* Posts by flayman

197 publicly visible posts • joined 29 Jun 2010


UK Online Safety law threatens Big Tech bosses with jail


likely to have unintended consquences

While this may sound good in theory, it's likely to do more harm than good in practice. Let me explain:

"...successfully proposed amendments that would see tech executives face up to two years in jail for consistently failing to comply with the bill's rules"

It's easy to see how an exec fails to cooperate with requests. It's not so easy to see what it means to consistently fail to comply with the rules when the rules require proactive engagement. Fear of prosecution is going to see more content taken down than is necessary, which is bad. If you're "thinking of the children", then think of their right to access content that is not harmful.

It is very, very difficult to come up with an effective framework for criminal sanctions here.

Seriously, what's with FBI, DEA vacuuming up people's money transfer records?


Wyden is one of one

If it weren't for Ron Wyden, nobody in the US would be looking at this shit at all.

Haiku beta 4: BeOS rebuild / almost ready for release / A thing of beauty


Excellent article

This is an excellent, fascinating, and informative article. I can really sense the author's enthusiasm and excitement. I've never tried BeOS, but I'm minded to give this Haiku a spin. I've long been a fan of the elegant simplicity of the classic Mac OS experience.

FTX CTO and Alameda Research CEO admit fraud, pair 'cooperating' with Feds


Hanlon's Razor

These people are royally f*cked. SBF gives the impression of someone who genuinely believes he has merely been guilty of incompetence. I have to wonder about that. Did he really direct these two to commit fraud, or are they throwing him under the bus? Maybe he did direct fraud without suspecting that he was breaking the law. Ignorance is no excuse. Have a nice life, you three absolute stars.

Lawyer mom barred from Rockettes show by facial recognition tech


Perhaps immoral, but not illegal.

The alcohol licensing aspect is interesting, but probably not relevant. And even if that turns out to be true, it still doesn't make the practice illegal. I'm having difficulty finding the relevant legislation, but a violation of the terms for issuance of a license to serve alcohol is only grounds for revoking that license. Continuing to serve alcohol without a valid license would be illegal, and the venue would surely be hurt by the prospect of losing its license.

When someone says "how is that legal?" I can only answer "how is it not?". Unless there is a law forbidding something, doing that something is not against the law. There might be laws against blanket facial recognition use, but in the USA I have my doubts. As far as I can see right now, there is no law forbidding MSG from using facial recognition software at its events to look for a specific list of personae non gratae. Without seeing the terms of the liquor license relating to exclusion of members of the public, I couldn't make a judgement on that. I would suggest that it is at least arguable that specific persons who are known to the establishment are no longer members of the public.

None of this is to say that there should not be a law against this sort of behaviour. Perhaps there should. That's up to the legislature. And if it turns out there is a law that catches this behaviour within the jurisdiction, then it should be ceased.


Re: "MSG's use of facial recognition"

What, I'm getting down voted for pointing out the obvious? Anything is legal unless there's a law against it. What is the law against this? Find that. It appears there is not.


Re: "MSG's use of facial recognition"

"How is that legal ?"

How is that not?


Re: "This whole scheme is a pretext for doing collective punishment..."

Even if the alcohol license thing has legs, that still wouldn't make it illegal. It's just potentially a reason to revoke their license to sell alcohol.

UK's Guardian newspaper breaks news of ransomware attack on itself


We believe this to be ransomware(?)

"We believe this to be a ransomware attack but are continuing to consider all possibilities."

We believe? It's not a very good ransomware if the victim doesn't know for certain that it is ransomware and also where to pay the ransom. One wonders whether this might not simply be a major IT cock-up using the spectre of ransomware as cover.

Video game players sue to frag Microsoft-Activision merger



As a PC gamer on Steam, I welcome MS getting its hands on titles. They are more likely to continue to be supported on that platform, as well as Xbox. Windows is by far the best platform for gaming, and MS have identified this market as a major one they want to cater for. Apple is nowhere, and Sony PlayStation really could not be any more noncompetitive or uncooperative, that being the most restrictive platform when it comes to third party add-ons. I won't even mention Nintendo, because they are just totally doing their own thing, which is almost completely divorced from this side of gaming and quite successful in its own right.

