* Posts by Ken Moorhouse

3009 posts • joined 26 Jul 2007

De-identify, re-identify: Anonymised data's dirty little secret

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Now locational data published is shifted to a nearby point.

Which could be somebody's - your house. ISTR there was someone in the US who was bombarded with people contacting them about a variety of things, rightly complaining that this shouldn't happen. The default location should ALWAYS be in a green or blue (water) patch on the map, though this could be difficult in highly urbanised areas.

>I realised this when I noticed our local supermarket was a mega-crime hotspot!

The nearest supermarket to where I live is/was a Pokemon meeting point. How I knew was an influx of kids who were all looking at their phones, exclaiming that they were very close to a landmark. This could have a negative impact on crime in an area, dependant on participant.

Apparently a successful deterrent for gangs hanging out around such such street furniture as green telephone cabinets is to paint them pink (the cabinet, that is).

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

The other side of the coin...

...is organisations who cannot collect meaningful information from a subject without frightening them away, due to scepticism that if full information is collected, then it can be used against them. Examples might include reporting of crime, or someone going for an STI test. If complete information is not captured it is of little use, as someone might be a serial reporter of crime, or go to every STI clinic in London for multiple opinions, skewing the anonymised statistics collected.


I think I mentioned before that data snapshots handed out to researchers should be anonymised with Temporal Keys in the same way that the Bank issues you with a Temporal Key to login to your account (using a keyfob calculator). What I mean by this is that all of the data bar the very narrow data required for the research, is scrambled. but that scrambling is unique to that distinct request for the data. The next researcher's snapshot will be scrambled differently. So a researcher asking for one set of data one day, and another set another day (analogy: enter 1st and 3rd digits, then next time enter 2nd and 4th digits of your passkey) will be presented with two sets of data, but no way to meld the sets together without serious work in correlating for similar looking patterns.

What is to stop the data custodian asking how critical is the exact DOB. If it is not critical then a random scrambling of this could be done, say random plus or minus 5 days added to each DOB in the data extract.

Researchers would only be able to request tiny percentages of the overall data to reduce correlation matching further.

OpenSilver throws Microsoft Silverlight devs a lifeline as end of support looms – or you could forget it ever happened

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

...and finally compiling the solution.

As easy as that? Eh?

These people talk with other hats on about data testing as being something that cannot be skimped on. Yet here the idea of taking several big black boxes and chucking them into some kind of compiler glosses over this very issue.

Not unless the workflow includes interspersing every line of code with generic test-points for surfacing testing of the migration as an acknowledgment of the gravity of the problem.

Catch of the day... for Google, anyway: Transatlantic Cornwall cable hauled ashore

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: just a short seaside donkey ride from GCHQ's Bude listening post on the cliffs

Don't get too close otherwise it might be a one way donkey ride...

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Fibre To The Beach

Who will be the first to spot an OpenBeach van?

Apple emergency patches fix zero-click iMessage bug used to inject NSO spyware

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: If somebody were to try to sue what would their defence be?

In this case it could p-o-s-s-i-b-l-y be argued that (ISTR) Steve Jobs warned against the use of Adobe software on Apple products. However the fact that pdf's are supported on Apple products means that get-out card is no longer valid.

You walk in with a plan. You leave with GPS-tracking Nordic hiking poles. The same old story, eh?

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Apple Monitor stand for Christmas

You must have gone to a very healthy school. We had milk monitors and yes there was a certain amount of standing around involved.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: air compressor

Just a reminder that compressed air is not as benign as it seems.

Pointed in the wrong direction it can kill or cause serious injury.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Electric Ladyland

As that one was a double album it could be turned inside out.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: If...

If these bargain shops were to do DIY Christmas Crackers they would make a fortune.

Just put the unwanted stuff in each cracker and away you go. Christmas sorted. Not sure about that plate compactor though...


Never seen these things in the Lidl's I've ever been in. There's hardly any room to socially distance. We must have Lidl Lidl's.

Music festivals are back in the UK. So is the background bork

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: I so wish I had got to see the Rainbow in its prime.

I think Bob Marley (supported by Rico Rodriguez) was the first time I was there (about 10 rows from the front in the stalls, not that we could actually sit in our allocated seats as security were understandably laissez faire about enforcing rules). You don't get to appreciate the decor so much in the stalls but at a music gig there's not so much opportunity anyway. Saw Fleetwood Mac (Rumours Tour) there, and I think Genesis too.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: That analogue Windows Effects link at the end of the article was pretty cool!

