* Posts by Harry

425 posts • joined 17 May 2007


Google gives Voice to your mobile number


"attach a single number to multiple phones and turn your voicemail messages into emails."

Please, somebody do this with geographic numbers too.

BT did half of it for a while (you had to visit an overloaded BT site to check for messages instead of just reading your emails) but then gave up. And BT's landline competitors mostly just resell exactly what BT offers, so there's absolutely no competition functionality-wise.

Its annoying that such a service is only available on Voip numbers (and now mobiles) but still not available on landlines.

The cost of not deduping


Banks, please take note ...

My bank insists on sending me *four* tax certificates every year. All together on the same day. On *four* separate A4 pages, each in a separate first class envelope.

Not only does it waste postage, it also wastes paper unnecessarily and means I have to keep four separate bits of paper and add up four sets of numbers when I have to fill in my tax form.

Once, banks would claim it was "too hard" to identify plural accounts belonging to the same person -- but that excuse can't be used now they have online banking and don't require a separate login to each account.

Yes banks, you *know* how many accounts we have and could very easily print just one tax certificate showing each of the accounts and the total figure as well as the individuals. So why waste paper and postage this way?

Isn't it time the law required banks to provide tax certificates online instead of by post? Some do, but not mine. And the law should also require them to keep statements and tax certificates available on line for seven years (mine deletes them after 9 months, which is unreasonably short) so you don't have to remember to make copies every six months.

Massive US rocket sends top-secret cargo into space


" and paint the bottom to look like the moon "

Yes, but ...

... should you make it out of green or white cheese ? And does there need to be a man in it ?

Brazilian cult condemns USB


It's very similar ...

... to a logo that British Rail used to use.

So perhaps they had better rip up all the UK railway lines too.

Apple refuses frozen iPhone repair


@Grease Monkey

"otherwise the courier will accept no responsibility for any damage"

Couriers will usually not accept responsibility for damage unless the damage is visible **before** unpacking. So there's no point in unpacking an item in the presence of the courier, unless it is clear from the *external* packaging that the item has been mishandled.

If the contents are broken but the external packaging is intact, that's a packaging fault and packaging is the responsibility of the sender, not the courier. Package testing (which I used to supervise, many years ago) typically requires the contents of the package to withstand being dropped from a height of 3 feet on all six faces and sometimes on all edges and corners too.

You should certainly ensure the recipient checks for visible external damage and logs it before signing, but there's no point insisting on unpacking an *undamaged* parcel.

London's tube demands faster-than-NFC ticketing


"Transport For London would much prefer to collect the money itself"

Somebody not reading the Register then ???


"London's Oyster Card system is now owned by Transport for London, which stumped up £1m for the brand as well as considerably more for the associated infrastructure."

Ofcom proposes UK phone numbers prefix re-org


Yes, but ...

"Queuing systems should be forced to tell you where you are in the queue #"

That's only half of the problem.

a) Queuing systems, and worse still those user hostile "please select one of the following options" should *only* be allowed on 0800 numbers. Companies should have to *pay* for the privilege of having inadequate staffing levels (and, ideally, they should additionally be made to contribute £1 to charity for every minute of a caller's time that they waste).

b) Systems which make announcements before connecting the call should either be confined to 0800 numbers or implemented in a manner which ensures it is the recipient not the caller that pays for the initial part of the call.

c) Companies that operate "dial 1 for xxxx" systems should be required by law to maintain a web page that displays up to date direct numbers for every department that is reachable through the system.


"This will be the 4th number change for London "

Which part of the proposal involves a change to geographic (ie, 020) London numbers?

Ad networks owned by Google, Microsoft serve malware


What really irritates me ...

... is stupid sites that display stupid messages that say "This site needs javascript".

Oh no it does *NOT*.

OK, you may have employed some incompetent web designers who don't know how to code pages without using javascript. You might even have one or two tiny "features" that you think (very wrongly I suspect) look fractionally better with javascript. But they'll be those nasty irritations like marquees and constantly changing images which add nothing but clutter and "nauseosity" to your site.

If you haven't been able to duplicate the core functionality of a site without using javascript, then there's only one word to describe you and your web designers, and that's *incompetent*.

