* Posts by Arthur Dent

94 posts • joined 20 Aug 2010


Online gov services are mostly time-wasting duplicates, says EU

Arthur Dent

Re: Checking

Yes, it is - but that's spoken, not form filling. The person asking for your DoB will have it on paper in front of him/her when he/she asks.

ICANN's leaving the nest, so when will it grow up?

Arthur Dent

Re: Nii Quaynor, the MIA Point Man for ICANN

If ICANN is going to carry on in the style that it has ioerated in the past he rest of the world is going to het thoroughly fed up (actually, a lot of people already are fed up with ICANNs arrogance, greed , and stupidity). Maybe there'll be a revolution - it's close to where the world-wide networking community will cease to accept that this outfit can be permitted to continue to control things with no regard to any non-ICANN interests or indeed to anything other than its ability always to have its own way.

Samsung caught disabling Windows Update to run its own bloatware

Arthur Dent

Re: I'd hazard a guess

Indeed, techies will use Firefox - and if they are awake they will update it regularly. I set Firefox to update automatically, since the updates seem pretty reliable. And that Firefox Reset is provided indicates that the need for it is recognised, and I don't think that a non-techie user could cope with that, so I wouldn'd recommend Firefox for any non-techie user. The updates sometimes make rather large UI changes too, and that's another thing that makes it unsuitable for non-techies.

NSA domestic dragnet NOT authorised by Patriot Act, rules US Appeals Court

Arthur Dent

Re: impliedly?

Yes, definitely a real word.

Actually, it goes back to before the 1500s. The OED's earliest examples of its use are from 1449 and 1475. And it's not archaic - it also gives examples from 1964 and 1970.

Flash banishes the spectre of the unrecoverable data error

Arthur Dent

While I've been advocating that people don't touch RAID5 with a bargepole if they require their data to be safe for a very long time now, I have to say that this article gets it hopelessly wrong. RAID5 is bad enough to be totally inappropriate for very large volumes of data that have to be safe and have anything more than an utterly trivial update rate (and is only suitable for the trivial update rate stuff if a policy of reading a few sectors and writing them back again so that the whole lot gets hardware-checked regularly is adopted). However, it's pretty stragtforward to keep a disc with a bad sector still in the system - don't take the disc out, find what content the sector should have and then recover that sector, not the whole disc. After too many sectors have had to be mored, then recover the whole disc - but do it while full reduncancy is still available, not when it's too late. So it's not as bad as the article suggests.

If one uses RAID 10, plus sector (or track) recovery instead of disc recovery until too many sectors (or tracks) are broken, one can have a pretty viable RAID. Using FLASH doesn't really help, unless the data is all just about read-only so that there are not so many writes that the disc becomes totally unreliable in too short a time. Of course one can use Flash for very rarely written data, so that the read latency is substantially lower than is hard discs were used, and if the writing is rare enough, a RAID 10 configuration is used fior the data on flash, and extra reads were used to ensure that each copy of everything is read often enough to detect errors early enough but not too often (and recovery is by reassigning sectors when neccessary, as it would be on HDD) Flash could improve things a bit - but I'm not aware of any flash RaId that can do that.

Switching from the article to some of the early comments: As for ZFS, it appears to me to improve error detection; it can either handle redundancy itself, or rely on redundancy in some storage mechanism it uses. I've seen nothing to convince me that it offeres any advantages other than the early error detection, and it's not the only system that does that.

Pull up the Windows 10 duvet and pretend Win8 and Vista were BAD DREAMS

Arthur Dent

Re: Have you actually used PowerShell to automate GUI operations?

I found upgrade from 8 to 8,1 extremely easy, not in the least torturous. I didn't have to tune any KBs. And I find the 8.1 GUI at least as good as the Windows 7 GUI, better than the XP Pro GUI, and infinitely better than the Vista GUI. It lets me use a decent command language, run 5 instances of sql server using 3 different releases (2008R2, 2012, and 2014) ,allows me to use an old-style start menu, makes it very easy to work as an unprivileged user instead os having all sorts or privileges (as used to be required to work efficiently under XP and various Unixes), in general it doesn't present any problems.

Maybe having first started messing about with computers 50 years ago has made it easier for me to adapt to changes in OSs and UIs that you seem to have found adapting to Windows 8.1.

Marriott fined $600k for deliberate JAMMING of guests' Wi-Fi hotspots

Arthur Dent

Re: Ker-plunk

Sony and RyanAir have been on my "never" list for a long time, and Marriot has now joined them. Apple got on it because the first time I tried to deal with them professionally they wanted contracts which no competent professional could have permitted his employer to get stuck in and wouldn't back down when this was pointed out to them (their legal department were not the problem, it appeared to be someone else in a position of power). Prior to that of course there was the famous fast-obsolescence white cases, which within two years would be an ugly yellow so that customers would have to replace their computers if they wanted them to look at all chic - and after two years replace the replacements, and so on. Then there was the legal trolling over the last few years - employing clever lawyers to persuade courts to ignore prior art on patents and on "design". For awfulness of their reputation with me, Apple and Sony share first place.

