* Posts by Richard Cranium

170 posts • joined 8 Sep 2011

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A freshly formed English council waves £18m at UK tech industry, asks: Can somebody design and run pretty much everything for us?

Richard Cranium

Re: Simples

After deducting her pay there'd not be much left from the £18m - but that's OK, it can all be done on an obsolete version of Excel.

Apple's at it again: Things go pear-shaped for meal planner app after iGiant opposes logo

Richard Cranium

"People who don't like that should push credible trademark reforms to their elected representative, instead of the pointless "signing" of online petitions."

Yes in a few more decades the elected representatives might act. Which side do you think Trump would take? Big businesses (i.e. political donors with deep pockets) or small?

Trade marks and patents were introduced to protect the small guy, they've been turned around to become the tools the strong use against the weak. An individual innovator or small business can't afford the cost of trade marks or patents but has to assume designs will be ripped off. The only choice is to try to stay ahead by innovation - or just don't bother in the first place, you're on a hiding to nowhere. That's where the real economic damage arises, a chilling effect on innovation. The problem patents were intended to fix has become an obstacle to innovation.

The global acceptance of the concepts of trade mark/patent/copyright makes it very difficult for any one nation to fix that - so which legislators anyway?

I agree that signing petitions *alone* is of very little value so if you mean it do something positive too. Vote with your wallet; donate to the legal fund; buy better cheaper IT hardware/software from more ethical businesses; ensure all your purchases and investments are in ethical businesses (and check the criteria used to define "ethical" are in line with your interpretation).

Geneticists throw hands in the air, change gene naming rules to finally stop Microsoft Excel eating their data

Richard Cranium

Excel is a problem but so is the CSV format

There is an RFC but it's not really a standard.

I have a regular task to import a very odd "csv" file to a MySQL database. My solution is some task-specific code. The generalised problem, for which I've only found one possible "one size fits all" conversion program (in Python & not tried it) is: identify the peculiarities of the incoming file, identify the requirements of the destination app, do the conversion.

It may be possible to write a file parser to identify the characteristics of the input file but the user would need to enter the requirements of the destination app.

My specific task, the incoming file uses tilde as field separator ("comma" equivalent) tilde being unlikely to appear in the data, then a mix of quoted and unquoted fields which may include quotes, commas, apostrophes, tabs, escape characters and a load of other "surprise" characters.

I read that 20% of a large body of scientific papers on genomics included CSV data that would be misinterpreted by excel

Nominet shakes up system for expiring .uk domains, just happens to choose one that will make it £millions. Again

Richard Cranium

Re: From the 'consultation'

The flaw with the system of notifying registrants is that it relies solely on email although nominet hold postal and phone contacts. A client of mine lost a valuable domain name because she'd changed her email address and hadn't updated Nominet. It was a secondary name held to protect a trademarked product name not the primary one used for her web site so the period for which it was not functioning went unnoticed.

One map to rule them all: UK's Ordnance Survey rolls out its Data Hub and the juicy API goodness that lies therein

Richard Cranium

Navigation

Eratosthenes proposed a global coordinate system 2300 years ago, that was flawed but in the next few centuries it evolved into the Latitude & Longitude system much as it exists today after ongoing important refinements like moving the prime meridian to its rightful place ;-)

All the other systems are inferior and only cause to confuse. They do have niche applications but are there really any "better" than Latitude & Longitude?. My mapping app gives locations to a very high level of numeric detail, W 0.12456246 N 51.500661 but it's fine to do some rounding so W 0.1246 N 51.501 gets me on the other side of the road to my intended destination, I think I should be able to spot the Houses of Parliament clock tower from there.

The issue I have is not postal addresses but getting people to meet up at a specified location to go for a walk in the countryside.

In one instance I provided a screen-grab of OS map and Google map, turn by turn directions, UK NGR and Latitude/Longitude coordinates, all carefully double checked and taking them to a parking spot on a minor road. Two of a group of ten didn't turn up, they were a mile away on a main road.

W3W is one of those things that sounds like a good idea until you think it through as discussed above. Useless for me because too few people have heard of it and far fewer have the app. I deleted it.

Distressingly few people understand UK national grid references, some seem to be unaware the the two letters are relevant and will omit them. (And of course they are UK only).

Most sat-navs sold in UK understand UK postcodes as do users but they are hopeless in areas of low population.

I understand some UK sat-navs can take UK NGR (mine can't)

I think most satnavs can take Latitude/Longitude coordinates but that option may be deeply buried and many users seem not to understand or are afraid to use Latitude/Longitude. A friend with a BMW proprietary built in satnav is adamant he can't use Latitude/Longitude (but then he's got a hand-held Garmin GPS device he cant work out how to use either).

Mobile phone navigation apps vary in their location specification requirements.

With dedicated GPS devices Latitude/Longitude coordinates are usually fine except for the variations in how those coordinates are specified. Is it 10 degrees West or 350 degrees or -10 degrees? It is degrees, minutes, seconds or decimal, Is it UGM WTS 84 International or UTM WGS 84 NMEA. And although those devices may have good quality maps, they don't work like satnavs providing turn by turn navigation (sending a GPX route file would be an option if the recipients knew what to do with it.

