* Posts by Richard Cranium

209 publicly visible posts • joined 8 Sep 2011

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Go ahead, be rude. You don't know it now, but it will cost you $350,000

Richard Cranium

Re: the first use of gruntled

I'd like to propose a new coinage? regruntled: the result of successfully recovering dissatisfied customers (listen, understand, empathise, apologise, fix the problem).

My mail-order beer supplier sent me a case of beer, one can had exploded. "Support" said what amounted to "shit happens, beer is a live product and fermentation can continue in the can, we don't offer replacements" so I cancelled my monthly deliveries. A couple of days later the proprietor called me in person and did the right thing: Understood, apologised, explained that the support person was new and had now been given some guidance, added a few pounds credit to my account, gave me his personal contact details and asked that I contact him direct should I have any future issues. I'm now regruntled and my beer supplies are being regularly replenished.

Record label drops AI rapper after backlash over stereotypes

Richard Cranium

Re: Call centre accent spoofing.

This software will confound my strategy for avoiding scam calls. If a caller has a "challenging" accent (that can include indian, glaswegian, American), I put the phone down. Same if the background noise is characteristic of a call centre.

If its important they'll find an alternative means of communication.

That's no help with calls I make to such as businesses when I need their services or support but in those circumstances the whole experience is far worse. "Press 1 for sales, 2 for..." etc to land in a queue of indeterminate length listening to "music" interrupted by "your call is important to us..." messages only to end up speaking to some clueless idiot whose only chance of employment is at a minimum wage call centre. In that case a difficult accent makes the situation still worse.

I wonder how it works when someone with an extreme Glasgow accent, challenging for a UK "normal" English speaker, gets put through to an Indian call centre,

What we need is another "rate the organisation" website. It comes down to a few questions, primarily "how long did it take to get the answer you needed (if at all)" . But could usefully add some more like : what was the communication medium (phone, email, social media etc); was an undertaking to respond later (call back, email etc) fulfilled; were you transferred to another person (how many times did you have to repeat the same question).

Massive telecom outage in Japan kicks 40 million mobile users offline

Richard Cranium

Re: POTS so reliable

I'd just like to be given the choice. My landline and all the associated kit to support it is in-place, fully paid for, the ongoing costs are just for maintenance but the plan is to switch me to voip. In recent months I've noticed poor voice quality on some calls, the penny dropped when one such caller (my sister) proudly announced that BT had just "upgraded" their Internet and phone service.

Rather than encouraging the switch to fully digital, government should be supportive of maintaining pots. I guess the telecoms operators have reassured them that "everything will be OK" and will be hoping their promise will be long forgotten when the wheels do come off as they assuredly will.

Google calculates Pi to 100 trillion digits

Richard Cranium
Headmaster

The power of π

My maths teacher (nickname Bong IIRC), with a reputation for enjoying his food, bounced into class one day and declared:

"This is my favourite power of pi" and scribbled on the blackboard.

πt

before proudly declaring to a bunch of confused teenagers:

"I like raising pie to the teeth!"

I expect the reception here will be a similar to that he received many decades ago.

Somehow The Register seems to have conveniently obtained his photo for me to to use as an icon

Richard Cranium

Re: Measurement creep

When I was at school I learnt a mnemonic for the first 30 digits:

Now I, even I, would celebrate

In rhymes inapt, the great

Immortal Syracusan, rivaled nevermore,

Who in his wondrous lore,

Passed on before,

Left men his guidance

How to circles mensurate.

But it's been utterly no use to me in the ensuing 50 years - well maybe occasionally to show off (to those who give a damn, so not many!)

Buying a USB adapter: Pennies. Knowing where to stick it: Priceless

Richard Cranium

Houdini

Houdini reportedly made his escapes very quickly but concealed it to build the tension and to justify the ticket-price. If the punters had paid for a 90 minute show and it was all over in 15 minutes they might start asking for their money back.

To avoid cost-disputes about software tweaks I do something similar. When a simple task can be completed in a couple of minutes I always wait an hour or two before sending the good news (and invoice).

I often refrain from saying "yes I can" but instead something like "I think that should be possible but I'll need to take a look and get back to you".

Although the task may take 5 minutes the overhead of customer communication consumes significantly more of my professional time. It takes time to understand and clarify their requirements, maybe to refresh my knowledge of the code, to document the changes in the code or my own notes and any end-user documentation. As they never read the documentation, supplement that with explicit advice of any related actions or procedure changes they may need - and simply to advise that the problem has been fixed or the new feature added.

I've spend hours and $$$ developing my skill set at my own expense, the customer needs to make a contribution to those costs.

I've got office space, computers, software packages, office furniture, stationery and utility bills to pay. That's all part of the cost of providing the service too.

