* Posts by Coofer Cat

57 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Apr 2011


Tinker Tailor Soldier Pi? Asus's 'NUC-sized' SBC aims to out-Pi the Raspberry

Coofer Cat

Not necessarily a Pi replacement

I suspect this isn't going to make big incursions into the "home DIY tinkerer" market, but it could do well in embedded systems (unless it's in the region of $50 or less, which seems doubtful).

Embedded systems aren't quite as price sensitive, but often have other requirements like security of supply, eMMC (instead of SD card) and wider temperature/power ranges or whatever. PoE would strike me as useful in those situations as well. The other thing embedded folk like is the ability to get things taken off the board - so maybe make it as pictured, but with no USBs and no HDMI or whatever. Embedded folk will likely flash the device once with a Buildroot image, for which they'll need some convenient method, but beyond that, all the convenience of a Raspberry Pi isn't needed. Once flashed the first time, their own application's updates will take it from there (if indeed they update it at all - a lot of stuff doesn't).

This thing may not have the community support of a Pi, and it may not be nearly as easy to home-tinker with it as a result, but it could well sweep up a good chunk of the more professional market. But then again, it's a crowded market (and the Pi does operate there too), so who knows?

Apple forgoes cooling systems in M2 MacBook Air

Coofer Cat

My M1 has a space between the keyboard and screen of, as you say, about an atom. IMHO, it's a design failure - I can't use a privacy screen, nor can I get a camera cover. The latter Apple might argue away with "our software is secure...", but the privacy screen is a must-have if working anywhere in public.

Engineers on the brink of extinction threaten entire tech ecosystems

Coofer Cat

I did Digital Systems Engineering at uni (a few decades ago). A number of observations stick with me to this day though...

- All the girls that were in the first year disappeared pretty quickly. I think one or two stuck it out to the end, but in an intake of 60+ (maybe 40 odd by the very end), the gender diversity was pretty terrible (same is true in all the jobs I've had since actually)

- There were a couple of people in the first year who thought they'd just "give it a go". I can't imagine why they thought this was a good idea. Needless to say, they didn't make it past the end of the year

- Ever mentioning you did "engineering" was bad enough, saying "digital systems engineering" or "electronics" was the absolute quickest way to scare off the girl you'd been successfully chatting up for the past 20 minutes. It became a running joke - not "will he get her number?", "will he get a snog?" or anything like that - "how long will she stay after he tells her he does electronics?", and we'd count up the seconds.

From all this, I conclude we as a society have a very poor view of engineers, let alone electronics/electrical engineers. Even the civies, aeros and mechies were no better off (and they were on considerably easier courses). Essentially, the harder the course, the less "we" seem to think of the people doing it. Granted, a lot of them could barely string a sentence together to people they weren't already friends with, and the body odour was at times quite powerful, but those people went on to work on some pretty complex stuff which is now in your laptop, smart phone or watch.

Whatever the problems are, whatever the solutions might be, we have got a very, very long way to go.

Cloud, on-prem ... we've got the network service to rule them all, says AWS

Coofer Cat

Re: Wait, what...?

There's definitely an element of design-in/lock-in here. However, if you've got (say) a London and NY office, you can do the trans-atlantic cross connect via AWS now. Each office puts in a (relatively cheap) Direct Connect to AWS, and AWS connects the two up for you.

For two offices that's probably not worth doing (because of metering as you say), but if you have (say) 5 offices globally, you _might_ get some benefits because AWS will sort of mesh the offices together, rather than needing say a Tokyo->NY->London type route, you just go Tokyo->AWS->London. However, if (up to now) your Tokyo office has just had VPNs to London and NY, then yeah, I can't see this really being any better for you.

In summary then... it's not a definite "yes" or "no" - it's more like "it depends", but you're probably going to have to be a "particular kind of customer" to take this on.

What do we want? A proper review of IR35! When do we want it? Last year! Bunch of IT contractors protest outside UK Parliament

Coofer Cat

The real story - No Rights Employees ("employed for tax purposes")

The real story here is the creation of the "employed for tax purposes", No Rights Employee (NRE).

Once the big companies realise that they can convert their permies to NREs without attracting any HMRC trouble (which they couldn't do with contractors) then we're all up the swanny. A hundred years of unions negotiating working conditions swiped away in a heartbeat. Entire sites, divisions and departments closed on literally the same day as the bosses announce it. People getting fired for getting pregnant - or fat, or arriving late to work. You name it - all possible with NREs.

For public listed companies especially, NREs mean less head count, and that means they can report a higher "earnings per employee" in their accounts. That improves their share price, which improves their chances of (foreign) investment or takeover. The odd contractor having to take an "inside IR35" role might sound innocuous enough, but when you realise NREs are the wedge that will end up selling off British businesses and the assets they own, it starts to look slightly different.

