* Posts by Stuart Castle

1020 posts • joined 19 Jun 2007


LibreOffice community protests at promotion of paid-for editions, board says: 'LibreOffice will always be free software'

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: @HildyJ - Free

"And what stops enterprises to approach the developers of an open source project they're interested in and offer them money in exchange for support ?"

The problem is a lot of Open Source developers are not equipped to offer that support..

They may have limited time. They have to spend some time developing the product, as well as time at their job, leisure time and they likely have other responsibilities. Any job they have is likely to take up most of their waking hours.

The community in some open source products is very helpful. I maintain two Mac Deployment systems at work, and an inventory management system. All three using open source software The support I've received from the community in implementing and using the OS and Software deployment systems has been excellent, and I am genuinly sad to be moving on, but the problem I have is that the OS Deployment system has stopped development (they stopped as Apple deprecated the imaging tools the system used), and while the developers could have transitioned the system to using Apple's OS installer, they haven't for whatever reasons (they've said nothing, just stopped updating).

The fact they've done that exposes a major problem with Open Source. With a commercial product (certainly from a big vendor, like Microsoft), if they cancel a product, they generally tell their users about it in advance. They don't do this to be nice. They do this because they may be under a contract, or they don't want to lose customers (they might be able to persuade customers to transition to another product if they've been treated well).

Don't get me wrong. I am an avid supporter of Opern Source, and I prefer to use Open Source if it has equivalent functionality to commercial software. It's just when I am looking for software on behalf of work, I'm not looking for a software that's going to be installed on one machine, and used by me. I'm looking for software that will likely be installed on hundreds, if not thousands of machines, and used by all sorts of users, with education ranging from school qualifications (CSE/GCSE/O level) through to people with PHD (and even some Professors), and with expertise in all sorts of areas (technical and not), That level of support costs money, and can't be provided by a single developer who is supporting their project while working at a job.

When we were looking at replacing our deployment and management systems for our Macs, I did suggest Free and Open Source software that, from a technical point of view, would have fulfilled our needs. Unfortunately, our higher ups dismissed the idea almost immediately, for two reasons. First, using Open Source, what guarantee is there that development won't stop for one (or all) project(s). Not really something I could argue against, considering that a motivator for changing the system was the fact that development had stopped suddenly on our OS deployment system (a previously very active and well supported project).

The second reason given is liability. To put it bluntly, if you buy a product, and that product fails, the law gives you some protection. You have someone who is liable for the failure, and can potentially be sued if their product fails (my employer has done this with suppliers). With Open Source, who is liable. Yes, you can pay for support, but any legal protection you have will be for that support, and any contract you have will likely deny liability for any bugs. When you buy something from a vendor, you have various laws protecting you, and you also have someone who is liable.

.NET Core: Still a Microsoft platform thing despite more than five years open source

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I think the problem is that those who run Linux are often vehemently anti-Microsoft and they, given the choice between using a Microsoft product and killing themselves would likely chose the latter. Then, of course, there are those who have genuinely tried .NET (core or not) and found it doesn't work well for them (or they plain don't like it).

Personally, I haven't tried .Net Core, but the only real problem I have with .NET is the need a for potentially massive runtime to be installed. Note: I know that the runtime is <100 Meg, but that *is* massive if the utility you are writing using .NET is only a few K, and have no other need for .NET.

That, plus from a security point of view, I don't really want unnecessary software of any kind installed. More code=greater chance of a vulnerability.

When a deleted primary device file only takes 20 mins out of your maintenance window, but a whole year off your lifespan

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Seems like a proper who, me

"A backup isn't complete until it is also successfully restored."

I am not religious, but Amen to that.

Too many people have fallen foul of assuming their backups are OK.. They need to be tested regularly. I've had to explain to quite a few people that their backup media is fallible, and has failed. Of course, working with students, I've also had to explain why it's important not to leave work to the last minute, but hey ho. Students left things to the last minute before I was born, and I suspect they'll still be doing so when I die.

Even big corporations have fallen foul of bad backups. My old Computer Science lecturer at college liked to tell a story of a failure at a major bank (Nat west IIRC). They had an issue with their computer systems. They lost a lot of transactions, and when they went to restore the backup, they couldn't read it. There was a 24 period they couldn't restore and apparently had to cancel any transactions during that period. A potentially costly problem.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

A few years back, my main PC was running Windows 7. The OS was actually running well, but over the years, had built up a lot of cruft. I tend to use my home PC for mucking around with different packages, so it builds up a lot of crap.

