* Posts by TotallyInfo

30 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Feb 2015

Five billion phones are dead in drawers – carriers want to mine them


"I didn't realise how hard it is to destroy HDs until I tried. "Bang a 6-inch nail through it", they said. Well dear reader, none of my nails were large enough, so I cadged one off a neighbour, and set to work with my DIY-sied hammer and the nail. All I managed to do was make a lot of noise, bend the nail and put a tiny dent in the steel case.

Best I could achieve was to prise off the circuit board, and hit the drives as hard as I could in the hope of smashing the platters or heads. Couldn't even get them to rattle."

They generally come apart easily enough. Get the platters out and put nice scratches across them. Or maybe use the magnets in the disk and rub them across the platter surfaces a few times.

Of course, the sensible fast way is to drill through them with a power-drill.

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


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

IR35 costs more to administer than it nets in tax income.

Ostensibly, IR35 was introduced to protect low-payed contract cleaning staff with no rights.

But nobody really believed that. It was lobbying by the big 4 consultancy companies that caused IR35 - nothing else. Because it drives people out of small (contracting/consulting) businesses into permanent employee status.

All that happened with low-paid workers was that they were forced onto zero-hours contracts instead.

Oh Hell. Remember the glory days of Demon Internet? Well, now would be a good time to pick a new email address


The first "real", low-cost ISP for the UK

Like others, Demon Internet was my gateway from Bulletin Boards to the Internet. Firstly on the Amiga and then on my first PC.

Oddly, I've just thrown out the receipt and info for "Turnpike" which was the DOS-based email/news client that Demon recommended and was quite good for the era. I still have some of the email and news from that time in an archive folder set on my current email service. Has been transferred several times. Occasionally useful to look far back in time.

Thankfully, I realised early on that relying on ISP domains was going to be a problem and so registered my own domain.

I don't have to save my work, it's in The Cloud. But Microsoft really must fix this files issue


Re: Lets step back a bit

Autosave is its own nightmare UX actually. We are getting so many accidental changes in files because autosave has saved something that the user was only playing with, especially when the user isn't the author.

The only real reason autosave is there is because Microsoft couldn't work out how to do collaborative editing seamlessly. You only get updates after a save - hence having autosave turned on by default otherwise more people would realise just how broken the collaborative editing actual is.


Equally, I've had many that simply stopped working or, more likely, just corrupted every file.

I learned long ago that memory sticks were no more reliable than floppy disks.

When customers see red, sometimes the obvious solution will only fan the flames


Re: Dolt

"I got in touch with his ISP"

Ah yes, hit that one many times. The answer is simple though. I pause for a bit, maybe make a bit of noise. Then come back and say "OK, tried that, still no joy"


That syncing feeling when you realise you may be telling Google more than you thought


Re: Automatic Sign-in? How else can Google get us:

> at the heart of it all is 'OAuth' and subscribing to Google or Microsoft's services, such that if you're already logged in via google, or 'Microsoft Login' then oauth can silently track you without your knowledge. This article talks about doing this with 'Bing Ads':

This is why I won't sign up to Medium - they want you to use either your Google or Facebook account and I won't do that. No idea why they won't let you use a local account - after all, they claim to want to use a new & different model of monetisation.

Spent your week box-ticking? It can't be as bad as the folk at this firm


Reminds me of the time ...

I was tasked with writing a warehouse stock control system for a major organisation with what was, at the time, the largest single-building warehouse in Europe. I was tasked with doing it in dBase III+ on one of those old Compaq "portable" PC's, before laptops. 12" monochrome screen and a 5.25" floppy drive, no HDD.

I was then told that I wasn't allowed to speak to the warehouse staff due to unspecified "union" issues.

Well, it got done but I'll never know whether it was actually useful. It was my first go at building an application for a PC! Fun but so painful on that device.

No idea why they didn't use the excellent mainframe systems they had available. Go figure.

Another German state plans switch back from Linux to Windows


Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

"t costs you a higher TCO in most use cases to do less and is way more painful to use. Hardly a benefit."

"[citation needed]. Stop spreading FUD. That's Microsoft's job."

Genuine TCO/ROI data is remarkably hard to get hold of because there is far too much emotion and too many vested interests involved.

While, in terms of raw OS licensing, costs are certainly lower. Costs for technical, architectural and support skills are not only at least comparable but may well be higher or indeed **may be unobtainable** - since enterprise quality skills in desktop Linux are pretty rare - of course they are, hardly anyone does that! Decent IT skills are hard enough to come by, specialist ones far more so. That might well leave you tight to a choice of a small number of specialist 3rd-party support organisations who, themselves, would likely struggle to grow in the face of a large corporate switch to Linux desktop.

