* Posts by Vimes

1314 posts • joined 3 Dec 2012

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Welcome to Superbork: Where high-street fashion meets high-strung Windows

Vimes

Re: Times are strange

You should only have been concerned if you had heard a voice telling you 'I'm sorry Dave. I can't let you do that' as you started...

Vimes

I still recall going through Heathrow about 20 years ago. Every two or three minutes most of the departure monitors appeared to reboot and we were treated to the old 'Windows 95 - with internet explorer' boot screen shown rotated 90 degrees.

One would hope the real air traffic control system was a little better designed, even back then. Unless of course somebody wanted to add new meaning to the words 'blue screen of death'.

Departing MI5 chief: Break chat app crypto for us, kthxbai

Vimes

From their homepage:

The National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC) is a government unit made up of staff from a range of backgrounds. It is responsible for the lawful interception of communications on behalf of law enforcement and other agencies, as well as recovering data from seized media. NTAC also offers technical advice to government and industry on interception, data recovery, and digital forensics.

[...]

NTAC does not apply for interception warrants in its own right. Rather, it manages the delivery of intercepted communications to the agencies that have a lawful authorisation in place to acquire them.

So in this instance GCHQ is often little better than an extension of MI5, and doing their bidding.

Vimes

https://www.gchq.gov.uk/information/national-technical-assistance-centre

Whilst the underyling interception is done by GCHQ it's still often the security service seeking and obtaining the warrants that underpin the spying. He may claim that MI5 isn't interested in bulk surveillance, but who'd care to bet them and their warrants are still quite happily taking advantage of it?

After blowing $100m to snoop on Americans' phone call logs for four years, what did the NSA get? Just one lead

Vimes

Well the people at the NSA probably also got yet another chance & way of spying on their husbands & wives so there is that too. Still a tad expensive though.

https://www.wired.com/2013/09/nsa-stalking/

This episode of Black Mirror sucks: London cops boast that facial-recog creepycams will be on the streets this year

Vimes

Re: Lazers

That's part of the problem: people won't want to be watched & if you give people legitimate reasons to resort to a particular tactic then stopping it from being used will become that much more difficult.

Vimes

Re: Lazers

Why bother when you can fool them with a simple mask?

https://www.businessinsider.com/facial-recognition-fooled-with-mask-kneron-tests-2019-12?r=US&IR=T

Vimes
Vimes

What oversight and auditing will there be I wonder when it comes to the watchlists?

Who gets to decide which people get put on the list? What happens when mistakes are made or abuse of the system is discovered?

Vimes

Police simply can't be trusted with technology. Go back 12 years and there were complaints about how the DNA database contained something like 500,000 errors.

And the rates are worse than you've made it out to be too: The BBC were saying the Met were claiming that only 1 in 1000 people scanned would generate a false alarm. That's going from a known and proven failure rate of 98% back in May 2018 to one of 0.1% today. That sort of progress in only roughly a year and a half is questionable to say the least.

Interesting to note too the ICO's continued obsession with public opinion in their press releases. It's almost as if they've forgotten that their job is to enforce the law, not try and make it popular.

UK's Virgin Media celebrates the end of 2019 with a good, old fashioned TITSUP*

Vimes

A lot of people to be affected by a single failure.

You'd have thought that with people paying so much to start with - even for consumer level service - and all those price rises they push through on a regular basis on top of that that they would have better redundancy than this.

Uncle Sam punishes China for abusing Uyghur Muslims – by blacklisting top AI surveillance companies

Vimes

Given their failure to do anything about human rights abuses elsewhere in the world (*cough*Yemen) it's easy to end up with the impression that there are other things at work here.

Are there any US companies competing for the same services that the Chinese companies provide by any chance?

Vodafone: Daft Huawei comms gear ban will cripple UK – and cost punters loads

Vimes

*cough*Gerontic*cough*

Hardly surprising Vodafone would be so supportive of a company accused of questionable activities given their own history.

Lucky, lucky, Westminster residents: Who better to look after your housing benefits than Capita?

Vimes

The same Capita as this?

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tories-hit-fresh-outsourcing-crisis-11947751

Are they setting themselves up for another Carillon style fiasco?

UK defence secretary ponders £50m hit to terminate Capita recruiting contract

Vimes

Odd how this sort of failure keeps on happening. Don't government contracts have some sort of get-out clause that allow them to drop suppliers without any financial penalties when said supplier provides such an abysmal level of service?

Virgin Media? More like Virgin Meltdown: Brit broadband ISP falls over amid power drama

Vimes

Stop whining when your only provider goes down and you're too cheap to pay for a backup service.

Or simply don't have the money.

Stop assuming people are living sufficiently comfortable lives that they can afford this. It might not be much to you (even for a 'crappy' line). It might not be feasible for many others.

