* Posts by jonha

107 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Jul 2014

UK's National Audit Office warns full-fibre rollout strategy is leaving rural Britain behind. Again


Royle says...

Rural... my arse.

And I have to agree with him... I am living in 100k+ town and it took until two years ago to get FTTC.

Even 2020 cannot bring forth the Year of Linux on the Desktop


I disagree with Barnes. MS has done it before when they had two OS lines in parallel, the old Win16/32 world of a GUI on top of DOS and the new world of NT. These parallel worlds (including different driver models) went on for quite some years (95, 98, ME vs NT3/4, 2K) until finally Windows XP (NT-based) was deemed "backwards compatible enough" to end this double effort. There were still fears about compatibility problems but it went pretty well in the end.

Maintaining a web browser costs a lot of money... so MS finally bowed and accepted Chromium as the base for their browser.

Maintaining a kernel also costs a lot of money so...

Given time, they can do the same thing over again. Not in 2022, probably not in 2025, but by 2030 Windows will be Linux-based.

Massive news, literally: Three super-boffins awarded Nobel Prize in physics for their black-hole breakthroughs


I stand corrected. I always thought my wife is the strangest object in the universe.

Amazon's not saying its warehouse staff are dumb... but it feels they need artificial intelligence to understand what 'six feet' means


A vid for Matt?

Perhaps they should also show this vid before our MPs enter the chamber...


In Hancock's half-hour, Dido Harding offers hollow laughs: Cake distracts test-and-trace boss at UK COVID-19 briefing


Re: "......worst death toll in Europe"

> future brexit strategy

You owe me a new keyboard.

As to the rest of your comment... my father when I was a schoolboy used to say <stern voice> "YOU DON'T COMPARE WITH THE WORST... YOU COMPARE WITH THE BEST" whenever I told him my grades weren't that bad. Back then I thought he was just an old git but I've since seen the light.

Travel-sick Windows needing a Systemwiederherstellung would be in Germany, right? Austria? Not necessarily


You ain't seen nothing yet...

How about "Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz" to befuddle us? Yep, that's an actual German word in (rare, I hope and assume) use.

OK Windows 10, we get it: You really do not want us to install this unsigned application. But 7 steps borders on ridiculous


I am now Zen

I have WRT Windows 10 reached the same state as WRT Brexit: I am totally Zen. In both cases, after a lot of initial hand-wringing and a number of anguished nights, I have accepted the inevitable and simply tried to mitigate things as best as I could. In the case of Windows 10 that meant a switch to Linux... so now I can lean back and enjoy the show. As to Brexit... my OH is French and as things have turned out, we'll be fine whatever the shambles factory in No 10 decide to throw at us.

Guess who came thiiis close to signing off a €102k annual budget? Austria. Someone omitted 'figures in millions'


Mixing up units?

I'd think that scientists and engineers in both countries use(d) SI notation as that has been the default long before I even started to study chemistry (and that was about 2500 years ago, I think).

Rather, my suspicion is that there was perhaps too much wine (on the French side) or beer (on the German side) sloshing around. Or both, of course.


the key words "figures in billions"

I assume the actual wording never mentioned "billions" as our billions are their "Milliarden" and their "Billionen" are our trillions. :-)

Not going Huawei just yet: UK ministers reportedly rethinking pledge to kick Chinese firm out of telco networks by 2023



You just couldn't make this stuff up. Is this government or entertainment? :-/

Airline-chasing lawyers leap on Easyjet for £18bn after 9m folks' data, itineraries nicked


I do hate lawyers...

... but I even more hate people who, despite taking security so utterly seriously, fall so easily for "highly sophisticated hackers".

So AFAIC the lawyers should go for it.

And if EasyJet goes under, so be it. These guys have to learn the hard way, it seems.

Linus Torvalds drops Intel and adopts 32-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper on personal PC


Re: Minimum spec?

>it disincentivises them from writing efficient code

Writing efficient code is a mindset and has got nothing to do with CPU power. Writing inefficient code might well be company policy (as it's presumably churned out faster than efficient code) but that's a different kettle of fish.

Could it be? Really? The Year of Linux on the Desktop is almost here, and it's... Windows-shaped?


It's long been a pet theory of mine that Windows 2030 will be a Desktop Environment/Window Manager based on a Linux kernel. They will do with Linux (the kernel) what they did with Chromium.

There's a black hole lurking within 1,000 light years of Earth – and you can see stars circling it with the naked eye


Starman on his way...?

I can well picture Musk's Starman in his Roadster speeding ever faster into that black hole in the (very) distant future... not a bad end, perhaps.

(Yeah, the chances are vanishingly small... BUT NOT ZERO.)

