* Posts by Fonant

287 posts • joined 20 Mar 2014

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Bot army risk as 3,000+ apps found spilling Twitter API keys

Fonant

Re: I wonder how much blame can be attributed to poor code examples

That's actually more of an identifier than a key. It tells Google which account to charge the maps API usage to.

The identifier is also linked to the page domain, in the developer's Google account settings, so you can't use someone else's API key on your own website.

You can still, if you want, keep reloading the map page to trigger payments to Google by the site owner. But only Google benefits from that.

Tech professionals pour cold water on UK crypto hub plans

Fonant
Thumb Up

Re: "The large majority of IT pros in the UK – about 77 per cent – were not confident ..."

So long as they asked a statistically-significant sample, and the sample was chosen as randomly as possible, the result could be an accurate representation of the population opinion.

Boris Johnson set to step down with tech legacy in tatters

Fonant

The ERG, in turn, being useful to disaster capitalists and rich Russians.

Microsoft-backed robovans to deliver grub in London

Fonant

Re: What's the bandwidth on these things ?

And is the AI taught to assume that every road user may be an unpredictable nincompoop?

FTFY

Fonant
Meh

Ethics, Risk, and Safety

This is one answer to the question: "How risky should self-driving motor vehicles be?" - the answer being "As risky as human drivers, we've gotta get those parcels delivered as fast as possible!".

And the answer to "Should computer-driven motor vehicles always obey road laws?" - the answer being "Doh! Of course not!".

The biggest issue will be Reputation Management for the owners and manufacturers of these things. If they ever manage to get them into production.

And the human drivers won't be best pleased with the spotlight being shone on their safety record, either.

Tech pros warn EU 'data adequacy' at risk if Brexit Britain goes its own way

Fonant

Re: Inadequate approach to data adequacy

If what you say is true, why did Boris Johnson and his government make this agreement with the EU?

He signed it, and proclaimed it an excellent deal.

The status of Northern Ireland within the UK has not changed. However it is interesting that in the latest election parties wanting a united Ireland won more votes than UK Unionist parties.

Northern Ireland is doing very nicely, being both in the UK and the EU Customs Union and Single Market. That is what the real problem is for the Tories.

Europe proposes tackling child abuse by killing privacy, strong encryption

Fonant

Re: Scunthorpe

Hmmm... if you use the World Wide Web, you should perhaps be aware that the vast majority of sites now use HTTPS, which provides End-to-End Encryption between you and the server. Most internet traffic is encrypted already.

Fonant

Re: How to kill the proposal...

Russia Today would probably be happy to publish private communications of UK government ministers. Or perhaps Al Jazeera. Or WikiLeaks (is that still a Thing?). Or any one of millions of anti-UK internet forums. Or somewhere on the Dark Web, leaked to "baddies" around the world.

Fonant

Re: So what they're really asking for ....

Ideas:

a) Send them a plain-text email containing your Book Club's latest reading list?

b) Send them a plain-text email containing the first book, phone them and tell them the second book by voice, send an SMS with the name of the third book, send a letter in the post with the fourth book, etc.

c) Communicate via a non-government approved connection, tunnelled over SSH or HTTPS. Are they going to try to make TLS illegal?

Fonant

Impossible

It's impossible to prevent people from encrypting messages to each other. Even if you make mathematics illegal.

Yes, you can force the most popular private messaging apps to remove their privacy, but that just forces people to a wider variety of privacy solutions. Much harder to track baddies, then.

What about internet banking? Online shopping?

Don't shoot the messenger!

Jeffrey Snover claims Microsoft demoted him for inventing PowerShell

Fonant
Thumb Up

Re: powershell command missing

ncdu

AI-powered browser extension to automatically click away cookie pop-ups now promised

Fonant

I use Vivaldi, with trackers and adverts blocked by default, and no third party cookies saved. I also have uBlock Origin installed, which handles some more stuff that Vivaldi misses. And the "I don't care about cookies" plugin that removes most popups.

Global (works for all sites not white-listed by me) and fully under my control.

The EU cookie legislation is pointless, extremely annoying, and most probably makes the problem worse by people actively "accepting" dodgy cookies without thought.

Driverless car first: Chinese biz recalls faulty AI

Fonant

The real problems are the ethical and legal ones

Where on the risk-speed curve do societies want autonomous vehicles to be? How many deaths caused by AVs is acceptable? How fast should we allow them to drive?

