* Posts by alain williams

1727 posts • joined 29 May 2007

iOS 14 suffers app preference amnesia: Rebooting an iThing resets browser, email client defaults back to Safari, Mail

alain williams Silver badge

So iOS is now better than Windows 10

MS Windows only resets preferences after an upgrade, iOS does it after a reboot.

Do you think that MS will take this as a challenge and reduce the times that preferences stick ?

As we stand on the precipice of science fiction into science fact, people say: Hell yeah, I want to augment my eyesight!

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Like...

The smartphone in your head that got an "upgrade to ensure free service" by continually beaming adverts into your mind ... :-(

Family wrongly accused of uploading pedo material to Facebook – after US-EU date confusion in IP address log

alain williams Silver badge


No: the ! told which was the next machine to send email to via UUCP, the final part was the username. For this to work you needed to know which machines talked to which other machines. At one point I had an A3 sheet above my desk with a world map, 100 odd machine names & lines connecting them.

So your routing path would have looked like: machine1!machine2!jsmith123 ... this is the email address that you gave to the mail or mailx program.

alain williams Silver badge


Yes: country code first was a JANET thing.

alain williams Silver badge


My domain name was, originally, uk.co.phcomp ... until the UK flipped round to the USA way of putting the country code at the end: phcomp.co.uk -- This was often done automatically but caused confusion with ac.uk (UK academic) for some reason that I have forgotten.

Chinese database details 2.4 million influential people, their kids, addresses, and how to press their buttons

alain williams Silver badge

How many does that database say read El-reg ?

This is important to me; I form my opinions from several places, including the comments pages here. It would be easy to place "desirable" opinions here to influence individuals known to read The Register.

I doubt that I will have featured as important, but my views could be polluted through association with those worthy of being targeted.

Database consolidation is a server gain. Storage vendors should butt out

alain williams Silver badge

Consolidation is putting all your eggs in one basket

Any breakage and nothing works.

It also means that the one database/cluster/... does all the work ie a higher workload than when it is distributed. One humongous machine might be more costly than several smaller ones -- maybe.

Three middle-aged Dutch hackers slipped into Donald Trump's Twitter account days before 2016 US election

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Re: Enter the hash into a search engine ...

Their rifles pointing in or out of the circle ?

alain williams Silver badge

Enter the hash into a search engine ...

and I got to an article in Dutch at the bottom of which it claims that the orange one's password is YOUREFIRED. We can only hope that that will become true in a few months time.

NASA is sending two small hand-luggage suitcase-sized spacecraft into the void to study binary asteroids

alain williams Silver badge

If we can make them this cheap

who don't we make a dozen and send them into the asteroid belt and just let them wander around ? Who knows what they will come across.

Yep: good chances that they will bump into something but hopefully will have shown us something interesting before then.

If NASA can find a bit more loose change then something similar to the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud, not just in the solar plane, might be good -- although they would need a heck of an initial push to get them there in a time that has political payback.

Adtech's bogeymen are tracking everything - even your web visits to mental health charities, claim campaigners

alain williams Silver badge

Too much javascript

Yes: got them.

The problem is the web sites that insist on using 3rd party javascript. I will, generally, allow javascript from a site but do not from other sites. If a site does not work without 3rd party stuff - I go elsewhere.

The trouble is that the web masters don't get to know about them losing me, sometimes they don't care. Yesterday a web site would not work without 3rd party javascript, so I emailed the company to ask them to 'phone me for an order. They refused and said that no one else had complained about the javascript - I emailed back saying that I had bought whatever elsewhere.

Unless companies know that they are losing business they will not do anything. So: please, everyone, tell the companies that you walk away from.

What a time to be alive: Floating Apple store bobs up in Singapore

alain williams Silver badge

Underwater access ...

I got the wrong end of the stick when I read the start of this piece - I thought that the only way in was by wearing scuba gear.

That would have been cool!

Huawei's supply chain squeeze tightens, as SK Hynix and Samsung set to stop selling chips to the Chinese bogeyman as of next week

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Uh oh ...

The real question is: If China does invade Taiwan what will anybody do about it ?

