* Posts by AJ MacLeod

504 posts • joined 11 May 2006


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

AJ MacLeod

I know what you're saying, but none of the above was/is end-end encrypted. That doesn't matter in the least for a lot of use cases of course, but it very much does for others.

Make-me-admin holes found in Windows, Linux kernel

AJ MacLeod

Re: The wisdom of MAX_PATH

I have seen problems caused by Windows' path length limitations countless times. Very long paths can arise very easily by entirely legitimate real-world scenarios - and who says anyone would necessarily be typing them?

Seven-year-old make-me-root bug in Linux service polkit patched

AJ MacLeod

Re: One of the many advantages of Gentoo

Don't worry, that one got ditched so many years ago I'd forgotten about it!

AJ MacLeod

One of the many advantages of Gentoo

in my /etc/portage/package.mask

#Kill Poettering's evil infections






A few years ago I had to "get involved" with polkit on a different system and the experience made me determined to rid all my own systems of it.

Here's how we got persistent shell access on a Boeing 747 – Pen Test Partners

AJ MacLeod

Re: Are there any passenger 747s still flying?

I realise you're probably quoting, but I've never really understood how people can write "one of the only" without their heads exploding.

Japan to start stamping out rubber stamps and tearing up faxes as new digital agency given Sept. 1 start date

AJ MacLeod

Re: Electronic Banking

Thankfully card payments are much easier now that the market is flooded with options like SumUp, Zettle etc.

The likes of WorldPay have been fleecing businesses for far too long... pay ridiculous sums up front for the terminal (which you then still have to return after the contract ends!), pay every month whether you take payments or not, pay a large chunk of the transaction value, handle all the PCI compliance stuff etc etc.

We only switched to SumUp a few months ago but so far it's been a night and day difference... even their most expensive terminal with data SIM was about 1/3 of the cost of the WorldPay one we had, no standing charges, only ongoing cost is the very reasonable percentage of each transaction. Refunds etc are free, payment comes through to bank pretty quickly too.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Barcleys allow this

Don't overestimate the Clydesdale bank who make all the others look superbly competent... thankfully they are nearly dead now though, supposing you could find a branch still open it's now a Virgin Money "store"

‘Staggering’ cost of vintage Sun workstations sees OpenSolaris-fork Illumos drop SPARC support

AJ MacLeod

Re: Solaris alltogether needs to die

I have to say I totally agree. I used then maintained a SUN network in the late 90s/early 2000s and Solaris was frankly horrible to work with. All the new machines bought after I took over were bog standard PCs running Linux which vastly outperformed the SUNs despite being a tiny fraction of the cost - not to mention being far easier to keep updated and having a much more pleasant userland. They ran both our own Fortran based CFD code and the commercial CFD software we previously used on Solaris.

What really surprised me was that our code ran faster on the Ultra10 running Linux compared to the same machine running Solaris. I did like the aesthetic though, and some of those monitors were nice.

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

AJ MacLeod

Precisely! In between browsing The Register tonight I've been taking bookings, updating servers and VMs, responding to email and rolling out firmware upgrades to dozens of wireless access points. From my Chromebook, as it's late and I don't fancy being in my office right now... all of the above are done either in a browser or via SSH in a terminal - both of which are provided by ChromeOS.

Could I do my IT work with ONLY my Chromebook? Probably not. But considering that bought this device quite a few years ago as what some people call my "sofa laptop" I've done a huge amount of work using it - the several laptops I have specifically for work are hardly ever powered up, this one is so convenient.

10 years later, Chrome OS starts to look like a proper OS with hardware diagnostics and the ability to scan documents

AJ MacLeod

Re: Install bash Google then get back to me

If you want to, yes. I'm not really seeing your point here... I mean, this is something Google provide as part of ChromeOS, it's not something I've had to install from a third party source.