Microsoft of today is a far cry from that same company 10 years ago when Ballmer was running it. Microsoft bought ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda Game Studios, last year. It is interesting to note that there has now been announced a next-gen upgrade for one of its major titles, Fallout 4 from 2015, which will be offered next year FOR FREE to existing licensees of that game on PC, Xbox Series X, and, perhaps most notably, PS5. I call that good for gamers. I don't know about the industry, but let the competitors sue if they feel moved to do so. The FTC is already on it. We'll see. These 10 gamers bringing the action are probably just a bunch of guys who have a beef with Microsoft, as I'll admit I once did. That changed for me after MS stopped doing silly things like trying to destroy Linux and started doing good and smart things like actually contributing to it.

Women sue Apple claiming AirTags helped their stalkers


Could the device maybe render itself disabled?

I think there may be an aspect of negligence, which may also be exacerbated by false claims. It's arguable. I've been thinking a lot about this over the past couple days and it seems to me that this type of service could have been designed better with stalking in mind. As I've already said in other comments, my biggest gripe is the ease of concealment and length of serviceability on the same battery.

With the "anti-stalking" features of triggering the unwanted tracking alert and recoginising that it is moving for a period of time outside the presence of the owner, the device could disable itself after, say, a couple days or maybe a week. The owner should get alerted while it's on the move within that time period, thus helping the owner to track it. If it's not retrieved and reset in some way other than close proximity within that time, it's out of action until then reset. Maybe it's not the device that needs resetting, but the instance of Find My Network, so maybe it can still send out beacons, but those will stop being displayed for the owner.

Granted that Apple do seem to have taken greater steps to discourage stalking than other device manufacturers and those that operate outside the Find My Network service, but more ought to have been envisaged. IMHO, all similar devices should operate as I've described in order to minimise abuse. If you haven't located your lost device within a reasonable period of time, then you haven't really been paying attention. If that doesn't sit well, then let's allow for the location to still be discoverable through a more rigorous process perhaps involving the authorities.


Re: re: You have a choice. You can educate people or you can be a dick.

Up voted by ME. How do you like that?


Dear Lord,

You wasted some more of your precious time replying to something I wrote for someone else with a comment that was actually helpful. And I read it and learned something. Then you deleted it, wasting even more time. I'm trying to work out what this says about you. I still have a copy of it, by the way.

So Apple weren't the first. I honestly had no idea. And Samsung is worse. And others are worse still. In that case, I take your point about Apple being the biggest target. I'd never heard of any of these devices before reading yesterday's article. Now I know. My assessment is that all of these devices are bad. Should be banned. End of. In fact I'm surprised there hasn't been a huge stink in the EU over it. It needs to go back to the drawing board, because none of these, with the way they operate, were designed with privacy at the forefront. Apple may have taken better steps than others, but the entire concept is fundamentally flawed.

Love always,

Flay Man

EDIT: Oh you're back. With updates. Edit correction wasn't enough?


Re: re: You have a choice. You can educate people or you can be a dick.

I have no doubt there are many differences between myself and the smug f**ker that this remark was aimed at. Chief among them for the purposes of this debate, and also the source of my anger and frustration, is that I actually want to be convinced that I'm wrong. I have done the research and I'm still not convinced, so alas it seems I must learn to live with my discomfort. Because I'm one of these people who can't be taught, you see.

Plenty of other devices exist which allow unsuspecting victims to have their locations tracked. This is a societal problem. I don't blame the satellites or the masts. I don't even blame the device makers except in this case. There are good and legal uses for these devices. Misuse of such devices is typically a crime. In the case of Apple AirTags however, I see a sea change. As far as I can see, other live GPS trackers require a connection to a mobile service provider. That makes them instantly more costly and also bulkier and with a reduced battery life.

Apple's vast infrastructure, mainly relying on their vast customer base with direct connections to mobile networks, is being used to facilitate the service. This has allowed them to manufacture and sell a device which is small enough to be easily concealed, despite the bolt on "anti-stalking" features, and capable of functioning for a vastly extended period of time. To my admittedly feeble and unteachable mind, that makes Apple partly culpable for its misuse.