To combat this, at the time, I wiped and re-installed Windows every few months. While I do currently back up the important stuff online, I didn't at the time, just relied on the fact I had multiple drives on the machine, with the OS being installed on an SSD, and applications and data being stored on separate HDDs, with my various network shares all stored on one dedicated drive.

Just as I had got to disk management page on the Windows 7 setup, my housemate walked in and started talking to me. I happily hit the "delete" and "new partition" buttons, thinking I'd selected the SSD. Then realised I suddenly had 1TB of unpartitioned space (the SSD is only 256GB). After a couple of seconds, I realised I'd just wiped one of the HDDs. Thankfully, it was just the network shares, which did contain some things I needed, but nothing I couldn't download again or otherwise re-create.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: /dev

Re: "'how to be a unix system admin'


Why, when we got our SPARCstations, we could only *dream* of a manual. We were lucky to get all the pieces, and the mouse pad."

Mousepad? You were lucky.. We were given a sheet of tinfoil and we had to draw our own grid on it. For our younger readers, early optical mice (such as those used on early Sun workstations) required an aluminium mousepad that had a very fine grid of lines on it.

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

Stuart Castle Silver badge

As a bit of a geek, I like the latest tech, and listen to a lot of radio. So, when I could first afford it years ago, I bought a DAB radio. Being a bit of a Sony fan boy and wanting a DAB I could take on the train, I spent a fair wodge of cash on a decent looking pocket DAB radio. It did sound decent, but died after a couple of months. Thinking I must be unlucky, I took it back, and they replaced it. A month or so later, the second one died. The Sony had a bit of a design flaw in that if you pulled the battery without turning the radio off, you ran the risk of blowing something (a fuse, I think) in the radio (this is the only time I've encountered the requirement to shut something down safely outside computers or video projectors). As I'd blown two, I'd argue it was a definite risk. BTW, I don't recall ever pulling the battery without turning the radio off, but both times, the Sony failed when I had changed the batteries.

I got a refund for the Sony (the Shop couldn't really argue: I'd had two radios in two months), and I bought Roberts DAB with the refund. Lasted a good year or so, but still not as long as I'd expect consumer electronics to last..

I didn't replace it. Why? Because I found with both radios, when the signal was good, they sounded great. When the signal wasn't so good, the sound from both radios turned into an unintelligible mess very quickly, and it seemed as though a lot of the stations reduced their bit rates very quickly as more stations came online. No matter how good your compression, a lower bit rate is going to sound worse. That, combined with the increasingly bad signal I got on the train, meant I was pushed back to FM more and more.

Then there was the power consumption. The Sonys took 2 AAs, and the Roberts 3. They would both last for about a day and a half (actually about 4 hours, as I'd use the radio for an hour each way on my journey to/from work and an hour at lunch. You could guarantee a set of AA's would last for the Journey to/from work + lunch on the first day, then the 2nd, they would only last for the Journey to work.

My little Philips FM Stereo pocket radio cost a fraction of what the DABs did. At the end, it sounded a lot better, had more reliable reception and lasted for over a week on 2 AAA batteries.

Microsoft sees the world has moved on, cranks OneDrive file size upload limit from 15GB to more useful 100GB

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: We offer you more space...

Yes, you can buy many terabytes of storage in HDD form for less than 100 pounds. You can buy large USB sticks for a few quid.

But, if you upload anything to Onedrive (or any cloud based system), it is immediately available anywhere in the world you happen to be, and any data you store in a cloud is already off-site (unless you have a privately hosted cloud in your house or office).

It's swings and roundabouts. While any data on a storage device you own (be it an HDD or solid state device, and whether it's internal or external) is inherently safer from hackers accessing it remotely, it is also more likely to be rendered unusable if something happens to the place where it is stored (such as a fire), and you would need to take it somewhere to access it elsewhere.

Any data stored in the cloud is already off site, so won't be affected if something happened to your house or office. It's also accessible from most of the internet, as long as you have a good connection.

The downside is that it is potentially susceptible to unauthorised access (the impact of which can be mitigated by encryption), and can be lost if your cloud provider shuts down for whatever reason.

As part of my job, I am making a lot of use of Onedrive, because any changes I make to the data stored on it are automatically available on my home PC, laptop, tablet, phone and any computers I use at work.

And yes, I do get 1TB of storage through work..