AJ MacLeod

Re: Install bash Google then get back to me

chronos@localhost / $ ls -lh /bin/bash

-rwxr-xr-x. 1 root root 539K Apr 13 21:11 /bin/bash

chronos@localhost / $ echo $BASH_VERSION


Apple iPad torched this guy's home, lawsuit claims

AJ MacLeod

Re: Whats the betting

Without disputing the point about the amount of dangerous electrical items on sale, few come with worse cabling than genuine Apple chargers...

Ever felt that a few big tech companies are following you around the internet? That's because ... they are

AJ MacLeod


You didn't run it on theregister.com?

VS Code acknowledges its elders: Makefile projects get an official extension – and VIM mode is on the backlog

AJ MacLeod

Re: yyp - waste of a keystroke!

Does the shift keystroke not count then? (Actually I didn't know that Y also yanked, despite having used vi in many variants for several decades)

LastPass to limit fans of free password manager to one device type only – computer or mobile – from next month

AJ MacLeod

I happened to notice LastPass was pre-installed on a new HP laptop I set up yesterday... anything that's part of the pre-installed bloatware package is seriously suspect in my view!

Personally I only really trust "pass" (passwordstore.org) as I can understand what it's doing. It's also minimalist and the most convenient password manager I've ever used. For situations where multiple people need to share password stores or widespread sync is required, bitwarden_rs seems to work well - I've never really felt comfortable with other people hosting my most sensitive data and self-hosting really isn't difficult.

Slack has entered the Matrix: Element builds a bridge to realm of encrypted, decentralised comms

AJ MacLeod

Nice to see Matrix getting some coverage - unlike Signal you can run your own server / network quite easily, and you can also choose to have it mesh with the wider Matrix world or stay entirely standalone.

Their focus on interoperability is a very important aspect, one which gives me hope that Matrix might just survive and expand...

Dropbox basically decimates workforce, COO logs off: Cloud biz promises to be 'more efficient and nimble'

AJ MacLeod

Re: Is it just me.....

"I can only imagine the whole concept was dreamed up by 6 year olds with no clue about computing to share cat videos with other 6 year olds."

Not so many years ago Dropbox actually worked very well indeed. I'd guess that was because it was still mainly a company run by people who knew what they were doing (i.e. not marketers, managers or financial "wizards")

In the past four or five years maybe everything has changed - forcing the use of one particular filesystem on Linux was the screaming siren that told me the company really was on the way out.

Another thing was the way they treated resellers (including me) outside the US - we ended up being fobbed off onto Ingram Micro and from there on it has been one long sorry mess of random invoices for random amounts and total loss of clarity on access to customer Dropbox accounts.

If you're a WhatsApp user, you'll have to share your personal data with Facebook's empire from next month – or stop using the chat app

AJ MacLeod


Better, use Matrix - you can run your own entirely standalone server if you want and choose from a range of clients. Encryption, voice and video chats supported too.

Raspberry Pi to anoint ‘Design Partners’ it will recommend for industrial applications

AJ MacLeod

More than one employee seems a rather silly requirement in my view...

The Pi has been a very useful device for commercial installations though, I've been using them for all kinds of embedded applications since they became available they've been extremely reliable (around 1% failure rate - probably caused by PSUs rather than the devices themselves)

Arduino is great and very reliable too, but the Pi being a proper linux box just makes so many network related tasks familiar and easy.

A tale of two nations: See China blast off from the Moon as drone shows America's Arecibo telescope falling apart

AJ MacLeod

Re: Amy Coney Barrett

"The decline of the USA in a nutshell."

To me your whole post of semi-coherent irrelevant rubbish is symptomatic of a mental illness at best. Shouldn't you be happily looking forward to the great new future shortly to be ushered in by your favoured political saviour? Oh no... Trump is already getting the blame for Biden's screwups pre-emptively!

(For the record I am neither American nor do I have any particular attachment to any political party anywhere.)

