* Posts by NotMyRealName

31 publicly visible posts • joined 5 Aug 2011

How do we combat mass global misinformation? How about making the internet a little harder to use


"Does the audience change the message, or the delivery of the message?"

If you habitually access the Internet with cookies enabled, and use Google to search, the search results will be "helpfully" tailored to your past online activity (on which Google will have copious data). So, should you ever idly delve into a rabbit hole, Google's algorithms will deem it to be one of your interests. Is it any wonder that misinformation gets reinforced and proliferates?

There are times when cookies are essential: accessing bank accounts, buying online, and (as now) commenting on Web sites. The data-culling can be limited by NEVER accepting third-party cookies -- but how many users are aware of that option? And, even if they'd read about it, decided that changing settings was too much hassle. Also, very few users are aware of anonymised search options such as Startpage and Duckduckgo; the general view is that to search means to Google.

I don't see an easy way out of this Google strangle-hold. Culling personal data is their money-making objective. Disseminating reliable information and proven facts in response to a search query doesn't figure in their equation.

Kill the blockchain! It'll make you fitter in the long run, honest



tracking providence?

providence: The guardianship and control exercised by a deity

If a blockchain could do that, it would be a singular feat!

"tracking provenance" makes more sense.

Are bearded blokes more sexist?


It all depends....

My straw poll of 4 female colleagues suggests that women couldn't care less whether a man has a beard and that it doesn't signify anything with regard to sexism. However, there was one important caveat: if they had felt inclined to get up close and personal with aforesaid man, 3 out of the 4 would care: there's a thing called 'beard burn'.

Furious customers tear into 123-reg after firm's mass deletion woes


It does matter!

To techies, it may be 'obvious' to create one's own backups, held off-site, etc. etc. And equally 'obvious' to not use the cheapest host on the block (although paying doesn't guarantee 100% infallibility). That kind of thinking is what techies get paid for. But, instead of sneering, can you not spare a thought for the hapless 'loosers'?

Imagine you've just set up your own small business. Money is tight; you'll have to survive on your savings until (if?) the business takes off. You may know a lot about building the proverbial better mouse-trap. That doesn't mean you know owt about IT, other than the fact that any business nowadays needs a Web presence. And, along with everything else in the start-up stage, that has to be done on a shoe-string.

Let's assume you're one of the lucky ones: your business does take off. Now, your most pressing problem is dealing with, and servicing, the influx of orders. (Happy customers = repeat customers, and all that.) You're working very long hours to keep the business afloat. You may even be making enough profit to start paying yourself! One thing you aren't fretting about is your Web presence because, thus far, it's been working fine. And, as everyone knows, if it ain't broke you don't fix it ...

C'mon, guys. Where's your imagination, your empathy?

Hey Windows 10, weren't you supposed to help PC sales?


Re: Privacy Issue

Any OS, let's face it, is just a tool. I've been a Windows user since 3.1 and none of the Windows OSs have ever provided the full functionality that, at any given stage, was technically feasible. Fortunately, those failings were quickly addressed by developers of third-party utilities. Hence, I've relied on a slew of third-party apps to make the wretched 'tool' user-friendly. (That does have drawbacks: I've used Total Commander since it was called Windows Commander, so never became au fait with the incarnations of Explorer.) Right now, my 5-year-old system does everything that I need -- but it is going to die one day. And then what? I dread that day.

Windows 10 will not be an option: I must be in full control of my computer (data privacy and all that). I'll have to find another OS, learn what it can and does not do, and then find third-party apps to provide the required functionality. And do all that without disrupting my part-time freelance work because, if a deadline is missed, that client is lost for ever. Although I've been half-heartedly playing with flavours of Linux, the time has come when I really must apply myself to preempting doomsday.

However, I don't think I can be the only person facing this dilemma. There must be other folk who do part-time freelance work and thus need to ensure client privacy/security, and are wondering which OS to turn to next?

Bill Gates denies iPhone crack demand would set precedent


Satya who?

Bill Gates still has links to Microsoft: he's 'technology advisor' to Satya Nadella. I guess that Microsoft has good reasons (i.e. financial ones) not to upset the government too much, hence Gates's statement. And surely it has made more impact with him as the spokesman? (The current CEO's name is not that well-known outside the tech community.)

Solution to tech bros' disgust of SF homeless people launched



The URL for Justin Keller's whiny letter. Ju Stink is apposite but, er, not very svbtle...? (Now I'm conflicted: was this Poe and he forgot the /s?)


Ofcom asks: Do kids believe anything they read on the internet?


Granted it was against the house rules, but what was the underlying objection to Firefox?

UK MPs have right old whinge about ‘defunct’ Wilson Doctrine


May, or may not...