ECJ could increase online sellers' liability for trademark infringements


This is precisely what is needed, but with two differences ...

Ebay mostly ignores violation reports, and it can do this safely because nobody other than ebay can easily prove that an item actually was reported.

What's actually needed is for the EU to set up a reporting system to accept violation reports and forward them anonymously to ebay. If ebay deals with the forwarded report, fine. But more likely than not, ebay will continue to ignore them. Except that this time, the EU has cast iron *evidence* that the problem was reported and wasn't dealt with.

Laws are only the smallest part of the solution. Proof of evidence and enforcement of violations are the more important part. But the proof could be obtained at minimal ongoing cost by setting up a trusted, independent web site that hosts the evidence that a seller was reported.

However, even more important is to vigourously clarify the law to ensure that people can't be stopped from selling genuine goods by over-zealous trademark holders who want to unlawfully restrict the product to a select group of favoured sellers. Such a restriction should certainly be prohibited in the case of second hand goods and should probably be outlawed even for unused goods.

EU will change e-signatures laws to boost electronic invoice usage


Why does an electronic invoice need a signature?

Did you ever see a *paper* invoice that the sender had bothered to write a signature on?

Why does an electronic invoice have to be different ?

What's needed is not a signature, its the legal requirement that every business with more than say 50 employees *must* if so requested send only paperless invoices, and every business with more than 50 employees must send *only* paperless invoices to any other company with more than 50 employees.

There may be a requirement for electronic signatures on other more security-critical types of document, and widespread mandatory use of electronic signatures on email with automatic checking before delivery might eliminate the bulk of unwanted spam, but electronic invoices shouldn't be the main reason for electronic signatures.

Three cops spanking in mobile user ranking


I vote with my feet.

I used to be a Three Broadband customer and so did my parents. The service was acceptable for many months, but then we both found that despite apparently having apparently a full strength signal we couldn't even ping three's own nameserver.

I tried Three's forum and it was apparent that others had exactly the same problem but the support staff were just waffling and doing nothing about it. Presumably, they too knew that the network was grossly overloaded and nothing could be done about it.

To add insult to injury, they did an upgrade to 3connect which seems to have contained a purely-cosmetic fix to falsely show stronger signals (a former 3 bar connect immediately showed 5 bars after the upgrade, but there was absolutely no associated improvement in connectivity).

We voted with our feet and are no longer customers.

Feds propose 'do not track' option for net surfers


Good idea, but ...

... the default should be AUTOMATICALLY OPTED-OUT and only those people who, for reasons most of us aren't going to understand, specifically want to be tracked should be trackable.

That way, advertisers are going to have to come up with a very good explanation why being tracked benefits the end user -- and the silent majority who don't understand and don't care remain untracked.

In the UK at least, this should always have been the default if the UK Data Protection requirement not to collect "unnecessary" information had been interpreted sensibly as meaning that only information*absolutely* needed to do the job (rather than information that is wholly or mainly for making illicit profits) should be collected at all.

97% of INTERNET NOW FULL UP, warn IPv4 shepherd boys


For most of the general public ...

... the main question that arises is probably : if I need to access a site that has *only* an IPv6 address, will I be able to do so using my present present browser, router and ADSL line with no changes at my end other than making sure I have the latest operating system and browser updates. And if not, what action will I have to take.

Perhaps somebody at The Reg could either create such a guide, or find a well written one and publish a link to it.

Chinese telecoms giant furiously scrubs links to Phorm


Its high time to make it illegal

There's only one *proper* thing to do about this sort of insidious spyware and that is to make it completely and totally illegal.

The concept of people being forcefully "opted" into something they probably don't even know about and almost certainly don't understand is totally wrong, has absolutely no merit whatsoever and should be very specifically prohibited.

Reg Hardware Reader Awards 2010


Dabs *used* to be good before BT bought it.

Now all you find is that you log in at dabs.com and are quoted a decent price, but when you come to pay for it it insists on doing the checkout through BT Business Direct, where the prices seem to be less, but they're now vat exclusive so you're actually paying between 10% and 15% more once you add the vat back in.