MIT apologizes, permanently pulls offline huge dataset that taught AI systems to use racist, misogynistic slurs

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: No Sh*t Sherlock

I work with academics. They range from people with Undergrad degrees (such as BScs) to professors. I find that when you get to that level of qualification, you often have to be so focused on your area of expertise that you often know little or nothing about subjects that are outside your area of expertise.

This does not mean they are unintelligent, but they may make mistakes that make them appear so when they are confronted with something that requires knowledge outside their area of expertise.

I suspect in this case, MIT made the mistake of relying on people seeing the images, and describing what they see honestly. In my experience, a lot of people will do so, but there are those that will deliberately give an answer that is either offensive or wrong. Sometimes both.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

The problem is that computers (whether running AI software or not) don't have any understanding of right or wrong, or context. These image recognition AIs work by looking for patterns in the image. They see one that looks like (say) a vagina, and they have a similar pattern labelled with an offensive word, they aren't going to know that word is offensive, because they don't know the concept of offensive. They are going to find the matching pattern in their dataset, and return the label.

Even the various Intelligent assistants (Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Bixby etc) don't really understand context or right and wrong. They have a set of defined words and sentences that would be considered offensive, and a set of patterns they can use to fake an understanding of context. E.g. they know that if you say "Send a message to", the next thing you utter will likely be the recipient and following that, the message. You may even be able to get them to sing a song, or tell a joke, but that is all pre-programmed.

The difference with children is, generally, they do know the difference between offensive and not offensive, and can understand context. Sometimes with help, but they can understand it.

I suppose the TLDR of this post is that while AI has come a long way in the last 30 years or so, unless Google, Amazon or one of the other tech giants is way more advanced in AI than they are admitting to, and they have a true AI (one that doesn't just look stuff up on databases, but can understand context and right and wrong) running in a data center somewhere, I think we are a long way (decades) from the kind of true AI we see in sci-fi (e.g. the talking computer or android in any one of a number of Sci Fi films and shows).

Microsoft takes tweaking tongs to Windows 10's Start Menu once again

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Clearly I've missed something but

I'm a long term Windows System Admin and User. Personally, I don't understand why Microsoft needed to change Control Panel to "Settings". "Settings" may be a better name than "Control Panel". This is debatable, as it contains controls, and every machine has some sort of Control Panel, even if it's just an on/off switch, and some of the "Settings" listed in the settings page aren't, strictly speaking settings. The Add Hardware "settings" are, I would argue, Controls.

Sure change the layout of the control panel, but keep it as a control panel. No need to create something else to do the same job. Certainly no need to create the current mess in Windows 10 with some controls/settings being available in either the Control Panel, or Settings page (looking at you System Center Configuration manager control panel), and some being available in both.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

This, for me, isn't an improvement. Quite the opposite. During the normal run of things, while surfing, I can end up with a lot of tabs open. Not hundreds, but certainly a lot, and I do regularly remove unused tabs. I use Alt+Tab to switch between different applications, as it can be quicker than clicking on the taskbar button (if busy, I tend to use the keyboard in preference to the mouse/trackball). If I want to switch between browser tabs, there is already a shortcut for that, CTRL+TAB..

Germany is helping the UK develop its COVID-19 contact-tracing app, says ambassador

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: £11.8M

You forget the shareholders. They have families they need to supp... Sorry, can't continue with a straight face.

But involve companies like VMWare, and you do get shareholders to support, which costs money.

Then there is also tendency for any costs involved in government projects to look more like telephone numbers.

Reminds me of a quote from Independence day. "You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat do you?".

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: £11.8M

I use VMWare Fusion for Mac and Workstation for PC (need both for my job, as I need to work with VMs running various flavours of macOS and Windows. On a personal level, the packages do the job I need them for well.

On a corporate level though, I understand that with VMWare, the costs can build very quickly.

Macs, iPhones, iPads to get encrypted DNS – how'd you like them Apples?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Idiot-tax ...

I use Apple gear. I am an Apple fanboi. I’m not offended by term idiot tax, because I know that el reg criticises *everyone* in the it industry. They also freely praise those who do well.

Besides, I have far more important things to worry about.

Apple gives Boot Camp the boot, banishes native Windows support from Arm-compatible Macs

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Downvotes

People downvote for many reasons. Sometimes I think it's what they think you said rather than what your said.

