* Posts by philthane

34 posts • joined 5 Dec 2015

Millennium Buggery: When things that shouldn't be shut down, shut down


Re: Engineers who become managers

Happens in all jobs. I used to be a D&T teacher, a 'head of year' came charging in one day disrupting my class for no good reason. When he rushed off to harass someone else one of the kids remarked, 'It's funny how Mr X had made a career out of walking fast and carrying a clipboard.'

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID



You don't need to be Celtic to confuse people. My surname, Thane, is Saxon but anywhere south of Brum I'm 'Fane'. Many times I've said, 'Thane, with a Tee Aitch' and seen some southern muppet write 'Phane'. Good for call screening though, if someone asks for Mr Tanny it's an Indian call centre.

Make masses carry their mobes, suggests wig in not-at-all-creepy speech


Who am "I"?

I have three Google accounts in different names, none of them mine, that I use for various things. One for using the Play Store if I want an app I can't get from Fdroid. One I use on my desktop PC to access FB anonymously. One to give companies that want an email address but whose spam I have no intention of ever reading. Which of these would hizzonner like to track?

4G found on Moon


Not O2 then?

O2 can't bring any sort of connection, not even 2G, to vast areas of Bedfordshire. Been complaining about it for WEEKS. Two (at least) masts are 'down' they have no date for repair.

Kernel-memory-leaking Intel processor design flaw forces Linux, Windows redesign


No joy from Intel

About 15 years ago I worked for a graphics software co that discovered a bug in Intel graphics chipsets. Our drawing software used a command (new I think in Win98) to draw a rectangle with a single command. Our competitors continued to use the old method of drawing four lines in consecutive steps (automatically from the user POV, but slower). Intel hadn't implemented the new command so our software suddenly crashed if a user tried to draw a rectangle. Other less elegant applications worked fine. We of course were blamed despite our devs making a simple demo app whose only function was to draw a rectangle, crash and log the problem. Intel refused to talk to us even after the company sent a copy of the app on disk via registered mail. We sent out an upgrade that probed the hardware before deciding which command set to use, which would have slowed the operation slightly but fortunately not really significantly.

If your 'Intel Inside' PC suddenly goes 30% slower what chance they'll talk to you?

Glad I use Linux on AMD.

'Please store the internet on this floppy disk'


Your software doesn't do metric

I used to be support manager for a company that supplies CAD/CAM software to the education sector. Rather than provide complicated 'locale' settings the developers had decided to have the application check the Windows settings and used the preferred units set there. We'd regularly have teachers berate us for using inches when 'anyone should know that schools have used metric in D&T lessons for years'. A surprising number of school PCs were set to default to inches. Probably still are.

'I knew the company was doomed after managers brawled in a biker bar'


Re: "and gloves were forbidden"

When I was in the lower VI I once met my Chem teacher in the pub at lunchtime, we never mentioned it back at school. He was sacked a few years later fro running a still in the prep room.


Re: "and gloves were forbidden"

A colleague of mine in the 80s had done National Service in the RAF just after the war. As a rookie tech he was a vital part of the Radar testing regime. His job was to take a flourescent tube and stand in the middle of the airfield. The operators stopped the radar dish sweeping the sky and pointed it at him, if the tube lit up it was working.

FCC douses America's net neutrality in gas, tosses over a lit match


Take Back Control

Sorry for Americans. I suspect once our home-grown right wing 'take back control (tm) and we stop bothering with pesky rules from Brussels our own telecos will adopt rules here.

From the graaaaaave! WileyFox's Windows 10 phone delayed again



I bought a WIleyFox storm when they first came out and still have it. One reason was Cyanogen Mod nw sadly no more, but WileyFox have issued their own updates and it still works fine.

I wouldn't want WinPhone anymore than I want Google, but I understand some companies have built their team working methods around it and I guess there might be cash to be made providing a WinPhone at least until these companies decide what to do long term.

Is Oomi the all-in-one smart home system we've been waiting for?


I've got dimmer switches, little knobs on the wall that you turn, and a TV remote. Is your house so big, or are you so idle that you need change the lights from the sofa?

Foil snack food bags make a decent Faraday cage, judge finds



Have any naughty boys tried wrapping their ankle tags in crisp packets yet?

Boffins craft perfect 'head generator' to beat facial recognition


Facebook ID photos?

Anyone use this to produce random faces to keep Faceache happy?

Let's dig into how open source could KO the Silicon Valley chat silos


Re: Quick - call a sociologist

Advertising and herd mentality. Once a few people are convinced by the advertising they 'invite' their contacts to join them. OpenSource companies tend to have small advertising budgets.

CrashPlan crashes out of cloudy consumer backup caper


Re: The real reason ?

Yup that's me, an old PC in the shed running LAMP plus Crashplan. Looks like I'll have to go back to Rsync...

'Real' people want govts to spy on them, argues UK Home Secretary



If I were a terrorist, or bog-standard criminal, and any of the mad proposals currently floating around the political word were to be implemented I would assume that all messaging and social media platfoms were compromised and revert to old fashioned email with PGP. Let Rudd/Turnbull/Trump etc crack that.

Leaked: The UK's secret blueprint with telcos for mass spying on internet, phones – and backdoors


Relying on apps and ISPs to make encryption easier may become a thing of the past but anyone who feels the need can set up encrypted email, I'm not an IT pro, just a freelance journo with an interest in tech and I can do it. Unless the govt bans private mail servers and forces everyone onto one their approved mail systems the whole thing is pointless.

How would you pronounce 'Cyxtera'?


