* Posts by Flak

292 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Jan 2013


NYC rights groups say no to grocery store spycams and snooping landlords


Biometric data, data sharing / stealing and AI

Some of the possibilities become downright frightening.

DNA data being gathered by China on every human they can get their hands on.

Facial recognition data from Clearview.

CCTV footage in London (and other places).

The list goes on.

Couple that with data breaches / hacks which we hear about every day now, as well as the masses of data social media companies hold on almost every living soul and you have a perfect storm where we become transparent individuals.

Run AI over that dataset and the Cambridge Analytica scandal shows what was possible then - how much greater are the possibilities now!

Time to go off grid like Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State?

Cryptocoin Ponzi scheme AirBit Club co-founder jailed


Investing in Crypto

Can we all please stop referring to this as an investment?

LG has its own folding PC now, but good luck getting your hands on one


Surely this is just a fad

Like 3D TVs and curved screens.

Form over function is typically not a good thing in the long run and functionality and sturdiness will win out in device designs, rather than doing something 'just because you can'.

Researchers train an AI system to find extraterrestrial life


How about non-carbon life forms?

It is a start looking for life similar to what we know from Earth.

Will be interesting to see if/when there is a consideration of other life forms.

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset


“Roads? Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads” (Doc Brown)

I know there are always exceptions, but...

for 20 years I have been talking about fixed / mobile substitution rather than convergence. About 3 months ago we switched off our home landline and use broadband only. We don't have a fixed line anymore because all we got on it are spam calls or the mother-in-law. Anyone wanting to speak to a member of our household would just phone them directly on the mobile rather than going through the inconvenience of phoning the house, only to find the 'wrong' person answering and then saying the person they wanted to speak to wasn't home.

At our company we have never (!) had any landlines (business is 4 years old). We have a non-geographic number that is forwarded to mobile phones, but no landlines or desk phones. I have not missed them.

I won't be shedding any tears for the loss of landlines, given that even our children's grandmother uses a mobile and social media rather than a landline (mainly, anyway).

There will be edge cases where neither works well, but those are few and far between and that is where the focus should lie for analogue landline providers to provide continuity solutions (e.g. very long copper lines).

Businesses have absolutely no excuse as the switch off should not come as any surprise. Businesses (and services) still relying on analogue services only have themselves to blame if they are caught out.

Let progress roll on!

The home Wi-Fi upgrade we never asked for is coming. The one we need is not


Interest, expertise and time

The geeks among us will like the idea of being able to tinker with all sorts of settings on devices, disaggregate devices and services and deploy our own hardware.

I run my own LAN and Wifi setup at home and use my broadband router as a modem only (yes, sadly still on FTTC), giving me exactly the choices outlined.

Most will have neither the interest, expertise or will to invest the time to eke out the last bit of performance from a home network because largely it is 'good enough'.

WiFi 7 just brings with it the opportunity to sell more hardware - new end points, more access points (one per room please) and the network to connect them all.

Marketing at its best...

95% of NFTs now totally worthless, say researchers




EE touts next-gen broadband Smart Hub with Wi-Fi 7 for 2024


Overprovisioned bandwidth vs QoS

I used to be a QoS advocate, but the impact of Moore's Law on data networking means that you can in almost all cases run even highly demanding services across a non-QoS infrastructure.

Millions of Teams and Zoom users can't be wrong.

(yes, the choke point is still typically the Internet connection)

Lawsuit claims Google Maps led dad of two over collapsed bridge to his death


Where is the liability?

There is more than one party liable. In order of priority (highest to lowest, IMHO):

The first is the driver who has command of the vehicle and should drive to what the driver can see - particularly on unfamiliar roads.

The second is the owner of the road due to the fact that the road is public and should be secured through signposting and a barrier.

The third is Google - the liability in my opinion only arises where Google has omitted to update roads and routing and actively guides people down that route. But that does not absolve the other two parties. Many people using Google Maps - or any other SatNav - will have been guided down phantom or blocked roads and perhaps even be sent down one way streets in the wrong direction. It is a tool, but never more than that.

Microsoft Edge still forcing itself on users in Europe


Annoyingly persistent

When you tell it 'no' it behaves like the bunny boiler and pops up when you don't want it to.

Problem is that it thinks it should be the default application to open many file types - not just HTML.

Can't wait for it to be properly unbundled - and ideally no longer pre-installed.

