* Posts by fireflies

48 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Nov 2017

Amazon confirms it locked Microsoft engineer out of his Echo gear over false claim


Re: Guilty until proven innocent.

one would think for a company (Amazon) known for its camera and microphone based listening/recording/monitoring devices, they would have their drivers equipped with body cameras


I was locked out of my Facebook account for a year (presumably disgruntled members of a particularly large group I admined had reported my profile enough times between them that it flagged up) as Facebook wanted me to prove my identity. I sent the photo of my driving license as requested and the automated system stated that they would have it checked but due to covid it may take longer than usual (this was from around May 2021 to 2022)

I confirmed with "Occulus" during that time, that had I owned or purchased an Occulus VR of any description, I would not be able to operate it due to my account being inaccessible.

So in this case, not even an accusation, just a prompt to prove my identity and a business model of removing as many human beings from the business as possible.

I only got my account back in the end by contacting the information commissioner's office to complain that Facebook weren't keeping my personal data up to date.

As companies like Facebook push more demands onto algorithms that are already not fit for purpose, the human element is more likely to be forgotten - after all, we are not the customer, we are the product. (An example of which, reporting content for clearly violating their own standards - the report is not upheld because they don't have the staff to check it and the robots are unable to decide either way - Facebook automated checkers are looking back on group content dating back 4+ years in some cases and sanctioning members for content they posted back then, yet they can't deal with recent content because it doesn't fit into their predefined peg-holes)

File suffixes: Who needs them? Well, this guy did


Re: file extensions

Don't worry, HP have fixed that now with the "HP Smart" app - pretty much any HP printer now will insist on you installing the HP Smart app in order to work with the printer.

As an alternative, they have the HP easy installation program, which helpfully directs you to download the driv... sorry, no, it downloads the HP Smart app again.

The HP is perfect, except when it isn't - which is more often than you would hope. When it doesn't work, you quickly discover how smart it isn't.

Like many other apps from the windows store, it's designed to just work, and when it doesn't, it isn't designed to handle that.

HP know best however - or at least that's what they believe.


If I recall, the worst thing Microsoft did in terms of file extensions wasn't allowing the hiding of ".exe" or other general executable extensions on files - at least they would typically stand out and the user could avoid these tricks by showing file extensions.

No the nefarious trick that Microsoft handed hackers on a plate was the dreadful SHS extension.

The mere mortals who actually use the computer - in Microsoft's infinite wisdom - shouldn't need to know what goes on behind the curtain. As such, SHS files (shell scrap object file) had hardcoded hidden extensions (like lnk files - hidden by registry entry, not toggled by normally accessed file extension) - and because they were hidden by a single entry, the shs extension either stays hidden, or all your shortcuts show .lnk on the end, along with every other hidden extension.

The problem with SHS files was (aside from the fact they look a lot like a notepad/wordpad document) - they were executable files.

So "readme.txt.shs" would appear as "readme.txt" and an icon similar to the notepad page, however double clicking the file could allow the computer to be compromised/infected.

Thankfully this file type was removed by Vista (yes, something good actually came with Vista) but the fact that this security oversight existed in the first place highlights one of the many major flaws with companies like Microsoft and how they view the users.

Samsung: We will remotely brick smart TVs looted from our warehouse


The problem with helping the customers in the same manner is, how do you prove that a serial number matches that customer's TV?

Serial numbers are not logged at the point of sale (at least not in the UK), and customers are not likely going to check their serial number unless they're asked to (such as calling Samsung for support). If the TV is wall-mounted, chances are it's going to be difficult for them to even reach the serial number.

What if a customer sells their tv to someone else - could they then report the serial number and get it locked? (and for added effect, remove the label and/or swap it with a fake one)

We already have scam phone calls where people ask for sensitive information - what if they ask for tv serial numbers then threaten to block them if they don't pay up?

Implementing such a system leads to a whole host of problems.

Even if a customer has their serial number, Samsung has no way of knowing that serial actually belongs to them. Even if the TV is registered with Samsung after the purchase, with that serial number, who thinks to contact Samsung and de-register it again?

Apple have their "Find my..." system that locks their Macs, iPhones, iPads, and iWatches - no repairs can be carried out and the device can be remotely locked by whoever has it registered to their cloud account - does Samsung really want to go down that route for TVs - an item that's not typically known to be portable?

How often are TVs stolen? Is it that serious of a problem to warrant the manufacturer's implementation of a system to lock them down? Is that going to be a selling point? "If you buy a Samsung, when it invariably gets stolen, we can remotely brick it... it won't help you get the tv back, but you'll be happy knowing that the crims will be upset with you and come back for revenge... Hope you improved your security?"

What courtesy is it to customers when they don't benefit, whether the tv is remotely locked or not. Apple locks deter thieves from stealing apple products when people are walking around on the streets with them. A Samsung remote brick isn't going to deter a burglar from breaking into your house - if they're of a mind to pinch a tv and have the means to do it, they're not likely going to be put off by the outside chance the owner can have it remotely bricked if they connect it to the internet.


Re: Bye bye Samsung

In a sense, that's pretty much every smart device. Every Windows or Apple-based computer... if it connects to the internet, it will likely have auto-updates and some form of "dial home" function.

