* Posts by Lee D

3554 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013

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

Lee D Silver badge

I don't mind them making money.

I don't mind them selling the product.

But don't mess with the description of the software, pretend it's anything other than an open-source project, or have plans like this behind the scenes without including the community.

I would now literally prefer someone to fork it with another name that does nothing more than take LibreOffice, remove the names and junk like this, and then put it on another website. All because you tried to hide it.

The irony: I have in the past, and would again, pay you money for LibreOffice. I would support fundraisers. I'd pay for a "LibreOffice CD" or whatever. I'd donate just to keep you guys open.

But you already have a strategy that doesn't include things like that.

You decided already.

So I've decided. If that junk is in the next version I download, I go looking for an alternate or stay on the previous version.

I use a ton of OS projects with viable commercial offerings of the same code on the same website by the same company with the same name. Just do that. Don't try and make one software look "worse" to make yours look better when that software is actually "ours"... because I have the source on my hard drive.

£40m wasna enough for ink and toner cartridges in public sector, says Scottish government

Lee D Silver badge

Re: So why do people print stuff out still?

You find an answer to that, you let me know.

I just had to tell a school teaching department that they are using three times the printing of the next nearest department.

They were wondering why they don't have a budget. Because of covid, etc., the budget for the entire subject is now literally less than their printing budget on its own.

Bonus: It's not even Art or English or something that you might expect to do a lot of printing.

Modern 2020 school, with huge fees, complete remote operation for the last few months, and yet we're paying thousands upon thousands for printing, and churning through dozens of trees.

In one of my previous schools, there was one printer. That was it. Everything went to the one printer. And because you had to walk to the printer to pick things up, and large jobs tied up the printer, nobody ever used it or needed to use it.

University ordered to stop running women-only job ads

Lee D Silver badge

Positive discrimination is still discrimination.

Equality is equally (sorry!) not "we have 50% female staff".

Now... I describe my stance as pro-underdog. I get that women are getting a duff deal and aren't on an even footing. But I don't see that shoving them into jobs where they haven't competed on an equal basis to get them is doing anyone any favours. The same for disabled, minorities, etc.

If you put women in the position in preference to men, in order to try to maintain some artificial ratio, that's just going to make people resent them, which will make their jobs harder.

Fred and Philis both apply for the same job, same experience, same qualifications, etc. Philis gets it "because we need more women"? No.

If you want to do this, and do it properly - double-blind interviews. Have the candidates prepare a CV and then strip age, gender, name (often indicator of gender) out of it entirely. The HR department provide made-impartial CVs with code numbers. They're reviewed by an interview panel, and a list of code numbers are invited to interview. HR doesn't even need to know the code-numbers! It could all be automated - "#6 is through to the next stage, send Stage 2 email to invite them to interview".

The candidates are invited to interview, but not in-person. I mean, it's 2020. Live-chat it. They can do that from the HR department if necessary - candidate comes in, someone verifies their identity, sticks them in front of a computer, the people actually *interviewing* have no idea who they are interviewing but get a chat window to ask questions.

You know it's the candidate and not someone else.

They still have to think on their feet and provide answers to arbitrary questions.

You still have their CV to refer to.

It removes all indicators that they are maybe a stutterer, in a wheelchair, have a birthmark, are blind even, black, a woman, whatever it is that you don't want to be accused of discriminating against.

If they have to interview from home for whatever reason, send your HR person to them with a laptop. Nobody will ever know. And if their physical condition doesn't affect the ability to do the job... who cares? Nobody can discriminate against you on that basis.

And if you have difficulty with keyboards, dyslexia etc. - well HR can transcribe what you say for you if it's not affecting the job you're being asked to do.

Maybe the HR section can then make a sanitised recommendation based on the other tangible factors, say, attire worn to interview, visible tattoos, pleasant greeting, whatever it is that you want to look at. And then any statement that needs to be made that is relevant to the job is revealed later: "This person is unable to walk or lift heavy items". "#6 was pleasant, well-dressed (without saying what in), arrived early."

Then this literally isolates you legally in terms of discrimination. There's nothing more you could possibly do. You'd never have a lawsuit again and could provide all kinds of historical data to prove it. Hell, it might even reveal internal prejudices - how many candidates were rejected and were female? How many candidates were rejected but didn't have a degree? Gather that data, analyse it, and it tells you whether people just weren't suited to the job (but just happened to be female) or whether you were subconsciously rejecting perfectly-fitting candidates just because they were female before.

It's this "I'm a better judge of someone face-to-face" nonsense that really kills a company's workforce. I've worked with any number of people who can convince people of anything, but are useless at the job. Because they were interviewed face-to-face and were "our kind" of people.

Think how many prejudices you could weed out almost instantly. From "This guy has a lisp" to "This guy is paraplegic". Who cares? Can he do the job?

Three UK: We're sending you this SMS to warn you not to pay attention to unsolicited texts

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Typical

Most of them won't address you by name or even include the account number in the email now. Just in case an email goes astray to the wrong address and they get done under GDPR, one assumes.

My Amazon Mastercard is like that. The emails are non-descript and, rightly, just ask you to log into your account to view your statement.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Can you explain...

I got this too... see my post below.

Lee D Silver badge

Couple of weeks ago I got a text to an unpublished number - literally the first outside text ever received on it.

It was from Three saying that "MyThree" account was ready and I needed to click the link.

Strange, because I'm not with Three.

That was followed, ten minutes later, by a text thanking me for activating my MyThree account.