UK contractors planning 'mass exodus' ahead of IR35 tax clampdown – survey

Coofer Cat

Sigh - same old lies perpetuated...

Repeat after me: Contractors pay a greater percentage of tax than permies. Yes, it's true when you add up all the taxes that get paid, contractors put a greater percentage into Treasury coffers than permies.

Believe it or not, contractors aren't complaining about being forced to pay less tax. They're complaining because "inside IR35", aka "employed for tax purposes" is actually No Rights Employment. All the costs and downsides of a permie, but with none of the benefits and protections.

FWIW, the "no rights employee" is set to become the predominant employment type available in a couple of years. The benefits to (big) business are huge - NREs don't count towards "headcount" in your public accounts filings, so your "earnings per employee" go up by hiring NREs. Higher EperE means a higher share price, which means more foreign investment. So, look out for public listed companies hiring lots of NREs suddenly being sold off to the Americans, Chinese and elsewhere. Oh, and then look out for sites/divisions being shut down overnight because NREs can be fired with no notice or reason given.

Now, as for an unofficial strike - not through choice - there simply isn't enough work around for all the contractors to get a gig. As such, a lot of us are going to sit it out for a couple of months in the hope we'll find something in the meantime. Again, much less money for the Exchequer, but that doesn't seem to be a concern for them.

Helen Fospero makes yet another Brit telly presenter to win IR35 case against taxman

Coofer Cat

"Good with money"?

I asked HMRC via Freedom of Information what it's cost them to mount these legal proceedings. They know what they spent on external lawyers (ie. quite a bit), but can't say what it cost them internally to investigate, build the case, go to the tribunals etc. Apparently they don't use timesheets or any sort of project accounting.

So in short... if someone inside HMRC wants to bring one of these cases, it doesn't really "cost" anything. They might spend a million quid to collect a thousand, but they wouldn't ever know that - they'd just come back to the office with the thousand pounds and celebrate "coming out on top". So expect more frivolous law suits to take place.

Your hard earned tax being well spent - not on the NHS or schools or whatever else you care about - but on HMRC employees and their laywers. Great.

Trolling in the Reg's forums... we mean, er, 'working' on the train still rubbish thanks to patchy data coverage

Coofer Cat

My 40 odd miles out of London and into Kent has wifi the whole way. You can't get actual Internet connectivity around London Bridge station (yes, that's the new one they just built), and of course you don't get any in tunnels, or cuttings or a few other places. Where it does work, it's often pretty slow, although credit where it's due, when my phone says there's "H+" and full bars, the wifi is usually fairly decent.

In short - it's okay for sending and receiving emails which come and go as they please. Browsing the web is sort of possible, but it's best to 'preload' a bunch of tabs when you get the chance. Trying to maintain an SSH session is just an exercise in futility. Even keeping your VPN open is a tricky business.

So on-train 'productivity' is the sort of thing an MP considers 'productivity'. That is, reading emails and sending replies. Not doing any real work ;-)

Shift-work: Keyboards heaped in a field push North Yorks council's fly-tipping buttons

Coofer Cat

I'm sure there's a way to get QWERkY into this...

Should ISPs pay to block pirate websites? Supreme Court to decide

Coofer Cat

Charge Apple for it!

We should charge Apple for all 'lost revenue' from all this copyright infringement. After all, it's their computers that get used to watch it all.

In fact, we should also charge Intel, because without their chips, we wouldn't be infringing on copyright.

Why ISPs can ever be considered 'profiting from' copyright infringement, even after notification is beyond me.

Intellectual Property Office drops, er, patently cool cartoon to teach kids about trademarks

Coofer Cat


It's funny how we don't need a cartoon to tell kids not to rob banks, isn't it?

If IP laws weren't so crazy stupid, then we'd all be able to understand them and would abide by them quite willingly. The fact they're complex, and have some non-intuitive aspects to them is precisely the problem that needs solving. There's no point having a law, no matter how well meaning, if no one can understand it.

Mine all the data, they said. It will be worth your while, they said

Coofer Cat

For my money, a TSDB is good for 'telemetry' and ELK or similar good for log aggregation (more like a SIEM). For all that to work out though, you need to have some idea of what's important. Most application log files I've ever seen are loads of "just in case" information because the developer knew that at some point in the future (s)he would have to debug a production problem using nothing but those logs. IMHO, there's justification for most apps to have a general log for all the usual chatter (which you don't bother to index), and an 'audit' log which contains just the things that have happened (eg. 'user logged in', 'user requested statement', 'user made a payment' etc). The audit log wants to have no personally identifiable information in it though - anonymised data only (and even then only sparingly).

Sadly, non-functional features generally get pretty short-shrift in most commercially driven organisations. I'd imagine the beauty and simplicity of the log files would be pretty close to the bottom of the non-functional priority list. If it's not there in day 1, you're never going to get around to doing it.