Sure you can jail-break your smartphone and remove all the manufacturer's/reseller's apps that are otherwise untouchable while voiding the warranty in doing so - but really, you could do that with any device if you had the knowhow.

Smart Tech has long since taken control out of our hands - this is nothing new.

Block the IP address on the router so the TV can't contact Samsung servers (hope it's not a BT hub etc. as the ISP can totally communicate remotely with those too).

The web was done right the first time. An ancient 3D banana shows Microsoft does a lot right, too


Backward compatibility - a time to let go

Backward compatibility is certainly beneficial to many - many people don't want to be forced to buy something they already bought and works for them. Why re-learn a program if the one you already have does everything you need?

But why for the love of all things sane, does Microsoft still insist that when looking for drivers, it has to start with the a: drive?

Surely that is something that needs to be rendered obsolete in the Windows 10 (and possibly Windows 11) era? For those who still happen to have a working floppy drive, how many components these days still include a floppy disk with drivers? How many come with any sort of disk for drivers? Even CD and DVD drives have become obsolete and less frequently feature in pre-build computers.

Yet removing this relic of the past from windows would not have any meaningful impact surely? If you still need to access a floppy drive, you just select it from the list of drives - it doesn't need to be selected as default.

Google staff who work from home might see pay cut under corporate policy – reports


The home worker can write off working expenses as tax deductibles - something the employer would possibly have been doing and will lose out on.

The home worker also saves money from commuting, which would likely more than offset the expenses incurred by working from home, not to mention the time and effort saved - no more traffic jams, etc.

In this case, it would be the employee deciding to become a home worker, not the employer telling employees they are now expected to work from home permanently. If the employee doesn't agree to the terms, they can default to working from the office/campus.


Do you agree to the Terms and Conditions?

"The starting point is the employment contract. If employers wish to implement pay cuts for homeworkers this would constitute a change to terms and conditions, one employees are unlikely to agree to."

Not sure if they made an oversight with this statement... speaking as someone who has been working from home for many years pre-covid, the obvious change to the contract was changing my place of employment to my home address.

The employees will have a contract that states their place of work - currently, that would be the office/campus they have commuted to in the past. If they want to work from home permanently, that contract would need to change to reflect their new place of work, and if Google et al. wish to base their wages on the location of their place of work, then they would be able to make that change within the contract contingent on allowing the contractual change to work from home.

If Google chose to implement such a measure in contracts, it would seem they would be obligated to adjust wages if/when an employee moves, which could result in unforeseen implications for Google further down the line.

When it comes to homeworking, basing the wage on the home address is arguably a fallacy - a home worker could technically work for any company that allows working from home, so basing pay on the competitiveness of the geographical location of the workplace only makes sense for a centralised workplace, not homeworking addresses.

The whole point is to offer a comparative salary that is competitive or higher in relation to other workplaces in the area, to prevent employees leaving for higher salaries. If you work from home, "competitive salaries" are not those in your local area - they are any workplace that offers working from home. The unintended consequence will be that any other company with more foresight than Google could offer a competitive wage without needing their own office/campus.

As a homeworker, moving to another employer that allows homeworking would be so much easier as your "office" doesn't move.

Nuisance call-blocking firm fined £170,000 for making almost 200,000 nuisance calls


Acronym Soup

So to summarise, YCSL got a list from YMSL, did not check TPS; the ICO cited PECR, PDF linked?

Redpilled Microsoft does away with flashing icons on taskbar as Windows 11 hits Beta


Sounds much like the situation where dragging a file around file explorer results in a "gosh no, I just moved the file over the printer's SD card reader en-route to the folder I was going to drop it into..." and the whole thing freezes for a minute while it's trying to read a card that's not present... just because the mouse passes over mid-drag doesn't mean you need to do something.


Re: I rather like it

Not to mention trying to assist new users who don't know their start button from their power button, and can't see most things on the screen because they ignore the technical looking things through unconscious selective blindness.

When it's difficult enough trying to get someone to find and left click (or worse yet, right click) on the start button or the "four squares in the bottom left corner", which you hope beyond all hopes hasn't been repositioned to another side of the screen before promptly forgetting that if someone gives you directions to find the thing you moved, you should inform them that you moved it), having it positioned at an indeterminate location somewhere at the bottom of the screen will only make things much more difficult to support.

Does Microsoft know that the following conversations actually exist in reality:

"The bottom of the screen ... no below that ... no, the very bottom..."

Inconsistent positioning of important functions will confuse the novices who expect things to be the same, always.


Re: Does anybody work with sounds on?

Beeping would be less annoying than the windows 10 notification popups:

"You have a new email"

"okay, now go away"

"oh you also have another new email"

"great but I'm trying to click on something in the bottom right corner"

"another email yay!"

or when it decides to forego sensibility entirely "here's a notification. You can't close it as we didn't include the X for some reason. It will go away eventually, perhaps..."


Re: " ... make finding what you need easier."

They didn't even wait for Windows 11 to make changes like this.

