* Posts by MarkMac

91 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Jun 2007


Microsoft to kill off third-party printer drivers in Windows


except if the windows driver is borked...

Umm, so will microsoft guarantee their drivers work properly with every concevable printer model? I think not...

If i allow windows to install the default drivers for my Brother MFD, printouts come out A5 in the centre of an A4 page.

The driver *thinks* its printing properly, previews look normal, paper size correct etc - except it isn't...

When i reinstall the driver from Brother, everything works fine.

Boris Johnson pleads ignorance, which just might work


surely the phone can be cloned

I'm pretty sure that its SOP for spooks to clone the phone's memory and storage so that even if you accidentally trigger a wipe routine you have a copy. The whole thing feels amateurish and suss

Microsoft decides it will be the one to choose which secure login method you use


Normally, you're re-enrolling your biometrics not creating a new account.

To re-enroll biometrics, you need to prove your identity by some means first. So in principle its not that easy to overwrite someone's biometrics.

Of course, if your other auth methods are compromised then sure, someone can wipe your biometrics from the device and enroll new data.

Thats not unique to biometrics though. If your password is stolen, the perp could change your PIN, contact number for OTPs etc.

All Your Base Are Belong to Them...

On the topic of how biometric IDs work; the op is correct, the detailed information never leaves the device.

It is stored in a one-way hash on the device. That means that even if the device is stolen, the biometric info can't be extracted, only compared to.

Also, its not like on the TV, when they have an actual scan of your fingerprint. That's a very old, insecure tech. Nowadays a capacitative map is created which is then reduced to the key features, and encrypted via a one-way process. Imagine taking an aerial photo of London from an angle, and writing down the coordinates of London Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and a few more places. A set of numbers which you encrypt and store as your enrollment data. Does that matter? Yes, because even if you could break the one-way hash, you still wouldn't have a photograph of london, just a bunch of coordinates which you can't feed into a scanner.

No more free API access, says Twitter: You pay for that data



The zero-notice thing feels like a shakedown. Put devs under pressure, force them to decide on impulse, with no time to plan ahead or think clearly. Its the timeshare sales technique.

Except in this case the people they're shaking down are their actual content creators, the people who drive others to the site, and who generate the ad revenue twitter needs. People whom twitter needs as much as they need it.

So, its commercial suicide.

Many firms have tried this before, mistakenly believing they have a captive market and can charge what they like / ignore customers / change the T&C to suit themselves. Remember QuarkXpress, Blackberry?

Queen's shooting star was actually meteor, not SpaceX junk


Re: Travelling North West

Our initial analysis based on had it moving more due north and at 4km/s but the angles were bad on the cameras which were quite close to each other. Once my colleagues found additional data from cameras with diffrerent views we reanalysed it and got more accurate results which led to a re-evaluation of the conclusion. Science at work :)


Re: Predator

Pretty sure Kurt Russell will be digging it out of the ice in a few decades, then wondering where his flamethrower is...

AWS is on the threshold of adulthood, but is nowhere near grown up


For the same reason its bad for ordinary businesses to lock up capital in property or furniture. Its not their core competency, and its difficult to be sure how much you will need, for how long, and where. If you're starting a company, do you buy a building, or rent it? The latter of course, because then if it gets too small you can move somewhere bigger, and if income falls you can cut your losses. Cloud brings that same flexibility to computing resources.

As for their core business: in 2005, Amazon essentially invested in a startup. If it had not paid off, they'd have sold or shut it down. Also bear in mind that Amazon the retail giant and AWS the cloud giant are not the same company. They're owned by the same group sure - but Yodel and the Daily Telegraph are have common owners.

Mark it in your diaries: 14 October 2025 is the end of Windows 10


Re: Too much to hope...

IMHO the current model is signficantly better for developers and support. The updates are smaller, less invasive and while things still go wrong, you rarely need to completely reinstall the entire OS from scratch. Its one of the few things MS have learned from the opensource / Linux world where the same strategy has been used for years. I almost never need to know what kernel or even version of Raspian or Ubuntu or Redhat I'm on.


" for its "supported lifetime", at no cost."

And by announcing an end-date for the product, MS have just informed you that they will be charging for the next version....

Mom and daughter SUE Comcast for 'smuggling' public Wi-Fi hotspot into their home


Re: Hope they win.

