* Posts by alain williams

1680 posts • joined 29 May 2007

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

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.

July? British government could decide to boot Chinese giant Huawei from the UK's networks by this month

alain williams Silver badge

Huawei should not be the last ...

The Chinese ambassador has been saying that we must not interfere with internal Chinese affairs, but how can we ignore human abuses in other countries ? Should we let Primark ignore working conditions in Bangladesh from where it buys its clothes or slave labour in Chinese prisons ? No: public opinion is making them change.

Likewise: we must not ignore what China is doing to fellow humans.

I have met Uighur Muslims, I know people from Hong Kong - but even if I did not how could I ignore oppression of people even if they are 10,000 miles away ?

We must send a message to Xi Jinping that we do not like the bully that he has become. He is emboldened by their burgeoning economy - so we can express our disapproval by buying less of their goods and services.

Other nations should do likewise: a school ground bully will just dominate/terrorrise one child who stands up to him but if many do he will be defeated.

I recognize that some of the UK's history is not good, but that does not mean that we should turn a blind eye.

China is not the only rogue nation but is, I believe, the most dangerous.

Beijing's tightening grip on Hong Kong could put region's future as an up-and-coming tech hub in jeopardy

alain williams Silver badge

Re: "we need clarity on what the laws will involve before we can decide anything"

I do not think that you understand how dictatorships work.

US govt: Julian Assange tried to recruit hacker to steal hush-hush dirt and we should know – the hacker was an informant

alain williams Silver badge

A lot of effort to get Assange

How much effort is the USA putting in to prosecute those whom he exposed ?

There are DDoS attacks, then there's this 809 million packet-per-second tsunami Akamai says it just caught

alain williams Silver badge

Re: And the next step...

Can Akamai pass the IP addresses from which they got the attack to the various ISP's, so that the ISP's can contact the associated end user and suggest they give their machines a thorough cleaning?

What they need to do is to speak to a few of the ISPs and get traffic logs for some of these PCs. Try to work out the command & control addresses - these are the real ones to chase - not the hapless users running a compromised Microsoft machine. Maybe examine a few of these machine to see what malware they have.

It will be interesting to see who the botnet controllers are: criminals or governments (mind you sometimes they are the same thing).

Ampere smacks the ball over the net, back at Marvell: Our Altra Max cloud processor will have 128 Arm cores

alain williams Silver badge

Quoting speed in GHz ...

does not really allow a good comparison. Especially when different machine architectures are being compared.

SPEC was used a while back - is that still good ?

CERN puts two new atom-smashers on its shopping list. One to make Higgs Bosons, then a next-gen model six times more energetic than the LHC

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Funding

The money that they are asking for is a small fraction of what we give the men in green uniforms.

I know which one I regard as being of better value.

Internet blackout of Myanmar States that are home to ethnic minorities enters second year

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Attempted genocide of the Rohingya

Everyone's inaction is appalling.

IR35 tax reforms for UK freelancers glide through committee stage: D-Day set for 6 April 2021

alain williams Silver badge

Who is paying the right tax ?

After IR35 how many of those consultants will be paying the correct tax ?

I am thinking of those who are working away from home for a few months but cannot claim travel & hotels against tax - if they were doing the same but working for a large company they would have this paid for them by the company which would claim it against income.

Ryzen shine, kids: Huawei buries AMD silicon in latest laptop, hopes to lure 'young professionals'

alain williams Silver badge

Re: 3550U

Considering the lifetime of Laptops is now more like 5 years, this year's CPU will be outdated for 80% of the machines life as well. Additionally, the single thread performance of modern CPUs is no longer growing rapidly.

Your criteria for buying something seem to be "because it is new"; should it not be "it does what I need". You might need a top of the range high powered laptop but I doubt that most people do. This machine would do me nicely except that I would like a smaller screen to fit easier in my ruck sack, I have a large screen at home - I do not need one when out & about.

See: we all have different needs.

If Fairphone can support a 5-year-old handset, the other vendors could too. Right?

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Consumers aren’t being served by Android

The improvements are small increments, nothing revolutionary has really benefited general consumers for years.

Is that not the definition of a mature product: it does what it is supposed to so no major developments are needed ?

When you get a mature product what should happen is that the manufacturers start to compete by providing good prices and service. Most 'phone vendors do not do this.

Adobe about to pull the plug on Creative Cloud freebie 'at-home' access for students

alain williams Silver badge

Are Adobe products the only ones ...

that can be used to achieve what the students are learning ?

If there are alternatives then should the universities not be teaching general principles which is illustrated by using Adobe & other products ?

If they just teach Adobe products then they are delivering training, not education. The result will be graduates who can only work if they have Adobe products - this is not good. Adobe will achieve ever greater lock-in and the competition wither.