Microsoft Edge recently decided to relocate the downloads from the bottom bar (ala google chrome) to the near top right (ala firefox), with a "click elsewhere and you'll lose it" vanishing trick that makes it that much more difficult trying to direct someone to find the thing they downloaded.

"Do you see something at the bottom of the window that says open file or run? Okay, how about near the top right? Do you see an arrow pointing down at the top right? Have you clicked on the download? Okay let's try finding file explorer... [...] do you see downloads on the left? okay how about "This PC"...


For the want of a competent search function...

"The mitigation here is search..."

It's only a mitigation if the search actually provides a consistent response.

Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right


Re: as for IT upgrades

My 2013 built i7 desktop PC running windows 10 on a cheap sata III SSD and about 20 items in startup boots to desktop much quicker than any windows 95 (or 98, 98se, etc.) PC I've known. (aside from a graphics card addition and SSD added as primary, it's all components from 2013)

There has been a time where Windows 95 would be quicker than some pcs on the market, but with SSD drives becoming the norm, it is not as prevalent. If a computer is slow booting it's generally because it's doing (or still dealing with the aftermath of) updates, or the ironically named "fast shutdown" has meant that the pc hasn't rebooted for several weeks and is suffering the effects of it.

Windows 10 does seem more efficient than windows 8/8.1 before it, and sure, technology has moved on to the point that systems can load up much quicker, despite the bloat of the more recent operating systems.

Software is less efficient, but the Windows NT based systems have been much more stable than the windows 9x operating systems. How many of those could stay running for a week without crashing? Stability, security, and functionality demands are much greater than the 9x days.

That is not to say that even Windows 8-10 is woefully inefficient in some areas. Trying to search for drivers in a windows update should not take longer than a google search, given that the system has the device id, which pinpoints the exact component model and manufacturer, and an update either exists or it doesn't - for whatever reason, Microsoft think that a 10+ minute search is necessary - perhaps they are dealing with each request by hand, and Bob the driver inspector is approaching a well-earned retirement.


Re: Noble waffle

Why should right to repair need to be a burden on small companies?

They already have a schematic for making the product.

They already have the individual parts for making the product.

I also don't expect "right to repair" is going to cover every possible product, that would be unfeasible - no one is going expect Bic to provide replacement lids for their pens, or the ink, tube and nib for the cheap Biros.

Right to repair doesn't mean regulating prices of replacement parts, but it should mean allowing third parties to produce parts to same specification and for a product to be reasonably conducive to repair (such as replacing batteries, swapping out standard components like a hdd, memory, fan, etc. in a computer), not using prohibitive practices like unnecessarily soldering or gluing components down.

(Many) Courts have long been capable of using reasonable judgement, and there's no reason why this should be different. It doesn't need to be an overload of regulation behind RTR - we already have simple regulations like the consumer rights act and small/large companies alike are able to conform with such rules without collapsing.


Re: Make the polluter pay

"If power is expensive enough people won't use it"

How many consumers of pre-built PCs especially, are going to be able to:

A) Determine the cost of power for a particular item that they have purchased (sure if you only brought one item and then measured the comparative average energy usage over 12 months compared to a previous year, then accounted for any other significant factors such as time spent at the property which could affect day-to-day energy usage, temperature differences year-on-year that could result in varying levels of electrical heating/cooling during summer/winter, etc., then you could perhaps get a rough idea of whether the single product you bought 12 months ago has been using more energy, and cost more than you would like - although it could be the degradation of other products in the household resulting in reduced energy efficiency, so you wouldn't know for certain unless you didn't use the device for another 12 months and compared it again)

B) Determine the cost of power before even buying the item (or just decide to discard your £000s of gaming pc because it uses more energy than you like - after calculating the difference in the cost of buying a new pc of unknown energy efficiency and just paying for the extra power usage)

Where does one find the energy efficiency/average power consumption of a pc in order to compare it to equivalent models? Nowadays, manuals are becoming obsolete, so they won't help. If you're lucky you'll get a generalised guide that includes copious references to "depending on model" or if you're unlucky a guide on using "generic item of technology".

We're already in a world where online shopping for computers means a picture of the computer face on, and a couple more pictures from a slight angle. Want to see what ports are available? Want to know what the laptop keyboard looks like more clearly? No can do, but here's another picture showing the product from another angle - the most assurance you can get is that yes, they are indeed, three-dimensional.


In the case of "individual freedoms" - aside from what has already been pointed out - this law isn't impeding individual freedoms to build a computer that is power hungry or inefficient. It is preventing a corporation from building such a computer and making it available to the masses.

At what point does individual freedom cover a multinational corporation?


Re: repairable

Sending broken parts back for quality assessment would cost more money and energy.

I would expect it's more likely a company would focus on the percentage of in-warranty failures. If the number falls below a certain level, then they would look at the most reported fault and if necessary ask for broken parts to be sent to them.

However I would be more worried if they needed to do that as it means that something went wrong in their initial product testing stages and they didn't encounter these failures before releasing the product to market.

Getting a product from a ~90+% reliability rate (I presume it's in the 90s but as to what each company considers an acceptable failure rate probably varies) to ~99.9% would likely be cost prohibitive. There would be diminishing returns on the costs vs the extra reputation for being known for reliable products.

