* Posts by Lee D

3828 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013

WhatsApp to offer end-to-end encrypted backups in iCloud, Google Drive with user-managed keys

Lee D Silver badge


Tell me when they honour my data opt-out for sharing my stuff with Facebook which I do not want to ever happen, even briefly.

Their only option for me when I complained to them officially was "email us - to an insecure email address - the exact data that you don't want us to store to prove that it's you".

I have a complaint in with the ICO about it.

At that point, I'll think about giving them my Google account tokens/data.

Paperless office? 2.8 trillion pages printed in 2020, down by 14% or 450 billion sheets

Lee D Silver badge

I have a 21 year old printer. I use it a couple of times a year.

In work, I am the IT Manager. I print once in a blue moon and ALWAYS for other people.

I see no reason to be printing this amount of stuff, and for COVID we eliminated huge rafts of paperwork and literally nobody cared that we'd done so. It's all now recorded electronically, so you have far better proof and ability to process and forward the forms that would normally have to be paper. The paper went, people thought it worked better, now people don't give it a second thought. We could have done that at any time.

Same as working from home.

In terms of stuff I receive on paper at home, I literally get one paper form from my local council a year, everything else is junk mail. No bills, no statements, etc. It's all electronic. Filed. Stored forever. Easily comparable. Easily available any time I like.

It's time we just owned up to it and stopped printing, because we only print because OTHER PEOPLE think they must have it on paper for some reason.

Early Skype developer Jaan Tallinn splashes cash in latest funding for Matrix-based instant messenger Element

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Fizzled out

At that stage, you're either a) in a legally-unenforceable area or b) already in an inescapable dictatorship anyway.

I can't get in trouble for having uTorrent on my laptop any more than this software.

And, if it's done anywhere vaguely NEAR sensibly enough, it will be virtually impossible to distinguish the traffic from any other HTTPS session (and likely nodes will be running on things like AWS which means even trying to block the major endpoints will be useless).

I have no fear of someone making a piece of software that would be "illegal" to have on my laptop. There are no laws for that whatsoever. It's the actions you use that software to do that matter.

Microsoft has a workaround for 'HiveNightmare' flaw: Nuke your shadow copies from orbit

Lee D Silver badge

Re: That counter must be bored.

Nah, it just keeps overflowing because they forgot the bounds check, it's only vulnerable one in every 65,535 Windows Updates. So about twice a day.

How many Brits have deleted life-saving track and trace app from their phones? No idea, junior minister tells MPs

Lee D Silver badge

Re: The greatest hoax ever

You have not even glanced at an all-deaths graph, and it's quite clear that you haven't.

Almost every country in the world has a spike this year for deaths of all-causes (NZ may be the exception, can't think why THAT would be....).

So either everyone suddenly started dying of all the existing causes and mysterious unknown new ones, for no discernible reason at all, or COVID kills people. I know which one Occam would prefer.

Lee D Silver badge

Hands up who never installed in the first place, knowing what government IT is like, and that this was a Serco job and nothing to do with the NHS?

All hands on Steam Deck: Fancy a handheld Linux PC that runs Windows apps, sports a custom AMD Zen APU and a touch screen?

Lee D Silver badge

Re: My wallet is worried

The Portals - guaranteed. They've had SteamOS/Linux versions forever and its way within this device's power.

KSP - I really couldn't see any reason why not.

Deffo worth putting down the reservation fee, I think, especially as if you don't buy the console when it's released, you get the fee back into your Steam wallet anyway.

Linux kernel sheds legacy IDE support, but driver-dominated 5.14 rc1 still grows

Lee D Silver badge

Today I learned that NVMe over TCP is a thing.

And that all my IDE knowledge and old hardware is now officially obsolete (when Linux starts removing support, you know it's time to give it up).

Oracle files $7m copyright claim against NEC's US limb over 'unreported royalties' from database distribution

Lee D Silver badge

People still use Oracle?

More fool them.

Isn't their entire business model being to make licensing as difficult and obtuse as possible hoping to trap you in an audit?

Microsoft struggles to wake from PrintNightmare: Latest print spooler patch can be bypassed, researchers say

Lee D Silver badge

Okay, the existence of the bug doesn't worry me. Things like that happen.

The nature of a quick fix not being sufficient doesn't worry me. They were on an emergency schedule, I would hope, so they needed to push something out.

What worries me is the thinking process behind "Hey, we'll just check if it's a remote file by looking for an initial character string in the filename".