It's very easy to under-value ones' knowledge and expertise. I may understand and find a task straightforward/easy/obvious but that only means it is for me. When my central heating pump failed I could have bought a replacement and the necessary plumbing tools but even with the help of an online video tutorial I'd not have done the job as well as the professional and I'd have spent hours researching the best pump, the best tools and watching "how to" videos. I was quite happy to pay £100 (plus the cost of the pump) for the guy who was on-site for little over an hour.

I learnt my lesson years ago when I was invited to dinner and a dip in the friend/client's large indoor pool and "perhaps you could take a look at my PC" which of course turned out to be an unholy mess. These days I deny all knowledge and understanding of PC/Mac/Mobile-phone hardware and config, I empathise and refer them to a local PC shop "I use when I have similar issues". In similar vein I deny any knowledge of the workings of popular apps like social media and suggest they ask a teenager.

Worst of all is SEO - "could you just help get my web site to do better in Google search results?" NOT F***ING LIKELY (and not recommending an SEO either as I'll get a share of the blame when the SEO charges a fortune for delivering almost no improvement).

What begins with a 'B' and is having problems at tsoHost? Hopefully not your website

Richard Cranium

Re: There's another problem at TSO...

Standard at GoDaddy (as if there aren't enough reasons to avoid them anyway). This page covers it, https://uk.godaddy.com/help/install-a-lets-encrypt-certificate-on-your-linux-hosting-account-28023

I really don't think they want anyone to use third party certificates with text like this "...cannot guarantee their safety or reliability..." and a link to another page to explain how to "Install your certificate and private key in cPanel" that gives "No page found."

It seems GoDaddy is buying up smaller hosts and migrating them to their platform which means the old host's clients lose their existing Lets Encrypt certification.

That they do that without prior notice to those clients beggars belief. GoDaddy SSL certs come at an even higher price than TSOhost at £70p.a. (after an introductory discount if you pay up-front for 2 years).

A friend runs 3 small web sites on TSOhost's 5 web site package at about £86p.a. he reluctantly stumped up £50 for SSL for one of them when TSO pulled the plug on Lets Encrypt. He told me after the event but I was at least able to help him set up LetsEncrypt for the 2 other sites he has there, otherwise what once cost £86p.a. would now be £236p.a..

President Biden orders transformation of 'Federal Customer Experience'

Richard Cranium

Re: Leaf Out of HM Gov's Book

I disagree:

Links that seem to send you to a more relevant page that has a link that seems to get you closer to your goal which turns out to be a page that sends you back to where you started.

Use of terminology that might be fine for the well-educated intelligent user but not your average joe.

Not everyone is as smart as readers of The Register.

Maybe a comic book version (https://medium.com/war-is-boring/this-u-s-army-comic-book-has-cavemen-dinosaurs-and-tips-on-how-to-blow-up-tanks-d0afbe1c14bb) would be going too far but these sites really do need to cater for the widest community of potential users.

Amazon tells folks it will stop accepting UK Visa credit cards via weird empty email

Richard Cranium

Re: Will be interesting

"VISA is way more popular than Mastercard in the UK so relatively few people have the latter." Evidence? On hearing the news I took a look at all my (rather too many) debit and credit cards from different banks and supermarkets. All the ones I actually use are Mastercard, the two I don't use are bank Visa debit cards.

The reason I have multi credit cards are many and varied. One gives me a very high credit limit (although all get paid off monthly by direct debit it's good to have the contingency), various companies and supermarkets give some kind of benefit if you pay there using their card - hence my Amazon card is used at Amazon because I get, IIRC, £10 back for every £1000 spend, not a big deal but better in my pocket than their's.

What I don't understand is that in comments above, the issue Amazon are arguing with Visa about is their fees but mastercard charge the same so why? And don't Amex charge a lot more? I understood that was why Amex can give customers bigger cash-back. I tried Amex a few years ago for the big cash-back but found it impossible to use it enough to recover the monthly fee because some businesses wouldn't accept it stating the high fees and difficulties dealing with the company.

Swiss lab's rooftop demo shows sunlight and air can make fuel

Richard Cranium

Re: Policy shift from whom? The Gods of physics?

"Ammonia as a fuel ..."

I was wondering about that too but why do we have to think of solar capture purely in terms of fuel?

Can it be used to produce a simple raw material to reduce the need for fuel? For example, a material with an industrial value to supplement more resource intensive or polluting sources?

I'm not an expert (in anything...) but isn't Ammonia used to make fertilisers?

A quick Googling finds this headline: Industrial ammonia production emits more CO2 than any other chemical-making reaction.

It would be great if solar energy captured in remote places could be used close to source to create high value readily transported materials.

