* Posts by Olius

239 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Jun 2010


Barmy ban on businesses, Brits based in Blighty bearing or buying .eu domains is back: Cut-off date is Jan 1, 2021


It's not a case of being incapable of understanding it, it's a case of never having heard it. It's a case of continually asking for one and being told in response that our lack of faith is making the project fail.


"Nothing but patronising insults"

I think we must be reading different threads. I see a thread of interesting debate where every brexiteer argument is torn apart with facts and logic, and a very few tiny insults and jibes put in for fun to make things bearable.

Literally 99% of this thread is not "patronising insults"

All brexiteers do when they say this kind of thing is prove they're not paying attention. It's a shame, because this could otherwise be a very healthy debate indeed.


Re: victim mentality

Phil: "a bit irritated at the EU's continued determination to punish the UK"

Phil: "Not at all. We leave, of course we lose benefits that exist only because of membership."

This is exactly the kind of thing which Taiwaz is talking about, Phil: Which is it? Are they removing the benefits of membership because we're not a member, or are they punishing the UK?

You can't have it both ways depending on how the debate is going for you. Apart from anything else, it makes trying to discuss the actual issues and challenges with brexiteers really boring and pointless and it doesn't move anything forward, and yet it is apparently the remainers who are the ones getting in the way of this project being a success. Unfortunately, projects do not become successful because of Electric Monk levels of belief. They become successful through pragmatism, realism, planning and problem-solving.


What an odd article.

We're joining the ranks of non-EU countries whose residents can't own .eu domains without good reason. No more, no less. This is what we wanted, isn't it?

Switzerland 'first' country to roll out contact-tracing app using Apple-Google APIs to track coronavirus spread


Re: Contact tracing?

Thanks for the fix, but I was (mis)quoting Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels :-)


Re: Contact tracing?

"So this has never been necessary before"


Necessity, as they say, is the brother of invention.

Nope, still can't find them. Skullcandy slips Tile's gadget-tracking hardware into individual earbuds


Re: Simple solution

Does the string have a nice, strong copper or aluminium core?

Twitter ticks off Trump with new 'Get the facts' alert on pair of fact-challenged tweets


I hope they put a fact-check on his replies. And on the next replies, and so on.

US senators call for more transparency over $12bn TSMC fab plant investment


Re: What am I missing here?

The senators want to know what subsidies have been offered to the company in exchange.

When these subsidies have been subtracted from the "investment", what's left is the actual investment.

To complicate matters, this "investment" isn't really investment if it doesn't pay local contractors for the build, use locally sourced kit or employ locals in the day-to-day running.

And then there'll be things like projected sales to overseas customers, and the value of patents they might create at the plant and which country will hold them (and therefore, potentially, profit from them). Also, internal sales to US customers might be cheaper, which adds national value to the project.

It sounds to me like this is the kind of detail they are after - essentially, the long-term value of the investment, which may even be negative if the subsidies offered are high enough (although one would hope that there are other tangible benefits in the long run if it turns out that the US are basically paying for this company to set up shop there)

Podcast Addict banned from Google Play Store because heaven forbid app somehow references COVID-19


Re: AI is rubbish, developer doesn't read emails?

"...usually that means..."

There's the warning light, right there: Their email doesn't explain what the problem is, it wants you to guess.

Donald Trump extends ban on Huawei, ZTE telecoms kit in US companies to May 2021


Re: Ah, that old chestnut.

Yep. Also:

"interests have been warning for over a year that Cisco and other US corporations are not yet ready to compete with China in the 5G arena, with their projects delayed and now hoping to deliver in 2021"

What do you call megabucks Microsoft? No really, it's not a joke. El Reg needs you


Re: I'm so angry I can't think

Oh come on, what could be more productive than being able to embed a live stock-ticker in your Word document..? I've been desperate for that feature since Computer Concepts forgot to put it in Wordwise.


How about "Microshaft", which is *of course* a reference to all the good work they do in battling the criminal underbelly of IT, facing down both criminals and cops who want it dead, against fantastic odds.

Ex-Imagination Technologies boss tells UK Foreign Affairs Committee: Britain needs to stop overseas asset stripping


-1 for "balance the books". You can't balance the books in a society where the govt creates money and calls it debt, because the money can't be paid back.

