* Posts by veti

3118 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

Line by line, how the US anti-encryption bill will kill our privacy, security

veti Silver badge

Re: I don't see how this would be a problem for Apple

And when a court orders them to "render appropriate assistance to decrypt the device", they can send them complete and detailed documentation describing exactly how it was made.

Sounds reasonable.

Would you let cops give your phone a textalyzer scan after a road crash?

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The telcos wouldn't know if you were writing a text message or email but hadn't yet sent it. Or if you were reading a message you'd received earlier. Or if you were taking a picture, or... basically, anything that doesn't generate instant traffic. Proper analysis of the phone could determine that.

Honestly, I don't know what the objection is. If you're in a crash, that's already probable cause right there for investigation. And if someone else was using your phone, then that's what legal experts call an "explanation". Unless that someone has mysteriously absconded right after the prang, they'll support your story and there's no problem.

How to not get pwned on Windows: Don't run any virtual machines, open any web pages, Office docs, hyperlinks ...

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Re: Sad pretty much not being able to use the PC

Well, looking at the specific vulnerabilities - I only see one that's an immediate threat to me, plus a couple that could be threats in the medium term. The rest all target specific software or services that I don't use, or require a level of pre-existing access that, if someone else has it, I think I'm already boned.

So I'd call it irritating rather than sad. And the chance of actually getting hit by one of the vulnerabilities that isn't completely irrelevant, in the time between discovery/promulgation and patching? Slim.

Read America's insane draft crypto-borking law that no one's willing to admit they wrote

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@Joe Gurman - Requirements for US Political Office

"One could argue that having Senators and Representatives with at least a law degree (regardless of whether they have practiced law) is helpful in, you know, writing laws."

One *could* argue that. But it's a bit like arguing that "having Senators and Representatives with criminal records would be helpful in writing laws".

A decent law student can argue *anything*. Doesn't mean it's a good idea. In fact, it's the worst ideas that tend to get the best advocates, because everyone likes a challenge.

Google-funded study concludes: Make DMCA even more Google-friendly

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Re: 'Big media' is still a thing

How do Google and Facebook not "add value" to the product? They identify the people who are interested in a particular item of information, and convey it to them. That's "adding value".

In fact, it's pretty much what "publishing" is, in its purest form.

veti Silver badge

Re: Evil

Well, not much further, surely. There's a grisly fate awaiting any publisher that becomes too openly evil. I mean, remember what happened to Disney, right?

Oh, wait - nevermind then.

veti Silver badge

'Big media' is still a thing

As Terry Pratchett put it: "... he dreamed the dream of all those who publish books, which was to have so much gold in your pockets that you would have to employ two people just to hold your trousers up."

Just because Google and Facebook are the dominant publishers of our time, doesn't mean all other publishers have magically disappeared. Or that they've stopped being evil. I mean, look at Sony, or News International, or Disney.

The real battle in copyright is, as it always has been, about publishing. The balance that needs to be struck is between creators and publishers, not readers. The publishers scored a huge coup when they promulgated the meme that "we're all publishers now", on the internet - and succeeded in diverting an entire generation's worth of legislation, getting it aimed at reducing the rights of consumers, rather than strengthening creators in any way.

Google stole that victory from the Old-School Publishers, and now the latter are mad at Google, which is what this article is about. But make no mistake, the OSPs are still the enemy just as much as Google is.

NASA discovers black hole here on Earth – in its software budget

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Imagine if this thing actually existed...

This is a dream scenario, a blank check [sic] to write "software" for something that doesn't even exist, and therefore you know it won't be tested in anything but completely artificial and predictable scenarios.

And they still can't get it "right enough" to pass even that level of tests.

FSM help NASA, if it ever has to deploy this software on an actual installation.

'No regrets' says chap who felled JavaScript's Jenga tower – as devs ask: Have we forgotten how to code?

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Re: So, theft is better than failure?

We don't have to guess, we can check out NPM's terms of service for ourselves. Here.

