* Posts by Phil O'Sophical

5136 posts • joined 28 Oct 2011

Want to keep working in shorts and flipflops way after this is all over? It could be time to rethink your career moves

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Not only Brits!

That's why those 'digital nomads' travel around the world and pay no taxes anywhere

Doesn't work that way. Normally you pay tax where you are "resident", which often means 183 days of physical presence, but if you manage not to be resident in any one place long enough you will then be taxed based on where you are "domiciled", and that's a much more flexible definition. Have a UK passport & own UK property, or a UK bank account, or even just still have family in the UK? Then you're likely to be determined to be domiciled in the UK for tax purposes unless you can prove that you were genuinely resident for tax purposes somewhere else.

It's the same for most countries in principle, the days when you could live on a boat & claim to be non-resident anywhere are long gone.

Excuse me, what just happened? Resilience is tough when your failure is due to a 'sequence of events that was almost impossible to foresee'

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Network failures

In hindsight, this was completely predictable

Doesn't require much hindsight, it's an example of the "Byzantine Generals problem" described by Leslie Lamport 40 years ago, and should be well-known to anyone working on highly-available systems. With only two sites, in the event of network failure it's provably impossible for either of them to know what action to take. That's why such configurations always need a third site/device, with a voting system based around quorum. Standard for local HA systems, but harder to do with geographically-separate systems for DR because network failures are more frequent and often not independent.

In that case best Business Continuity practice is not to do an automatic primary-secondary failover, but to have a person (the BC manager) in the loop. That person is alerted to the situation and can gather enough additional info (maybe just phone calls to the site admins, a separate "network link") to take the decision about which site should be Primary. After that the transition should be automated to reduce the likelihood of error.

Ireland warned it could face 'rolling blackouts' if it doesn't address data centres' demand for electricity

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

it'll not get better

When everyone has to charge electric cars as well.

BT sues supplier for £72m over exchange gear that allegedly caused wave of ADSL outages

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

denied the steel contacts in the JT blocks were at fault, telling the court: "A break in a contact as described would cause a continuous fault, being a physical or electrical break in connection. Neither would (without external factors for which the Defendant is not responsible) cause intermittent (i.e. irregular or non-continuous) faults."

Bare steel will rust, and I've have thought that copper wires pushed straight into IDC slots on rusting steel would certainly lead to intermittent contacts, and even "rusty-bolt" diode effects that would play havoc with ADSL.

BT 'welcomes' whopping £2bn investment by French telco Altice

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: But what about Brexit?

All our infrastructure owned by the French.

Well, they know better than to buy their own infrastructure companies, with their huge debts and un-fireable workforces.

'I put the interests of the country first': Colonial Pipeline CEO on why oil biz paid off ransomware crooks

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: So "Coloni4l123!" then?

Speak friend, and enter?

FBI paid renegade developer $180k for backdoored AN0M chat app that brought down drug underworld

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: It's all about timing

There is probably a reason why the time is now instead of letting it continue.

The original ElReg article said that the legal permissions they had to run the sting were time-limited, and reaching their end, so it was time to use the info gathered & start the round up.

It's completely unsupportable. Yes, we mean your brand new system

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Small steps

The real kicker of problematic is people at a company dictating a specific system and or sub-system.

In my experience this is the biggest driver of shadow IT. To take a recent example, our corporate IT group decided to replace the in-house wiki & document-sharing platform that we had been using for years with a different, more modern one. The argument was that it was newer and more supportable. This was simply imposed on the company without consultation (beyond the C-suite).

For many of the basic sales/marketing users who used it to upload plain info, HowTos, etc. it was just the usual pain of learning a new system. No big deal - "they'll get over it". The development organization, however, was a big user of in-house tools, specific to our products and processes, and they produced HTML output. The new wiki system would not render HTML without new plugins which were not part of the deployment, and were clunky & unfriendly to use in any case.

After a few months of trying to adapt, various parts of the development org opted for the obvious solutions, they started to re-purpose lab systems as standalone web servers. They served the HTML and the wiki system just became a front-end to them.

Is this maintainable? Sort-of. In most cases the systems were stood up by the team that needed them, so when someone leaves they rot until someone else figures out how they work, which depends on how well the initial developer of the system documented it. Does it get patched in time? Sometimes, when people remember. Does it respect the in-house security rules? Best-effort, but obviously IT don't audit it. Does it allow the development teams to get on with their core work, and make money for the company? Absolutely.

That's what causes shadow IT.

Apple settles with student after authorized repair workers leaked her naked pics to her Facebook page

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: How to tell if you're stupid.

poster child for stupid.