Then you have to factor in end user skills and knowledge. Few, if any, enterprise users have knowledge and experience of Linux desktop. Even worse when you factor in the need to use non-standard software such as Open/Libre Office instead of MS Office.

Many enterprises (and certainly public sector) have to operate at minimal staffing levels at the best of times, trying to free up front-line staff in order to retrain them to an alternative OS and software would see you laughed out of the board room. And rightly so.

None of this is FUD, all of it is real. Based on experience over several decades. And yes, based on practical experience of trying to move away from Microsoft products in the past. Also based on writing business cases for past and current services.

Let us all do ourselves a favour and leave the emotion out of this argument. The decisions for change vs status quo aren't just based on TCO, nor even on ROI - but rather on all of the business and human factors as well.

Next; tech; meltdown..? Mandatory; semicolons; in; JavaScript; mulled;


Re: ...programmers, aware that every additional character offers another chance to make an error...

Now you are talking. Both of those are in my past!

FORTH: great for squeezing the entire operations of an airport into something no bigger than a raspberry pi! But really head-twisting to get the reverse-polish notation right :)

APL: Spending a week puzzling over a single line of code that recalculated the universe - magic! Of course, useless if you ever wanted to go back and change it 6 months later! Loved it nonetheless, made me feel like I was a mathematician :)


Perhaps because JavaScript is used by LOTs of people who are not professional developers and to whom constant clutter is a distraction that makes it harder to write logic.

Sysadmin's sole client was his wife – and she queried his bill


"Windows systems can be quite stable, but can also not be"

This is what is so often forgotten about Windows - its reach. The main issues I have are with external USB docks. The DisplayLink software used to provide multiple external monitors (I have 2 at home and 3 in the office) often leaves the system in a bit of a state when waking up or after multiple dock/undock events. Doesn't help that I switch between one at work and one at home.


"But then I did have to educate her about not leaving loads of Chrome tab's open as that can really slow restart down as chrome tries to reconnect and refresh all the pages..."

There are extensions for that. They prevent the tabs reloading on restart. A great lifesaver when you have a shed load of windows & tabs open as I generally do and then you end up on a rogue website.

The one I use is called "The Great Suspender" - a brilliant name. It can also unload pages after a set period to also reduce overheads.

The rise, fall, and rise (again) of Microsoft's killer People feature


"At the time, I almost NEVER used the actual Facebook/Twitter app. See the problem with this? If I don't use the App, I don't see any of the ads or sponsored content. FB does not make money. So this had to go. :("

Ads? What are those? Does FB actually have ads on the web interface - how quaint! I Never see them of course, why take the risk.

Windows code-signing tweaks sure to irritate software developers


Re: Change in mindset is needed IMO

Self-signed cert chains can indeed be a LOT MORE secure than publically signed ones. But it all depends on the process. Done wrong, they are worthless, done well they are very strong. Of course, you are also taking on another issue which is issuing and managing the trust chain and that can get very complex very quickly.

But it does annoy me greatly when people and organisations assume that self-signed certs are "insecure", this is not a foregone conclusion at all.

When I connect to one of my servers to do admin, I'm almost always using self-signed certs and they are very secure since I created the trust chain manually and the root CA cert is kept offline. I therefore have no worries about compromised CA's and MitM attacks would always stand out like a sore thumb. But that only works because I have a very limited number of places where I need to install the CA public keys to prove the chain of trust.


Re: How long before...?

That article is nearly 2 years old. All it says really is that the free upgrade for W10 finishes when MS says it does (which actually isn't quite true) and that they are going to crack down on pirate versions of Office.

The article's comment about Open/Libre Office is utter rubbish. If for no other reason that MS are very heavily scrutinised in public sector due to their prominence. Any attempt by them to try and ban or just restrict the use of any rival, let alone public domain rivals would mean disaster for their public sector sales.

In any case, MS really don't care about open source "rivals" that much, those tools will never be able to catch up with MS Office investment unless a large number of big organisations decide to invest heavily. While those tools are fine for some use, they are very unlikely to ever present real competition to MS Office.

Cheap virtual box hosters – Amazon's Lightsail is out to destroy you (yes, you, Digital Ocean)


Re: Virtual and real servers?

"Say you aren't into development but just want a web server, mail server and VPN end point?

I can see the flexibility in a virtual server environment, and the potential economies for the provider, but is this now the best route to an emtry level hobby server?"

Nope, the best entry point - in terms of cost - for a web service is still a shared server. Followed by a VPS from a low cost provider. Costs can be insanely low, especially if you can pick up a special offer.

