* Posts by alain williams

1991 posts • joined 29 May 2007

Fukushima studies show wildlife is doing nicely without humans, thank you very much

alain williams Silver badge

So: in 100 years time ...

when we have bombed or otherwise destroyed our civilisation the rest of life on the planet will continue quite happily without us.

UK Ministry of Defence apologises – again – after another major email blunder in Afghanistan

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Why does it happen so often ?

This kind of so called accidental breach seems to happen so frequently one could get the impression it is willful.

No, it is people just doing things without thinking. You could send them on a training course once a month and it would still happen.

They will (hopefully) bollock whoever did it. This person will be careful for a while but might do it again next year.

Amazon UK business swelled by 50%+ in 2020, and taxes soared. Lol, no, it means those paid by its staff

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Re: Conflict of interest

Amazon UK's interestingly low tax rate is mainly down to it reinvesting most of its income to grow the business.

Encouraging a business to grow is normally a good thing and to be encouraged. When something grows to the size of Amazon and behaves in predatory ways: it is not a good thing. Amazon needs to be curtailed before it kills more other businesses - that cannot compete because of how Amazon behaves.

Governments need to act to clip the wings of behemoths to preserve healthy competition.

If it were possible to evade facial-recognition systems using just subtle makeup, it might look something like this

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How much make up needed to

look like Priti Patel ?

Computer and data scientists should be as highly regarded as 'warriors' says top UK cybergeneral

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Where do attacks come from ?

In Oct 2020 I put a new Linux (Debian) machine on line. In 18 1/2 hours it had 2,438 ssh attacks (none succeeded).

Where did the attacks come from:

1218 China

732 USA

482 Russia

An established Linux server gets 13,000 to 20,000 ssh attacks in a day (less at weekends). In addition attacks are directed at web server, email, ...

(All numbers are from a quick survey)

Ransomware crims saying 'We'll burn your data if you get a negotiator' can't be legally paid off anyway

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It is easy for us to say "don't pay"

but if you have been attacked then things might look very different.

Yes: there should be good backups but not everyone does. Yes: bad backups is stupid/negligent/... but it happens.

Sacking the IT director or the bean counter director who refused to fund good backups does not solve today's problem.

A requirement for companies with more than 100 employees to have to have their backups externally audited once a year might be a way forwards but is unlikely to be the silver bullet: affordable audits are never 100%.

Fortnite banana can appear in court naked says judge in Epic vs Apple legal footnote

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Re: I assume there was no reference

I am not aware if the judge was pleased to see the banana,

alain williams Silver badge

'just a banana man,'

Does this ruling not apply to 'banana women' or depictions of ? (If such things exist). Of should there have been a comma before "man" ?

You can 'go your own way' over GDPR, says UK's new Information Commissioner

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Re: "morally bankrupt pathological liars"

The trouble is that no one seems to care, it is not just facebook. But then look at the examples of heads of government (I'm not just talking about Boris).

The liars are the employees of these corporations - who then pretend that it is nothing to do with them but the corporation that has lied. All corporate utterances should be publicly signed off by a named individual so that we know who to hold to account when we find out that we were being lied to.

Consider the outcry if schools were to teach pupils that "it is OK to lie to gain advantage" or the churches to say that the ninth commandment has been abolished.

Amazon says Elon Musk's wicked, wicked ways mean SpaceX's Starlink 2.0 should not be allowed to fly

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Amazon is just showing off ...

its extensive range of black pots & kettles.

UK.gov is launching an anti-Facebook encryption push. Don't think of the children: Think of the nuances and edge cases instead

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ban facebook

Logically the correct course of action is not to ban E2EE but ban Facebook instead.

Part of me is screaming "yes, yes - ban facebook". But that itself would be oppression/control-freakery by government just as much as the CCP is trying to do away with the Uyghur Muslim religion.

In a free society we have to allow people to do and believe things that we think are wrong or stupid.

British data watchdog brings cookies to G7 meeting – pop-up consent requests, not the delicious baked treats

alain williams Silver badge

Definition of a cookie

Many people know about cookies but are unaware of other means of tracking a browser or user. So, for the purpose of this review, a cookie should be defined to include: local storage, browser fingerprinting, etc.

Different sorts of cookies need to be understood: cookies from the site that you visit are very different from 3rd party ones. Session cookies (short term ones that tie together pages visited over 1/2 hour or so) are different from ones that survive over weeks & months.

Opting out should be no harder than opting in. Some web-sites or apps have opt-in with one click, to opt-out you need to click every type of opt-out.

The review should be about (mobile 'phone) apps as well as what happens via a web browser.

Web sites should list every cookie that it (any any 3rd party) sets and say what it is used for.

You should be able to opt out of every sort of cookie - with the exception of session cookies.

When the bits hit the fan: What to do when ransomware strikes

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Did Mr Connor ask the finance director

if his patronising explanation could be quoted to the press if/when something went wrong ?

I suspect not as it would be career limiting as most of the board would want to maintain their current bonuses. However the chief techie will take the rap even if he was not allowed to do the right thing.