Prepare to have your shonky password hygiene shamed by Firefox 76

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Mozilla FF... dead in the water AFAIC

Mozilla is a prime example how to lose users. I was an early adopter and more or less went directly from Netscape to Mozilla. But... after one too many updates which AGAIN broke something I was relying on I decided to switch to Pale Moon... that was umpteen years ago (at least it feels like umpteen years :-/)

I never looked back and I never will. (Yeah, never say never.)

(Not to talk about their needless UI changes, botched upgrades, installing extensions w/o asking the user, telemetry, etc etc.)

Vivaldi browser to perform a symphony of ad and tracker blocking with version 3.0

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If my trusty Pale Moon fails me...

I do almost everything with PM but the odd site won't work (eg WebRTC stuff). After looking into many chromium-based browsers over the years I have settled on Vivaldi and I have not regretted it. It's very configurable and the one extension I need (uBlock origin) runs well. Whether I can retire uBlock with this release remains to be seen. YMMV.

So how do the coronavirus smartphone tracking apps actually work and should you download one to help?


Re: Good for data-less phone plans

> You get all sorts of funny folk here with spurious reasons for doing things a certain way.

You get all sorts of funny folk here with spurious reasons for thinking things should be done in a certain way.

Where's the best place to add Mentos to Diet Coke for the most foam? How big are the individual bubbles? Has science gone too far?


Re: The Diet Coke bottles were kept at 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 degrees Fahrenheit)

It's probably to do with the fact that you can dissolve more of a given gas in cold water than in warmer water (whereas it's the other way round for solids: the warmer the water the more salt or whatever you can dissolve in it).

Yeah, that Zoom app you're trusting with work chatter? It lives with 'vampires feeding on the blood of human data'


Re: Jitsi?

Yep, I think Jitsi is as safe as it gets IF you can self-host (or at least host with someone you trust). Even a non-self hosting session should be SOMEWHAT better than Zoom et al. I'm using it for a few years now, no problems so far.

British Army adopts WhatsApp for formal orders as coronavirus isolation kicks in


1. April come early? Or what?

No further comment necessary.

Appareils électroniques: Right to repair gets European Commission backing


Re: This jumped out:

Well, if you don't like this... just found Farrage Phones plc, build those non-EU-specced Farrage phones (lovely name) and sell them to all and sundry. It's called free market.


Re: What about updates

> At this point, I'd really like mandatory security updates for 10 years applied to any embedded software.

+1. Additionally, there should be a strict ban on devices where the manufacturer's firmware/OS can't be replaced by either the end-user or a repair shop.

How does Monzo keep 1,600 microservices spinning? Go, clean code, and a strong team


> "Note, though, that Monzo uses a lot of custom, in-house tools and libraries that are not easy to replicate."

That's the key sentence, IMHO. Yeah, this means more work and slower deployment in the beginning... but it's an approach that, in the long run, means you know exactly what's actually running on your servers and you understand how it's operating.

If you want an example of how user concerns do not drive software development, check out this Google-backed API


> There is no need for this api, hopefully Mozilla will give it a pass.

Perhaps it's wiser to implement the API but to deliver a random and ever changing collection of apps, some really existing (not on the user's machine, just some of those available in general) and some invented.

You can forget about that Black Friday deal: Brit banks crap out just in time for pay day


Re: Right... but there's more to it than just the managers

> No idea what you expect ordinary citizens to do with regard to banking site websites.

That's a 100% correct remark, I have no idea either.

But it's missing the wider point I am trying to make. In my extended family I have French, Swiss, German and Portuguese relatives. Almost all of these good people are utterly, totally befuddled, either when visiting the UK or upon reading some media stuff, about the levels of service or performance in various areas (public transport, politics etc) the British public is willing to accept without any real protest other than perhaps a sour smile and the odd mustn't grumble. This attitude may have some positive aspects but it also means that IN THE LONG RUN things just don't get better.


Right... but there's more to it than just the managers

+1 for that comment although it's not only greedy and/or incompetent managers and MDs.

In four words: the Brits are sheep.

I'm still not that Gary, says US email mixup bloke who hasn't even seen Dartford Crossing


Where's the EU when you need them?

Same story here, early GMail adopter, common name. Getting tax documents, car insurance docs, mobile contracts, bills for air condition equipment, etc etc etc for other blokes with my not so uncommon real-life name.

Apart from the mental state of these individuals what is driving me mad is exactly the sort of behaviour on the senders' side the article describes.

Take O2, a so-called tech company. Getting an email that I have opened an account with them and given them this email addy. Would I please acknowledge the email address is correct? Of course I don't and think that's it.

Nope, for from it. I now get a stream of detailed messages about my new mobile tariff, the mobile no and what have you. I have, more than once, contacted them... getting exactly nowhere. They don't care though they take security and all the rest VERY VERY seriously,

There should be a way (similar to other privacy EU initiatives) to force governments, companies, institutions, etc to really, REALLY VERIFY that all email addresses given are valid and connected to the intended recipient. This should be enforced by a nice and tidy little sum to be paid by said governments, companies, institutions etc as a penalty to the hapless victim if they don't get it right.