Arthur Dent

Re: Note to hotels

Oddly enough I've found UK hotels are pretty good about providing internet access, although some charge for it - most of the so-called budget chains charge (some charge for parking, even disabled parking, so charging for internet access is no surprise) and so do some of the most expensive hotels, but the middle range hotels generally don't charge. I've found much more problems in hotels in the USA, where a lot don't provide it all, neither free nor charged - it's 10 or 11 years since I was last there, maybe things have changed now, but 10 years ago USA hotels were much worse than UK hotels for internet access.

MAC BOTNET uses REDDIT comments for directions

Arthur Dent

Re: Sorry, has to be said.....

OK, so Mac OS X is exactly like all recent Windows releases. You have to type a password and then hit the OK (or YES or whetever it is) button. Username+Password is merely splitting the password into two fields - no increased security compared to a password with the combined length, And if users had any sense at all they wouldn't do that unless they were very sure it was safe. I reckon the proportion of Mac users with any sense at all is probably a bit smaller than the proportion of Windows users: tne Windows users must have more sense because they dont pay Apple prices and because way back when Apple was using built-in-decay-to-ugliness instead of rempant overpricing to acquire lots of shekels the fanbois got nice white PCs which turned into ugly yellow PCs in less than two years but stuck with Apple, while the Windows Nuts didn't get anything quite that horrid..

EU blesses $19bn Facebook-Whatsapp marriage

Arthur Dent


Seems that Christian D'Cunha is the only person with a sensible view of this merger. I hope the DPO keeps an eye on this.

Microsoft's nightmare DEEPENS: Windows 8 market share falling fast

Arthur Dent

Re: I don't want it

The amusing thing about that is that in windows 8.1 you can resize windows on the desktop exactly as you could in Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and 7 (and NT4 too, if my memory is sound). If you dont know what those funny things to the left of the X in the top right of a frame are, you clearly have never managed to share the screen between two (or more) apps and you clearly have never used windows seriously, so why blame Windows 8.1 (which comes up in desktop mode) for your inability to do something that you apparently didn't know how to do in any previous version of windows? Or do you really mean split between desktop and mail rather than just contolling how much of the deskto mail should occupy? If so that's a new feature, and all you have to do is tell it to split the screen; you couldn't do that in windows 7 or anything earlier.

Arthur Dent

Re: What about Gartner's results

And there was me thinking it would be an aiming point. For people, of course, not just for the dogs.

Not the statistics, I mean, but the lamppost.

Arthur Dent

Re: A suggestion for MS

I guess the current windows 8 lot are those who are desparate to escape from Windows 8 were too dumb to cope with some UI changes and then proved their dumbness by turning dow the free upgrade to Windows 8.1 when they were offered it (or never noticed the offer, perhaps because they junked all mail from MS).

I tried Vista and switched back to XP. I tried windows 95 and switched back to Windows 3.1.1. I tried Windows NT 3.5 and switched back to Windows 3.1.1. I tried Windows 98 and switched back to Windows NT 4.0. I tried Windows ME and switched back to Windows 2000. I tried windows Vista and switched back to Windows XP. I tried Windows 8 and stuck with it until I got windows 8.1 as a free upgrade. To me, Windows 8 seemed nowhere near as bad as Windows 95, 98, NT 3.5, ME, or Vista - - the good verions of windows (for home use) were windows 2, windows 3.1.1, Windows 2000 Pro, windows XP Pro, maybe Windows 7 (I put it on some of teh families machines, never had a complaint, but stusk with my XP Pro on my machine until I bought a new one with Windows 8). I found the widespread anti-windows 8 reaction hard to understand, it wasn't enough different to make it hard to use (a much smaller change than the various Office changes - the new Office UI about years ago was a much bigger jump than that from XP to W 8, and Outlook 2013 is just bugridden junk, bring back Outlook from Office for XP!) and now that 8.1 is out I really don't understand what all the fuss is about.

'Hashtag' added to the OED – but # isn't a hash, pound, nor number sign

Arthur Dent

Re: Oxford’s destruction of English continues unabashed

Interesting. You are presumably aware that the OED is published by the Oxford University Press, and that the Oxford referred to both in the name of the publisher and in the name of the dicstionary is the one which is siuuated in Oxfordshire, England? And that the objective of the dictionary is to be a historical record of the English lexicon since the earliest days of the language and in all the forms used by its native speakers, not just what's currently fashionable in some part of south east England? Surely yuou can't be so ignorant as to be unaware of those things? I guess you are just trolling, and I should have more sense than to take the bait.