No, unless you're adding a category for the worst possible destruction of a hitherto succesful company, its definitely *NOT* dabs any more.

Apple accused of iPhone ban on 'all single-station radio apps'


Abuse of a dominant position ???

"Rumors have long suggested that Apple is building its own FM radio app for the iPhone"

Wouldn't that be even *worse* than Microsoft's default bundling Internet Explorer in Windows ... until eventually being forced to give equal prominence to competing browsers.

Banning competing radio apps would be far *worse* because MS wasn't actually *preventing* competing browsers, it was just abusing its dominant position by giving its own product a preferential position in its showcasing.

Maybe its time the anti-competition authorities took a hard hard look at Apple and set up an independent arbitrator that could instruct Apple to remove any of its own apps that are similar to those which Apple has prohibited others from offering.

Acer replaces laptop keyboard with multi-touch LCD


Why ?

Why are so many laptops and LCDs coming out with those horrid, glossy screens ?

We've known since the 1980s that glossy screens are bad bad bad for the user, indeed it was a very specific health and safety rule that screens should always be non-reflecting. When you sit in front of a screen, you want to see the document you are working on, not the rest of your office or, worse still, the street outside. Your eyes and brain must both do significant extra work to distinguish your document from those unnecessary reflections.

Surely, its time it was made a legal requirement for the brochures of products with such horrendous design defects to contain a serious health warning or, better still, be prohibited altogether.

O2 outs liars and philanderers with live status feed


"a significant effort"

Oh really?

Almost nothing on a network should involve *any* effort, once the appropriate software has been put in place.

OK, so checking a mobile service is probably slightly more complex than the internet equivalent of a ping, but the principle is the exactly the same. You send out requests to strategically selected devices at regular intervals, and you log whether you get a reply. But the whole process can be automated, there should be absolutely NO effort involved. And indeed, they should already be doing constant checks to a selection of mobiles in each mast area to know the network status, regardless of whether they are publishing it. So, the "effort" is just the one-time cost of writing some software that presents the collected data in a user-friendly manner.

The only place where a significant amount of effort is involved is if you intend to manually *fudge* the figures to pretend that there's not a problem even when there is. And somehow, I suspect that particular part of the process will be the very first to be automated.

Content 'made available' in jurisdiction where server is located


"Until the game has actually been played, they are not statements of fact."

I'm not sure that's completely correct. If it were, then magazines would be unable to publish TV schedules until after the programs had begun transmission.

By my reckoning, if team A has been scheduled to play team B on a certain date, then the time, date and participants *is* the statement of a fact about an intention to play, and can therefore be reported as news. Circumstances could possibly arise that change that later, but unless and until the circumstances change, the schedule remains factual.

But that's probably nitpicking. If a *list* of fixtures is published, the publisher owns copyright to THE LIST but not the individual facts contained within it. A third party can legally compile their *own* list by phoning each club and asking who they are playing and when. From that, they can legally compile their own list. But the cannot, legally, copy the original list -- they must independently compile their own.

Don't wait to obey European data laws


"how about we make BT pay the fines on the UK taxpayers behalf?"

That seems like a *VERY* good idea.

As consumers, we get the choice whether we use BT or some other telco, so if BT's prices have to be pushed up to pay for BT's alleged involvement in an activity that certainly ought to be criminally punished, then its better-behaved competitors will reap the benefit -- which is precisely how it *needs* to be.

Just make sure the *whole* of the fine is levied on BT retail (or, better still, on the BT directors personally) and that the wholesale arm isn't allowed to increase its prices in any way.

Nominet to flog short domains


"they've had BT.com for years"

Yes, because nominet didn't exist (and therefore, couldn't impose rules) when BT started using the bt.co.uk domain.

And because the COM domain is nothing to do with nominet anyway.

Ofcom to TalkTalk, Tiscali: Stop over-billing


If Ofcom has any sense ...

... then how about insisting that every telco has an online-accessible cancellation process which issues some kind of official "receipt" proving cancellation, which is completely binding on the telco.

Its completely daft (and a blatantly unfair contract term) that a telco will let you order a service on line with no formalities, yet there's no FAQ on how to cancel and it apparently requires a snail mail letter to be sent to an address that can't be found by searching their help site for sensible words like "cancel" (that's Three Broadband in case anyone asks).