If water is a necessary raw material then, as with marine wind farms, what about marine solar islands? Maybe attached to production platforms like the oil rigs?

NHS Digital exposes hundreds of email addresses after BCC blunder copies in entire invite list to 'Let's talk cyber' event

Richard Cranium

standard legalese footers are the solution of course...

...not.

This email and any attached files are strictly confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual(s) to whom they are addressed. If you are not a named addressee you should not disseminate, share, distribute or copy this e-mail. If you have received this e-mail by mistake please notify the sender immediately and delete this e-mail from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.

That should fix it!

On a slightly more positive note: when I press send on a Gmail that contains wording indicative of an attachment, Gmail alerts me "It seems like you have forgotten to attach a file...".

It would be good if there were a similar alert for any email with a cc: Something like - "are you sure you want all recipients to see the email addresses of all other addressees?"

This would be great for those occasions where I intentionally cc: all 30 members of a club so they all know who is seeing it and can *when appropriate* use reply all but then a few choose to "reply all" with some mundane observation or intended just for me.

Even adding a standard footer "Please don't annoy everyone by using 'reply all'." didn't work. When I started sending those who persisted a sarcastic comment most but not all got the message...

Might not be worth considering for a bcc: alert too - "Are you sure you need all recipients to receive this information".

Completely unnecessary if everyone knew how email works but that knowledge is seemingly limited to readers of The Register and a handful of others.

UK competition watchdog unveils principles to make a kinder antivirus business

Richard Cranium

Re: Model contracts

Bring it on! Imagine the same for car and household insurance renewals?

How that works now is each annual renewal is typically 10% more than last year (but a couple of years ago with a long claim free history my motor insurance jumped 27%).

So it's time to do a tour of the comparison sites, fill in a lengthy questionnaire at each, wade through dozens of different options, find a cheaper quote, call current insurer. They may offer a small cut but seldom match the best offer because "it's not a like for like equivalent". You read the small print and there are minor detail differences like "no excess for windscreen damage" but the overall excess is £250 instead of £200. Sure it's not like for like but I'm not planning on making a claim anyway and have no idea which choice is the best value for money.

Go for the cheaper quote. Those who don't will find that after 10 years they're paying £1000 p.a. for what was initially £400 p.a. By then a competitive quote might save £500 but in the intervening years the aggregate saving of a yearly switch would be many £hundreds.

If there were some model motor insurance contracts I guess annual switchers like me would end up paying more but would benefit from a couple of hours time saved each year. That should be mitigated by the financial savings to the insurers of reduced call centre, sales, advertising and admin costs.

Netflix sued by South Korean ISP after Squid Game fans swell traffic to '1.2Tbps'

Richard Cranium

The tragedy of the commons...

...look it up.

In the early days of the web I used a London based web host for my client web sites. They had a policy of unlimited usage.

It was fine for many months but then it started to get slower and, within a few days, glacial. I established the cause. Another user was hosting a single page web site which appeared to be promoting an islamic religious book, there were no internal links from that page but there were other pages, a substantial stash of pornographic images, available to anyone who knew what page name to enter to the browser.

The news of that stash had spread. One the technicians they employed was not happy with the situation and went public with the bandwidth usage stats on a user forum. About 95% of the total available bandwidth was being consumed by that one customer. The management response was to put the blame on the lead time for getting additional capacity. What surprised me most was that many users on the forum who were all suffering the same virtually unusable speeds supported the management's stance of unlimited everything rather than apply some kind of fair-use cap.

I spent an entire easter weekend shifting all my websites elsewhere, mostly early morning when the porno enthusiasts had worn themselves out.

I think it's common for ISP and hosting contracts to include constraints such as a "fair use" clause. I believe my "unlimited" fibre broadband provider has a policy of throttling usage if I were to exceed a daily threshold, reinstating normal service at midnight.

If SK Broadband are having a problem and have some kind of fair use clause they should be invoking it, if not they need to amend their contracts, hike their monthly fees, charge a premium to Netflix users, block or throttle Netflix pending a resolution.

Fundamentally it is a mistake to set up any kind of "commons", in the case of internet services advertising unlimited bandwidth, disk, websites etc. It is a fiction, it is not deliverable and will be exploited by someone.

Xero, Slack suffer outages just as Let's Encrypt root cert expiry downs other websites, services

Richard Cranium

Why make changes on last /first day of the month?

I used to work at Midland bank, payday was 20th of the month to steer clear of the end of month peak Bank activity. Likewise no system changes on a Friday night so there are people around to fix any unexpected problems

Ofcom unveils broadband switching plans, but providers claim it's not so easy

Richard Cranium

Re: Please can we have it for Domain Names as well?