Cloud is here to stay, but customers are starting to question the cost


Non-binary hokey-hokey

It does not need to be all in or all out - it can be hybrid, too :-)

The other thing is that considerations as to where you put your compute power depends on many factors - cost is only one of them.

Probably best for businesses not just to follow a general trend of cloud vs. on-prem, but do some thinking and analysis to see what is best - now, and for the future.

22 million Brits suffer broadband outage blues and are paying a premium for it



Appreciate your point and have felt that on occasion, too.

Hence the 'most' and qualification of mobile signal.

I agree with your comment that the current service availability and quality is not good enough and certainly not 'world beating' or even world class.


Lateral thinking

The question of who is willing to pay for resilience and / or a good provider is a pertinent one, but my suspicion is that most will still be tempted with the cheapest service possible.

What many may not consider is that most people have a resilience option in their pocket (yes, subject to mobile signal and data plan, I know...):

If things go south for a while with your fixed line service, turn your mobile phone into a hotspot and carry on.

For most there will be at least some usable service, most often at no additional cost.

I have done this when needed and it is one of the reasons I have not invested in other resilience (e.g. a 4G router) for the house.

None of this takes away from awful service provided by some service providers - it just may ease the pain and irritation.

Scientists turn to mid-20th century tech for low-power underwater comms


Love it!

Every day is a school day!

Demand for datacenter capacity in Europe sees busiest Q2 ever


Build your bit barns in Scotland

Plenty of space, renewable energy, cool climate and good connectivity make Scotland a good choice - perhaps easier than trying to squeeze another one into large cities...

... and please build them with the waste heat being put to good use (e.g. district heating for local housing).

Other locations are available... :-)

(disclaimer - I have no financial or other interest in any data centre provider)

Price rises yet to hit customers, says Salesforce as it raises forecasts


The goose and the golden egg

Price inelasticity for certain SaaS services exists for current customers, as it can be devilishly difficult and extraordinarily expensive to move from one platform to another.

Not so for new new customers who will vote with their wallets.

I wonder what the net result will be. Salesforce won't know for a while, because it takes some time to see and measure the outcome. The investors clearly think this is the right strategy. I am not so sure.

We all scream for ice cream – so why are McDonald's machines always broken?


Limiting choice is anticompetitive

We have seen this kind of behaviour so often:

- Apple iPhone repairs (I had a screen repaired by a non-Apple outfit and Apple then refused to do a battery warranty swap)

- HP printer ink

- Electric car batteries

- Cisco hardware, mandating Cisco SFPs (crazy prices!)

I am sure others could add to this list almost endlessly.

There is NO reason governments should allow this. Governments should set the rules. Those that permit this behaviour are protecting big business profits rather than representing the people.

Foxconn founder Terry Gou to run for Taiwan's presidency


Separation of business and state

In direct contrast to a separation of church/religion and state which has happened or is happening across most countries, we now see an increased or at least more obvious interlinking of business and state.

Not a good idea - too much power in the hands of those who can then shape the state and legislation for their continued enrichment or protection.

US Air Force burns more money on electric flying taxis



Looks like it is straight out of Avatar

US military battling cyber threats from within and without


Statistically inevitable

Any organisation that goes beyond a very small, trusted circle will (eventually) have bad actors in it and therefore needs to prepare for and defend against this.

Anyone working in a cyber security environment will tell you it is not a question of 'if', but 'when' a system is successfully compromised.

NASA mistakenly severs communication to Voyager 2


Voyager 1 & 2

Two of the most amazing pieces of engineering and technology in modern times!

'Go', because they just keep going!

Tesla's Autopilot boasts, safety probed by California AG


Re: Autonomy

What - Mike Lynch is charismatic?

What does Twitter's new logo really represent?




How to destroy even more brand value - get a new logo totally unrelated to the company, service and brand!

Germany raids climate piggy bank for €20B to bankroll chip fabs


Strategic investment

Hopefully this gamble will pay off for the German economy - have seen many inward investment projects fail over the years with government support funds vanishing and not delivering the promised benefits.

The strategic play of onshoring semiconductor production is the right one as crucial supplies and services should not be outsourced to others (particularly potential foes) - a lesson Germany learned the hard way with its heavy reliance on Russian gas.