Nothing in this Agreement gives npm any ownership rights in intellectual property that you share with npm Services, such as your Account information or any Packages you share with npm Services (Your Content). Nothing in this Agreement gives you any ownership rights in npm intellectual property provided via npm Services, like software, documentation, trademarks, service marks, logotypes, or other distinguishing graphics.

Between you and npm, you remain solely responsible for Your Content.

Looks pretty clear-cut to me. This was theft.

I think there's a level of basic dysfunction where people try to claim "ownership" of open-source code. You can be open-source, or you can be proprietary - but when you try to combine the two, you get this kind of confuzzlement, and serve you right.

Here's a great idea: Let's make a gun that looks like a mobile phone

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Re: "Absolutely no one can make sense of the United States' infatuation with firearms."

"A well-armed populace employs its government instead of fearing it."

Yeah, how's that working out for you exactly?

Hackers giving up on crypto ransomware. Now they just lock up device, hope you pay

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Re: So has anyone...

"Bypassing the Great Firewall of China and similar restrictive measures imposed by totalitarian regimes, whistleblowers, exposing human rights atrocities, corporate corruption..."

Yes, that's all fine.

But I don't do any of those things on a regular basis. Come to think of it, and call me a slack-arsed sheep if you like, but in 20 years of using the Internet I've never done any of them. Have you?

Because it seems to me that Tor is one of those things that people like to bloviate about, but not one person in a thousand actually has a plausible use-case for. It makes people feel better simply by existing, even if you've never actually been near it yourself.

A bit like the queen, really. Or the 2nd Amendment, because I'd like to be an equal-opportunity iconoclast.

FBI backs down against Apple: Feds may be able to crack killer's iPhone without iGiant's help

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Re: Not a win for Apple

At this stage, I think it's a bit late for the Feds to pretend that this was "easy".

On the other hand, it's not too late for Apple to beef up the security on its next release, such that in future it will be impossible to change the firmware without entering a passcode first...

Iain Duncan Smith's Universal Credit: A timeline

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Re: Interesting coincidence with him resigning right when the docs were to be published

But he doesn't have "sod all" to show for it.

In a time of austerity, he's generated what someone just up-thread calculated as 200,000 person-years of gainful employment. In pretty decent jobs, too - that's assuming an average salary over 30k. So if the project has been going for 5 years, that's 40,000 full-time, middle-class jobs sustained for that time.

If you're Secretary for Work & Pensions, that sounds like a win to me.

Microsoft will rest its jackboot on Windows 7, 8.1's throat on new Intel CPUs in 2018 – not 2017

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Windows 7 "mainline support" ended over a year ago. And - and this is the important bit, so I'll type it slowly - that date was published at least 5 years ago. Anyone who bought a PC in the last 5 years and chose to install Windows 7 on it, can't claim they weren't told precisely when it was going to become obsolete.

Which is the main reason why I opted for 8.1, when I bought a PC about a year ago - it gives 3 extra years of support life. And you know what? I don't regret it one bit. It's a very nice OS. And, I've learned, I don't give a toss about the start menu.

Subjects! Speek your branes to Parliament on the Snoopers' Charter

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Re: scrutiny@parliament.uk aka the Ministry of Love.

Since the evidence will all get published anyway, it doesn't really make a lot of difference.

veti Silver badge

Home secretaries can listen to the public, who occasionally scold them in a generalised way about a barely coherent stream of things that float across their consciousness as and when they get around to it, and with lots of us contradicting each other...

... or they can listen to their own officials, who maintain full-time teams of highly intelligent, highly talented people with no other purpose in life than to manipulate the Home Secretary in a single, coherent direction.

Is it any wonder, we always lose that contest?

Irish shun beer, whiskey in favour of … wine

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Most successful marketing campaign ever...

... award goes to Guinness, for "St Patrick's Day", and the ever-growing global chain of "Irish pubs".

Guinness sells more of that clammy tar they have the nerve to pass off as "beer" in Nigeria than they do in Ireland, where (I presume, and this story seems to bear out) the natives have better taste.

The bill for Home Depot after its sales registers were hacked: $19.5m

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Yep, $19.5m is a joke.

56 million credit card numbers? Pretty sure those things are worth at least $5 a pop, probably more if they come with matching customer data and verification codes, so we're talking $280 million right there.