But prevention is the best way out. It might cost a bit but how much will shares & bonuses be hit when an attack happens ?

Dissected: A dropper-as-a-service miscreants pay to push their malware onto potentially 1,000s of victims

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School kid IT education

If there was *one thing* worth teaching the nation's schoolchildren about IT then this is probably it.

For that to happen you would need school IT teachers that had some real clue.

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Situation normal ...

only infects PCs that run MS Windows

World to make 1.37 billion smartphones in 2021 says IDC – about one for every six humans

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I'm quite happy with my 3G phone ...

but am going to have to get a newer one when 3G is switched off in a couple of years time.

I suppose that it is about more than mobile 'phones, but I do wonder how it will fare in places like rural Wales where I was recently - when even a 2G/3G signal was hard to get.

LibreOffice 7.2 brings improved but still imperfect Microsoft Office compatibility

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Re: LaTeX

No - that would be troff/groff - which I still use occasionally.

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

Microsoft Office has compatibility issues with the ODF format - do not confuse the software with the file format.

Microsoft does not want complete working with ODF. If it were to get there then people could exchange ODF files rather than OOXML ones, this would mean that it would sell fewer MS Word licenses. A good bit of non compatibility helps with the FUD to worry people about switching to LibreOffice.

Microsoft makes money by pushing obscure, non standardised document formats.

Taiwan president pokes the bear by saying the nation needs to lessen its supply chain dependency on China

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Too much of the world ...

relies excessively on China in its supply chain. This makes us vulnerable to an increasingly capricious government; they feel confident due to their increasing economic power and so feel empowered to impose their world view on others.

The danger is that China will insist that companies that deal with it agree to small demands (eg refer to Taiwan as part of mainland China), then more and more of them.

Putting our supply eggs in one basket is dangerous, no matter where that basket is.

The web was done right the first time. An ancient 3D banana shows Microsoft does a lot right, too

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Re: Web is already 30

The nice thing about that page is that it provides the information that you want and is not burdened by a morass of javascript that is generating popups and trying to track you as you move around.

Engineers work to open Boeing Starliner's valves as schedule pressures mount

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"assumed Boeing knew what it was doing."

Does anyone assume that these days ? Too many memories of the 737 max.

New GNOME Human Interface Guidelines now official – and obviously some people hate it

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Re: Who cares?

Which is why I use Mate - aka gnome 2.

Paperless office? 2.8 trillion pages printed in 2020, down by 14% or 450 billion sheets

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Re: a drop that was even more pronounced for A3 devices.

I do.

Microsoft suspends free trials for Windows 365 after a day due to 'significant demand'

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Should it not be called Windows 361 or something

so that users are aware of how many days a year that they can use it, the missing 4 days being when it is down or unreachable.

Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right

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Repairability should be part of green legislation

More important than what it costs the consumer should be what it costs the planet.

Yes: old stuff can be recycled (and sometimes is) but there is still a lot of energy needed in making new things.

Things sold should have a prominent repairability number on the box/web-page.

You MUST present your official ID (but only the one that's really easy to fake)

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Get it on paper

You can get a letter (on real paper) from the NHS by dialing 119. This does not expire unlike the electronic ones. I did that and laminated it. It comes on A4 paper, something smaller would be nicer.

UK regulator Ofcom seeks more powers to deal with mega constellations

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This is a global problem

It should be dealed with on a multi-national basis otherwise satellites will be sent up bearing the flag of whatever nation is most lax

I've got a broken combine harvester – but the manufacturer won't give me the software key

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Re: Americans throw away 416,000 cell phone

That is, apparently, the number disposed of every day

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Only half the story

We need products designed to last longer, not just a right to repair.

The planet needs products designed to last longer.

This story is not really very different from yesterday's one about printer ink being more expensive than Chanel No. 5. It is about gouging your customers.

For a true display of wealth, dab printer ink behind your ears instead of Chanel No. 5

alain williams Silver badge

"designed to function correctly with our genuine inks"

That comment is arse about face: it is the inks which are designed to work with the printers, not the other way round.

If some third party makes an ink that confirms to the printer spec - then it can be used. The printer should not care.

Imagine the brouhaha if Ford cars only worked with Ford petrol, Ford oils, Ford tyres, ...

(Other car makes are available)

Rackspace literally decimates workforce: One in ten staffers let go this week

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"the beancounters are ruling the roost"

So: those who really understand the business needs being replaced by money men who will chase short term cash while failing to invest & exposing the business to technical risks, one of which might bring down what may become a house of cards.

Tech support scams subside somewhat, but Millennials and Gen Z think they're bulletproof and suffer

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"recent accident"

I tell them that I have several and refuse to progress until they tell me which one they are talking about. This winds them up horribly!

alain williams Silver badge

Wasting their time

Thank you for doing that public service, but do you not have anything better to do ?

One thing that would help is restricting those who can set the originating 'phone number to approved organisations - they all seem to (apparently) call from a UK number. OFCOM is asleep on the job.

Autonomy founder Mike Lynch loses first stage in fight against extradition to US

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If this were the other way round ...

would someone be extradited from the USA to the UK ? I doubt it.