Stupid or not, there's still no excuse for someone who happens to find those photos then sharing them. That's what Apple has paid up for. If the repair tech had simply admired the images and fixed the phone there wouldn't have been a problem.

Flying dildo poses a slap in the face for serious political debate

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Is this...

For a moment I read that as 3ft 36inches, and thought "that's quite some dildo".

Today I shall explain how dual monitors work using the medium of interpretive dance

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Laptop + Monitor = two computers?


Brit retailer Furniture Village confirms 'cyber-attack' as systems outage rolls into Day 7

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: A cyber-attack and no data had been leaked

Trains run Debian? Who knew.

Seagate finds sets of two heads are cheaper than one in its new and very fast MACH.2 dual-actuator hard disks

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Not new

Using ordinary drives in a RAID enclosure can also do that, at least for READ operations. The controller parallelizes read requests, distributing them around the disks, and using whichever disk has the heads in the best place for a particular request, that's been around since the 1980s at least. Looks like the Seagate solution is just to put this in one drive box & call it a single disk.

US slaps tariffs on countries that hit Big Tech with digital services taxes ... then pauses them immediately

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: About bl**dy time

by moving them automatically to a tax heaven.

Only because the tax laws allow it. Fix them, don't just add more complexity. The more complex they are, the easier they are to avoid.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: About bl**dy time

If Company G generates revenue in country X

If it generates profit in country X, it should pay tax in country X. Paying tax on revenue does not make sense, it's a bodge to get around the fact that tax codes are stupidly complex. The fix is to simplify them, not to add yet more bodges on top of bodges. That just creates even more loopholes for tax lawyers to exploit.

Royal Yacht Britannia's successor to cost about 1 North of England NHS IT consultancy framework

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: hard to support

Of more practical use would be building the thing with a duel role as a hospital ship.

Britannia was, but had such a long service life that it eventually became obsolete in that role before it was needed.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Great British Engineering

that never happened during her operational life.

The problem was that being a 1950's design, Britannia's engines burned heavy bunker oil. Since recent Navy ships all burn light diesel they couldn't send Britannia anywhere (to the Falklands, for example) because they would have had to send a special fuel tanker to accompany her. Not only uneconomic, but impractical since it just created a two-birds-with-one-torpedo target.

TCP alternative QUIC reaches IETF's Standards Track after eight years of evolution

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

QUIC’s best trick is to allow a client and server to send data, even if they have never connected.

Just like X.25's "fast select" from the 1970s?

Ganja believe it? Police make hash of suspected weed farm raid, pot Bitcoin mine instead

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Dirty servers + clean shelves, oink oink

As if there was no physical evidence of bypass and they had to ask Western Power for their opinion

An average cop is not an electrical engineer, and not qualified to decide if a meter has been bypassed. An expert could easily bypass a meter while making it look connected. So yes, they asked the experts at the power company for their opinion, of course.

Dirty servers + clean shelves suggests its just been moved,


so I'm expecting to confirm evidence of the ventilation since 2016

Basic contradiction there. Just because equipment is dated in 2016 doesn't mean it was installed at its present site in 2016.

US nuclear weapon bunker security secrets spill from online flashcards since 2013

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge


If you drive around near Nantwich in the UK you'll find several brown tourist signs giving directions to the "Secret Nuclear Bunker". Always makes me laugh.

Uber drivers can now unionise after ride biz recognises GMB, one of the UK's largest trade unions

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

But all the GMB shop stewards will get free Uber rides.

How much would you pay me to develop a COVID tracking app that actually works? Ah, thought so: nothing

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Vive la Fra..... oh, wait.

Some of the best Camembert (and Brie) I've ever had was made right here in Sonoma County, California.

Funny, I'm just reading an old James Bond novel (Live and Let Die). Apart from the stereotypical (for the time) descriptions of black people that would give the PC crowd conniptions, it contains a scene with Bond and Solitaire having dinner, where he orders "some of the domestic Camembert that is one of the most welcome surprises on American menus", and that was in the 1950s.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
Thumb Up

He has now been recognized

According to today's French press, Rozier has now been made "chevalier de l’ordre national du Mérite" (roughly the equivalent of an OBE), despite not having the usually-required length of service.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: How much would you pay me to develop a COVID tracking app that actually works

Have you got a requirements spec.?

Don't be silly, it's all Agile now.

Big red buttons and very bad language: A primer for life in the IT world

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge


a mighty 67MB of storage

RM05s were 256MB formatted, in a washing-mchine sized cabinet. I remember, because I had to back one up every Monday morning. Direct disk-to-disk using two drives, and careful checking that you'd pushed the write-protect on the source before launching the copy...