In other words: it would be a viable business venture for Home Depot to sell its own customers' credit card numbers to Bad People, pocket the money, pay the "compensation", and walk away with a quarter-billion in clear profit.

Snowden WAS the Feds' quarry in Lavabit case, redaction blunder reveals

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Re: I wonder...

"Bad guys" and "good guys" is subjective. In the end, it always comes down to "people who are on your side" vs "people who are against you".

Anyone who's trying to blow you up, no matter what their motivations, is against you.

Back in the day, we used to think that was pretty much the end of the story. People trying to stop you from being blown up were, therefore, on your side (a.k.a. "good guys"). But now, thanks to the ascent of a nasty little thing called "public choice theory", we don't believe that any longer: we think the people trying to stop us from being blown up very likely have Designs on us themselves, and need watching just as closely as the others.

Microsoft's done a terrible job with its Windows 10 nagware

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Re: Indeed

Seriously? You're reading a tech news website, and you don't know how to disable GWX without crippling updates completely?

Hey Windows 10, weren't you supposed to help PC sales?

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Re: Improve PC Specs

@bombastic bob: I use Windows 7 at work, and 8.1 at home, and I'm here to tell you my home machine runs much faster than my similarly-platformed work one. It boots from cold in less than 20 seconds, launches programs quicker, is generally more responsive, well supported and stable. Admittedly that may have a lot to do with the admin/spyware on my work machine, but the boot time in particular is a tiny fraction of what it was.

Windows 8.1 is a very nice OS, and it's a shame it got tarred with the generic hate directed at 8.0 (which I never tried).

Feds tell court: Apple 'deliberately raised technological barriers' to thwart iPhone warrant

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"Yes your honor, the respondents deliberately made a lock we can't pick. And they they had the gall to market it as 'secure'! They're positively gloating at our incompetence! We move for a writ of upyoursus smartypantsus."

Go DevOps before your bosses force you to. It'll be easier that way

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Comprehension gaps

If we're going to "tell the bosses what it's about before some other klutz gets there first", it would help if we knew what it's all about. Somehow the article doesn't seem to cover that.

Personally, I think my biggest contribution in two of the software companies I've worked in, was persuading them that all this crap like "agile" and "scrum" wasn't going to help them, because they weren't doing software development. Most companies aren't - even among those that think they are.

What they were doing is software maintenance - because that's where 90% of the money is in the software lifecycle. After all, you can only sell a tool once - but you can keep upgrading it for as long as the user will trust you to do it.

And if that's the business you're in - and statistically, I think it's something like 90% likely that you are - then DevOps, like the aforementioned fads before it, probably isn't going to work for you.

Go No! Google cyber-brain bests top-ranked human in ancient game

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Meh, that'll always be the reaction. "A machine has done this, machines aren't intelligent, therefore this doesn't require intelligence."

Or better yet, "true intelligence". The ill-defined adjective adds further clouds of doubt to a noun that's already about as vague as it's possible to be. The definition of "intelligence", if you can pin someone down to actually giving a definition at all, will continue to be changed as necessary to make sure the machine doesn't meet it.

You see the same thing with animals: no matter how intelligent they're shown to be, people will always come up with new reasons why it doesn't count/it's OK to carry on eating them. Rationalisation is a wonderful thing.

Microsoft has made SQL Server for Linux. Repeat, Microsoft has made SQL Server 2016 for Linux

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For most purposes, SQL Server scales fine. I've seen it running just fine in enterprises with something like a thousand concurrent users. Sure, that's by no means the biggest company out there, and it certainly leaves space for Oracle above it - but it is in the top 2% or thereabouts.

No, the real story here is going to be in the small print. This isn't "embrace, extend, extinguish", this is bait and switch. "We're porting SQL Server to Linux! Except if you want all the features, you'll need to switch to Windows Server."

If NatWest texts you about online banking fraud, don't click the link

veti Silver badge

Re: This might be on the rise.

As more and more people take to shifting their money about online - yes, it's become much more professional these days.

