* Posts by Lee

9 posts • joined 20 May 2007

FBI to get UK biometric database hookup?


"I doubt any country would take kindly to disappearing citizens."

When I worked in the Netherlands, I remember a security guard telling me about (and I'm unsure of the facts here so if anyone knows more then please elaborate) the Dutch government or legal system detaining some American VIP's (they were either diplomats or armed services' personnel) due to some crime committed against the Dutch. The Americans told the Dutch government that if the VIP's were not released then they would invade and take them by force. The Dutch released them.

What the event was I cannot fully recall but the words of that security guard I believe. The American government wants everybody else to play its game and follow it blindly without adding their own rules to create fair play. The only countries America listens to are those that are too big (financially and militarily) and gutsy to be threatened (although it doesn't stop them from trying to dominate them).

Unfortunately, the world needs America - It has done a lot of good as well as bad. It's given us fast food, Hollywood films, the confidence of freedom to express ourselves, it has taught us to embrace new technology. Left to Europe our forefathers would have waited many more years than they did before they moved from candles to electric lighting. But, we also need another country or group of countries willing to keep America in check to prevent it from repeating the mistakes of old, imperial Europe.

Government piles filesharing pressure on UK ISPs

Jobs Horns

Re: Aside - 8 bit games?

Hello Anonymous Coward who called me a moron and buffoon,

Had I said that a game should not cost much more than a fiver then yes, I would agree, that am both. I agree that game production has changed over the last 20 years and that more people are involved in producing more elaborate games on ever more complicated electronic machines. I know that those games take longer to make now than they did whey back when. But, to me it would seem to be a fact that (generally speaking) the artists are underpaid for their work and the only benefiters of such high cost games are businesses and shareholders.

In real terms the cost of hardware manufacture has gone down. A C64 now costs about £30 to buy with 30 built in games. Admittedly, it is without a keyboard and tape and is so much smaller that it comes built into its joystick. I am, of course, talking about the C64 DTV. Generally, the cost of hardware remains the same while the size of the components decreases, the power of those components increases and, as such, the value of the product increases (non-monetarily) compared to the price paid.

I could not find any statistics showing (or raw data from which to obtain) a mode average weekly individual income for 1986 and 2007 with which to prove that the cost of computer software media (inclusive of software, packaging and marketing et alia) has risen out of proportion to average income and production costs but I'm sure that if you compare the 2.00 pounds cost of a game in '86 relative to the average weekly income in 1986, then compare the 60 pounds cost of a game in 2008 relative to the weekly average income for 2007, then compare the comparisons, you will find that the 60 pounds cost of todays games is unjustifiably a greater proportion of someone's income than was the cost of a game in 1986. I suggest the mode average for comparison because it reflects the most common income where as a mean average unfairly includes the exceptionally wealthy and exceptionally poor (which do not balance each other). Alternatively, divide 60 pounds by 5.00 pounds (the cost of a game now and the cost of a game in '86 in todays money).

There are many pros and cons for file sharing and I believe that the whole issue should be looked at from the perspectives of both the commercial party (artists, manufacturers, marketers, retailers and the rest) and the file sharers. It should not be a slanging match but a debate where those who represent the sharers have temporary amnesty from arrest for crimes committed and their admissions while in debate not used against them.

And Svein, I totally agree with everything you wrote.

Jobs Horns

Big Issue?

I think not - just record live from internet radio or internet TV. We used tapes for the same reason when all we had were radio, TV and Betamax/VHS.

I remember when the old 8 bit systems used tape loaders. The games would cost 0.99 pence for an old release and 1.99 pence for a new release. That was back in '86. Then cost even less than that before then and that is when the technology was ultra new. Games cartridges cost more but the extra cost was worth it because the games loaded near-instantly. Using a calculator to compare the value of money from 1986 to 2006 (can't do it for 2008 yet):

0.99 pence from 1986 has 2006 worth of £2.00.