Mark well Theresa May's weasel words: "Members of this House are not above the law or beyond the scope of investigatory powers." You have to give her full marks for wilful obfuscation! No-one was arguing that MPs should be above the law. If they contravene the law they can be investigated (and have been fined/jailed in some cases). And, since the Recall of MPs Act 2015, constituency voters can remove MPs found to have broken the rules (well, certain rules anyway).

Sadly, with a handful of honourable exceptions, the MPs have only just woken up to the pervasive evil that is blanket surveillance. If they do not like the idea of all their own communications (e.g. with constituents, lawyers, other MPs, Ministers, parliamentary committees, lobbyists, etc.) being swept into the haystack, they might finally understand why Joe Public is so averse to it. Their late arousal might still achieve some good ... but I'm not holding my breath on that.

Don't want to upgrade to Windows 10? You'll download it WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT


Behind the Curve....

I have been derided for clinging to WinXP far beyond its sell-by date. However, I had no option: my pension didn't stretch to buying Win7.

That said, I have done my best to effect belt-and-braces security. My firewall is strong: it passes all the Shields Up tests. I've installed an AV program but I also regularly run Malwarebytes and Trend Micro Housecall. I launch my browser within Sandboxie. My browser's default setting is not to accept any cookies: why would anyone accept them as the norm? I've also installed browser add-ons such as Adblock, Certificate Patrol, NoScript, Ghostery, Wot, and also Masking Agent: the latter because I don't want to broadcast that I'm still using WinXP!

My browser homepage is startpage.com, from where I can anonymously search via Google, or via the equally anonymous Duckduckgo. Seriously, why would anyone want their searches to be logged, and current searches to be filtered based on information derived from their previous searches? Or perhaps that only matters to people whose jobs/interests involve wide-ranging, eclectic, research? And, if I go to a site where I have to log-in, I bar 3rd party cookies. Thus far, that hasn't prevented me from accessing the sites that really matter to me.

Given my budgetary constraints, I will soon have to get to grips with a verson of Linux. In the meantime, I'm so glad that I am exempt from the insidious encroach of Win10!

How much info did hackers steal on US spies? Try all of it


Re: Snowden

The UK government, via its compliant mouthpiece the Sunday Times, has today done that! The Chinese, so they say, hacked Snowden's files. No mention of US data losses....

Attack of the Digital People: The BBC goes fully Bong


Re: would a digital person know...

I'm a vaguely digital person, having tinkered with computers a bit. So I know "what map, filter and fold are".

Map: a book thingy (AA paper version c. 1999) that you dig out when GPS goes on the blink.

Filter: a thingy that removes spammy stuff in email. Or, often more effectively, grounds in coffee.

Fold: what you must NOT do to thingies which have to be digitally-scanned later.

Panda antivirus labels itself as malware, then borks EVERYTHING


Too little, too late

Gawd! I spent the best part of today trying to get out of this black hole: I couldn't access programs. At least Safe Mode with Internet did work, after a fashion. But I wasn't able to find any info online about the cause, nor a solution. Umpteen nail-chewing reboots later, I think everything is now working -- and I've just learned what the problem was. Thank you, Panda!

Mail Migration


The Other Side of the Coin

"...our current system is feature rich, and seems a bridge too far for a small group of vocal users."

Regardless of the technical complexities, there's huge potential for disaster just in that statement. Is it really only a small group of users who are dissatisfied? Or only a few, of a much larger group, who are doing the complaining? The difference is significant.

If it genuinely is only a small group of dissatisfied users, then the new system will perforce have to mirror all the features of the old one. (Albeit in a more user-friendly format, to satisfy the whingers.) Because, sure as eggs are eggs, there will be people who liked the old system because of its "rich features" -- even if they only used a handful of them. Forcing all users to acclimatise to a totally different system is hurdle enough. However, if it's being done at the whim of a minority, that is begging for outrage on a monumental scale. (Trust me. I've worked in academia.)

That said, if there has to be a migration, the least disruptive option is probably Gmail. It's likely that a significant proportion of the corpus will already be using Gmail on their home devices, so there's minimal learning curve. However, Gmail does have serious failings regarding privacy/tracking. This would be a major drawback in an educational environment and would require 'tweaking' the settings -- possibly on an ongoing basis, as the email platform itself evolves.

I'd suggest amassing all the evidence, from both the technical and user standpoints, and pray that well-presented logic will quash the whole idea (meantime polishing your CV...).

Obama reveals tiny NSA reforms ... aka reforming your view of the NSA


Prez annonces

I see what you did there....

NSA's Project Marina stores EVERYONE'S metadata for A YEAR


Re: Spelling

Think you'll find that "pore" is correct.

Headmaster calls cops, tries to dash pupil's uni dreams - over a BLOG


Is this The Register or the Daily Mail?

You know what surprises me?

Firstly, that a significant proportion of the comments endorse the headmaster's action and condemn the student. I think Kinnan is well-justified in his "anti-establishment ways of thinking and ... that there is an inherent risk that every government is corrupt". (There is more than enough proof of the latter!)