A word means what I say it means

Long ago Cambridgeshire schools needed a pupil appraisal scheme and ran a pilot 'Cambridgeshire Records of Achievement Pilot Scheme' (check the acronym). After the 'success' of the pilot it was hastily renamed Cambridgeshire Pilot Record of Achievement (CPRA) which we were instructed on a training day was to be pronounced 'Sipra'. It was still crap.

'Trash-80' escapes the dustbin of history with new TRS-80 emulator


good old days...

when every schoolboy (schoolgirls didn't seem to bother) could go to the computers on display an Dixons, Currys, Boots(!) and type:


20 GOTO 10


Then run...

BS Detection 101 becomes actual University subject


Political Bull

Please make this course compulsory for politicians. Maybe then they'll stop buying the latest gold-plated bull with our tax money.

Stallman's Free Software Foundation says we need a free phone OS


Re: Yes we do, but it'll never happen

I have a Wiley Fox Storm phone that came with Cyanogen installed by the OEM. It's 'free enough' if not quite Stallman compliant. I use Fdroid as my preferred app store and don't use Google's Play. But then it's been the year of the Linux desktop for me since about 2000.

Most users do not care a bit about software freedom, or understand any of the privacy and security issues that bother free software advocates, they go for the best hardware in their price range and just take the software they are 'given'.

Hate 'contact us' forms? This PHPmailer zero day will drop shell in sender


(Don't) Contact Us Forms

More and more companies have removed email addresses and phone numbers from their websites leaving either forms or 'live chat' with a operative who has no clue about the thing that interests you. About 50% of the forms I fill in are never answered, and most of those that are provide the wrong information, or promise to call me but don't. I suspect in most offices the latest intern is given the job of dealing with the forms on a friday afternoon when no-one else can think of anything for him/her to do. I hope all their damn forms are plagued by malware and disappear for good.

Capita STILL hasn't delivered usable Army recruitment IT system


Too many politicians and senior civil servants with degrees in History, Classics and PPE. And no idea what they are doing.

What should the Red Arrows' new aircraft be?


Re: Textron AirLand Scorpion

Seems to be designed for third-world air forces that can't afford..., oh I see what you mean.

Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works


Infinite Economics

Conventional economics assumes that increased productivity (due to automation or any other technological change) leads to increased consumption and we all get more things and feel better. Unfortunately the planet is finite, you logically cannot have economic growth for ever on a finite planet.

Facebook pays, er, nope, gets £11m credit from UK taxman HMRC...


Re: Suggestions? - VAT

Abolish all tax except VAT, which is imposed on all transactions. Annual budget speech takes about 2 minutes, expected GDP divided by expected govt expenditure multiplied by 100 = VAT rate. Curently about 40%. But I do mean ALL transactions. Want to invest umpty-billion you don't have in an off-shore vehicle then sell a millisecond later? That's fine, but we'll have 40% thanks. Obviously welfare payments would have to take account of increased retail prices, and currency controls imposed to prevent cash earned here being spent elsewhere. Simples.

UK will build new nuclear bomb subs, says Defence Secretary


"... cannot know what new dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s."

But can anyone really think of any situation that would be improved by the UK firing off a few missiles? Given that, how can anyone believe they have deterrent effect? Even the maddest meglomaniac will realise that the UK won't use them and be grateful that we spent so much money on them we can't wage a conventional battlefield war.

But is it safe? Uncork a bottle of vintage open-source FUD


Linux on my desktop

I've run various Linux distros at home since I replaced Win98 with Suse 8.0 around 15 years ago. Since I went freelance in 2005 I've run my business on it. Not to mention my wife's desktop, various Android devices and an old PC that runs my Nextcloud server.

Linux on the desktop will never happen for most ordinary home users, and most of them are moving away from PCs anyway and doing all their IT via Faceache on a phone. It is used at work by millions of people many of whom don't know anything about the OS, they just get a login screen and an app to use.

User couldn't open documents or turn on PC, still asked for reference as IT expert


Schools Defaults

Years back I worked for a company that supplied CAD/CAM software and machinery to schools and colleges. To try to avoid complications there were some pretty sensible defaults that Just Worked(tm) but one regular problem was teachers complaining that our software worked in Imperial measurements but schools have used metric since about 1970. Worse still there was no option to change it. One of the decisions our developers had made, thinking it would simplify things, was to have the software automatically use whatever measurement system had been set up in Windows settings. It would appear that every UK school PC at the time was using US measurements. I bet most still are.

Google's become an obsessive stalker and you can't get a restraining order


1 Use alternative search, maps, docs,

2. Manage your own backup and sharing via Nextcloud

3. Use open source Android such as Cyanogen.

4 Do not sign in to any Google service.

Too much hassle for most maybe but it works for me

TTIP: A locked room, no internet access, two hours, 300 pages and lots of typos


Who knows? Really?

No-one I know in the old-fashioned, real life, face-to-face sense has heard of TTIP. When I mention it people's eyes glaze over and they seem to assume I'm either a raving commie or an anti-EU Faragist. In fact I'm a quaint old liberal who thinks democracy is the least worst form of government we've invented so far, and is saddened to see it imperilled by a combination of avarice and ignorance.

TalkTalk confesses: Scammers have data about our engineers' visits to your home


saved by the T&Cs

Last year, looking for a cheaper ISP, I asked TalkTalk for a contract. It was >5000 words, nearly as bad as a Microsoft EULA, I gave up reading it and refused to sign up. Lucky escape!

How to help a user who can't find the Start button or the keyboard?


Re: Start Button

I also use KDE and had the Broken Windows call in 2011. Luckily I have a voice recorder on my phone:


JD Wetherspoon: A 'hacker' nicks 650,000 pub-goers' data



Why would 650,000 drinkers give their details to a pub chain in the first place?


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