Arthur Dent

Re: Pound sign

Pinchebek's explanation of the word "sterling" is thoroughly discredited now, after getting on for 700 years of being accepted. The current most accepted theory is that it was originally "steorling" (Old English meaning roughly "a thing of a star") and comes from the AngloNorman coin which had a star on it. The Medieval French, Italian, German, Latin, and so on versions (esterlin, sterlino, sterlinc, esterlingus, sterlinus, sterlingus, ....) all date from later, and were derived from the Anglo-saxon term. These continental places needed a name for this AngloNorman coin because it was often used throughout Western Europe in preference to local coinage, being the highest quality silver coin in Europe, in its early days reliably close to 100% silver, and later after Henry fixed the quality at 92.5% silver - the quality of silver which is now known as "sterling silver" - reliably 92.5%.

The version of Pinchebek's theory (which he published about 700 years ago) which became most popular in modern times had Byzantium rather than the Hanseatic league as the source of the name, I believe; but that doesn't matter as neither the league nor the empire had anything to do with the origins of the word sterling.

Kids hack Canadian ATM during LUNCH HOUR

Arthur Dent

Re: (@Matt Bryant) Mephhead Not an 'hack'. (@ Jim 59)(tl; dr)

Since you don't like Merriam Webster, I suggest you look up "hack" in the OED; you will find (amongst all sorts of definitions to do with chopping or beaking up) the definition " an act of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system." Since the language used in this forum is English, it's a reasonable presumption that the OED is the most reliable dictionary. Just to preclude any stupidity about "that's the wrong sort of English) I point out that it covers all sorts of English - English English, Scottish English, Irish, American, Australian, and so forth - so even if you don't realise that you are responding on a UK website you should recognise that it's the most appropriate dictionary to use.

Of course you may wonder why I feel the need to make that last point; the cause is your recent posts in this forum.

Google: Why should we pay tax when we make 'intangibles'?

Arthur Dent

Re: The solution is trivial

With Corporation Tax at 21%, a 10% charge isn't good enough - it only costs then 7.9% since the 10% import tax reduces the profits on which the do pay corporation tax. The import tax rate would need to be about 26.6% to cost them as much as if thy payed corporation tax on the whole amount, but that's probably excessive since some Royalty of Servce fee is probably reasonable in many cases. Setting the import tax rate to be 25% would perhaps be reasonable.

Language-mangling Germans fling open Handygate to selfie-snapping whistleblowers

Arthur Dent

Or perhaps even "ist eine Fotze" ?

Japanese quantum boffins 'may have the key to TELEPORTATION'

Arthur Dent

Re: A few minor implications...

You haven't got an "above" trend - or if you have, you haven't got enough data to see what the trend is. For example it would be reasonable to llok at it and say the increase in teh first half-century was a factor of 20, in teh next half century it was a factor of 5, so maybe the increase factor goes down by a factor of four each half century - so for 2050 a good prediction might be 125Hp, which is a long way from your 1000Hp. Of course there's no reason to believe that a regular factor beteen each half-century makes any more sense than a series that alternates divide by 4 and muliply by 2 (which delivers 10 for teh third gap, so fits your 1000Hp).

My point is that on this data you have no evidence to suggest any value at all for 2050 - claiming it imolies "probably around 1000Hp" is just nonsense.

Boffins build electronic tongue that can distinguish between BEERS

Arthur Dent

American Microbreweries

Interesting to see comments that suggest good beer is noweasy to get in the USA. However I find the opposing comments much easier to believe. However it is seven years since I last was on the wrong side of the Atlantic, so things may have improved.

However, between 1994 and 2006 (inclusive) I visited the USA several times, and sampled the products of microbreweries at places recommended by Americans in Seattle, LA, SF, Cambridge MA, and Chicago. Everything I found was close to undrinkable - a great deal worse even that American imitation draft Guinness. I also tried to find drinkable beer in New Hampshire (I think there were no microbreweries there then) and ended up drinking anything but beer.

I've drunk beer in Scotland, England, Wales, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Fdance, Mongaco, Spain, Italy, Jugoslavia (in each of what are now Serbia, Bosnia, Coatia, Slovenia), Austria, Germany, Czeck Republic, Romania, Hungary, India, Barbados, Egypt, and Sri Lanka, and in all but the last three I could get vastly better beer in any bar I walked off the street into than any I've ever found in the USA - and in teh last three the beer in the hotels, while not as good as European beer, was better than anything I ever found in the USA.