I've written several posts about various things where I've said that one reason that companies use Windows PCs in digital signs and advertising hoardings when raspberry pis, or other single board computers could do the job just as easily. I usually argue that one likely reason for this is that while it is a pain in the arse at times, System Center Configuration manager makes it almost as easy to manage thousands of remote PCs as it is one. I have asked, in all seriousness if the PI can be managed via a similar MDM system. I have a project at work that needs multiple small computers to control various screens around the building. I could easily design a system that would do that using PIs (the PI is actually my preference), but any suggestion I make to use a PI will likely be thrown out unless I can demonstrate that it would be managed by an MDM system (my employer would prefer system center, but I'd be happy with any).

Been downvoted for every one, despite repeatedly stating I like macOS, Windows and Linux in every one. No particular order, I believe in using the right tool for the job.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I have to admit, I don't like the attitude expressed by some people that people are wrong because they are happy spending a little more when a basic device (be it a car, computer, phone or whatever) will do the job. If you have the money, and wish to spend it, why not? A Ford Fiesta can get you down the road just as easily as a Rolls Royce or a BMW, but it won't be nearly as comfortable. Similarly, a Big Mac meal will fill you up just as well as a meal in a restaurant costing three figures, but it likely won't taste as nice.

I have a decent gaming PC. It's on the high end of mid range, but it's more than enough to run every game I throw at it at high or ultra settings at 2k resolution, and can play a lot of them at 4k mostly at more than 30fps (struggles with 60fps for some). I could easily spend two or three grand on it to get it up to a spec where it can run every game at 60fps, 4k res and ultra settings. I haven't, because I don't need that power, but I like the fact the finances permitting, I am free to spend that money.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

There is the problem of cost, and also the problem of space. For instance, in my current work at home space, I have a fairly decent/ midi tower sized PC. While I don't need one so it doesn't bother me, I have no room for a 2nd PC. I daresay a lot of Mac users are in the same position. In fact, in the case of the Mac Mini, or iMac, the fact they can run Windows and macOS on one, relatively small device may have been the primary selling point of the device.

Then there is cost. Even a cheap PC is going to cost a couple of hundred pounds. They may not have that spare.

Three words you do not want to hear regarding a 'secure browser' called SafePay... Remote. Code. Execution

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: And that's how Marketing gets bitten

Anyone who knows a fair bit about computer security knows that total security is almost impossible to achieve. Every security system has flaws, but to counter balance that, some flaws require a talented hacker to exploit. Thankfully, the chances are most users won't encounter a really talented hacker.

Ex-barrister reckons he has a privacy-preserving solution to Britain's smut ban plans

Stuart Castle Silver badge

OK, seen a lot of the normal "why should I be incovenianced by a porn ban, I don't have kids" type of comments, so here is my tuppence worth.

Before I start, I am definitely not anti porn.

But, I have concerns on it being so freely available. Yes, when I was younger, I read porn, along with my mates. We had to build up the courage to go into a shop and buy a top shelf mag from the frankly terrifying woman in our local newsagent. That was for softcore porn. I don't think it's had any real effect on me, but it was just pictures of women's bits. Nothing hardcore, and not really much more pornographic than page 3.

Now, kids can go to thousands of sites, and stream videos of acts ranging from softcore posing, through hardcore (consensual intercourse) to rape and abuse (I've never seen it myself, but I have it on good authority there are these videos on the internet). They can view it *anywhere* and with limited or no checking. I don't count the "age verification" pages on some sites as adequate checking - anyone can answer yes,

I have serious concerns on the long term effect on society of these videos being freely available.

Now, you can argue I am wrong. I might be, and hope I am. These videos might have no effect on society. I doubt that, and it seems we may already being seeing evidence they are having an effect.

I don't agree with the ban as implemented by Theresa May. I don't think that was enforceable, but personally I don't see why we should be risking potential problems in society because a few people don't want to prove they are adults, so I have no objection as such to some sort of verification system.

Windows fails to reach the Finnish line as Helsinki signage pleads for help

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I'm confused. As I've posted many times before, one possible reason for using Windows in a situation like this is that while it can be a massive pain in the arse, System Center Configuration manager makes it almost as easy to manage a fleet of 1,000,000 Windows devices as it is to manage 1. This certainly includes distributing updates in a timely, and usually non-obtrusive way. Any decent MDM solution should do that. As I've stated before (and seemingly got downvoted for it), I am genuinely interested to find a decent MDM solution for Linux. I have a nice little project that I could do using PIs for work, but would need to show it's under some sort of MDM solution before they'll even look at it.

I do agree that there is no reason any advertising screen couldn't just be powered by some sort of single board computer (not necessarily a Pi, but can be), probably running some flavour of Linux.

