* Posts by Whitespace

36 posts • joined 13 Jan 2011

Sysadmin's £100,000 revenge after sudden sacking


Re: I call bullshit.

The one-time and fixed recurring costs of the ISDN lines would have been peanuts - especially in Germany where it was not at all uncommon for domestic phone lines to be ISDN instead of POTS.

Most of the 100k would have been the cost of two international phone calls connected 24/7.

“This was massively expensive, but was only needed for two weeks before we could place the order for broadband...."

James doesn't mention it so we know neither if his budget mentioned 12.5 k weekly communications costs nor if he had the plan and wherewithal to bring down the connection outside business hours.

For me the fishy bit was that there were only a couple of weeks before he could ORDER the broadband connection. The provisioning time for any corporate quality line that I worked with during that period was measured in weeks, not days, even for SDSL. So unless his planned solution was something like domestic DSL he was probably lucky that he was let go and his former IT Director took the heat for the phone bill.

Freeview suddenly UNWATCHABLE dross? It may just be a 4G test


I can see this coming...

They will discover that a certain number of properties within a given range of the towers will need attention and budget for it.

Some time in the future when LTE phones are ubiquitous they will realize that the accumulated noise from all the handsets interferes with everybody else's reception

How UK gov's 'growth' measures are ALREADY killing the web


Re: Indeed (my comment of 11:52)

Sorry - on first glance I missed that Dave Bell had already made that joke much better than I did


Re: Indeed

I understand there is quite a demand for photographs of pairs of Bristols

Seattle drinking den bans Google Glass geeks


Re: It's clearly a PR stunt

" I would be very uncomfortable being breast anyone wearing a pair."

Freudian slip or predictive text snafu?

If predictive text wtf were you trying to type?

Dear Facebook: I heard the news today, oh boy


Re: Facebook adverts are useless

I was under the impression that if you land on any page with a "Like" button your facebook cookies / credentials are presented to facebook when it downloads the "Like" icon. So even if you have logged out but allowed cookies Facebook knows exactly where you are almost all the time.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Microsoft backs law banning Google Apps from schools


Don't expect any opposition to this bill.



Sloppy drafting. Microsoft's lobbyists should have done much better.

"Section 1. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary any person who provides a cloud computing service to an educational institution operating within the State shall process data of a student enrolled in kindergarten through twelfth grade for the sole purpose of providing the cloud computing service to the educational institution and shall not process such data for any commercial purpose, including but not limited to advertising purposes that benefit the cloud computing service provider."

No mention of personally identifiable data so it has to mean all data. Every mouse click and every site visit generates data of some sort.

A cloud service is any service not on your own network

What about all those cloud services that may unwittingly take students' data for commercial purposes. Presumably Massachusetts school authorities will either have to ask them all to blacklist their IP blocks or firewall half the internet. Hit counts are used to justify advertising revenue so if a student registers a hit their data is used for commercial purposes.


Any page with a Facebook 'Like' button

Amazon ('People who bought that book also bought these books')

Most search engines

Any map application

Any news site

Yellow pages / directory sites

They'll need to remove all those toolbars, especially the Bing Bar from everyone's computers. And ban Internet Explorer 10 as its 'Do Not Track' preference will be ignored by most of the internet.

Massachusetts students will leave school thinking DuckDuckGo and Wikipedia are THE places to do their research.

Of course if the wording is changed to include the word 'Personal' it might give Google too much wiggle room to use anonymized data...

Europe tickles Microsoft with €561m fine for browser choice gaffe


Old System?

"Half a billion for a bug affecting some old system that nobody noticed for 18 months."

The bug affected Windows 7 Service Pack 1. What, pray, was the new system?

I certainly noticed. I also noticed that at setup / first use I was coerced into installing the Bing Bar, either having to jump through hoops to avoid installing it or to un-install it once I had control of the computer.


Re: If Microsoft.....

Your analogies totally miss the point. Microsoft is a convicted monopolist caught in the act of using its monopoly of one product to force consumers to use another of its products.

Let me fix them for you.

If Microsoft coerced 99% of car manufacturers into using Microsoft engines and required car buyers to retrofit an adapter to let them use non-Microsoft fuel would you chastise them?