Clink! Terrorist jailed for refusing to tell police his encryption password

Arthur Dent


> Although you could not contest the law in a normal court here, you could take it to the high court, fully knowing you intend to take it the European Court of Human rights as being forced to reveal your password (when you may not know it) is a contravention of your rights, seeing as you may not know the password, probably under cruel and unusual punishment.

Unfortunately for this line of argument, not knowing the password is a valid defense; in theory the prosecution have to prove beyond rasonable doubt that you are lying when you say you don't know it. Of course it's up to the jury to decide what is reasonable, but I suspect that in a case like this one the jury would believe the prosecution case, not you.

Arthur Dent


> Although you could not contest the law in a normal court here, you could take it to the high court, fully knowing you intend to take it the European Court of Human rights as being forced to reveal your password (when you may not know it) is a contravention of your rights, seeing as you may not know the password, probably under cruel and unusual punishment.

Unfortunately for this line of argument, not knowing the password is a valid defense; in theory the prosecution have to prove beyond rasonable doubt that you are lying when you say you don't know it. Of course it's up to the jury to decide what is reasonable, but I suspect that in a case like this one the jury would believe the prosecution case, not you.

Arthur Dent

Re: Not "complying" is the crime, not the results of complying.

> "AFAICT (and IANAL) in this context the section 49 notice would require authorisation under the Police Act 1977 part 3 which means a police commissioner or chief constable (or deputies) so not quite as open to abuse as you suggest though far from judicial oversight (which is available as an alternative authorisation for a section 49 notice)"

Judicial authorisation is (or was in the 2000 act) only available when the material for which plain text or a key is required was obtained through an action undertaken with judicial authorisation. The Chief or Assistant rule only applies when the material was obtained under section 3 of the police act 1997 (which I imagine is the act you intended to reference), which also has a or section 44 of the terrorism act 2000. As a decryption key was needed in this case, the ability to deputise to lower levels would not apply (if provision of the plain text had been acceptable, someone could do it with delegated authority - and chiefs can designate a rank any of whose holders count as delegated in the event that the main authorities are unavailable; in the police that rank could be as low as superintendant, and usually was superintendant back in the days when the original code of practise was in force - but I imagine that it has changed a bit in the last 13 years.

Arthur Dent

Re: The real solution to stop terrorism ...

There are a few changes in resource usage that could be more useful than switching effort from antiterrorism. For example we could make all those nasty drug things availanble from state-organised shops at a far lower price than the current criminal system delivers them, and put a lot of big criminals out of business while making a nice income for the state which could perhaps be used on helping people hooked on the really bad stuff, probably reducing a lot of small scale crime because addicts would not have to spend so much to servuice their habits, and completely eliminating the process of dealers persuading people to step up from comparatively harmless drogs to more harmful (and more expensive) ones. Or we could scrap nuclear armaments and use the savings either to produce some useful naval power and give the army some of the reources it needs instead of just cutting it back while throwing ever-growing commitments at it or, if defence is less important, to reduce the fiscal deficit.

But the chances of a British government adopting any sort of sensible policy on anti-terrorism, drugs, human rights, surveillance, immingration, defence, or taxation are even less than those of democracy replacing plutocracy in the USA; recent years of Labour government took us in the wrong direction on all those thigs, and the current mob have continued to push most of the same antidemocratic statist and syndicalist ideas.

Arthur Dent

Re: Not "complying" is the crime, not the results of complying.

> > A section 49 request, which may then lead to prosecution under section 53 has to authorised in the same way as a search warrant.

> >

> No, that's not true.


> A search warrant has to be authorised by a magistrate.

No, it doesn't. In England and Wales a police inspector (or any higher rank constable) can authorise a search in some circumstances (for example to find evidence which is at risk of being destroyed if the search is delayed), so not all searches require a warrant authorised by a magstrate (and this power is easily abused - - for example it's been know for the authorisatio to have been issued after the search took place because the inspector wasn't available fast enough; but I'm not sure whether the inspector's authorisation is even required by law, as opposed to by policy or regulation or guidance promulgated by ACPO or some such body). Certainly any police constable can conduct an unwarranted search of your car or your person without even authorisation from an inspector or higher oficer if he has "reasonable grounds for suspicion" that he will find items of certain tyoes, and if a serious violent incident has taken place he/she doesn't even have to have reasonable grounds.

Of course it is completely different in Scotland - a vehicle or premises can't be searched without authorisation by a sheriff - although that may have changed in the last 21 months, I'm not up to date. (stratchclyde police were agitating for power to search without authorisation at the Aviemore SPF conference in 2012).