I've read Apple's announcement in February that the earlier Reg article was about. It seems that the software updates were mainly focused on alleviating the problem of unwanted tracking alerts received for benign reasons. Of course. A software update affecting iPhones and the Find My Network couldn't actually serve to make the AirTag device itself less trackable outside acceptable use. Other updates in February include documentation changes explaining what unwanted tracking alerts can mean and what the acceptable uses of AirTags are. Also that using them for unacceptable purposes is most likely a crime. Thanks. That's good to know.

If we take people who carry Apple devices with them out of the frame, I don't believe the anti-stalking feature of the audible beep is good enough given that it can be disabled. We don't know whether it was disabled, but It clearly wasn't good enough to prevent its misuse in the cases featured in the current article or the 150 or so other cases reported to police, presumably only in the United States, including one case involving a homicide. But I'll just have to get over my discomfort somehow. My discomfort is for other people, so I can at least console myself with this.


The cases mentioned are one thing, but I have my own reservations that are separate. My biggest reservation is that these are very easy to hide and can operate for many months without being retrieved or detected because they work on near field communication. To my mind, that makes them worse than other tracking devices. They are also relatively cheap and don't require the owner having to pay for mobile network access as part of their operation.


You really are something special, aren't you.


Here's how you explained it above:

"...or whether it appears to be travelling in close proximity to a specific person who is NOT it's owner. It does this by listening out for electronic devices including other iPhones, Android phones, smartwatches, any device which communicates through Bluetooth BLE."

At that point, according to Apple's support page, what happens is that if you have an iPhone, iPad or similar device with Bluetooth turned on, you'll receive notifications that you're being tracked. In order to receive notifications you apparently also need to turn on Location Services and Find My iPhone, which seems odd to me.

It also says if you don't have one of these devices and the AirTag is on the move without its owner for a period of time, it will emit a sound. However, I've seen that the audible alert can be permanently disabled. This earlier article posted at the time of the privacy updates reveals that AirTags with silenced speakers were being sold online: https://www.theregister.com/2022/02/11/apple_airtags_stalking/

You even say, or am I misreading this, that you did this yourself: "True: and I’ve ‘defanged’ all my AirTags in similar ways (which interestingly makes them legally controversial where I live)."

150 police reports of stalking means 150 separate incidents were reported to police. That's a lot, and probably there were many more incidents that weren't. Unless you think that all the people who reported the incidents to the police are looking for compensation, I really don't understand that remark. You didn't address my observation about the 1 year battery life, as opposed to other tracking devices which have a direct connection to mobile services.

As for law enforcement, it all depends on what the law of the land says. It may well be risky to a stalker, but steps can be taken to reduce the risk to arguably acceptable levels. The one thing that I cannot get past is the near field aspect of this service. It allows the power consumption requirements for a working device to be minimal, allowing it to remain serviceable for many months at a time.

Bottom line is that I'm still not reassured. If there's anything that I'm still not getting I'd really like to know.


I asked you to explain why I was wrong, and instead you said "Pretty much everything you wrote was wrong." That makes me angry, and yeah a little aggressive, and I care a lot about privacy. And I don't think it's been multiple commenters. I think it's been one.

How does the device determine that it's travelling with a specific person and therefore go into anti-stalking mode? This is something I still have not seen adequately explained, and it seems to me that there would need to be a qualifying device that was consistently near it.

"As of April 2022, at least 150 police reports have been filed claiming stalking involving an AirTag, the complaint says, arguing that the actual number of such incidents is likely much higher." Perhaps changes made in February improved the situation, but that speaks against privacy being the central design factor.

You have a choice. You can educate people or you can be a dick. You made your choice. That said, I really would like to be reassured that this wasn't some colossally poorly thought out product.


Let's talk about all the things you wrote which are wrong...

"Lawsuit has not merit."

Lawsuit is two-pronged. As the article states, the complaint about affirmatively misleading the public is tenuous. "But when it comes to stalking itself..." Yes, that's more on point.