How many of those "known for reliability" companies of old have either been bought out by other companies with more money and happy to trade on that reputation, or have sold out themselves to increase profit?

No one can escape a percentage of their products failing due to defects (or flaws in the design) - mitigation of those failures is only cost effective to a certain degree and at some point, it is cheaper to replace the faulty parts/products than it is to keep trying to perfect a design and production process, resulting in a product that's more expensive, and/or late to market.


Re: Nothing new

Basing fairness on a multiplier (2x is okay, 10x isn't) is actually a fallacy - it all depends on the number of components.

Imagine a product that sells for £100. That includes the cost of parts, the packaging/transport/delivery, assembly, profit, etc.

If that product consists of 10 parts, that's 10 potential spares to build it - so let's just imagine a 100% (2x) mark-up averaging an extra £10 for each part sold individually. So the sum of the individual parts is £200. This takes into account the transport/delivery for individual parts, etc.

But then if that product consisted of 50 parts, a 100% mark-up) suddenly equates to an extra £2 for each part sold individually. That means you have to handle packaging/transport/delivery for an extra 40 parts, at no extra cost.

If instead we considered the same average extra £10 for each part, this becomes £600 total, a 600% mark-up.

That's a simplistic (and undoubtedly inaccurate set of numbers although the example stands) view - there would be many more factors involved (such as the difference between transporting a product like a car versus transporting however many spare parts, having parts production integrated into a larger production line for assembly versus having those parts produced and packaged separately, etc.)

Windows 11 comes bearing THAAS, Trojan Horse as a service


I was helping someone with teams earlier. The usual story, important meeting coming up and they wanted to make sure it's going to work alright on the night (or day as the case may be).

They have the email link ready to test - click the link - no welcoming message, no. Your admin hasn't enabled teams!

But who is the admin? Not to worry, there's some button here that says sign up for free - well, you can't go wrong with free can you? So ignore the webpage title indicating it's for commercial access (who reads titles anyway?) and... what's this? You already have teams with your account! Well, that was easy I guess, take me to my free teams then...

Oh, we're now back to the "your admin hasn't enabled teams" message.

Okay, let's do a quick search on the internet for... oh dear, I seem to be getting loads of pages about the admin centre on Microsoft 365... but this is not a large enterprise, it's a personal account wanting to use teams for an important meeting they've been invited to - why isn't this simple?

Lots of head scratching - as it happens, I wasn't the first to encounter this issue - they had sought help from others already, and worse yet, other people had fixed it - it came up with the correct view when clicking on the link, but the moment they got back home and tried it again just to be sure, back to the message, your admin hasn't enabled teams...

So what could it be - why did it work for some yet not for the person who needed it the most?

The answer it turns out, is that teams decided it needed to load on start up.

So when the computer is booted, teams launches... it prompts to sign in. The user signs in, and for whatever reason, teams now thinks it's in commercial use mode, and you're not allowed to join a meeting because your "admin" hasn't enabled something.

Yet if you sign out of the account, close teams, and then click the link, it opens up fine. Better yet, disabling its paradoxical startup entry prevents the whole issue occurring in the first place.

I haven't used teams for meetings myself, but my goodness what a convoluted mess of a system. If someone wants to join a meeting, why should it matter if they signed into teams (with a non-microsoft email account I might add, not a workplace email with outlook or any other nonsense) because teams decided it's a good idea to run at startup without even asking first?

At least Zoom allows you to set up a free account and host meetings for free without any difficulty, or join meetings effortlessly whether you're signed into the app or not (which also doesn't throw itself into startup to slow down an already overloaded operating system).

Excuse me, what just happened? Resilience is tough when your failure is due to a 'sequence of events that was almost impossible to foresee'


Re: Partial Failures

Surely you could have the code perform a calculation and then compare it against a constant that holds the expected answer - if it deviates from that constant, something has gone terribly wrong - not a 100% guarantee but it would reduce the risk somewhat?

Congestion or a Christmas cock-up? A Register reader throws himself under the bus


Re: I found it best to...

Just be glad they didn't order 12.3 inch ball bearings!

Blessed are the cryptographers, labelling them criminal enablers is just foolish


I had someone smash my window with a small lump of metal for a failing sat nav... I kept the lump of metal and liked to think I ended up with the better part of the deal (notwithstanding the broken window, but thems the breaks - I'm used to dealing with broken windows, thanks to Microsoft)

Yep, you're totally unique: That one very special user and their very special problem


Re: When turn off/turn on fails

That's quite a common setup, even for present day laptops - either a wifi symbol or airplane on one of the function keys, and the manual helpfully states that you press the aforementioned function key on its own to toggle the wireless, or press fn+the function key if you have already toggled the hotkeys function.

Some laptops had a wireless switch on the side that did the same job.

And of course, who includes a manual with their laptop nowadays? It's all online, hidden away on the manufacturer's website, along with the declaration of conformity, the service guide, the 100 different language versions, etc.