That's a worrying, and dangerous, view of the thinking of whoever was responsible for fixing it. That's not how you patch a major worldwide security problem, not even on an emergency rapid scale.

And then you have the entire "your servers are vulnerable because they all run Print Spooler Service 24/7 by default, even if you don't have a printer, and it'll be totally open to the local net" thinking.

The initial bug may well be forgivable, but the CLASS of bug - in both the first place, and in the patch - are unforgiveable.

Oh dear, Universal Windows Platform: Microsoft says 'no plans to release WinUI 3 for UWP in a stable way'

Lee D Silver badge

And this is why I don't program Windows desktop apps any more:

"WinUI is the native UI platform for Windows 10 and Windows 11," said Microsoft program manager Ana Wishnoff. She explained that "WinUI 2 is the 2nd generation of the native UX stack in Windows. It's built for UWP apps. WinUI 3 is a new 3rd generation of the native UX stack in Windows. It consolidates the UX technologies previously built into Windows into a single decoupled framework that ships as part of the Windows App SDK, previously known as Project Reunion."

What a mess, not to mention the junk that is .NET Framework.

This shite is all going to be carried forward for 20-25 years in the name of compatibility.

Three things that have vanished: $3.6bn in Bitcoin, a crypto investment biz, and the two brothers who ran it

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Yay money laundering!

It's already difficult to move money from your bank into or out of any of the major Bitcoin etc. exchanges.

They're not stupid, they know what's coming.

When I withdrew the last dregs of my Bitcoin, I had to do so by sending it to a third-party website who sent me an Amazon voucher... well dodgy! But it worked out.

Trying to withdraw to my full-validated, only UK bank account as a UK citizen, the transactions were just automatically refused. And I remember years ago when I was trying to buy them and credit card / debit card were refused at the bank end, not the other end.

My original Bitcoins were obtained by a third-party escrow site where you give the site £50 and then someone later sends you some Bitcoin and you confirm the transaction, then they release the money. Because the people selling Bitcoins have to use dodgy third-party means and were jumping onto anything like PingIt or any new service as soon as they launched to get there before they caught onto how they were using it.

I'm not sure how people are trading in cryptocurrencies for cash, to be honest, at least in the UK. It's quite a tricky thing to do, and far from anonymous. It's entirely reliant on taking a risk on unknown, and pretty untraceable, third-parties, companies registered in the Cayman Islands, etc.

If you want to trade in crypto, do it via an investment vehicle of some kind. You still make the money, but they take all the risk. Well, most of the risk. There's still a risk that one day what they're doing will collapse because of some new money-laundering rule, but at least you stand a chance of getting some of your money back. I wouldn't invest in Bitcoin etc. directly in this day and age.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: How untraceable, exactly?

Not $2bn worth of untraceable, that's for sure.

For a tiny percentage of that, you could employ the resources needed to trace those transactions privately, I'm damn sure the governments can do it if they are interested enough.

Google bestows improved device management tools, authentication options on Chrome OS admins

Lee D Silver badge

I have managed over a thousand Chromebooks for schools. They're really pretty good.

"Against that backdrop, eight years seems almost optimistic."

Quite. Three-four years is about average for REALLY GOOD private school kids. In state schools, I'd give it a year or two! Eight years is a long time.

It's sad, though, that it's taken all this time to realise that the way to secure a user terminal is to stop it being a general purpose OS for the user, run as a limited user, don't allow background services and software installs, and just run things through an interpreted browser. We've finally come back to the unprivileged user interface terminal that I've wanted for decades as a network manager, because that's all a user needs.

And if it's compromised (which I have yet to ever witness!) you get control of... a crappy old Chromebook that accesses everything vital over HTTPS on remote servers anyway, so it can't do very much damage at all.

Loving them. Just wish I could explain to staff that, no, you can't "just install" things on them, I'm not pushing every Chrome extension known to man to them (if it lets you "read all website data", it's simply never going near my network), and no you can't "take control" of them so you can look at every kid's screen all the time and manipulate them remotely (maybe in certain limited circumstances, but modern OS just shouldn't allow that and often don't).

They're great things, but they're great things for schools because someone sat, thought about it, and said "We'll just give a highly controlled browser that allows no other software whatsoever" - because you can turn off the Android features and the Linux developer access, and it's just Chrome. And that's all 99% of people need for most things. Hell, our kids video-edit live in the browser with them.

UK watchdog fines biz £130k for 900,000+ direct marketing calls to folk who had opted out

Lee D Silver badge

Why would you go out of your way to try to contact people who expressly tell you that they don't want you to contact them, and don't want to do business with you? I can't understand the mentality.