If universities teach one product because it is easier - then they are being lazy.

Whose side you on, Nominet? Registry floods .co.uk owners with begging emails to renew unwanted .uk domains

alain williams Silver badge

+1 mythic beasts

I have no affiliation with them other than a happy customer - domain names only.

Huawei's latest smartphone for the UK market costs £1,299. And yes, that's without Google apps

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Privacy

It all depends on who you think will do you more harm.

US senators propose $22bn fund for new fabs on American soil because making stuff is better than designing stuff

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Damn socialists

This is why it is being done through the Defense Department as, presumably, they hope to skate around WTO rules which provide for exceptions on the grounds of national security.

When open source isn't enough: Fancy a de-Googled Chromium? How about some Microsoft-free VS Code?

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Things we turned off

I've gone through about:config and updated the Mozilla URLs in a similar fashion, by munging the end of the hostname.

and there is a lot of them, + google ones & others.

A 99.9% of web users are, I suspect, unaware of these.Thus, surely, they are illegal under GDPR informed consent provisions. I would be very surprised if they did not record the requesting IP (ie user's home) address and various other things - many of which could identify the user, or at least start to.

Another set of GDPR breaking exfiltration of user data are things like google analytics - surely a web site should ask permission first to ask consent which "must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous" - no web sites that I know of do so (including El Reg).

However: I doubt that our chocolate box ICO will bother.

Huawei launches UK charm offensive: We've provided 2G, 3G and 4G for 20 years, and you're worried about 5G?

alain williams Silver badge

Re: The bigger issue is rising Chinese power

I always reckoned that we should have helped them move to the Falkland Islands. ½ way between Africa & S America - those enterprising Hong Kong people would have made something big of it.

alain williams Silver badge

The bigger issue is rising Chinese power

What with so much money going there the increasing economic clout gives them increasing political influence and confidence.

A big concern that I have about China is that it will use this power in ways that I do not like, look at the problems of the Uighur Muslims, recent freedom restrictions in Hong Kong, rhetoric about Taiwan, surveillance of their own population, lack of freedom of speech, ... President Xi Jinping cannot be removed at the ballot box which, IMHO, makes him a dictator of what looks like an increasingly totalitarian state. All of that worries me and I think that we should push back before it gets unstoppable.

I am not saying that Western governments do not have their own problems, our imperial past & some of what the CIA have done is shameful, currently heighligthened black problems but at least I could walk down Whitehall with a placard that said "Bollocks to Boris" without ''disappearing''.

I will not deny a certain amount of preferring 'my lot/friends' to another grouping.

One way of slowing them is to not give them so much money: eg by buying European telecomms kit. It would also benefit employment over here and improve supply chain security. I think that this is part of what is behind the Huawei debacle - although our politicians are coy about saying so.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 Pro: £250 mobe still able to deliver value in a brutally competitive niche

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Please El Reg ...

If I want Internet connectivity -- I'll switch that on for a few minutes.

The screen: the 'phone is in my pocket for most of the time, screen switched off.

alain williams Silver badge

Please El Reg ...

when you review these things do remember that some of us are not interested in running something like call of duty. We want a 'phone and one of the really important things is battery life.

afforded at least two days' worth of usage between charges

Presumably that was with wifi, bluetooth, GPS, Internet, etc switched on - these are also battery suckers. It would be really useful to be told how long the battery lasts with just 2G/3G switched on. Another time to quote is if you want 4G/5G would be good as well. I do realise that how long depends on local signal strength - so please say that.

Yes: some do want all the services, but some do not.

Smart fridges are cool, but after a few short years you could be stuck with a big frosty brick in the kitchen

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Bimby

Maybe it is rubbish - but she can brag to her mates who will then try to keep up with the Tutkins'!

alain williams Silver badge

Re: A solution looking for a problem

If anyone wants music in the kitchen, they find a laptop and bring it in.

I have a lot of music in my kitchen - I use something that you might have heard of: a 'radio'.

It works really well; super modern - it is a DAB radio. Tuned to either: Classic FM, BBC Radio 4 or Radio 3.

alain williams Silver badge

There are 2 dates on these things

1) the date when it will no longer receive s/ware updates to protect it from the latest drive by attack

2) the date when the servers that it speaks to are switched off

Neither of these is explained in the point-of-sale blurb.

If you ask you might be told of a 'lifetime' - which likely started a year or two ago when the model was released - so what you have left can be quite short.

Quite apart from me not being able to understand *why* I would want something that costs more and blabs personal information to the manufacturer; I would never buy something where (2) those servers were not mine - prolly some R-pi in my house.

Thankfully there will always be a market for cheaper non IoT stuff that will be wanted by those who are not rich enough to be stupid enough to buy these nasties.

Singapore to accelerate digitalisation of COVID-kicked economy

alain williams Silver badge

A good excuse

to be able to track all payments.