"...substantially LESS effective at stalking than any of the nameless Bluetooth and GPS trackers out there"

All of which have a direct connection to a mobile service as opposed to relaying through near field contact. Because of this, the battery life on those devices is much less and/or they are bulkier. Maybe a couple weeks. AirTags can work for up to around a year on the same battery. You can potentially stalk someone for a year and collect detailed data on their movements without them knowing or you having to retrieve the device.


If you're going to thumb me down, then please reply and explain how any of the points I'm making in any of my replies are incorrect. Or do you genuinely not care about people who fit the cases I describe? If I'm correct, then the privacy points are not at all unlike Google Glass, where the privacy rights of unknown third parties, facing the prospect of video of themselves in public being surreptitiously captured and stored, seem never to have entered the thought process.


A) Not everyone lives in this hyper-connected world of carrying digital devices on their person at all times.

B) Of those who do, not everyone has an Apple device or knows to download the Android app, which you then have to run in the background at all times.

C) Of those who still make the cut, sometimes people go out without their phones. It does happen.

D) Oh yeah, you'd also better make sure you never run out of battery if you care about being stalked.

It's not a well executed system, because your hypothetical grandmother with her Nokia 3210, is helpless and not even considered.


Exteme, huh? Like yeah, if I own an iPhone then it won't track me. But I don't own an iPhone. "But you can download an app for Android...". So I have to be a smart phone user in order to have a claim to privacy when out in public?

No. It's that kind of thinking that is wrong.

A person going about their business in public without a phone cannot help that there are loads of people around them who are carrying iPhones which will, without their consent, relay the coordinates of the stealth device they do not realise they are carrying. And they are not capable of giving or withholding consent, unlike the iPhone owners who have agreed to the EULA.

As someone who is now aware that this could be a problem, I may choose to scour my belongings looking for such hidden devices like some paranoid lunatic. The claimants in this lawsuit were never aware such a thing could happen to them, nor should this be expected. There is a reasonable expectation of privacy there.


Re: No iPhome ==No stalking

An iPhone is an expensive piece of kit that no one in their right mind (and there's another conversation) is going to hide in another person's effects for the purposes of stalking. An AirTag is much less expensive and also much easier to conceal.


Like Google Glass, privacy was barely an afterthought.

San Francisco politicians to vote on policy endorsing lethal force for robots


Re: Remote control is not a robot

It doesn't matter if the machine can be classed as a robot insofar as it can climb unaided up stairs. The only issue here is whether it can autonomously decide to kill someone.


Remote control is not a robot

Others have already said this. Asimov should have nothing to add. A remote control device is not an AI. In legal and ethical terms, it should not be considered any different to driving or piloting a vehicle. It just happens to be capable of insulating the driver or pilot from any physical risks.

'What's the point of me being in my office, just because they want to see me in the office?'


Re: It's not necessarily wrong to demand staff spend most days in the office.

"So, you admit yourself that some people are most productive when working from home, and others are not. Your conclusion is then that one size fits all and everyone needs to be in the office some of the time?"

No, the fact that some people are more productive working from home is only part of it. Some productivity loss is a trade-off for other benefits, like mentoring, impromptu discussion, and socialising.

"Touchy-feely stuff is best done face-to-face."

There's always some touchy-feely stuff when dealing with other human beings. If you never deal with humans in your job and you're the socially inept genius who doesn't see the point of washing, then yeah, don't come in. Nobody wants to talk to you anyway.


It's not necessarily wrong to demand staff spend most days in the office.

"Sometimes I'm told: 'You really should be in on this Thursday,' and actually I didn't want to be in on this Thursday because I've got just Zooms and what's the point of me being in my office, just because they want to see me in the office? I'm going to be on Zoom back-to-back from seven [am] … What's the point?"

I agree with that interviewee. If you're just on Zoom calls all day, there's not much point being in the office ON THAT DAY. Although there are still the water-cooler conversations to be had and maybe sitting down together at lunch. I'll get to that.