I feel your pain but the fact remains you dropped the name, nobody has any obligation to reserve it for you in case you change your mind. When you've dropped the name in whose name do you expect it to be registered? It's probably in godaddy's name because if they left it in your name it would appear to be yours, unfortunately it's not, you intentionally dropped it. It is probably in the process godaddy explain, it's past the no penalty renewal option and is in the renew for a large fee stage, next it will go for auction and if it attracts no interest will eventually be released onto the open market.

So now the real issue is what should you do? If you think there's a real chance that someone else will buy the name when GoDaddy put it up for auction and if you really want the name, sorry but your best option is to grit your teeth and pay the [expletive deleted]s. If you think the risk of another buyer (including drop-catchers) emerging is small wait 'till godaddy let it lapse and try to re-purchase.

As regards valuing a name the most valuable names are short, single dictionary words or proper nouns.

Examples from Sedo: book.co.uk $50,000 BookReview.co.uk $5000 ScienceFictonBooks

.co.uk £550 - more words lower value, short single word, premium price. Change to .com and expect at least ten times the valuation (Note that those are only asking prices and seem very optimistic).

Richard Cranium

Re: Please can we have it for Domain Names as well?

I have little time for godaddy. There are better providers, in brief just about anyone else! - but make sure that any other choice is not just a subsidiary of godaddy.

Nevertheless I will offer a defence.

GoDaddy do have a published policy which is something like free recovery for about 3 weeks after expiry, a short window when you can recover for a higher fee, then made available at godaddy's auction service and if not sold after a few weeks, released to the open market. At that point you may be able to register the name just like any other unregistered name - but it's a gamble.

Another way to look at the issue is to consider what happens when a name is allowed to lapse. Some domain names traders use a practice called drop-catching. They scour the list of lapsed names looking to buy those they consider to have resale potential. Take a look at domain name auction websites like sedo and you'll see just how much you might need to pay - then you'll be grateful to godaddy for "only" asking ten times their normal annual rate.

You can paint godaddy's policy in a bad light but it is published policy and many others do something similar. Another view is that they are protecting your interests by allowing a short period to recover from an accidental lapse. You could fail to renew in time, perhaps because you didn't get the renewal reminders - spam filters, or changed email address maybe. In that case you'll probably become aware that your website has disappeared and your emails no longer work. It happens. You get 3 weeks to discover that problem and fix it.

Godaddy are reflecting the policies of ICANN (https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/errp-2013-02-28-en) and Nominet in respect of lapsed names. They are not released to the open market for a length of time after expiry, allowing further opportunity for name recovery by the original owner but at a premium.

Best advice is never to get into that position. Move ALL names to a better provider, probably at a cost saving, making it more affordable to keep names you no longer currently need. Then you may then consider making redundant names available for sale, perhaps through an online domain name auction site or by routing to your own "name for sale" web page. If after a year (which has only cost you a years renewal fee) you've not changed your mind or found a buyer, drop the name.

Magna Carta mayhem: Protesters lay siege to Edinburgh Castle, citing obscure Latin text that has never applied in Scotland

Richard Cranium

There's a broader problem relating to documents originating centuries or millennia ago.

They were addressing a very different world. Population has increased tenfold since the US constitution, twenty-fold since Magna Carter, 50 fold since the New Testament. Most of the "authoritative" historic texts were written in different languages, addressed different life circumstances, have been subject to difficulties in translation. Few have been subject of revision and updates. They were, broadly speaking, attempts to improve the lot of the general populace in the context of the pertinent risk factors at that time. Literal interpretation a few hundred or thousand years later is as misguided as adhering to the UK laws of a couple of centuries ago.

Take the London Hackney Carriage act of the 1800s with its requirement that London Cabs carry a bale of hay to feed the horses (that requirement was abolished in 1976). The act's regulations relating to not ripping-off passengers or driving while intoxicated are still broadly applicable although superseded by UK wide legislation which usefully includes piloting an aircraft and while impaired by a wider range of substances and conditions than alcohol way beyond the perception of legislators 2 centuries ago.

That doesn't mean the older sources are irrelevant, most religions have a set of core guidelines comparable with the Judaeo-Christian Ten commandments or seven deadly sins. Even with those common short-lists, interpretation is where things go awry. Take the old testament "thou shalt not kill". Irrespective of religious or other context few would take exception to that "command" but we do interpret it. Most of us take it as only applicable to humans and regard killing in self-defence as a valid exception.

The serious imbeciles can always find a questionable translation and out-of-context interpretation of some obscure clause in whichever historic document suits their purpose to give false "authority" to their deranged agenda.

tsoHost pleads for 'patience and understanding' as sites borked, support sinkholed

Richard Cranium

Plan on a change of host every 2 years

It seems that whenever I find a good host it gets bought up by a bigger and ultimately crappier host. I have a 25year plus history of having to ditch hosts including some of those already mentioned.