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds

alain williams Silver badge

Re: not the terminal, the punch card

One reason is to stop people having too many levels of indent. Especially helps with an 8 width tab stop as indent.

Nokia's reboot of the 5310 is a blissfully dumb phone that will lug some mp3s about just fine

alain williams Silver badge

Would this be a good 'phone to have ...

when crossing some international borders. "No, I can't login to social media from this 'phone."

But I don't know how long 2G will be enough everywhere.

Surprise! That £339 world's first 'anti-5G' protection device is just a £5 USB drive with a nice sticker on it

alain williams Silver badge

Fine grained control

The device surely contains a Psi circuit that decodes you brain waves to determine your current intentions. It then morphs its protective shield so that you can chat to your analyst or cook your lunch.

Boeing brings back the 737 Max but also lays off thousands

alain williams Silver badge

Re: What will insurance premiums be ?

not room for more undercarriage

Exactly: which is why it should have been redesigned, but that would have taken it out of spec as far as 737 pilots certification - so the pilots would have had to do some training. They were afraid that the training need would have reduces sales - so they pushed the engines forwards which made the plane unstable, so they came up with a software bodge to correct the instability.

Unstable: engines in front of the center of gravity, so more thrust pushes the airplane nose up.

alain williams Silver badge

What will insurance premiums be ?

If/when the 737 MAX takes to the air they are going to need to be insured. How will Lloyds, etc, assess them as a risk ?

It would have been far cheaper for Boeing to have done a proper redesign job and made it higher off the ground when the fitted the bigger engines. The few bob saved on retraining pilots just would not be noticed compared to the consequential loss from by cutting corners. This is what you get when you let bean counters rather than engineers make decisions.

While waiting for the Linux train, Bork pays a visit to Geordieland with Windows 10

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Need a bit of Raspberry Pi action

It's also worth remembering that if you buy (or licence) a product from someone, the law offers you a lot of protection in the event that product doesn't deliver what you requested.

Whoo hooo! When was the last time that anyone successfully sued Microsoft for bugs in their stuff ?

eBay users spot the online auction house port-scanning their PCs. Um... is that OK?

alain williams Silver badge

My firewall - getting updated

iptables -A INPUT -i lo -s -d -j ACCEPT

It seems that I was naive, I now only allow some connections. Its going to be a pain until I get the rules right.

Contact-tracing app may become a permanent fixture in major Chinese city

alain williams Silver badge

Hong Kong

is the next place where they will want to roll this out. Very useful.

BoJo buckles: UK govt to cut Huawei 5G kit use 'to zero by 2023' after pressure from Tory MPs, Uncle Sam

alain williams Silver badge

Security or politics or economic competition ?

Be slow to take the alleged reasons as being the true ones.

China has grown a lot in economic and political power, it is doing a lot of things that we do not like: interning Muslims, reducing freedom in Hong Kong, internal surveillance, ... and lastly threatening the West's world dominance.

You can either believe that international relationships should be warm & cuddly and all countries work to mutual benefit; or that it is dog eat dog and every country acts to achieve dominance. If you are weak (economically, militarily) then you try to cuddle. If you are strong then countries seem to try to dominate; the USA has done that for years (even before Trump's "America first" policy). China is increasingly trying to dominate.

So how should others react to China's bullying actions ? Do we let it continue and become ever stronger or do we clip its wings ?

It seems clear to me that the Huawei debacle is about clipping China's wings.

The USA cannot just do so, World Trade Organization rules prohibit discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals. So a reason needs to be found: security is a good excuse.

If we ban Huawei then Western kit will be bought. This reduces the money that we send to China and benefits Western manufacturers - although, sadly, probably not any British ones -- although Brexit might (maybe) allow the UK government to help such initiatives -- if they can see that clearly.

I leave this to you to decide if stopping Chinese dominance and rebuilding domestic manufacturing (at a price) is a good thing or not.

Google rolls out pro-privacy DNS-over-HTTPS support in Chrome 83... with a handy kill switch for corporate IT

alain williams Silver badge

Who do you want to hide from ?

DoH needs a server to answer DNS queries - that server gets to know a lot about you.

Use normal DNS and your ISP/company can see what you are trying to resolve. Even if you do not use its DNS servers it can sniff the packets as they go by.

If you live in a repressive regime (eg Egypt, China, ...) they can make your ISP hand over your DNS history or change stuff on the fly; so DoH might be good, although they can still see where your IP packets go to.

What about the DoH provider - what does it gain ? Knowledge of all the sites that you visit - good meat to the advertising machine for Google & pals - even when those sites do not run google analytics (or you have blocked the javascript). These DoH providers are subject to the Patriot Act or local equivalent - so, for some, the security is a fig leaf.