I contacted Three, and my real provider - Smarty. Now, Smarty uses Three networks but even they said I was right to ask as Three should never send me any messages and I wouldn't be able to use MyThree with their numbers anyway. Three were quite dismissive, but they did ask for a screenshot. They said it looked scammy.

But, to the casual user, you would have got an SMS from "Three" (no number or other details available because who the hell needs that, right?) that looked like someone was in your account or that you needed to do something. And if you were on a Three-partnered network, that could well have been something you thought you needed to click on.

But at no point did they bother to look at my account (both companies acted only on screenshots/what I told them) to try to determine the source of this text and/or stop someone sending a text claiming to be Three to their customers.

At that point, I just think that it's partly their fault. There's no way for a half-intelligent user to know that the SMS wasn't genuine. Now they shouldn't click links, but the links went via a Three redirector, from what I can see, and looked like links to three.co.uk (I'm not going to click them to find out, but everything "looks" genuine). And they take no efforts to stop such anonymous texts being sent to their customers. They just took a screenshot off me, said "We didn't send that" and told me not to click it.

I wouldn't mind but I've had that number for several months now (it's the data contract on a dual-SIM phone with my real number, so it never gets used except for data) - and that was the first ever text received in all those months.

Something's going on at Three - and they're not doing very much about fixing it.

Euro police forces infiltrated encrypted phone biz – and now 'criminal' EncroChat users are being rounded up

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Use offline encryption/decryption

We have encryption with perfect forward secrecy (so even the encrypted text and the stolen-afterwards private key does not reveal what the message contained).

Any criminal who's just paying a French company for a "secure phone", the same as his mate's "secure phone" is the low-hanging fruit of those who are communicating secretly and don't wish the police to know about it.

Lee D Silver badge

And they can get that metadata by just watching you and him for an afternoon and see if you're both on the phone at the same time.

You can't stop the metadata, but you can't convict on its basis alone.

I have a friend who's close to all the local villains in his area. Does phoning him mean I'm planning something? No, I'm phoning the guy who used to live next to my parents when I was a kid and we were good friends with.

If the metadata is convictable, they don't care about the encryption at all. If it's not, then they need the encrypted data. Either way, you've lost/won just the same.

And, sorry, but no court in the land will convict you *solely* on the basis of being in communication with even the head of the local mafia. The guy could have murdered someone, and then phoned me for a chat, it doesn't mean anything and isn't convictable without a body of evidence that I was actually involved and not just used as an unwitting alibi.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: But private ciphers also exist...even if end-to-end encryption is broken.......

This is what annoys me.

With any half-decent modern encryption, you can publish the cipher text full-page in the Daily Mail for all you care. Nobody should be able to read it. And nobody should be able to "encrypt" anything and claim to be the other side without access to the private key (and, if you have a brain, passphrase too).

Using tech like this would just make me flag you up instantly as someone to watch, if I was doing their job. But you could just send a bog-standard email with a PGP encrypted section on the bottom and exchange public keys with people and it would be basically impossible to crack. Any "compromised" user... just doesn't give up their passphrase.

And with things like perfect-forward secrecy, you can even get schemes where complete compromise of the key does not reveal historically encrypted messages.

The metadata is always present anyway. But without the message it's nothing more than coincidence, and proving that in court is hard to do.

Somewhere there are bunches of mafiosa just encrypting their stuff offline with a basic AES tool, merging the data into an image, and then attaching them to an email or hiding them in DNS lookups or whatever (hey, DNS lookup of an unpublished sub-domain, using DNSSEC/DNS-o-HTTP... that seems pretty secure to me to hold a message inside - and if you didn't know the sub-domain to query, I don't think nameservers will give them up... and if it's encrypted you couldn't snoop them), and are completely off the radar.

Purism's quest against Intel's Management Engine black box CPU now comes in 14 inches

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Assertions that ME is a backdoor

Irony: Some idiot will buy one of these and then slap an antivirus program on it.

Never knowingly under-digitally transformed: Retailer John Lewis outsources tech function to Wipro

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Won't be shopping in John Lewis any more...

"I'm going to pay a middle-man to employ the same staff I used to employ, pay the same tax and pensions as I would have to, to provide the same service, but subject to *their* service levels (i.e. 5pm, we're done mate), when they have dozens of other customers, then add on 20% for their profit margins, who after a year will get rid of all the expensive staff and replace them with minimum wage drones."

Sorry, but outsourcing never made any sense to me at all, unless you're the outsourcing company and getting 20% for doing a job that someone else could have done for themselves anyway.

It's like a homeowner paying a guy to put out their bins. More money than sense.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: That will be 244 people looking for a job very soon

High street is dead.

Just look at the news, another shop-chain going bankrupt, even far before covid, etc.

My town's offering are now pathetic (they were carbon-copies of every other town), Intu is dead so all the big ones are disappearing.

My old street had no less than 4 bookies and 5 pharmacies on it. For a road about half a mile long. The rest were charity shops (basically to fill otherwise-empty shops?), delivery takeaways (by definition can operate from anywhere), and things like estate agents (do people still use those?). Oh, and one cafe that was never open when I go past it but looked to still be in business.

High street was wounded a long time ago by online shopping, hasn't recovered, won't recover and is just in its death-throes. Covid might well be the straw that broke the camels back.

And I can't say I'll miss what it's turned into. I'd much rather all those places were converted to houses and we just spent money online.

Sorry, but I want 24-hour opening, even on a Sunday, or online delivery. It's 2020. I also want to be able to fecking park somewhere near things. That's almost impossible now.

Cafes, restaurants - maybe slightly more desirable - but you can just group them together in one place.