They were also somewhat temperature sensitive, and sometimes after a cold weekend they would fail their self-tests until they warmed up.

It took 'over 80 different developers' to review and fix 'mess' made by students who sneaked bad code into Linux

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: The only sane thing to do

You. Do. Not. Fuck. Around. With. Critical. Infrastructure.

But ill-intentioned people do, all the time. If it's that crititical it's up to the maintainers to make sure that You. Cannot. Fuck. With. It.

You wouldn't expect a bank to allow random strangers to submit financial transactions, even if you could revert them if/when they were detected, so why should the OS that the bank systems are running on be treated any differently?

American insurance giant CNA reportedly pays $40m to ransomware crooks

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Financial companies who pay ransoms shoud have their license to operate revoked.

When humanity perishes in nuclear fire, the University of Essex's radiation-resistant robots will inherit the Earth

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Hasn't this already been researched ?

a much harsher environment than a functioning nuclear power station

Non-functioning ones like Chernobyl and Fukushima might be more of a challenge.

ESA signs off on contracts for lunar data relay and navigation

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

That could perhaps be a bit trickier, since just lowering the orbit until atmospheric drag takes over isn't going to be an option.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: " one consortium is headed by the UK's Surrey Satellite Technology Limited"

Thank the Maker that brexit didn't cut us off from the ESA

How could it? The ESA is not an EU organization, it's a European organization.

Activist millionaires protest outside Jeff Bezos' homes to support tax rises for the rich

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

They don't even have to leave the country any more, just move their money to somewhere anonymous.

If they do that legally they will still be taxed on it, since tax is paid where you're fiscally resident (or where you are domiciled, if you manage not to be resident anywhere).

Obviously hiding the money in an offshore tax haven will mean you can avoid the tax on it, but that's illegal & changing the tax percentages won't fix that, only jail time will.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

The UK start taxing your earning at 40% above £37K

Not quite. It's 0% up to £12.5K, 20% up to £50K, and 40% over that (until the £150K point). The £37K is £37K *above* the non-tax threshold, not the actual threshold.

If your earning over 500K per year. it should be 50% tax, 1m per year, 60% tax, 2m+ 70%

Historically that doesn't work, people just leave the country and move to a tax haven, like pop stars did in the 60's when Labour governments tried the 'soak the rich" taxes.

But the majority of those earning 2m+ a year are sports stars, actors and CEOs of multi nationals.

Exactly the kind of people who can, and will, leave the country to avoid the problem.

The more you earn, the more tax you pay.That's how percentages work anyway. Punishing people for earning more is counter-productive.

Fancy trying to explain Microsoft Teams to your parents? They may ask about the new Personal version

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Floating emojis appear to be enabled everywhere.

Microsoft products would likely be a lot better if the developers made sure the basics worked first, before wasting time on adding silly features like that.

NASA pops old-school worm logo onto Orion spacecraft

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Maybe this time...

I can get to watch a launch live. I missed the Saturn V ones (well, I was only about 13, and holidays in the US weren't really on the cards back then)

10.8 million UK homes now have access to gigabit-capable broadband, with much of the legwork done by Virgin Media

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: So close, and yet so far

Can't you have your own contractor install ducting, so VM only have to blow in the fibre?

Openreach slaps another 5 million premises on top of FTTP connection target, expects to pay 'minimal tax in the UK' over next few years

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Was that a pig I just saw fly across my garden?

What do you have against dividends? If they borrowed from a bank they'd pay interest, instead they borrow from shareholders, and pay dividends (or not, as in 2020). Would you rather they paid money to fat cat bankers?

Looks like the government is offering a big tax break to help with fibre rollout, and BT is taking that money and using it to fund a 30% increase in rollout rate. Would you prefer that they not take the money and keep to the slower rollout?

Chinese rocket plunges into Indian Ocean, still lands sharp rebuke from NASA

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge


What with rising sea levels & people chucking scrap metal at them, I really should visit the Maldives before it's too late!

East London council blurts thousands of residents' email addresses in To field blunder

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: And it won't be the last time.

The problem isn't so much the HR bar, it's the fact that this sort of screw-up is considered so unimportant that the people who do it get a "oops, please don't do it again" as their only punishment.

At the very least it should be called out in their anual review, with an "unsatisfactory" rating & the consequential salary/bonus/promotion hit that would go with it. They should also be sent on compulsory IT security training (and they should all have had some basic training anyway).

Companies need to be made to realise that this is just as important as H&S training, and that such carelessness can have equally serious effects on other people's lives.