Oh - just because you do not think that your regime is repressive does not mean that your government is not snooping on you. DNS over TOR might be an interesting idea.

If you do run DoH then you might be visited by shady men and told to change your browser options - packet sniffing via your ISP will make it obvious if you have taken their 'advice'. So: will you make yourself a target for future visits ?

Could it be? Really? The Year of Linux on the Desktop is almost here, and it's... Windows-shaped?

alain williams Silver badge

Re: If only!

You beat me to it with that comment.

If you want to run MS Windows & Linux on the same machine (plenty of reasons why you might) the only safe way is to run MS Windows under Linux - that way the Linux part remains safe from snooping.

I wonder who might be sponsoring Microsoft to do this work ? How big is the NSA budget ?

You overstepped and infringed British sovereignty, Court of Appeal tells US in software companies' copyright battle

alain williams Silver badge

Should WPL exit the USA ?

If all of its income there is to be garnished by SAS there is little point in bothering.

It will be interesting to see what SAS does. It could go after the USA side of the banks and get an order there. The bank will then have to decide which jurisdiction to obey. Remember these cases where people who left the USA as infants were persued by the USA IRS which forced banks in England to close their accounts, if not the the banks risked penalties of huge fines. IMHO this is international terrorism.

The Rise of The (Coffee) Machines: I need assistance. I think I'm running Windows. Send help

alain williams Silver badge

What annoys me intensely ...

about this sort of error message is that it offers no clue as to what might be wrong.

Far too much software does this and it can take a long time to suss a simple problem due clueless messages like this.

Just as bad are the intensely precise messages that require deep understanding of some protocol & access to the source code to learn what is wrong.

I know that writing good error messages is hard & takes time; unfortunately the programmer will only be complained at if s/he does take the time, the cost of understanding is paid by the user, not the developer.

Microsoft's Family Safety app drills into kids' screen time, browsing habits to help 'facilitate a dialogue'

alain williams Silver badge

How much of this ends up in the advertising database ?

Is there something in the EULA that says that you agree to this or did MS forget to insert that paragraph ?

There's a world out there with a hexagon vortex over its pole packed with hydrocarbon ice crystals. That planet is Saturn

alain williams Silver badge

The 7 mists are really 7 veils

All will be revealed if we sit back and watch the dance.

There's a black hole lurking within 1,000 light years of Earth – and you can see stars circling it with the naked eye

alain williams Silver badge

1,000 light years away is a bit too far ...

for us to be able to chuck some of our more irritating politicians into it.

I'm hoping that they will spot a closer one.

Baby Diesel? Little d'Artagnan? There is another child of Musk in the world

alain williams Silver badge

The father might deserve it, but the newborn son does not.

UK COVID-19 contact-tracing app data may be kept for 'research' after crisis ends, MPs told

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Three things...

EULA controls what the End User can do. You should be after something that controls what the government can do (with the data).

UK IT contractors slipping back into old ways of working now IR35 tax reforms delayed

alain williams Silver badge

HMRC's CEST is deliberately flakey

and gives different answers at different times to IR35 rules that are vague/hard-to-understand. The inevitable result of that is that companies will take the path of least risk to them: push people into IR35, even if said risk is very small. So: the winners get what they want, the winners being the large consultancies who get to push their underqualified staff at inflated prices.

One way of (partly) fixing this would be to force a company (if asked) to take someone 'found' to be within IR35 fully onto their payroll complete with holiday, etc, benefits. This might also benefit the lower paid gig workers such as Deliveroo riders.

GCC 10 gets security bug trap. And look what just fell into it: OpenSSL and a prod-of-death flaw in servers and apps

alain williams Silver badge

Re: Look at valgrind

When will you port this to Linux ?

alain williams Silver badge

Look at valgrind

valgrind is an excellent tool that lets you find similar bugs.

However: for valgrind to work you need to run the program and execute a code path that triggers the bug, not always easy. So static analysis is a great addition.

alain williams Silver badge

Re: El Reg (or the readership) really has changed

Just listen to the news, you hear things like "Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said ...".

Most Brits will (should) know who he is but they still remind - just in case.

It irritates me slightly but I accept since not everyone does - especially listeners from other countries: El Reg equivalent of non techy readers.

Microsoft decrees that all high-school IT teachers were wrong: Double spaces now flagged as typos in Word

alain williams Silver badge

The Brexit brigade will be up in arms!

A single space after a full stop is called French spacing. Farage will be apoplectic and wanting to know why Microsoft has sided with the EU!

Why should the UK pensions watchdog be able to spy on your internet activities? Same reason as the Environment Agency and many more

alain williams Silver badge

Re: In other news

Bring on the mandatory wearing of masks. What price Facial recog then eh?

They will just insist that our face masks have our social security number on them.


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