I remember Netlink, demon, 123, HEG, 5quid, TSO, Vidahost, Hostdime, fasthosts and there have been a dozen more. It seems that the predators seek out successful smaller hosts and offer them a price too good to refuse.

My policy now works like this:

I have a primary host then one or two on trial for a year or two. When the primary gets gobbled up there's usually an interim period when service is in gradual decline, that gives a year to shift sites away to a host that's performed well in the trial period.

My most recent primary host remains excellent in terms of features, performance, availability and it's not been bought (yet) but their prices have rocketed and front-line support has become script-followers who are very reluctant to escalate anything they can't handle. The response to one simple request relating to their server configuration was "you need to ask an expert" well, as a coder with half a century in IT and 30 years Internet, without wishing to appear arrogant, I think I'm reasonably competent. Also when I call support that IS "asking an expert" or should be...

Influenced by the https://publicbenefit.uk/ I've recently shifted a dozen sites to Krystal (more to follow probably as other accounts expire), and might I point out that many of the biggest hosts including GoDaddy supported the original Nominet management.

Man found dead inside model dinosaur after climbing in to retrieve phone

Richard Cranium

Re: I was wondering how they found him.

The article gives a possible answer:

"... that a father and son who often visit the model dinosaur noticed something amiss" - so some external signs of a problem, foot sticking out of the mouth perhaps?

Alternatively the article says "Local media said the man was reported missing by his family" so family used a "find my phone" app perhaps?

The speculation that "...the man somehow managed to lose his phone inside the model beast..." is ambiguous. Some other posters here have taken it to mean he dropped the phone into the dino and went in after it. That is one possibility. An alternative is that once inside and stuck (maybe head down in a confined space with surfaces of slippery plastic) he attempted to get the phone out to call for help but dropped it and the eventual rescuers found it slipped further out of reach. Or being head-down, the phone just slipped out of a pocket.

No cause of death specified but in that situation CO2 build up? (See the stories of cavers Neil Moss 1958 in Derbyshire and John Jones 2009 in Utah).

As for "...possibly drunk..." that too is pure speculation until the autopsy reports the blood-alcohol level.

"...perhaps after deciding to spend the night within its skin..." speculation again and questionable as he was a family man. Speaking as such, in the event of a disagreement with my wife and deciding to spend the night elsewhere, spending it inside a model dinosaur would not feature prominently on my list of possible venues. (To my dear wife, should you read this: I don't actually maintain such a list but, should the need ever arise I can assure you I could come up with a better alternative, not necessarily with a lady-friend. I'm not aware of a suitable dinosaur in our locality and would be reluctant to go on a long journey to locate one.)

We were 'blindsided' by Epic's cheek, claims Apple exec on 4th day of antitrust wrangling

Richard Cranium

Anyone old enough to remember VisiCalc?

Back in the 1980s I was involved in the emergence or personal computers into a global bank. We were using the Sirius Victor. Financial modelling was a major need, some of that was being done on IP Sharp dial-up (acoustic coupler) timeshare system.

On the Victor we had an alternative, I don't recall the name but it was pre-spreadsheet and not for the faint hearted.

The minute anyone in finance saw VisiCalc they wanted it, and to get it they had to have an Apple computer. At the time it was regarded as "the killer app", the decision was not "what's the best hardware/operating system?" but "what do I need to run VisiCalc?". The Apple kit was expensive (inflation adjusted price probably over £4000) but we soon found a functional alternative to run on MsDos (might have been MS MultiPlan, again I don't recall).

I'm not a gamer but seems that Fortnite may fall into the "killer app" category and the answers to "what do I need to run Fortnite?" seem to include PC, £200 Android, Nintendo Switch.

Vote to turf out remainder of Nominet board looks inevitable after .uk registry ignores reform demands

Richard Cranium

Re: Shine a light

Worth pointing out that I understand (most?) registrars will accept an incoming name transfer at no cost, until the normal annual renewal so there's no obstacle to moving away NOW rather than await renewal date.

Spy agency GCHQ told me Gmail's more secure than Microsoft 365, insists British MP as facepalming security bods tell him to zip it

Richard Cranium

email is fundamentally flawed

The problem is that when Ray Tomlinson sat down half a century ago to create the basis of the email system we see today, it was an unofficial side-project to facilitate communication between a somewhat limited group of largely techies.

Anyone intending to design a global email system today supporting 4 billion accounts would make some very different decisions.

The problem we have now is that there are so many mail servers that it's far too late to change. The NCSC estimated 7,000 microsoft servers in the UK alone had been affected by the Hafnium email hack, despite the widespread publicity, several days later only half had implemented the patches). The slow adoption of approaches like SPF & DKIM are examples of the difficulty of implementing change however worthwhile that change may be.