BT and OneWeb deliver internet to rock in Bristol Channel – population 28


Hard to reach rural connectivity options

Had a look at available options a few years ago and a mix of point to point and point to multipoint radio could 'light up' an island without much trouble, with little disruption to nature, predictable costs and decent performance (speeds and latency).

If mobile operators invest - great.

LEO satellite connectivity has come in and now provides a real option that does NOT require any further distribution on the ground. The cynic in me sees BT just cementing its position by making OneWeb part of its delivery chain.

Let users have their own terminals, their own contracts rather than having BT add its 'service' layer please...

Fibre should still be the first choice where economically feasible, but not at any cost (do you hear me, Scottish Government R100 project???)

World's most internetty firm tries life off the net, and it's sillier than it seems


Air gaps don't work

Stuxnet proved that.

Workday wants racially biased recruitment algorithm claims thrown out


Data vs what you do with it

Looks like the software has some filtering and screening options (disclaimer - I have never seen or used Workday), but the (appropriate or inappropriate) use of those is down to the user, not the software.

Sounds a bit like suing Microsoft for the filter function in Excel because it could be used to filter data based on certain biased criteria.

AI maybe on everyone's lips, but it's not what's driving IT spending


If Gartner says it, it will be so

(unless it won't)...

1 in 4 Brits are playing with generative AI, and some take its word as gospel


Eyes wide open

Have used ChatGPT and Bard a few times - with my eyes wide open.

Both provide some right - and some wrong feedback. A couple of false responses only became apparent when speaking to a vendor and asking them to verify equipment capability which ChatGPT said existed, but wasn't listed in vendor documentation.

Request for improvement for generative AI: provide links and references used to create the content! This would allow users to check and draw their own conclusions...

'There has never been a realistic plan' for UK's £11B Emergency Services Network


Not as simple as that

The whole idea of the ESN is that it continues to operate if the mobile network infrastructure we mere mortals use becomes unavailable/unreliable or overloaded.

You cannot achieve that with a standard SIM contract on standard networks.

Just try using a mobile network (data) service in a busy environment like a packed football stadium or airport.

Now imagine everyone trying to use their phone at the same time...


An heir and a spare (or two)

When will the UK government learn that single supplier arrangements for contracts of this size are never good.

Game theory and good old common sense would tell you as much. You need one supplier to keep the other(s) honest.

Contracts are sizeable enough to make that possible and risk spreading benefits will far outweigh any potential loss of scale economies.

The motivation for multiple vendors and suppliers is then FOMO rather than complacency. FOMO is very powerful...

Ofcom proposes Wi-Fi and cellphones share upper 6GHz band


Re: Interoperability vs spectrum sharing

I don't think the argument for 6GHz Wifi is speed improvement, but available capacity. Your rightly mention high density environments and how much better would it be to have more channels available to serve more devices with adequate throughput.

There is no need to provide UHD video to a device that cannot display it adequately or has a tiny screen. In that sense, video transmissions for most mobile devices should be limited in terms of bandwidth and not really increase any further from what they are already perfectly capable of delivering today.

This is the campus WiFi scenario again.

Not one laptop in our office is wired and the overall performance of the service is such that multiple concurrent Teams / Zoom calls happen all the time with no problem. Mobiles in the office use WiFi calling, too... We clearly haven't reached the limits of our Wifi network (and/or the Internet uplink).

A more dense user base (and widespread geographic cover) will be aided by having more channels to plan with, smaller cell sizes, avoiding interference and providing a better user experience.


Re: Overlap

Interesting argument. I have seen many a (misguided) public Wifi deployment outdoors and ask myself again and again what public benefit that brings. Yes, have some cover in and around public buildings if you want, but having local authorities spending hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds on a service that provides what I suspect are marginal benefits at best is just crazy.

So with the exception of some commercial rollouts in campus type environments (like Alton Towers) where the visitor and the operator benefit from location based data, queue time indications, etc. which help to manage a park like that more efficiently, keep Wifi in and around buildings and go cellular for when you leave Wifi coverage.


Interoperability vs spectrum sharing

Wifi is the predominant indoor technology and rightly so - easy and cost effective to roll out, service provider independent, with service scope and quality determined by the organisation rolling it out.

Public mobile services often don't reach into the innards of buildings - extending them can be costly and complex.

End devices and their applications being able to switch between connectivity types is what brings the two together (e.g. Wifi calling).

Having both share the same frequency spectrum takes away the mobile operator's argument of full control over the use of 'their' spectrum and may well impact service quality and commitments.