Approach me without consent and I will blacklist your company and any service you offer.

Do so in a non-innocent manner, and I will literally go out of my way to report your company (to places like the TPS, etc.) and get you in trouble.

So why would you bother? I simply can't believe that enough people who were on the TPS already then said "Oh, yes, so you're phoning unsolicited even though I've specifically opted-out of such communication and it's illegal, but now that you mention it, I *do* need my roof doing and I won't hold it against you at all" to make it profitable to do so.

"Hey, we have a list of people who literally don't want to do business with you"... I know! I'll ring them all and piss them off, that'll get me more business!

Post-lunch snooze plans dashed as the UK tests its Emergency Alerts... again

Lee D Silver badge

Yeah, ask the Americans about that.

As I said... 3am alerts for a missing vulnerable adult 600 miles away, in a category that you can't turn off.

If they can't keep their testing silent (there's no need for a test to actually alert a user, just have the handset acknowledge or display a message is fine), I don't hold out any hope that they'll categorise future alerts correctly (e.g. exactly like the Americans haven't done).

Lee D Silver badge

That's alright, because the first time I get one of those, my 4G SIM goes into the 4G router I can carry in my pocket and my phone goes into wifi only / no-SIM mode.

Still get data, still get texts, can still make calls (VoIP, etc.) but won't be bothered by other people's "tests", alerts or anything else because the router literally doesn't have a method to alert me (no speaker).

If you keep it for absolute and targeted emergencies, we're good. If we start getting that "wake the entire nation at 3am because of a vulnerable adult who's gone on a bus ride on their own" nonsense like America get, you can alert the inside of a silicon chip as far as I'm concerned.

Tech contractor loses IR35 tribunal appeal: 'Right' to substitute didn't mean he could, say judges

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Yet another push for us to all go work at Tesco

"that's more complicated for the client, who then becomes an employer for 3-6 months"

Gosh, if only they could afford to have an HR department when they're paying the guy £450 a day.

Seriously, it's a tax dodge. I don't care if it's temporary, part-time or whatever else. Pay the damn tax.

"I only work for clients for 3 months and then move on" does not somehow make you magically exempt to paying roughly the same amount of tax on that income as someone who's in the job for 4 months or gets sacked after a week.

EE and Three mobe mast surveyors might 'upload some virus' to London Tube control centre, TfL told judge

Lee D Silver badge

If someone can just put a USB stick in your system and do bad things, it's already insecure and you need to fix that.

Give me a (tax) break: UK broadband plumber Openreach to almost double the number of rural premises to receive FTTP

Lee D Silver badge

Re: It's hard to say this...

Meanwhile, just outside a MAJOR town inside the M25, literally a stone's throw from the huge town centre, surrounded by big posh houses and a main road, I gave up trying to get a landline and just bought a 4G stick and an unlimited data contract instead.

Not only is it cheaper to run each month, there's no contract, no install costs, and I can chop and change SIMs as much as I like if I'm unhappy. Oh, and it doesn't charge £160 + VAT which BT want to charge me to activate a landline, and they will only guarantee 4Mbps down, 1Mbps up (WHAT?! This is the 2020's!). My 4G gets 50 down and about 30 up consistently throughout the entire day including peak periods and I know that's just the local 4G because 5 minutes down the road in work the same SIM in the same device gets way more.

I know that some of the rollout is focusing on getting people SOMETHING while other parts are focused on improving what's there, but it's ridiculous in 2021 to be giving those kinds of prices and speeds when a wireless 4G connection outclasses it in every respect.

Meanwhile my parents on the other side of London, again in the middle of a HUGE town, their "wifi" (as they call it) is so terrible that I literally cannot log into a gaming service (e.g. Steam or Epic) because it just times out and throws you out of the game. They do not have a filter of any kind, the connection is just atrocious and they're paying quite a lot for it. Stuck my phone on 4G, hotspotted to it over wifi, got a better and more reliable connection instantly, played online for hours.

There needs to be a moving minimum standard, whether that's 8, 24, 100Mbps or whatever. It needs to evolve every year (so now the minimum is 115 or whatever), and they need to be judged on their compliance with it regularly. They know if the line is syncing at 10 or 12 Mbps, they don't need us to report it or independent companies to have to run apps and test boxes. And they only get their "subsidy" for any customer who is getting the minimum. And then set a ratio on "real world" versus line rate so they can't fudge the numbers.

And it has to be stated that every year, say, a 1% greater percentage of their customers must attain that target, including at least X% of new customers that had no connection before. This year 90%. Next year 91%. Next year 92%.