I'm not against the current structure, but people do need to recognise that all money is originally on loan from govt, and the "national debt" is a rough measure of how much money the govt has created and put in to society

(Private banks then amplify the total by lending against a "gearing ratio", "capital flow" takes care of distributing it around the world and the pockets of billionaires are where money goes to die)


Re: And who will pay ?

"becoming belligerent" - +1 for the wonderful understatement :-)

Surprise surprise! Hostile states are hacking coronavirus vaccine research, warn UK and USA intelligence


Re: Sounds very much like

Well, that's great news :-)

Question though (for those on this thread who are concerned about giving the research away for free) - if the product of the research will be created and sold at cost, then who has lost out by giving the research away for free for others to use to produce the product at cost? Or conversely, who would gain if Astrazeneca were the only company producing the vaccine if Astrazeneca are not making a profit?


Are they the only countries in the world who opted not to join the program, and therefore shouldn't benefit from anything it produces? Or will we be holding 99% of the world to ransom if our research is fruitful?

Do you contribute to the development of any of the "free" software on your computer, or the "free" software running on the El Reg servers?


Here's a thought: Why not publish all work in the public domain so that everyone can contribute to it and benefit from it?

The only "valuable asset" which should be being created here is a healthy population.


Re: Sounds very much like

Just to play devil's advocate on that:

WE are paying for it, the human race.

And money doesn't evaporate once it is spent: it is spent again on those peoples' food, housing, utilities and even on more research and research-tools. It is also be created on demand. Then once spent, it gets taxed right back to the govts. So what has it "cost"? The actual cost is the individual hours "spent" on it. Money simply lubricates that work. And the work always comes before the money.

Why should some of us be able to hold the rest to ransom, via the patent system, backed by the military, on something this important?

I'm doing this to stop humans ripping off brilliant ideas by computers and aliens, says guy unsuccessfully filing patents 'invented' by his AI


Well, this is all fair enough, but...

...ff you game-play it from the other end, what is the point of a patent?

It is (imho) to stop others from profiting from your idea.

So the only reason a machine would need to stop you profiting from their idea is that they want the profits. And what is the machine going to need those profits for? Its own upkeep? That would imply it is a being with needs for which it needs to earn money to fulfil.

At the moment, it is having its needs met by its creator - who isn't allowed to collect the profits from the machine's idea because those ideas belong to the machine.

So while it's a nice way for Thaller to open up this metaphysical discussion, and it is a good discussion to have, I think he's missed a basic step in his logic.

Google shifting workloads to run when the sun will shine and the wind will blow


Re: Local regulation?

I think you're right.

But necessity being the brother of invention, I imagine that once the grid has become unbalanced a few times by these suddenly-shifting loads, some bright spark (pun fully intended) will try to make the grid more intelligent by providing an API by which Google and others can "register their intent" to move their workload to a location, and have that request approved or be offered an alternative location to move it to.

Europe publishes draft rules for coronavirus contact-tracing app development, on a relaxed schedule


Re: Needs to happen ASAP

"Statistically, fewer than 1% of the people I know that think they've had Covid can possibly have had it."

We can't possibly know that. We don't have the base data.

In the UK we appear to be extrapolating from the death rate to the current infection rate. Given that not all covid-related deaths are (apparently/so I hear) being recorded as covid, the source data isn't perfect. And given how new this virus is, such extrapolation is a long way from perfect, too.

I don't mean to suggest you're not correct in your assertion. I'm only suggesting that you can't, and therefore shouldn't, be so definite about it.


Tracing who has been in possible contact with whom is all well and good, but without knowing who is currently infected it becomes a bit tricky. With the UK's particularly lax testing regime, we basically have no source data.

I can see in the article that it stores data on potential contacts, and when someone who you have had recent contact with later tests positive for Covid, I guess you are flagged as vulnerable to getting it and (hopefully) notified of when the interaction took place. But what of all the people who get it but don't become confirmed cases, and so don't become data points?

Maybe I'm being a bit thick as usual :-)

Can anyone explain to me how this will work? At this stage of the pandemic, it only seems superficially helpful. If it was much earlier on, it might have indicated particular quarantine areas and so on, but now it's everywhere it seems like too little too late (Unless our testing regime is MASSIVELY stepped up)

Here's another thought: If there are a chain of people all notified that they have had contact with each other and the first person has tested positive, if the 3rd person then tests negative, would all the downstream people be notified that they don't need to worry any more? Or would it not work like this, and only be concerned with the one-on-one interactions and not the whole chain?