Vimes

Re: Should they email you notices

I can't see them being keen on paying £X000+ each time they have a fault for text messages.

Perhaps the additional cost will be an incentive to keep large scale incidents to a minimum?

For that matter surely SMSs would only represent a significant cost if they keep on failing to provide the service to such a large number of customers? Small scale outages would presumably be less of an issue.

For me personally Virgin Media has been on the whole reasonably reliable. It's when things inevitably fall apart - as it will always do occasionally with technology - that the problems start.

Keeping customers informed isn't their strongest point apparently and when I asked them via Twitter this morning what had happened the previous day they couldn't give me any information. Given the scale of the outage I don't think being willing to tell such a large chunk of customers why they weren't getting the service they were paying for is particularly unreasonable. Apparently Virgin Media disagrees.

Where's my money?! UK Info Commish squeezes data controllers while brandishing £4,350 fine

Vimes

Funny how the ICO's willingness to start fining suddenly gets a lot stronger when it involves anything affecting them directly rather than another 3rd party.

Microsoft has a digital coworker it wants in your business: Cortana

Vimes

Re: Cortana is fine. At home

<HAL 9000 voice>'I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that'</HAL 9000 voice>

Vimes

Re: Cortana is fine. At home

Oh, I don't know about that. There could be entertainment to be found in watching Cortana struggle with accents.

Vimes

Some of the clients I've dealt with in the past were quite resistant to sharing data with us even when they were using our software & had raised a support ticket requesting the sort of help that required access to it.

The idea that these same companies would be happy with a microphone switched on all the time listening to everything they're saying and potentially sharing it with Microsoft (which is presumably what any sort of real voice control & using Cortana would entail) seems unlikely in the extreme.

Need a facial recognition auto-doxxx tool? Social Mapper has you covered

Vimes

Didn't NSA employees get caught out on LinkedIn using project names that were then subsequently leaked by Snowden? And presumably their profiles have nice mugshots displayed?

No fandango for you: EU boots UK off Galileo satellite project

Vimes

Re: EU Are Being Vindictive @shadmeister

So basically it's still undefined. Anything not tested in court is essentially little more than an opinion however informed it may or may not be. There are other opinions too. Even your own link says so. See the following article as an example:

https://www.ft.com/content/72252768-47de-11e8-8ae9-4b5ddcca99b3

On one hand you're accusing the EU of being vindictive merely by plainly following the rules *WE LAID DOWN*. On the other you suggest we should bend the rules as far as possible - maybe even beyond breaking point - purely to serve our own selfish interests and make a point.

And yet you still think the EU are the ones trying to be vindictive? Really?

It's also entirely possible that the EU will come up with projects or organisations in the future that the UK will want to join. What do you think the likelihood is of this happening will be if we've proven ourselves to be unreliable in the past?

Vimes

Re: EU Are Being Vindictive @heyrick

There's a word for people that promote and intentionally follow a course of action they know will cause harm to their country. It's one that the likes of the daily mail is rather fond of using when it suits them: traitor.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/06/13/tory-mp-jacob-rees-mogg-defends-setting-hedge-fund-branch-ireland/

Vimes

Re: Richard51

The whole 'passport-must-be-burgundy' thing was a non-binding council resolution. We could have remained members of the EU *and* had blue passports.

Also ignore the fact that the blue colour was actually something brought about by the League of Nations in 1920 and the only reason we've bothered with biometrics is because of demands made by the US in regards to its own visa waiver program. (*muttermutter...bloodyforeigners...muttermuttermumble*)

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/blue-passports-brexit-colour-change-leave-eu-withdrawal-european-union-countries-travel-a8124526.html

Vimes

Re: If not doing something because it was "inconvenient" [...] @Voland's right hand

One of my favourite Brexit tweets:

https://twitter.com/JohnnyPixels/status/779231997080309760

Vimes

Re: If not doing something because it was "inconvenient" [...] @Doctor Syntax

What gets me is the continued failure of our politicians to grasp the idea that people on the continent can quite easily read our papers too and can see how the likes of Johnson, Gove, Fox and Davis play to the gallery at home just so they can jump through the tabloid hoops.

Yet somehow our MPs are still continually surprised by the angry reaction of the EU when it comes to making promises in Brussels only to break them shortly afterwards just to keep the likes of Paul Dacre happy.

Vimes

Re: EU Are Being Vindictive

Are you honestly expecting the EU to give non-EU states the sort of control over its own systems that the US refuses to share with others when it comes to its own GPS systems even if they are NATO allies?

Vimes

Re: If not doing something because it was "inconvenient" was the ciriteria for Brexit..

Which begs the question: why bother making such a song and dance about being denied access in the first place?