Disney mulls Mickey Mouse magic material to thwart pirates' 3D scans

Coofer Cat

Re: This is a great idea

Hmm... does this mean I can get a 'normal' shaped Elsa doll, preferably with a volume control on the incredibly annoying an repetitive singing 'feature'? If indeed it must preserve the singing, maybe it could learn a few more words of the one song it knows? My child isn't an idiot, and can learn more than 4 words in a song.

It's sort of a shame there isn't a (legal) market for alternative versions of 'official' products. We might actually have better role models and more accurate feedback for 'official' suppliers to consider.

Amazon and others sniffing around Slack

Coofer Cat

Slack is half-way decent, so big corps queue up to kill it off

In my day jobs, I can use a total of: Slack, Lifesize (which has chat), Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and quite probably a couple of others (one place I worked at used IRC).

Out of all of those, Slack is pretty good, IRC is plain and simple but effective and the others are all awful. I wonder if the purveyors of the others though "we've got to be different, so lets take all the good stuff away"? They're so terrible as to be unusable - pick up the phone or send an email instead.

Since Slack has a large user-base, it's obviously ripe for a takeover. All those lovely users to assimilate into one's own crappy platform - too much temptation to bare, I expect. The thing is, if it goes anywhere near Microsoft, then there's no way it'll be allowed to carry on as it is, it'll have to be subsumed into an inferior product. If Amazon get it, then there's a chance it might stay quite good, at least for a while.

Either way, Slack, we love you, and we'll be sorry to see you go :-(

To do DevOps right, beam down a UFO says Dynatrace

Coofer Cat


Seems a bit steep for a Raspberry Pi + LEDs. FWIW, it looks like a nice implementation of the idea, but it's questionable how useful the idea really is, especially at this sort of price. I'd imagine it should be more like a 'seems fun, give it a go' sort of price.

I've often wondered if instead everyone needs RGB fairy lights around their monitors, and if you're the one that broke the build, yours go red. You could integrate stink sensors to shame the one that dealt the deadly blow too. You could go further and nominate someone to do the tea round using the same mechanism. When it comes around to annual reviews your boss could announce the amount of bonus you got by colour changes. The list goes on...

Routes taken by UK prosecutors over supply of modified TV set-top boxes

Coofer Cat

Re: City of London Police = Rent-a-cop

If you or I park on double yellow lines in the City for even a few minutes, we can expect to receive a ticket.

Alternatively, paint a few stripes on your car, write "City of London Police" on the side and then park wherever you like, for as long as you like. No need to put any blue lights on, or have any burdens on you like maybe working on an emergency or anything else. And yes, I have proof of this - photo on my phone, and talked to the cops involved (who basically just got in the car and pissed off, as opposed to giving me any justification for their actions).

Trivial maybe - but my point about none of this actually taking place in the City of London is a *fact* that you can verify to your hearts content. No other police force in the country gets involved in other areas of the country unless some part of the case took place "on their patch". Now why would the smallest force in the country want to do things differently from all the others? What could possibly motivate them so strongly? Any ideas? Anyone?

Coofer Cat

City of London Police = Rent-a-cop

The City of London Police are about as bent as they come. They might get to wear cool capes when it rains, but they represent almost no residents and are paid for by the companies that have offices in the square mile in London.

We can expect, therefore that the Premier League, Sky and BT Sport essentially paid the City of London Police to find a way to prosecute a couple of people who sell these media boxes in the hope that it'll 'normalise' the procedure enough for ordinary police forces and the CPS to pursue later on. You'll note none of those organisations have gone anywhere near this so far - and for good reason as it's shaky ground at best. You'll also note that none of the infringement, or the sales, or the supposed fraud took place anywhere near the City of London.

Get rid of the City of London Police, make them part of the Met and stop corporations bending the law to their own ends.

Insure against a cyberwhat now? How the heck do we crunch those numbers?

Coofer Cat

Re: Many commentards don't understand insurance

...and unlike physical locks and doors, 'cyber' security is unseen, and very hard to audit.

In traditional insurance, if you get burgled the police will look for a forced entry. If there isn't one, you're already in shaky territory with your insurance. If the loss adjuster talks to your neighbours and they tell him/her that they've seen you leave windows open while you pop to the shops, then there's a good chance you won't get a pay out at all.

To try to keep up the analogy though, if a mega corp gets hacked, it's because they've got an enormous, yet flimsy warehouse made of wood held together with gold nails. They're located in the worst possible part of town, wrong side of the tracks, etc etc. Or, maybe they've got a bomb-proof fortress in the best part of town but store so much unobtanium that they're still a lucrative target.

The thing is, unlike their physical counterparts, one's virtual presence can't be assessed by a brief look around. Further, one's virtual presence may be in the best part of town now, but at the time of the attack was the flimsy warehouse in the wrong part of town. Assessing someone's security procedures/processes etc is a long job, and only tells you what's in place at that moment.