Apple: We're defending your privacy by nixing 16 browser APIs. Rivals: You mean defending your bottom line

Richard Cranium

Re: Safari

True and there are other ways to check a web site is OK in safari without paying the apple tax (like ask a friend who has an apple).

I now take the view that it's not my job but that of the browser authors to ensure that any well coded W3C standards compliant web site functions on their platform. If it works on all the main browsers but not yours, that's a bug in your software not in my web coding.

Richard Cranium

Re: Safari

If it's so great, why did they kill-off the version that runs on other platforms? I used to test my websites on multiple browsers including Safari (on Windows) but I'm buggered if I'm going to buy an apple device just to be able to check whether a web site is OK on Safari.

Whose side you on, Nominet? Registry floods .co.uk owners with begging emails to renew unwanted .uk domains

Richard Cranium

Re: I used to pay...

FWIW I'm paying £6 inc VAT for uk names at purely.domains, while I grumble at that (mostly at the slice Nominet take for doing bugger all other than run a database rather badly and pay themselves very generously), at least it's less than .com (I get those for under £10 somewhere else).

My advice to clients in respect of .uk is:

If it's the equivalent of the .co.uk name you use, keep it

If the .co.uk name is just held defensively (i.e. not used for anything, web, email or other) then consider how valuable that name is and consider dropping that and the .uk

When I say "consider how valuable" best names are short, no hyphens, single word, dictionary word, noun.

So I'm finding names like mikes-dodgy-second-hand-motors.co.uk and the .uk equivalent both being dropped, especially where the client bought loads of variants defensively years ago. The risk of abusive registrations seems to be far less than people thought 20 years ago.

On the other hand some just take the attitude that it's only a few quid...

I also advise not to use the .uk variant at all, just leave it parked with the registrar, keeping it solely to prevent anyone else buying it. If it gets "known" then if you decide to cancel in years to come then you risk your customers seeing a dead link or rejected email and may decide you've gone bust. But also I think most people recognise .co.uk as "legitimate" and may be unsure of .uk

Best thing Nominet could (should) do is charge a nominal amount for the variant if the client owns both.

The other thing Nominet could do to increase the value of .uk is very actively police registrations with strict T&C as to usage and limit ownership to genuine UK organisations (or persons). IIRC The Register recently reported bulk buying of lapsed .uk names by overseas speculators.

Nominet have the registry as a gift of the UK government, it's time government demanded better or put uk name management out to tender.

Namesco email 'scripting error' has last bastion of Demon Internet holdouts scratching their heads

Richard Cranium

Having helped a friend go through the palaver to set up the switch to the temporary email service I'd not be surprised if a lot of former demon customers gave up.

As for the name, in the early days of internet my business used Demon email. One potential client (with strong connections to a church) declined our proposal on the grounds that he didn't want any association with the word. (We revised the proposal using a different email service to comply and he's still a customer 25 years later).

Remember April 2020? It brought pandemic, chaos and an unseasonable spike in new domain registrations

Richard Cranium

Move on, nothing to see here...

Yes, a bit of a non-story. Looks to me like there was a significant drop in new UK registrations in March, ~ 17,000 perhaps people had something else on their minds? March was the anomalous number then April was catch-up time with ~32,000, just 3000 more than Jan ~29,000

As for AC mention of the Namesco demon changeover. I helped a client through the nightmare to configure the "interim" solution in 2016 but at the same time set him up with a Gmail account and added a forwarder so mail to my.client@his-domain-name.co.uk went to both the old demon address and to gmail so when "interim" comes to an end it will no longer matter. In addition, there have been a couple of articles on The Register recently (15/5 and 30/5) referencing the demise of the Demon mail facility so I was able to advise my client of the impending change even if Namesco have seemingly failed to do so.

Something a bit phishy in your inbox? You can now email suspected frauds straight to Blighty's web takedown cops

Richard Cranium

Re: On a point of detail...

No. Anyone can register (almost) any domain name, the uk police registered police.uk under which they have several subdomains like actionfraud.police.uk only the owner of a second level name can register subdomains of that name.

Photobucket says photo-f**k-it, starts off-site image shakedown

Richard Cranium

Re: That reminds me..

A very long time ago, when bandwidth was expensive, one of my customers had been trawling through their access logs to see why they were using so much bandwidth. The main culprit was a nice little animated GIF someone had chosen to hotlink as his avatar on a busy forum where he posted extensively. I used htaccess to substitute a naked barbie doll image when accessed from the forum. Unfortunately it was easy for him to fix but he enjoyed a few days of ridicule.

The same client had also spotted another anomaly in the logs, the most successful search result driving traffic to their website, a country inn was for "beautiful black man". This was, to say the least, "something of a surprise". While hits on the web site were sought after they felt these would lead to disappointed visitors and bandwidth was expensive back then, could I explain? Yes! the search engine (I expect this pre-dated Google so probably AltaVista) had found those 3 words on one page. The name of the inn included the word MAN, the page wrote about the BEAUTIFUL rural setting and detailed the "full English breakfast" which included BLACK pudding.