A floppy filled with software worth thousands of francs: Techie can't take it, customs won't keep it. What to do?

Richard Cranium

Re: A Cunning Plan

Maybe you were thinking of Viewdata?

Or Prestel or was that the same thing?

Yep, you're totally unique: That one very special user and their very special problem

Richard Cranium

Re: Where’s the effing handbrake!?

"My first (and so far only) hire car in the USA was not only the first automatic transmission car I had driven..."

Me too and do you know what else? The silly buggers had stuck all the controls in front of the passenger seat, I ended up having to sit on the left to control the damn thing. I understand the same happens in France but I'd expect that kind of contrariness from them.

UK draft legislation enshrines the right to repair in law – but don't expect your mobile to suddenly be any easier to fix

Richard Cranium

What about batteries?

OK not white-goods but many smaller electricals use rechargeable batteries with a limited life. I've just binned a decent battery drill because the battery pack has died and replacements are no longer available. I took the battery pack to bits to see if it was just a cluster of something like 18650s but no, proprietary. I also have a collection of other stuff, mobile phones, digital cameras, satnav, dashcam, multimeter, kitchen scales etc with dead, non-standard batteries and no manufacturer replacements available.

A lot of this stuff has a 3-5 year life expectancy as a consequence.

On the other hand my RadioShack EC4075 programmers calculator (using 2xAA cells that last several years) is still perfectly fine after over 40 years regular use.

Lets see some standards for battery electricals:

Standard cells or if they must be proprietary then consumer replaceable (or at least by third party repairers) not glued in and spares available for 10 years. BTW another issue is that I was able to get replacement party batteries for a digital camera but I guess they were old stock (or counterfeit) with much lower effective capacity than new.

Splunk junks 'hanging' processes, suggests you don't 'hit' a key: More peaceful words now preferred in docs

Richard Cranium

Are Splunk trying to adopt the status of the Académie française in respect of English?

Well they can f***-off and stick to their line of business.

Wouldn't it be useful if the resource they've wasted in this attempt to redefine how the English language should be used went instead into doing something productive.

As for the hundreds who have contributed their valuable time and intellectual efforts to this forum thread - lets forget the losers at Splunk trying to tell us how to use OUR language and go do something useful instead.

Do we want to end up with an English equivalent of the Académie française? If we do, should that role be in the hands of a commercial organisation? In any case it will be an ineffective laughing-stock just as the Académie française has become.

English is fluid, continually evolving. That is its strength. Where there's a need it will adapt whether that be by adopting a word from another language, coining a new one or expanding the scope of an existing word. That's why English is effectively the global language, perhaps not the largest first language but adding speakers for whom English is a second language, it is by far the most widely used. And that's to disregard those who may not have the confidence to speak English but can read English, understand spoken English and possibly write in English. It is the common language the educated classes everywhere and the de-facto language of science, business and navigation.

Where any two persons get together whose first languages differ, how do they communicate? As often as not, in English.

Seagate UK customer stung by VAT on replacement drive shipped via the Netherlands

Richard Cranium

Profiteering

I've experienced problems with imports (from other places) before. In both cases the fee payable was substantially less that those in recent press reports some of which have been substantially more than this seagate example. Someone is making a killing from this, I wonder how the charges differ between parcel delivery companies.

My 2 examples:

As a prize for "Comment of the week" on a forum. I found I'd won a Tee shirt. It came from the USA and was declared at $15 but HM customs looked the product up online and found it retailed for more than that. I had to go to the post-office to collect and pay £18.

A friend in Japan sent us a gift (silk kimonos she'd made herself) and declared a value of $200. Post office got in touch to say they needed £70, as we weren't expecting anything and didn't know who it was from we debated whether we wanted to spend £70 for a "mystery parcel" or let them return it. Luckily we chose to pay, and, as it turned out to be "legitimate", the sender would have been offended had it been returned, it might seem to her that WE had rejected it.

For the time being I think the best advice is: avoid sending parcels between UK and EU if at all possible.

You want me to do WHAT in that prepaid envelope?

Richard Cranium

I read the story without looking at the author's name but was soon able to guess (didn't AD write for some of the early computer mags - remember those printed paper things we used to rely on before the internet).

Anyway as an oldster I can confirm the the process has improved, the earlier little wooden strips to place samples under little cardboard windows on 3 consecutive days (like a kind of reverse advent calendar - each day fill a window with shit, close it and post it to someone), were a real pain in the ... (how appropriate) calling for a major clean up of one's person and of the "bathroom environment".

I advise against sending shit through the post in any other circumstance, it can cause offence.