Who is responsible when things go wrong? Things will go wrong, and humans will die as a result if we expect them to behave like normal heavy road vehicles.

Europe's largest nuclear plant on fire after Russian attack

Fonant

Re: Evil mastermind or incompetence at work?

Nuclear power plants take months to "switch off" and "switch on". There isn't a simple switch you can flick.

Escape from The National Museum of Computing

Fonant
Holmes

Semantics

"You can expect to pay £30 per person for 90 minutes (which includes admission) dropping to £55 for a pair of tickets."

You can expect to pay £30 per person for 90 minutes (which includes admission) dropping to £27.50 each if you buy a pair of tickets.

Beware the big bang in the network room

Fonant

Re: Had he never seen Star Trek?

I often use "multiply by two and increase the units by one":

5 minutes -> 10 hours

1 hour -> 2 days

1 day -> 2 weeks

1 week -> 2 months

etc.

Real-time software? How about real-time patching?

Fonant

Re: Site Acceptance Test

Business travel, glamorous?!?

I once worked for a software company that involved spending a week a month, or so, in Detroit. One memorable aspect was the compulsory tyre insurance on the hire car - the motorways had some serious potholes!

France says Google Analytics breaches GDPR when it sends data to US

Fonant
Thumb Up

Plenty of alternatives to GA

* Self-hosted client-side analysis like Matomo (will miss some people who block such things, but otherwise interesting).

* Server-side log analysis like AWstats (can't tell you about client-side stuff, but logs every request).

* Custom server-side activity logging (customised to tell you what you want to know).

* Relax, talk to your customers, etc. Analytics can't tell you everything.

UK.gov threatens to make adults give credit card details for access to Facebook or TikTok

Fonant
Facepalm

Tory Government Promises the Impossible

Aha, another "Tory Government Promises the Impossible" story.

Ho hum.

When forgetting to set a password for root is the least of your woes

Fonant
Devil

Re: Hitting Enter....

I remember "a friend" "accidentally" plugging a PC keyboard back into a Dixons demo machine, and "accidentally" deleting autoexec.bat so that the machine would not start the demo next time it was powered on.

Back in the early 1980s when "Dixons Reject!" was a powerful term of abuse for someone who was completely stupid. Sorry Dixons, RIP.

James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at its new home – an orbit almost a million miles from Earth

Fonant

Re: Partnership

It orbits the L2 point every 180 days. I was confused too!

Fonant

Surely the L2 point from the Earth takes exactly a year to orbit the sun?

Aha, they mean the telescope completes its tiny orbit of the L2 point every 180 days. "Utilizing thrust every three weeks or so from small rocket engines aboard Webb will keep it orbiting L2, looping around it in a halo orbit once every six months." https://blogs.nasa.gov/webb/2022/01/21/webbs-journey-to-l2-is-nearly-complete/

Tesla driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after deadly Autopilot crash

Fonant
Unhappy

Missing the root cause of the problem

We risk missing the root cause of the problem: cars are intrinsically dangerous, whether driven by human beings or computers.

The questions are all effectively "where on the risk<->performance spectrum do we want cars to be?".

If you want safety, you need to have much more control over the environment. See: railways.

Foxstuck: Firefox browser bug boots legions of users offline

Fonant
Happy

Vivaldi

As title, FTW.

Could BYOB (Bring Your Own Battery) offer a solution for charging electric vehicles? Microlino seems to think so

Fonant
Thumb Up

This is the right direction!

At last someone is moving in the right direction, away from space-hogging two-tonne SUVs that need HUGE batteries, and towards light-weight space-efficient urban vehicles.

This would be a good companion to an electric bike (for local trips) for longer "to the next town" journeys. And handy for when it's very wet, too. I'd buy one in an instant, and quickly add a cello carrying rack to it!

Bitcoin 'inventor' will face forgery claims over his Satoshi Nakamoto proof, rules High Court

Fonant

I must be missing something. If Nakamoto mined those bitcoin, and Wright is Nakamoto, why can't he simply sell or transfer some of the bitcoins that he owns? Aren't they stored in his "wallet"?

Hauliers report problems with post-Brexit customs system but HMRC insists it is 'online and working as planned'

Fonant

Re: Hmm

See also: UKCA marking as well as the long-standing CE marking.