Vimes

Re: EU Are Being Vindictive

Didn't the UK have a hand in writing the rules that said that non-EU states shouldn't be given this level of access? And that's precisely what we'll be after Brexit: a non-EU state. No amount of negotiation or fanciful plans will change that.

Now the EU is being vindictive because it's following rules that we helped lay down? Seriously?

Vimes

Re: Well @Anon Coward

Speak for yourself. I have seen a number of people angry that they were conned into voting leave when they wanted to see more money for the NHS. Then of course you have others that voted for the sunlit uplands and the 'easiest trade deals in history' that the likes of Davis and Fox have been continually promising until they collectively tried to rewrite history and claim that nobody said it would be easy.

The problem for them is that they did. Repeatedly. And the wonderful thing is that their words aren't readily forgotten, especially when we have the internet and archived articles to go back to.

How many people were conned by all those promises and fake fear regarding Turkey I wonder? Less than 4% of the leave vote? Because that's all it would have taken to change the outcome.

Vimes

Re: Dictionary anyone?

It's a mistake to portray leave voters as stupid in my opinion, especially when the government itself didn't know initially what leaving would entail. Expecting a member of the public to do so therefore when an entire civil service hadn't got to grips with it seems more than a little unrealistic. You could equally claim that remain voters didn't fully understand the implications of staying in the EU, however positive doing so may or may not be.

Not doing more to stop the over-spending, possible criminal behaviour and collusion with foreign states (*cough*Russia*cough*) to interfere with our democratic processes is, however, a different matter. People talk about respecting the result but from where I sit given the underhanded manner in which the result was secured I see nothing worth respecting. If this were to take place in any other country we would be loudly pushing for a rerun of the process. Funny how that doesn't happen when the mistake is made at home.

Vimes

The mistake here perhaps is to see this as a negotiation to start with from the Europeans point of view when from their side of things it's probably more of an implementation of the rules they already have (rules that in many cases we had a strong hand in formulating - so it's a bit of a mystery why the government didn't see this one coming from the very start).

As Theresa May was so fond of saying until it started being flung back in her direction: Brexit means Brexit. There are consequences to leaving and this is one of them. Pretending this issue can simply be negotiated out of existence is just as likely as finding a solution to the Northern Ireland issue that doesn't involve either a hard border or non-existent technology.

Of course the caption 'Lose access to navigation services, your financial industry, automotive industry, aviation industry and fishing industry too amongst others. Oh, and by the way you might want to say goodbye to your loved ones dying of cancer now as they won't be around much longer when the medicine runs out' wouldn't fit onto the side of a bus quite so easily.

A certain millennial turned 30 recently: Welcome to middle age, Microsoft Excel v2

Vimes

There are too many VBA-filled spreadsheets out there to allow Excel to disappear any time soon.

And I speak as somebody who regularly gets asked to update one such file for a client. This file has been around longer than I have, and I've been at my current employer more than 11 years now.

I've also seen a general resistance to learning anything new or changing working practices - especially in the larger accounting firms (I'm guessing they probably don't want the additional training costs in terms of both time & money for so many people unless it's really necessary). This means you can easily end up with a situation where people end up sticking with what they know & are familiar with using.

It may also be worth noting that whilst Libre Office supports macros it does so using its own language and not the same VBA that so many people are familiar with. A move to Libre Office would require a rewrite of those existing macros in files accountants are already using.

European Commission refers Ireland to court over failure to collect €13bn in tax from Apple

Vimes

So: Amazon owes 250m, Apple billions... and all enforced by a European system on rules limiting state aid. Rules that Corbyn wants to ditch.

I bet the tax dodging corporations will love having him as PM...

Ye Bug List

Vimes

Re: Edit Forum posts

While we're on the subject is there any chance of increasing the length of the editing window for people that have proven themselves in your eyes to be reasonably responsible? There have been a few occasions where I wanted to make some innocuous changes after the 10 minutes - typos mostly - but have been unable to do so because of this rather arbitrary limit.

Re-identifying folks from anonymised data will be a crime in the UK

Vimes

De-anonymising data and then using it already seems to be a crime?

From the ICO's own guidance:

If you produce personal data through a re-identification process, you will take on your own data controller responsibilities. [Link - section 2]

Also from the ICO on the subject of what a data controller is:

8. The DPA draws a distinction between a ‘data controller’ and a ‘data processor’ in order to recognise that not all organisations involved in the processing of personal data have the same degree of responsibility. It is the data controller that must exercise control over the processing and carry data protection responsibility for it. This distinction is also a feature of Directive 94/46/EC, on which the UK’s DPA is based. [Link - page 4]

So if you de-anonymise data & use it you're responsible under the DPA already, and since consent is supposedly already such an important part then it's difficult seeing how using de-anonymised data could be used legally today (assuming no legitimate interest case could be made)

Like I said before: don't expect things to change.