Impressive. How can you swear at error messages delivered in that way?

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Brixton Wide Awake Festival

Reminds me of the spaced-out guy dancing in the speaker stack at Bob Marley's Rainbow gig, soon after the Notting Hill riots. Security were told to take a very hands-off approach to their job. Health & Safety was non-existent in those days.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: An attempt at humour, one supposes?

Just because you're jellyfish ner ner ne nerner

DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats sue NYC for trying to permanently cap delivery fees

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: I am somewhat sceptical about that figure

Are you suggesting the compilers of these figures should tread more carefully?

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Absolutely, the pizza delivery documentaries and training films.

I thought they were more about marketing the joys of becoming a pizza delivery driver?

Could this be the solution to the current dearth of delivery drivers in the UK due to Brexit?

(Cue arrival of CodeJunky and consequent downvote in 10 - 9 - 8 -...

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: put the moves on the lady of the house when the food is delivered.

Are you referring to those moves depicted in pizza delivery movies that you won't find listed on IMDB?

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: anything that had been left standing has been served

There might be a corollary to that which is along the lines that if they completely sell out of something they might be tempted to break open those "out of date" packets waiting to be collected.


One day when I worked for London Transport we had some VIP's visit. One of us was asked to make tea for them, but we had run out of the stuff. Rather than go to the shop to buy some more, he fished out a few used teabags from the bowl we kept them in, prior to throwing, then used those. Ugh. Made sure he never made tea for me after that.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Doesn't that make them a cartel?

I think a greasy carton is a better description.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

NYC... permanently cap delivery fees

Is it not in their interest to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and their emissions?

(OK electric vehicles don't emit at point of use, but they have to be charged-up somehow).

When software depends on a project thanklessly maintained by a random guy in Nebraska, is open source sustainable?

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: You are a mug to work like this.

Money isn't everything in life.

I'm sure your comment refers to the exploitation involved, which is unjust, of course, but there are millions of people in the world who offer their time freely and benefit enormously from doing so in ways that it can be difficult for a capitalist to fathom.

This guy turned up on my YouTube "suggested" list the other day. Typifies in my mind "There is more to life than increasing its speed".


For those who decide to stop activity that pleases them because it lines other peoples' pockets. Think about how it benefits your own mind, your own mental state before making a potentially soul destroying decision.

LA cops told to harvest social media handles from people they stop, suspect or not

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: and didn't join in the conversation

Pity TheReg can't block downvotes without the voter having to make a mandatory comment in the thread to explain why. Moderation of one-word 'bollocks' responses might be somewhat onerous however.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Nothing they can do about it.

Maybe true. They could be in a position to waste your time though.

One of my clients who owns a warehouse upset someone who came to inspect some aspect of his property. He was more polite and even diplomatic about things than your In Yer Face response. He told his co-directors "you watch, we're going to get lots of compliance visits now from this guy's mates," which sure enough they did.

As an aside, there was a list of about 100 organisations that have a Right to Entry to property in the UK (I did have a link, but can't find it now). I was at the sharp end of this one day when I was out the office and an employee answered the intercom. "Who is it?" "Valuation office". "The boss is out and I don't believe you are expected...?" whereupon my colleague was made aware we were breaking the law by not letting him in and that the police would be involved if still refusing. You would be surprised at some of the organisations that nobody has heard of that can pitch up and access your property at any time.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: I have a facebook and twitter but have no idea how to log in

Can you convince the police of this? Will they believe you? Will you be arrested for obstruction?

It's like the TV Licensing people coming round to your house "But you can't NOT have a TV, everyone has one these days".

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: a high bar to cross in proving it's not indicative of their intent or actions.

Not sure if I've understood you correctly, but if someone is tricked using a fake FB account, couldn't they use the argument that they knew full well it was fake and trolled it with fake information?

There was the man who killed his wife who was incriminated* by his plants when the police planted an electronic bug in them (as opposed to a Coccinellidae), but he would have had a hard time saying that he was trolling his plants.

*He liked to talk to them, which the police cottoned onto.

Why we abandoned open source: LiveCode CEO on retreat despite successful kickstarter

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: They all require 'GOTO' operations at processor level.


A high-level interpreter/compiler will keep that within some kind of bounds though.