Beyond the MDM problem above, I think in some IT departments, non Windows OSes still get some prejudice. A lot of IT technicians and system admins dismiss Linux, macOS and other OSes because they aren't Windows. Certain System Admins where I work (and these are very highly qualified people) almost seem like they would back into a corner, hissing and scratch at you like an animal if you dare suggest any OS other than Windows. This is despite the fact that both Linux and MacOS have a far superior lineage to Windows, either being a clone of (in the case of Linux) or derived from (in the case of macOS) variants of Unix.

Note: I am not knocking Windows. I primarily support macOS at work (and am thus sometime dismissed as a wierdo at work), but I also support Windows (primarily 10). I have a PC that I use at home primarily for gaming, but also some remote working, and I have a Mac Laptop that I also use for remote working, but also general messing around. I have various Pis, all running Raspbian, and I'd like to see greater use of the Pis at work, particularly for digital signage, for which we are currently using (I believe) low end Windows PCs..

What does London's number 65 bus have to hide? OS caught on camera setting fire to '22,000 illegal file(s)!!'

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: It's where the government keeps their Brexit and Covid plans...

re: Alright, but what is in the other 21,998 files?

They are all different versions of the same plans that Boris has come up with to try and curry votes.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: 65 bus route

I was on a bus once that waited for several minutes at a stop. Eventually, we got an automated announcement telling us we were being held at the stop to help TFL synchronise the route.

Health Sec Hancock says UK will use Apple-Google API for virus contact-tracing app after all (even though Apple were right rotters)

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: NHSX devs apparently superior to Google devs

I'd be interested to see how the government code works out distance. I don't really understand radio any more than your average consumer. I'm able to listen to radio, use bluetooth and wifi, but have little understanding of the underlying physics. However, I know from my own experience, radio in general is badly affected by obstacles. How does the government's code account for this? I can understand you can get a fair estimate of distance if you know the signal strength, and and how quickly it decays, but what if the signal strength is already degraded due to a wall or some obstruction between the sender and reciever? I don't know what is actually transmitted, so it's possible they are already including the initial strength in the signal.

Take, for example, two people standing two meters apart, but with nothing separating them. One person's phone would ping the other's fine, and if he or she were a Covid sufferer and had registered as such with the app, would trigger the other person to get a notification. Now, imagine there was a wall between them. The material the wall is made from may reduce the signal strength. This is likely to increase the estimation of distance, so the other person appears to be 4m away from the carrier. They wouldn't get a notification, but the virus could have travelled around the wall (maybe through a door, or over it).

Be interesting to see what the government have done to circumvent the unreliability of this method of distance estimation, but I don't hold out much hope we'll see anything. They did open source the project, but the github repo is only showing minor updates (mostly readmes) since the project was intially uploaded to github last month, so they aren't being open about whatever changes are being made.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: NHSX devs apparently superior to Google devs

You forget to mention Apple. Whether you like them or not, they are a trillion dollar company and can afford a *lot* of very good developers, so no doubt have a lot.

If Fairphone can support a 5-year-old handset, the other vendors could too. Right?

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: I expect that I will be downvoted...

In fairness, the article is about Android phones.

Google and Parallels bring Windows apps to Chromebooks, in parallel with VMware and Citrix

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Chromebooks are a breeze . . .

Linux has viruses too. OK, they are a lot rarer, but they exist.

However, I digress. I use Mac OS and Windows 10 on my Laptop. Mac OS more than Windows 10 (don't really need Windows 10 on the laptop as a have a fairly powerful Windows 10 desktop). The last time I caught a virus was years ago when, despite not trusting a particular user on a forum I administrate, I downloaded an executable he uploaded, with a view to looking for viruses, I accidentally installed it on my desktop rather than spinning up a VM I had set up specifically for testing things like that (isolated from the host OS as much as possible). Thankfully, my virus scanner caught it, shortly before dying, and a quick Windows re-install destroyed it.

Now, the advantage I have with my laptop is that while both OSes connect to the internet, both are entirely self contained. I can work on the laptop without ever connecting to the Internet, should I need or choose to. I can also go offline immediately (which is handy, as on my commute to work, I get vary patchy data coverage). While Chromebooks can operate offline, they do apparently need to go through a download process before they do, which will take time. Perhaps not much.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

My sole experience of Chromebooks was when an Administrator where I work bought ten of them for some staff. Our department (thankfully not me) was tasked with trying to deploy these damn machines using our existing, Windows based infrastructure. The Administrator had assumed they were just cheap PCs, so Windows 10 would run fine on them.