However, telcos don't always get it wrong. I recently transferred my voice line to plusnet and didn't even think about whether I might need to cancel the BT account. But to my surprise a couple of weeks later I received a BT refund for the outstanding line rental.

First official HTML5 tests topped by...Microsoft


But will it start up in under five seconds?

That's the current downfall of firefox. Yes, it does its job pretty well out of the box and what it doesn't do can be sorted with extensions. But it comes with a hefty and excruciatingly s-l-o-o-o-o-w startup which surely isn't necessary if you save the program state properly on shutdown and resume from there rather than reading everything afresh every time.

Gentlemen, start your engines – with your phone!


and also ...

"remotely trigger the lights"

More usually done with the ordinary remote locking

"and horn"

That would also be illegal ... unless the phone was also capable of *moving* the vehicle at the time it sounds the horn. And come to think of it, there's probably also a law against remotely *moving* a vehicle, so sounding the horn wouldn't be legal even if you could move the vehicle at the same time.


"and start the engine from anywhere in the world"

... which will make you an instant criminal if the car happens to be in the UK at the time, where it is illegal to have the engine running in an unattended vehicle.

MPs wake up to 21st century and internet

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"Innocent until proven guilty" ...

... is a good concept for MPs to get a grip on.

However, they need to look not just at abuse of that principle from all directions not just those emanating from the internet.

A good place to start would be to bring in legislation preventing the TV Licence Office from persistent harassment of people who don't have TVs. The legislation should stipulate, loud and clear, that until they have *detected* a TV on the premises, they have no right whatsoever to write to or call at the premises. Because the person at that address is, by law, *innocent* and should not be harassed without prior reasonable proof.

Boffins mount campaign against France's official kilogramme


So, how long will it be ...

... before the first spoof "official 1Kg weight" advert appears on eBay Nigeria ?

Tesco's iPhone app gets barcode reader


"shoppers were asked to pay more than £200 for a Palm Pilot "

So, how much under £200 is Tesco (or any other vendor) currently asking for outright ownership of an iphone ??

Cheapest I could find on google shopping was £205 -- and that was for a *USED* ipod.

Paradoxically, you can get a Buy-It-Now palm pilot for £127.20.

Wi-Fi starts getting chummy with its peers



"there are so many to choose from"

Yes indeed. But this has never stopped Microsoft from ignoring them and inventing a completely new SUBstandard of its own.

Did anybody mention Internet Explorer or Microsoft, the two worst SUBstandards ever invented ?

European Parliament: If you don't pay, you will pay


""unless otherwise expressly agreed in the contract"

Well, there's the problem. To be effective, any late-payment legislation needs to explicitly state that contract terms demanding later payment are unlawful.

It's time that legislators understood that "agreements" are never actually agreements, they are always *impositions* from a dominant party that imposes its will on the weaker party and the weaker party has no choice but to "agree" to it because all the competitors are likely to have equally unfair terms as long as the law allows unnecessary loopholes.

Mozilla preempts Google with 'open' web app store prototype

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There is actually some merit ...

in having a microwave oven with a web connection.

Using the barcode on the packet, it can look up the required defrost / wait / cooking times and automatically adjust them for the actual oven you're using.

At the moment, they expect you to read it in the infeasibly small print which most supermarkets are having to resort to. Due, it seems, to the employment of incompetent shelf stackers who can't tell the difference between "up" and "down". The supermarkets therefore have to waste space unnecessarily reprinting the top on the bottom and the front on the back, therefore leaving insufficient space to legibly display essential information like cooking times.

"Anti-patent" on the idea of webcook lookup hereby applied as evidence that the idea is in the public domain. Because it's something that's so obvious it really shouldn't be possible to patent, even in countries with stupid patent offices.

Yahoo! boss blames revenue dip on better Bing

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I'd like to think ...

... that Yahoo's losses were due to people deliberately boycotting Yahoo due to its insidious habit of installing unwanted toolbars by default when we load other programs.

Companies whose products are so bad that they can't succeed on their own merits and have to report to surreptitious unrequested installation alongside other products deserve to fail big time.