The more recent problem has inevitably been webcams - all these Covid-19 era zoom sessions have given new meaning to them, and their little foibles... again, there can be a function key or fn+function key toggle... there may be a separate switch on the side... maybe a sliding privacy cover over the lens... some even have a pop-up camera hidden by default. Then there's the software - Lenovo have a sneaky way of hiding their own camera privacy toggle in the "Lenovo Vantage" software, requiring the user to open the program, search for device settings, then into display and cameras, then scroll down to find the privacy switch that effectively disables the camera. Add to that a combination of the above functions to impede the camera and diagnosing a webcam fault almost needs a manual in its own right.

Yes, there's nothing quite like braving the M4 into London on the eve of a bank holiday just to eject a non-bootable floppy


Re: I suspect there is a psychological explanation...

Some people switch to "dumb" mode when speaking to someone they recognise as an "expert". This can be puzzling when someone is asking you questions about the OOBE and protestations to the nature of, "just fill in the questions" fall flat, and you get:

"It's asking for a language" ... "Choose English"

"It's asking what country I'm in" ... "Choose UK"..

Terraria dev cancels Stadia port after Google disabled his email account for three weeks


I haven't been banned by facebook, but my account has been inaccessible since May 2020 while waiting for one of their staff to look at the photo of my driving license and confirm it matches my account details. Despite the fact I've had the account for well over 10 years, I cannot be trusted to continue using my account in the meantime.

Facebook support is non existent. I cannot even be trusted to read Facebook help - they've stopped one step short of blocking my IP address from accessing facebook.com entirely.

They have a "download your information" option, but that button doesn't even work - guess I'm more persona non grata than the permanently banned users.

The key take home from this is - I haven't done anything wrong, I have never been banned or violated the terms of service, and they haven't accused me of doing anything wrong or violating ToS - someone has simply reported my account as not being genuine and there goes my account.

Not free tier either as I've spent money on advertising with Facebook. No support option through that either - they're happy to take your money and then provide zero options to communicate when something goes wrong like this.

Too many companies working from the model of a one-sided relationship and put literal robots in charge of customer service. The moment human intervention is required, it's not worth their time.

Loser Trump's last financial disclosure docs reveal Tim Cook gave him $5,999 Mac Pro, the 'first' made in Texas


Re: $5,999

"A comparable monitor - resolution, response, colour accuracy?"

You must have missed the bit in the article about the $5999 mac pro not including a monitor

Hollywood drone pilot admits he crashed gizmo into cop chopper, triggering emergency landing


Re: Helicopter danger

"only has to be faster than someone on foot" - yes but it still has to reach / find that person first. That could either mean searching from the air, or getting a new sighting and having to travel quickly. I also take that to mean that you recognise drones wouldn't be any good in a car chase?

Helicopters average a top speed of 160mph, drones are for the most part restricted to under 43mph speed limit. The fastest drone ever (according to Guinness world records) is 163.5mph, but that is a special racing drone weighing under 2 pounds (the fastest helicopter is 299mph for comparison)

When I said drones have to remain in visual sight, I mean that by law, not by operational functionality. People can possibly drive with their eyes closed, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. To support this statement, I will quote from the West Midlands Police site:

"The drones must follow all Civil Aviation Authority regulations and fly within 500m of the pilot. The drones cannot fly outside of the pilot’s line of sight unless a second pilot is used"

Adding to this, the drone's flight time between charges is 20-45 minutes, police helicopters can stay up for approximately 2 hours. So when it comes to range, a helicopter has the drone beat on speed, time in the air, not to mention you can have a large camera, spotlight, and multiple eyes in a helicopter to search and fly.


Re: Helicopter danger

Early on in this discussion, you referenced the incident with the helicopter crash in Glasgow - that happened in 2013. How was drone tech coming along in 2013?

A police force would have needed a license for each drone operator, and drone trials within the police didn't properly start until 2014 (Gatwick airport, funded by the ACPO to test the effectiveness of the technology in policing)... or do you expect our local police forces to go down the path of experimenting with new technologies on a whim?

Fast forward to the current day - police forces do use drone technology more prevalently - it takes time to adapt to new technologies and ensure they are used effectively, responsibly and appropriately. That said, police helicopters have their uses and are not about to be phased out or rendered obsolete. Drone use has expanded the possibilities of aerial policing because they are cheaper and able to operate in ways that helicopters cannot, however there are still ways that helicopters can operate that drones cannot. Drones are more appropriate for a local vicinity (remaining within visual sight), while helicopters can cover more distance, and fly more quickly.

You referenced a wikipedia article about helicopter crashes - bearing in mind that list goes back over 50 years, includes global incidents, civilian use (private charter, amateur pilot), and military uses including armed conflict. Helicopters are much safer than road based travel - a police drone operator would be arriving at the scene by car, so there is a far greater risk of injury or death relating to a drone operation if you account for the travel to and from the scene by car, than there would be if the same scene was attended by helicopter.

The benefits of drone use over helicopter are operating costs and deployability, not safety.


Should someone be charged with murder/manslaughter if they point a gun at someone and pull the trigger?

Just because the gun was unloaded at the time, and no one died, or was even injured.

Where is the logic in that?

Logic dictates that justice should match the punishment to the crime - if someone is killed, that is a greater crime (resulting in death) than if someone is injured (resulting in injury) or if there was no death or injury.