Signal sends smoke, er, signal: If Congress cripples anonymous speech with EARN IT Act, we'll shut US ops


Re: I think it would be rather splendid

I came here to write the same - Signal pulling out of the US wouldn't be a bad thing. I imagine it would go like this:

1. Signal pulls out of the US

2. US citizens realise they have no freedom or privacy after all

3. ...

4. Profit

NASA reveals the new wavy Martian wheels it thinks can crush the red planet


What's so bad/special about rotors going supersonic?

Pan-European group plans cross-border contact-tracing app – and promises GDPR compliance


Re: Optional, Anonymous and Effective? Choose Two. At Most.

Fair enough - if you've been close enough to someone with Covid in the last 5 days that you could have caught it (and you haven't had and recovered from it yourself), then I don't want you in my restaurant.

Life isn't going to return to normal until we have a vaccine, a cure, or incredibly cheap and instantly-working test for both whether a person has it and whether they have had it. This is something a lot of people need to accept, but may not have even realised yet.

In the meantime, tracking who might have it is the only weapon we have in the toolbox (other than hiding in the toolbox)

Brexit factor lacking in Industrial Strategy, say MPs


Re: Good

g̶o̶v̶ Fujitsu, Atos, Capita or any number of other massive subcontractors the gov continue to use, despite their track record with missed deadlines and massive cost inflation.

FTFY :-)

Kremlin-backed APT28 doesn't even bother hiding its attacks, says Finnish secret police


"Attribution is tricky"

Indeed. A few weeks ago we had news (via a well known leak site) that a certain govt agency was able to leave "signatures" of other countries' groups on the servers they target... so who can say who really did the hacking and why they left visible traces of themselves on those systems.

FBI, NSA top brass: We've seen jack squat to back up Trump's claims of Obama wiretaps


Re: Leaks

Snowden - damaging intelligence leak or enlightening public service?

The future of Not Reality is a strap-on that talks to my smarting ring


It sounds like Helios isn't going to be the lord of the rings.

Linus Torvalds explains how to Pull without jerking his chain


Re: Those 128 Petabytes

Or the cost of Brexit.


Li-ion king Goodenough creates battery he says really is... good enough


Re: When can I get it?

It can take a while to get to market, give it time :-)

Oh happy day! Linus Torvalds has given the world Linux 4.10


Re: -0.8

...and the one who doesn't gave you a downvote.

Prepare your popcorn: Wikipedia deems the Daily Mail unreliable


Re: Irony

Not really "pot and kettle" IMHO.

If you assume Wikipedia is mainly edited in good faith, then its articles are only as good as its references. So if it makes sure all articles are cited with decent references - by, in appropriate cases, blanket banning references from publications known to be problematic - it makes itself a better source of information.

So I see this as the "pot" making itself less black by not going near the "kettle".

It may never be "less black" enough to be cited in STEM papers, but it is a valiant aim.


Re: Left-wing front

"Left wing front"

You mean in the way they might publish referenced stats on, say, actual migrant numbers instead of just putting up a picture of a group of migrants with the word "swarm" underneath and letting people draw their own conclusions?

Australia wants to jail infosec researchers for pointing out dodgy data


Oh what a shame

I was going to steal a load of this data, de-anonymise it and sell it for ££££££ on the black market to phishers, but I won't now because de-anonymisation is illegal.

Trump lieutenants 'use private email' for govt work... but who'd make a big deal out of that?


You're not wrong at this time.

But you are using some serious mental gymnastics to maintain your dogma to a level not usually seen outside of organised religion.

You need to be careful you don't peak too soon - save something back for when it turns out that these email accounts are indeed carrying fairly important govt business information.

Now that's a Blue Screen of Death: Windows 10 told me to jump off a cliff


Re: Forgot your meds this morning ?

That may be true, Fuzzy, but personally my first step would be in a direction away from the cliff edge, as that step is indeed a "doozy".


Me, I have wallpaper, and I'm a LONG way from 10.

Most of it is courtesy of Digital Blasphemy. But I wouldn't go googling for his work if I were you - you wouldn't want to end up acting like a 10 year old, would you ;-)


Re: Forgot your meds this morning ?

Have you seen Groundhog Day?

Virgin America mid-flight panic after moron sets phone Wi-Fi hotspot to 'Samsung Galaxy Note 7'


You must be a real hoot at parties, AC. Do you also give people wedgies, and then shout "Only joking! JEEZ, can't you take a joke?!" when they get annoyed?