If its anything like the BT version, the public and private hotspots have different IP addresses.

Panic like it's 1999: Microsoft Office macro viruses are BACK


The security guy evidently has never worked in a corporate environment. Virtually all our corporate Word templates have macros in to create metadata for the CMS to index, while its a rare Excel spreadsheet that /doesn't/ have a raft of VBA attached.

TrueCrypt turmoil latest: Bruce Schneier reveals what he'll use instead


OS-Builtin security schemes are irrelevant. Who wants one that is os-specific ? How is that useful ? imagine changing OS, or upgrading OS, or....

Might as well encrypt it and throw away the uey

'Hotmail, since you changed to Outlook, you've been a massive pr**k'



awesome memo on patent trolls!!

Outsourced space trucks battle for US middleweight lifting title


if you want advanced engine technology.. look to Britain

seriously - Alan Bond's skylon design with sabre engines.


Buying a petabyte of storage for YOURSELF? First, you'll need a fridge



connected cameras are here already - check out eye-fi cards. I have a 16GB one and rarely more than half fill it, even when doing long astrophotography sessions with raw image formats.

UK kids' art project is 'biggest copyright blag ever' – photographer



The chief exec is clueless about copyright law. It doesn't matter what you paint it with or where - I'm sure Picasso and Gaugin painted with brushes and paint and stuff. If you created it then you have the copyright. An employer can ask you to give up copyright on material developed on their behalf but it has to be explicit.

All they had to do was ask for specific permission to use the image in any fashion related to the project. The wording they've chosen far exceeds that.

Tabloid hack scum face jail


Public interest

"How will that work? Presumably they'll only know if it's not in the public interest once they've broken the law and acquired the information, by which time it's already too late."

It seems to work pretty well in other countries with similar legislation: newspaper editors are expected to use their brains and work out whether there's a genuine need for the public to know. Watergate springs to mind as a good example; Fergie's toe springs to mind as a bad one.

As for the comments of others - the Govt of the day always has a strong hand, both as to deciding what privacy is and deciding what public interest is. Both can, and have succesfully been, challenged in law. If NotW and co are upset by some ruling they can always appeal. But if the hacks and paparzzi knew they risked jailtime by unjustified spying on people, and the editors knew they faced financial ruin, perhaps there'd be less carp* in the papers..

*yes, I know, its a fish.

MS, US take aim at data protection laws cyber trade barriers


Yeah, right...

The proposers of this idea have only one interest - a commercial one. They don't laws because it costs them money to protect peoples' privacy, and prevents them from monetising the private data they've already gathered. Never mind that these laws exist to protect consumers from rapacious companies and fraudulent use of sensitive information.

Packing heat gets you shot, say profs


Commentards - learn to read

He guys, how many of you have read the actual research? D'ya think that just maybe, scientists know how to 'do' stats? Perhaps before claiming they've ignored basic logic, or forgotten to eliminate crims, or whatever, you should read the _actual_ research, not El Reg's hack's intepretation laced with personal opinion and so forth.

Ubuntu's Karmic Koala opens its eyes


@frank ly

Ubuntu Netbook Release has a suspend to disk option on its logout screen. I suspect all Linuxes can do it, if you know the right magic, and your hardware supports ACPI... yes indeedy. acpi4linux would seem to be what you're after...

Net sleuth calls eBay on carpet over shill bidding



You don't see why anyone would be influenced to pay more than their max? You have no experience of real auctions, or of human nature.

I've lost count of how often I've seen newbies bid up on something by auctioneers taking competing bids from thin air or audience plants. People get excited, carried away, decide they really want the goods a lot - and suddenly they're paying more than its worth by a long chalk. A Dealer gives the auctioneer a nod and students buy the crap at high price, while the dealer waits for the good-condition example two lots later.

Ebay is no different. Its bottom line depends on driving up sale prices so they've no interest in keeping out shills and sharks. Even blatant fraud often goes ignored, cf the ban on negative feedback. Why exactly is it forbidden to leave neg fb for a seller who sold fake goods or something without a CE safety mark, and why is it allowed for said seller to leave negative or false feedback about you if you dare complain ? Because eBay's money is made from sellers. Simple as that.

Blade Runner house yours for $15m

IT Angle

Not all architects...