The insurance industry doesn't need a database, it needs a certification programme. I guess one day it'll be a bit like car insurance - if you don't have a license, you can't have the insurance (or else can have it at super-high cost). If you only just got the license, you're a higher risk than someone who's had it ages, etc etc.

eBay buys AI biz Expertmaker for machine learning boost

Coofer Cat

Ebay? Are they still around?

Does anyone use Ebay seriously any more? The web experience is so horrifically bad, all I can assume is that they've bought an AI to see if even a machine can figure out how to navigate the site.

Baidu, Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm join to invest in CloudFlare

Coofer Cat

Tor Hostile

Try browsing a Cloudflare-backed site via Tor and you'll be presented with a Capcha and a "copy this crap into the box below". I've found that nine times out of ten, doing so with the utmost care and attention, it fails to convince the server than I am indeed a human. Whatever it needs to succeed is apparently not provided by the Tor network plus a locked-down browser.

I'm sure none of that will have any bearing on investment or indeed IPOs. However, the proliferation of Cloudflare isn't going to be a good thing for the privacy aware folks of the world.

PayPal chomps up money-moving biz Xoom ahead of eBay split

Coofer Cat

Is it just me...?

Maybe it's just me, but Paypal is horrible. In their (recent) TV ads they claim it's simpler than using your credit card to pay for stuff, but it really isn't. Firstly you seem to have to change your password every 10 minutes, and now I've hit some limit which means they're going to bill my card up to 5 quid to 'verify' it's mine. Their website is an awful maze of impossibility and they seem to need you to jump through far too many hoops to do anything useful.

The only reason I have a paypal account is because ebay needed one. I've ditched ebay because almost everyone on it is flaky, so have little need of Paypal now either. If they make their service genuinely easy to use, I guess it might be useful again, but right now I can't see it happening.

Ecobee3: If you're crazy enough to want a smart thermostat – but not too crazy – this is for you

Coofer Cat

Your thermostat needs to be a datacentre!?

I've used a Drayton Digistat 3 (with TRV valves on radiators) in my last two places - they're simple, single zone thermostats. The are 'smart' in so much as you can set the temperature for a specific time. We generally just turn ours down by a couple of degrees at night and times when the house is likely empty. It's pretty easy to push the "up" button if you're cold (and in a reasonably efficient house, it only takes maybe 30 minutes to get warm again). Having done lots of individual room temperature measurements, and other such geekery, this set up works remarkably well.

For an upgrade, there are a handful that don't need 'clouds' to work (Heat Genius is my current favourite). Nest, Hive and these lot don't need to be told your every move to have weather-reacting temperature control. Indeed, a house that needs that probably just needs some extra insulation.

It seems to me that if your thermostat needs a huge datacentre to work, then you're doing it wrong.

If IT isn’t careful, marketing will soon be telling us what to do

Coofer Cat

This and that...

This is nothing new (by 20-30 years or so). However, also nothing new is that 'marketing' knows not what it is, nor what it wants. Today it's "x" tomorrow it's "y". IT doesn't move to that drum, so it seen as being 'slow' or 'obstructive'. However, most of what 'marketing' wants actually doesn't move that fast either - one's "SEO" doesn't change overnight, neither does one's "social media score", and even less anything in meatspace.

Marketing, being who they are, are very convincing to the Cxx folks. IT, being who they are, not so much. If your Cxxes are shit, then Marketing will get their way and will rule the roost for a period of time. During that time, all the decent IT folk will leave, the company will most likely go down the shitter and eventually the Cxxes get replaced until balance is restored.

The only companies that succeed in the long term understand that Sales, Marketing, Finance and Engineering/R&D/IT have to exist in equal measure. Sure, one may dominate for a short period, but over the longer term, they all have to have an equal place at the table.

Our 4King benders are so ace we're going full OLED, says LG

Coofer Cat

Let the OLED wars rage on...

I like the look of all this. I'd like a flat OLED TV, 4K optional. I'd like it in the 35" sort of area, and without any sort of 'smart'. If someone would make one of those, I'd buy it tomorrow (even if it was expensive for the size).

Google chips at Amazon's Glacier with Cloud Storage Nearline

Coofer Cat


I sort of wonder why anyone would want to compete with a low-cost solution like Galcier. I mean, lets say you get a couple of big customers off Amazon, you only get a few dollars of revenue from it. I wonder where the return is - surely any reasonable sized user is encrypting everything they put there, aren't they? If it's just about contribution to costs (as it is for Amazon), then fair enough, but spending time and money 'competing' seems contrary to this.

In my case personally, I pay about $2/month for at-rest data in Glacier - by the end of the year, they might be taking $10/month off me, if I go crazy. I'd happily move my encrypted blobs of data somewhere else, and actually having some choices of destinations helps me out, but a price war of any kind isn't likely to make much difference to me, and probably isn't worth the dev time to change.