Was interested to see a geniune UKCA mark on a Blueair Blue 411 air filter we bought recently. Quite surprised that a company had actually bothered with the duplication.

Nationwide Building Society's Faster Payments turn into Slower Payments for 2022

Fonant

Starling Bank is good

As above. FWIW.

West Sussex County Council faces two-year delay to replace ageing SAP system for Oracle

Fonant

Probably a combination of the council struggling to retain high-quality technical people due to massive budget cuts, and elected councillors not having the tiniest clue about what is needed or the complexities involved. I think the Tories are to blame for both.

Shocking: UK electricity tariffs are among world's most expensive

Fonant
Facepalm

I thought privatising electricity generation and supply was supposed to drive down costs, through competition?

Perhaps privatisation doesn't actually work for things that are public services?

New UK product security law won't be undercut by rogue traders upping and vanishing, government boasts

Fonant

No default admin passwords?

I hope they mean "no fixed default admin passwords", rather than "no password by default for admin access".

Applying a random default password which is also printed onto a sticker attached to the device is probably the most sensible way forward.

Robo-Shinkansen rolls slowly – for now – across 5km of Japan

Fonant

Re: A train, any train, not just the Shinkansen

Trackside signals are very difficult to see in time at high speeds. And the fixed block sizes needed would mean huge gaps between trains to be safe.

In-cab signals create moving blocks, with the signals always being just in front of the train, whatever speed it's travelling at. More trains per line, almost zero feedback between a signal changing state and the driver/train being aware of that.

Autonomous cars would be a lot easier to make fast AND safe if they ran on tracks, had some sort of network-wide signalling system that knew where they all were, and could be coupled together to form "trains" that could carry hundreds of passengers in one "vehicle".

Education Software Solutions tells school customers: We are moving to 3-year licensing contracts and so are you

Fonant

I've had some minor involvement with SIMS, and from what I've seen it's horrible. A classic example of over-expensive software that's outdated and fiddly to use. Sounds like its days are numbered - perhaps schools will get something that fits their needs better.

Windows 10 2004 is nearing the end of the road. Time for a Windows 11 upgrade?

Fonant

Re: Thin ice

If they're not 3D-graphics-intensive they may well work fine under a copy of Windows as a virtual machine. No good for 3D games, though.

I found replacements the few Windows-only Apps I used to use. Joplin is a nice replacement for Evernote, and I've always used LibreOffice here anyway.

Fonant

Re: Thin ice

I made the jump about a year ago, to Fedora. I use Virtual Machine Manager to fire up my old Windows copy as a virtual machine when needed (usually to play along with a scammer to waste their time).

The trigger was finding that Win10 had got corrupted somehow, and nothing I could do would get it to boot. Installed Linux, and re-installed Win10 from scratch as another boot option.

My PC still dual-boots into native Windows 10 if needed, but I rarely use that and only ever for playing games that aren't yet ported to Linux.

Since I'm a Linux sysadmin Linux was an obvious choice, and it's lovely having the same tools on my desktop as I have on my servers :)

Give us your biometric data to get your lunch in 5 seconds, UK schools tell children

Fonant

Re: On Site storage - really? FFS.

Which covers providing plastic facial surgery for all the children affected, so they can "get a new ID" when their old ID is compromised.

Brit MPs blast Baroness Dido Harding's performance as head of NHS Test and Trace

Fonant

Re: It's on £37 BILLION.

Ah, OK, so only a thousand million pounds was wasted. Nothing compared to the dodgy "VIP lane" deals done for PPE, where friends of Tories managed to make millions of pounds each.

Fonant

Re: Share the blame

Exactly.

Perhaps it's a coincidence that major donors to government have been Russian Oligarchs and Disaster Capitalists. Both groups benefit hugely from a collapsing UK economy, society, rule of law, etc.

I fear we've lost a war that we didn't even know we were involved in.

Brit builders merchant Travis Perkins opts for Oracle after ERP disaster with Infor

Fonant

Actually it was what they used before Infor had a go, and what they're now still using, is the system held together with sellotape and elastic bands.

But, yes.

Fix network printing or keep Windows secure? Admins would rather disable PrintNightmare patch

Fonant
WTF?

Explains lack of school printing!

Ah, so that's why my wife's primary school is unable to print anything out at the moment. Their IT support people said it was a Microsoft problem, but I thought they were joking.

Of course UK schools don't have enough money to buy glue sticks at the moment, so their IT infrastructure is, of course, decades old and held together with sellotape.