To measure justice otherwise would be illogical. Consider the school playground, one child pushes another child over - could result in no injury, or through pure chance, the falling child could hit their head on a sharp or protruding object and result in serious injury or death.

People make mistakes all the time. Sometimes those mistakes unfortunately end up with tragic outcomes. If the mistake was criminal, the outcome must affect the consequences.

Arson is another example (one can look at the Philpott case for a prime example of this) - set fire to a house, that is the crime of arson - if people die in that fire, it becomes murder/attempted murder/manslaughter.

It is logical to consider each of the factors involved, not to simply latch onto the worst possible case, otherwise most if not every crime would result in the most extreme charges and sentencing.


Because it would be illogical to base the sentencing on the worst possible outcome... the chopper could have crashed into a hospital for orphans during puppies and kittens day, setting the building on fire...

Someone could throw a punch and hit someone - that's assault or battery, but depending on the injury, it could also be ABH, GBH, or even manslaughter. The same force applied to that punch could result in a range of outcomes.

Law will always take into account any mitigating or escalating circumstances, and the outcome of a criminal action will often set a distinction in its classification (attempted murder vs murder for another example) and in the sentencing received accordingly.

Dratted 'housekeeping', eh? 150k+ records deleted off UK’s Police National Computer database


And then the latest news comes out saying that it wasn't in fact 150,000 records deleted but actually 400,000+ records deleted...

What's more worrying - that the deletion occurred to begin with, or that they didn't know the true scale of how much had been deleted?

Epic Games files competition lawsuit against Google in the UK over Fortnite's ejection from Play Store


Re: Looks difficult

I think the reference to a greater chance with apple is in relation to the courts.

Apple cancelling their developer account is just further evidence of Apple's monopoly over the IOS app market. There is no way to get an app on an IOS device without using the only available app store, unless the device is jailbroken (voiding the warranty as I understand it).

That said, any judgement against Apple for IOS devices would set a difficult precedent - consider the many TV manufacturers that either include an app store or just their own selection of apps - would a judgement against apple's monopoly mean that smart tvs need to include a choice of app stores?

Epic would have to walk a fine line on any case demanding change.

Not to mention the confusion that could arise from multiple competing app stores where different apps could theoretically end up with the same name depending on the app store used.

Apple appears to be charging Brits £309 to replace AirPods Max batteries, while Americans need only stump up $79


(IANAL) Batteries are consumable items and therefore not covered under consumer rights law. The consumer rights act covers for manufacturing defects present at the time of purchase - the word of the law is that in the first 6 months, the manufacturer/retailer is responsible for proving there is no defect with an item. Most (as I understand it) retailers/manufacturers will extend this to a year with a standard 1 year warranty.

Over 6 months (or outside the warranty period), the responsibility falls upon the consumer to prove there was a defect present at the time of purchase.

Unlike the other components that, aside from reasonable wear and tear, one would expect them to be free from defects, a battery will have a limited life - both in terms of age and the number of re-charges it can take. The specification would likely span a range, but even then, how does one prove that a defect existed at the time of purchase, especially considering that disassembly currently appears to be a one way street?

When it comes to batteries, what even constitutes a defect? Sure, if a battery has a thermal overload, that's pretty cut and dry, but how many charges can the battery take? That depends on how it has been manufactured - If a manufacturer decides to push their batteries further, it means they can hold more charge but last for less cycles, and vice versa. That would be the choice of the manufacturer, not a sign of a defect.

Hundreds of Facebook moderators complain: AI content moderation isn't working and we're paying for it


Re: Ruining Pages

That's all well and good, but how does it benefit them to have government proof if by the time these accounts are resolved, their owners are no longer using them because who wants to wait 6 months or longer?

I expect most people would bite the bullet and just create a new account, which means their government certified account falls by the wayside.

If they disincentivise people complying with their confirmed identification process, they will struggle to police fake account creations and service will decline accordingly.


Re: Ruining Pages

I can empathise with that - Facebook decided that my identity needed to be checked into... forget the fact I've existed on Facebook for well over 10 years and paid money for advertising... they needed to see a copy of my driving license.

So fine, I send the copy straight away - but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, "it may take longer than usual to review your account."

Longer than usual is now approaching 6 months and 2 weeks.

In other words, a Facebook account of good standing has been blocked for over half a year.

Whatever Facebook are doing, they don't care about the impact on individuals.

Lockdown bidder block shock: Overzealous parental filters on Virgin Media and TalkTalk break eBay for UK users


Re: ISP parental Control?

"Optional opt-in" - I think you missed the point of the article. This isn't people opting in to parental controls. This setting has been turned on by default and people have no idea until things like this.

I came across this very issue last week when someone reported not being able to reach eBay on multiple browsers - a quick check in developer tools revealed some files failing to download, and ironically, I only discovered it was down to parental controls when I googled the ebaystatic page to bring up links to people talking about the issue, to show that other people were having the same problem, that's when it popped up with Virgin Media's parental control block stopping google search results.

The person in question didn't have kids, and had no interest in parental controls. How many others have this underhand state thrust upon them without their knowledge - not even a courtesy email or letter to inform them.

