* Posts by Flak

164 posts • joined 11 Jan 2013


Blessed are the cryptographers, labelling them criminal enablers is just foolish

Black Helicopters

Cryptography is a weapon

Phil Zimmerman felt the heat of the US government when it conducted a criminal investigation into his (alleged) 'munitions export without a license', i.e. PGP being made available globally. Thankfully this was dropped.

(All) governments have this lovely double standard - they want to keep their own communications secure and private, but be able to read everyone else's.

The Starship has landed. Latest SpaceX test comes back to Earth without igniting fireballs


Thunderbirds are go!

The Starship design looks like it comes straight from the Thunderbirds.

Who knew they were so close to reality!

It is difficult to fully fathom the scale of the Starship. Looking forward to seeing it deliver some payload soon.

Apple vs Epic Games trial kicks off featuring the same old arguments, hundreds of angry Zoombombing tweens


Re: "anyone can opt to use alternative platforms"

It is a 'protection racket'!

Ofcom 5G auction ends with UK carriers spending £23m for choice spectrum positionings


Re: A typo! 2000 not 2020 Remember the 3G spectrum auction of 2020?

Thanks, Chris, you are absolutely right! :-)


Remember the 3G spectrum auction of 2020?

During the dotcom bubble that one raised £22.47bn for the UK Treasury - the latest 5G auction proceeds would have been lost in this number as a rounding error.

Deloitte settled HPE's Autonomy lawsuit for $45m back in 2016 and agreed to cooperate with US DoJ


This story keeps on giving

Keep them coming, please! One of my children is doing accountancy and auditing and this is a great case study which, I am sure, will be used for years to come.

Everything you need to know about the HPE v Mike Lynch High Court case


Project Tesla

Should have bought shares in Tesla Inc. at the time - price per share was between $5-6.

A somewhat better investment than the one under scrutiny here.

Starlink's latent China crisis could spark a whole new world of warcraft


If you build it high enough...

...the satellites will just bounce off it!


A new game with no established rules

In this scenario players may see themselves beyond or above established (international) laws, driven by economic - or political - self interest.

Mobile World Congress seemingly serious about in-person Barcelona event in June, shares safety plan


MWC going viral...

... literally!

Coat because there is no Hazmat suit icon.

Vodafone chief gushes over OpenRAN, says commercial deployments to start this year


Disaggregation, Standardisation, Commoditisation

Definitely the right direction of travel.

I am sure there will be some teething problems and it will be interesting to see how tight OpenRAN specifications are for true, cross-vendor interoperability.

Remember 'standards' like DPNSS which offered basic baseline features, but much of the meaningful stuff was still vendor specific? Or in the early days of VoIP you had two competing standards for DTMF transport - in band and out of band - and good luck to you if you connected two systems with different implementations that needed to 'talk' DTMF across them...

Copper broadband phaseout will leave UK customers with higher bills and less choice, says comparison site


Copper won't get switched off for a long time, only WLR

The devil is in the detail here:

The PSTN is getting switched off (which includes many of the services most people are familiar with such as analogue exchange lines and other services that rely on the WLR product from Openreach such as ISDN2 and ISDN30, lift alarm lights, traffic light connections, etc).

The copper remains in the ground and will provide services for a while longer...

Many will still use FTTC (the connection from the cabinet to the end location is still copper) and ultimately then migrate to the follow on product SOGEA (i.e. no underlying phone line anymore). Even at that time the copper is still in use.

It will take much longer to connect every home with fibre all the way.

The marketing machines selling FTTC as a fibre service have a lot to answer for!

The bank of Bitcoin: MicroStrategy's share price rides high on the back of cryptocurrency investment


Investment? Speculation!

The final paragraph says it all: crypto-casino.

And we know that the house always wins in the long term.

HP loses attempt to deny colossal commission to star sales staffer


Coin operated and risk/reward

Salespeople are largely coin operated and will find ways of maximising their income based on the incentive plans put to them - there is nothing wrong with that. Commission plans need to be designed to incentivise behaviour (and deals) which are in line with company objectives.

I have no issue with salespeople earning large commission payments. Their total pay has a significant risk element to it (often lower basic salary, but higher total earnings potential through commission, easier to fire through 'performance management' as few others have as stark a performance measurement as "% of target achieved").

Moving the goalposts after the fact is wrong, but I have seen it many times - the money 'saved' is offset by higher staff turnover and high achievers probably leaving in disgust at a time of their choosing.

In this case HP got the benefit of the deal(s). Commission should be treated as a cost of sale and paid according to plan.

Disclaimer - I do not work in Sales...

Facebook and Apple are toying with us, and it's scarcely believable


Diamonds, Oil and Time

There are other market examples where artificial scarcity is used:

Diamonds - De Beers is holding and releasing diamonds at a rate that keeps prices high - and has done so for decades.