Not sure what happened to those machines, but I do know that as a result of that, the previous guidance our department had issued about asking IT to purchase computing equipment, rather than going through other departments became a rule, even to the point of of writing to our suppliers telling them who is authorised to purchase from them.

Hey is trying a new take on email – but maker complains of 'outrageous' demands after Apple rejects iOS app

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Email already passé?

That's the problem with any messaging service. You need the recipient of every message to be on that service. Virtually everyone who is on the Internet is available on email, and as it's a fairly well defined standard, you don't need to subscribe to a particular email service to send emails to others. Any sender can send to any receiver.

These services all have their advantages though, as it sounds like "Hey" does. I can see a few problems with it though. If you aren't allowed a signature, that may be a problem for some enterprise customers. Where I work, for instance, we are required to include various statements in our signature, including name, address, telephone or fax number and some pre-defined text.

Windows Server to require TPM2.0 and Secure boot by default in future release

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Although it you are supporting a reasonably large system, it may well cost more to switch to an alternate (once you include things like re-training, the cost of migration, support and even potentially redesigning aspects of the system). Don't get me wrong. I know that Linux is perfectly capable of doing anything in the Data Centre that Windows Server can. I also know it is the primary OS in hundreds of thousands of Data Centres (including Google), but I am making that point that in any reasonably large system upgrade, the cost of the hardware and software is a small percentage of the total cost.

'One rule for me, another for them' is all well and good until it sinks the entire company's ability to receive emails

Stuart Castle Silver badge

We used to have a Lotus Notes server at work. Nothing major, just a few users and a small server.

After a couple of years, I moved into the office of the Notes administrator (oracle dba primarily). I was thinking about how we were told Notes would be the next big thing and we would all be getting accounts a couple of years previously, and how nothing had happened. So, I asked him what happened to the Notes server. He replied “What to you think I’ve been resting my feet on under the desk?”. Sure enough, it was there, on it’s side. He’d quietly migrated the users back to IMAP (they were only using email anyway), turned it off and moved the server under his desk..

Russia-linked Gamaredon hacker crew using Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications to pwn Microsoft's Outlook

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Thought this had been killed off years ago..

UK.gov announces review – not proper inquiry – into Fujitsu and Post Office's Horizon IT scandal

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I think we need a proper inquiry, with a view to prosecute. I've read that the Post Office is investigating over 900 prosecutions. They settled out of court rather than fight a case representing 500 of those cases. That makes me suspicious.

In any case, hundreds of people have been prosecuted falsely. Some have taken their own lives as a result of this. This likely was caused by bugs in the software, or problems with the design of the system. Problems or bugs that *should* have been caught in pre-release testing and fixed before the roll out. They certainly should have been fixed within a few weeks of the roll out starting, and if they couldn't be fixed quickly, the roll-out should have been paused until they could.

But, seeing as several government ministers from all three main political parties have had some involvement in the project, so I doubt any serious action will be taken.

MacOS on Arm talk intensifies: Just weeks from now, Apple to serve up quarantini with Kalamata golive, reportedly

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: reality of corporate IT

The price comparison is true. While it's easy to bung a few PC parts together, and come up with something with a lot more raw processing power than a Macbook Pro for a lot less, if you actually want a machine with equivalent specs (and not just better on one to two components), the prices are often a lot closer. For a while, the Cylinder Mac pro (which I have on my desk at work, and is a good machine, which, thanks to Covid, I haven't seen since March) was actually the cheapest way to get that particular model of Xeon in a pre-built computer.

Regarding management, we maintain systems for managing both at work. System Center Configruation Manager for Windows, and Munki/Deploystudio for the macs.. We are in the process of moving to Jamf Pro for the Macs (well, when we can go back to work), but we have *far* more problems with the PCs than the Macs.. Yes, Macs do require a different way of doing things, but that is life, and I am worried about IT technicians that can't cope with that kind of change.

Smart fridges are cool, but after a few short years you could be stuck with a big frosty brick in the kitchen

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Never seen the point of "smart" kitchen appliances. Smart lighting, smart meters and smart thermostats, yes, they are handy. I have a smart thermostat and couple of hue bulbs. It *is* sometimes handy to be able to switch them on or off remotely.

Kitchen appliances are different. Nearly every appliance, be it a Fridge, Washing Machine, Dryer, Oven, slow cooker or whatever requires a user to deal with it physically, if just to load or unload it.