... are hopeless engineers. Visit the Gaudi apartment buildings in Barcelona sometime to see a beautiful /and/ functional building thats still a joy to live in 100 years later.

I quite agree however with the comment about it being pretty shabby that a less-than-50-years-old building made with modern techniques takes more looking after than a 1000 year old castle. But then FLW was an artist, not a practical person.

ContactPoint goes live despite security fears

Black Helicopters


Unless information is secured by role and by purpose, which I gather it isn't, then security will be impossible. CRB checking is irrelevant - its not done every year, its not spot-checked and anyway it doesn't take account of marital status.

All it will take an authorised person with personal problems. Wasn't there a police officer got done recently for trawling some database for his ex's whereabouts not so long ago? Aren't there cases of teachers in court for alleged child abuse? And thats only the ones who got accused / caught.

So with 300,000+ users its guaranteed that somewhere someone will be an as-yet undetected offender, or desperate for money to pay off debts, or desperate to find their old school buddy's kids for him. And every single day someone will do a screen-print or other hardcopy and leave it lying around somewhere. It'll go home in a briefcase, be left on a desk, be dropped while fumbling for keys, be used to scribble on the back of.

Ofcom works out why Wi-Fi doesn't work


Microwaves - nope

Actually microwave ovens are fairly interference-poor by design. The magnetron dumps the energy into a faraday cage which more or less keeps all the radiation inside (that's the point, otherwise it'd be useless at cooking the food!).

So they are a cause of interference in the Wifi bands - but not as much of a one as other devices.

Irish Wikifiddler hoaxes worldwide journos


Yes, the problem

Er, /one/ of the problems is journos not checking their facts.

The other is wikipedia claiming to be an encyclopedia but allowing itself to be used as a red-top tabloid complete with gossip and rumour.

Encyclopedias contain _facts_. People making stuff up cause its funny, or provocative, or because they like poking sticks in ants-nests is not fact. People writing what they wish had been true or hope happened, is not fact.

When will the "encyclopedists" at Wiki-world realise that humans can't be relied on to relate facts truthfully? Gil Grissom could tell you that everything is filtered through a mask of prejudice, faulty memory, post-event reconstruction and desire to please the audience...

Virgin Media switches to Gmail


Worse service... actually...

Smaller mailbox (currently we get 10MB), potentially scanned by 3rd party for demographics analysis, using a service well-known for being a spammers heaven, in an offshore jurisdiction with poor DP laws. Great move.

I block all mail from google's servers because virtually all the mail I get from them is phishing and spam using throwaway accounts, and all my real contacts have proper email. I strongly suspect I'm far from alone in this. So virginmedia customers may have some issues.

But maybe we do VM a disservice - maybe in reality they'll be deploying google's technology but using their own hardware.

Somehow I think not.

National Express to 'ban' trainspotting


Gated stations

Fare dodging... gated stations... hmm, lemme see:

Spend millions installing electronic gates which either eat your paper ticket or reject it, and which can be vaulted over anyway.

Or employ someone to check tickets as people go through the entranceway. Hmm.

Which makes more economic sense? How many people can you employ for £270m pa?

Whose bright idea was it to have unmanned stations anyway? Thats the bloody problem. If there was someone to sell tickets so you didn't hvae to rely on a nearly-always-defective ticket machine, and someone to check tickets in and out, and someone on the train to check them too, how could people dodge fares?

Brainwave: employ people, reduce unemployment, save money, provide human contact. etc.

Congress mulls stringent data retention rules


Impossible to enforce

Pointless and unenforceable for now - almost no home router is capable of retaining logs for even a few weeks, so the technical issues would make the law unusable.

Unless of course its a covert attempt by the router-makers to get everyone to spend $$$ upgrading, or by the mainstream muni-wifi providers to corner the hotspot market by making it too hard for small-scale providers to set up shop.

NASA talks little green men with Vatican


Petunias presumably?

"to chat about the possibility of life on other plants."


The IWF: Charity disparity?


@Rather circular AC

Whoa there boy - the quote in question is from hte Charity Commission's website, not the IWF's and the criticism is of the CC, not the IWF. It is however as you say, incorrect to suggest its circular since the Charities Act has a long list of things which count as charitable, see here


Noticeably "acting as morality police" isn't listed. Nor in fact is anything to do with child protection. Looking down the list, I would in fact struggle to insert what they do into any category, unless you consider it to be advancement of health or education.