Vimes

Existing law is rarely enforced in the UK. Just look at the farce that was the Google/NHS trials if you want one example, or the ICO's failure to act when 3UK proposed giving Shine/Rainbow the browsing habits of their customers.

Huge fines have already been available for quite some time but the ICO seems to prefer using their toothless 'undertakings', and even getting that far seems to take an inordinate amount of effort.

As for criminal offences, it might be worth remembering that the City of London Police were wined and dined by the very people that happened to be the subject of one of their investigations (Phorm) before conveniently closing it without prosecuting anybody.

Forgive me if I fail to see anything changing any time soon.

Why should those flouting the rules now be any more less confident about breaking them when GDPR/data protection bill comes into force? The price of avoiding justice seems to be little more than that of a good meal. We also have a regulator so keen to avoid enforcement that it's difficult to stop from asking ourselves why we should bother with them.

P.S. 'cmomitting'?

Former GCHQ boss backs end-to-end encryption

Vimes

"I don't advocate building in backdoors," Hannigan said. "It's not a good idea to weaken security for everybody in order to tackle a minority.

Odd, given the events back in 2010. It might be worth noting that whilst he wasn't in charge of GCHQ at the time, Hannigan still held a senior position within the Foreign Office (Director-General of Defence and Intelligence from March onwards that year).

Some people here might also recall that GCHQ were spending their time seven years ago trying to hack the SIM card manufacturer Gemalto and effectively install their own backdoors by attempting to steal the encryption keys.

So much for playing nice with the telcos.

Twitter will no longer snaffle data allowances on Virgin Mobile

Vimes

Presumably this involves continual examination of what sites/services are being used so they know which traffic to exclude from the total?

Another career suicide as reporter leaves The Register for broadcaster

Vimes

The J is important? But no dot I notice...

Half a million 'de-identified' patients records to be shared in Bradford

Vimes

Why do any charities need to have access to data, regardless of whether it has been 'de-identified' or not?

Governments could introduce 'made by humans' tags - legal report

Vimes

Re: Illogical conclusion @Charles 9

If the value of that wealth plummets then even the rich can end up being in trouble (just look at what happened in places like Zimbabwe when it suffered a financial collapse).

Even if that doesn't end up being the case you only need to look as far as countries like France & Russia to see what happens when the poor are pushed too far and for too long.

Vimes

Re: Illogical conclusion

If we take this to its illogical conclusion, where all jobs will be performed by machines, then there will be no consumers to generate demand for the products and services performed by those machines. Obviously, this doesn't make sense and isn't going to happen, at least whilst the motivation for producing goods and services is wealth.

The motive is to create wealth for themselves, not society. The company doesn't care how well society is performing as long as the company is doing OK.

It's only once the damage has been done that they'll be forced to think otherwise.

Vimes

It seems more likely that governments will find a way of taxing robots labourers in a similar way to their human counterparts (maybe by taking the average salary of the human counterpart and using that as a basis for example).

Your internet history on sale to highest bidder: US Congress votes to shred ISP privacy rules

Vimes

What about traffic passing through the US in relation to services provided outside the country such as consumers in the EU? Won't make this development weaken Privacy Shield even further?

Hutch's Three UK users ripping through over 6GB a month

Vimes

Re: @Vimes

The important point is that it's a foreign company outside the control of the regulators here, and once we leave the EU will probably be even less willing to pay any attention to what the likes of the ICO have to say on the matter.

Sometimes it feels like the government here is making every effort to either sell out members of the public or let the private sector do it. If it wasn't Russian made spyware being inserted into our national telecoms system then it was the excessive surveillance and cooperation with the US and the NSA.

Americans on one side, Russians on the other, with the Chinese often interested bystanders with the likes of Huawei. Next to no thought seems to be given to the interests of the little people...

Vimes

All that lovely data - soon to be shared with the Israeli company Rainbow (previously named Shine) who just happens to count the owner of 3UK as an investor...

Sources: Liberty Global, Vodafone take seats at negotiating table AGAIN

Vimes

They are interfering with the operation of a PC. I wonder what the Computer Misuse Act has to say about that?

They are intercepting traffic in a way that appears to go beyond what the law demands of them and clearly without consent. What would s.1(1) of RIPA have to say about that?

They are processing data in a way that appears to be excessive amongst other things, so it would be interesting to hear what the ICO has to say on the matter with regards to the Data Protection Act.

Sometimes intent is irrelevant and doesn't make it any less potentially illegal. I wonder if this is one of those times?

Vimes

If that's all it was why haven't Vodafone done anything about fixing it?

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