The article suggests that bosses who demand their staff work from the office most days of the week are doing it out of ego, distrust, or some other misguided notion. That's not necessarily true. The CEO in my company held a town hall where he presented the hybrid work model, resulting from our experiments with working from home. Some people have been found to be most productive when working from home all the time. Others have suffered from increased isolation. The CEO felt that barring certain exceptions, he would like all staff to be in at least three days per week because of strengthened culture and other "synergies" resulting from face to face communication. He wants this despite acknowledging that many people will be less productive. I may not agree (in fact I do), but the reasoning is clear and defensible.


Re: Odd joke revived

Make it 20% on Tuesdays and you can have Mondays off.

You get the internet you deserve


Re: Wikipedia

I can see the 10 post run that you and "that one in the corner" are probably referring to. If you're going to swim against the stream, you really can't afford to be pseudo-anonymous. If you're an expert in the field, then you'd better be prepared to defend your expert opinion with something other than citations of someone else's work. You're prepared to subject Singh, Burada, and Roy to the inevitable onslaught, but not yourself (unless you're one of those three). If you are, then say so and then commentators will be more likely to take you seriously. Who knows, maybe there can even be an informed debate. If you're not one of those three and you're not willing to give your own references, then why should anyone take you at anything other than face value as an anonymous coward?

US commerce bosses view EU rules as threat to its clouds


Re: "ensure that non-EU suppliers cannot access the EU market on an equal footing"

"The US responded to this with the "cloud act" which required that non-US operations and subsidiaries fall under the law of the US when it came to data. This put Microsoft Ireland in a rather tough spot..."

I mean, the utter f***ing cheek of it is just gobsmacking.


Nice try...

"These EUCS requirements are seemingly designed to ensure that non-EU suppliers cannot access the EU market on an equal footing, thereby preventing European industries and governments from fully benefiting from the offerings of these global suppliers,"

You don't get to access the EU market on equal footing if you can't comply with EU regulations. In fact, yes, you can't access the EU market on equal footing if you're outside the EU. That's the whole point of the EU. It operates as a bloc. Do non-US suppliers get access to the US market on an equal footing? Just asking the question induces laughter.

Here's how I see it. Get serious about data privacy. Stop spying on YOUR OWN CITIZENS, let alone foreign nationals, on the inbound side of transatlantic cables. Then maybe there can be real assurances about a safe harbour. Then we'll talk.

Facebook approved 75% of ads threatening US election workers


"Five seconds looking at the GlobalWitness.org website reveals them to be far left political activists."

Combining ad-hominem with straw man. Deft work. What difference does that make, when they've exposed the fact that Facebook will take money to run death threat ads? You really think that's a FoS issue?

Twitter set for more layoffs as Musk mulls next move


Re: the end game emerges...

"I wouldn't be surprised if the joy of reneging on that promise will be a motivating factor." This too. Pure evil.


Re: the end game emerges...

If this is true, then he really is a genius. Evil, but genius. So he's destroying Twitter as punishment while also covering his arse.

FTX disarray declared 'unprecedented' by exec who cleaned up after Enron


'F*** regulators they make everything worse' Oh, but I want bankruptcy protection please. A$$hole.

Elon Musk issues ultimatum to Twitter staff: Go hardcore or go home


Re: And the stupid just carries on

Thanks for the down vote, Elon. Your sentiments have been redirected to /dev/null.


Re: And the stupid just carries on

Replying to myself just to say the following things. I left Twitter years ago because I saw it for what it had become. There's a lot of good to be seen there, but it's overbalanced by the weight of hate and misinformation. The worst of human nature to the foreground. I have no stake in Twitter. I'm long gone.

Without a Twitter and a Facebook, Donald Trump could not have gained the necessary support to become elected President of the United States. I don't know what, if anything, can be done about this. The problem with social media is the social, not the media.

I used to rate Elon Musk. If you're reading this, you arrogant prick, know that I will never be a part of any product you own or buy a damn thing you sell, ever. If I ever buy an electric vehicle it will not be Tesla, unless you first sell that company. This is the effect you have. I'm only one of billions, but I'm probably not alone.


And the stupid just carries on

As per title

Twitter engineer calls out Elon Musk for technical BS in unusual career move


Re: Bit klunky, but...