Tesla has a smashing weekend: Model 3 on Autopilot whacks cop cars, Elon's Cybertruck demolishes part of LA

Richard Cranium

Re: I Can't Stop Myself

Agreed, a downvote here without an explanatory comment often gets me scratching my head to understand why.

I long ago concluded that any mention of Apple (other than a glowing testimonial) will get a downvote. Looks like we can now add any negativity toward Tesla/Musk as another route to a guaranteed downvote.

123-Reg is at it again: Registrar charges chap for domains he didn’t order – and didn't want

Richard Cranium

Re: Not just 123reg but also LCN (though not on auto-renew)

I'd not call out any single registrar on the free .uk registrations. As far as I can see many (most?) did it and probably better than letting the names go onto the open market by accident.

Frankly, many small business owners are too busy doing whatever their business does and disinclined to try to get their heads round what seems to them to be an obscure technical issue, they need advice from someone a bit more clued up but that too could imply time and money.

The free first year was a gentle shove to say: we take the issue seriously, we think you should too. If that didn't work then maybe scare tactics are a valid way to prod the client into making a decision. Of course auto-renewal by inertia, seemingly what some registrars have tried, is not acceptable.

In some cases the downside risk is possibly needing to pay Nominet DRS £750 (or worse) making even the rather steep £12 p.a. at 123reg worthwhile. For many that annual fee is money down the drain, for Nominet it's the gift that keeps on giving.

In my opinion Nominet are the real bad-actor in the whole scenario. The cost to them of allocating the .uk name to the corresponding existing .co.uk name registrant could easily be absorbed. In future registrants of _new_ names could choose to buy uk, co.uk or both. Existing owners of both could be free to sell one variant at which point the new registrant would start paying annual renewals.

The easy option is "pay up", a little smarter is a quick risk benefit analysis. The risky choice is to do nothing, the risk may be trivial but I've seen some valuable lapsed .uk names being auctioned by drop-catchers for substantial prices.

Chancers keep buying up dot-UK company name domains: Got a problem? That'll be £750 for Nominet to rule on it

Richard Cranium

Who Is

Contact details should be available in WhoIs but the registrant should be allowed to opt-out . I have some names I no longer need, I'd be quite happy if people could look up in whois, find my email and offer me vast sums of money for the names... The act of opting out could be taken as an indication that the name may be registered in bad faith but Nominet don't seem to do much checking so registrants have the option of providing incorrect details anyway.

My Nominet control panel contains details of domains that were transferred to other owners many years ago but the registrant never bothered to update them so owner, phone, email and street address are all wrong, the email address is mine, the phone was disconnected 5 years ago, not sure if the building still exists.

In any case Nominet don't use any of that data apart from the email. I discovered that when someone got in touch to see if I could find out why their web site had stopped working. The client had paid the annual renewal a couple of months earlier.

It turned out the client changed email address a few months earlier. They still had the old address but didn't check the mailbox any more, hundreds of junk emails a day had rendered it useless. I logged in and did a search. I found an email from Nominet advising that the domain name would be cancelled due to incorrect information, they didn't specify what the problem was, I had to find out by trial and error.

The client hadn't changed postal address or phone number but Nominet hadn't tried to use either. The client hadn't updated their email address at Nominet . Even if the email had still been current it's stupid to rely solely on that, emails don't always reach their intended recipient, spam filters for example.

I think the problem was that the company name field held something like "Richard Cranium (trading as dickhead)" . When registering the name at e.g. 123reg (don't) there is no field for "trading as" so the client had used their initiative for greater clarity. The t/a name matched their domain name. If you log in to your Nominet account there is a separate field, for trading as, the client didn't know that. Had they provided less information omitting "trading as..." they'd have been OK.

Had Nominet followed their supposed normal process of merely suspending the name, fixing the "trading as" issue would have resolved the problem but Nominet had released the name back to the market although the client had paid their annual renewal not long before.

Rather than waste any more time trying to get any sense out of Nominet the quickest fix was to just buy the name again as leaving it on the open market any longer risked a drop-catcher grabbing it.

So Nominet do seem to wake up from time time and make a few checks but as we have come to expect of Nominet, they do it badly.

A very similar arose with a name registered some 25 years ago, it had been fine for most of that time but then a Nominet jobsworth spotted that the address fields specified the country as GB rather than UK. They threatened to repossess the name, again they didn't identify what the problem was merely that there was a problem: "the registrant details are not correct".

OK both stories date back several years and doubtless Nominet would deny everything and then claim that they've tightened up procedures anyway...

Not just adhesive, but alcohol-resistant adhesive: Well done, Apple. Airpods Pro repairability is a zero

Richard Cranium

I spot a business opportunity...

I too have ears that don't conform to the standard, earbuds wired or not, they just don't stay put, including those with interchangeable rubber adapters to fit different ear canal dimensions. While I'd not consider spending $250 on such things, especially at Apple, for those that might how about manufacturing inert clones? Just a lump of plastic, same size, colour and shape. A potential buyer could buy one just to do a "does it stay in place" test.