1.99 pence from 1986 has a 2006 worth of £4.03

I don't think the games industry can justify charging between 40 and 60 pounds for a game. And likewise, the music and video industries. Most file sharers who breach copyright legislation either a, can't afford the original product; b, can't justify paying the cost of the original content; c, don't care about the rights of the artist; d, consider themselves justified because they feel they've already paid for the item by TV license, previous ownership of a copy of the media (or they have the media but not to hand); e, one of any hundreds of reasons. In other words, people have different reasons.

The only people who will suffer are those who are not tech savvy enough to find alternative ways to get (re-get) media without paying and/or those whom would not buy the media in the first place (many people download entertainment because they can yet otherwise wouldn't ordinarily have an interest in the media).

Personally, I have a mixed opinion as to the justifiability of people file sharing copyrighted material without a legal basis for breaching copyright. The whole copyright, marketing and distribution system needs to be reviewed. Not many people have solely a single place to play media; not all media players play all content type. What do people purchase when they buy media. Do they buy the right to hear, see or load the content with only one device and only have physical ownership of the plastic/silicon on which it comes; or do they buy some other user license? Isn't the idea of portable media that it is "portable." Portable has two meanings: 1, to be movable and 2, to be transferable. The whole issue is currently ambiguous. A more important question about media rights, should a producer be obliged to provide replacement copies of media damaged post purchase regardless of the period between purchase and damage; or should people be able to re-obtain previously purchased media via file sharing provided they have proof of previous ownership?

BTW: most modern media isn't worth having anyway. People should stick to real music as produced in the 60's, 70's and 80's; old Spectrum, Atari 800 and Amstrad CPC games have a quality modern ones don't; and who didn't like the Birds and the Exorcist?

Excuse me sir: there's a rootkit in your master boot record


Where's the issue?

Just repair or restore the master boot record (MBR) periodically or whenever you assume presence of (or root kit discovery software finds) malicious MBR software:

"The simplest way to repair or re-create MBR is to run Microsoft's standard utility called FDISK with a parameter /MBR, like


FDISK is a standard utility included in MS-DOS, Windows 95, 98, ME.

If you have Windows NT / 2000 / XP, you can boot from startup floppy disks or CD-ROM, choose repair option during setup, and run Recovery Console. When you are logged on, you can run FIXMBR command to fix MBR." (Extract taken from ntfs.com/mbr-damaged.htm).

Except to the obvious limit to re-writes before failure, if anyone better informed can explain the risks with this measure then please state them so that no-one messes up their MBR.

I use to do this regularly when I worked in hardware fault diagnostics.


Re: Where's the issue?

I do remember one issue with restoring the MBR as I described above: if you're computer has a hidden partition (i.e it's an HP, Compaq, PB or similarly manufactured) then it could render the restore disc unusable. But then, most restore discs based on hidden partitions fail to work anyway.

UK gov sets rules for hacker tool ban


To all those who say..

.."If you don't vote you can't complain." The problem with this thinking is that some people can not register to vote because doing so would open them to being located by debt collectors, people who threaten their lives, and the police. Not necessarily all three for any individual case. Remember that details on the Electoral Register are made available to credit rating agencies and anyone else whom wishes it.

.."For who else can we vote? They are all the same; politicians are regular people like everybody else." Firstly, politicians tend to be people who feel disaffected by society, seek power for themselves, are unscrupulous when they need to be, are two faced and are compelled to see others skeptically. Secondly, some people are different. They are called Libertarian. Have a look at http://www.individualist.org.uk/the-individual-2002-2007.htm

.."Spoiled ballet papers achieve nothing." I agree, so if you have a right to vote (as do everybody who is not restricted through mental health and some other causes) and if you are in a position to register your details on the Electoral Role (assuming you have proof of ID and a fixed abode), vote for an independent.

.."All laws that have been passed over the last few years have been decried by someone or other as being an infringement on civil liberty." Well, laws have to be kept in check, all facets and consequences have to reviewed and allowed for before placement into the legal system. Reservations have to be aired, heard and acted upon. At the moment, all the laws required to arrest anyone for any reason whatsoever are available for use by law enforcement agencies. Just because those laws are not being implemented, yet, does not mean they never will. I'm waiting for the U.K gov to announce to the U.N that the U.K is so rife with crime that safe areas have been set-up so that everywhere else can be locked-down by barriers and security personnel.