When you tell Chrome to wipe private data about you, it spares two websites from the purge: Google.com, YouTube


Shock news as shock news is neither shocking or news

For a start, this isn't something discovered recently. Just a mere google (heh) for google.com and local storage shows that someone asked this very question 6 years and 9 months ago ("Why does chrome never delete google.com localstorage?") so seeing this on El Reg over 6 years later is just baffling.

The article also seems to conflate cookies and local storage. Sure google could *potentially* store cookies in the local storage, in the same way they could *potentially* sell your browsing habits and IP address to any takers. The question is what is possible, but what are they actually doing or intending to do?

Given this has been happening for so long already, and no clue as to how far back this particular behaviour actually goes, it does sound like an attempt to make much of an issue than it really is - hence the article emphasising what google could do if they decided to put cookies in the local storage.

When much of the argument is based on a hypothetical premise to support its doomsaying, it merely highlights the severe lack of substance otherwise.

So google has been doing this for over 6 years at least. What have they hidden in the localstorage after all that time? If there is something to show for it, then that is where the article should be going.

Otherwise, if you want to decry google for hypothetical situations, you may as well pop down the pub and re-create Harry Enfield's Self Righteous brothers.

Google has enough skeletons in their closet already - no need to find another closet and postulate how many skeletons they could fit in there.

Southern Water customers could view others' personal data by tweaking URL parameters


Re: Legality?

IANAL, but I expect there is a legal distinction between certain types of "server side forgeries" - namely changing part of the url to a different but legitimate url (for example in this case, it sounds like they changed the url to one that would have been available to other customers - adjusting key parts of the string of characters that then bring up a different record).

In the Cuthbert case, he used directory path traversal, which from a brief look into what that involves, the url requests are not standard (including "../" etc.) to attempt to manipulate a poorly secured site into providing unauthorised access.

In the first case, it is essentially a more complicated method of having "customer1, customer2, etc." in your url - the obscurity of a string of characters is not sufficient protection and if someone changed a "1" to a "2" in the url, it would not be in the public interest to consider that illegal.

In the second case, this is like someone going around checking if your windows can be opened from outside - whether they succeed or not, the attempt can still be argued as an attempted burglary, and claiming to be security testing someone else's property without consent is a shaky ground. His argument in court was intent, and not helped by the initial attempt to cover up his involvement. If an off-duty police officer went round my house trying to open my windows, I think I would be suspicious of a claim that they were just testing my security.

'My wife tried to order some clothes tonight. When she logged in, she was in someone else's account ... Now someone's charged her card'


Re: Credit card? What credit card?

Amazon, and similar sites store your payment details separate to the transaction. You are informed that your payment details will be stored and you have the option to delete/amend those details.

If you can read this, your Windows 10 2004 PC really is connected to the internet no matter what the OS claims


Re: Cortana can't be activated

I was trying to help someone fix a cortana issue earlier... looks like it broke since the 2004 update.

If further evidence were required for the state of confusion windows has left itself in, it would be this summary:

1) Cortana says it is not available in English (UK) language. (Suggested fix, download Cortana from MS Store)

2) Get Cortana - you need to sign into a Microsoft account to download apps from the store (They didn't have a Microsoft account, so I created a nice shiny new personal account)

3) Launch Cortana - Microsoft recommends using a Work or School account to get the most out of Cortana (well tough, we just have a personal account - so choose that and click continue)

4) "Cortana does not support work or school accounts..." (but hang on, you said it worked best with.. yet I still signed in with....)

So I'm guessing the myriad problems with the 2004 update are still seeping out of the woodwork.

Civil-rights probe: Facebook has completely failed to… Zuck: Look over here! We’ve banned four groups! Go me!


There are laws in place to allow content providers on the internet to be protected from legal consequences for unmoderated content appearing on their site/service.

If such laws were not in place, then any site/service with a means to accept content submissions (comments, articles, etc.) would have to be thoroughly moderated.

Take El Reg here for example - without those laws, every comment would need to be approved before it could appear on the site. Otherwise, someone could libel themselves in a comment and El Reg would be legally culpable.

Not only would all social media fail, but any sort of community based service would suffer too.

Whereas newspapers and TV stations are responsible for what THEY publish, Facebook doesn't publish content - its members do.


Re: Is anybody surprised?

Ads show as content within your feed. As you scroll down, you will see posts from friends, and occasionally an advert from Facebook.

As they are inline and provided directly through Facebook, adblocking software that attempts to target facebook ads will find it much more difficult - it's not a case of blocking an external server known to supply ads - it has to try and filter part of the content sent by facebook, and in the past facebook has been known to alter the way in which ad content is structured to circumvent adblocking software measures.

Of course, that only helps people using browsers to access facebook - if someone uses the facebook app they'll be stuck with the content facebook provide.


As someone who (apparently) has an account with Facebook, I can vouch for Facebook being slow to act and consistently failing to apply their own policies.