And some might buy two so they can walk around in public looking the twats that have wasted $250 on a veblen good - bit like having a fake Rolex.

Haunted by Europe's GDPR, ICANN sharpens wooden stake to finally slay the Whois vampire

Richard Cranium

WHOIS was useful...

Well it would have been if it had been done properly.

It was useful to be able to check that an owner was legitimate - but even more useful if the WHOIS data was properly validated so scammers couldn't buy a domain and give fake details.

It was useful if there was a domain you might be willing to sell or one you might want to buy, easier for the two parties to get in contact.

If there was an opt-in/out option the domain owner could decide whether they wanted to be listed and possibly what level of detail. Domain name owners could make their own choices and anyone making a whois search could make useful inferences from those choices.

I used to run an internet business, we would register domain names using the customer's name as "owner" but with our contact details. That meant we got all the spam and, as it usually had fairly predictable content and structure, it was easy to filter the garbage and respond or forward any legitimate messages. Our concern was that end-users were not good at spotting the scams and might respond. Before we started using our contact details the most common queries we got from our customers related to fake domain name renewal emails and the "someone wants to buy [your domain name].cn or .asia, if that's not OK we will secure it for you" scam. We were concerned that some might not check with us first and pay-up.

US customers kick up class-action stink over Epson's kyboshing of third-party ink

Richard Cranium

Surely better to try _compatible_ cartridges or try refilling the OEM cartridges rather than just go straight for a new printer.

Help! I bought a domain and ended up with a stranger's PayPal! And I can't give it back

Richard Cranium

The larger the organisation the greater their focus on cost-cutting hence "help" desks staffed with staff paid statutory minimum (or off-shore for a dollar a day) and pressured to close calls fast. A large business can afford to lose a few of their millions of customers (probably want to lose those who need a lot of support).

I've experienced excellent customer service using small local ISPs but then along comes someone like GoDaddy, buys them up and - well, time to move on.

Fancy yourself as a bit of a Ramblin' Man or Woman? Maybe brush up on your cartography

Richard Cranium

"... wind frequently makes paper maps hard to use!..."

The big OS sheets are unmanageable in "weather", worse still if your route involves two sheets. And the plastic laminated versions although waterproof, are rather bulky.

I use desktop OS mapping (not the OS app but the vastly more versatile Mapyx Quo) to plan my route then print the relevant area (usually 1 or 2 A4 sheets) and take in a plastic A4 envelope. That's easier to use than mobile as a primary navigation aid, the mobile can be helpful where the path isn't obvious or you need reassurance about exact current location. Printing also means you can enlarge from original paper map-scale making it easier to read.

Nominet continues milking .uk registry cash cow with 4 per cent price rise for... what exactly?

Richard Cranium

No other security software?

Surely the UK TLD is in the gift of the Government, is it time Government regained control?  Have Nominet not violated the terms under which Government allowed Nominet to manage this national monopoly resource by dropping the charitable aspect?  Shouldn't the task of managing the UK address space be put out to tender periodically (like the lottery, the railways)?

Should Nominet be referred to the monopolies commission for exploiting the monopoly to the disadvantage of the public?

Wake me up before you Gogo ... so I can jump out: Kenyan MP takes on aeroplane flatulence

Richard Cranium

Airbus 380

Very rough estimate: on a 12 hour flight the 500+ passengers will boot the cabin atmosphere by somewhere around 350 litres

Chrome add-on warns netizens when they use a leaked password. Sometimes, they even bother to change it

Richard Cranium

Pointless

If I understand correctly if anyone anywhere has used a password that's been leaked it gets onto the list and you get advised to change *your* PW which relates to a *different* service with a *different* user ID. A leaked PW alone is of little use to anybody.

I said "Little use" rather than "none" because I guess someone trying a dictionary attack might use the list of compromised passwords as their dictionary but surely any credible login system blocks dictionary attacks these days...

If the alert were for poor passwords: too short, no use of mixed upper & lower case, numbers and some non-alphanumerics, that would be valid (but annoying when visiting web sites that don't permit non-alphanumerics in passwords).

Alternatively if the blacklist were just of, say, the top 10,000 passwords then it might be worth advising those using things like "123456", "password", "letmein" and "topsecret" that their choice may be poor (although like others I have a garbage email and UID/password pair I re-use on inconsequential sites like those wanting a login for reasons things like to "get our free whitepaper on..." )

It's official! The Register is fake news… according to .uk overlord Nominet. Just a few problems with that claim, though

Richard Cranium

Re: Nice write up! Excellent fact checking!

re: " and FedEx attempting to bring a trademark dispute or 'passing off' action would have a hell off a job doing so".

True up to a point but a small business can't afford the court costs of fighting. An example is KFC attempting to strong-arm the Tan Hill Inn for trademark infringement because they called their Christmas Dinner a "Family Feast", a term KFC use to describe a meal conveniently delivered in a bucket (that one might later find useful as a receptacle for vomit). Tan Hill fixed the problem by getting national news coverage and shaming KFC into backing down, in the face of legal threats, however spurious, many others would just comply.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1551113/KFCs-legal-threat-to-Englands-highest-pub.html

UK's internet registry prepares a £100m windfall for its board members – and everyone else will pay for it

Richard Cranium

@J G Harston

Yes the .co.uk names for most "household names" do already exist. The point of the article is that if they don't register the corresponding .uk (without .co) very soon there's a risk someone else will and may use it to the disadvantage of the registrant of the .co.uk name.