Video: Dyson unveils robotic tank that hoovers while you're out

Coofer Cat

10 years later...

I remember Dyson saying the were coming out with a robotic vacuum cleaner over 10 years ago. It was going to be called the DC06 (I even found a link from 2004 here: http://www.gizmag.com/go/1282/). Thankfully, they've pulled it down from the £1000 proposed price tag. I expect this'll be rather good (although probably noisy).

Smart metering will disrupt weather forecasts, warns Met Office

Coofer Cat

Turn stuff off during peak times? Shouldn't that stuff be a bit more efficient then?

So I'm wondering... if my washing machine is going to turn off randomly, then maybe I'll stick it on a UPS. The UPS can soak up short "off times" and leave my washing unaffected.

Then I start wondering... how long will it be before Hotpoint start putting UPSes into their products? I mean, they could switch out a bit of concrete for batteries, and then sell it as "the most reliable" or "most grid friendly" or whatever.

Then I start wondering how long it'll be before I put my whole house on a UPS and then not worry about the smart grid cutting me on and off. I might need a generator for extended outages, I guess. Hmm... how could I get an efficient generator...? Maybe I could use another electricity supplier to provide me with a redundant backup supply?

This whole plan sounds great, but it'll all be worked around by people because ultimately people want an easy life and don't want their stuff turning on and off without their say-so.

Samsung's new Galaxy S 4: iPhone assassin or Android also-ran?

Coofer Cat

Samsung Suck at Software

I have an S2, and I love it - it's around the same sort of ball-park as an iPhone 5, as I imagine the S3 is too.

However, 90% of what makes my phone good is Android, and actually stuff written by Google or apps developers. The remaining 10% of not-uninstallable shite is all the Samsung stuff. Even worse is the absolute abomination they want you to install on your PC.

The S4 will doubtless be good hardware - that's something Samsung have generally been good at for years and years. However, if they end up "customising" Android to "enhance" the user experience, then it'll be a god-awful crock of steamies. I'd rather they teamed up with Google to get the features they want into Android, but then of course, that means HTC and everyone else will have them too.

Gov: How can renewable power peddlers take on UK's Big 6?

Coofer Cat
Thumb Up

Level Playing Field

I'd say a level playing field would be nice. My information is a bit old, but wasn't it the case that the grid *had* to buy all nuclear power before it could buy other types?

Until recently, if you generated some power at home, you could sell it back to the grid for a pittance, yet get charged the full retail value for it if you used it off the grid. It wasn't worth generating small amounts because it would never pay any money at all. Even now, unless you're on the government solar programme, it's nigh on impossible to "do a good thing" and sell your excess energy.

I don't have all the answers, but in my world, I'd like to see domestic generators basically get to wind their meters backwards. If they're paying £10 a unit, then they earn £10 a unit for putting power back into the grid.

Once you stop being domestic and start being a real generator, then it's got to be worth your while. The likes of nuclear and even coal and gas power stations were built with government money and their debts are government backed and so they have low operating costs. There's no way an independent can compete with that unless it's subsidised in some way. Either there has to be a "we'll guarantee to buy X from you" sort of arrangement (like there is/was for nuclear), or else there's got to be "we'll pay the difference" sort of monetary subsidy for smaller producers.

It's no wonder there's only one electricity company in the UK that only buys non-green power if it's run out of green stuff. It's also the only company that only invests in green power with it's profits. Sure, you can buy "green" from Eon, Npower, etc, but what you're actually getting maybe 1% green and 99% coal, with no provision for more in the future. Perhaps forcing the big 6 to actually have green tariffs rather than scams would be a way to level the field?

What I do know with certainty is that all the regulation and deregulation in the industry has had, and will continue to have unseen effects that will be negative for the most part. Change is good because it will at least give a different set of people a crack at the whip.

BA staff to google for snaps, dirt on biz-class passengers

Coofer Cat


For me, this sort of thing would backfire, at least to some degree. Then again, most business class travellers are on corporate tickets, so they don't really get a choice of the airline at time of purchase.

If I've been on a flight with the same hosties as this one, then I'd live for them to recognise me. This happened to me once on Virgin, but only because I did two flights in 24 hours and it was the same crew both ways. However, for a complete stranger to recognise me would be a bit creepy. Most business travellers aren't famous by any stretch of the imagination, so there's no non-creepy way that anyone would know who you are, unless they'd met you previously, or unless you were being escorted by a staff member and were on a list of VIPs or something (which again, business class passengers are not).

However... Once upon a time I flew BA First. I'd have loved for them to say "Is this your first time in First?", but they didn't because my BA Executive Club profile doesn't have that information - and it probably should. Of course, if I start flying first every couple of weeks, then definitely don't ask me any such thing because it gets tedious very quickly.