I foresee out-of-town retail parks, with bowling or whatever (cinema will die?), huge supermarkets and a food court, and 10,000 parking spaces. And that's it. Everything in town will just be houses.

One map to rule them all: UK's Ordnance Survey rolls out its Data Hub and the juicy API goodness that lies therein

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Could this become the official UK postcode and address database?

I'd really rather myself (or my courier/parcel) be "lost" within a few hundred metres of my destination because we confused some similar-sounding words than quite literally be unable to determine where on the planet it should have gone without any accuracy at all.

Close verbal matches isn't the problem (you just eliminate "bat" and don't include it or any rhyming word in the system). It's that there's no *order*. "band" and "banana" should be close together, but sound completely unique.

And as soon as we get into such things, then grid references make far more sense for all purposes.

To be honest, you can pretty much text anyone a GPS lat/lon now and they can usually click on it and load it in Google Maps, or a satnav app. Why we needed an extraneous system to "simplify" that in three out of 40,000 possible words (to cover the ocean), each of which is 5+ characters long, I can't fathom.

It's like domain names and IPs. Nobody needs to type in a domain themselves nowadays, or use an IP address. You just send each other a contact detail with the info and let the computers do the work for you. That's kind of their purpose.

Introducing non-ubiquitous, app-requiring, proprietary formats of any kind to add to that confusion is just silly.

Have literally never sent, received, needed or even seen a real-world use of W3W. But I can text my dad a lat/lon and my GPS tracker sends me a Google Maps link with the same info (even inside a .kml if it's live-tracing), and all my favourites on my satnav are shared to the cloud, and all my contacts on my phone have their address so I can just navigate to them if necessary.

It's yet-another-service that the people you want to have it just won't have.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Could this become the official UK postcode and address database?

So now you have two standards.

Three if you count GPS (accurate to within 1m for most phones nowadays).

Four if you include OS map co-ordinate (way good enough for mail delivery).

XKCD will tell you the next step:


Lee D Silver badge

Re: Could this become the official UK postcode and address database?

My problem with W3W is that even if you remember the three words but put them in the wrong order, you end up on the other side of the planet if you're lucky.

And if you mis-remember the words, you end up somewhere entirely random.

At least with a postcode if you misremember (or the equipment misreads) "W1" as "W2", it stands a chance of still being delivered. With W3W it could be sent ANYWHERE in the country (if you're lucky).

W3W was a great idea but mixing up the words used for adjacent locations, essentially at random, was a stupid idea. "cat egg banana" should be somewhere near "cat egg band" and maybe even "bat egg banana".

One does not simply repurpose an entire internet constellation for sat-nav, but UK might have a go anyway

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Look, they couldn't even cobble together a...

If you mess up a government project, they pay you more to carry on fixing it.

If you keep messing it up, nobody else will touch it so you have a guaranteed income for life.

It's really just a case of following the money. Capita, Serco, etc. - all those places that supply such services operate on the same basis. Get the contract. Throw something out. Spin it down the road long enough that they have moved over and can't abandon it, then provide "fixes" for just slightly cheaper than it would cost to throw the whole thing out and start again. Guaranteed income for decades.

Government Gateway, HMRC, DVLA, Universal benefits, the NHS, schools, all kinds - all in the same trap. And all kept there because certain government ministers can't write a get-out-clause in a contract, especially when they part-own the company in question.

HS2 heading the same way. The NHS app.

If you write something and it actually works, and is good, clean, transportable code, then they could go to ANYONE next year. Write a piece of junk and jam it in quick enough and you have a company income guaranteed for years to come.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: "quantum compass technology"

"The argument for a positioning system, particularly for splashing big sums of cash on it, usually relies also on the civilian navigation aspects, for which we only need UK coverage."

And there are four/five independent, open, free, existing and around-in-the-future system which cover the entire world to that purpose. That's *not* why people keep putting up their own.

And Switzerland literally paid for access to Galileo despite not being in the EU. They just paid, not very much in the grand scheme of things, and got the same as EU members. We refuse to. (And Switzerland helped build it, just like we did!).

It's nothing to do with civilian navigation. All the networks literally give that away as a natural consequence of the technology. It's to do with the value-added features. Everything from search-and-rescue (your boat beacon literally talking to the satellites to announce its position, and receiving notification of help being on the way, which "civilian GPS " cannot do), military, greater accuracy (1cm), encryption, anti-spoofing, and uses for GPS that extend far beyond mere point location (geodesy).

We literally get the civilian navigation NO MATTER WHAT. It's given away. We get it whether we are in Galileo or not. I literally have it now. That's *not* what the UK is trying to replace. The bit it is trying to replace is the literal reason that people pay GNSS manufacturers for the technology - the only thing of actual commercial/military/government value, the thing that's hard to do and costs a fortune, and the bit you don't want to give your enemies.

And that's what we don't have, haven't bought, won't pay the EU for, and for which we bought a satellite system that literally isn't capable of that at this time (and likely never would be).

This is not about your satnav or crashing your boat into the island you didn't see. That's literally just sitting there for us to use. It's about the things you'd use in times of war (encrypted, unspoofable signals, accurate enough to guide a missile - GPS shuts off above certain speeds/heights deliberately!, encrypted communication of a location back to a country [e.g. special forces requesting a pickup after being off the radar for weeks], etc.).

The exact things we don't have, and have bought a system that doesn't do them.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: "quantum compass technology"

Trident: "is guided using an inertial navigation system combined with a star tracker, and is not dependent on the American-run Global Positioning System (GPS)."