I don't see the use of smart appliances in the kitchen. Yes, your oven can look up a recipe for you, but so can a tablet, mobile or laptop. Yes, you can trigger the device to do it's function, be it Washing, Drying, cooking or whatever, but unless the device already has washing or food in it, that is pointless, and when you load up the device, you can trigger it then and there, or set a delayed start, on the the device controls.

Fridges are even more useless. They are running the whole time anyway, so can't be triggered by an app. Yes, they can order food from your supermarket, but that requires a sane system of tracking stuff that is put in and removed from the fridge, and a human still needs to check the fridge for spoiled contents anyway. Yes, you can surf the web from your fridge. This would be a selling point in the 90s or early 00s, but you can surf the web on pretty much anything now, and most people have a mobile that can do it.

In the mean time, some things all these smart devices *do* achieve is to increase the amount of potential vulnerabilities in the security of your home network, and they also no doubt report what you do to the manufacturer and whoever they chose to store their data. One potentially handy thing is that assuming they detect a fault, they *can* call the engineer. Theoretically that is a good thing, but in practice it depends on the calibre of engineers the manufacturers employ, as it will only call them.

Not just its VCS console that's MIA, Atari is a no-show in court, too: Reborn biz ignores hardware architect's lawsuit over unpaid wages

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Atari?

He is actually right. Warner communications owned Atari until 1984, but they split the company into a consumer unit and arcade unit. They kept the arcade unit. When he bought the consumer unit, Atari created a new company, called "Atari Corporation", so yes, the original Atari to all intents and purposes, ceased to exist in 1984.

Zealous Zoom's zesty zymotic zone zinger: Zestful zealots zip zillions

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Why?

They are benefits if you (like my employer) has spent an awful lot of time and money implementing various systems using those apps..

Personally, I don't use Zoom. I have major reservations about their practices from a security point of view. After all, this *is* a company that bundled a webserver with the Mac version of their client, just to avoid the user having to agree to a prompt from Safari, and only removed it when their trangression hit the news, and Apple used the Mac's Gatekeeper system to block the server. The fact they were not open about it, and did nothing to correct it until caught makes me wonder what else that server was for. Then there is all the security issues involved in installing a webserver without informing the user. The fact that they did that also makes me wonder what else they bundle.

A few extra video streams, and pretty backgrounds are not a good substitute for good security.

When communicating with family/friends, I use Whatsapp (which has it's own problems, I know) . When communicating with work colleagues, I use Teams or Skype (under duress as I don't like either).

Microsoft's carefully crafted Surfaces are having trouble with its carefully crafted Windows 10 May 2020 Update

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I have a home build PC that is displaying the same message. It's up to date (I essentially stripped my old PC out of it's case, and replaced everything bar the case, drives, monitor and keyboard just before christmas). I am happy to accept that there is something stopping the update, but I'd like some indication of what it is. It might be something I can change.

Nokia's reboot of the 5310 is a blissfully dumb phone that will lug some mp3s about just fine

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Would this be a good 'phone to have ...

I don't normally pick up on spelling mistakes, but re: "in Australia all 2G networks have been shit", from what I have heard of the Aussie phone networks, that was actually true before they turned off 2G..

Did nobody tell them about the lockdown? Logitech releases new 'luggable' mechanical keyboard for LAN parties

Stuart Castle Silver badge

I have a mechanical keyboard, with the RGB lights. However, not being a gamer (well, I am a gamer, but don't see the point in all the flashy LED stuff, and don't have a "rig" that cost me thousands of pounds, with glass sides), I have them mostly set to be white (makes it much easier to type), and I bought the keyboard partly because I needed a keyboard with lights, partly because it was on sale at Amazon for 60 pound (normal price is about 180), but mostly because I do a lot of typing and like a keyboard with a nice, positive action.

Surprise! That £339 world's first 'anti-5G' protection device is just a £5 USB drive with a nice sticker on it

Stuart Castle Silver badge

If it "is always working, powered or not, so no visual checks needed,", as the blurb says, why does it have any plug? It sounds like it doesn't need one.

cmd.exe is dead, long live PowerShell: Microsoft leads aged command-line interpreter out into 'maintenance mode'

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Strings

They do provide a command (even if it is rather obscure). "wmic os get version"

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: WTF?

You are, of course, assuming those who made the change are directly accessible to those who run the production line? If not, it's entirely possible it may take a couple of days to report the problem, and may take a couple of days more to work out what had changed, especially if there had been a few changes, and no one had correctly logged the changes (which is entirely possible).