Paragon 'optimistic' that its NTFS driver will be accepted into the Linux Kernel

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Re: My suspicion

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm reasonably sure that the GPL prohibits doing that.

They might not bring the fixed kernel code back, but they will be able to see where & why fixes were made and then fix the same bugs in their own code.

Often the hardest problem in fixing bugs is finding that they exist in the first place and where they are in the code. Once you know that then, often, the fix is not hard.

So: maybe they are using the Linux kernel as a free test system.

I won't be ignored: Google to banish caller roulette with Verified Calls

alain williams Silver badge

The only winner is Google

* gets to charge a business to be 'verified'.

* learns who is calling who and why, so learns more about the business and the person being called. Google says that it won't "share sensitive information about users with its business partners" - is not the same as Google not learning something.

Can 'phone users opt out of this completely - ie no calls will be shown 'verified' ?

Angry 123-Reg customers in the UK wake up to another day where hosted mail doesn't get through to users on Microsoft email accounts

alain williams Silver badge

I did not realise ...

that anyone still used 123reg. I left them [domain tag holder] over a decade after yet another cock up.

Brexit border-line issues: Would you want to still be 'testing' software designed to stop Kent becoming a massive lorry park come 31 December?

alain williams Silver badge

Not a problem at all ...

As all government ministers know: us IT people are magic, so a small amount of programmer pixie dust sprinkled on a vague agreement on 31 Dec will result in a well polished & documented system that can be tested against on 1st October. It might need a bit of help from the driver of that blue box in the BBC documentary.

Salon told to change ad looking for 'happy' stylist because it 'discriminated against unhappy people'

alain williams Silver badge

Thought that the call was a "wind up"

So it seems that someone from the DWP 'phoned and did not say enough to show that s/he really was from DWP. This is how 'phone calls that end up in identity theft, or something, start out - social engineering. So DWP is clueless that they are making things worse.

Actually: I am not surprised. I get unexpected calls from banks, etc, where they ask ME to prove who I am before they will talk. I always insist that it is the wrong way round.


Snowden was right: US court deems NSA bulk phone-call snooping illegal, possibly unconstitutional, and probably pointless anyway

alain williams Silver badge

What is the point of the court ruling ?

The NSA will just continue to do it - just be a bit more careful about being caught.

Unexpected victory in bagging area: Apple must pay shop workers for time they spend waiting to get frisked

alain williams Silver badge

No comment about back pay

Apple should be required to pay current and past workers for time spent being searched. How much will be interesting since I doubt that records were kept, but the judgement contains "typically ranges from five to twenty minutes ... up to forty-five minutes" (page 7) - so, perhaps, 15 minutes for every day worked.

Amazon spies on staff, fires them by text for not hitting secretive targets, workers 'feel forced to work through pain, injuries' – report

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If you do not like this ...

then do not feed the daemon -- do not buy from Amazon. I do not.

Beware: the more that Amazon grows, the more that others die. What will competition be like in 20 years time ?

East Sussex County Council dodges SAP S/4HANA upgrade bullet, sets aside £25m for a 10-year SaaS ERP deal

alain williams Silver badge

Why not get together ?

All UK councils must have roughly similar needs; all are splunking huge sums to solutions providers.

I can't see why they don't club together and produce something that does what they need, then all use it. Sure it would cost an arm & leg and take several years, but after that they will save bucket loads. Yes: there is maintenance (need change, etc). Maybe it could be open sourced and let councils/... in other countries use it, add modules, submit patches, etc.

When all councils are using the same s/ware: exchange of information would be so much easier.

Google wants to listen in to whatever you get up to in hotel rooms

alain williams Silver badge

"No audio is ever stored....

Anyone want to join a sweep stake on how long before some of this stored audio is leaked onto the Internet ? a) 6 months, b) 1 year, c) 18 months, d) 2years. I see no point in going beyond (d).

I wonder before someone watching a cookery program on the in-room TV unexpectedly finds room service knocking on the door having brought supper ?

Chromium devs want the browser to talk to devices, computers directly via TCP, UDP. Obviously, nothing can go wrong

alain williams Silver badge

Re: It will certainly be shoved down our throats

Lots of money by those purveyors of malicious javascript. I don't have as much of value to be stolen as Experian but NoScript is staying activated in my browser.