Android PDF app with just 100m downloads caught sneaking malware into mobes


Re: How 'bout that?

"Unfortunately, it's not available on the vast majority of phones, and even if you're lucky enough to have one that is supported"

Part one of that sentence is not true and as to part two... well, buying LineageOS-compatible stuff is not down to luck or Santa Claus, it is a conscious decision I have taken and take. These items are admittedly often (but not always) a little more expensive but in the long run they save money and a lot of trouble.

"there's little point in recommending it to people in practice because the chance of it actually being useful is close to zero."

Funny. I have four mobiles under my control (Sony, Moto, Sammy) and all are on LineageOS. I have three tablets under my control and again, all are on LineageOS.

I have no Google software on these phones and yet they are fully functional.

What I would agree with is that many people do not know (and can't be expected to know) how to achieve this though they would want to do it.

This is partly a reflection how badly the IT sector has let us down, especially in the last decade or so. Disclaimer: I am a developer myself.


How 'bout that?

Install LineageOS, dont' install Google Apps and use (mostly) F-Droid as apk source.

I have done and do this to all my phones and tablets (buying only devices that allow LineageOS to be installed) and I can say: it simply works.

Buying a Chromebook? Don't forget to check that best-before date


In this day and age anyone* who buys a significant chunk of hardware (PCs, smartphones, tablets, routers etc) whose software (OS or firmware) is not under user control and can't be changed is making a mistake. This route might be more expensive in the short run but it gives a lot more peace of mind and actually saves money in the long run.

* Sadly "anyone" here means those who either know how to replace the OS or firmware or know someone who can do that.

ReactOS 0.4.11 makes great strides towards running Windows apps without the Windows


Re: Window of Opportunity?

M$ will not open the NT kernel this side of 2050, if ever.

And anyway, the kernel itself isn't the big problem. The basic drivers (NTFS is/was a big problem for ReactOS), the zillion support DLLs... that's the trouble. Implementing that and implementing it in a 99.999% compatible way is very hard.

Nevertheless, perhaps... in another two, three years... I might install it in a Linux host as a guest for those pesky little apps for which I can't find a Linux replacement and which don't run in wine.

UK.gov's Verify has 'significantly' missed every target, groans spending watchdog


What a surprise!

A few years ago I had big BIG trouble with the HMRC SA login (don't get me started on that abomination...!) and decided to try Verify. Luckily this was months before the Jan, 31 deadline so I had enough time to work my way through this thing... you'll need it if you succeed at all. A few thousand lost hairs later and surrounded by heaps of paper files I not even knew I had (my wife knew, phew!) I had a Verify account.

The people who designed this system live on another planet where, among other things, the word world-class doesn't mean what it means on earth.

Germany pushes router security rules, OpenWRT and CCC push back


"Support for open firmware is, arguably, a niche consideration at the moment"

It is at the moment, that's true. However, I am only buying "smart" stuff if and when I know beforehand that I can install some sort of supported open OS/firmware on it. I am also preaching this to everyone I know who is not out of earshot within three seconds. And indeed, there is (growing) interest for this idea even in circles that I can only describe as technically challenged. What's needed beyond that interest is a way to install/update these things in a manner that is so easy that those people are willing to do it.

HMRC rapped as Brexit looms and customs IT release slips again


I am tempted to think that there's more news value in the fact that Fleetwood Mac's Rumours is among the top-twenty albums (#16) requested by Alexa users.

China's going to make a mobile OS and everyone will love it, predict ball-gazing analysts


"Who would you trust more to provide a mobile OS,

Apple, Google, the PRC or Facebook?"

All of them... provided they will release it as open source, every bit of it.

I (am trying to) buy kit where I can replace the OS with an open source alternative and this works already pretty well for desktops/laptops, mobile phones/tablets and routers. I still have a dumb TV, none of my MP3 players and digital cameras has Wifi connectivity, and there's no Alexa et al.

.NET Core 2.1 – huh, yeah – what is it good for? Bing, apparently


"Bing [...] handles thousands of search requests every second using servers spread over many data centres across the globe."

That doesn't sound very impressive. If and when bing.com scales well enough to outperform the Big G servers, then I might perhaps think about exercising one of my eyebrows.

Windows 10 Linux Distribution Overload? We have just the thing


Re: I still think they're majoring in the minors. again.

"Were they spending an EQUAL amount of effort on a Wine-like subsystem that RUNS ON LINUX, so we could use windows applications on a Linux system DIRECTLY without having to use Win-10-nic, I'd be TRULY impressed!"