Capture the horrors of war in razor-sharp quality with this ruggedised Samsung phone – or just lob it at enemy forces

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Does it phone home

Doubtful. Anyone on special ops would likely be carrying a rebadged version of the phone, with custom software that's very locked down. It's likely to have been done by one of our existing defence contractors (someone like Thales or BAE), and is likely to have cost the MOD several times what a consumer would pay for essentially the same device.

While waiting for the Linux train, Bork pays a visit to Geordieland with Windows 10

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Need a bit of Raspberry Pi action

The problem with that is are there MDM systems that can manage an entire fleet of Raspberry Pis (or any Linux machines) from one keyboard/mouse?

I am genuinely interested in this as at work, we have a need for a lot of digital signs, and my own preference would be for RPis rather than some windows PC built into the display. Windows has System Center, which, while it's often a strange beast, and also a pain in the arse, does make it relatively easy to manage a fleet of machines, whether your fleet is 1,000 or 1,000,000.

The reason I say this is that I've noticed a lot of people suggest various Linux based solutions when El Reg posts something like this, but these companies don't just need a solution that is cheap. They need a solution they can distribute to thousands of places with little or no technician involvement, They need a solution they can also monitor and maintain in those thousands of places with little or no technician involvement. System center does offer that.

It's also worth remembering that if you buy (or licence) a product from someone, the law offers you a lot of protection in the event that product doesn't deliver what you requested. Protection which you may not get if you go for any open source product (you will get some protection if you hire an outside contractor to install/support it, but that will likely only apply to the services they provide and may not provide any help in the event the product itself fails).

I am not knocking Linux, the Pi, or Open Source at all. I am fans of all three, but making the point that when specifying a system for Enterprise use, you have to think of a lot more than just the cost and OS. You do have to think of things like scalability, will the project still be active in 5 years, ten years or event longer. I've seen various open source projects just stop with no warning when the lead maintainer does something else. When installing a system across thousands of computers, you can't just switch to another product if support for yours is terminated, and you can't keep using the same product because if there are security flaws, they will likely not be patched.

Companies supporting large installations of their products tend not to do that, often giving month or years notice before ending support for a major product, because they know their clientele can't switch quickly. New versions need to be tested properly before roll out.

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: ISO27.... So what?

In fairness, they probably don't have a scooby what ISO 27001 is (I'll wager most of the population don't) and it does sound official, and potentially impressive.


Microsoft brings WinUI to desktop apps: It's a landmark for Windows development, but it has taken far too long

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Sandbox

Depends what the Sandbox allows access to. The average business application might need access to the network, as well as access to it's own resources, and any documents the user has created or has access to. It shouldn't need access to write to any part of any other application, or any system file/folder. OK, the installer might (for adding features to the OS).

Microsoft drops a little surprise thank-you gift for sitting through Build: The source for GW-BASIC

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Ahh Memories.. Learned GW Basic back in the 80s, on an IBM PC XT. Pretty good version of BASIC from memory. But then, Microsoft have often done BASIC well, as I like Qbasic as well, and Microsoft Basic, for all it's faults, was considered the standard by which other BASIC's were judged for a long time. I liked Microsoft's BASICs until Amiga Basic. I loved my Amiga(s), and when I first fired up Amiga basic, I was excited that a major software company had developed something for my Amiga. Then I saw the half-arsed attempt they made..

Record-breaking Aussie boffins send 44.2 terabits a second screaming down 75km of fiber from single chip

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Disgusted

And what do you think carries the internet data to and from your ISP's network, which is likely carrying tens of thousands of connections that are anywhere from 1Mbps to 1Gbps?

Chicago: Why I just grin like a dork... It's my kind of Bork

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: LED matrices

I think the low res dot matrix displays on public transport are actually better during busy periods (such as the morning and evening rush hour). They tend to be easier to read, whether the commuter is full or partially sighted (depends on the cause of the partial sight obviously). Case in point. The newly refurbished London Bridge station has large amber dot matrix displays on all the platforms apart from the Thameslink platforms, where they have full colour high resolution displays that are the same size. They are very well done displays, that have a lot of good information, but tend not to be so easy to read if you can't get near the display (which is very much a probability in the rush hour at London Bridge).

Campaign groups warn GCHQ can re-identify UK's phones from COVID-19 contact-tracing app data

Stuart Castle Silver badge

Re: Thank you

Contact tracing (and therefore the app) isn't only about reducing the number of current infections, but are about reducing the number of future infections, in hope of preventing a 2nd, 3rd or 4th peak..



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