Nominet's attitude to that risk is that if a third party were to use a the .uk equivalent of a .co.uk name to the disadvantage of the .co.uk name owner, it would be a breach of Nominet's T&C. What they gloss over is that their Dispute Resolution Service costs £200 for mediation, if that fails you can get an expert decision for £750 and if you don't like the result an appeal costs a further £3,000 taking the potential total to £3950 +VAT.

If a third party had registered mars.uk and was selling sweets Mars Inc lawyers would be on the case in the twinkling of an eye (and probably resort to the courts at much higher potential legal costs than Nominet's DRS if mars.uk was being used by a third party for any purpose whatsoever).

The real risk in this situation is to small businesses. They are less likely to be aware of the issue so may not have registered the .uk name variants. They are less able to fund a legal battle should the need arise.

Some of the examples listed in the ElReg article, including mars.uk, have been registered (presumably by the eponymous confectionery manufacturer). The fact that many of the .uk registrations (including at time of writing mars.uk) don't take you to a functioning web site seems to me to be a recognition by the holders of those names that they are worthless but need to be held to prevent anyone else getting them.

You might think: why not route mars.uk to the functioning web site at mars.co.uk The reason is that once you've done that the name will get "known" possibly by some search engines, possibly by some users of that web site. That means that you're committed to paying the annual renewal for ever. Not a problem for Mars Inc but for a small business, perhaps protecting a few brand names and domain name variants (like multi-word names with and without hyphens between words) the opportunity to save even a few tens of pounds is sometimes welcome.

Chap joins elite support team, solves what no one else can. Is he invited back? Is he f**k

Richard Cranium

Re: I'm lazy. Really fucking lazy!

Friend of mine had to spend a week adjusting the program code for every customer sale. He'd suggested to management that he could convert the code to take a simple parameters file so future orders would just take a few minutes to customise the config file.

Manager said no.

Manager went on holiday so friend rewrote the program anyway. I told him that disobeying orders was risky, better to keep quiet but he proudly told his boss - who responded by pointing out that his job was configuring the code and since that was no longer necessary he was now redundant.

Happy Thursday! 770 MEEELLLION email addresses and passwords found in yuge data breach

Richard Cranium

data quality issue

I'm concerned that in the pursuit of headline grabbing numbers the quality of the list is at hazard. I've got numerous gmail accounts designated for different purposes so the first problem is that I can't submit a list but have to do the names one by one.

One example of a second issue is that one of my addresses is shown as leaked on Disqus, but was it? The report says "In October 2017, the blog commenting service Disqus announced they'd suffered a data breach. The breach dated back to July 2012 but wasn't identified until years later when the data finally surfaced."

I joined Disqus in 2016. So was the leak of 2012 data or did the leak continue right up to the date of the announcement in 2017? The password that might have been "disclosed" (disqus stored as salted SHA1) was unique to access that site, it wasn't my EMAIL password, even if it had been it's protected with 2FA giving extra security. I don't recall if Disqus sent a breach report to all their users but if they did I would have changed password. Good practise on their part after a leak would be to require a password change on next login, if that were the case much of the database would be entirely misleading - your email address is "known to third parties" but what use is an email address that's not known to others?

It seems to me that haveibeenpwned lists any email address that has ever been on any site that's suffered a leak irrespective of other considerations and they are being treated as compromised.

So the email address check is not very useful, is the aim of haveibeenpwned.com merely self aggrandisement? More use might be the "pwned password" test but don't forget that's not YOUR usage of that password and not necessarily linked to one of your sets of login credentials. It just tells you that someone, at some time in the past, has used that password on one or more of thousands of compromised sites. Interestingly it seems plenty of low-grade passwords haven't been compromised. Obviously "123456" and "password" have millions of instances, we are advised against short passwords but even "l2e4S6" and "p4s5w0Rd" (letter/number substitutions) aren't in the database.

A combined test for email and password would be more value to you but who'd be stupid enough to enter both to a third party web site? I'm reasonably confident that haveibeenpwned.com is trustworthy but I'd not disclose full credentials on the basis of "I think it's probably a trustworthy web site". Even if you checked email and then password on the same site, visitor tracking capabilities are such that the two separate enquiries could be shown as coming from the same source so you've potentially provided the site owner with the full set of login credentials.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

Richard Cranium

RAF?

Reports are that the Army has been called in - why Army but not RAF?

LG's beer-making bot singlehandedly sucks all fun, boffinry from home brewing

Richard Cranium

Re: Why?

"Bread makers are an excellent invention."