Two remarks. Wine in itself is much, MUCH better than I though it would be. I am moving various systems from Windows 7 Pro to Linux and so far, every single (!) app for which I couldn't unearth a Linux replacement has worked OOTB under wine. I was planning to install VirtualBox and Win7 as a VM but at the current rate that won't be necessary.

Second, anything MS releases for Linux is something I would never ever install. Even if it were initially released as open source... they are 100% capable of releasing newer versions (or extensions) which all of a sudden aren't. Or find some other means to tie me into their eco system in ways that are beyond my control.

ISP TalkTalk's Wi-Fi passwords Walk Walk thanks to Awks Awks router security hole


Get a decent 3rd party router and switch off all Wifi functions...

... on the supplied modem/router. That's what I've done for years and years, mainly for security reasons but also because a stand-alone router tends to have better WiFi speeds. (I swear by Asus but there are other good brands.)

'Facebook takes data from my phone – but I don't have an account!'


Re: 'Unlock bootloader, root, install Lineage OS '

It depends. I am an IT professional and I would just not use locked hardware if I can help it. Case in point: I recently needed NTFS access for my tablet's USB OTG. No problem with root, just install NTFS-3G and couple of utilities and it's good to go.


Re: 'Unlock bootloader, root, install Lineage OS '

As you implied it all depends all on the maker and the model. I had positive experiences with Samsung and Moto hardware... but I agree that it can be a minefield. As so often it boils down to the amount of money one is prepared to spend... after having been burned in the past I decided to concentrate on "known good phones". They are a bit more expensive (though a Moto G4 Play, say, won't break the bank at all) but I use them for a few years and the peace of mind over that period is worth it IMO.


Unlock bootloader, root, install Lineage OS

I only buy phones and tablets where I can do these three things. Not only can I get rid of all sorts of crap that came with the phone (though rarer these days) I also "lose" access to all Google apps and their potential for doing mischief.

It should be made much easier for consumers to do this sort of thing... my parents could certainly not do that, so I have to do it for them.

France gives les citoyens the right to cock up official paperwork


"Forgot your tax return, mon ami? Pas de problem!"

If you think you have to impress us with your foreign language competence, pas de problème!

PowerShell comes to MacOS and Linux. Oh and Windows too


In 10 years (give and take) Windows will be based on a Linux kernel. In a way, Windows *will* be Linux. (I am off Windows since v8 and do not look forward to that..)

I've got a verbal govt contract for Hyperloop, claims His Muskiness


"to build an unrealistic high-speed tube train system across America"

Unrealistic? If all inventors, researchers, scientists had that outlook we'd still be in the caves.

(I don't say that HL is realistic. I just think that we need to invest a lot more time and brainpower to find out. Who would've thought when the first transistor was cobbled together what would come out of that? Not to talk about laser or indeed the ARPAnet...)

NAO: Customs union IT system may not be ready before Brexit


HMRC and IT... when these two acronyms appear in one sentence they never fail to make me shiver. These days I do my tax SA normally early in the summer because I had so much trouble with their online site that I was actually contemplating for a while to return to paper. And I am fortunate: my only contact with them is the tax SA.

Fancy a relaxed boozy holiday? Keep well away from Great Britain



Those studies should be VERBOTEN! They seriously undermine the hard-won image of Germans in the wider world... imagine Germany w/o Verbote... like France w/o strikes:-)

Is Britain really worse at 4G than Peru?


Don't know about 4G in Peru but if I compare the speeds I get in Blighty with those I get in various locations in France, Switzerland and Germany I'm inclined to believe that Peru may well be faster. (My experience is not covering the whole of these countries, obviously, but I am travelling widely in those countries and I do have "anecdotal evidence" for scores of locations in F, D and CH (and a little in Spain).) So perhaps our "world-class" infrastructure is getting a bit long in the tooth now?

(Incidentally, there's a similar picture with old copper-based net access: I get consistently higher speeds on the continent than in the UK. Fibre is different though, here the UK seems to be in front, at least sometimes. YMMV of course.)

UK.gov throws hissy fit after Twitter chokes off snoop firm's access


Rudd is just a fast learner: those who don't do my bidding must be terrorists. Just look at the US, Turkey, Israel... anyone "misbehaving" gets their T-moniker.

Will the MOAB (Mother Of all AdBlockers) finally kill advertising?


Arms race

This will lead to another arms race with a lot of resources squandered, no clear winners but clear losers -- the ordinary end-users. (Same comment goes for the news that someone has cracked the Windows10 no-update-for-old-CPUs mechanism.)

OLE-y hell. Bug in MSFT Word allows total PC p0wnage


Anyone who gives winword (or other such apps) free access to the wider internet almost deserves this. I fully understand that many users are just not able to work the OS (or another) firewall although, with a bit of googling and some patience, this is not too hard. People have to learn the ropes to be able to drive a car, so perhaps we should accept that learning some basic security reflexes is not a bad thing.