What grinds my gears is how much harder it's making life, if you really do want to shift your money about online. I tried to move some (of my own) money from Blighty to New Zealand a couple of months ago. It took weeks. It would literally have been quicker to get on a plane, stuff my trousers full of banknotes, and flown back - that's how convenient "internet banking" is now, if you want to do something international.

All because the banks assume I'm laundering my money, and want proofs of identity that, frankly, are not easy to provide from 11,000 miles away.

Technology is supposed to make this kind of thing easier. I can tell you first-hand, it's got noticeably harder in the last 10 years.

Net neutrality: Email trail reveals how Prez Obama bent the FCC to his will

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Re: rolleyes

Yes, it should be highly concerning...

... But to be honest, on the scale of things to worry about in the USA today? Does it even register?

If this is anywhere near the top of your mental priority list, you're leading a very protected life indeed.

Wakey wakey, app developers. Mobile ad blocking will kill you all

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Re: Tricky problem.

I tried getting a pre-paid card for internet shopping.

Every time I tried to use it? Rejected, didn't have enough security information. Every. Single. Time.

Don't assume that just because it says "Visa" on the card, merchants will actually accept it.

This program can detect if you're bored – which is going to make annoying ads, articles so much more annoying

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"Annoying ads, articles"

- are already so much more annoying when they use a comma in place of "and" in the headline.

Just stop it. Type the damn' word already. I promise, you're not going to run out of electrons.

Cook moves iPhone debate to FBI's weak ground: The media

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Anyone heard of a "subpoena"?

I must say, I don't get the "compelling Apple to help the FBI is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!" argument.

How exactly is it different from compelling a reluctant witness to testify in a court case? Which is something that happens all the time.

Don't get me wrong, I hope Apple wins the case - but this particular argument doesn't look even superficially, remotely convincing to me.

FBI v Apple spat latest: Bill Gates is really upset that you all thought he was on the Feds' side

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Re: Wasn't Gates...

And as someone who's worked in "the press", I can wholeheartedly concur with that. To make matters worse, the story that one journalist writes will be read and further misinterpreted by other journalists who think they've seen something sensational that the previous writer missed, whereas in fact they've just spectacularly missed some glaring detail or nuance or context that completely changes the meaning.

(Journalists call it "burying the lede", when another journalist seems to have missed the most sensational aspect of their own story. But in my experience, two times out of three, journalists making that accusation have themselves missed the point of the story they're criticising.)

It's like Chinese whispers, except that it gets systematically louder with every iteration.

Remember, Microsoft is currently fighting a very similar battle against the Feds over access to its customers' data (on that server in Ireland).

ADpocalypse NOW: Three raises the stakes

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They do pay you. They send you the content that you requested.

Don't want it? Don't request it.

Imagine you're lactose-intolerant, and you see someone giving out "Free picnics". It'd be completely reasonable for you to pick up a hamper and throw out everything with cheese in it, leaving only the bits you can eat. But the guy giving out the hampers is under no obligation to create a whole separate version specially for you, that's pre-edited to your requirements. And if you complain, when you pick the hamper up, that it's too heavy for you because of all the damn' cheese - why exactly should anyone have sympathy?

veti Silver badge

Re: Inferring a bit too far

Nice use of the passive voice there. "Or are they a parasitic aspect that is relied upon to pay bills".

Take the unnecessary passive verbiage out of that: "Or are they what pay the bills?"

If I request a web page, my browser generally requests all objects linked into that page. I don't expect to have to request each picture, script, stylesheet and whatever manually. (Maybe I should. But we tried that, back in the day, and it's too much hassle.) Then my browser decides what it wants to do with all that data - some it will display, some it will interpret and think about executing, and some - it'll just ignore, because I use Adblock like everyone else.

Net neutrality is absolutely the issue here. What we're seeing is a network that decides what information to pass on to its customers, based on where that information originates from, or what it contains. That's precisely what the net neutrality fuss was about. (And incidentally, why I always thought net neutrality was a silly idea - because I thought its supporters probably hadn't thought it through. I still don't think they have.)

Solution to tech bros' disgust of SF homeless people launched

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I'd just like to point out...

... that the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett predicted this.