I've worked with Assembler on Intel chips where there were opcodes for Jump within Page available. The idea was to reduce cycles but it arguably helped with readability and damage limitation. On the downside, trying to manage the artificial (artificial to the coder, that is) constraint of a Page can be a pain.

It is easy to do dodgy things with Assembler, such as manipulating the stack, then exiting from a subroutine to a completely different location to where it was called. Easy to do, a nightmare to debug.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: if there were more easy languages like LiveCode to get them started

Yes, provided that Commerce & Industry agrees to use such languages too. Therein lies the problem.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Anyone for programming in Hanzi logograms?

If you see (or hear) 吗 (ma) at the end of a string of Chinese, you can often assume a question with a yes/no answer is being asked. Ideal for IF THEN constructs.

Thinking further, the problem with learning BASIC is that there are no constraints or incentives to learning structured techniques. One method that sure does do that for you is to use Nassi-Shneiderman (N-S) charts. If the chart gets overly busy in a particular part of its body, then it's time to separate out the block into a separate procedure.

Reason why N-S charts have never made it big IMHO is that a lot of people know of them, and how to use them, but to generate one after a program is written is cumbersome either because of the need to compress a section of code into tiny, tiny boxes (because the procedure is too long and/or it does too many things), or the programmer may have taken liberties with structured programming principles in writing their code. A common one is explicitly exiting a loop without going through the END at the bottom of the loop.

Simplistically, Chinese characters are sometimes characters within characters, (吗, for example comprises two characters mouth 口 and horse 马) so your question triggered off in my mind the idea of an IDE (editing and programming environment) that uses squares instead of indents for its structure. Programming arguably is still rooted in text-based systems, yet many aspects of technology have moved on to GUI's.

To my mind a radical way to progress the art of coding is to use an N-S IDE in place of a text editor.

To produce a program, drop a square on the page and fill it out with code blocks, if/then blocks and loop blocks, much like a Chinese calligrapher. Very visual, very structured, very well-documented with little effort. Errors, particularly those involving program flow, should be much more apparent visually. Producing programs this way should be more fun because of the visual element to the design.

Turning that into viable code should be a doddle if the problems of defining and editing the blocks on the page can be overcome.

Microsoft fixes flaw that could leak data between users of Azure container services

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

employs "more than 3,500 security experts who are dedicated to data security and privacy."

How big is the committee that oversees those experts?

Browser-based video editor Clipchamp disappears into the bowels of Microsoft 365

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

More features that users don't need

Microsoft need to acquire companies that bolster reliability of their existing products, rather than chasing new features.

To my mind one of the savviest acquisitions Microsoft has ever made was sysinternals. Not just because of where Russinovich is today, but because it threw great insight into what Windows was doing under the bonnet. The crazy thing is that you would have thought that, as part of the development of Windows, Microsoft would already have wriiten tools like this for internal use from the ground up, to improve the reliability of its products. It seems that this was not the case, otherwise there would have been no need to buy the company*.

*The cynical among us would say that it was to trash freely-available utilities that were a bit too useful, or to shamelessly head-hunt. Again though, you would think a company writing an OS would have this kind of calibre of staff already on board.

Miscreants fling booby-trapped Office files at victims, no patch yet, says Microsoft

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: The most important person in any Microsoft team is the program manager.

He/She was given his/her P45 with XP SP2, according to Wikipedia.

"Microsoft removed Program Manager from Windows XP Service Pack 2. In Windows Vista, PROGMAN.EXE was removed entirely. "

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

In other news...


ah, forget it... yawn...

A practical demonstration of the difference between 'resilient' and 'redundant'

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Novell box

cough Netware cough

(It doesn't matter to me in the slightest, but there are people who will get the flamethrower out for that).

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: a brother in law called Svenge

Did he need to go to the GUM Clinic after these exploits?

Report details how Airbus pilots saved the day when all three flight computers failed on landing

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Automation Issue

One very important thing to note here is that AI must, at all times, make demonstrably rational decisions. If not, humans will have to make a decision as to whether what the AI system is doing is correct, or whether it is out of control.

ISTR there was a case many years ago when a robot on an assembly line made an unpredicted move which killed an operator. IIRC the newsworthiness of the report was bolstered by pointing out that Asimov's Laws had been violated by the incident.