Taiwan turfs out video streamers run by China’s web giants

alain williams Silver badge

So what will the rest of the world do ...

in 3 years time when China invades Taiwan ? Stand by tut-tutting as we have done with Hong Kong or start a war ? You might say are 24 million people worth a war ?

Neither would be pleasant, but we need to decide & act now so that China will not invade.

Australian regulator slams Google ‘misinformation’ in pay-for-news-fight

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Google News

Not sure if I should up or down vote.

Answer: No, I don't use Google news.

I listen to the radio & visit some news media web sites (not getting there via a search engine). Works well for me.

What I would like is objective & impartial news media. I am increasingly fed up with the spin being put on news stories and media setting agenda rather than clearly telling the stories.

How do you solve a problem like Privacy Shield? US and EU policymakers kick off discussions

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Re: Store data in the EU

That is possible, but that US company would be breaking the law with potentially quite severe repercussions. You'd imagine a company would think twice before they take that risk.

Thought 1: Will we get caught ?

Thought 2: Has anyone else been caught ?

Made in China? Not for much longer, reckons Foxconn boss

alain williams Silver badge

I don't suppose ...

that Apple, Samsung, etc, would look at the human rights record of any countries that the chose to buy kit from.


No, I did think that that was too much to ask.

UK.gov to propose new rules for online political campaigns after last election marred by an avalanche of fake news

alain williams Silver badge

So in comes nudge political advertising

A radio play, an advert about butter, football commentary, ... all ostensibly non political can contain subtle comments that form opinions about what a political party is saying. It will be cheaper as well: no buying of air-time or bill boards; all that you need is a friendly author, copywriter, ...

All very hard for the Electoral Commission to prove wrong doing.

What are you gonna do? Give me detention? Illinois schools ban pyjamas in online classes

alain williams Silver badge

No bed rule

Unfortunately I suspect that for some of the poorer pupils this is the only place that they can call their own.

NASA to stop using names like 'Eskimo Nebula' and 're-examine' what it calls cosmic objects

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Ban all Homonyms!

The only way of stopping this madness is to ban all uses of the same word to mean more than one thing. If everything is described by a different word then nobody will get into trouble for accidentally making someone feel uncomfortable.

I wish that it were only this simple.

First alligators, then dogs, now Basil Fawlty is trying to standardise social distancing measures

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Ministry of...

The Ministry of Silly Walks was aired in 1970 - at which time distances would have been measured in feet - so: each pace would have been about 6'

First rule of Ransomware Club is do not pay the ransom, but it looks like Carlson Wagonlit Travel didn't get the memo

alain williams Silver badge

Writable backups

Any backup should be read only. You can add new stuff to the backup but removal should be very hard.

Aviation regulator outlines fixes that will get the 737 MAX flying again

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Low passenger numbers

Would that be because of COVID-19 or reluctance to board a 737 MAX ?

Amazon gets green-light to blow $10bn on 3,000+ internet satellites. All so Americans can shop more on Amazon

alain williams Silver badge

Use of personal data ?

Amazon will know who the subscribers are, will monitory which web sites they are looking at and send targeted email telling them of 'Special Offers' to keep them sending money to Amazon.

Chinese ambassador to UK threatens to withdraw Huawei, £3bn investment if comms giant banned from building 5G

alain williams Silver badge

Does the Chinese ambassador think ...

that by throwing his toys out of the pram that we will suddenly realise that Chinese companies are super reliable and good partners for important projects ?

I get an image of a 3 year old stamping his feet in temper tantrum.

Face masks hamper the spread of coronavirus. Know what else they hamper? Facial-recognition systems (except China's)

alain williams Silver badge

Rules on face mask design ?

It will be interesting to see if rules are introduced that restrict how face masks are made:

* how big they are, how much of the face they cover

* what patterns can be printed on them. Patterns can confuse recognition systems

Also which countries make the restrictions.

Bill Gates debunks 'coronavirus vaccine is my 5G mind control microchip implant' conspiracy theory

alain williams Silver badge

What if MS had not become dominant ?

It might be sub-standard but it has powered the PC revolution and even the wider IT revolution. Could something better have done that?