And then they wouldn't be able to "drop" people who technically have FTTC or whatever down to nothing shortly after installed, they'd have to keep improving the speed even after install, while wiring up those with nothing, etc.

App Tracking: Apps plead for users to press allow, but 85% of Apple iOS consumers are not opting in

Lee D Silver badge

Strange that. When I get the choice, I don't want it.

It's almost like when you force it on me without a choice, I didn't want it either.

Which? warns that more than 2 million Brits are on old and insecure routers – wagging a finger at Huawei-made kit

Lee D Silver badge

I've always binned the ISP router immediately, and then put in one of my own. There are literal standards for this, and any router of the supported ADSL/VDSL etc. standard is better than whatever junk they give you and then never update (and I'll update on MY schedule, thanks, not yours).

But to be honest, it's almost always easier to double-insulate and have a modem / modem-mode router going through to your real router (that firewalls off the other and provides LAN / Wifi etc.). Everything past my router I should be assuming is sniffable/compromisable anyway. The problem is I don't want stuff on my network sniffing and talking out and the only way to do that is to put a real barrier / firewall between the two. No, my ISP should not be deciding what can/can't happen on my local network, so they shouldn't be running my Wifi or my only "network switch" in their router that they control.

Currently, though, it's actually cheaper, faster and easier in my location to run a 4G modem direct into my own router. They can't update the firmware, they can't control what it does, and it still goes through my years-old firewall setup (with UPnP gateway features DISABLED from day one). And I just assume that everything outside my router is sniffing everything I do (e.g. DNSCrypt, VPN, HTTPS, etc.). You'd have to compromise the 4G modem, then you'd have to use that to attack the Internet side of my router, compromise that too, and then you'd have to get into my isolated VLANs to get close to my devices. And all my CCTV, home-automation, etc. junk is on a separate VLAN and SSID.

And then you'd have to get past the software firewall on my laptops etc. which is default-deny and treats the Wifi as an untrusted network on each device. And you wouldn't be able to use a DNS compromise as nothing refers to an outside DNS server anywhere along the way and results are verified.

I'm not saying it's invincible by any means but just running an ISP-controlled-router as your sole network-management device is just handing people who can't get into the 21st Century the keys to all your computers.

WTH are NFTs? Here is the token, there is the Beeple....

Lee D Silver badge

For reference:


Lee D Silver badge

Literally already been done, there is some (highly) illegal stuff stored in the Bitcoin etc. blockchains already and there's nothing you can do about it, which - yes - makes their legality of ownership of a copy of the blockchain questionable, and is permanently fixed in that branch of the blockchain forever.

When something is unmoderated, it will be abused.

When something is anonymous, it will be abused.

When something is unregulated, it will be abused.

The blockchains are already completely ignoring that problem.

It doesn't even matter whether it's the CSS decryption key or the most illegal kinds of pornography, if someone can get it in there, thereby using it as a third-party anonymous distribution method, then they will.

As pandemic buying continues, Chromebook shipments soared 275% in Q1, says analyst

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Beats me why.

Been working in schools and deploying Chromebooks for 7 years in their thousands. Chances of a device actually stopping working because Google switched it off: 0%. Chances of it being broke in between: 10%. Chances of the Chromebook being deemed obsolete on the asset registers before you get there: 100%

Pretty much any business or school has a 4-year replacement programme for devices like that, so who cares if it stops working in year 5/6/7. But, pretty much, they don't - Google only seem to stop the cheap Chinese junk, they still push updates for anything major-brand.

And given the price of them, I'd far rather buy you a new Chromebook every year than a new laptop every four years.

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

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Remember the 3G spectrum auction of 2020?

Or you could read the article and see they spent over a billion just on getting this far before this auction - and that's when they are still allowed to keep/reuse their 3G/4G spectrum for the most part.

This is a billion-dollar industry, and the frequency allocations are critical to customer satisfaction in terms of coverage and speed. The company behind Three alone is worth 10's of billions of dollars just by itself, not counting what money actually goes through it in the average year and is spent on actually providing its service.

It costs £5m per kilometre of undersea cable, for instance, so there is far, far, far more expenditure in dropping a few fibres between countries than the entire telecoms spectrum.

They wouldn't be paying this money if they didn't think they'd be getting it back, or if they could skimp on it and still beat their competitors.