Fanbois, prepare to lose your sh*t as BRUSSELS KILLS IPHONE dock

Arthur Dent

Re: Vladimir Plouzhnikov

@M Gale, yes I can fit between 74 and 80 minues of CD quality digital audio on a CD. In fact I've been making copies of some of my vinyl using two 44,100 16 bit samples/sec LPCM encoded channels because that lofi stuff is all most CD players can handle. It's fine for playing on low quality speakers driven by low quality amps;. But that doesn't mean you can get anything like 80 minutes of decent hifi aufio on a cd. It's possible in theory to get reasonably hifi digital audio, but generally not in ptactice. For example using AAC in mpeg4 container quality equivalent to CD quality can be done with rather fewer bits than a CD would use, so presumably a good jump in bit-rate would give decent (two channel stereo) hi-fi - but where is the gear to play that decent hifi? Similarly, 5-channel suround sound can be provided with that same low fidelity for about 40kbytes per second of sound, so presumably high fidelity would be possible with a jump in bit-rate; but no reasonably priced equipment to play it back exists.

Google hits the Translate button on Google+

Arthur Dent

I'm not at all impressed by Google Translate. Errors like its translation of "My dog pants when exercised too much" into anything I can make head or tail of are amusing but indicate that it doesn't do any useful parsing to help decide which way to go when it encounters something which has a homonym but is a completely different part of speech. Almost anything but simple single clause sentences will be garbled quite horribly, with arbitrary choice of which noun an adjective qualifies - it can get that wrong even when proximity and grammatical number and gender both indicate clearly what is right - and does utterly lunatic things with word order. It fails to make use of noun cases to determine the nouns' functions in a sentence in languages which have cases for common nouns. It seems to work on remarkably short word sequences, so that it fails on anything that requires context - but natural language syntax is not context free for any language in the world! And the detours via English mentioned by Manolo ensure that the number of errors is doubled when translating between two languages neither of which is English.

The free translators at reverse.net are quite a bit nicer than google translate, for the languages that they cover (far fewer than google translate covers); and they take feedback from users so that problems can be identified and fixed, while google translate appears to have no feedback mechanism.

Romans, Han Dynasty, kick-started climate change

Arthur Dent

Re: Scrap climate change "research".

Understanding (or attempting to understand) the climate is indeed a valid line of scientific enquiry; but that doesn't appear to be what many climate xo-called scientists are doing, and the paper in question doesn't appear to contribute to that endeavour.

SHA-3 hash finalist Schneier calls for halt in crypto contest

Arthur Dent


3DES is not really broken, but: due to known attack methods, the 168 bit key version (triple DES keying option 1) has an effective difficulty of only 112 bits, and according to NIST the 112 bit key version (triple DES keying option 2) has an effective difficulty of only 80 bits. NIST has stated that 3DES is unsuitable for anything that needs to remain usecure beyond the year 2030.

Rijndael is evenless broken: the 128 bit key version has an effective difficulty of 126.1 bits, which is vastly better that 3DES with keying option 2 (the 3DES version with nearest keylength) and noticeability better than 3DES with option 1 which has a much longer key. The 192 bit version (the key length nearest to 3DES with option 1, which is the strongest versin of 3DES) has an effective difficulty of 189.7 bits, vastly superior to anything 3DES can do. And Rijndael also permits a 256 bit key (88 bits longer than the key length in 3DES keying option 1) with an effective difficulty of 254.4 bits.

Microsoft releases VMware-eater

Arthur Dent

Re: Ho hum....

<quote>"Greater reliability - you mean like cross datacentre clustering and replication free in the base Hyper-V product?"

Only because Windows needs it. When you build a custom hypervisor that doesn't have a reliance on an ancient codebase you tend to get better uptime.</quote>

Without things like cross-centre clustering and replication how do you cope with physical catastrophes? Things like fire, flood, lighning strike, big truck crashes through machine room wall, earthquake takes down building containing system, terrorist assault on public power system leaves you to run on battery backup & standby generator, with no prospect of being able to get extra fuel or restored external power before you run out of fuel for standby generator? Those are the sort of things cross-centre clustering and replication can deal with. I will bet you can't explain how VMWare deals with them as part of the basic license with additional license costs (because it must be hard to explain how it does something it doesn't do).

Senate hears Microsoft and HP avoided billions in US taxes

Arthur Dent

Re: "What stinks is having such a high tax rate.................

@Artic Fox: "When Thatcher's regime in the early eighties made huge cuts in the upper tax bands rich individuals and companies simply said "thank you very much" and carried on avoiding even those taxes"

It seems remarkable then that the reductions in Income Tax upper bands led to a vast increase in income tax xuccessfully collected by the Inland Revenue. The numbers are in the public domain, and easily found.