It would be incredibly stupid to tie use of a nuclear deterrent to a couple of vulnerable satellites in publicly-announced orbits.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: "quantum compass technology"

I have a normal, ordinary, Samsung phone that receives US GPS, GLONASS, Beidou and Galileo. Now. Today. 1m accuracy, to be upgraded to 1cm when the Galileo constellation officially "goes live", I believe.

You can buy off-the-shelf chips with all four supported now, for pence.

It's nothing to do with satnav/location finding. It's to do with the extra-added-functionality - military, search-and-rescue, two-way comms, encrypted authenticated GPS that can't be spoofed, etc.

Galileo is free to use for you and I, and our TomTom. It's not that for which we paid millions to put into place, because we already have that. It's the other stuff that we *don't* have without reliance on the US and paying people lots of money.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Why Galileo?

It's the out-of-the-ordinary usage that's affected.

GPS is available to all - to a certain resolution and on a one-way basis (i.e. you can recieve "your location" but you can't talk back to the satellites).

UNLESS you pay for the military, commercial shipping, aviation, etc. services offered by the same network. Which are more accurate, have other features, etc. etc. etc.

Same for Galileo - I have it here, now, in my phone, receiving my location literally as I speak. That can't / won't go away.

But the commercial element, the highly-accurate, military, etc. services won't be available to us because we signed a deal that said "EU members get these features" and we're no longer an EU member.

P.S. Galileo is not officially in full service but is already providing a better signal than GPS. They've had one outage of any substance. Which is amazing for a GNSS that's not even finished. But there are enough things in orbit, and the free services are already functional, that it's more than good enough for your satnav or phone to use.

(All GNSS are the same - I don't pay the Chinese a penny, but I have Beidou. Or the Russians, but I have GLONASS. What I don't have are things like the emergency, military, etc. systems which I would have to pay for).

It's nothing to do with "satnav". That's literally a freebie that everyone in the world gets thrown in. It's all those other extra-added-value services that we're locked out of and don't want to pay the EU again for (which is kinda right... we did pay to put most of them in... we just need better contract drafting lawyers!).

LibreOffice slips out another 7.0 beta: Spreadsheets close gap with Excel while macOS users treated to new icons

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Any news of a Libre_mail client

I would like to know too.

I'm still running Opera 8 (?) purely to collect and sort email (I moved on to other things for my browser, and the "new" Operas have basically abandoned mail functionality.

Massive SQLite database underneath it with 20 years worth of email over a dozen accounts, searchable in a trice.

Tried everything - even Pegasus Mail at one point. Can't find anything that I can get on with or that is as fast when searching that amount of email. An LO alternative to Outlook would be great.

'It's really hard to find maintainers...' Linus Torvalds ponders the future of Linux

Lee D Silver badge

Re: I wonder why?

No problem.

You be nice to everyone and then take responsibility for when your sign-off appears on a 0-day, root-level compromise of the entire world's back-end systems.

Or when it BUG()s in the middle of a driver code because the driver author was too lazy to use the proper path to print debug information (hint: BUG instantly crashes the kernel, with no hope of recovery - no production driver should EVER contain the macro BUG for anything). Which was literally one of those patches commented as such. Yes, that one-line debug script would literally instantly stop millions of machines at a random time if it had hit mainstream deployment, which means data loss on an epic scale, not to mention loss of service.

Sorry, but if you can't handle criticism of such idiocy - however delivered - when you're in charge of even a small part of the world's most widely-deployed and widest-scope OS, then that's the least of your problems.

Especially when - in every case listed - such stupendously ridiculous code was pushed through several levels of review and maintainers and ended up nearly being pulled into the kernel before it was noticed how ridiculous some of it was (e.g. including their untested code in every single kernel config by default because they didn't know how to make a patch, and nobody bothered to check, etc.)

Apple said to be removing charger, headphones from upcoming iPhone 12 series

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Low-voltage DC is just USB now

There's a reason for that - 24W is barely enough to turn those kinds of things on, let alone operate-and-charge at the same time. Even my old laptop would fail to charge on certain 19v chargers - it would accept them, but if you did anything vaguely interesting, the battery charge would fall WHILE it was running on mains... you just need more oomph.

Now, granted, it should warn about that scenario, but there's no way on earth you're ever going to power a laptop in any fashion from an ordinary 500ma/1A/2A USB cable. The voltage is only 5v, for a start, which is not enough to charge a 17/18v battery at all, no matter the current - the physics just isn't there. There's a reason we have 19v chargers and why USB-C's high-power mode is 20v. You'd actually be better off with a PoE charger... at least that can hit 47v!

Phones generally only have a 3.7v or thereabouts battery. That's why they can trickle-charge from just about anything. Hell, you could arrange three AA's and it would charge.

Without voltage transformers (which cause even more loss of power), there's no way "ordinary" USB can charge something like a laptop, especially not if it's running at the same time.

You need the "full" charger, as you say, which is one that provides the 20v negotiation. Not all chargers, cables or devices are capable of utilising it - it was a much later standard and required complete hardware redesign and extra chippery to manage it.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Low-voltage DC is just USB now

USB-C can deliver 100W.

A lot of modern gaming laptops use USB-C as their only power source.

More than enough for a LCD TV and most other things you mention. USB shavers and toothbrushes already exist. My clock radio actually is a USB charger too. Lights, especially LED lights, are way within USB range.

Lee D Silver badge

I bought a new phone recently and one of the reasons for that was that I'm moving everything from microUSB to USB-C.

