeria fails to enact cyber crime laws


Hmmm ...

Article 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code has done such a "brilliant" job of preventing advanced fee fraud that the Nigerian Parliament obviously has the necessary experience and qualifications to rid the world of all internet-related ills.

But shouldn't this have been published *before* mid day?

Ofcom forced to publish tests on dodgy radio kit


The argument was that this isn't radio equipment,

There are still laws applicable and even if it isn't in ofcom's remit to prosecute, then it should at the very least have referred the problem to the Home Office with the request that somebody else be appointed to prosecute. Or perhaps ofcom's remit should have been expanded to include enforcement of devices that aren't radio equipment but nevertheless unlawfully transmit unintentional radio signals in excess of the permitted levels.

If nothing else, the company concerned could probably be prosecuted either for bearing the CE mark which does not comply with an applicable law, since the CE mark is the manufacturer's legal assertion that the device complies with all applicable laws.

FBI asks for help to crack mystery code in 12-year-old murder case


a mixture of "letters, numbers, dashes, and parentheses"

... which probably document either his shopping list or his next appointment with the dentist.

Council loses £2.5m claim against Big Blue


"you wanted your council to be competent when you voted for them"

The problem here is that you only get the chance to vote for the people who manage the window dressing, not the people who actually make the day to day decisions.

At best, the council officers will have given the councillors a report containing a budget for 73 items totalling umpteen million and the councillors will use it to score political points against each other, perhaps get one or two items deleted but by and large will have very little choice but to rubber stamp what their officers have proposed. They don't have either the time or the knowledge to influence where they actually spend that budget.

Maybe its time that old phrase "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" was proved a reckless decision.

Handy radiation checker comes to iPhone


And the app will probably say ...

... that if you're concerned about radiation, you should probably start by turning off the very device that you're using to search for the information.

Osborne urged to end islands VAT-holiday by small-biz group


"The £18 limit is low as it includes the cost of postage,"

No, the £18 limit applies to the value of the goods *excluding* postage -- but if the £18 limit is exceeded, then the duty is charged on the value of the goods *plus* postage.


Just vat? Or vat and duty ?

If abolishing the duty/vat exemption also applies to goods from the rest of the world, it is going to make buying low value items from overseas extremely cumbersome.

An item sold for £3 is going to get maybe 50p of duty and vat added -- but parcelforce and the like are still going to insist on charging an exhorbitant sum of money -- maybe ten pounds or more -- for collecting that 50p. That's not efficient or worthwhile, nor could customs cope with it, and the £18 exemption recognises this.

If the limit is going to be abolished, then the absolute first priority should be to find a way of allowing/requiring the *sender* to prepay any duty and vat due -- with the sender paying the actual amount of vat and duty and no admin charge being added.

Parcelforce will no doubt cry foul on allowing senders to prepay duty and vat -- but that will serve them right for improperly turning imports into a cash cow monopoly in the first place.

Spectrum-guzzling operators will TAKE TV off THE AIR


"and exchange for shiny new kit paid for by the taxpayer"

That's not true. The owners are being paid only around HALF of the estimated replacement cost, and even that half is being at least partially funded by selling the equipment in working order to countries that can make use of it -- though I can't imagine that amounting to much once the handling company has deducted its costs.

London's Olympic clock claps out


Never mind ...

We all know that the Olympics themselves will ... go just like clockwork ???

Privacy groups demand one commissioner to rule them all


No amount of privacy commissioners ...

... will bring about proper privacy, unless and until one or more of those actually understands that privacy means *stopping* businesses from abusing personal information, not writing lots of rules whose general effect is only to create loopholes which *enable* businesses to do whatever they like.

Credit cards at the turnstile across London by 2013


"Buses are relatively easy to bill for"

Only at first sight. One of the prime user benefits of the oyster card is that there is a daily cap on the payments to ensure the user never pays more than the cost of a travel card no matter how many journeys they make.

This complicates the billing somewhat, because the billing software has to aggregate all the journeys for a particular day in order to apply the daily cap.

If the present software continues to determine the payment due and makes just one single daily charge to the credit card account that shouldn't be a problem -- but then, nor should the fact that tube journey costs are determined by distance, which the author claims to be the stumbling block.

Hardware keyloggers found in Manchester library PCs


"keyboards are plugged into the more visible front ports"

I'm not sure how that would help.