Manchester cops hit Twitter - spoof feeds fall down stairs


"Police stop man and find he is not wanted."

Please send our sympathies to the unwanted man.

Bonfire of the quangos begins


"any quango had to pass three tests:"

I'd strongly suggest there ought to be a FOURTH test -- are at least 60% of its members annually elected by members of the *PUBLIC*

We have far too many organisations like OFCOM and ASA. I've no idea how or even *if* their senior staff are elected, but we know judging by their illogical decisions and wrong priorities that most of them are far too highly influenced by the vested interests of the industry concerned and pay little regard to the needs of the end users that they OUGHT to be set up to represent.

Spycam school to pay damages for kiddie snaps


"Lawyers rake in most of the cash"

Sounds like a non-story then.

Facebook is 'killing privacy for commercial gain'


"you really do not want to know what Web 3.0 will be..."

Here's hoping it will be more like web 1.0 ... or even web 0.5 ...

How about starting with sites with information that's easy to read and relatively few distractions from that primary purpose.

Google and friends scheme offshore windmill army


They could re-use that old slogan ...

... powered by Google.

Coalition promises to kill three-quarters of its websites


Agreed in spades

"Nothing frustrates me more than seeing an advert for a government service that has the phrase Search for 'xyz'" What's wrong with publishing the URL?"

Apparently, there's a government or local authority directive that says councils must NOT quote URLs or link to third party sites, even when they provide a service that complements or is even provided "in conjunction with" the council.

That's what my local council tells me when I ask for a URL to my site instead of "details on the XXX web site".

Its twits that make silly rules that need to go, not web sites.

CEOP chief accuses UK.gov of putting kids at risk


So, in what way ..

"we're continually focused on what's best for children and not fighting for airtime amongst drugs, counter-terrorism, organised crime, guns and gangs,"

He doesn't explain In what way drugs, terrorism, guns and gangs (or indeed, any other form of crime) are *GOOD* for children.

If you devote massive amounts of effort to one small subset of crime, and especially when you start taking actions against problems that aren't yet proven to exist using methodology that isn't actually proportionate to the scale of the problem, then resources are taken away from a lot of other much bigger and much more important problems which aren't being addressed simply because they're not being so much hyped about at the moment.

Telcos don't tell about disabled policies


"Maybe they should stop employing monkeys in call centres?"

Maybe they should *START* employing monkeys in call centres. They would presumably do a better job.

But a possible answer to the problem of goons that won't refer you to their supervisor (presumably, having also refused to disclose their own identity) is to call back and ask the next person for the complaints department -- who should, presumably, be able to tell who it was that was allocated your previous call.

Doctors' appointment system goes tits up

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"We had an outage in our data centre yesterday"

And you don't have a backup data centre that your users can be automatically switched to when the primary fails?

OK, I suppose its not important that essential information such as apppointments be available 24/365. The patients can just be told to come back some other time, and the doctors can have a day off.

But it would never happen in a properly run business. Which presumably the appointment system isn't.

EU sues UK.gov over Phorm trials

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Re "I hope the directors of Phorm sleep well at night"

I suspect a lot of people would hope that they sleep well both night *AND* day -- and preferably buried under 6 feet of soil for at LEAST a hundred years.

At least the EC is doing something right but its a pity there's not even ONE person in UK government with a little bit of common sense who can understand why not only phorm but just about every other major company too needs to be very very severely restricted on what they can do with information they have no right to have.

As a start, they could begin by insisting that so-called "consent" obtained either by a pre-ticked "opt-in" box or happening automatically under a contract term isn't "constent" at all, its an imposition which ought to guarantee at least a years mandatory imprisonment for the perpetrator.

Vacuum-wielding thieves siphon €500,000 from store safes


Re "I was fascinated by these transparent vacuum tubes"

You would have been even more impressed by some of the stores circa 1957. The Co-Op I think was one of them.

Instead of vacuum tubes, they had a gravity-fed system involving brass tracks running round the store. Sales staff had no tills at all, and buying every item big or small involved the sales person putting money into a pod, pinging that pod up the vertical section of the brass track using something like a rocket launcher, watching it glide slowly down the nearly-horizontal section of the track to the cashier's office, waiting five minutes (it seemed like ages) then watching the receipt be pinged back via the opposite track.