So far I have two battery packs (including torch) with both USB-C and microUSB charging, and a USB and USB-C output, a USB-C phone, adaptors from USB->USB-C and vice versa, a USB-C -> HDMI/VGA/Ethernet/Audio/4xUSB/SDcard adaptor, a USB-C fast charger (20V) and more.

The bits have cost me about £30 in total. And provide back and forward compatibility for my old and new devices.

I don't keep Lightning connectors - who the hell uses some mysterious third-party junk that adds nothing? But I have a small bag, about the size of a school exercise book, which has adaptors and cables for just about everything that goes with me if I go on holiday or visit friends. People are always asking for a cable and I can cobble them together almost anything (Sorry, it's an Apple? Yeah, you're on your own).

Let's just say that USB is the standard now. Stop faffing about. Low-voltage DC is just USB now. I'm eyeing up a new laptop - all USB-C charging and USB-C ports. Chromebooks, same.

Less waste, but we also need people to stop being stupid and still bundling "adaptors" rather than just putting a compliant USB-C port on things. That's where the whole Apple thing falls down and they get away with it year after year.

As such, yes, it's good to remove the charger because eventually everyone will have them in their wall-sockets and extension leads anyway. Eventually they'll all be the auto-negotiating 20V fast-charge things too. But let's not pretend that Apple are doing this out of the love of the environment - it'll save them money, and they'll make more back in Lightning patents.

I'm not changing anything again until USB-C is literally obsolete and there are serious advantages to moving to USB-Whatever. Judging by standard USB/microUSB, that's - what... 10-20 years away?

Someone must be bricking it: UK govt website for first-time home buyers snapped up for £40,000 after left to expire

Lee D Silver badge

Re: How is this STILL a thing!?

You mean like repeated emails to the postmaster address, a grace period during which only the owner can renew it even if it goes offline, and an appeal process?

This only happens when people are not just incompetent but government-department-incompetent - signing up with an employee email who leaves, or literally never checking the postmaster mailbox, and not having anything as simple as a calendar entry which would warn the appropriate technical staff.

Don't forget - someone, somewhere is running a server with that content on. Was that still being paid for? Was it hosted in-house? Or was it terminated as part of the same contract as the domain? Who was responsible for it? Who was maintaining it? Who was updating it? Which datacentre did it reside on? Why did they not notice when the domain went into a grace period? Nothing even as simple as one of those free "is your website still working today" automated tests? Were they still paying for it on the server end?

Sorry, but if this happens to you, then you necessarily should not be running Internet-facing servers, especially for government services. It's a symptom of a complete lack of maintenance and interest.

And, more importantly, who authorised the .org.uk in the first place when they could have had a .gov.uk that could not possibly expire? Why was it anything but a redirect for all those years? Why did the *real* gov.uk site not get anywhere near as many links as the original .org.uk for all those years?

It goes far beyond "we need a way for people running small businesses to renew their domain at the scheduled time", and no scenario like that would fix it.

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

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Idiot-tax ...

"Ancient recycled old rubbish soon loses its comedy value and..."

sells for 3-4 times the price of other kit just because it has an Apple logo on it.

It's hard to write good copy, especially in keeping with your target audience. Do you read every article? No, but someone has to write every one and if the article just said "Apple will enable encrypted DNS", you'd quickly get bored and go elsewhere.

There are thousands of IT news sites out there. I like a little informality. I don't really care about cliche, it doesn't hurt or hinder me. If you're here for original comedy with every article, I really think you've chosen the wrong kind of site.

And I use the words idiot-tax for all kinds of things - parking tickets, speeding tickets, designer gear, etc. etc.

We're no longer helping UK Post Office persecute postal workers with our shonky system, says Fujitsu

Lee D Silver badge

Nowhere near the same scale but my ex used to manage a branch of The Works.

One day they accused her of fiddling the petty cash. They sacked her.

She couldn't afford to fight it with professionals, so she took them to court herself. And won. They had absolutely no evidence that anything was wrong with the petty cash at all. They lost badly in court, despite having fancy lawyers, to an amateur English graduate who managed a cheap bookstore. Purely because their own systems showed no error on her part and no potential for any money to have gone missing, but obviously something/someone ballsed up somewhere.

The ex enjoyed screwing them to the wall so much that she took a law degree and then a barrister qualification.

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

Lee D Silver badge

Told ya so

Had arguments about this all over the web.

Windows for ARM is no more Windows than Windows RT, Windows for DEC Alpha, Windows CE or any other version. "Windows" means "x86 Windows" to most people who want to use it so desperately that they'll set up something like bootcamp.

And as soon as you're running x86 on ARM, it's no longer virtualisation (with small overhead), it's emulation (with huge overhead and crap performance).

Lee D Silver badge

Terminal Services.

You can rent one in the damn cloud on a pittance-per-hour basis now.

US govt: Julian Assange tried to recruit hacker to steal hush-hush dirt and we should know – the hacker was an informant

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Legal jurisdiction

If you hacked, say, the Playstation network in Japan and exposed millions of credit card numbers...

... would you not expect Japan to file an extradition request so you could stand trial in the jurisdiction the offence was committed, rather than one that has no law, evidence or jurisdiction about you breaking into *Japanese* systems?

This is literally the definition and the necessity of extradition.

And Assange is accused of conspiring (at minimum) to hack into US military systems. Which, in at least once instance, resulted in success for a short time, with Assange being the person who published the articles in question.

Chime after chime: Apple restores iconic Mac boot sound removed in 2016

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Meh, sounds, animated effects, transparency


And install Open-Shell (formerly Classic Shell).

But to be honest, I turn off the music as the very first action in every game I ever install.