<Enter your favorite witty analogy involving Microsoft, ready meals and horsemeat here>

<And another one...>

If Microsoft flew 99% of all flights and forced all passengers to wear Microsoft clothing, watch only the Microsoft in-flight movie, read only the Microsoft in-flight magazine. They can only listen to their own music or see their own films if they use Zunes or Surfaces?

If Microsoft had a search engine would you expect it to give its competitors prominence?


Follow the money

I am not an accountant...

...but I could easily imagine a scheme where one of Microsoft's offshore subsidiaries pays the fine from its enormous stash of offshore (taxed at a very low rate) cash, then bills it back to the Mothership with a hefty service charge thus reducing the mothership's profits and tax liability, consequently making the American taxpayer highly subsidize the European fine.*

Could anyone with any genuine financial knowledge let me know if that scheme has legs?

*Assuming, of course, that Microsoft pays enough US taxes to benefit from this scheme...

Australian Parliament issues summons to Apple, Microsoft, Adobe


Re: Munich doesn't pay more. It uses Linux and open source

"Sure, you save money on licences with FOSS, but in the short to medium term your productivity falls through the floor."

Whereas by migrating from Windows 2K/XP with Office 2003 or earlier to Windows 8 with Office 2010/2013 you can enjoy the joint benefits of paying for software AND having short-medium term productivity fall through the floor.

So: 6,500 Win 8 laptops later, how are BT's field engineers coping?


Re: signature capture ?

Did the same thing a few years ago with an Open Office Spreadsheet and some scripting.

It printed out the shopping list in walking-up-and-down-the-aisles order to minimize the time spent in the shop.

All it taught me was that my local Auchan makes subtle and sometimes dramatic changes to its layout every week, and I spent more time updating my database than I saved by shopping efficiently.

Back of an envelope for me!

Apple granted patent for microphone silhouette


Standing on the shoulders of giants

The patent cites this image (dated Monday, 22-Jun-09 11:46:11 PDT) as prior art:


Apple appear to have directly copied the shape of this image and surrounded it with concentric circles to make it 'unique and distinctive'.

I cannot imagine how even Apple's highly paid expert witnesses could defend a lawsuit against something with just a microphone - like, for example the Dolphin Voice Search icon on my android phone.

Also IMHO the design patent looks more like the prior art than it looks like the siri icon, so it could be argued that the competition could freely use something very similar to the siri icon. The UK court recently pointed out that the case was about copying the design patent, not copying the iPhone.

Just bought an Apple product? Need support NOW? Drop an F-BOMB


Re: But but but... They're the same number!

@ Captain Underpants

Try this. (I wrote this so long ago that I can't remember exactly what the problem was - I think I had to do a workaround because the numbers were just too big to handle)


use strict;

use Math::BaseCalc;

use Math::BigInt;

my $me = $0;

my $isbatch = $me =~ /\.bat$/i; # (This perlfile may be converted to a batchfile using pl2bat)

$me =~ s!.*[\\/]!!;

$me =~ s!\.bat$!!i;

my $command = ($isbatch) ? $me : "perl $me";

my $usage = "Usage: $command (Dell Express service code) | (Dell Service Tag)\n";

my $input = shift || die $usage;

my $calcdell = new Math::BaseCalc(digits => [0..9,'A'..'Z']); #Dell

# print $calcdell->digits, "\n\n";

my $quiet = 0;

my $esc;

my $mult = new Math::BigInt (36 * 36 * 36);

$_ = uc $input;

if ((/\-/) or (length > 7)) { #Express Service code

print "Express Service Code entered\n" unless ($quiet);

$esc = $_;


my $sc = new Math::BigInt $_;

print join("\t", $esc, $calcdell->to_base($sc)), "\n";


else { #Assume it's a serial number

print "System Service Tag entered\n" unless ($quiet);

my $tag = $_;

my ($tagh, $tagl) = /([0-9A-Z]+)([0-9A-Z]{3})/;

my $newval = new Math::BigInt $calcdell->from_base($tagh);

my $temp = new Math::BigInt $calcdell->from_base($tagl);

$newval *= $mult;

$newval += $temp;

print join("\t", $tag, $newval), "\n";



Polite conversation can also have the desired effect

I was recently called by a nice Indian-sounding man who told me my computer was virus infected and he was calling to help me fix it.

While waiting for my Linux computer to start up he told me his organization was based in Liverpool. Not the country I live in, but 10 miles from my birthplace.

I politely mentioned how as a child I enjoyed making sandcastles on the beach at the pier head and asked what part of Liverpool he was located in,

Click, Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


But but but... They're the same number!