Also, it would be great for the hosties to know that I really love having a bottle of water (that's actually got water in it) throughout my flight. It's not much to ask when you're on a thousands-of-pounds ticket, but trying to convince the hosties to get me a fresh bottle if the happen to see the old one empty, without having them "over service" is something of an art form.

The sorts of tricks they're talking about here either should just be part of the Executive Club system (and so printed on the passenger manifest), or else they shouldn't be doing it because it's creepy. Of course, doing things that other airlines do would probably gain them more good will than all of this - you know, stuff like a lounge that isn't completely packed and maybe a car to take you home after you've been on your Business/First flight. A half-way decent airport and terminal (ie. not Terminal Deathrow 5) would be a bonus, but given it's their centrepiece I don't suppose they'll do anything about it. Trouble is, BA just don't "get it" so we can expect more tricks and less substance for some time.

New gov.uk site hits beta, flashes SINGLE typeface to punters

Coofer Cat
Thumb Up

Credit Where it's Due

I have to say I'm quite impressed. This is "front doors", and it does exactly what it should. Sure it's got some rough edges (well noted above), but come on - Facebook and Google don't do better than this when they beta something as broad and complex this.

As a general rule, which has never been wrong before, the government can not do IT. Ever. I'm sure this is no exception as they probably paid too much for it, it probably won't have obvious functions in it, and it definitely won't integrate with local council websites. However, it's a step in the right direction.

As someone noted above, whilst the front doors might look simple, the government is far from simple inside. Hopefully this view of simplicity will inspire the zillions of departments and ministries to simply their worlds too. If they even do it by 1% it'll have been worth it.

Given the choice of this or same-old, same-old - I'll take this every time.

ISPs torch UK.gov's smut-blocking master plan

Coofer Cat

Right and proper on a mobile device?

You see, I don't think mobile devices should be "filtered by default" either. I'm an adult, I have a credit agreement and a contract, so by definition I must also be an adult. If I am one of a relatively tiny minority of people who choose to (a) give their kids a phone with a web browser and (b) buy them a contract for it, then I can also pay my mobile operator to "lock down" that connection. The rest of us shouldn't have to pay for the mobile operator to provide this for the numpties who can't parent their kids and think kids need the latest smartphones.

Frankly, we all already pay far more for mobile services than is "right and proper", and so anything that puts that cost up for the vast and overwhelming majority is wrong.

Oh, and by the way... who do you think "asked" the mobile operators to filter by default? Yeah, you got it... the same people now asking for landline ISPs to do the same thing.

'Leap year' bug drives TomTom satnav users up the wall

Coofer Cat

TomTom better be careful...

TomTom need to be careful - by co-incidence I did an update on the 31st (because they'd been telling me to do one by email a couple of times). I then found that my device could no longer search by postcode. After an approximated journey or two, I did some searching and found the fix - in so doing, finding that my device seems to think I'm either in the UK or in Vatican City, and that it had previously been able to locate postcodes in Luxemburg, but not the UK (or Vatican City, for that matter).

In short, whatever the hell just got onto my device, it sure ain't clean and tidy. If they don't start making this stuff work properly they'll go the same way as Nokia. My Android phone is nearly as good as a TomTom (albeit only when there's 3G signal). It's only a matter of time before Android (or IOS) beats them hands-down.

Force Google to black out searches in new privacy law - MPs

Coofer Cat


This just won't work, especially as lots of people are defecting from Google and going to duckduckgo, bing, yahoo, etc. Are the MPs really going to go and ferret out all of those companies (some of which have no UK office, or indeed business dealings)?

The likes of Google can be coerced somewhat by the UK government because Google conducts business in the UK, using it's UK company to do so. If that were no longer true (perhaps because we're actually talking about duckduckgo, or because Google decided operating in the UK wasn't worth it's time/money), then that leverage would pretty much fizzle out to nothing. That is, unless the UK used the much fabled "special relationship" to exert pressure on the US. Yeah, never gonna happen - how silly of me.

In short: use duckduckgo and you're all good. MPs be damned.

Blighty's pay-by-bonk gang goes cap in hand to Euro watchdog

Coofer Cat

Chip & Pin?

Why bother? Why not just make chip & pin work properly? I mean, if you could C&P a payment in seconds, not several minutes as it is in most places, then all this wouldn't be necessary.

That said, putting the c&p device into my phone and letting me 'beam' the outcome of the authentication to someone else sounds like a good idea. Prepaying to make an account is a non-starter though, as is needing an 'app' for every goddam company in the world.

I'm unconvinced at the moment, so won't be an early adopter, and quite possibly will only do it when literally everyone is doing it and the guy down the corner shop doesn't like cash anymore. We'll see...