Can't get that printer to work? It's not you. It's that sodding cablin.... oh beautiful job with that cabling, boss

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Printers are the Devil's work

DEC were good with things like that. Many of the header definition files had appropriate names and symbol prefixes. I remember that the system security ones were in kgbdef.h with symbols defined as KGB_..., also nkvddef.h, and similar.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Blame the Cable

first Cat-5 cabling that went in at a former employer (we'd previously used thinwire Ethernet

Ah yes, we had a thinwire (10base2, over 50Ω coax) network around the office. Worked fine most of the time, but under heavy load the throughput it would occasionally drop through the floor with huge collision counts. It took weeks before I eventually found the piece of left-over 93Ω ARCNET cable, buried in an underfloor duct, that someone had used for one small segment...

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Blame the Cable

Then there are D25s & D9s

I still have an Amiga that uses DB23 for video. Looks just like a DB25 until you try & plug it in. I still keep a few DB23 connectors in a box, just in case...

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Time was...

company decided not to press charges

Which I think is the problem with all the stories posted here. The company just wanted the thefts to stop, so kicked the suppliers out. They, in turn, just fired the offending staff, who almost certainly hired on elsewhere and repeated the thievery. No-one got punished, so they all just treated it as being normal behaviour. No wonder it still happens.

Microsoft demotes Calibri from default typeface gig, starts fling with five other fonts

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge


Will this help when opening documents in LibreOffice, which (at least for me) didn't have Calibri, so substituted something else. As a result the formatting of tables was often screwed up, since the character widths were different.

UK government gives Automated Lane Keeping Systems the green light for use on motorways

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Thought experiment

What should the car do?

Activate the vertical thrusters, of course.

33 'unsustainably loss-making' Dixons Travel outlets set to be shuttered affecting 400 staff

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Not really a surprise

The only uses I ever saw for those shops were (a) to browse the pretty gadgets while killing time waiting for your flight to be called, or (b) to buy an extortionately over-priced phone or laptop charger when you realised you'd left yours at home.

Brit MPs and campaigners come together to oppose COVID status certificates as 'divisive and discriminatory'

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Re: Not "divisive and discriminatory", but essential

Of course they're discriminatory, that's the whole idea. They discriminate against people who won't take steps to protect the people they come in contact with.

I can certainly see logistical difficulties in using them for access to bars & restaurants, I'm not sure that would ever fly, but for things like air or sea travel the process is not much different to that for electronic visa-type things like ESTAs, ETIAS, etc. Tie them to the travel document (passport, ID card). Same for jobs where people come in contact with the general public. We wouldn't let someone drive a bus unless they could prove they have a license to do so safely, proving that they don't present a health risk to their passengers is no different.

Helsinki Syndrome: Ubuntu utterly fails to boot on metro

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

Given the general spikiness of train power, and resulting intermittent crashings, the fix to that GRUBby one might just be to configure the "I'll boot option "0" if you don't pick another within 30 seconds" parameter, which is usually the GRUB default.

First Coinbase, now Basecamp: Should workplaces ban political talk on internal corporate platforms?

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

I worked in an office in central Belfast in the 80s, mostly fairly young staff with a good educational background. The political/religious makeup of the office was pretty close to that of the province as a whole. We tended to avoid local political subjects in large groups at coffee break time because they were sensitive (and there were two guys that we just knew would get steamed up) but we frequently discussed wider political, and religious subjects. The conversations were usually tolerant and light-hearted, and most people know when to draw a line and change the subject. I like to think we all learned something about other cultures & backgrounds, and it never stopped us all heading for a beer together on a Friday after work.

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

People should, instead, have these conversations with co-workers using private channels, whether that’s over other messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp, or through a personal Basecamp account.

Or perhaps in person, over a beer or a coffee? My Czech colleagues are always happy to chat about the political issues of the day, but only in person, never by mail or slack. We're adult enough to avoid aggressive posturing, and I certainly think we all learn a lot even if we disagree on solutions. I find it amusing (and a little sad) that most of my US colleagues, on the other hand, flatly refuse to discuss politics, even at the generic "can you explain about..." level, and religion/culture is only discussed reluctantly. There was one exception, someone that I knew was involved outside work with the Democrat campaign when Obama was running. I knew him well enough to ask (over dinner outside the office) if he thought the USA was ready for a black president, we had a most interesting discussion. He was genuinely pleased that a European would take an interest.

I agree that using work social media apps for it isn't a good idea, it's far too easy for that sort of basic text-only discussion to lead to misunderstandings. The posts also tend to hang around long after the fine nuances of the issue are lost.

Transport Scotland has £47m to drag its traffic management systems into the 21st century

Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

The first task of the winning bidder may be to redress this imbalance with arch-rivals south of the border

If Sturgeon gets her way the first task may well be to manage the customs traffic flows at that border...


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021