Facebook hires Hillary Clinton to lead assault on fake news*


Also, isn't the point here that with "fake news", people don't know they have been misled?


"We’ve found that if reading an article makes people significantly less likely to share it, that may be a sign that a story has misled people in some way."

But what's that saying... "Lies are right round the block before the truth has got its boots on" ?

I'm not convinced this is a good metric, or a useful one, because there's an interesting flip side: if it is fake news which isn't being shared, is it a problem?

Perhaps this can be seen as an admission that Facebook still loves widely shared and read items, and isn't planning on giving up the ad revenue they generate.

It's now illegal in the US to punish customers for posting bad web reviews


Re: What a world

Agree with every word, especially what you say about knowledge on both sides.

I know little of US law, I can only speak for how things are in the UK.

Because the knowledge is never perfect, and because customers and employees alike can be coerced through MANY means to sign contracts, we have things in our contract-law which try to correct these imperfections.

In a perfect system, every person applying for a job would have the ability to turn it down for any reason and take a different one instead and still be able to pay the bills throughout the whole process. This rarely happens in any profession, for any person - one takes what one can get. So your choice is "take the job and sign the contract" or "don't take the job, and have no job (hopefully for only a short time until the next one comes along in time to pay the bills)"

So if the only job on offer in your niche industry comes with a contract containing a clause which means that if you leave or get sacked, you can't get another job - because the only other jobs in your niche industry are with competitors, and your contract contains an anti-compete clause - this would be unfair: it would deny you work.

So we have contract law which says that such a clause in a private contract is unlawful because it would be unfair, because it would be signing away a deeper right.

As I said earlier, I know only the basics of this. But I suspect this came from court cases over contracts (civil law) rather than from our parliament. So this example probably isn't "govt oversight". But I hope it is a good example of where the legal system can step in to keep people honest - so that they cannot coerce people in to signing away basic human rights.

If this kind of thing didn't exist, then people (employers or otherwise) would be able to coerce others in to signing contracts which essentially say "You are now my bitch". In my example, one employer would be able to stop you from ever working again, via that non-compete clause. Contract law should not be able to trump other laws or rights.


Re: What a world

Would it make you feel better about this law if I told you that we have vaguely similar in the UK, and for very good reasons?

Law exists that defines certain contract terms as illegal and therefore not contractually enforceable.

An example would be if your employment contract said that you could not work for a competitor for X months after leaving, but you work in a niche industry where the only jobs you could get after this one would be for a competitor. Therefore, such a clause would deny you the right to work, and so the clause is illegal and unenforceable.

(I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong about this one)

This isn't about govts overturning contracts willy nilly, it is about you not being coerced in to signing a contract which gives away certain basic rights - in my example, the right to work, and in the article, the right to free speech.


Re: What a world

IANAL, but this appears to be about the ability of a contract to give away your right to free speech.

i.e., your free speech is now still protected even if you have signed a contract waiving your right to free speech.

'Public Wi-Fi' gang fail in cunning plan to hide £10m cigarette tax fraud


"after he admitted his part in the smuggling ring."

Fnar fnar, etc.

Brexflation hits Lenovo's Phab2


Do these laptops magically appear in the UK, or have international courier costs gone up by around the same amount that the pound has fallen?

I wonder if the UK branch has any debts to the US parent co that might need UK prices to go up to service the debt at the current/old levels?

Just thought I'd chuck those in there to help (or hinder) the moaning ;-)

Sysadmin told to spend 20+ hours changing user names, for no reason



When I had a boss (I'm now self employed), I used to consider it a part of my job remit to let the boss (who is usually obsessed with not wasting money) know when one of their decisions was technically incompetent to the point of wasting the company huge amounts of money. As the boss is the boss and not a techie, they would not necessarily understand the technical debt or other repercussions of what they are asking for, and it is my place to tell them - especially if there is not enough slack in the dept to do the work whilst maintaining the sacrosanct "BAU" (Business As Usual)

Blindly following a non-technical incompetent is not, imho, showing due diligence to the company.


Two questions...

Why did it take him 20 hours to turn HR's spreadsheet in to a script that can update the various DBs?

(That's not a serious question)

A serious question is - why are the laptops named after their owners?

Any sysadmin that has been a sysadmin for more than a couple of years knows that this is a sure way to be swamped with unnecessary extra work for each swap or breakage.