I am what Facebook call a "power admin" (I am one of the admins in a large group - in this case, over 400k members) and on the occasions that Facebook highlight content as breaking their rules, they make it clear how important it is for admins to effectively police their own groups to Facebook's standards. The terms of service written by Facebook can be interpreted in different ways and while I would prefer to err on the side of caution, I have seen blatantly obvious violations pass through Facebook's watchful eye unscathed, and I have also seen content inexplicably marked as a violation when no interpretation of their rules could justify it.

I have given up trying to alert Facebook to the rampant advertising/sales of adult services where large networks of profiles exist, featuring explicit media content and reporting such profiles results in a far less than 50% success rate of the report being upheld (no way to tag a comment to say "how about checking the 5000 friends also as most of them feature similar violating content")

To further prove that Facebook's system is broken, if you report "too many" profiles, you will actually be blocked from reporting - that's right - if you highlight to facebook that a number of their users are actively violating their rules, they will block YOUR profile for doing so.

My current facebook status? Well, a number of weeks ago (9) someone evidently decided that something I said was too contrary to their opinion and decided to report my profile for not being real... so while Facebook allow explicit content to run rampant on their network; someone reports one of their power admin members and the account gets put into "review" - this entails my account being "suspended", a request for me to provide photo identification (take a picture of your driving license/passport and upload it to us) and then wait for them to review the picture to confirm my identity.

So, 10 seconds required to look at a photo, see the name on that photo matching my name on the account, and click on a button to confirm that my identity matches... however due to covid-19, apparently facebook staff haven't been able to find 10 seconds to confirm my identity for almost 9 weeks now (9 weeks Friday) so my account remains "suspended"

No, Facebook don't have any means to contact them - everything is locked out - the app, the website... all I get is the message saying that reviewing my information may take longer than usual.

My account is over 10 years old, it has never received any warnings or bans for violating the terms of service, I am an officially recognised power admin and belong to the official UK power admin group, I have recently spent money on advertising with facebook for an unrelated page, which I also have no access to currently... (yes even the facebook ads app is locked)

It is my view that Facebook will collapse suddenly when their fragile infrastructure breaks at a critical point. Advertisers boycotting and inconsistent application of their policies aside - they rely too much on automation that isn't up to task.

Does a .com suffix make a trademark? The US Supreme Court will decide as Booking marks its legal spot


Protection where its required

I can imagine the primary concern of companies like booking.com is when search engines and so forth allow "sponsored" (give us money and we'll let you commit whatever fraud you want) results to feature at the top when people search for key words like "booking.com"

Sadly, it seems that the do no evil search engine is worse at this than microsoft's offering - as evidenced by a search for an oft used link to activate a recent internet security purchase.

But ultimately, when web browsers have a predeliction for redirecting obvious website addresses to search engines, it's nothing short of irresponsible when search engines fail to offer the precise link as their first result, and in many cases, offer a different website that has intentions to commit fraud.

It was El Reg wot won it: Bing banishes bogus Brit bank banner ad


Tip of the iceberg

Great so Microsoft took down one entire advertisement... I wonder if it will last as long as the fake "www.google.com/chrome" advert (that didn't go to www.google.com) ... take one advert down and they just fill in another form.

But ultimately this is just scratching the surface of the issue - when are search engines like google and bing going to deal with all the fake mcafee, office, norton, etc. sites that prey on customers who have just purchased their "we don't believe in friendly CDs anymore, lets see if you're savvy enough to tell the difference between an address bar and a search box" software.

Case in point, type in the mcafee "url" to activate their software into google... you would think that google would be helpful enough to rank the ACTUAL page you searched for at the top... but its actually slightly further down on... err... well... apparently it doesn't feature at all... gee thanks google.

Instead we have 7 out of the first 10 results are scams, all with much better URLS than mcafee bothered to think up.

Bing is no better - their page is covered with adverts and fraudulent pages claiming to be mcafee.

Duckduckgo - maybe a little better in terms of results provided but they display the URLs in light grey so you can't see so easily that the higher ranked mcafeeactivate pages are fraudulent

The big question is however, many of these companies have got UK FREEPHONE numbers - someone, somewhere is actively paying money to have a phone number that you can dial for free, and that number is then linking directly to people who are actively committing fraud on a daily basis... so where are measures in place to report this? Who out there actually cares that crimes are being committed on a daily basis?

Browsers have allowed search engines to hijack their intended purpose - the address bar is hidden out of the way and the search box is prominent.

Did you know that if you accidentally do a google search for a URL and then attempt to type that URL into the address bar, it autocompletes that same url in the address bar for chrome and if you press enter upon seeing it completed, it will take you back to a google search despite showing the full URL in the address bar?

As more and more new users start using computers for the first time without any awareness of the traps that befall them, everything is being stacked up against them - fraudsters are seemingly working in unison with search engines who happily direct customers away from the direct link to the correct page in order to offer spurious search results.

A simple solution would be for search engines to detect when you have searched for a URL and give you that URL link at the very top as the first result.

For sites like mcafee, they are oblivious to their own obvious failure - the url to activate their product redirects to another link unnecessarily, so as far as search engines like google are concerned, there is no website on the correct link. It will never rank on search engines despite it being an exact match for the search.

Sadly this has become the first test that many new computer owners experience and fail on a daily basis. They are the tree that falls in the woods, with no one around to hear.