Hahaha! Yeah, right. If he had the time and the authority to clear what he refers to as the technical debt. I'm confident that you don't work in IT systems. A complex system has interconnected dependencies that often makes it difficult to just "solve the problem" in isolation, especially where the problem is architecture. That's not something that a coal face dev can tackle on his own.


Glass ego cannon

Absolute fucking joke. Fire all your engineers and then see how well the platform performs. I can't help thinking he is somehow deliberately sabotaging this company. He cannot really be this thick.

Qualcomm: Arm threatens to end CPU licensing, charge device makers instead


"This would be an incredible transformation for Softbank-owned Arm."

Softbank-owned tells me all I need to know. Not much better than IP trolls. This would be a very dumb move and would probably see an exodus of Arm's best customers.

Firefox points the way to eradicating one of the rudest words online: PDF


Re: I don't mind PDFs

Here's a tip for you, anonymous. Nobody cares that you're angry. You may have good reason to be angry, but it's not important. Things that you complain about may have some truth to them, but your approach is always going to see you shunned. Group think is bad, and many so-called "right thinking people" seem to have forgotten this. Echo chambers inflate our own sense of correctness. Just stop banging your head against the wall. What do you get for your trouble?

Boycotting a company because of things that company has said and done is your choice. You have the right to spread the word about it. General attacks on left leaning or right leaning culture are counterproductive. Humans behave according to human nature.


The article does not match the headline

This is an odd article, to say the least. Firefox should be congratulated for making a decent PDF reader. Paragraph one. A) How is that eradicating PDF? B) It then spends the rest of its length slagging off the format with criticisms that are mostly valid, but not entirely. PDF is somewhat reassuring, because it looks like a print document, so I feel confident it is as the author intended. I don't really mind reading pages. I still do that with books, whether physical or with e-readers. Printing and signing a form only to scan it and send it back is sort of dumb, but it doesn't need to be that way. This is a choice. I don't have a problem with it. I've worked in IT for decades. Documents are documents. Other formats can be more flexible.

Rather than take the L, Amazon sues state that dared criticize warehouse safety


Re: Who are their lawyers?

The key "fact" is that there is an ongoing appeal which Amazon could in theory win. Forcing them to implement expensive changes which they argue are baseless would have a detrimental effect on their business. It is, after all, up to a court to decide whether to allow their motion to be heard.

Google kills off Stadia


I like the Stadia controller

I received a Chromecast UHD and Stadia controller as a free gift when I took a BT Fibre Broadband package a couple years ago. I was grateful for the Chromecast because it was an upgrade on our existing HD one, which I gave to my adult child for their flat. I didn't think much of the Stadia controller at the time and wasn't at all interested in the game streaming service. I play games on Steam and my kids used PS4. But I've been using the controller lately and I really prefer it over other controllers such as the DS4. First off, it has a USB-C port on it. Those ports are the defacto standard now. They are much more secure and very easy to connect. The only reason I kept micro-USB around was for the DS4 controllers. Secondly, the driver on Windows emulates a recent Xbox controller and the buttons match. That's very handy. I got DS4 to work in Steam, but it's not perfect. Finally, it's a damn good controller and feels comfortable in my hands. So thank you, BT and Google.

Girls Who Code books 'banned' in some US classrooms


Re: Politics on mailing lists...

You have a point. Someone else suggested the mailing list was encouraging girls to question their gender identity. Does anyone have any examples of this? I will reserve judgement until I see evidence.


Re: God botherers strike again!

Is that actually happening? It's not clear what the mailing list is offering. I guess I could sign up and find out.

Why bother with warrants when cops can buy location data for under $10k?


Re: Don't let any old app access your location data!

I don't think that's the kind of data we're talking about. The article is only talking about installed apps that have access to location data. Anything else is just Google or Apple doing whatever they think they can and should, which is probably too much, but they are not going to be selling that data to third parties or turning it over to the authorities without a warrant. Anyone who is that paranoid needs to switch off the phone when they don't want to be tracked.


Don't let any old app access your location data!

I have two apps that are allowed to access location, and only when they are in use. These are Google Maps and the Shell application for using pay at the pump. If you agree to have an app access location data all the time and the terms allow that data to be sold, then I don't have a lot of sympathy.