It may not apply to every Dell product, but for every one I have looked at the Service Tag is the Express service code expressed in base 36.

I *assume* the reason they ask for the express service code as well is to act as a check that they have received the correct service tag.

Surface RT: Freedom luvin' app-huggers beware


Software costs?

"The inclusion of Office is not quite the bargain it first appears, since it is restricted to non-commercial use unless covered by an additional licence."

"I was able to write this review in Word..."

So could we have some details of the commercial usage licence costs? Presumably Libre Office will never get a place in the Windows store, so the cost to use this thing legally for business purposes may be a lot higher than the price tag on the box.

N00bs vs Windows 8: We lock six people in a room with new OS


Try this...

Remember how Windows was sold as the system you could just sit in front of and use. Not like that illegal Linux thingy with all those obscure keyboard commands?


I wonder how long it would take test subjects to discover Windows-U (Ease of Access center - whatever that is)

Swiss photographer sues Apple for pilfering her eyeball


Re: Storm in a teacup

Google's accidental inclusion of 7 test files and copying of 9 lines of production code was sufficient for Oracle to sue for 'six billion dollars' - that's how grown-ups play these days.

Personally I was most disappointed to learn the infringing photo had almost certainly not been taken with an iphone (yes I know how Apple spells it), but by a professional photographer. I had been so impressed by the photo that it was the only reason I was thinking of buying several iphones and ipads. They would clearly make me creative enough to take such a good photo myself. The tech specs and interface are of no interest - all phones are very much the same and just as easy to use as each other once you have had a few days practice. But the boost to my personal creativity - for that it has to be Apple! I am sure many, many other people would agree with me.

Now by Apple's documented courtroom logic that makes them liable for all profits for any device that they ever marketed with that image.


Google rewrites dot-doc death note


Re: Where is the change?

I think ratfox typed from memory instead of copy / pasting

At the time of this post the wording of the Google statement is:

"The following features are intended for release to these domains on October 1st:

Docs: The built-in exporting feature from Google Docs to Microsoft Office will now allow users to download Google documents as modern Office formats (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx), as opposed to the older formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt) that were standard in Office 97-2003. For users who still use Office 97-2003, we recommend installing the free compatibility plugin from Microsoft, which will allow them to open modern Office file types."

Politico's locked room mystery Linux install crime solved


Re: Out of curiosity...

If the disk already has Windows on it the chances are there is no space for a Linux installation alongside so the default action will be to wipe the Windows partition after copious warnings and requests for acknowledgments.

That is not the only way ahead, though. The last netbook I bought, I shrunk the Windows XP partition to 10 Gigs and installed Fedora Linux in the liberated space. Haven't tried with Windows 7.

I since discovered that even for really infrequent use 10 Gigs is not really enough for Windows, although I can do a heck of a lot with Linux installed on a 4 Gig or even a 2 Gig USB key.


My theory

How about...

Someone left a live CD in the drive, and once it boots into Linux they can't eject it.

They have managed to ascertain that there is no C: so clearly the hard disk has been wiped.

This will continue until someone really Really REALLY needs a cup holder and un-bends a paperclip.

Microsoft promises Metro developers 'fame and fortune'


"their 10-year-old kids will have it all figured out.."

But very few of their 10 year old kids will be earning serious money with their knowledge.

And the 10 year olds who figured out Office 2003 in 2003 must have been somewhat disappointed to have to forget all the hard proprietary bits (Microsoft Office's menu interfaces) and re-learn Office 2007/2010/2013 when they were old enough to work for a living.

Who can even guess what will be the dominant system in 8 years time?


Just hit Windows key and type 'co'

Ahh yes - I remember the days when Linux haters said the problem with linux is all those obscure keyboard commands.

"Just hit Windows key and type 'co'" is no less obscure than many linux commands but because it is Windows it is suddenly easy to learn and highly convenient.

Windows is now only 20 -30 years behind the competition. Please do try to keep up.

Windows Metro Maoist cadres reach desktop, pound it flat


Re: perhaps controversially

Where's Perfect Office when you need it?

Bradley Manning in court as lawyers wrestle over secret docs


Re: Too bad the death penalty isn't on the table.

"I draw the line when as a military soldier he discloses the first confidential file. That's treason under U.S. military law and he should pay with his life, IMO. If you're dumb enought o disclose secret files you're dumb enough to die."