I would much rather see a maintained separation in terms of spectrum allocation and services, but better service integration enabling switching from one to another mid-call.

UK government's newest department to lead mega ERP procurement


What could possibly go wrong?

My suspicion is that legacy systems - and more importantly - legacy bespoke processes will be retained, leading to an integration nightmare rather than a standard agreed deployment across different stakeholders.

This will lead to a constant tinkering on the integration side, an industry around consultancy and implementation specialists, delays, additional cost and in the end a system that is just as unwieldy as the separate systems were, leading to a total lock-in.

There should be a target architecture with standard processes and interfaces, meaning that at some point in the future a potential migration may be a large undertaking, but far less complicated than going through the same mess that will be waded through during the implementation phase here.

Wouldn't it be nice to actually learn from the past and plan for the future?

EU antitrust team closer to full-blown Microsoft probe, say sources


Same old Microsoft, same old games

Was reminded of this last week when I tried to change from Microsoft Edge to Google Chrome as the default browser.

A very stubborn Windows 11 required several attempts to finally make the change.

Integration is great - but let the building blocks be 'open' - please...

Without competition, TCS wins back UK pensions body in £1.5B mega-deal


If there is no competition, the requirement specification is wrong

If Nasa can have competition in rocket building, if companies and consortia can compete in aircraft building, etc., then public sector procurements should be able to attract multiple bidders and those bidders should be in a position to compete successfully.

However... if the question is wrong (the requirement), it is possible to get only a single answer.

And that, by the way, does not mean that the answer is right, either.

North Korea created very phishy evil twin of Naver, South Korea's top portal


Re: Does NK not have something better to do

Do you mean like lock them in their country, punish not only a perpetrator (in the eyes of the regime), but also their children and grandchildren, executions, other human rights violations and curtailment of liberties? Not much of a peace that.


Does NK not have something better to do

... like feed its people and let them / allow them to live in peace?

Brits and Yanks join forces to make fusion magnets cool again


Seriously Cool!

(drop mic)

AI is great at one thing: Driving next waves of layoffs


4th industrial revolution

Yes, there is a seismic shift coming, but just like there were huge workforce shifts in the other industrial revolutions, those who adapt to those changes are less likely to be left behind.

1.0 Agrarian to manufacture

2.0 Manufacture to mass production

3.0 Mass production to digitisation

4.0 Digitisation to societal change

Crazy to live through and witness two of these first hand!

I'll get my coat to take early retirement :-)

Another security calamity for Capita: An unsecured AWS bucket


Oops, I did it again...

First thing that came to mind reading this.

Up to £895M up for grabs in UK Emergency Services procurement


What a shower!

This is another procurement shambles worthy of a public inquiry.

Cisco: Don't use 'blind spot' – and do use 'feed two birds with one scone'


People with Reynaud's disease will shiver just hearing the term



You will trigger vegans with a reference to cream!

And butter - heavens!

Microsoft may charge different prices for Office with or without Teams


Re: Deja vu all over again

Deja vu = all over again

Building your own private 5G is as easy as Wi-Fi


I am not a Luddite, but...

Ah, 5G...

Interesting technology still trying to justify its existence in the private space for anything other than edge use cases, tinkerers and bleeding edge deployments.

Good luck to anyone attempting a plug & play deployment as you would on WiFi and expecting a smooth ride.


Frequencies and licensing (tread carefully to comply with regulations)

Hardware availability (still thin on the ground other than mobile handsets)

SIMs (you will need them)

Roaming from private to public networks (if required - finding a mobile operator willing to play and support this - )

Operating the network (it is a specialism)

Please prove me wrong - I want to believe!

It's this easy to seize control of someone's Nexx 'smart' home plugs, garage doors


Elementary, Watson!

Why, why why?!!! Hard coded credentials?

Because security is still not taken seriously by some. Agree with b0llchit that there should be some financial consequences for the manufacturer.

UK's Emergency Services Network unlikely to start operating until 2029



Not holding my breath about anyone being held accountable for this one.

Astronomers (re)discover never-before-seen phenomenon on Saturn


The questions are the same, but the answers are different

Einstein apparently said to a university student who observed that the exam questions matched those of the previous year.

Science is a continuous journey of discovery and we all would do well not to be too dogmatic about what we 'know' now.

'Current understanding' would better describe scientific knowledge.