Microsoft joins Bytecode Alliance to advance WebAssembly – aka the thing that lets you run compiled C/C++/Rust code in browsers

Lee D Silver badge

It's pretty cool. I love being able to target C99 and OpenGL at a browser target, with deep pointer arithmetic and tricks, and yet little code modification, you can do some amazing things with it.

But what will happen is that they'll "accelerate" it by removing the memory safety, or exposing devices or DMA to it, or something else stupid in order to gain on a benchmark, and then we'll all be back to square one where we might as well all be running Flash again.

Truth and consequences for enterprise AI as EU know who goes legal: GDPR of everything from chatbots to machine learning

Lee D Silver badge

I want to know how people can guarantee that some machine-learning thing trained on real data isn't including that real data inside itself in some way.

Imagine if, say, your home address was part of the training data for Alexa or something. How do you prove that it's not retrievable from the machine-learnt algorithm?

Home office setup with built-in boiling water tap for tea and coffee without getting up is a monument to deskcess

Lee D Silver badge

Buy a Tassimo / Nespresso.

Cheaper, problem solved.

Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4 now includes AMD options for biz customers, boasts up to 19 hours of battery life

Lee D Silver badge

Re: £999?

Wouldn't touch either.

Who the hell spends that much on a 13" model? I want a laptop, not a fecking smartphone.

FBI deletes web shells from hundreds of compromised Microsoft Exchange servers before alerting admins

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Whose bloody computer?


Don't run computers that let unauthorised people run commands on them.

This stops not only these kinds of actions, but also the problem in the first place.

While I agree that the responsibility should be your own, I see no reason with, say, permanently cutting off the Internet of infected machines at the ISP level until they are showing no more malicious traffic.

PlusNet in the UK used to block your web etc. access if they detected an open Samba port on your Internet-side. I think this is perfectly reasonable. I think it should be extended to "you're running a business mail server that's known-compromised and hasn't been patched in years", they just block your IP access and replace all HTTP pages with "Your network has been compromised, and as your ISP we have blocked your access. Contact us for information on how to resolve this block".

Maybe then people would wake up and fix their stuff in a timely manner.

Apple emits patches for iOS, macOS, Safari, etc to stop dodgy websites hijacking people's gadgets

Lee D Silver badge

Re: But... but...

Macs literally have AFS, NFS and SMB/CIFS support, so in fact they have MORE methods of transmission across a local network. In fact, it's required to enable the latter if you join it to an AD, like almost all corporate Macs are.

This kind of ignorance is dangerous.

Or do Mac people never use networks, NAS devices, iSCSI drives etc.?

Apple's latest macOS Big Sur update stops cheapo USB-C hubs bricking your machine

Lee D Silver badge

USB-C is a complex protocol.

It's basically 5V USB, but if you ask for more it can give you 9, 12, even 20 volts.

But that's not different to how USB always was - technically you only get 500mA on even the oldest USB but you're supposed to ask for it first. Most old USB chargers just push you 5V whether you ask for it or not (that way, they don't need a chip). If you want higher USB currently, you're *definitely* supposed to ask for it, but many USB chargers just shove 2A down the line and the electronics sorts itself out (you can't "give" something more current than it's asking for). This then leads to devices that want 2A but don't ask for it (because they're being cheap on the electronics) and then they fail when they only get a proper USB's 500mA only, etc.

Enter USB-C and you can't just shove 5V down it and hope for the best... you need to negotiate as many devices take advantage of the 20V (which results in nearly 100W of power) and only use the 5V initialisation to negotiate and nothing else. Hence USB-C chargers can't avoid having to do the negotiation.

But if you cheap out, or your cables aren't designed for it, then that negotiation doesn't take place and you're shoving 100W down a cable that's not certified for it, to a device that's only expecting 5V, and you have problems if they haven't taken account of it.

Most cheap $1 USB-C negotiation chips just handle the situation - they negotiate, provide only the power asked for, and operate over whatever power comes in even if it's not what was asked for (e.g. if something just shoves 20V down the line, which is a dangerous assumption as classic USB devices will be blown to smithereens). For charging ports, especially, they should be able to handle whatever comes in on whatever voltage so long as it's within USB-C power limits, but obviously some don't. Like Apple. And chargers *should* negotiate all power above 2.5W @ 5V. But they don't seem to, or they seem to do it poorly and in a way that makes assumptions they shouldn't.

It's a poor show on Apple to have a chip that can't safely handle 100W. It's a poor show on the charger's part to - say - only ever negotiate 100W @ 20V supply and ignore any possible refusal from the controller at the other end (USB-C is basically bidirectional, the same port can both receive and supply all voltages with the right negotiation).