Or another unnecessary piece of junk to further clutter your kitchen? As we're on The Register we'll all be familiar with Nathan Myhrvold, but what about his post Microsoft career? Cookery! A deeply researched and rather expensive book about bread (around 400 USD). One of his findings it that you can make very good bread without tens of minutes of kneading. Ingredients are simple, not much more than flour, water & yeast. Processing is simple give it a stir, leave it somewhere warm for a while, bash it into a baking tin and leave it in the warm a bit longer, shove it in the oven for half an hour. You end up with a bread shaped loaf, without a metal paddle embedded in the base, OK a couple of hours elapsed time but only a few minutes actual effort. And to save your $400, of his many hundreds of recipes he considers the best to be chocolate & cherry sourdough.

Merry Christmas, you filthy directors: ICO granted powers to fine bosses for spam calls

Richard Cranium

TPS created 1999 (home users only, I immediately registered)

Given statutory force 2003 (& Business registrations now allowed, I signed up ASAP)

2013 described as "not fit for purpose"

Until ?2013 ICO's response to complaints was (I paraphrase) "If a large number of complaints is received relating to one organisation we send a 'please stop doing this' letter, if complaints continue we send stronger warnings" but had never used to power to impose fines.

And am I right in thinking political parties are exempt?

2018 Still almost useless (I get at least one scam call a day) finally, fines on directors BUT what about silent calls? What about robocalls? What about calls from overseas? What about getting Telcos to cooperate by operating blacklists & blocking fake caller IDs.

When will the UK government realise that whenever they launch a scheme like "Grants for loft insulation" the first result will be every "home improvement" business will be on the phone to us (Govt. considers that as a positive: free publicity for the scheme). And so will the "home improvement" scam callers.

19 years on Govt. is intentionally dragging its feet in response to marketing industry lobbying.

My business line is always on straight to voicemail

My home line is on 2 rings then answerphone (so I do get a brief opportunity to see CLI and most legit callers start speaking so I can then pick-up when I recognise the caller)

A problem: the NHS makes calls to confirm I'll be attending an appointment, number withheld, line drops if its answerphone. Is this Govt. policy to stop us using answerphone?

Congrats from 123-Reg! You can now pay us an extra £6 or £12 a year for basically nothing

Richard Cranium

Re: I want to move away

Isn't TSO host now part of the same group, HEG?

123-Reg customers outraged at automatic .UK domain registration

Richard Cranium

More 123reg...

Some time ago I registered a bare .uk name at 123reg (free). Some time later, when I looked at the registrant info I found someone else's contact details but in my account.

I hadn't checked at the time but it turns out the corresponding .co.uk version is registered at 123reg and was registered before 29 October 2013 so the .co.uk owner has a right to buy the bare .uk variant. Luckily I'd not started using the name and I guess I'll leave it to expire - but I seem to have found a hole in their security, and I guess 123reg are in breach of GDPR because I can see their other client's details

Richard Cranium

Too many price hikes from 123

With a few hundred domains there I tolerated the earlier price hikes and 123's occasional cockups but now renewals have reached twice what some others charge the price differential is too much. Its a major PITA moving away, partly because the external transfer link at 123 is well buried and their interface is slow but I'm going for it.

Yes the bare .uk is a problem, completely unwanted by domain name owners, just a way to double the cost. It's regarded with skepticism by many web users, they know .co.uk and think .uk must be something dodgy. If you were to get your hands on, say tesco.uk you'd have their lawyers on your doorstep so it's just a tax on smaller or less aware businesses who might find someone else grabbed it but can't afford lawyers. Nominet may have created a potential massive security risk with all kinds of crooks grabbing the bare UK versions of legitimate .co.uk businesses and using them for all kinds of scam. Fact is Nominet screwed up (no surprise there...) and the right way for them to fix it is to provide the bare uk variant to existing .co.uk owners for a nominal fee.

Every domain name owner will have had the scam registrar emails along the lines of "Please get in touch urgently if you have any objection to us selling the .cn and .asia variants of your name to an interested third party". The aim of the scam being to encourage you to buy the names from them. The very least Nominet should do with bare uk is to adopt a similar approach, if not they're at risk of becoming the "scammers friend".

Despite the poor performance, occasional cockup and poor UI the 123reg interface did at least allow me to do everything I needed, some alternative offerings are less flexible but there are ways around that. Moving a .co.uk from 123 involves a few minutes work and saves several pounds a year per domain. That's a cost-effective use of my time. About 2 dozen shifted so far.

Anyway, I must thank forums.theregister for some useful contributions to the discussion and helping me make my decision.

Google offers to leave robocallers hanging on the telephone

Richard Cranium

Remember the olden days...

On my wired home phone line (remember those) incoming calls go to answerphone after a couple of rings, it's a speakerphone so I can hear too. If I'm close I can see CLI and pick up for known numbers otherwise I can interrupt the answerphone if appropriate. The cold-callers usually try a few times, maybe over a couple of weeks, but must then realise they're not going to get an answer and put the number on THEIR "do not call" list (I am of course on the UKs TPS do not call list but I suspect some of them use that as a "prospects" list).

Government COULD put a stop to the abuse but since when did those ****ers give a damn about us? (Worth voting Brexit just to see them running around like headless chickens!).

No effective action was taken about TPS abuse reports for the first decade or more of it's availability. Now they have finally started to impose fines the scam callers turn out to have no assets so just liquidate to side-step the fine and start up a new company and keep going.