And it doesn't fall into section 4 as its not a recreational activity (boggle boggle).

Jimbo Wales ends death by Wikipedia


So what they're saying is...

... the collective conscious of humanity can't be relied on for accuracy after all, and it in fact takes a more experienced and careful real person to vet the outpourings of our hive-mind.

Well paint me purple and call me Sally. What a shock revelation.

Brit porn filter censors 13 years of net history



"Trouble with OpenDNS is that they never return a NXDOMAIN result "

Open a (free) account with them, and you can turn off that feature via their Control Panel. Basically you can tell it to treat all DNS requests coming from your IP 'normally' and return NXDOMAIN as you'd hope for.

'Lord of the Universe' disciple exits Wikipedia



RW said "I've found information on Wikipedia that you'd be very hard pressed to extract from any conventional library, even the greatest "

Yes, but how do you know its correct? What alternate sources are you comparing against, given that its not in the greatest libraries around? You need to substantiate the material or its worthless.

I'm afraid that if its missing from elsewhere there may be a good reason - like eg its false, inaccurate or biassed. This subject of this article sort of proves the point; anyone can put anything on Wikipedia - and remove anything, accurate or not. So material's presence and apparent rationality merely means it hasn't yet been either vandalised by a zealot or monomaniac, or authenticated by a genuine impartial observer.

Microsoft eyes metered-PC boondoggle


Prior Art?

Surely this is just mainframe computing all over again. I was paying by the cpu-second for access to research computing facilities 25 years ago.

Or are they planning to sell everyone a 16-core 10Ghz processor with 256GB memory, half a dozen graphics cards and 100TB of diskspace, then throttle it down if all you pay for is browsing? I can see /that/ being as long-lived a security system as, well, CSS. Remembe folks, the hardware will be in geeks' hands.

Verizon awarded $33.15m against cybersquatter


follow the money

Doesn't matter if someone is collecting cash, they've got to be handing it to someone. No punk collecting cash is going to do jail-time over his involvement, not if faced with a backpayment of $33M to pay off, and he must be passing it on to someone. of course, the guys behind this could stop operating, break off all contact with middlemen and thus cover their tracks entirely - but they won't, they like money too much.

More to the point, what sort of rubbish vetting do ICANN run, that lets this happen? Phoney names? Book-and-cancel fraud? Don't they do /any/ KYC checks? Heck, and people call Wall Street lax and sloppy.

Rail companies roll out barcode ticket standard


Whats the point?

I'm baffled. Why are they inventing an entire new technology when one already exists? Airlines have done e-ticketing for years using printed forms. What was wrong with that? And phones are stupid places to store tickets (battery life, screen resolution, accidental damage, memory loss etc). What's wrong with simply extending an Oyster-type card? It'd be trivial to buy your ticket online and add it to your Oyster account.

Oh but wait - I forgot. This is the /railway/ industry. Every company has to do its own thing and fight for its own little private standards. I'm surprised they've not started changing the gauge again, just to be different.

Are iPhone users just tight?


Not strange at all

"it seems strange that Symbian, and Windows Mobile, users will happily shell out $25 for an application, while iPhone users balk at paying more than a dollar"

Er, not when you've been severely stiffed for the original hardware. Anyone daft enough to by an iPhone will be so paying for it and the contract....

Scorpions tale leaves IWF exposed


Oh, so there's a review process?

"Following representations from Wikipedia, IWF invoked its Appeals Procedure"

So it turns out there /is/ an appeal process. Cute - they've been keeping that /really/ quiet. Mind you I bet they only accept appeals from the page "owner" which means the very person who has no clue (how often do you visit your own website from an external IP?).

And as for the "image in question is potentially in breach" - guys, either it is or it isn't. If your lawyers can't decide then it isn't. That's how criminal law works remember -innocent till proven guilty. This isn't a civil matter where reasonable doubt can be applied.

Anyway look out for the IWF DDOS wars - report a page, wait till its blocked, appeal it. Repeat in a tight loop till someone's fuses blow or the server melts....

What if computers went back to the '70s too?



one word - simh.

I'm running a "Vax" and a "pdp11" in my shed right now, on a couple of old Linux boxes.

Aussie government muffs plans for internet filtering



Turn on a well-known network nannying programme's filters, and try ordering soup from Tesco online. Impossible - because they sell cock-a-leekie too.