Apple: We never said Siri would actually work in the UK

Coofer Cat

Never mind the complicated stuff ;-)

"remind me to buy milk after work" - I haven't seen this actually do what it does on the Ad. Things like "tell my wife I'm going to make it" don't work either. Anyone with an iphone managed to do the things they do on the ad? The ASA should be all over this - a reasonable person would expect you can do the exact same things as shown on an ad. Never mind getting all advanced asking "where am I?" and the like!

All that said, I've got an Android, and things aren't all peachy there either, but the main difference there is that we don't have a smart advert telling us that those things work when they don't.

Demand for safety kitemark on software stepped up

Coofer Cat

Oh goodness...

If government services are to be "convenient and secure by design", then absolutely every single one of them needs reworking. Have you tried doing your tax return? Can you even remember your username, let alone the password you can't change? It's absolutely guaranteeing you *have* to write down your Unique Tax Reference, your username, password and maybe the email address you used to register, otherwise you'll never manage to actually do next year's tax return.

I for one, can't wait to see what the "convenient and secure by design" initiative comes up with!

Obama refuses to respond to MPAA bribery claim petition

Coofer Cat


Obama is doing what governments tend to - that is fail to meet expectations. The thing here is that the people that signed the petition expected this would prompt some sort of action. They might have been happy if some half-arsed thing had been done in place of their full demands, but to turn around and do *nothing* is exactly why these things start in the first place.

New Trojan routes your bank's calls to CROOKS

Coofer Cat


I'd like to see a bit more detail about how these fraudsters are diverting phone calls. I could imagine that they quietly update the phone number on your online banking service, or that they could (in theory) hack about with Android and do something sneaky when your bank calls you, but I can't see how they could otherwise be diverting you calls, if you're a BT/talktalk/Sky customer. Anyone care to explain?

Why I'd pay Apple more to give iPad factory workers a break

Coofer Cat

Sticks to Apple because...

This is all being stuck to Apple because... they're making more money than oil companies at the moment. To quote others "with great power, comes great responsibility". The 99% are all looking at Apple's billions and asking why they can shell out a couple of extra dollars per unit on the Chinese workers that make their products.

In an ideal world we'd all pay attention to these things all of the time. Truthfully, if you have no idea if your product is even going to sell, you probably don't want to spend months of your life making sure your entire supply chain is ethical - you just buy parts and services from other (hopefully) legit companies. Once you're making money though, you have a moral obligation to be a bit more diligent.

Of course, we're dealing with Corporate America here, so morals and ethics aren't big on the list. We'll see if Apple end up doing any more than the absolute bare minimum.

Dim-but-rich buyers targeted with million pound laptop

Coofer Cat
Thumb Up

Wish List

Just added this to my wishlist on Amazon ;-)

When a DNS outage isn't an outrage

Coofer Cat

Thin Margins

I used to work for one of the "tech giants" (not mentioned here, but you know them). They used to work on tiny margins - each of their (aggregated) millions of users generated something like $10 a year in revenue, so it only takes one phone call and that user starts costing the company money. Hence, they try to dissuade users from phoning them. My point is that just because they own and run thousands upon thousands of servers doesn't mean they're making so much money they can offer the personal touch to every one of their millions of users.

The likes of EasyDNS probably don't make a load off each domain they sell/operate either, but as a customer who pays them directly, they have a clearer relationship and responsibilities to you. If they have to charge you $11 instead of $10 to run a domain, then you're probably happy to pay the increase, knowing they're going to answer the phone to you.

That said, post mortems are a significant weakness in IT generally, and the "tech giants" are no exception. In their defence, because they do run thousands of machines for millions of users, it's not always obvious what the exact problem was, or indeed what internal policies to change to mitigate the problem until days, or even weeks later. Still, one is left wondering if "better late than never" might be of benefit.

As a micro-anecdote, yesterday at my current employer we had a dev box fail, knocking out a load of users. This is just one, straight forward, self-contained machine with a handful of users that are across the office from us admins. Even now, we can't give a clear post mortem of what went wrong, and not for want of trying - we have genuinely spent some time looking into it. Sometimes even simplicity isn't a basis for being able to provide decent post mortems. Sometimes sh1t just happens.

UK.gov 'pay as you go' IT services cloud to float in March

Coofer Cat

Not one-size fits all

If the government can stop running hundreds of Exchange servers and instead centralise those into the "cloud", then that's great news for us tax payers. There's a nice bit of cost saving which oughtn't be too much of a strain for the departments involved.

What I wonder about really is the multi-million pound projects to put government workers paylips on the intranet, or do all your employee HR functions online, or *shudder* put all of the public's medial records on to some electronically accessible solution. These are all 'custom' applications, which have thousands of hours of consultancy and development behind them. This is also where I suspect the lions share of wasted expense comes from. I can't see this G-Cloud really helping there.

All said and done though, getting anything centralised and cut the duplication of effort has got to be a good thing.