'A sledgehammer to crack a nut': Charities slam UK voter ID trials

Richard Cranium

Postal votes are the bigger problem

A combination of "the head of the household" and "community leaders" helping people complete the postal or proxy vote application. (especially where literacy is an issue).

As for ID cards - yes we should have them but the model set up by the last labour government was too intrusive, too expensive and the benefits to ordinary citizens not convincingly communicated. Base it on a successful model from elsewhere in Europe.

UK taxman has domain typo-squatter stripped of HMRC web addresses

Richard Cranium

I have a question. Nominet states: "If you are an organisation or a business you will not be able to opt out of showing your address in the WHOIS". However some registrars (e.g. 123reg) offer "domain privacy" for around £5 a year meaning we can't find the owner using whois. Surely this breaches Nominet's requirement and makes identifying abusive typosquatters, as in this story, impossible - unless the domain privacy can be circumvented in which case what are you getting for your £5?

156K spam text-sending firm to ICO: It wasn't us, Commissioner

Richard Cranium

Re: issued vs collected

Perhaps an FOI enquiry would tell us how much of the £2m has been paid.

The company directors need to be made personally responsible and not permitted to hide behind "limited company" status allowing them to liquidate, walk away from the fine and start up again as another ltd. co.

Guntree v Gumtree: Nominet orders gun ads site must lose domain

Richard Cranium

just imagine the scammers and lawyers field day...

...when the restriction on bare .uk domain names is lifted and everyone with a .co.uk who hasn't bought the variant finds some piece of **** has used the variant in a way disadvantageous to the .co.uk version.

But of course quite ready to transfer it to you for ££ - or would you prefer to hire a lawyer £££££. Even just taking the dispute through Nominet DRS can reach £3k so you're better to pay the scammer half that.

Meanwhile just off to buy mommynet, obviously a web site for moms and totally not remotely like any domain name registry that might have a similar sounding name.

Guess who's hiking their prices again? Come on, it's as easy as 123 Reg

Richard Cranium

I regret to say...

I've had the misfortune to work with several alternatives to 123reg and so far not found better - which isn't to praise them, numerous cockups and I've got a long list of gripes. There are usable (and certainly cheaper) alternatives for simple registration but most of the time I can rely on their CP for most of the things I need to do, usually fast and effective.

I'll take a look at any alternatives that crop up here but tried some of those in the past and, sadly, reverted to 123.

I suppose one could pay for some future renewals in advance before the price increase comes into effect.

As for bare UK names as I guess all anyone will do is redirect to the corresponding .co.uk, might as well use a cheap minimalist registrar. Business opportunity there...

The beast is back: Reborn ekranoplan heads for the Arctic

Richard Cranium

see one here:

In a moscow museum http://www.mosparks.ru/museum/about/ekranoplan-orlenok/

OR

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/55°51'05.8"N+37°27'21.5"E/@55.851615,37.4548467 switch to earth view, the one in the museum is "parked" on the Moscow Canal

Android Wear: The bloatware that turned into gloatware

Richard Cranium

To every one who is slagging smart watches off as utterly useless...

Don't slag it off on the basis of assumptions and preconceptions. Give one a fair trial then you can make rational experience based comment that might actually contribute some value to the discussion. "Never tried it but it's crap" says more about you than the device.

I was a smart-watch cynic. Then I saw the Sony Smartwatch 3 on sale for just over £100, comparable with less versatile fitness bands, worth a try, if it's a fail, for £100 who cares.

I resolved to live with it for a week to give it a fair trial. Now I'd not be parted from it and would gladly replace it with the next generation when it finally expires. The problem is that there's no "killer app", I can't say "Buy it because...". However the combination of seemingly insignificant factors adds up to "indispensable". If I were to tell you about one or even 10 of those you'd dismiss them as trivial and individually they are so I'll resist the urge. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and I'd strongly recommend anyone give it a try.

Keep the packaging so if you don't like it - well it was only about £100 and makes a nice gift for your geeky nephew. Of course if you're in the Apple ecosystem the deal changes - £400 (minimum) is too much but I expect the functionality is nearly as good.

But let me just nail one common criticism "short battery life" - why don't smartphones get the same negativity when a smartphone battery might not even last the working day but my Sony3 lasts - well I don't know because I usually have it charging on the bedside at night but it's specified at 2 days and I've seldom seen it below 75% charged at end of day.

Maybe the gripe about battery life is because our expectation of digital watches like Casio had become a battery life measured in years - but why doesn't the same apply to Mobiles, I remember battery life on those old Nokia's extending into weeks, now you struggle to get a working day.

As for fitness and health monitoring - why do you need a device to tell you you've just run ten miles? you were there, where else do you think that hour went? Blood pressure and pulse - if you need that monitoring constantly you must be in a bad way, why aren't you in hospital? Mine does tell me how far I've walked today but for me it's a "so what" feature.