In 1990.

It's in a short story, #ifdefDEBUG + "world/enough" + "time", about people using VR to strategically edit the world around them. Don't like black people, or ugly people, or poor people? Change them!

It's also one of the first applications I thought of, when Google Glass came out. I still think it's inevitable.

Terrified robots will take middle class jobs? Look in a mirror

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Re: 80-20 rule?

Two questions:

First, what about the people who can't do "the interesting bits"? What do we do with them?

Second, what happens when robots can do the creative bits better than any human?

A lot of people have this idea that "intelligence" is something unique, something special, that can never be replicated by a machine. Or to put it another way, a lot of people believe in magic. They're wrong.

Hey British coders: DevOps – you're doing it wrong

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Re: "lines of code produced or function points created"

Right. I've been hearing this Pearl of Wisdom, "you shouldn't measure lines of code", anytime in the past 20 years.

But I've never heard of anyone actually doing it.

ISO9002 certainly didn't suggest it. All it said was "have metrics", nothing about what they should be. It's possible that someone somewhere thought "lines of code" would be a sensible metric, but I've never seen a first-hand account from anyone who worked in a company that had that idea.

Eurovision Song Contest uncorks 1975 vote shocker: No 'Nul point'!

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Re: There Used to Be

So, nothing at all in the last 45 years then?

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Re: I wonder wether...

Ha. Eurovision is a forerunner of all modern reality shows, a prototype of the genre that has basically taken over most of American TV.

If the Americans had any fault to find in it, they'd say it was over too quickly. What, a low-key national contest lasting a few weeks, then one lousy evening's viewing and it's all over? Ha, they could figure out a way string it out over six months, easily.

veti Silver badge

Re: Somehow

Look, the thing that people forget about "bread and circuses" is that at least we get bread and circuses, right? That's better than ... not having them, isn't it?

I mean, I'm not saying we shouldn't sweat the big stuff, absolutely we should. But can't we also pick up the crumbs of entertainment while we do so? Everyone likes a good laugh, and surely there are few sights more risible than Eurovision.

Locky ransomware is spreading like the clap

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Re: Enabled Macros?

Macros *are* disabled by default. You have to go out of your way to enable them.

But that's just a social engineering problem, and scammers have become pretty good at those.

No, HMG, bulk data surveillance is NOT inevitable

veti Silver badge

We didn't elect the Home Office. That's civil servants for you.

They're the ones who are driving this - politicians are only there to explain/defend/rubber-stamp their demands for public consumption. From the Home Office's point of view, that's the Home Secretary's job and she's doing it handily.

A government minister is like a manager: it's their job to regulate pressure between their underlings, who are supposed to be doing work on behalf of their employer, and their superiors, who set their budget and priorities and KPIs and whatnot. The underlings apply as much pressure as they possibly can, to (reduce their own workload and responsibilities/increase their take-home pay/iron-clad their own job security/insert other motivations as appropriate). The overlings - in this case, parliament, select committees, and eventually voters - need to apply even more pressure in the opposite direction. Without that counter-pressure, the Home Secretary - as we've seen - simply takes on the shape of those "below" her.

The trouble is that civil servants are good at this. They've got a career's worth of practice, and they think about it 24/7. Most people on the other side - don't spend that much time thinking about/working on it, we've got too much else going on in our lives. So - we lose.

Safe Harbor ripped and replaced with Privacy Shield in last-minute US-Europe deal

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I don't think the EU is even trying any more

I used to think that the EU was more likely to stand up for consumer (and citizen) rights than most of its national governments, let alone the US government. That was the way its politics and institutions were weighted.

But now? I don't see what they're even trying to do any more. With the cavalier way they're treating Honest Dave's attempts to "renegotiate" UK terms, it's looking increasingly odds on that the referendum, whenever it happens, will come down against the EU. We've seen smaller EU members browbeaten and bullied by larger ones, we've seen the EU itself increasingly overbearing and uncompromising in its treatment of its own members...

Personally, I think Merkel wants out. She's realised that as things stand, Germany is on the hook for everyone else's bills. But she can't say that, because she'd have to admit she made the most monumental miscalculation in fiscal policy since Edward I expelled the Jews from England. So instead, she's pushing for the whole thing to implode.