Somewhat inefficient by today's standards, but much more fun to watch.

ZoneAlarm slammed for scarewarey marketing


"AVG's insistence on punting the Yahoo toolbar malware "

Unfortunately, AVG is not alone at that. Far to many products are surreptitiously installing these nuisances and, worse still, making them the default not just an opt-in.

As a paying AVG business customer, I will be taking that very serious misdemeanour into consideration when the current licences expire. I've got better things to do than go round uninstalling unmerited rubbish and I've no way of knowing whether the toolbar is communicating anything to Yahoo and perhaps doing so even when the toolbar isn't in use.

Like another user said, these programs are supposed to be guarding AGAINST inappropriate software, not installing it themselves..

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What that warning OUGHT to say

is that your POCKET is in danger from COWBOY software companies that are deliberately trying to MISLEAD the public.

Zone Alarm should perhaps be asking itself -- is my product really *SO* bad that I have to use intentionally misleading tactics in order to sell it.

And the answer, presumably, is YES otherwise they wouldn't need to resort to this.

UK passes buck on Europe's cookie law with copy-paste proposal


Not completely correct ...

"most browsers accept cookies by default. "

I'm pretty sure the default on any recent browser has been to accept only FIRST party cookies by default. Third party cookies can and SHOULD be blocked by default and if that's not the current default for a browser then why not change the law to *make* it the default.

If that in turn breaks many sites, then that's probably a good thing. With a few possible exceptions, any site which "requires" a third party cookie is doing so mainly with the specific intent of invading the person's privacy. First party cookies, however, usually act for the benefit of the user -- remembering things that would otherwise have to be repeatedly rekeyed. Or they let the webmaster get some idea of how many users are returning regulars. If kept within the confines of a single site, it is no worse than the public library staff knowing who comes in frequently.

The law should understand the difference and distinguish sensibly between them, presuming consent to first party cookies if the browser has been set to accept them but requiring third party acceptance to be off by default.

But to work, the law needs to go further and insist that except in a few very rigidly defined cases a user must be *able* to use every site with third party cookies and scripts disabled. "This site requires it" is an *excuse*, not a reason.

UK.gov outlines plans to comply with new EU telecoms rules


Re: Getting rid of the misleading "up to" advertising #

Yes please. The advertiser should be obliged to publish the figure that's least beneficial to the buyer, with exactly the same prominence as the intentionally misleading figure they currently publish. No hiding the truth in the small print -- in any statement that involves a misleading headline statement, anything stated less prominently should be treated for legal purposes as not having been made at all.

Lets also look hard about artificial restrictions, like having to pay for an analogue telephone service even if you only want broadband.

The cost of line rental is artificially inflated to cover the cost of providing that analogue telephone service (and, increasingly, the cost of compulsory bundled off peak costs) which broadband users might not necessarily want, especially if they have VOIP. If advertisers had to include line rental in the price they advertise for broadband, the chances are they would suddenly discover they could knock a pound or two off the line rental and leave out the phone service.

Not only that, but if the line didn't have the unnecessary encumbrance of carrying simultaneous analogue calls (which hog bandwidth even when no call is being made) then it ought to be possible to engineer modems that provide faster data rates even on poor lines.

Microsoft: IE9 will never run on Windows XP


If microsoft really wants users to move to Windows 7 ...

... then why not offer a £5 online upgrade?

XP and Vista users have already paid microsoft an arm and a leg for it, and 95% of W7 functionality (disregarding cosmetic enhancements) has already been paid for, so the upgrade shouldn't need to cost more than 5% of the original. Plus I suspect that if everybody with a properly licensed copy of XP took out a £5 upgrade it would make microsoft shareholders a little richer than they will by waiting until everybody gets W7 bundled with their next generation PC.

Those with old hardware will probably want more memory, so microsoft could possibly also do a deal with Crucial or similar and have a W7 upgrade serial number given away with every 1Gb of extra memory.

Naked woman demands cab ride to Michigan


in the cab 'still in the back seat'.

Must be a back seat driver then ... ?



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