'Massive game-changer for UK altnet industry': BT-owned UK comms backbone Openreach hikes prices on FTTP-linked leased line circuits

AJ MacLeod

"(certainly I don't know of any obligation on BT to power your DSL in an emergency, only phone lines for 999 calls)."

I'm not sure whether that's not an obligation any more, or whether they are just ignoring it - but I do know that BT are now fitting FTTP to domesic properties with no battery backup at all...

End-to-end encryption? In Android's default messaging app? Don't worry, nobody else noticed either

AJ MacLeod

Re: There's Nothing Fundamentally Wrong With The Idea Behind RCS

"Even though, intrinsically, SMS and RCS also require you to use your phone number as your account identifier?"

Yes... RCS is a better SMS (roughly as good as BBM was for years) but if we're to replace these "legacy" methods of communication it'd be far better to replace them completely and not be tied to outmoded things like phone numbers or servers owned by one or more big corporations (there's no option for self-hosted Signal as far as I could see?)

In the meantime, for the bulk of my contacts I'll just continue to use SMS (and RCS where the recipient's device supports it) because it's there and more-or-less works for now.

AJ MacLeod

Re: There's Nothing Fundamentally Wrong With The Idea Behind RCS

I agree... the biggest problem really is the lack of universality and if Apple were more disinterested it would have been the "new SMS" long ago.

I won't use Signal as it requires me to sign up with a phone number... Matrix seems to be the best alternative, I have a Synapse server running and the Element Android and mobile clients seem fine.

New lawsuit: Why do Android phones mysteriously exchange 260MB a month with Google via cellular data when they're not even in use?

AJ MacLeod

Re: Disable background data

That's true, but it's not exactly network-breaking levels of data... In a month my phone used

10.13 MB "Carrier Services"

8.71 MB "Google Play Services"

2.07 MB "Android OS"

0.93 MB "Google Play Store"

I have disabled apps and / or restricted background data usage as much as I can, always leave my phone off overnight and use pi-hole... Google no doubt still know far more about me than I'd like, but unfortunately it's almost impossible to do my job without be forced into using their services in some way.

Has Apple abandoned CUPS, the Linux's world's widely used open-source printing system? Seems so

AJ MacLeod

Re: CUPS sucks

I've set up more printers than I care to remember, hence the part of my request for a screen which provides useful communication. This is NOT something that the driver should be required for, it's simply stupid to insist on displaying instructions on a computer screen (which might well be nowhere near the computer in question.)

AJ MacLeod

Re: CUPS sucks

None of the stuff you've talked about should be part of the driver anyway - given the embedded processing power available for mere pennies these days, there's no reason why the printer itself shouldn't handle all that maintenance stuff.

Oh - and while you're at it, make sure the printer has at least some form of readable display to tell you what it's doing, also mere pennies. There are few things more annoying than looking at one of those horrible HP or Canon inkjets flashing random uncaptioned lights because there's some unspecified problem...

Run Windows on a Chromebook: All the details. Not so fast, home user...

AJ MacLeod

Re: Both my adult children have a Chromebook

I can't say I've seen that either on my own or on other Chromebooks... have they installed lots of Android apps or something? Mine's still as fast to resume as it was a few years ago (which is way faster than any of the many thousand Windows machines I've used!)

Confirmed: Barnes & Noble hacked, systems taken offline for days, miscreants may have swiped personal info

AJ MacLeod

This kind of thing is precisely the reason why, although I've owned a Nook for years (it's been a fantastic device, far better than the contemporary Kindle), not one of the hundreds of books on it have come from the Nook store. I do admit one or two were bought from Amazon, but they were immediately downloaded, de-drm'd and converted into a more suitable format.

Certainly less convenient than just ordering on Amazon and having it appear "by magic" on my e-reader, but I know they will remain on my device for reading whenever I happen to feel like it, regardless of what any corporation decides at any point in the future.

