* Posts by Mr Humbug

166 posts • joined 28 Jul 2010


It's National Cream Tea Day and this time we end the age-old debate once and for all: How do you eat yours?

Mr Humbug

Have you not heard of the V-Pud?


In olden days these were available direct from the maker at various Farmers' Markets

Laughing UK health secretary launches COVID-19 Test and Trace programme with glitchy website and no phone app

Mr Humbug

So how will it go?

Phone rings

Voice: Hello Mr Humbug, the is NHS Track and Trace. You have been in contact with a known COVID-19 case and must stay home for two weeks.

Me: Gosh how distressing, Can you verify that you're from NHS track and Trace?

Voice: You can check the number I'm calling from.

Me: But numbers can be spoofed. Anyway, who was I in contact with?

Voice: I can't tell you that.

Me: OK then, where and when was I in contact with them?

Voice: I can't tell you that either.

Me: So you want me to stay home for 14 days on the word of an unknown caller who can't verify any of the information they are telling me?

Voice: Yes, it's very important that you do.

Me: Goodbye.

It's all going to go so well, isn't it?

UK's Ministry of Defence: We'll harvest and anonymise private COVID-19 apps' tracing data by handing it to 'behavioural science' arm

Mr Humbug

> nyone else seeing a smartphoneological version of the SA80 story limping and twitching it's sorry hide in our general direction?

It will be fine once we've asked the Germans to fix it for us, as long as you don't try and hold the phone in your left hand

Openreach tells El Reg it'll kill off copper sales in 118 UK locations next year

Mr Humbug

Now I'm really quite irritated

After checking all the neighboring properties with the tool on the Openreach web site it turns out that our office and the primary school next door are the only addresses that cannot get FTTP around here. It's even available at addresses that are served by the same pole that we are.

I wonder why Openreach thinks that houses need 1Gbps fibre, but a primary school should be satisfied with 30 Mbps (the 'minimum guaranteed' speed of an FTTC line at that address)

Mr Humbug

Not sure how they measure availability of FTTP

I see the exchanges that both home and work are connected to are on that list, but FTTP is not available at either address. Although Openreach was digging up the streets near work in January.


I just found the Ofcom availability map, which shows that almost everywhere around work, except for the road that we are on, can get FTTP.

I am annoyed.

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer

Mr Humbug

I think I must be older than you. I have the D units (D32 and D33)

Mr Humbug

Erm... I have ECDL.

Some years ago I worked at a training company that assessed them The qualification for marking the tests was to have passed it yourself - I think it took me two hours to do the 5 hours of tests.

There were good intentions behind it, but, as with all targets, it rapidly fell victim to Goodhart's Law (a label that I only learned about from this week's More or Less).

I also have ECDL Advanced, which was equally difficult to get.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Mr Humbug

Re: Covid jail "prank"

Ross Anderson pointed that out some weeks ago:


"The performance art people will tie a phone to a dog and let it run around the park; the Russians will use the app to run service-denial attacks and spread panic; and little Johnny will self-report symptoms to get the whole school sent home."

Mr Humbug

> I also wonder what will happen when the first person who uses the app gets Covid-19 from a contact, without the app alerting them ?

Nothing. It's not NHSX's fault if the contact who gave you the virus didn't use the app, didn't activate the app properly or used the app but didn't report their symptoms. The app is perfect, it's the users (or lack of them) that are the problem.

Something a bit phishy in your inbox? You can now email suspected frauds straight to Blighty's web takedown cops

Mr Humbug

Isn't that what they've asked for?

Watch out, everyone, here come the Coronavirus Cops, enjoying their little slice of power way too much

Mr Humbug

I read that Tweet differently

I think the important bit is "Please do not call 101 to report breaches."

In other words, Cambridgeshire Police is fed up with people calling 101 to complain about the man down the road going to work, so it's getting all the whinges collated into a list that someone can skim-read once a week for anything that's actually important.

Microsoft attempts to up its Teams game with new features while locked-down folk flock to rival Zoom... warts and all

Mr Humbug

Funny you should mention that. The Office365 message centre has this:

New Feature: Multi-Window Chat for Microsoft Teams

MC207218, Stay Informed, Published date: 21 Mar 2020

Updated March 23, 2020: The initial roll-out will be for Windows clients only. We will provide support for Mac and Linux clients in the coming weeks.