Oh, and my desktop is a plain blue background.

Email innovator Hey extends an olive branch in standoff with Apple, tweaks code to make the iGiant appier

Lee D Silver badge

Re: A subscription fee for email‽

"All" emails at my domain exist - I don't have to create accounts/aliases.

It doesn't mean that they will go anywhere useful until I authorise them to, however. They get held in limbo/quarantine until I allow that alias to deliver mail onwards to the real inbox.

Catch-all on the domain, mailbox storage on the catch-all, forwarding only for listed aliases.

I literally do <companyname/code/made-up-on-the-fly-names>@mydomain.com and email always gets delivered (I have a 5-minute greylisting on new aliases, so obvious-made-up spam rarely delivers even into the holding mailbox).

The worst I ever have to do is override the greylisting if I'm bored of waiting the 5 minutes that they are asked to wait before retrying delivery.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: A subscription fee for email‽

I used to pay for Hotmail, back in the day.

People run their entire businesses on GMail and pay for business inboxes.

Exchange costs a fortune when you take into account the CALs, and more if you use it via the Cloud.

Hell, I pay for a domain name, a dedicated server, etc. for my own personal domains - just so I can collect or refuse email in the way I want (I own the entire domain, so I can just make up anything@mydomain.com and it will work... and then when some company spams the email I gave them, I know who they were, and I can just shut that alias down). Not to mention that, then, nobody knows where that email actually goes (it ends up in a popular webmail), but I can literally change the destination in seconds, or even copy every email to multiple places for redundancy. Oh, and I give out forwarded address to friends and family.

I haven't changed my domain in nearly 20 years, and have always had paid-for services behind that (the domain itself, the servers, etc.), and I have a complete archive of every email I've ever sent and received despite my "provider" / destination mailbox changing dozens of times over the year.

Personal users aren't the target - and aren't profitable at all anyway. Hotmail/GMail don't make any money out of personal users, except as a branding exercise and "consumer data". As you suggest, they can go anywhere and get a free email address. But private users serious about their email and the millions of business users... that's their market.

Apple launches incredible features everyone else had more than a year ago – this time for the 'smart home'

Lee D Silver badge

Re: What's the true cost ?

I'm not convinced the expense and security is worth it. If you can open the door, or turn on things, it's only a short hack, or an off-by-one error in a customer database somewhere, away from that happening without your will/knowledge.

You're burgled. You tell them the door is under cloud control. There's no other obvious sign of forced entry. (shrug) Uninsured. You have no idea what actually happened or didn't.

And this stuff is going out to the cloud, or your phone wouldn't be working it. And likely even when you're only on local wifi. There was nothing wrong with a local X10 setup but now everything is configured or proxied via cloud-based apps. It just doesn't seem right. The surface area of attack just rose enormously because you have some crappy lightbulb on your 2.4GHz wifi, with all the keys etc. plugged in, and talking home to some random Chinese server to interface with Google Home or whatever.

And though lights and things are fairly harmless, when you start putting heating and other stuff on, you get to the point where things can be extremely expensive and/or dangerous if people can switch them on and off.

I'm a tech guy. If I want a light to go on and off, I'll fit a timer or a PIR that detects movement. If I want the heating to compensate for the patio door, there are literal thermostats that will detect such situations and alert you (even over text if you want). At no point do I need to involve my wifi network, Apple or Google to do such things.

I'm not one of those paranoid "I won't use Chrome" people - I have to trust that Google treat my data in accordance with DPA, GDPR, etc. and anyone who can override that is breaking the law and/or is the law themselves. But the chain of dependency, and the unnecessary third-parties, I just find dodgy.

Then you start adding in cameras, and before you know it, any one of several thousand employees at Google/Apple not only can see your front door and when you left for work, but they know where you hid the key, or have a button to open the door (or even the rear patio), and a mate who lives down the road who's short of money.

Hell, I'm suspicious of airport parking - those people have my name, address, and know exactly when I'll be on holiday and when I'll return. I find that disconcerting. It's not that I don't trust Stansted, but that I have to trust *every* employee in the chain with access to that information, who may never get traced even if they discover they have a major breach of confidentiality on their hands.

Now the guy at Stansted would have to go look at my house and figure out a way in and wouldn't know if I had an alarm, a neighbour staying there, or remote cameras or whatever, so they probably wouldn't take the risk and are no better off than any burglar. But the guy who's got a slog-job at Google or some contractor, has access to all that information and devices and is required to sit at a desk all day doing some boring analysis/customer support work and decides to go rogue? Him I worry about. And his mates.

This stuff is fun and gimmicky. There are uses (don't doubt it - when I get old and infirm, I ain't getting up from the sofa to switch on the light! I've actually argued that all homes should have central-computer-controlled lights, heating, etc. rather than switches and cables pulled through every part of the wall). But the cloud-interjection and run of your local network is unnecessary.

I'm actually more tempted to buy a bunch of dumb remote switches and sensors (433MHz or whatever) and a control module for a Pi and do the logic myself (even have voice control with certain built-for-home-automation distros).

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

Lee D Silver badge

Software babysitting your child's Internet access is not parenting.

I can't convince my ex-wife to let my 11-year-old have a smartphone on their home Wifi (no SIM) enough so she can chat to her friends on a social network, while the ex- and her family are in the room. And the kid is THE MOST sensible kid I've ever seen (not parental bias, she just is).

If software lockouts are necessary, it's actually encouraging lazy parenting and blame-shifting ("Well, Apple should never have allowed that webpage to work on their iPad!" is a literal word-for-word phrase I've heard from a parent in the school I work in, when their child managed to get on a website at home, on their personal iPad, on their home Internet... no supervision, they just expected "Apple" to sort it out so it wasn't possible).