GCHQ’s Xmas puzzle proves uncrackable

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Re: or maybe...

Back in WW2, Bletchley Park cryptoanalysts were recruited from people who were remarkably good at the Times crossword puzzle.

Unless you're aware of evidence to the contrary, I find it vastly implausible that anyone has been or would have been "disappeared" as a result of completing this puzzle. Offered a job, more likely. But most likely, it was just too hard.

Windows 10 overtakes Windows 8.1's market share

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New computers? Nuh-uh

At least, that's not what the stats you just published imply.

If there were a wad of new computers running Windows 10, then the share of all other versions would have declined proportionately. But the stats clearly show that nearly all of W10's gain has been at the expense of W8.1. W7's share is holding remarkably steady, and Vista actually went up slightly, which is the weirdest thing ever.

Clearly, this is the outcome of increasingly aggressively forced upgrades. New PCs are a marginal effect at best.

Samsung trolls Google, adds adblockers to phones

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Re: What are you going to do about it, Alphabet?

@FF22: where to begin...

OK. Google could, at its absolute discretion, prevent you from accessing any page they control - including without limitation their Play Store, their search pages, Google Apps and gmail - unless you allow ads to be shown along with it. That's absolutely within their technical capabilities. They know it, we know it, Samsung knows it.

At the time of writing, they've chosen not to do that. Instead they've chosen to support ad blockers in their own browser. I wonder why.

But whatever makes you say that "both the law and technological advantage is at the content creators' side"? The law, in so far as it's ruled at all on the subject, has so far ruled consistently in favour of ad blockers - and I for one find it hard to imagine how that's likely to change. "Being selective in what you download and display" is what a web browser is for.

Outlawing ad blockers in general would be basically tantamount to outlawing browsing, and forcing us all to treat the web as mildly-interactive TV. Maybe when a few billions more have been poured into buying the laws to support it, that'll become feasible. Until then - if your business model is predicated on forcing browsers to watch your ads, I strongly suggest you find another job.

veti Silver badge

Re: Adverts are not the essence of the problem ...

@Charles 9: I think a more accurate way to put it would be "loud and proud ads get more attention, thereby drowning out the quieter ones". And we're stuck with a race to the bottom of the quality pool, with all the beauty and love that entails.

No, the real trouble here is that if advertisers can't advertise, they will find other ways to get their message across. Note: will. (Because those who do, will quickly out-compete those who don't, and we'll all have to live with the winners of that Darwinian struggle.)

And that's why there's so much obviously-bought-and-paid-for "editorial" content on the web. We can look forward to a lot more advertorials, crowding out whatever's left of decent journalism online.

TL;DR: We should be careful what we wish for.

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Re: "Surprising findings"

@Lost all faith... "Join the waitlist. Contributor is not yet available in your country."

So yeah, point well proved there.

US government's $6bn super firewall doesn't even monitor web traffic

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Re: At least 90% of the Register's readers

True, but the numbers are important. That's why the GAO spends half a billion dollars a year working them out.

Senate marks Data Privacy Day with passage of critical bill for Safe Harbor

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Re: extend US privacy rights to Europeans.

The US constitution - specifically, the 14th amendment - says that it is unlawful for the US gov't to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws".

This move is just a necessary corollary to extending their jurisdiction to cover Europe.

UK Home Sec wants Minority Report-style policing – using your slurped data

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Re: Standardisation

Yeah, I just knew someone was about to suggest - tongue firmly in cheek, I hope - Pantones.

Never mind that hair colour varies widely depending on a gazillion factors (e.g. distance at which it's observed, whether it's been washed recently, cut recently, brushed recently...), but will also look different depending on the make and settings of the camera (if any) used to photograph it, weather, humidity and lighting...

And then there's such a thing as hair dye.

Folks, you cannot use this field for identification or screening. And therefore, any attempt to 'standardise' it is pointless. It doesn't matter if one force's field supports 'maroon' and another includes 'Day-Glo Orange'. Let it be.


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