Multi-Window Chat is a new Microsoft Teams feature which enables users to multitask more efficiently by popping out their chat conversations into separate windows.

We'll begin roll-out to all customers starting in early April and expect to complete the roll-out by the end of May.

Real-time tragedy: Dumb deletion leaves librarian red-faced and fails to nix teenage kicks on the school network

Mr Humbug

My rather vague recollection of acquiring stuff from there (when it was called the Public Domain Software Archive - Janet's address for it was uk.ac.lancs.pdsoft I think) was that I used to browse the folder structure with a terminal emulator. Then a command on my account on my university's mainframe would transfer the file to 'local' storage so that I could download it to floppy (5.25 inch of course) using Kermit and take it home where I could finally PKUNPAK it (before Phil Katz invented Zip) and see if it did what it was supposed to.

All this means that I'm old and my recollection may be faulty.

Stob's vital message to Britain's IT nation: And no, it's not about that

Mr Humbug

Re: I thought it was

The version I remember is

R for mo

Mr Humbug

I thought it was

A for horses

B for mutton

C for miles

D for dumb

E for brick

F for vescence

G for get it

H for bless you

I for the engine

J for oranges

and so on

BT Openreach prepares to declare UK MBORCed* as all new phone line installations halted over coronavirus

Mr Humbug

Had an engineer out to a fault this morning

He told me they had been instructed (not advised) not to enter premises unless it was a non-working critical service for a vulnerable person, in which case they could enter at their own discretion.

After 20-year battle, Channel island Sark finally earns the right to exist on the internet with its own top-level domain

Mr Humbug

The article's parenthetical remark states, it's complicated. The main reasons for it happened in 1066 and in 1204.

Deliveroo UK adds 'Don't interact with the help' option for when ordering a burger

Mr Humbug

Totally unbelivable scenarion. GP receptionists are not that helpful

What's inside a tech freelancer's backpack? That's right, EVERYTHING

Mr Humbug

Re: These are the biz

The black 30L patrol packs are the only children's school bags I''ve found that last more than six months

Disk stuck in the drive? Don't dilly-Dali – get IT on the case!

Mr Humbug

"like claiming the plural of "idiot" is "management""

Mangement is a process, not a group of people. The correct plural of "idiot" is "senior executives" or "managers"

Call us immediately if your child uses Kali Linux, squawks West Mids Police

Mr Humbug

Proof that Microsoft is leading children astray


Kali Linux, free from the Microsoft Store

You want a Y2K crash? FINE! Here's a poorly computer

Mr Humbug

Lotus 123, and therefore just about every other spreadsheet (including the latest version of Excel) believes there was a 29th February in 1900. However, Excel* does not allow 29th February 2100 as a valid date

* probably other spreadsheets too, but Excel is the one I have immediately available

Microsoft Teams starts February with a good, old-fashioned TITSUP*

Mr Humbug

There is one on the Service Health page in the Office 365 admin portal. It says it was opened at 2.11pm GMT and it was definitiley there when I looked at 2.30pm

Cover for 'cyber' attacks is risky, complex and people don't trust us, moan insurers

Mr Humbug

Dear Æthelred The Unready

You will be aware that Danes have a habit of turning up and waiting for you to pay their geld so they will go away. Have you considered taking advantage of an insurance policy? For a simple monthly payment we will support* you in the unlikely event of a Danish occupation.

* Terms apply. Requires maintenance of strong defences and a standing army or trained militia

You spoke, we didn't listen: Ubiquiti says UniFi routers will beam performance data back to mothership automatically

Mr Humbug

Re: Use a firewall

That's not really the point. These are sold as business wireless infrastructure kit, to be managed either in-house or by a paid third party. In that scenario the person responsible for the kit should easily be able to find out what it does and choose what telemetry is appropriate in their environment. Turning off telemetry should not require you to create firewall rules.

Mr Humbug

Just to be pedantic...

... because the article confused me for a bit.

The wireless UniFi devices this is talking about are access points, not routers.

UK to Chinese telecoms giant: From 5G in Tiree to the Isles of Ebony, carry me on the waves… Sail Huawei, sail Huawei, sail Huawei

Mr Humbug

But if you're doing things properly it doesn't matter whether the radio your packets pass through was made in China, Finland, Korea or Sweden because the content of the packets is encrypted.