Oil - OPEC has exactly the same purpose, with production quotas adjusted to keep prices high (the start of the COVID pandemic was a notable exception)

Time - that is a really interesting one - we are all allotted 24 hours in a day, with more spare time than at any point in the history of the world, but we think we have no time at all - we create our own scarcity in the market of our time allowance.

NurseryCam hacked, company shuts down IoT camera service


'bout time!

Only have themselves to blame...

Poor product, poor security (a euphemism), poor response, poor customer service.

Time to get the claims in for refunds!

Mobile World Congress to run this year's Barcelona event in June with 50,000 attendees. We're speechless


Bon chance with that!

as a learned colleague once said to the owner of a boutique champagne producer...

How do we combat mass global misinformation? How about making the internet a little harder to use


Add: Who benefits?

To me, that is one of the key questions and will in most cases shed light on the other points in your list.

If you don't know the answer, keep digging. If it does not become clear, that should be a warning sign in itself.

Follow the money...

Amazon coughs up $62m to shoo away claims it stole driver tips, cut pay rates without telling them


Immoral and wrong

enough said!

Cisco intros desktop switches, one with USB-C to power your laptop


Re: "when Wi-Fi gets more reliable every year"

A couple of years ago I spoke to a group of people from a university who had been sold on the idea of fibre to the desktop. There were about a dozen of us in the meeting room. I asked how many were connected to a wired port - the answer was zero!

I accept that for specialist applications and devices, a wired connection is preferable. That may be high end fixed workstations with high bandwidth, low latency or high availability requirements. In terms of proportion of connected devices, my guess would be that this applies to <10% for most organisations. In some, it may be zero.

The same plays out in the home. I have been working on the WiFi on my work laptop with countless videoconferencing meetings over the last 10 months as many others have, too. I don't need a wired connection for my use case, and most devices quite happily connect and perform adequately that way, including UHD streaming for the TV. The exception would be the X-Box (or gaming PC) where a wired connection is preferable - primarily to reduce latency so you avoid being dead, but you just don't know it yet!

Explained: The thinking behind the 32GB Windows Format limit on FAT32


Re: Future proofing size constraints

Adding to your Gordon Moore and Bill Gates a certain Thomas Watson, president of IBM who declared in 1943: "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

Then again, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Thankfully there are alternatives to FAT32 which overcome the limitation.

Welcome to the splinternet – where freedom of expression is suppressed and repressed, and Big Brother is watching



Thankfully Mr Musk & team are in the process of providing a non-government controlled alternative (not that this is the be all and end all solution, but one alternative which will be very hard for any government to control).

HP bows to pressure, reinstates free monthly ink plan... for existing customers

Thumb Up

Scrooge has seen the ghost of Christmas yet to come

Power to the people!

UK coronavirus tier postcode-searching tool yanked offline as desperate Britons hunt for latest lockdown details




China offers world its COVID QR Code movement passport at G20 Leaders' Meeting

Big Brother

Coming to a country near you

Get your 'passport' based on vaccination status, 'track & trace', contact history, ...

...(un)paid parking tickets, council tax payments, political party membership, etc.

to 'earn' the basic human right to free movement.

UK West Midlands town finds five-year HR system deal is only offer on the table in pandemic-stricken procurement


Re: Not really the council's fault

Procurement of something complex should not be a one man show - and definitely not the procurement officer's.

Clearly should involve subject matter experts and other stakeholders.

I feel your pain - Solarwinds is a great platform offering great value.


Re: Not really the council's fault

Not true.

This smacks of procurement incompetency.

You will find (and should only select) solutions where there is a reasonable field of competition. This starts well before a tender is issued, speaking to a variety of prospective providers about their solutions, speak to peers in other public sector about their solutions, finding out about the good, the bad and the ugly. Seek references from the supplier, but also do your own homework.

Then you let all the prospective providers know you will be coming out to tender. Give them plenty of time, give them an indication of scope - even get suppliers' feedback, keeping an open mind (you never know...).

Don't issue a tender until you know that at least 5 organisations plan to respond. You may well get some unexpected responses, but the ones who engaged early with you will know you (and you will know them) - a clear advantage.

Have a firm idea and a tested methodology to evaluate price and quality. Ask for reasonable and realistic things, be clear. Give scope for value adds. Don't try and devolve all the risk to the supplier, because less risk for you means higher prices.

By that time you will hopefully already know who you might want to work with and a tender formalises that process. Yes, there may still be surprises, but then the surprise may be a lower price or an innovative value add.

A bit of time and effort prior to the process starting will well be worth it.