Richard Cranium

Re: Bloat v Usability

@peter 26

Maybe your Android Wear needs some configuration, mine works almost exactly the way you liked with Pebble. Maybe it's the watch face I've chosen: HuskyDev Classic watch face

We've found a ‘vaccine’ for fake news. Wait! No, we really are Cambridge researchers

Richard Cranium

Re: Goodbye to internet goodwill

"Why do we come to ElReg? Because this island of nerds still maintains some semblance of the early internet."

Yes but sadly the idiots have found their way here too now, mostly just using the thumbs up/down.

BT installs phone 'spam filter', says it'll strain out mass cold-callers

Richard Cranium

Re: A Typical Scam Call I Get

Better approach: broken "english" accent, call centre background noise - put the phone down. That's saved me hours of my time. My professional hourly rate is £lots, their's is statutory minimum if UK based, a couple of pence in an indian call centre. So who's the mug for wasting time with them?

Everything at Apple Watch is awesome, insists Tim Cook

Richard Cranium

I was a smart-watch cynic but groundlessly so. Then I saw the Sony Smartwatch 3 on sale for just over £100 - worth a punt at that price even if it ended up in the bin. I resolved to live with it for a week to give it a fair trial. Since then (18 months ago?) my faithful old Casio has just been gathering dust.

I get a discrete vibration whenever there's an email or text and by glancing at the watch I can see in an instant whether it's something needing attention or can wait. Far quicker & easier than getting my phone out and getting the phone out in company is just damn rude.

Of course it does other useful stuff too (not just telling the time! - like Google Voice, things like "set an alarm for 10 minutes") but I'll definitely buy another when this one dies or there's an improved version simply on the strength of the notification function.

I'd strongly recommend anyone to get one and give it a fair trial - obviously I'm Google/Android user but I expect Apple is nearly as good if a lot more expensive...

Huawei Mate 9: The Note you've been waiting for?

Richard Cranium

Re: GPS?

Well I'm kind of with you on that but I go hill walking and find the GPS in my mobile a bit questionable, well TBH I seldom use it now. There are a couple of issues. Compared with a dedicated GPS (basic Garmin, mono LCD screen, no maps) mobile is poorer on acquiring, retention and positional accuracy (also I suspect it's guilty of power consumption). Although in the mobile GPS does interact with apps if the apps need a data connection they don't work in remote, rural and mountainous areas. I can preload (detail 1:25k OS) maps to the mobile but its a nuisance, easy to forget and takes a big chunk of memory.

One problem with mobile phones is the obsession with small dimensions and weight whereas a dedicated GPS has plenty of space for good internal aerials, dedicated GPS hardware with well evolved software and replaceable batteries (AA in my Garmin so I get around 20 hours but I can take spares or buy them easily). Potential ways forward: a GPS with Bluetooth to communicate with the mobile or a nice chunky GPS with built in mobile (android).

Emulating x86: Microsoft builds granny flat into Windows 10

Richard Cranium

Been done before...

...well kind of. In the late 80's the Acorn were selling an MSDOS emulator for the Archimedes, for which the first ARM chip was created. As you'd expect of an emulation in most use-cases it was a bit slower than PC but still pretty good and IIRC a few apps ran faster on ARM.

Helping autonomous vehicles and humans share the road

Richard Cranium

The problem with the trolley problem...

... is that it's presented in a scenario where you have time to think. In reality your reaction time might be milliseconds and any action you take will be a reflex. Drivers are advised (taught?) not to swerve or brake to avoid hitting a small animal on the road but I find the reflex action is to swerve and/or brake. I don't think it would be possible to "unlearn" that for most of us unnecessary killing of a creature is hard-wired.

In a real life trolley problem situation we'd just act on the first piece of information that our brains grasped: there's a person straight ahead, take avoiding action, no time to see and assess consequences beyond not wiping out that person.

Finally, that tech fad's over: Smartwatch sales tank more than 50%

Richard Cranium

Buy and try THEN comment

I was a cynic but saw the Sony 2 for not much over 100 quid so took a gamble. I'd expected it to be a gimmick but at that price - what the hell. A year later it's my much loved Casio that's gathering dust. You will never understand the convenience unless you try one. From my perspective the discrete vibration and on screen incoming text/email is a deal maker irrespective of the other apps.

Sure some features are gimmicks. I don't need a device to tell me I've walked 20 miles or spent 90 minutes in the gym, I already know, I was there... Anyway recent research reported that fitness trackers REDUCE the amount of exercise people take because they tend to stop exercising when they reach the tracker's target. But just because some apps are gimmicks (to me, others seem very keen on the fitness widgets) that's not grounds for dismissing the whole concept untried.

Battery life: less than 2 days compares poorly with the 5 years of my Casio! But then that applies smart phones too, I used to have a basic Nokia with 2 week battery, now I'm lucky to get much more than a day from Nexus. It's the same trade off: less battery life, more features.

The watch charges overnight on the bedside cabinet - and it's USB, finding USB power outlets is no problem (I've got an alarm clock with 2 USB outlets so that charges phone & watch)

Of course Apple isn't the way to go just get an Android Wear for a third of the price of the cheapest Apple watch.

I suggest smart-watch deniers try Android Wear for a month and come back here with educated responses based on actual personal experience.

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