Personally, I don't like to be in the U.K so I tend to live outside of it. Every time I visit, people here always seem more timid, less healthy, less in control of their lives and more fearful of the outside world. Could just be me but a lot of other people who live outside of the U.K see the U.K the same way. Maybe, if a new government is put into public service, the ambiguous, unnecessary and ineffectual legislation and red-tape concocted by New Labour will be burned and the ticking of civil freedom and political democracy will be restarted. Remember that "Those who trade some of their freedoms for security deserve neither freedom nor security."


Is there a legal paradox in this?

If tools for hacking and the actual hacking regardless of intent are made illegal then would not forensic scientists, the security services and other governmental hacking protagonists become prosecutable were they to use computer technology to forcefully access other hardware and software? And how would the law that forces a person to reveal decryption keys be interpreted? Surely that same law is tantamount to hacking: it may not entail software utilization to obtain any decryption key but the principle is the same as that of hacking; namely, to forcefully access software by circumventing protection mechanisms.

On a lighter note, in an online game, when someone hacks a virtual computer (as part of the game) would that person be prosecutable? Laws and regulations governing cyberlife need to be developed within its Cyberworld context using a totally new concept: commonsense. Only those whom have gained Cyberworld citizenship through long term experience can truly develop those Cyberworld laws and regulations. Geeks are the ruling class of Cyberworld and as such should guide governance of it.

Would America allow an Indian citizen to govern American law; would the EU allow an American to govern EU law; would any country allow a non-citizen to vote in its elections or even become an elected member of state governance? No. Why? Because only longtime members of a state can understand the workings of that state. And likewise with any other group and discipline. Computer technology is best understood by its practitioners (and five year olds); and cyberlife is best understood by those that live it often. Should a group of geeks ever declare intention to gain independence of Cyberworld from the physical world then I will support them.

UK gov backs Trading Places DNA study


When will we learn? Another survey...

So the U.K government is unable to close the gap between the rich and the poor. What does it do? It sponsors a survey that WILL show that people are rich or poor because they are genetically predispositioned to it hence the government is absolved of blame, the class system may be re-instated and the rich may be elevated in class. Why can't they understand that most people are either happy with their lot or reticent to change their lot. Provided there are no actual barriers to change and people are encouraged to change then people will change should they wish to change. Besides, if the government really wanted to shorten the wealth gap it should quit wasting billions on surveys, committees, bureaucracy etc.. and give those billions to the financially poor.

Have a prosperous 2008 everybody.

Net censorship growing worldwide


We Have a Right to Choose

My personal opinion is that all forms of censorship are wrong when they are against the freedom to express and to challenge accepted morality and normalcy whether political, scientific, religious or otherwise directed. In most of Europe we are fortunate to have the freedom to express ourselves and to defend that right; our forefathers fought for it and we should uphold it. It is our duty.

One European exception is the UK, my birthplace, where, increasingly, freedoms are being eroded by immigrants from more restricted nations, who have abused their UK gained freedom to petition against the UK people's right to free expression). A big issue for the U.K's European derived population is the meddling of non-Europeans in their (the U.K people's) legal, political and general sociological practices in an effort to restrict the very freedom won and upheld by the European derived UK people - those very freedoms that allowed those immigrants to emigrate from their home (usually restrictive) nations into which they attempt to convert the UK. Granted, not all non-European immigrants are the same and there are many who openly (and closetedly ) protest against their peers' wishes.

Coming from a country that is increasingly censored to protect others' (non-U.K popular) opinions, beliefs, morals social norms et alia, I can and will say that censorship is wrong. We have choice. We may choose to acknowledge something. We may choose to accept something. We may choose to ignore something. We may even choose, should we wish, censorship. It is because we can choose that we must choose against it and protest all forms of it whether they be abstract or concrete, internet or physical.


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