(I have been a poacher and a gamekeeper in public sector procurement and know that it CAN be done well - with good outcomes)

Bio-boffins devise potentially fast COVID-19 virus test kit out of a silicon wafer and machine-learning code


Lateral thinking

Brilliant to apply combined mechanics, physics and AI to a biological challenge!

£8bn digitisation strategy for UK's health service doesn't count as a strategy, says spending watchdog


Just give it to one of the cronies

I am sure there is a crony who runs a ferry business, a PPE business or similar who will happily relieve the public purse of funds.

Based on recent experience, actual experience not required!

Cisco penta-gone from Pentagon as Aruba rolls in a new net



Definitely a coup for HP.

Migrations can be a headache and difficult, but with the right migration strategy, planning and execution are entirely do-able.

Having been involved in many large scale, mission critical migrations of live networks and services over the years, I am sure this migration can be pulled off without major disruption.

SpaceX’s Starlink finally reveals its satellite broadband pricing for rural America: At $99 a month, it’s a good deal


Choice and market segmentation

Given the options available today for rural Internet access, Starlink will offer a great additional choice.

It is not everyone, but clearly addresses a need and has a sufficiently large target customer base to become economically viable.

If Starlink's low orbit satellite service makes other rural solutions providers up their game - then great!

Transport for London data pilot: We want to keep tabs on dockless bikes and e-bikes


Nine million bicycles in Beijing...


... and London may not be far behind.

UK tech supply chain in dark over Brexit preparations months ahead of final heave-ho


The wings are coming off

Very soon the UK will see the real impact of Brexit.

Not the image painted by the Brexit campaign, not the prophesied doom from the alleged 'Project Fear', but reality.

This story shows a reality like this:

The engines are not working, we are losing altitude.

We are seeing details on the ground before impact. But we are past the point of no return.

Brace, brace!

Selling hardware on a pay-per-use or subscription model is a 'lie' created by marketing bods


Spot on!

It is not just the vendors, but also their investors - businesses with long term recurring revenue streams are far more valuable than businesses that sell devices and have to 'run to stand still'.

The article is a bit too negative, as there are some real benefits for the customer:

- avoidance of capex (and potential debt/difficulty to get loans)

- avoidance of maintenance cost

- avoidance of obsolescence

- elasticity/flexibility up and down and in terms of contract terms

- immediacy of services (for cloud services at least) with no lead times

- outsource of infrastructure expertise

- outsource of hosting and connectivity

For some (types of) hardware I think you are right. Laptops and printers fall into that category.

Was he sent on a spool's errand or something? Library staffer accused of stealing, reselling $1.3m of printer toner


“Looks like I made a mistake,” said one supervisor interviewed by the auditors

Gross misconduct followed by summary dismissal more like!

Seems there was a very lax culture in that organisation when it comes to financial controls...

Twitter: Our image-cropping AI seems to give certain peeps preferential treatment. Solution: Use less AI

Paris Hilton

Who has been training the AI?

While the algorithms are programmed, the 'learned' aspect of AI is effectively a black box. And this is both the clever bit and sometimes a problem.

Deliberate or unintentional bias during training may then be ingrained in the system and cannot be removed or changed like some lines of code.

Focusing on women's chests and lighter skinned people - I wonder who has been training the AI...

'Mindset reset' contributes to £1bn extra costs and another delay – 2 years this time – for Emergency Services Network


What was originally procured is not what will be delivered

This is shocking, but not surprising at all.

The original contract was awarded to EE in 2015.

Prioritised communication and 'push to talk' were part of the original tender, with the service pitched to run on EE's 'existing 4G' infrastructure, with coverage being augmented incrementally.

I would like to know what is taking so long.

The incremental roll-out could have led to services deployed much sooner, but it appears that the customer - the Home Office - has moved the goal posts a few times and any good project manager this means more time and more costs - this 'Mindless Reset' being the latest shift.

The Home Office is paying EE for services it is not using and paying Airwave for extension to services it should not be using any longer.

Twice the cost and an out of date service! Genius!

Bad apples: US customs seize OnePlus earbuds thinking they're knock-off AirPods


Should have put a Prepear logo on them to make them completely indistinguishable!


Certainly for the Apple IP lawyers...

When classes are online, how do you get out of school? Florida teen cuffed, charged after crashing cyber-lessons


Re: Someone will give him/her a job!

In the short term. Medium to long term - sky's the limit!


Someone will give him/her a job!

Some skills that certain organisations may find interesting have been displayed here:

Initiative (seeing a situation that they wanted changed and doing something about it)

Efficiency (using minimal effort to maximum effect)

Virtuous Laziness (Bill Gates allegedly once said he'd hire a lazy person to do a hard job as they will find an easy way to do it)

There is room for improvement:

Stealth (avoiding to get caught)

Commercial acumen (this could have been a chargeable service)

Some way to build a resume (for our American cousins)!