(As a happy side-benefit, battery life is even more impressive since Wi-Fi is always off)

Happy birthday to the Nokia 3310: 20 years ago, it seemed like almost everyone owned this legendary mobile

AJ MacLeod

Re: I'll See Your 33xx and Lower You

Totally agree - it always surprises me when the 3310 is yet again hailed as some kind of landmark model.

It looks and feels like shoddy plastic junk compared to the quality feel of the 3210, too... naturally I still have my 3210 along with every mobile I've ever owned; this year I was forced onto my 4th in 20 years!

Microsoft confirms pursuit of TikTok after Satya Nadella chats to Donald Trump

AJ MacLeod

Nobody was suggesting that it was the brain dead content of TikTok videos that was of interest to the CCP. Having malware installed on millions of powerful mobile computers with cameras, microphones and wireless network access on the other hand is the sort of thing "intelligence" agencies a just few years ago could hardly of dreamed about.

SpaceX to return NASA 'nauts to Earth with a splash

AJ MacLeod


"Three more NASA 'nauts will be sat in the capsule this time"

I suppose I had better clarify, since this horrific abuse of the fine English language has become far too common. They will be SITTING in the capsule! Afterwards, they will have sat in the capsule, and at some point in the future they will sit in the capsule.

GitHub redesign goes mobile-friendly – to chagrin of devs who shockingly do a lot of work on proper computers

AJ MacLeod

Re: I'll tell you what you want...

Skype was fairly revolutionary in that it was the first decent VOIP solution that could be used by granny - however that was all BEFORE Microsoft bought it. Ever since then it has been abandoned to the point that I very rarely come across a customer that still uses it ( pre-MS it was ubiquitous)

Honey, I built the app! Amazon's beta no-code dev platform is great for ad-hoc stuff, but not much else – yet

AJ MacLeod

Re: MS Access Redux

What, they're over for you? Actually I can only think of one customer still relying on one of these... Excel has been the application programming language of choice for years instead! Onwards and downwards...

Windows 10 Insider wondering where Notepad has gone? Fear not, Microsoft found it down the back of Dev Channel

AJ MacLeod

Re: Better alternative, skip MS

The trouble with that is it's not guaranteed to be on every machine you connect to; whereas for decades you could rely on "win-r notepad enter" and be typing away. It's like vi on any unix-like OS... you might as well learn it as no matter what you _like_ using, you can rely on "vi filename" doing what you expect.

Fasten your seat belts: Brave Reg hack spends a week eating airline food grounded by coronavirus crash

AJ MacLeod

Re: As a child of the 1970s, I have a fear of savoury dishes involving fruit...

Disintegrating frog or boiled to death prune... without access to DNA testing who could tell?

AJ MacLeod

Sorry for the downvote but I was feeling pretty good till I read your post and now I feel like vomiting!

AJ MacLeod

An added benefit is that they like to serve the "special" meals to those picky customers first, before shoveling out the standard fare to the rest of the cattle...

Logitech G915 TKL: Numpad-free mechanical keyboard clicks all the right boxes

AJ MacLeod

No numeric keypad = no thanks. In any case my own mechanical keyboard isn't showing much sign of wearing out yet and it's been clicking away since the second of October 1986!

Rich Communication Services: Nobody uses it, nobody wants it, but analysts reckon it's on the verge of a breakthrough

AJ MacLeod

There may be many things said against it, but something like this IS desperately needed. The reason SMS has been such a success is that for decades every mobile device has supported it. You don't need to create an account, download an app, or buy a certain overpriced brand of phone - it's just there, and you know that essentially anyone with a mobile number can receive it.

Like it or not, RCS has come closer than anything else so far to achieving this, and there definitely appears to be some gain in momentum recently. Apple supporting RCS would be the next biggest step, IMO... I'd hope that they could look at Blackberry and see the future for iMessage.

'iOS security is f**ked' says exploit broker Zerodium: Prices crash for taking a bite out of Apple's core tech

AJ MacLeod

Re: "Zerodium said for the first time that it would pay more for flaws in Android"

It's Friday morning and I may be even more thick than usual, but could you explain that comment (about multiple logins?)