It's unfortunately not at all remarkable that such counterfactual nonsense received so many up-votes.

I hated most of Thatche's policies, but blatant untruths like yours lead only to a reduction in the credibility of eeryone who objects to "Thatcherism" so I'll correct it whenever I see it.

Agility without anxiety

Arthur Dent

Sure, some people can do something sensible with Agile - after all it's only the bringing together of much that was best practise long before the term "Agile" was coined. On the other had, many companies use something that they call "Agile" but is actually a distillation of the worst cowboy development practises imaginable. The majority of people using "Agile" fall into the latter group, not the former. So any survery of what Agile does in the software development inductry will inevitably give it a resounding panning, because what most companies using something they call "Agile" are not using what the people at outfits like Pixar or Perforce call "Agile".

This of course is caused by having utterly incompetent management in charge of deciding how development will be done, and by the fact that when utterly incompetent managers see a shiny new buzzword like "Agile" they go and skim-read enough about it to extract some disconneted misinterpretations that support their lunatic pre-conceived ideas and then go an impose those on the development teams under the banner of the shiny new buzzword.

Lawyer up on your way into the cloud

Arthur Dent

Oh dear, there must be some idiots out there

I read this little pasage:

"A big cultural change has to happen especially among your developer community,” argued Dev

Kohol, executive director of enterprise infrastructure at Morgan Stanley.

“They don’t understand when you move to a service-oriented delivery model you become more

restricted. You can’t just call up the local sys admin or database guy and ask them to add this or

that feature.”

The result of reading was at first that Morgan Stanley has a complete idiot for director of enterprise infrastructure. Second thoughts suggested that I had been too hard on Morgan Stanley, and there was a careful and deliberate running together of two originally dseparated and clearly unrelated sentences (a very common journalistic strategem, which I'm sure I've seen nearly as often in El Reg as in The Guradian). My third thought was that the first thought was probably right after all, it's quite likely that Morgean Stanley has a director of enterprise infrastructure who is stupid enough to believe that it's usually developers, not users, who ask for new features - they'll be a typical financial services firm whose management think that way, despite all the evedence to the contrary that's right under their noses.

How I went from Unix engineering to flogging Google apps

Arthur Dent

"The" cloud - pure mythology!

What awful waffle. There's no such thing as "the cloud", and anyone working on the assumption that there is is just plain wrong. There are several assorted clouds - some essentially "private clouds", some essentially "public clouds", but no great big individual thing that can be called "the cloud". We've had these in one form or another for quite some time now, and their existence contributed to the myth of "the cloud"; but experience has taught the early adopters that "the cloud" is not something that one should trust critical data to, and not one that one hould trust essentially secret data to, and those who understand are building their own "private clouds" for the critical data and for the secret data, while using what might be thought of asd "the cloud" id all those private clouds didn't exist for storage of non-critical data (where it doesn't matter if it's inaccessible for the odd few days here and there) and for non-secret data (where it doesn't matter that someone else controls access and encryption).

Motorola Mobility loses to Microsoft in German patent battle

Arthur Dent

Re: MS will be forced to refund extorted fees

"And that's why patents like these get through". It's a systemic problem. A fundamental design flaw. Railing at Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc. helps precisely not one whit. You need to change the laws."

The laws already require a technical inventive step and say you can't paint anything that's obvious to a competent practitioner who is au fait with teh state of the art. So maybe what's wanted is for them to be enforced by the courts, since the USPO is clearly not ghoing to do it. I'm not sure European patent offices are in general much better.

Surely "breaking messages into shorter ones to facilitate transmission" has been there since very early data comms days; it's in HDLC, it's in TCP, it's in SNA, it's even in several good old Basic Mode protocols. And of course it goes back a lot further than that - people have been using two sheets of paper for long messages for quite a while, we even have sequence numbering of the fragments (books with page numbers date from centuries ago).

Oh dear, are BT's adverts in violation of this IP, the ones that suggest you cut your very long phone calls into chenks of one hour or less so that you can have them for free (if you are on one of the tariffs where calls up to than one hour long to UK numbers are free) - or maybe inciting others to violate that IP?

Road deaths spark crackdown on jaywalking texter menace

Arthur Dent

Re: Darwin rules (AC 15th at 11:27)

For me, I'll say that roughly 90% of the pedal cyclists I encounter ignore road signs, traffic lights, and the rules of the road in general; they are often pretty ill-mannered and obnoxious too, jeering at people they have inconvenienced or harmed by their rotten behaviour. If all you can say about mortorcyclists is that "more than 50%" are rude and impatient I guess you encounter far nicer motorcyclists than I do pedal cyclists. Of course car drivers are pretty bad too - a lot will deliberately drive at pedestrians when there is no footway, waving at them to get off the road (presumably to try to walk along the tope of a hedge that won't take their weight). I personally think motorcyclists are generally the most polite and patient of road users, although it's more than half a century since I was last on a motorbike.