If Lynch is tried in the USA I suspect that he will be found guilty - there is too much money riding on it.

Pipe down, Jeff. You've only gone where Gus Grissom went before, 60 years ago today

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Do allow Bezos his moment of glory

Does that mean that my son should not be be pleased and deserving of congratulations when he wrote his first "hello world" program ? That was first done many decades ago.

alain williams Silver badge

Do allow Bezos his moment of glory

Although I am not a fan of his business practices his flight is an achievement and he should be allowed to celebrate. Hopefully it will result in cheaper access to earth orbit and, eventually, travel beyond that.

I hope that there is healthy competition from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and others.

Happy 'Freedom Day': Stats suggest many in England don't want it or think it's a terrible idea

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I have some sympathy for Boris

He is caught between the medics on one side and his back benchers + business people on the other. He cannot please everyone and has tried to come out with something that is vague enough to please no matter your opinion -- but he has failed.

Not explaining the reasoning is part of the obfuscation, it just makes things worse.

Boris' ideal role would be father Christmas: a fantasy man of smiles and freebies all round.

Oh: his Sunday shenanigans on trying to evade self-isolation y/day was simply beyond the pail.

Teen turned away from roller rink after AI wrongly identifies her as banned troublemaker

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Re: Using it wrongly

Humans should then be responsible for making decisions.

After (re)viewing the evidence (ie images) that the AI matched to the person. This might be hard for a human if the image quality is bad or the person has different make-up or ...

What happens if AI is not being used and a venue owner thinks that s/he recognises someone who caused problems some time back ? The owner may well be confusing an innocent person with someone else - this has likely happened many times.

This is the data watchdog! Surrender your Matt Hancock smoochy-kiss pics right now!

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Would they have bothered ...

to make those raids if you or me had been snapped smooching someone who was not our spouse ?

SonicWall suggests people unplug their end-of-life gateways under 'active attack' by ransomware crims

alain williams Silver badge


Jesus people. All this bashing of SonicWall when these things went EOL *7 Years* ago!

When I have bought things I do not remember seeing something that says "This will EOL in 2022", or similar. But the EOL date is becoming increasingly important.

Maybe the EOL date should be mandated to be big and obvious on the box & web site.

alain williams Silver badge

"too out of date for SonicWall to patch"

Not true, they still have the source code so they could patch but they do not want to as they would rather sell a new box.

It had to happen: Microsoft's cloudy Windows 365 desktops are due to land next month

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More secure ?

It is more secure than working on a home PC full of games and untrusted applications,

Eh ? Keeping files on some MS server to which god knows who has access to is more secure ? Who has been smoking what ? How much has the NSA helped create this ?

Oh, I suppose what they are saying is "The MS Windows that we provide is so insecure that you cannot trust it".

Then: what happens when your Internet connection is down or the MS servers are dead ? If it is all on your own machine then it is always available.

Yes: I do see that being able to access files from multiple machines is useful, but there have long been other ways of doing that.

Lenovo says it’s crammed a workstation into a litre of space – less than three cans of beer

alain williams Silver badge

Re: The most important question

So about 1/2,777,777 of an Olympic swimming pool or 1,277 of a Tun (beer barrel).

alain williams Silver badge

Get an adaptor

I suspect that a lot of old and little used connectors will not appear on new motherboards and save a $ or two. If you really need it a USB to serial adaptor will help you - but mean that you have more spaghetti behind your PC.

NASA readies commands to switch on Hubble's back-up hardware

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Voyager spacecraft

All of this shows how remarkable that Voyager 1 & Voyager 2 launched in 1977, some 44 years ago, are still working. OK: running out of power and simpler computers with some problems but still not failed.

NHS England staff voice concerns about access controls on US spy-tech firm Palantir's COVID-19 data store

alain williams Silver badge

Re: What a surprise

Quite. Access to NHS staff for Civid-19 research is not as lucrative as other uses of that (no longer) private personal data.

Black screens in Windows 11? Bork has seen it all before

alain williams Silver badge

Blue or Black ...

it is still a BSOD

Brit firm fined £200k for banging on about missold PPI in 11.4 million nuisance calls

alain williams Silver badge

1.75 pence/call - fine not large enough

The fine should be against the firm owner personally so that s/he cannot avoid paying by just folding and creating a new firm tomorrow.


BTW: Why does El-Reg not name these reprobates ?

Cyber insurance model is broken, consider banning ransomware payments, says think tank

alain williams Silver badge

A report saying the bleeding obvious

I, and others here, have said many times that if insurance did not pay ransomware then companies would be forced to up their game.

Yes: it would hurt a few that did not get the message, but after a couple of bankruptcies other companies would start to take it seriously - not just try to blame others.

If this is not done then the pain will persist for many years, this will not stop it but should make it much harder for the crooks.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web NFT fetches $5.4m at auction while rest of us gaze upon source code for $0

alain williams Silver badge

How much do you think that I would get ...

if I wrapped this reply up as a NFT ? Would El-Reg sue me for a cut ?

I think that this is all a bit silly.


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