So I disagree with the concept of net-nanny software. I think parents should have supervision. In fact, I think "parental control software" should be a remote view of whatever their child's smartphone is showing currently, with a log of programs run, keys typed, etc. Otherwise, it's useless. And I think Internet access for vulnerable groups should be done in an open and supervised session, much like they're made to in school.

It's like expecting nightclubs to offer a safe-bus for kids under 12 to get home at midnight from the town centre, when what should be happening is the damn kids shouldn't be out at those hours, in those places, at all. Sure, we're "helping" and "doing the right thing" in getting them home safe, but it just shouldn't be an issue at all.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Mind of a teenager

If you let a 14 year old have administrative / software installation rights on your home PC (or even personal laptop), it's already game over.

How do you think schools cope? They stop kids being able to install or run stuff. It's all there, built-into the OS.

So now you have to ask Dad for his password to install the DRM-disrepecting browser, or you have to circumvent Windows security. Neither are impossible, but neither are easy either.

Honestly, you're far more at risk of your kid accidentally installing a spyware webcam app that puts them at serious risk, than them downloading a bit of Page 3. Why you'd think that access enough to do the first is somehow necessary for a kid, I can't fathom.

Sure, "most people" won't. And that's on them.

Apple to keep Intel at Arm's length: macOS shifts from x86 to homegrown common CPU arch, will run iOS apps

Lee D Silver badge

Re: RIP Hackintosh

Got nothing to do with people discovering that MacOS is just shiny interface over poor hardware, then?

I ran a MacOS VM inside VMWare for years - allocating it all the resources of the Mac hardware that people were running it on, it looked very slick. But it's all looks. Sure the slidey bottom back was smooth as silk (pre-generated cached bitmaps in a range of sizes to make it look like it was shrinking/growing the icons in real-time distortions). But under the hood it was pathetic in performance.

In reality, the hypervisor running that VM had something like 3-4 times more resources, and laughed at running MacOS in a VMWare box that out-specced anything Apple were selling at the time. And it was running on a laptop. A second-hand laptop. A nice one, no doubt, but not some £3000 monster. And it could virtualise MacOS with equivalent specs while I encoded video and played games in the background. It laughed at what MacOS required and the MacOS VM still worked faster than a real Mac.

MacOS was all show, and it wasn't that long ago that I did it.

I'm not sure that there is a serious hardware person out there who thinks Mac hardware is well-specced, certainly given the price. Going to Intel showed just how far behind they were.

Lee D Silver badge

An Intel Windows image running in a ARM OS virtualisation hypervisor is *not* going to be virtualisation. It's emulation, effectively.

You can only virtualise when the underlying architectures are the same, and even with any amount of clever tricks, it's going to be dog-slow in comparison.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Cock of the walk one week, feather duster the next

Serious question:

What does he do with it?

Because that's more money than I've ever spent in any single transaction, even financed, unless you count a house purchase (and even that, the deposit was cheaper).

If I spent £30k on a PC, it would literally blow anything Apple out of the water so far they'd be in orbit.

It barely cost £6k for a 768Gb RAM machine from Dell, with serious server processors. I can't justify that amount of RAM in my professional life running entire networks, what the hell justifies that amount of RAM in a single machine for a single user?

I know you'll say video-editing or something, but there are far cheaper ways to get a machine capable of that kind of spec than a Mac.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Probably not a big deal, if you already have reasonably solid code.

Your 2015 Macbook Pro is more than I've paid for every machine I've ever used professionally in the last ten years, even for a second-hand purchase of a 5-year-old unit.

I never said I wasn't an amateur. I'm quite literally a homebrew / hobbyist coder who has dozens of active projects, on dozens of platforms. And not one of them includes Apple because of their policies. I've been doing that for 20 years, and no other platform have I flat-out refused to code on because of the restrictions.

I work on Intel/Linux, and I want to cross-compile from one machine to all targets, and test on-platform when it comes to things not working on a particular platform. You pretty much cannot do that for only one platform. There's a reason coders were buying Macbooks - because that's the one platform from which you could compile for Apple and bootcamp/cross-compile to literally EVERYTHING else. And now Macs will be ARM, and so Bootcamp will be a stunned sloth.

Sorry, but the idea of having to have a particular computer just because it's the only way to compile software for that target is completely alien to everything I've done in the last 20 years.

I'm not "afraid" to pay it. I refuse to. Because not one other mainstream mobile/desktop platform in the world is asking me to do that, or even hinting that it'll make things easier if I did. I code, compile, test, submit, and I'm done. No money changes hands. And at no point is my development environment or working desktop setup determined by anything except "what I already have / like".

Lee D Silver badge

Re: Probably not a big deal, if you already have reasonably solid code.


The coding won't really change much, except the compiler or cross-compiler in use.

I spent a lot of time cross-compiling to ARM for a number of handheld consoles (weird Korean things like the GP2X which had two ARM processors and ran off AA batteries). The cross-compiling was the easiest part of porting anything. It "just worked".

Contrast with when I tried to compile a piece of software that also worked on Windows, Linux, x86 and ARM, 32 and 64-bit to any Apple platform - which basically is almost impossible without owning an expensive up-to-date Mac, paying for a developer's licence, and using XCode on that machine as the way to compile it. It literally stopped me even trying to support Apple devices. Bear in mind that that same code ended up on Wii homebrew, PSP and all sorts of other platforms with little more than a recompile and a tweak.