Please, just stop downloading apps from unofficial stores: Android users hit with 'unkillable malware'

AJ MacLeod

Re: because you don't own what you own

That's not how ChromeOS works...

Gmail and Outlook sitting in a tree, not t-a-l-k-i-n-g to me or thee

AJ MacLeod

Running any kind of server is a bit of a pain of course but I'm not so sure it's all _that_ difficult. I certainly could never hope to provide the redundancy that Google supposedly have, but over a decade and a half of running various (mostly) small-scale mail servers I'm pretty sure that their total non-availability has still been less than GMail's IMAP and SMTP outage just today.

Far better to have lots of smaller providers dealing with far fewer accounts each, so that individual outages are much less widely disruptive.

Regarding putting up with Google et al's slurping... in my personal experience the vast majority of people sadly either don't know or even care, and the younger folk seem even less bothered than most.

AJ MacLeod

I'd suggest that what's required is something a few decades LESS "modern" - how about ditching cancerous authoritarian providers like GMail and Outlook.com and going back to completely standards compliant email services that don't bind you to provider lock-in or intrude into your entire online life?

You can get a mechanical keyboard for £45. But should you? We pulled an Aukey KM-G6 out of the bargain bin

AJ MacLeod

Re: Backlighting

It's one of the first things I always turn off on every laptop so equipped. Why on earth would I want light glaring from anywhere other than the screen? It's also a significant battery drain.

AJ MacLeod

Re: A decent keyboard is a decent investment

Mine is from 1986, made in Scotland and was rescued from a skip nearly 20 years ago. They really are pretty good...

Three things in life are certain: Death, taxes, and cloud-based IoT gear bricked by vendors. Looking at you, Belkin

AJ MacLeod

I have been struggling for years to convince customers that gadgets like this which require third party services to function are a waste of money... mostly unsuccessfully.

Then again, I've just been bitten by something similar myself this week - I've just had to replace my ten year old Blackberry phone as Vodafone are unable to get BIS to work since my contract changed. I was aware of and unhappy about the necessity for BIS for email to function, but it was the only smartphone available at the time which fulfilled my requirements and I suppose a decade isn't bad going for a smartphone...

(The saddest thing is that the phones now available are even less suitable than the ones around ten years ago!)

Microsoft decrees that all high-school IT teachers were wrong: Double spaces now flagged as typos in Word

AJ MacLeod

Re: Word processing programs can kern and should use n and m spaces

Just as well - you're supposed to put it in the washing machine, not your eyes...

Welcome to life in the Fossa lane: Ubuntu 20.04 let out of cage and Shuttleworth claims Canonical now 'commercially self sustaining'

AJ MacLeod

Re: @ErroneousGiant - I still don't see the purpose of WSL

Even better, you can ssh directly from the CMD prompt...

Rethinking VPN: Tailscale startup packages Wireguard with network security

AJ MacLeod

Perhaps the OP found the terminology a bit dumbed down? They're not IP "numbers", they're IP addresses... I admit it grated on me a little, I can't remember any occasion when someone else in the IT industry has referred to them as "IP numbers" when communicating with me.

Surge in home working highlights Microsoft licensing issue: If you are not on subscription, working remotely is a premium feature

AJ MacLeod

Re: It is all about Usablility

NX Client via SSH is not even nearly the same risk as a whole PC connected by VPN. You would need very specialised (and effectively worthless) malware (essentially a trojan copy of NXClient) running on the client machine in order to make any kind of use at all of the secured connection.

However, you are the one that's missed the main point of the article, which is about the licensing pitfalls and uncertainty involved with (in particular) Microsoft software and remote working. Open source software simply does not have these issues at all; use it on one desktop in your bedroom or ten thousand company laptops distributed across the world, nobody minds, nobody will come snooping about demanding an audit.



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