The NHS has a series of gifts in store for you as you age, the pleasant one comes next when the pharmacist told me to put my money away, I'd become so old I didn't need to pay for prescriptions. And then (men only) there's the Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening.

Any bloke over 45 should be thinking about asking the GP for an occasional Digital rectal examination if there are any of the early signs of prostate problems. Some GPs aren't very keen as the "digital" bit is not in the high-tech sense you might first consider, this being an IT forum (it involves a rubber glove) but my view is that they get paid a lot more than me and I used to metaphorically "shovel shit" in an IT sense (for HSBC) so make them earn it.

On to the other topic of the article: ergonomic everything. Over 20 years ago my wife bought a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard. After a few months the letters were wearing off the keys so she complained. The complaint was not acknowledged in any way except one, a carton of about 10 more keyboards arrived unannounced. They weren't UK standard but a version with some accented letters, still QUERTY and quite useable, just minor quirks like the @ sign not in the usual place. As a "proper" typist she considered the keyboard more comfortable but as a two finger typist I found it less so. They kept us, friends and family, in keyboards for many years.

LastPass to limit fans of free password manager to one device type only – computer or mobile – from next month

Richard Cranium

Re: moving on

Same story. I don't have a problem with paying a reasonable amount for decent software (I even pay for good apps where payment is a voluntary donation like IrfanView).

IIRC LastPass used to have a one-device limit and I used to pay to use on mobile as well as laptop. Then they removed that limitation on the free version but increased the price on the paid version which I no longer needed now the free version did what I need. As a home user the price is now too high for multi-device so I'll have to move. How odd. If they'd kept things as they were a few years ago I'd continue with Lastpass and pay a reasonable amount.

Isn't it the same people that pigged off LogMeIn users a few years ago?

Faced with the sack, Nominet CEO half-apologizes for taking the 'wrong tone,' asks angry members to hear him out

Richard Cranium

Re: Dont Count your chickens

"some of their customers may decide enough is enough and switch to another"

IMHO very doubtful.

I assume many registrants only hold a handful of names, most probably just one or two. They are probably not aware of this issue and may not have the technical nous or financial incentive to shift if they do.

Imagine a micro-business has not just paid over the odds for registration and "Domain Ownership Protection" (£24 combined) through 123reg but have also signed up to their email and hosting deals. Moving will be a major PITA just to register dissatisfaction with some guy at an organisation they are barely aware of.

I'm happy to place a substantial bet that Haworth will find a way to incentivise a small number of those with large voting influence to vote down the proposal to replace him.

Terraria dev cancels Stadia port after Google disabled his email account for three weeks

Richard Cranium

Paid Gmail accounts

Any better or can they cut you off with no warning and no reason given too?

Nominet boardroom battle may already be over as campaign to oust management hits critical milestone

Richard Cranium

publicbenefit.uk has a list of those in support of change, 8 of them have fewer than 20 names which seems an odd choice from a simple cost-benefit viewpoint. Are there additional factors involved?

One is voting rights. Even the guy with no domains gets an entitlement to 1331 votes but is it worth paying £100 a year for some voting rights? (Or paying a £400 joining fee and to join now to get some votes).

Given past evidence of having been to the Trump school of management (e.g. the past statement that "The Register is Fake news") what else can they get from the Trump playbook? Fiddle the figures by spending £40k to create 80 new members and so score 100,000 extra votes? Or keep it simple by fiddling the way votes are counted, claim some votes are not valid, or just disregard the result ("Stop the steal!"). If I was getting £500k a year I'd go to some lengths to keep it coming...

Richard Cranium

"What can be done to encourage members to vote for change"

Registrants could "vote with their wallets" and move domains away from member organisations who are not in support of change to those who are (partial lists of both can be found here https://publicbenefit.uk/). That's a load of hassle, not much can be done in the short time available before the vote and many registrants won't know there is a dispute or if they do won't care/understand.

Better is to try to understand the reasons why some are not supporting change and see if anything can be done to identify flaws in their reasoning. Presumably it's fear that changes under new leadership will be detrimental to their interests. In what way? Can those fears be allayed?

Richard Cranium

...more than 20...

I've got over 100 under my management so this attracted my attention - however firstly break even on 20 names would take a while, especially as it seems to be predicated on an assumed retail price of £10 (I'm paying rather less) but also I assume a need for software to manage the names.

Dems to ISPs: You're not gonna hike broadband prices, slap restrictions on folks in a pandemic, are you?

Richard Cranium

Yes I'm not happy with Virgin Media continual price hikes.