This adds to the consensus that AI must tell us which branch of its flow chart it is traversing. Flow chart? AI? I think that regulatory systems need to be imposed to insist that AI systems are not allowed to "wing it". They have, upon demand (and at any subsequent enquiry), to tell us exactly what they are doing, so that a human can take control if necessary.

The unit of measure for fatbergs is not hippopotami, even if the operator of an Australian sewer says so

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: I want to know how you can weigh a bridge.

Go to your nearest weighbridge...


Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Which measurement should be used... length or weight?

You should also use it for a few of the more obscure measurements in physics, such as the coefficient of restitution (zero) and viscosity (infinite).

Banned: The 1,170 words you can't use with GitHub Copilot

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: without destroying any data.

One of the reasons that Excel is so dangerous in the hands of people that don't things through is that they will say "Ah, the VAT rate has changed, lemme change it." So they will, and mess up historical transactions. The art is to be able to have two lookup columns, one with the VAT rate, the other with the date effective from. That way is automatic. However...

VAT is a hell of a lot more complicated than that: forget about Excel, use a proper database to ensure that commodities with different VAT rates can be covered too, such as certain types of food, tampons, electricity supply, books with optical media, bank charges. Foreign transactions use other rules: is this to an EU customer? Do you have their native VAT number? Etc., Etc., Etc.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: I'm waiting for words like "if" and "for" to be included in their list

By definition these will not appear on the list because they are RESERVED words.

N.B. Reserved in the "polite" sense of the word, rather than me appearing to give a smart-arse reply to someone (Bob) who is guaranteed to know what reserved words are in the context of a programming language.

Confessions of a ransomware negotiator: Well, somebody's got to talk to the criminals holding data hostage

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Their strategy was simply to close tickets after 4 weeks for being too old.

Does the Close Ticket action send a notif to the raiser of the ticket?

One of my clients quite rightly gets immensely irritated when he gets a close ticket from a Big Company in this manner, particularly when couched in patronising terms. He would make a point of re-raising the issue again, but with some awkward questions attached: "Still not fixed? Why Not? You know how long this ticket had been open for before you unilaterally took the decision to close it?"

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Never had a single visit

I used to get letters and visits when I lived in my flat. On the doorstep they would assert "Why haven't you paid your TV licence?" or similar, rather than "Do you have a TV?" I used to ask whether they wanted to come in and look see, but they always declined.

I used to know a bloke who did these visits. Apparently post office counter staff would often be favoured for the job, good overtime money!

A speech recognition app goes into a bar. Speak up if you’ve heard it already

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: it simply hasn't got its fixtures and fittings yet ;)

What better way to practice waterboarding than on ex-water board hq premises*?

Tip: A good safe word to use is F8, particularly when being booted.

*Yes, I do realise this is not something anyone would do for fun, would they??

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: "982 years lease & chain free"

The lease granted presumably started off at 999 years. The reference to chain free means it has a more modern WC*.

Just clicked on the Zoopla link: Gosh I know the place, it's a stone's throw from Sadlers Wells, and used to be the Water Board's HQ. I wonder if there's any connection with the Water Board and the well which presumably was owned by someone called Sadler? The fountain at the front certainly alludes to an abundance of the stuff, which could be worrying for the prospective purchaser if there's a flood rendering the bunker useless.

*Sigh. I had better say that it doesn't as I'm sure I will be downvoted if I don't.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: the sirens would be a handy reminder

Can you imagine the noise if Microsoft did this for Patch Tuesday?

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Just need earthquake and I'll have a the full house.

Hopefully one that is not full of consequential rubble.

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

So to invade France...

Do it on the 1st Wednesday of the month. Can't go wrong.

Fired credit union employee admits: I wiped 21GB of files from company's shared drive in retaliation

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: So despite having left several months earlier, they'd left my account active

A bit belated, but I'd be inclined to send a recorded delivery letter informing them of this, so there can be no comeback on you in the future.

AWS Tokyo outage takes down banks, share traders, and telcos

Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

Re: Why not "the cloud" ?

Interesting question which I presume because the internet is about routing data, it doesn't need to be aware of which data went where historically, which I assume the cloud must do in order to retrieve it later, a bit like RAID but involving network packets dynamically accessing storage as well as RAID techniques such as bit striping.

So if a section of the cloud goes down, I surmise there has to be a mechanism for piecing together replica data from servers that are unaffected by the outage, and promoting these to be the primary version. Not an easy choice to make automatically where latency can cause a positive feedback situation to cause instability.


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