Funnily enough, you can fill your trolleys with breasts... fnarr, fnarr.

Srizbi spam botnet in failed resurrection


@turn them off...

"Some folk think that turning computers on and off causes premature failure."

Yes, that would be those of us who measure MTBF for monitors, HDDs and cheap retail routers. You may not have experienced this but in the last few years I've seen all of these fail due to mechanical stress as a result of heat/cool cycles.

Obtopical: why /don't/ the researchers simply buy right domain and reprogramme the bots to ignore all further attempts to communicate? Or pop up alerts on their host PC? And if they've seen hundreds of thousands of PCs attempting to dial home, why can't they pass the IP addys on to their ISPs to get them dealt with?

US prosthetic todger pair plead guilty to conspiracy


@OK to speed but illegal to pee

Er, you miss the point. Radar detectors cause you to /slow down/ so you are no longer breaking the law - hence they achieve exactly what the speed cams are supposed to do, but don't.

If the whizzinator were similar, it would remove all the drugs from your bloodstream and urine for the duration of the test. Now /that/ really would be a miracle.

Rock-solid Fedora 10 brings salvation to Ubuntu weary


@ Jason Harvey

Huh? Fedora can play MP3s fine - just install vlc or xmms.

The nvidia issue is a dealbreaker tho - presumably that means no support for Compiz.

NASA's curious climate capers


@IGnatius T Foobar

Feel free to live on in your fantasy world. Out here in the Real One, the effects of climate change on our environment are now trivially easy to see, and their link to human endeavour is also all too clear. Oh by the way, we know all about climate cycles. The current change doesn't fit the pattern.

@ all the people who complain about the adjustments. Perhaps you should read about why they're made instead of assuming they're fudge-factors as the article's author incorrectly implied. I mean, a little scientific research can't hurt can it - unless you're afraid of what you might find.... :-)

AVG slaps Trojan label on Adobe Flash


Ya reckon?

Hands up who's actually had this problem? I'm running AVG on four windows installations and not one of them triggered a problem with the latest Flash update.

Mind you, it doesn't seem to be a problem for my other PCs either, the ones running Fedora... :-)

Top aero boffin: Green planes will be noisy planes


noise pollution doesnt 'fade away'...

@all the people saying noise pollution fades away... you obviously don't live under the Heathrow flightpath or have any understanding of how busy it is.

My Mother in Law lives in Putney and planes come over her house every sixty seconds from before dawn till after midnight. You can barely hear yourself speak in the garden if the wind is from the west.

As for siting airports in rural areas: please poison all the wildlife first though (fish included), it'll be less of an ecological disaster than destroying their habitat and disrupting their breeding cycles with constant light and noise.

BBC's speak you're branes collapses under Brand-Ross sex outrage


Funny - not

I'm sure all the people claiming it was hilarious would be similarly rolling with laughter if it had been their grannie receiving the call, and their sister who was the subject of Brand's delightful advances. After all its always amusing hearing people brag about their conquests, especially when they claim to have shagged your family.

On second thoughts, they probably /would/ think it was funny - but then they all have a mental age of 12 don't they?

As for the BBC website, I'm unsurprised it collapsed. If I'd phoned a client's answering machine and made similar comments about his or her family I'd have been fired on the spot, and I strongly suspect most normal rational adults take the same view.

Police poison speed debate with fuzzy figures


@Nic again

Doing 40 outside a school at 3.30pm is stupid, dangerous and should be punished.

Doing 40 at 3.30 _am_ in the same location seems exceptionally unlikely to injure any children.

And how many children are playing on the hard-shoulder of the M25, or on the Swindon ring-road, or on the verge of a country A-road at 2am?

"child protection" is a cod argument, usually designed to force the other party into an emotionally untenable situation. For who can argue against protecting children? But its not about that, its about whether the speed is appropriate for the road and whether cameras are the right way to control it.

Virgin Media calls foul on web speed testers



Nice quote - shame its for the ADSL service. Cluefest: this article is about the cable service...

As for the people claiming they get throttled to "dialup" speeds- since when was dialup speed 5,000 Kpbs?

UN urged to prep for non-fiction Deep Impact



Responsibility does not mean blame. http://www.wikihow.com/Be-Responsible