Google fined for stalling Street View cars' Wi-Fi slurp probe

Arthur Dent

Re: No wonder

Evidence of reglator capture, perhaps? It's at least three decimal orders of magnitude lower that the minimal amount that could have been regarded as a mild slap on the wrist for failing to cooperate with the investigation.

Apple fights off ebook suit with anti-Amazon defence

Arthur Dent

Re: "Apple is a liberator, not an oppressor"

Giles Jones : "Nobody is going to publish their works to a store where it can be easily copied. DRM is mandated by the media creators."

I guess you've never heard of Baen Books, then?

Mobile banking security bypassed in fiendish malware blag

Arthur Dent

Re: "the IMEI number, which can be found on the phone’s battery"

Not only will it not be found on the phone's battery (I just love the concept of the IMEI changing if you change the battery) but in a lot of cases #06# will not deliver any IMEI (produces an error message or a service not supported message instead). Also, I do some online things involving money and would immediately assume a scam if a bank/building society/pension fund manager/insurance company asked me for an IMEI (maybe I wouldn't be suspicious if I was taking out a new insurance policy to cover a mobile phone I hadn't previously insured with that company - but that never happens, since I don't buy expensive mobile phones and see no point in insuring the cheap ones I do buy).

£30m gov ID scheme to be steered by dole office

Arthur Dent

Concern about privacy is fine, but maybe there is a more important point: this sort of identity service will be hacked, probably quite easily, and may be an even greater facilitator of identity theft that the National Identity Register would have been.

Microsoft tripped up by Blighty's techie skills gap

Arthur Dent
Thumb Down

education or training

It seems pretty clear that Uden regards universities as having a training function, not an educational one.

I'm glad he presented this claptrap to a Lords committee; if he had fed it to a Commons committee they'd probably have believed him, but the Lords has a lower proportion of idiots amongst its members (I'm sure Cable and Willets think he's just wonderful, fo example).

Death to Office or to Windows - choose wisely, Microsoft

Arthur Dent

Re: Re: Re: "Windows is dead."

Fair enough, Drew. Actually, it looks to me as if Asay is rather less in touch with the way PCs are used than the average journalist writing on iT topics is.

RIP: Peak Oil - we won't be running out any time soon

Arthur Dent

@Eddie Edwards

"History is History".

Yes, indeed it is, and you have made it absolutely clear that you believe that only idiots would imagine that it might be possible to learn from it.

Arthur Dent

Re: This is Clarkson-level journalism

"If you do the maths, the amount of oil energy in GWh consumed by the world every day is so vast that it would take an unthinkable number of nuclear power plants or (let's be optimistic) algae swamps to replace it. More than there is probably space for on the planet, in fact"

Nonsense. tClearly you are incapable of doing the maths.

|In Britain, 16 years ago more than 25% of our electric power was generated from fission reactors: there were 16 reactors in total: 1 PWR and 7 AGR delivering decent output, and 7 obsolescent (4 whose build started in the 1950s, one each from 1960, 1961 and 1962) low-capacity Magnox reactors which between them delivered about as much power as one and a half AGRs, and 1 newer (1964) medium capacity Magnox which delivered about 75% of a typical AGR output. Using modern technology we could have 25 times that capacity in a space small enough that it doesn't matter even in a densely populated area like Britain, and and with that we could power all out oil-burning devices as well as all existing coal-burning gear and still have some left over to export.

Just across the channel we have France something around 80% of electric power generation is nuclear. I've spent quite a lot of time in France over the years, and I haven't noticed that the scenery has been taken over by nuclear power stations.

In 29 years reactor output went from 200MWe (Calder Hall, first commercial output 1959) to 1250MWe (Torness, first commercial output 1988): ta factor of 6.25. If we hadn't stopped building plants we might expect a new reactor strating build about now to be in commercial operation generating about 8000MWe in 2020. That doesn't suggest vast areas of land taken over by generation at the sort of capacities that we would need.

In fact it's absolutely clear that not only are the distribution and storage problems of wind generated power worse than those of nuclear (a result of intermittency of generation), but so is the space required for generating plant.

News of the World hacker named after court block lifted

Arthur Dent

Re: "certainly likely"

@Andus McCoatover: so you have an oxymoron list on which you keep things which are clearly not oxymorons? Seems a bit bizarre to me!