Most EU states sign away internet rights, ratify ACTA treaty

Coofer Cat

Now is the time to talk to your MEP

Visit Write to Them: http://www.writetothem.com/ and email your MEP asking them which way they intend to vote, when asked to ratify ACTA. Briefly/gently suggest you're not in favour because you're concerned it criminalises the wrong people (no need to rant at this point!).

Await a response from your MEP. Write to Them will ask you if they have responded two weeks after you contact them - if they haven't responded yet, repeat the first step.

If your MEP says they support ACTA, point them at any number of internet resources that intelligently argue that it's a bad thing, and most importantly, tell then that in the next MEP vote, you'll be making a deliberate effort to ensure that you don't vote for them or anyone in their party, and that you'll do your best to influence your friends and family to do the same thing.

I'm not deluded enough to think this will make any difference on it's own, but after the 10th letter along these lines, even the most shabby MEP may start to think about this being a vote-loser, which could see the end of their time on the gravy-train known as the EU parliament. Since this whole effort will take you about 10 minutes, it's got to be worth a try.

Starship Voyager dumped into skip

Coofer Cat


You've got to admire his craftsmanship, and since it took 10 years - his dedication too. It's a shame his business doing this sort of thing didn't work out, and it's a shame he did all this in a flat that's not his. It's also a shame he can't get a decent job so he can buy the flat off his Mrs.

All said and done, I can't imagine wanting to live in a place like that, but I admire the guy for doing something bold, imaginative and impressive. As someone above said, I hope he can sell it for parts rather than just dump[ it in a skip.

Windows 8 hardware rules 'derail user-friendly Linux'

Coofer Cat

Fails at stated purpose (except on Arm)

As it stands, this completely fails to meet it's stated purpose. A properly secured OS can't be rooted unless you have physical access to the hardware. Since you need to physically on the hardware to install new keys, you gain absolutely nothing from this. Unless of course you have a poorly secured OS ;-)

As for Arm systems, this approach actually does perform as advertised, although as noted, at the expense of Linux and any other OS.

I suspect bodies such as the EU and others will hamper the attempt to completely lock Linux out. We may well end up with a situation where machines come with secure boot to Windows only, or have insecure boot (ie. the feature disabled, rather than changeable keys). Either way, all of this would be unnecessary if Microsoft could make a half way decently secured OS.

Patients to access NHS records via web by 2015

Coofer Cat

Don't really want it

It's not so much that we want our details on-line or even computerised. It's that we want our records updated when we see the doc (not two weeks later, when he's forgotten the details), and if we want to see our records, we want to see all of our records, not some crappy summary written by a tired doc who's been coerced into doing it because no one else can be arsed.

It oughtn't be too hard for me to pop down the doc's surgery, or the hospital in which I got treated and get a photocopy of everything in my file at that physical location. For whatever reason though, it's as good as impossible to actually do. I'm not so bothered about getting it online - on paper would be plenty!

Ministry of Justice dreams of £1bn mega IT framework

Coofer Cat

9 months

I once worked with someone how said "you can't have a project here that lasts longer than 9 months". The idea was that it forced projects to be quick - otherwise they got out of date before they were delivered and cost too much,etc etc.

Could We The People mandate something similar for governments? That would stop them spending a billion quid on a pile of crap, and force them to do reasonable sized increments instead.

Either way, this will go the same was as the poll tax, passports, ID cards, the NHS computer system and countless others. Governments can't do IT (well, they can't do procurement at all, but it's most obvious in IT).

Facebook shoves your face into creepy 'sponsored stories' in 2012

Coofer Cat


These sorts of things are going to happen more and more. Facebook's hit the top, and is on the way down as it fights one battle after another, with or without lawsuits. It's no longer a social media service, it's a litigator.

Zuckerburg is actually very shrewd. We all thought he was bonkers turning down deals that would have seen him personally gaining billions. However, if he IPOs the company as rumoured next year, he'll make way more than that. He also gets the "kudos" of being able to say "it grew and grew while I was running it, and it fell into a steaming pile of turd once public shareholders got their hands on it". Clever indeed...

TalkTalk, 3UK scratched off Ofcom's Xmas card list

Coofer Cat

TalkTalk Billing

I was an old Freedom2Surf customer, who got bought by Tiscali and then TalkTalk. I tried TalkTalk's "business class" service, but it was awful - slow speeds, terrible phone service, and hopeless support. I've been super-happy with Plusnet ever since (because weirdly BE said they couldn't take on customers who didn't have a BT landline!?).

Even several months later, TalkTalk keep sending me invoices for £0.00. They really are hopeless.

As for 3 - I've found them to be pretty good. You can't activate global roaming while you're abroad though, which is annoying. But other than that, they've been pretty good (nothing like O2 who I found to be hopeless, and unilaterally blocked half the internet "to protect the children", even though those children can't legally have contracts).