Rule: Don't buy cheap junk... whether it's an overpriced Apple or not.

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

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Mobile to save the day?

£20 - unlimited data SIM with Smarty (based on Three network), with a stated 1000GB/month fair use after which they will slow you down a bit. Unlimited free calls, texts.

Been with them for three years on 2 different SIMs (one in my phone, one running my entire house as a broadband replacement - including access to my local network cameras, services, media, streaming my TV direct from my house, etc.)

When I moved into this place three years ago, and the broadband was still talking in single-digit Mbps, I didn't even bother to activate the phone line. For less than most people pay for their phone line and broadband, I have two unlimited data SIMs, free calls on two different phone numbers, decent speeds on both, complete mobility and a recurring month-to-month contract so I'm not tied in at all.

If BT kill copper, it'll be replaced by 4G/5G, not by fibre (though presumably most 4G/5G masts are running fibre leased line or radio-relaying to one that does?).

Does Samsung want you to buy new phones? Asking 'cos Galaxies now get four years of security updates

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Pointless

The XCover series all have replaceable batteries.

Lee D Silver badge

And the XCover series including the Pro... Cool.

It took me about 4 years to find myself a suitable phone to finally upgrade to a modern Android, and I wasn't expecting it to get more than a year or two of updates.

Microsoft admits some Azure, Exchange, Intune source code snaffled in SolarWinds schemozzle

Lee D Silver badge

"Microsoft admits some Azure, Exchange, Intune source code snaffled"

The next day they receive a note from the thieves with "You can keep this junk" written on it.

Oh, and a patch for the 20 security flaws they found just glancing at it.

Another reprieve for exhausted IT admins: Looks like there are no whizzbangers in Windows 10 21H1

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Good

I assume you're trying to be facetious.

Wanna tell me how you're going to access a device without a hardware device driver for it?

Or are you expecting all drivers to be user-space (good luck with that!)?

Controller input support, especially where it differs from USB / Bluetooth HID standards, is most definitely operating system territory. Even if the actual userspace driver and/or userspace use of that device isn't.

The question is: Do you want to rely on a third-party driver from the hardware manufacturer to let you use it, or have a device driver in the OS that'll work forever more, supported by the operating system manufacturer.

Be careful of your answer, because there may well be examples of the latter that you'll regret losing.

P.S. "support" does not even mean "it'll work". It means it's technically possible to use the device, not that there's complete top-to-bottom OS integration for it.

Virgin Media adds 200% to its new broadband contracts in 2020, slips back in black (just)

Lee D Silver badge

Re: some in, some out

SMARTY - Three-backed company, expressly allow tethering in their T&Cs, 1000Gb/month before they do anything to you traffic-wise (stated in one of their brochures on the subject) and then it's just a speed limit, not a block.

Been with them two years, never had a problem, and have easily done 1000Gb in a month.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: some in, some out

I pay £15 a month for 30Mbps on 4G, unlimited data (traffic shaping only after 1000Gb in a month, explicitly stated).

If I lived at my workplace 10 minutes away, I'd get 80Mbps with the same kit (I know, because I tried... little battery-powered 4G Wifi boxes are only about £50), and I ended up buying a second SIM to go in my phone so I test it quite often.

Between Christmas and now I have downloaded some 3Tb. Upload speeds are enough that I literally stream my FreeviewHD TV to my phone wherever I am, and it works flawlessly, even while others are accessing content (I have family in Spain that like to watch UK TV).

And when it goes wrong, I just change the SIM and/or failover to something else (I have a Draytek 4G-capable router and though 4G is supposed to be the "backup", it's just my primary connection and could use Ethernet, VDSL2, etc. as the backup if I so wanted).

I would seriously look at what 4G speeds you get on certain networks, and have a look at whether you can get a 4G home connection and/or a SIM and a decent 4G Wifi box. Even an antenna that would fix to the house is only about £20 extra if your signal isn't great or you need to "point" it a certain direction for it to work.

No, I'm not in Central London, but neither am I out in the sticks. I'm in a suburb and there is no VM connection at all in my road, and the only provider is BT who could only promise me "up to 4Mbps" when I checked it out a couple of years ago. I didn't even bother to activate the phone line for that, and just bought straight into 4G after testing it. I've had the 4G connection about 3 years now, and between my router and my phone, it costs me £30 and is the only connection to the Internet that I have ever needed. I VPN into home from abroad or elsewhere regularly and sit and watch live and pre-recorded HD TV all the time, send files back and forth, offer services to relatives over that line, etc. etc.