UK student faces extradition to US after piracy case ruling

Arthur Dent

Re: @tinker+tailor+torrent

TIf he's extradited and tried in the US, the safe harbour provisions apply. That appears to mean that he has committed no offence under US law (unless someone has served a DMCA notice on him, which I believe has not happened). Since he has committed no offence under US law, why the f*** is a district judge granting the US permission to extradite him for not committing an offence?

Arthur Dent

RE: ok, fair's fair

No., let's do it prop[erly: let's extradite all Americans who carry a fire arm, whether licensed under American law or not, since they are not licensed under our law. That's the nearest equivalent you can get to the utter crap which is going on in this case.

Cheap energy revives US manufacturing, skint Brits shiver

Arthur Dent

@Simon Neill

Tidal doesn't have to have pauses, because we can have generators in different places which reach high and low tides at different times - we could have say 24 generators with no two having low time times closer together than 15 minutes, and expect to get full output from 22 and reduced from 2 at all times, so the only issue would be transmission. The technology isn't yet mature, but it could come soon.

Solar will work reasonably well in some parts of the UK, but perhaps the best chance for solar power for the UK is to import solar-generated electricty via France and Spain from N Africa - which only works if we (a) can trust the N Africans, (b) can trust the French, and (c) can build the necessary transmission infrastructure at a reasonable cost.

Nuclear is the best bet in the next decade or two, and with luck we will have fusion power sorted reasonably soon if the lunatics running things don't remove all funding for research in order to pay for wind turbine nonsense.

New account of Flight 447 disaster published

Arthur Dent


I think you are wrong - putain is not very strong. I don't know about prime time TV, but I remember hearing two of Brassen's songs that used it (it occurs in the chorus of "Putain de toi" and in the last verse of "La complainte des filles de joie") about half a century ago on prime time radio in France (while his "Fernande" was banned from radio because the chorus contained "je bande" and "la bandaison papa ça n'se commande pas" - that use of bander/bandaison was thought to be a bit too much). Best translation I can think of for putain in a phrase like "putain de toi" is "you tramp", or for "putain" on its own "oh damn". The dictionary I use on the rare occassions when I need a French disctionary gives it as "putain: exclamation exprimant la surprise; (grossièrement) prostituée" so I guess its use as an exclamation is not regarded as grossière.

Patchy app development security slammed

Arthur Dent

@AC 8th December 2011 23:01

<quote>It's not exactly tricky is it? Sanitize your inputs, use an ORM to build your queries rather than generating SQL queries by hand, or at the very least use a DB abstraction layer to perform parametrized queries.</quote>

No, don't use an ORM - work out what functionality the app needs from the database and provide that functionality as a set of stored procedures. Using an ORM generates a strong coupling between the database schema and the apps object model, throwing away any chance of true modularity. Using stored procedures for the interface decouples the schema from the application, the application doesn't even have to know what tables and views exist, just what procedures it can call (that's also why you don't use parametrised queries instead of stored procedures). This makes maintenance and future enhancement much less error prone, and is perfectly secure against injection unless you have a lunatic database developer who commits the crime of using a string parameter from outside to construct sql text to be executed. Verify all inputs in the app too of course - and even if you have client side input verification do it again server side, because it's easy for me to write a malicious browser that modifies your client-side Javascript or VBScript or whatever it is you use and sends you whaever inputs I want without their ever having been seen by your client-side validation. And normalise the database schema at least as far as EKNF, preferably to 5NF with possibly some tables left at EKNF to preserve the representation principle, since that too makes maintenance easier (by making the schemas keys and constraints enforce conformance of the data to all business rules that are expressible in the unnormalised schema as domain constraints, functional dependencies, multivalued dependencies, or projection-join dependencies, so that a large class of bugs can never occur. And finally, make sure that the apps connection to the database uses a user (preferably an OS user, but a database user will do at a push) whose only permitted actions in the database are executing the stored procedures provided for the app, has no access to tables or views at all (the stored procedures should have permissions inherited from their authors, instead of from the app, so they can access and update the data; but the app can't do that except by calling the stored procedure, even if some rogue developer tries to stick some ad hoc queries into the app). And encrypt your database backups, using keys that change when they need to rather than stay for ever the same, and encrypt your database too (only change that key if you think there's a risk it is compromised, as it's a pain in the but to do). Of course if your physical security is such that you can guarantee no-one can steal a hard disc, or intercept traffic between you server and your SAN, or get hold of a discarded hard disc with either the database or backups on it, or if the risk is low, the potential damage if the risk is realised is also low and the extra software licensing cost of having database encryption is too high (you won't get it with a MS SQLS Standard Edition license, for example, you need an Enterprise license) you can maybe skip the encryption.

So, maybe not quite a simple as you suggested; but every competent DB developer knows that those are the things that should be done, and none of those things is the least bit complex or difficult, so almost that easy.



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