If the keyboards are now to be plugged into the front ports, then keyloggers can be plugged into the rear ports ... where they are even *less* likely to be noticed than a keylogger plugged into the front.

OK, so the staff are perhaps more likely to notice somebody delving round the back, but that presumes its a member of the public that's planting the keyloggers but it could equally well be a member of staff who is planting them.

Police hit delete on DNA profiles


So, not everybody is safe.

"It will still keep samples of those questioned in connection with terrorist offences."

Which presumably means that photographers will be especially targetted for retention. "He took a photograph of a police officer. In the eyes of the police, that's worse than a terrorist offence so we're keeping his DNA".

'Tree Octopus' proves journos no smarter than 13-year-old Americans


Mummy, can I have Octopus for dinner ?

No you can't. Do you think octopus grows on trees ?

Bold as brass metal thieves disrupt rail, comms, electric


"the average copper thief can't read."

Anybody (illiterate or not) who nicks a policeman is asking for trouble.


"consequences of this particular theft were said to be "vast""

But not vast enough, apparently, to invest in adequate security precautions -- which, come to think of it, could have been done fairly cheaply by passing a monitoring current through the length of the track.

Google to site devs: 'Please code for Google TV!'

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Its an unreasonable request anyway.

Webmasters should be designing for W3C compliance, not for specific platforms, variants etc.

Microsoft managed to get the world to design for internet explorer instead of designing for standards compliance, and look what a hopeless mess the whole web is in because of it.

Definitely the *last* thing any web designer should be doing is designing for google.

Finnish regulator calls for iPhone refunds


UK and EU legislators, please copy

Hiding negative statements in the small print is, almost by definition, a form of intentional deception.

Companies should be required either to word their big print such that there isn't a requirement to use small print.

To take an example, Dishonest Dora says "Sandwiches £1 off" and then hides in the small print "offer not available Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Weekends, before 3pm or after 4pm".

Honest Horace has exactly the same offer, but says "Sandwiches £1 off 3-4pm Wednesdays" all in the same size, typeface and colour. And doesn't need any small print, because he didn't start by deliberately trying to imply something substantially bigger than what he was actually offering.

Your call is not important to us


Re "we need to “completely redo the website.” "

Suggest you refer him to http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/01/27/website_content_is_most_important_detail/

And also remind him that the one thing supermarket customers really hate is to arrive ready to do their shopping and find that some twit in senior management has decided, with no reason whatsoever, to arbitrararily move all the stuff about. The new layout is no better than the old, just different. And, therefore, harder to use.

Both in web sites and supermarkets, some changes may be needed -- to cope with new products and seasonal demand. But for the most part you're best off leaving things the way they were unless you're completely sure that what you're changing to is a definite, functional not cosmetic, improvement on what you had before.

Forget Flash – content is king

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"Flash is needed"

Total nonsense. Flash is *almost* not needed at all -- which is why many people install flashblock to get rid of it.

90% of flash content is adverts anyway, and 90% of the other 10% is pure and unnecessary distraction.

Even sites that say they "require flash" don't really require flash. What most of them *really* require is a new webmaster capable of understanding what their users really need.

But if the author of flashblock happens to be listening ... how about expanding it to block those nasty jCarousel annoyances that are appearing on umpteen websites.

Facebook offers 500 million users SSL crypto


So, one small piece becomes a bit more secure ...

... but what's the point in encrypting traffic to and from facebook, while facebook continues to abuse the privacy of its users (eg by constantly inventing new ways they can disclose private data and setting them by default to disclose without your permission) once your information has arrived there.

Passenger cleared after TSA checkpoint stare-down


"It's also *NOT* illegal to film your child's school play"

That's breach of copyright -- and the companies that own the performing rights will usually prohibit even the school itself from making its own video, unless they pay extra.

Even if they write their own script, the school still owns the copyright to it, so can forbid recording if they wish. But its probably only the big companies that can afford to sue.

Google gives Voice to your mobile number



Yes, that Ribbit page confirms BT owns it ... but what I don't see anywhere on that site is how I can pay my landline line rental to Ribbit and have unanswered calls on my landline number recorded and forwarded as an email in the same way I could with a Voip number.

As ZimboKraut hints, a telco receives a termination charge even on landline calls and the cost of sending an email is close to zero -- so though the service itself might do little more than break even, it ought to be viable just as an incentive for switching line rental to a competitor.



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