I'm not worried about the ARM side. That's probably the most sensible decision Apple has ever made. But the development side, and the ability for Apple to create their own, custom, bespoke chip and throw whatever they want into it... that's going to be pretty scary. They'll make their things incompatible with everything else, and you'll have to use XCode to compile for them, and only the latest XCode, and that will only be updated on the top generation of Macs, and no cross-platform compiler will produce working code. That's what I see happening.

Literally the advice the last time I looked was to use cross-platform development / debugging tools like Eclipse on every platform "except on Mac, where you just have to use XCode, either directly or as the compiler in the background of the Eclipse IDE".

Apple's monoculture is going to hurt developers a lot. And, now, they can't even have a Mac with Bootcamp so they can have all their platforms on one device - Intel->ARM translation is NEVER going to be fast enough to be comfortable.

Lee D Silver badge

So this means that Macs will be pretty much useless for running Windows via Bootcamp, one presumes?

Can't get your Pi fix online? The Cambridge shop's back open for business, Brits

Lee D Silver badge

Re: An idea for allowing hands on action...

Welcome to the rest of the world where people are wearing masks and gloves in every shop they go into, because they have half a brain.

Lee D Silver badge

Re: An idea for allowing hands on action...

Could you tell me how it's not related to healthcare in the current climate?

Faxing hell: The cops say they would very much like us to stop calling them all the time

Lee D Silver badge

Re: My first modem..

I'm still running an active Hylafax connected to a USB fax modem (hard to find non-winmodems, but boot sales are very useful!).

Granted, we've not had a fax in years, but the system is still there and works. Users just "print" to Winprint Hylafax Client printer (freeware), it gets sent over the network to the Hylafax server, gets queued and sent out as appropriate, and then the user gets an email confirmation with PDF attachment of what they sent.

Incoming faxes do the same in reverse, popping a PDF attachment to an email to a given email address. For the last 2 years, it was nothing but spam-faxes, so nobody even bothers to check any more.

But it's a fun afternoon project, but definitely a dying technology.

Lee D Silver badge

I think the phone number was only a fax system, so when you called it back, all you got was a fax tone and nothing else.

Lee D Silver badge

Once had a fax try repeatedly to connect to my parent's house number. Drove us all mad (I was living at home at the time).

After a day or so of constant calls and no way to trace them, and before I could cobble up a fax modem to do what it was supposed to, we called BT and had them intercept the line. Weirdly, they claimed the only way to trace it was to take over our entire phone line for the whole day and we'd receive no calls whatsoever... kind of a self-imposed DoS.

Anyway, they intercepted the line. And then gave a phone call to a nice chap working in a central bank who was faxing incredibly sensitive documents to what he thought was another central bank, but was in fact our home number. The BT guy took a certain amount of joy in explaining it all to us, not least because said bank needed to then contact us to ask us to please, please, please never reveal what had happened and to destroy anything that we'd received (I was so annoyed that I couldn't get the fax modem working - think of the extortio.... I mean reward!).

We eventually got our phone line back, a grovelling apology, and never did get another fax call.

Good luck using generative adversarial networks in real life – they're difficult to train and finicky to fix

Lee D Silver badge

This basically describes every AI I've ever heard of.

As far as I can tell, any kind of machine learning:

- Starts off useless.

- After computer-years of training gets average-to-good results for basic categorisations or tasks.

- Plateaus just after it becomes useful.

- Cannot be "untrained", and to retrain to include extra parameters, data, etc. requires far, far, far more effort and time than just throwing it out, starting clean, and retraining from scratch (it's like a stubborn old middle-ager who won't learn the new computer system, so you have to replace him and start all over again with new staff). The reason for this is clear - it's entire life, it's been told "this is right" and as soon as you introduce another subtlety or data that's borderline, it has to be trained enough to overwhelm ALL of its lifetime training that it had been specifically selected for. It's like the old guy who learned Novell and now needs to learn something new, except that he literally cannot leave his Novell training behind and his entire career is based solely on how good he was at Novell and not anything else.

- Gets written up / deployed / sold off while it's still useful but before anyone can actually do anything about improving it, so the new owner / the person lumbered with taking it on basically has a read-only system that will never improve.

- Distances itself from all claims of being mere statistics, despite being basically a entirely statistical model.

- Cannot be modified knowingly. The same way you can't just stick a knife into someone's brain to extract a memory, especially without knowing exactly where that particular memory is. You can't correct behaviour, you can only try to train it out (overwhelm it), and you have no idea where that behaviour arose from, what metric it's actually operating on, or why it's doing what it's doing. For all you know, it identified that banana in the image because of the Getty Images copyright that other photos didn't have, or something equally ridiculous (e.g. the average background colour of the central left-third of the image).

- Are far too complex and random to analyse post-training.

- Are not even necessarily reproducible between two identical trainings.#

AI is bunk. It's "sufficiently advanced magic" to fool the casual onlooker (idiot in a hurry) but I have real trouble positing it as something to be trusted in any manner. So it helped you upscale some old movie to 4K. Whoopie. No harm done, time saved. But could probably have been done with just a few filters anyway. But for anything serious... get out of here. It's throwing dice into a canyon until you've thrown enough to make a vague outline of Jesus's head and then selling it as an art-creating computer.

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

Lee D Silver badge

It's based on the proximity of your phone anyway.

Leave your phone on the desk and someone walks past when you're not there and you're now linked.

Drive past a cyclist. Linked.

Stand on opposite sides of a wall. Linked.

And that's if they have BT turned on and are using the app.


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