Please can we get a new government, that will reverse the Tory cuts? Soon?

UK.gov is launching an anti-Facebook encryption push. Don't think of the children: Think of the nuances and edge cases instead

Fonant
Thumb Down

Worst of all worlds

The daft thing is that we then end up with the worst-of-all-worlds: nasty people and enemy states will still use encrypted communications while our own population is not allowed to.

The UK is running on empty when it comes to electric vehicle charging points

Fonant

Cars spend something like 95% of their time parked. A good time to top them up with fuel!

Fonant

Re: Elephant in the room

And also often omitted that EVs can be ready with a "full tank of fuel" every morning, automatically.

Yes, many people don't have driveways, but solutions to that are already being put in place (e.g. lamp-post chargers, trailing lead channels, workplace charging, carpark charging, etc).

Fonant

Re: "Why solar panels are not mandated as part of the new builds is lost on me."

We have 4.2kWhp installed and generate an average of 13 units per day averaged over a year. Our household usage is 12 units per day averaged over a year.

To be free of having to buy mains electricity we just need storage. Hey, if we got an EV with a 40kWh battery and an inverter we could easily survive the summer months without importing any power at all. We could even survive a few days with no solar generation at all, assuming no long car trips needed.

Multiply by, say 50% of the car-owning households and you have a very useful distributed energy generation and storage system, just what the National Grid needs.

Fonant

When we get an EV with car-to-house capabilities, we'll be able to charge it from our solar PV during the daytime and then run the house off the car battery in the mornings and evenings. In the summer months we'll rarely need to use grid electricity at all. In the winter we'll use some, but at a nice steady base load - perfect for big power stations to provide.

LESS load on the grid. Massively distributed energy storage, even LESS demands on the Grid.

Fonant

Indeed. EVs will normally have "a full tank of fuel" automatically every morning, ready for the commute. Not many fossil-fuelled cars can do that!

There is already battery-to-grid technology working and it won't be long until vehicle-to-grid will work too. The availability of tens of thousands of high-capacity high-charge-rate high-discharge-rate batteries connected in a highly distributed way to the National Grid reduces Grid loads and power generation costs massively.

But we're going to need to forget using SUVs for every trip. Lightweight, efficient, electric bikes and the like will use much less power and need smaller batteries.

Fonant

Re: Hmm....

We're trying (and failing) to stop the Climate Emergency.

Things are going to have to change very fast in the next decade, or less. Be prepared!

Fonant

Charging is not the biggest issue

Lack of public charge points is an issue, but not the biggest issue.

We also need to increase our UK battery manufacture by a factor of infinity, or a factor of 8 once the new Nissan battery factory is up and running.

In fact we're all going to need to re-think transport (way overdue anyway, just from a traffic congestion point of view). The concept that we each take 2 tonnes of vehicle with us on every trip is going to have to change. It's already changing, sales of electric bikes and electric cargo bikes are booming - demand outstripping supply. For local trips smaller and lighter vehicles are much more sensible, and have no charging problems: take the battery off and re-charge indoors from a 13A socket at any time.

Climate Emergency = less energy required for transport = lighter and more efficient vehicles = e-scooters, electric bicycles, trams, trolleybuses, trains.

Scam-baiting YouTube channel Tech Support Scams taken offline by tech support scam

Fonant

Re: There's always a bigger fish

My favourite pseudonym to use when talking to scammers when they ask for my name is "Jim Browning".

My favourite moment was when, towards the end of a scam-baiting session I asked to talk to Chanden Bharti, and (as far as I could tell) actually spoke to the scammer himself!

There are many, many, underpaid workers calling people, but only a few people controlling these things. Jim has done much good work uncovering how these operations work, and who is in charge.

What is your greatest weakness? The definitive list of the many kinds of interviewer you will meet in Hell

Fonant

Given that the employer holds almost all the cards in an employment relationship, the most important part of the interview process is for the candidate to decide whether or not they've be happy working for that employer.

The employer needs to make sure the candidate is competent for the job, and, hopefully, whether they'd fit in with their potential colleagues. Since every job is different, an ability to think, learn, and adapt is often more important than some particular technical ability or experience on their CV.

As the article says, the employer needs to avoid anyone who is applying solely because they're desperate for a job.

A good interview should be a pleasurable experience for everyone involved. Whatever the outcome.

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