My Virgin Media price hike is only £3.50 (on a base package cost of £74.56 for phone, cable broadband 200Mbit, and a TV bundle) so I'm seeing an increase of 4.6%, more than ten times the UK inflation rate (December CPI 0.3%)

And it's difficult to get them to cut the cost. They'd charge about £20 a month for landline, I'm in the process of seeing if I can switch the landline number to Sipgate (and then forward calls to mobile) so will Virgin knock £20 off my bill - no because its a package, I can have a different package at a zero cost saving... Same applies if I drop some of the TV channels, the stuff that comes down the TV aerial is more than enough.

Our road has recently got BT Fibre (FTTP), I'd consider a swap but they're a bunch of [expletives deleted] too, they'd charge about £60 a month for a comparable bundle (inc phone as VOIP, TV entertainment bundle and 300Mbit ) so it looks like a £200p.a. saving

Brexit freezes 81,000 UK-registered .eu domains – and you've all got three months to get them back

Richard Cranium

Mismanaged from day one

One might even suggest, fraudulently.

I tried to buy the EU equivalent of my long established uk Ltd company name when the tld was first set up in the "sunrise" period (when names were only available to those with a reasonable claim on them) . That involved some red tape, proof of company ownership/registration and a non-refundable £100. No response until a few days after the landrush period (lower price and no need to prove Ltd company entitlement). That was to say my application was rejected, no reason given.

A third party had bought the name at the start of the landrush. It was not an obvious name and of very limited use to anyone else. Eventually a website appeared, host to a load of dubious advertising links and "for sale". I found another business who had the same experience. The inference one might draw was that perhaps by applying we had indicated that the names had a value so someone involved in the administration delayed the process in order to grab the names at the start of the landrush phase with a view to resell for a much greater price. But I must be mistaken as I'm sure EUrid is a model of the highest standards of integrity.

A lucky escape, and in any case it turns out the EU tld is little used beyond the EU organisation, more like an equivalent of Gov.uk domains.

As Uncle Sam continues to clamp down on Big Tech, Apple pelted with more and more complaints from third-party App Store devs

Richard Cranium

"If you don't like that, don't buy an Apple phone"

Most of the world agrees with that advice:

iPhone _global_ market share is under 15% even its biggest market, USA, it only reaches about 50%

As a coder, reading the T&C as well as tech news like The Register it's clear that your choice is invest many months effort, hope Apple accept the app for their store and then reap the reward of paying a third of your income to them - if the app is a success.

As an iUser, understand that you are paying a significant premium on all your apps to compensate the developer for the 30% cut, development costs and risk of rejection by Appstore.

You've got to be shipping me: KatherineRyan.co.uk suggests the comedian has diversified into freight forwarding

Richard Cranium

Why redirect there?

It could be a strategy to make it harder to dispute ownership because it's not being used to Katherine's detriment, like hosting derogatory content about her or masquerading as her official site.

If the name was pointed at a page saying "name for sale" it might be possible to argue that the registration was vexatious. GDPR has meant that the registrant's contact details are no longer "public", it's not supposed to be possible to find out who the owner is. That does make me wonder how The Register has a trail of recent owners.

This is what Nominet say about domain expiry:

"Once you’ve gone over your expiry date, you’ll still have time to renew your domain before it gets cancelled, so there’s no need to panic. But if we don’t receive a renewal request within 30 days of the expiry date, we’ll suspend the domain name. This means all services that use that domain name, such as your website and email, will stop working. We’ll send you a suspension warning seven days before this happens, and will also send you a suspension notice when it takes place, unless your registrar has opted you out of receiving these. It’s still possible to renew your domain during this time.

When your domain has been suspended for 60 days without being renewed, we’ll schedule it for cancellation. We’ll send you one final reminder to renew your domain 83 days after the expiry date. As this is just seven days before your domain is scheduled for cancellation, you’ll have to act quickly if you wish to renew it at this last stage."

The way I read that, there's a 30 day period of grace then 60 days of suspension i.e. the address will not link to the web-site or email so it must have been unavailable but nobody (including katherine) noticed between 17 Sept and 17 Nov. (or did notice but didn't take appropriate action) so losing the name is no big deal, there are plenty of suitable variants.

If the friend's ex- was proving uncooperative during that 60 day period Nominet could probably transfer control even if the registrant name was "friends ex" (I needed to do something similar a couple of times and it worked).

In terms of traffic redirection, I guess search engines will have been getting an error for 60 days and either removed the name or allocated it much lower position in results so little value to the new owner - at least until there's news coverage like this so everyone goes to take a look...

Who knew that hosing a table with copious amounts of cubic metres would trip adult filters?

Richard Cranium

Re: Funny placenames

There's a nice map of the UK with a focus on "unusual" place names:

https://shop.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/st-gs-marvellous-map-of-great-british-place-names-folded-poster-or-framed/

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.

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