As the ACLU has discovered, the murder of Al Quaeda leaders by drone is so secret that the CIA cannot even admit that such a process exists. ( http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/aclu-sues-us-information-targeted-killing-program )

And yet both the president (head of the armed forces) and secretary of defense have both given details on the record about such killings.

So should we not see senior members of the American Administration and their advisors / spin doctors on death row for revealing such secret information?

Or is the difference between the Manning disclosures and the Administration disclosures that the Adminstration's disclosures make the president look good in election season and some people are clearly more equal than others?

Nokia loses $1.7bn in Q1, sales chief falls overboard


Already started

I bought a Nokia Bluetooth headset adapter at a huge discount a few weeks ago. Works very nicely with my Android phone. I got the impression the shop was trying to clear its Nokia shelfspace.


Re: Heading in the right direction

If only you had taken the trouble to register and log in you could have used the "Joke Alert" icon and received a zillion up-votes.

Metro breakdown! Windows 8 UI is little gain for lots of pain


Re: Really?

"Could you install windows 7 on a 2002 laptop without needing new drivers?"

I'm typing this on a 2004 notebook and you are right - I would not and could not even attempt to install anything more recent than Windows XP. The drivers just don't exist, and even if they did I'm sure it would perform like treacle.

Oh wait. I installed Fedora 8 on it years ago and it has upgraded seamlessly through the versions to the current Fedora 16. Only hiccup was when I had to add another 256 MB ram to its original 512 MB to perform the latest update. I still don't feel any need or desire to replace it.

My older notebook (2002 - retired early as it was just too unreliable under windows 2000) is currently in a customer's premises running Arch Linux and monitoring their network and Windows server hardware, sending me email alerts when anything unusual happens, as well as a couple of emails per day to let me know that both it and its internet connection are still alive. This notebook - almost unusable with the vendor's own Windows drivers - was last restarted 71 days ago when all power was down for electrical work. Oh yes - in 2002 the vendor was - and has remained to this day - one of the top five PC vendors by market share.

Jim Westwood, home micro revolutionary


Sinclair Cambridge

Although pictured there was no mention of the Sinclair Cambridge assemble-it-yourself calculator which retailed, if I remember correctly, for 29.95 pounds.

After several false starts I finally had mine going and - due to an accident of birth date - I was the first person in my school with a real electronic calculator.

Four functions, the possibility of spelling SheLLOIL and BOOBIES, and instructions for iteratively calculating square roots using Newton-Raphson - my fingers generated a motor memory so I could calculate square roots in seconds, just like today's youth can send an SMS faster than I can make a phone call.

Just two or three years later I could buy a CBM calculator that did everything I ever needed at university for about the same price - but the Sinclair was the only calculator I was ever proud of.

Sadly I had no sense of history so although I still have my slide rule - which I must bring out sometime to frighten my children - my Cambridge has long disappeared

Ballmer shoots down Microsoft breakup advice


Don't change a thing

I think the current org chart shows they have the ideal configuration already


FSF takes Win 8 Secure Boot fight to OEMs


Give Microsoft a break!

All you bearded sandal-wearing Linux lovers are living in some paranoid world where the best arguments you can give against Microsoft are nothing more than ad-hominem attacking rants.

Anyone who lives in the real world would be able to tell you that Microsoft's only aim is to promote innovation by giving the user the best software and the quality and usability of their software is all they need to wipe out their under-achieving rivals.

Microsoft would never stoop to pressurising computer manufacturers to deliberately lock out their competition and anyone who thinks otherwise deserves to forced to read Groklaw for the rest of their lives.

(Now, how do I submit this - control-V isn't it?)


Preclusive effect should be given to the following statement of liability rulings made by the D.C. Circuit. The introductory sentence is taken verbatim from the Fourth Circuit opinion In re Microsoft Corp Antitrust Litigation, 355 F 3d 322 328 (4th Cir 2004). The descriptions of individual types of illegal conduct are taken verbatim (except for citations and quotation marks) from Microsoft's Memorandum in Opposition to Burst's Motion to Apply Collateral Estoppel to 311 Findings of Fact and 15 Excerpts from the D.C. Circuit's Opinion in the Government Case, at 5-6 (July 1 2004)

Microsoft illegally maintained a monopoly in the market of licensing of all Intel compatible PC operating systems worldwide through 12 specified acts of anticompetitive conduct