Recovery time objective missed by four weeks, but Parler is back online

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Who's the audience?

Cancel culture is a company cutting you off when you explicitly break their T&Cs on which their service to you is conditional.

Don't like it, set up a company without those T&Cs. See how long it lasts, before you're having to moderate, cancel accounts in the same way, or sued to oblivion under laws that have existed for decades by facilitating hate speech, etc.

"Cancel culture" is the phrase used by people who expect service from companies who don't want to provide those kind of people with that kind of service, even for money. It's like the playground-phrase used when someone doesn't want to do something stupid in concert with the speaker, so they just call them out as "cancel culture" when in fact the other person just doesn't want to do what you want them to do.

"Cancel culture" used to be called "violation of the terms of service". And the terms of service haven't changed much in decades.

UK watchdog fines two firms £270k for cold-calling 531,000 people who had opted out

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Reporting calls


But they can just write you a letter.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Reporting calls

Yep. ICO or even Ofcom. It's a bit of a faff but there's a webform for either that will direct you to the right place. And if you're on TPS you can complain to TPS directly too.

It won't stop those kinds of calls, but it'll limit them somewhat.

Far easier is to just configure your phones better - unless you know the number, have it silently push to a voicemail. If you know the number, have it ring as normal. That's really easy on mobile (and no app required), easy on SIP and available on traditional landlines if you pay (but, to be honest, just get a mobile phone SIM, virtual office or a SIP line and live in the 21st Century a bit).

I'd rather not rely on some third-party to police that for me, to be honest, and just have a system that works for me rather than tries to sell me out and then expects me to pay to keep that away. I've used two mobile SIMs, one for the last 20 years on the cheapest calls package, for years, one kept utterly private, and never bothered with a landline number at all. I get basically no spam. What I do get rings off silently into nothing and doesn't disturb me, while my contacts get straight through to me.

I also have a SIP account with its own number and, hell, even Skype can give you a number for a tiny monthly amount now. They'll never stop all the Indian / Asian / Cayman Islands etc. ones because they are just out of their jurisdiction, so just have your phone send them silently to voicemail or even just to a permanently-ringing extension (which is what my phone does... if you want to hear from me genuinely, you'll realise after the 10th ring and just text me instead).

Don't pay the people creating the problem money, with "Caller ID Blocking" charges, etc. on your BT line. That's just dumb. You're just paying them to solve the problem they created. Just start using a number on your mobile or move to IP phones (so even your house phone can just be a IP extension). I have one SIM for work (10+ years of self-employment, 10+ years of general usage on top), one for personal, neither ring unless it's someone I know and the personal number almost nobody knows. They're even on different networks, so if one stops working, I can just switch to using the other.

And for business, virtual office numbers are dirt-cheap and a real live human answers your calls like a secretary, with your company name, just takes a message, and then sends it to you some other way.

Lee D Silver badge

Why would you try to call numbers who have literally said they don't want to hear from you? What a waste of your precious sales-call time!

I'm on TPS and have moved several friends and relatives to it, I have to say, it does make a significant difference almost overnight even if it's not perfect.

People get confused, though, when they then put their number on something and it later gets rung by that company - that's allowed. You gave them permission by giving them your number and not ticking the right boxes. It's only unsolicited calls that are affected.

In the last 20 years, my main number hasn't changed at all (I always used my mobile number for everything) and I get next-to-zero spam, and when I do, it's obviously illegal stuff: calls from far-away countries that I've never dealt with, and never leave a message. They just ring out silently on my phone, because they're not in my contacts list and then I choose whether or not to call them back after later Googling them.

But I don't get the point of calling people who have literally opted out. They're least likely to want to hear from you, and most likely to file a complaint. It just seems dumb.

Does it cost much to check that list of numbers against TPS or something? Is it prohibitive so they just don't bother and risk a fine? Because it seems stupid not to.

48-hour strike action: Openreach repayment project engineers confirm it's on

Lee D Silver badge

By contrast, I work in a highly-unionised industry and I refuse to sign up to them, mainly because to do so would jeopardise my privately-negotiated salary.

And, working in IT, running the finance system, and therefore party to a lot of HR/Finance data - at random, and inadvertently, only as problems arise - means that I know I'm not being conned or just being led into thinking that.

At a previous workplace, the top man literally had to scream and shout at a local government office because they - and I quote - "didn't have a payscale that went that high" when it came to that place employing me directly after having had them as a customer for 7 years when self-employed. They literally had to create a borough-wide payscale, with a unique code, just for me that hadn't existed before. They informally asked us to keep that quiet "because the unions would go mad".