It was a product of its time - if MS DOS/Windows had not appeared then something else would have.

I remember SCO ODT was quite nice & better than what MS had some 30 years ago; the unfortunate thing was that it cost far too much for widespread adoption -- because they had licensed many components from elsewhere. Pity.

VMware to stop describing hardware as ‘male’ and ‘female’ in new terminology guide

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Last time I checked ...

If something is stopped then I expect to be able to restart it. I do not expect that if it is killed.

New Google rules mandate Android 'Poundland' Edition, Go, for sub-2GB RAM phones once Android 11 is out

alain williams Silver badge

Does Go come without the non-removable facebook app ?

If so it would be worth going for, as long as it lets me tether my laptop.

Microsoft accused of sharing data of Office 365 business subscribers with Facebook and its app devs

alain williams Silver badge

What about non-business users ?

This article was all about business users, what about home/personal users ? I suspect that Microsoft sold their personal information as well ?

Me: happy to use Libreoffice on my Linux boxes but unhappy to realise that I have likely had my private information harvested from anything that my O-365 using friends have recorded about me.

The GDPR talks about clarity in agreements - but I doubt that most O-365 users are aware. Time for a huge fine from the data protection people.

Nokia 5310: Retro feature phone shamelessly panders to nostalgia, but is charming enough to be forgiven

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Is it 4G, and can it work as a wifi hotspot?

Unfortunately it appears not to and only does 2G. Pity as otherwise it would sound perfect.

Beware: Nokia released a 5310 in 2007 - this is not the same thing, but looks similar.

Everything must go! Distributors clear shelves of ALL notebooks in Q2, even ones gathering dust over last 12 months

alain williams Silver badge

Web cams also

disappear as soon as they hit the shelves.

Trump gloats, telcos weep, and China is furious: How things stand following UK's decision to rip out Huawei

alain williams Silver badge

When politics meets technical decisions

From the point of view of today's technical assessment this is the wrong decision. This assumes a benign China - us techies don't like to think that people are nasty (with a few exceptions).

From a much longer political decision of international geopolitics you might get a different answer: depending on how you value human liberties and your view of Chinese political ambitions.

If our UK politicians have taken a long view I am very pleased at this rare event - irrespective of them being right or wrong. If they are just bending over for Trump - I am not pleased.

UK smacks Huawei with banhammer: Buying firm's 5G gear illegal from year's end, mobile networks ordered to rip out all next-gen kit by 2027

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Logic?

And this is about security you say?

Security has always been the excuse; this is more about trade and politics. Having said that I know little about the latest GCQH report.

UK advertising watchdog raps ruler on O2's hand over misleading ads for iPad and Surface Pro deals

alain williams Silver badge

After 2 wraps in 3 months ...

BT/... should be obliged to have all adverts for the next year approved by the ASA before they run - paying a fee for this.

Attempts to pull the wool should then quickly stop.

Social media giants move to defy Hong Kong's new national security law

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Not only

Sure, but US won't jail you because you said California should go independent

Let me just change a few letters:

Sure, but Spain won't jail you because you said Catalonia should go independent

We need to always worry about erosion of freedom of speech.

alain williams Silver badge

The equation to be evaluated ...

by Google, Facebook & pals is increasingly looking like: China or The Rest of the World. If China pushes too hard they might find themselves cut adrift.

Good from the point of view of preserving freedoms, but this would also increase the isolation of those who live in the totalitarian state that we call China.

I do not know what the answer is.

Remember: it is not just China, other oppressive states also exist.

University ordered to stop running women-only job ads

alain williams Silver badge

Just the academic staff ?

Is there also positive discrimination to achieve an even men/women balance in:

* janitors, gardeners

* security staff

* porters

* buildings/site maintenance

Linux kernel coders propose inclusive terminology coding guidelines, note: 'Arguments about why people should not be offended do not scale'

alain williams Silver badge

Do non African slaves not matter ?

The email includes:

The African slave trade was a brutal system of human misery deployed at global scale.

So: do slaves (past or present) from other places not matter ?

OK: I understand why Dan wrote that - he is reacting to the current brouhaha - but it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when under pressure from on group.


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