Curse of Boeing continues: Now a telly satellite it built may explode, will be pushed up to 500km from geo orbit

Mr Humbug

> If it was good enough for the Romans

Ah, you mean the first Eurpean Union (although Germany didn't join that one, nor did Scotland or Ireland)

No backdoors needed: Apple ditched plans to fully encrypt iCloud backups after heavy pressure from FBI – claim

Mr Humbug

Perhaps the voters want an excuse to reatin their guns ...

Whirlybird-driving infosec boss fined after ranty Blackpool Airport air traffic control antics

Mr Humbug

Should have listened to Cabin Pressure

"Request priority landing"

<strikes match />

"I think I smell smoke in the cockpit"

- D Richardson

Having trouble finding a job in your 40s? Study shows some bosses like job applicants... up until they see dates of birth

Mr Humbug

Re: age discrimination cannot be stopped

Yes, the fine is for employing someone unlawfully, but it is a defence to show that you checked. Therefore, the effect of the law is that employers are required to check. I could have put it better

Mr Humbug

Re: age discrimination cannot be stopped

> It's impossible to stop because most hirers or their agents want (or pretend there is legislation that requires) proof of identity.

Your employer does have to have proof that you have the right to work in the UK. If it doesn't get that from you and it later turns out that are not allowed to work here then it is liable for up to £10,000 fine (per unlawfully working employee). If you are British the easisest way to establish that is either by seeing your passport or by seeing your birth certificate plus some other ID.

However, they do not need this until they have made the decision to employ you.

GCHQ: A cyber-what-now? Rumours of our probe into London Stock Exchange 'cyberattack' have been greatly exaggerated

Mr Humbug

It reminds me of


except: s/virus/hackers

A sprinkling of Star Wars and a dash of Jedi equals a slightly underbaked Rise Of Skywalker

Mr Humbug

Defending the indefensible

Why has nobody mentioned the 1978 contribution to the saga?


VCs find exciting new way to blow $1m: Wire it directly to hackers after getting spoofed

Mr Humbug

Re: Have to admit

With the way most e-mail clients work these days (start typing address and let the autocomplete finish it) a new e-mail chain would have probably gone to the bogus domain anyway

Remember the Dutch kid who stuck his finger in a dam to save the village? Here's the IT equivalent

Mr Humbug

But Devil's Dyke is in the South Downs, just north of Brighton. It is, according to local legend, the beginnings of ditch the Devil was digging in order to flood the Weald

Can't you hear me knocking? But I installed a smart knocker

Mr Humbug

All locks can be picked amd all keys can be copied, but if the name of the lock includes words such as "Abloy Protec2" or "Avocet ABS Ultimate" then the number of people who can achieve either of these things is much smaller.

Here are some deadhead jobs any chatbot could take over right now

Mr Humbug

> I pretend to be a slow old man who's not familiar with computers.

I did that one, with the added difficulty that the desktop computer and the corded phone were in different rooms.

'Can you click the four-flag button'

'OK, wait a minute'

Phone down, long pause

'I've done that'

eventually (after about 45 minutes) we got to do you have a mobile, which I said I did but I didn't know the number because my son did all that for me so they said they would call me back when I'd found out what it was.

Call back and I still hadn't found out my mobile number so there was 30 minutes of different ways I could do that, all of which I claimed I'd been told would be expensive. they left me with another strategy to try.

They did call back again but I'd had to go out so that was the end of it.

I was impressed that they were polite and extremely patient throughout the whole charade

UK ads watchdog slaps Amazon for UX dark arts after folk bought Prime subs they didn't want

Mr Humbug

I don't know. I haven't tried for the full 12 months because there are only some times that I want to use Prime. I think I have four accounts with different e-mail addresses* but same name, delivery address, credit card and phone number. When I really need something quickly I just find out which one hasn't had a Prime trial in the last 12 months and sign up, order, then cancel Prime. The trial then lasts for 30 days.

It can also be useful for the occasional "Prime-only-one-per-customer" items too, if you need more than one of them

* For "reasons" I have a few domains so they are all me@somedomain

Mr Humbug

My most recent 30-day Prime trial started accidentally too - I think because of the same advert. I definitely didn't click 'yes get Prime', I clicked the other option and only then realised it was also 'yes give me Prime'.