For most individuals, public cloud for running web services is never going to make sense while costs are balanced as they are. Where they begin to make sense are when you need a highly variable workload - e.g. you need to scale up periodically. Or where you need a large "virtual datacentre" for specific workloads.


Re: What is the point ?

"Unless you have a very intermittent large demand - why use a cloud service?"

You are not comparing like-for-like pricing. To have a fair comparison, you need to take into account space, HVAC costs, server hardware costs and depreciation, capital costs, network & security management costs and doubtless quite a lot more that I've missed.

Certainly in the UK, I can get a VPS and perhaps even a public Cloud service running for far less even than the cost of electricity for an equivalent server - let alone the other overheads.

You want SaaS? Don't bother, darling, your kind can't afford it


Re: It doesn't make sense

"Send an email with people in the Bcc" - urm maybe you should have gone to Microsoft themselves then because that certainly doesn't happen on Office 365. Anybody charging you for a service that does that needs a nice legal looking letter sending to the CEO and CFO.

UK NHS 850k Reply-all email fail: State health service blames Accenture


Re: Reply All Fun...

Yes, that one had me in stitches!

Microsoft shelves 'suicidal' Android-on-Windows plan


Re: Biggest problem with Windows phone continues to be mismanagement shocker?

Hmm, it seems that diatribe's can come from anywhere.

Of course MS have a lot to prove and a new CEO to do it with. Unfortunately he has many decades of Balmer to undo - it may take a while.

But your figures don't show the whole deal. Yes Windows Mobile is a small % of the global market. However, in certain markets it is already >10% which is enough to trigger development of apps by certain vendors. MS are focussed on the enterprise market at present while keeping the handset prices low enough to make them attractive. Low cost + Windows Manageability is not to be sneezed at when you have thousands of handsets to manage on a tight budget.

And Azure is similarly making significant progress in certain areas. Government and health for example where the work MS have done getting certified to industry and government standards is helping drive a massive wave of cloud deployments (ref UK MOD for example). Might be a small % but it still means that MS are building cloud capacity at an exponential rate and doing so while meeting the requirements of enterprises that wouldn't commit to the way that Amazon and Google work.


Re: What 'app gap'?

Not so, it is a very real issue in the enterprise market which is where MS are focusing efforts to sell their phones. With considerable success in the EU I might add.

The cost not only to buy but to manage is significantly less than competing platforms (iOS) without compromising security (Android).

MS need to encourage the big enterprise vendors to create Windows Mobile versions of their smartphone apps so that enterprises can do their expenses, etc. on the move.

Catch 'em while you can! Presenting Druva's virtual open door detector


Just another DLP

So this appears to be just another Data Loss Protection tool? And the processing is done on AWS?! Oh boy, well that would require some significant convincing.

El Reg, please stop putting "articles" up that are poorly hidden advertising. If you want to allow suppliers to write something up about their products, that's fine, but have the decency to identify it as such.

Choc Factory research shows users just don't get security


Re: Rubberhose Cryptanalysis

Come and work for me then ;)

Back to the Future: the internet of things as imagined in 1985


Re: But it *must* be wonderful

That's why Gaffer tape was invented!! All of my travel power has a liberal (am I allowed that word on El Reg?!) helping over the stupidly bright LED's that would quite happily double as street lighting in many countries.

The Revenue achieved RECORD numbers of e-tax returns ... by NOT shifting to GOV.UK


Re: Gov UK +1

Did that and the result was perfectly understandable! Complex, yes as there are quite a few exceptions but that isn't anything to do with the gov.uk design.

First look: Ordnance Survey lifts kimono on next-gen map app


Re: Yawn!

I agree with you in general though maybe not quite for the same reasons. Certainly they are about a decade behind the times as usual!

The main problem with Google maps for accurate navigation is that they are generally quite a bit out. At least 3-4m normally. This is due to their projection being based on a single height - not surprising due to most of the early data being satellite data.

On the other hand, OS are clearly deciding to totally ignore the most amazing work done by the OpenStreetMap guys and all their many contributers. This is social based so they have 10's of thousands of mappers worldwide and in many countries, the OpenStreetMap data is better than official maps. Paths - even those through small parks - are clearly marked as is a lot of other data and it is easy to contribute to.


Re: What happens to users of the current apps?

Of course, but if you updated your MemoryMap software "officially" - it invalidated old maps unless you knew how to fix them! Not that MemoryMap WANTED to do that but were forced to by OS.


Re: What happens to users of the current apps?

They have always done this. They regularly "update" maps and force everyone to buy them again. They are a pain.