Sorry, but unions often just reduce everything to the lowest common denominator. I'll negotiate my own salary, terms and conditions based on basic employment law, desirability of my services over alternatives, and what I need to be properly rewarded for the job. I've never been replaced by someone "doing the same job for less", but I have replaced several people by "doing the same job better, for more money".

Some of the people I work with will happily boast about their current level on the payscale (despite silencing conditions in their contracts) and I have to bite my lip knowing that - compared to private industry, literal identical workplaces, or even just equivalent work elsewhere - they are being conned into thinking it's a good salary because it's high up the payscale and higher than their colleagues who are a level below them and have no responsibilities at all.

Unionisation is just equalisation, for the most part. Fact is, some people are better at their jobs than others, hence more desirable, hence more retainable, and you shouldn't need to "promote" people by giving them unrelated or unsuitable responsibilities, while tearing them from the job they are far better at, in order to retain them anywhere near market rates.

Dev creeped out after he fired up Ubuntu VM on Azure, was immediately approached by Canonical sales rep

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Meh.

https://www.primelocation.com/for-sale/commercial/details/57416358 for reference.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Meh.

Funny you should say that, I was seriously looking at an old plot of land up for sale in Cornwall which housed a former Navy nuclear monitoring station. Literally just a hole in the ground with a bed and a vent, and a small plot to go with it.

Was thinking it would make an ideal "second server" location, with a few solar panels, and even a bed for the night should I decide to drive round Cornwall when things are all back to normal.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Meh.

Yep. Currently resisting cloud migrations, I don't see them as anything other than a 3rd-party inserting themselves between you and your data. The number of "we run everything, even our AD, on Azure" companies is scary. And they *PAY* to do so, which baffles me.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, coming from the era of the Speccy, but to me having even (or especially) a large company like Microsoft or Canonical or Google inserted into everything you do is just a recipe for one day having a huge multi-national compromise.

I don't get why people think that that won't happen, given the history of computer security in general, and the security of certain data at large institutions specifically. Why do we just assume that the big names can't fail? It's like the banks all over again.

So I have my own stuff, at home, my own rented dedicated servers, run my own email, and I buy products without cloud integration as much as possible. The irony is that my personal life is therefore more "secure" than my professional life where I'm increasingly being required to hand over data and control to all kinds of third-parties.

Microsoft's underwhelming, underpowered dual-screen Surface Duo phone arrives in the UK this month for £1,349

Lee D Silver badge

Re: My evil hauwai phone...

I have a 17" laptop, it fits snuggly into a basic thin rucksack (I have an old one someone gave me years ago that's made specifically for laptops, but the kids all have them nowadays for their Chromebooks, etc.).

Previously have taken a 17" laptop with me every day to work for about 10 years, but I bought my own since and that stays away from work, but it comes with me on the airplane as a carry-on with a ton of food shoved in the main pocket whenever I go on holiday, it comes with me to relative's houses (when not in lockdown), I take it camping, I take it on games nights etc.

17" is *not* a huge laptop. It's not heavy.

And, like the OP, I tether mine to my phone, which cost a fraction of this junk, has dual-SIM and an unlimited-4g-data SIM in it (£18 a month). I could also use the little Huawei 4G Wifi box I have in the laptop bag with a similar SIM, but I'm using my 2nd SIM to run my entire house Internet for the last three years.

This stuff is just over-priced junk. In a small rucksack, literally the kind of thing you could give a kid to take to school and nowhere near heavy, or bulky, or awkward, and a mid-range Samsung phone I basically can do anything from game online to work remotely to watch hours of movies on a plane.

Hell, when going abroad, I often shove my phone in the rucksack so that I can pass security and it stays in there offering out a private Wifi while I use the laptop to pass the time in the airport.

It's 2021. Phones that "do everything" are commodity. 17" laptops are the default. Gaming laptops can kick most people's PC's backsides.

Hell, apart from a couple of Raspberry Pi's offering services like TV NVR, I don't use any other PCs in my own home. Same laptop, same phone. The only difference is that at home I have a 4G SIM running the house wifi, but the phone is capable of the same (the reason I have two is that the phone is then able to connect back to my home wherever I am, and pick up my home TV recordings, movies, CCTV, etc.)

As the OP says, mid-range phone and a laptop, and you basically have everything you need.

Lee D Silver badge

Two apps simultaneously is a standard feature of modern Android anyway.

Just buy a decent (or large) Samsung phone and learn how to use it.


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