Fortunately I've used the 30-day trial often enough that I know where to click 'Cancel Prime', 'Yes really cancel', 'I want to lose my benefits', 'End the Prime trial'.

By the way, if you are prepared to go through a bit of hoop-jumping and have twelve email addresses (and who doesn't) then you can have Prime on a continuaous series of 30-day free trials

'We go back to the Moon to stay': Apollo vets not too chuffed with NASA's new rush to the regolith

Mr Humbug

I see what you mean, but actually the Earth is not a closed system. It receives energy from the sun - which is why the creationists' argument that evolution contravenes the second law of thermodynamics is wrong.

Multitasking is a myth: It means doing lots of things equally badly

Mr Humbug

Re: The English language includes support for lists

Ah, but sooner or later you find a reader who is not 'any fule'. Then what flavour are they going to want?

To get to the ultimate conclusion of any grammar argument: 'I'm right and you're wrong, so there!'

Mr Humbug

Re: The English language includes support for lists

In the first list the Oxford comma is needed to show that 'salt and vinegar' and 'cheese and onion' are individual list items - it shows you which 'and' is before the last list item. In the second list there is no confusion because the items do not contain 'and'.

In other words, use an Oxford comma when the list items include 'and'. Crisps are sold at Sainsbury's, Waitrose, and Marks and Spencer. Cheaper brands are availble from Morrison's, Aldi and Lidl.

PS 'pre' is not a preposition

Mr Humbug

Re: The English language includes support for lists

The Oxford comma is a device to be used when needed, and not otherwise. For example, we know that traditionally crisps have been available in ready salted, cheese and onion, and salt and vinegar flavours. More recently the selection can include roast chicken, barbecue sauce and prawn cocktail.

Using the Oxford comma correctly requires thought, rather than blindly following a rule. I know this because my job title includes SLASH Proof Reader (although I also have the benefit of full time wage slavery).

UK Supreme Court unprorogues Parliament

Mr Humbug

The government can't create legislation that bypasses parliament unless parliament itself passes it as primary legislation (an Act of Parliament). Government can introduce secondary legislation but the courts can rule that as incompatible with existing primary legislation and therefore unlawful. The courts cannot rule primary legislation to be unlawful (although they can point out that it's incompatible with other primary legislation and tell parliament to work out what it wants)

As an aside, the European Communities Act is an example of parliament passing some of its soveregn power to another body (the EU)

Mr Humbug

There is a very well-known precedent for dealing with people who shut down parliament for ten years. It goes back to the 17th century and we've only had to do it once

Three UK slammed for 'ripping off' loyal mobile customers by £32.4m per year

Mr Humbug

> Sure, Three are still getting some of my money,

Actually Three is getting all of your money (well all of the bit you spend on the mobile plan). If you read the Ts and Cs you'll see the company is 'Hutchison 3G UK Limited, trading as SMARTY'.

I use SMARTY too - three SIMs for three family members (including me). I was going to use iD mobile but they said I could only have two SIMs and couldn't explain why.

US government sues ex-IT guy for breaking his NDA (Yes, we mean Edward Snowden)

Mr Humbug

NDAs that I've seen all say something along the lines of: you can talk about the stuff covered by this agreement if it becomes publicly known otherwise than through your breach of this NDA. Since we know all this stuff because Snowden breached the NDA I guess he's now the only person in the world who is not allowed to talk about it.

Right-click opens up terrifying vistas of reality and Windows 95 user's frightful position therein

Mr Humbug

> A recycle bin doesn't really give you any more of a chance to change your mind than an "are you sure" type message.

Of course it does. 'Are you sure?' and any other annoying boxes that appear on screen (such as error messages) only appear to interrupt users and must be dismissed as quickly as possible without reading them, let alone thinking about what it is asking.

Finally! A solution to 42 – the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything

Mr Humbug

If you're referring to Arthur's use of teh scrabble tiles to divine the question (what do you get if you multiply six by nine) then I think you mean 54.

But the programme that ended with Arthur's result was corrupted by the Golgafrincham B Ark, which is why he produced the wrong question.




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