1. Microsoft's Windows license agreements improperly prohibited computer manufacturers ("OEMs") from removing visible means of user access to Internet Explorer (i.e. desktop icons, folders and "Start" menu entries);

2. Microsoft's Windows license agreements improperly prohibited OEMs from modifying the initial Windows boot sequence to promote the services of Internet Access Providers ("IAPS")

3. Microsoft's Windows license agreements improperly prohibited OEMS from promoting rival Web browsing software by adding to the Windows desktop icons or folders different in size or shape from those supplied by Microsoft;

4. Microsoft s Windows license agreements improperly prohibited OEMs from using the Active Desktop feature of Windows 98 to promote rival Web browsing software;

5. Microsoft improperly excluded Internet Explorer from the Add/Remove Programs utility in Windows 98;

6. Microsoft improperly commingled browsing and non browsing code in the same files in Windows 98;

7. Microsoft improperly agreed to provide easy access to IAPS services from the Windows desktop in return for the IAPS’ agreement to promote Internet Explorer exclusively and to keep shipments of internet access software using Navigator under a specific percentage;

8. Microsoft improperly agreed to provide preferential support to certain software developers in return for their agreement to use (i) [Internet Explorer] as the default Web browsing software for any software they developed with a hypertext based user interface and (ii) Microsoft's HTML Help to implement their applications' help system;

9. Microsoft improperly agreed to release new versions of Office for the Apple Macintosh in return for Apple s agreement to preinstall Internet Explorer and make it the default Web browsing software on new Macintosh computers;

10. Microsoft improperly agreed to give certain software developers preferential access to Windows technical information in return for their agreement to use Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine( JVM ) as the default JVM for their software;

11. Microsoft improperly deceived software developers regarding the Windows specific nature of Microsoft's Java developer tools; and

12. Microsoft improperly pressured Intel to not support cross platform Java by threatening to support technology developed by one of Intel's competitors

BlackBerry stumbles to feet, full of apologies



Did this also affect users of BES servers?

It's the oldest working Seagate drive in the UK


I remember fitting WD hard-cards!

I have one of those too. Unfortunately I no longer have a computer with a full length standard IBM slot so I can't tell if it still works.

I remember the satisfaction of swapping the motherboard's 8086 for an NEC V30 and improving the machine's performance just enough to be able to change the disk's interleave factor so doubling it's throughput.

Halcyon days!

Lawyers fear Assange faces death penalty in US


@ Ian Michael Gumby

Consider the fishing expeditions taking place with gagging subpoenas being sent to businesses that have had dealings with Wikileaks. We know about Twitter and I take my hat off to them. I cannot believe that Facebook, Paypal, Mastercard, Visa, Amazon and maybe other invertebrates were not also subpoena-ed and I assume they quietly complied.

Quoting the Guardian:

"The emergence of the subpoena appears to confirm for the first time the existence of a secret grand jury empanelled to investigate whether individuals associated with WikiLeaks, and Assange in particular, can be prosecuted for alleged conspiracy with Manning to steal the classified documents.

"The US attorney general, Eric Holder, has already said publicly that he believes Assange could be prosecuted under US espionage laws. The court that issued the subpoena is in the same jurisdiction where press reports have located a grand jury investigating Assange.

"It has been reported that Manning has been offered a plea bargain if he co-operates with the investigation.

( http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/08/wikileaks-calls-google-facebook-us-subpoenas )

Considering the conditions under which Mr. Manning is being held ( http://www.bradleymanning.org/15952/psychologists-for-social-responsibility-open-letter-to-robert-gates-on-mannings-confinement/ ) I imagine he would implicate his own grandmother if they would just stop playing Drowning Pool. (The Drowning Pool bit is my own speculation but it would work for me )

I understand the death sentence is still a possibility for espionage cases. Does that answer your question?

The more I learn about Mr. Assange the less I think that he is the hero I wanted him to be. Charming and charismatic, maybe, but not necessarily a nice person and I am ready to believe he is now in it for what he can get out of it. However being a greedy sociopath is not a crime - indeed it is encouraged in corporate circles.

One way or another the Wikipedia story has exposed many lies, criminal acts and dirty tricks. How many have been committed by governments and corporations and how many have been committed by Wikipedia and more specifically by Mr. Assange?

NOW apply Occam's Razor.


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