Anyone else noticed that the top countries for broadband speeds are well-known tax havens? No? Just us then?


Line or sync speed vs. end device speed?

I wonder how many 'bad' experiences are down to end user WiFi or even the end device capability, particularly when assessing higher transmission rates.

Having said that, my own direct (and indirect) experience in the UK is that there is a clear line between the connected and unconnected. Averages paint over that dichotomy.

India's telecoms given ten years to pay $22bn in back taxes they've already disputed for a decade


Re: Given my experience with Vodaphone....

Hope is a lousy strategy.

Amazon spies on staff, fires them by text for not hitting secretive targets, workers 'feel forced to work through pain, injuries' – report


Net vs. Gross Profits - Re: Easy solution to this, profits tax based on externalities created

You got your nets vs. grosses mixed up... the whole idea being that you can show much less profit if you allocate more and more costs - often loosely describes as 'fees', resulting in little or no net profit, even if gross profit looked fantastic.

'My wife tried to order some clothes tonight. When she logged in, she was in someone else's account ... Now someone's charged her card'


Credit Card theft

So wrong when it comes to political correctness, but still makes me smile:

"My wife's credit card was stolen a few months ago - I didn't report it because the thief is spending less than she did!"

Accenture scores £20m contract extension with UK pensions department: Competition? We've heard of it


Looks like someone painted themselves into a corner

A great place for an incumbent to be - (relatively) short contract extension on a complex, ageing system.

This means the list of potential providers will be short, the cost of change (hard cost and disruption) will be great and the risk high.

Contracts often have extension clauses in them (good ones anyway) which may cover prolonged procurement cycles.

I wonder why they are not going for a replacement system now, however.

MediaTek pings Italy with '5G' Internet-of-Things data beam from geostationary satellite 35,000 kilometres up


5G is not 5G is not 5G

Interesting article and experiment.

So, for those who think 5G means low latency, high bandwidth and mobility:

Geostationary 5G is not going to deliver low latency (speed of light constraint given the distance to the satellite).

High bandwidth - perhaps, but not using NB-IoT - the clue is in the NB (narrow bandwidth).

Had a quick look and cannot see any photos of the 'standard NB-IoT device' which has been connected. The cynic in me thinks that while the NB-IoT chip may be standard, there will need to be a parabolic dish of reasonable size to send/receive the signal. Mobility - limited.

Finally, I also have a sneaking suspicion that the power consumption of the overall device will be far greater than what would be practical for a mobile device.

To be clear, I think this is a great achievement and will further standards development and may lead to sensible services over time (but not tomorrow)...

Outage: Faulty UPS at data centre housing London Internet Exchange causes grief for ISPs and telcos alike


That blows the four nines then!

Dual power supply and UPS will only provide so much resilience. Dual (or multiple) bits of equipment in different geographic locations with diversely routed connections and properly configured are essential to achieving high availability levels.

What needs to be understood is that an actual fault or outage at a single site often can't be fixed within the SLA agreement timeframes, particularly if they are measured monthly or quarterly and are at 99.99% or higher.

Those of you who are affected by this - I feel your pain!

Use it to invest in proper diversity and resilience if the pain is too great!

Flames - because there were none...

Apple's at it again: Things go pear-shaped for meal planner app after iGiant opposes logo


Fruit salad?

Crazy - claiming that an ordinary consumer could associate the Prepear logo with Apple.

Not the same fruit, not the same shape, no 'bite', solid vs. outline, fruit (and leaf) at different angles, the threat of confusion or brand dilution is tenuous at best.

Hopefully someone at the patent and trade mark office will see sense.

(judging by the 352 page document the lawyers must be getting paid by the word)

Bored binge-watchers bork beleaguered broadband by blasting bandwidth: Global average speeds down 6.31%


The death of broadcast TV?

To me, the interesting message is between the lines, i.e. where do people go for video entertainment?

It is clearly NOT broadcast TV anymore, even with DVRs, Freeview recording on USB sticks, etc.

I see it in my own household, where the default is Netflix or Prime and the only thing we still watch at the programmed time on TV is the news. On the odd occasion we want to watch a film or programme on a channel that is not the BBC, we record or time shift it to avoid the ads.

The pandemic has perhaps accelerated or at least highlighted this seismic shift!

Struggling company pleads with landlords to slash rents as COVID-19 batters UK high street. The firm's name? Apple


My heart bleeds


On the other hand, landlords may need to decide whether they want a longer term commitment from Apple or face the likely prospect that Apple may terminate leases at the earliest opportunity if landlords don't show flexibility and move elsewhere.

It is a buyer's market for retail space at the moment and landlords will be very aware of that.



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