And as for Kinnan's expletives, those same words have appeared in comments under many another El Reg article, yet there were no prissy complainers. This curious disconnect baffles me.

Google Glass is high fashion in September Vogue magazine


Note the wording

"It was not commissioned". It's called 'product placement', which is something else entirely.

An afternoon with Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer


Too true

"It's in everybody's best interests, unless you're trying to take over a country and it's best to keep the populace uneducated. An educated populace will tend to make better decisions..."

Yup. And I think we can perceive the trend, on both sides of the pond.

NSA Prism: Why I'm boycotting US cloud tech - and you should too



Given the wholesale expansion of this data slurping, is it not equally probable that the primary targets are not "terrorists" but those citizens who seek to uncover and highlight the wrongdoing of governments, politicians and their corporate backers? Is it purely coincidence that, in the USA, whistleblowers are now being indicted at far higher rates than ever before? (Let's face it, TPTB are quite blasé about the security and welfare of the average Joe or Jane and terrorist attacks are more likely to affect only the latter ... and, in any case, are a statistically lesser threat to life than road accidents.)

Should you be inclined to have a dig at the ordure around any of TPTB, this is why you have to fear the data dragnet. Yet there are still useful idiots who proclaim "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

Welsh bureaucrats busted for getting political on Twitter, Facebook


Re: Beth wyt ti'n meddwl?

... but I had to get a Google translation before I could give the upvote.

200 million office workers gagging for a... Microsoft Surface?

Thumb Down

What gives with this weirdo comment placement? Just who was complaining about the old version? Or perhaps it's the result of a Forrester survey....

Russian Christians boosted by Pussy Riot law spank 'sinful' Apple logo


I'm shocked!

"How would we in the sophisticated West respond to a company that used a Swastika as a logo? Or one that reinvented an ancient fertility symbol of an erect human member engaging with a bull? Or one that put a picture of a naked child on its products."

Hmm. The 'swastika', albeit the other way round, is a centuries-old Bhuddist symbol for peace. Some folks, ignorant of history, take exception to it. As for ancient fertility symbols, reinvented or otherwise, how could anyone be offended? Unless, of course, they're ignorant of history. And the manufacturers of nappies routinely feature naked (well, apart from a proprietary nappy) children on their product packs and adverts.

Amazing what some people can get needlessly riled up about. Me, I'm shocked and offended by all those nudes in art galleries. I demand that they be turned to the wall. Think of the children, please!

It’s official: Google shrinks the world!


Dot Com(ma)

The decimal point/comma thingy fazes me, too. I work in Europe, where electronic gadgetry is customarily set for the comma protocol (the point is the thousands separator). Being British born-and-bred, I often instinctively input numbers using my native convention ... until error messages alert me. (Don't make life easier for myself, either, by setting my home computer to the British system.) Funny thing is that numeric keypads on ATM machines, etc. only offer the option of a decimal point -- which is duly interpreted to mean a comma. Also, some companies here express the date as yyyy-mm-dd whilst others use dd-mm-yyyy.

Mine's the one with an abacus and notched stick in the pocket.

Senator probes NASA airfield deal for Google's jets


1. Google rents the space and the landing rights

2. Google manages the airport

What's the betting that 1=2?

Virgin Media cuts Pirate Bay access for millions of punters

IT Angle


Isn't this yet another example of how hopelessly illiterate (innumerate?) governments are when it comes to IT? Well, certainly the UK government!

Gates: Novell are sore losers, Word trounced WordPerfect



* The ability to left, center AND right justify words in a single line of text.

* Reveal Codes.

and all the other features mentioned.

With an original licence number, you could legally get WP5.1+ on a CD:


And then run it from a USB stick (on practically any version of Windoze):


How are we going to search our hard disks now?


Elementary -- Total Commander!

I gave up bothering with Windows' file management nontilities years ago. Couldn't now live without Total Commander. Costs about 32 euros but you can try it free for 30 days. TC is also regularly updated and -- thus far -- once you've paid for it, subsequent updates are free. Agree with the comments about using folders to sensibly differentiate files. But, if I'm looking for something within a file, TC is the answer. Why not give it a trial?


(I have no connection with Ghisler; just think that a good product deserves to be recommended.)

Government seeks public views on open data, PDC



I thought that concept had already been in the trial stage (albeit inadvertently) for years? Aforesaid trials do make nonsense of the vaunted Data Protection thingumy, though.

Death haunts government petitions site


Missing You Already

It's obvious, innit? The Govt. has been forced to go it alone, since it now lacks the input of the Murdich Empire to the framing of populist policy issues. But, as has rightly been pointed out, it will be far easier to ignore the ePetitions than it ever was to ignore Murdich.

Zuck's sister leaves Facebook to start new venture



The good news is that one doesn't have to waste time developing one's own fulloxes. The Plain English Campaign site already offers a helpful Generator: