* Posts by Tom Mason

23 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Aug 2007

'Burning platform' Elop: I'd SLASH and BURN stuff at Microsoft, TOO

Tom Mason

Re: Is it just me.....

I think Bing's biggest problem is the name. I can't hear it without thinking of Chander Bing, said in that horrid whiny Janice voice.

Tom Mason

Stupid stupid stupid

Killing Bing and XBox would be incredibly stupid and short termist, because although they're not profitable on the balance book, the value they provide to microsoft, if only in terms of not being reliant on their major competitor for core functionality. Without Bing, where would MS get their data driven cloud services? Google use their backend to provide the engine for Google Now, Apple do something similar for Siri, and these are the cutting edge, attractive feature customers want, not to mention that the XBox brand is popular and highly recognisable.

See http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/11/microsoft-shouldnt-hire-any-ceo-who-wants-to-kill-bing-and-xbox/ for a better analysis of why killing those divisions would be a bad idea

Legal bible Groklaw pulls plug in wake of Lavabit shutdown, NSA firestorm

Tom Mason


It seems like the wrong reaction to me. If you believe the goal of the security apparatus is to shut down dissent and anything which may harm the interests of those in power (which imho is rather too paranoid), then simply giving up because of the danger that someone may be reading your communications just hands them victory without a shot being fired. It's the ultimate in being bullied into submission.

It has been said the freedom is won through the blood of martyrs, and if it's something people really care about then the risk of being discovered and jailed unjustly is part of the price that would have to be paid. It's not really possible to stand up to bullies behind the veil of anonymity because wearing it simply demonstrates you're still afraid.

Having said that I still think this is a massive and paranoid overreaction. I find it hard to see how the activities of groklaw would even register on the NSA radar, and even if they did how their reading of her communications would prevent her doing anything that she has been doing, or how it would affect those who communicate with her.

Everything Everywhere's 4G: Why I'm sitting this one out

Tom Mason

4g makes sense for dongles

4g probably doesn't make much sense for a phone right now, but it might well make loads of sense for a USB dongle or portable wifi hotspot, perhaps even a tablet

Red Hat engineer renews attack on Windows 8-certified secure boot

Tom Mason

Secure booting from UEFI is a good thing, from a security perspective. The ONLY problem with it is that they haven't mandated that a user with physical access must be able to install a non-signed OS bootloader if they so choose. I don't see how it's anyone's problem but GPL fanatics that their philosophy prevents them having a signed bootloader. They don't get to spoil the PC for everyone else just because of their bizarre views, any more that PETA should be able to prevent me enjoying a nice steak.

As for people who continue to make jokes about winows being insecure, and linux being perfect, perhaps you could explain the kernel.org and apache.org outages?

Cornish pasties awarded protected status

Tom Mason

That's rubbish

I don't think this is a good idea. This protected status makes sense for things which have long shelf lives and travel well, but a good cornish pasty has to be freshly baked, which makes it impractical to even buy one outside of cornwall, except for the crap mass produced ones. In this case protected status will reduce peoples experience of cornish pasties to the dross, and harm the image of the cornish pasty in general.

Radio lobby 'hides' 2m analogue receiver sales

Tom Mason

I can see why...

you'd ignore analogue FM radios in PMPs and phones. I've never been able to get mine to work. Besides, they're a "me too" feature rather than a selling point. Where a product contains a radio which is almost never actually used then it seems silly to include it in the figures to prevent the switchover. Having said that, I've yet to see a reasonably sized (i.e. small) DAB radio. Until DAB radios can challenge the size of an FM radio you can't switch off the FM signal.

MS virtualisation bug dodges defences

Tom Mason


Must be a slow news day.

MS are right. This is not a security vulnerability because the features that can be worked around are only mitigations, not barriers. Anyone who is relying on these features to maintain security must be out of their minds, not least because they don't exist on XP pre SP3 or on Mac, and only partly on linux. If anyone has ever said "oh I've found this bug in my code, but it's not exploitable on XP SP3 or later because of DEP, SafeSEH and ASLR" deserves to have their bottoms slapped.

I mean, sure, it's a bug in VPC, no doubt, but there's no need to panic. This will not cause the end of the world, or even minor earthquakes. In fact we'll probably never hear of it again.

Jobcentre ejects Jedi Knight

Tom Mason

Re. A 'religion' based on the ramblings of a SciFi author...

Just goes to show what an epic failure George Lucas is. I mean, he goes to all this effort to create a pseudo religion for a film that was really just a big advert for a load of toys, and he fails to monetize the biggest asset he has. <facepalm>

Are West Bromwich Borg pliers actually side cutters?

Tom Mason

The answer

If you continue to follow the U.F.T(ool) down Whitehall road you will clearly see that these are clearly linemans pliers, which suggest we're being invaded by a hyper intelligent race of electrician aliens.


The myth of Britain's manufacturing decline

Tom Mason

Service based economy != good

The service based economy is not a good thing. It's quite simple really. The nation can only truly get richer by selling more stuff to foreigners, and the fundamental measure is balance of trade. At the moment our biggest export is £, which means we have less ourselves. Manufacturing is the best way of turning effort + raw materials into added value, which is where real wealth comes from. Our current standard of living is build on a mountain of debt which only manufacturing can repay, and unless we learn the value of hard work we are doomed to be more like greece than germany.

Darling upsets almost everyone

Tom Mason

Bye bye bankers

Bankers are leeches, they cannot really create useful wealth, only the money which has the appearance of wealth. In fact what they do is confiscate wealth from those who actually do produce stuff. Wealth is created by adding value to something and then selling it at a price higher that your costs.

The reason our recession is so much greater than ever other countries is that we've neglected our manufacturing sector and built our castles on the sand of a debt based economy. History shows that nations who allow the banks to get too big and powerful end up in trouble. There's a reason why all the major religions (wisdom of the ages) prohibit usury. As one chap I heard this summer said, "if you run your hand against the grain of nature you'll get splinters", and the grain of nature in this case is that true wealth comes from hard work. Banking allows us to create unjust wealth without hard work, and this denial of the nature of true wealth has come around and bit us on the ass.

This country would be better off in the long run with a smaller banking sector that serves our needs as an enabler of wealth creation, instead of being central to our economy as it is now.

HTC rises to challenge after Android struggles in Europe

Tom Mason
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I love my magic

I got an HTC magic back in the summer, and I love it. Within weeks two of my colleagues at work had bought one as well, including one guy who had previously been a mobile troglodyte, but a bit of a linux hacker.

Most of my non-geek friends don't really have a clue what it is. They like what they see but Android simply doesn't have the brand recognition, and Google is too generic. There's no way for android to become iconic like the iPhone because you can't know that its an android device simply by glancing at it.

Bishop calls for Priests 2.0 to evangelise on the net

Tom Mason


Even if what you say about murders committed in the name of religion is true (which is debatable, although what is undeniable and regrettable is that many have used religion as justification for their crimes) it is still really just a red herring when discussing the truth of religious claims. That is, the truth or otherwise of a belief is largely independent of the actions of those who claim to be acting in its name, particularly if they are demonstrably acting in a way which contrary to the principles of the faith.

In other words, if it is true that Jesus rose from the dead then that MUST affect the way we view ourselves and the world around us, even if Christians are a really bad advert. It's Jesus who is the most compassionate and loving person who ever walked the earth, and its He who never did anything wrong. The rest of us are failures to a greater or lesser extent, but that's OK, because we're not the ones to follow.

Nor is it logical to say "since I have never witnessed anyone rise from the dead, such a thing is impossible, and therefore Christianity is false". If we had seen people spontaneously rise from the dead, then it wouldn't be particularly special, and it wouldn't provide the support for Jesus being who he said he was, and if the only reason you have to believe it didn't happen is personal incredulity, then you're on very shaky epistemological ground .

Ofcom slaps Bristol radio for uncoolness

Tom Mason

music radio stations are all the same

I'm afraid I can't listen to music radio at all any more. They've all got on this multilayered jingle meme where you have several voices all saying the same thing, layered and repeated, with "effects", and it drives me up the wall. Then you add some innane chatter from a couple of people with massive egos, and either a OMG huge stash of anti-depressants and other drugs, or else a frontal lobotomy. Finally, add a sprinkling of mainstream music, about 5 tracks should do. (these kids have the memory of a goldfish, so they won't notice), and voilà! Instant commercial radio station.

For the love of God, why can't they just find some interesting new music, tell us what it is, and then play it?

Dawkins' atheist ad campaign hits fundraising target

Tom Mason

Good news?

How will "There's probably no God" brighten anyone's day?

Microsoft's 'ordinary Joe' promises Windows 7 bliss

Tom Mason
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@Blain Hamon

That article by Bruce Schneier is an interesting one BUT there are a few important things to note. Firstly, while Bruce says there may be theoretical performance implications when playing protected HD content, that's not the same as measuring that performance hit. It may well be negligable in practice, AND his analysis has not come from studying the source code, or doing benchmarking, or anything else. Basically, he's guessing.

Secondly, there's no suggestion that doing activities other than playing protected HD content are affected at all.

Thirdly, no-one can really know, since there is no protected HD content available today.

How to stop worrying and enjoy paying for incoming calls

Tom Mason
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The Solution

I've got it!

In order to stop the phone spam all phone numbers need to be premium rate numbers charging £2 a minute, but with a white list of people who don't pay to call you. So, you put your friends and family on the white list, and if someone calls who you do want to speak to you press a key and they get white listed too, therefore the only people you do charge are those making unsolicited and unwanted calls.

viola, no more phone spam, or an extra source of income.

With that in place creating a market where there is pressure to lower termination charges out to work.

Tom Mason

positives and negatives

I can see positives and negatives to this. Firstly, once we have to pay for receiving calls we will start hunting for those networks that have the lowest fees, which should bring the prices down, and might boost sales of Wi-Fi phones and increase the availability of Wi-Fi networks which would have lower termination fees.

On the other hand, once you have to pay, all those telemarketing calls and so on cost you money. Who wants to pay to hear about the latest offer on double glazing?

Unless they can solve the problem of unsolicited calls it's going to face a huge uphill struggle.

God makes you stupid, researchers claim

Tom Mason
IT Angle

Intelligence make you arrogant

My experience would lead me to believe that people who consider themselves intelligent (which often, but not always, correlates with actual intelligence) have to swallow that pride in their intelligence in order to accept that God may exists. Clearly, there are no conclusive, objective reasons to believe God exists. It is scientifically unprovable. However that's not the same thing as saying it's not true. Where Dawkins et al have been very successful is in teaching people that only objective repeatable evidence can be considered, even as an individual. Very often it can be people fear of being called irrational, which stings more if you believe yourself to be intelligent, which will cause people to ignore even quite powerful subjective evidence. The well known psychological experiment in which people standing in a lift (elevator) will face the same way as everyone else shows that people will act irrationally denying their own experiences to avoid looking stupid. In essence they question their own sanity and go with the flow.

Where intelligent people are faced with subjective spiritual experiences they will tend to ignore or discount them as they are too invested and proud to risk being seen as irrational.

There is also the "intelligence trap", where intelligent people become so good at arguing their case that they can successfully defend an incorrect position. Unfortunately because they get such a buzz from winning the arguement the search for the truth becomes secondary to winning. Essentially pride in ones intelligence can lead people to becoming entrenched in incorrect positions, and atheism appeals to intelligent people' sense of superiority.

Windows Server 2008 is better than Vista, but why?

Tom Mason


IIRC server 2008 is 64 bit only. Where people have previously tested vista my question is were they testing the 32 bit version (i.e. almost all OEM copies) or the 64 bit one? In my experience the 64bit Vista is a heck of a lot better than the 32 bit one assuming you have enough RAM.

Airline pilot sacked for 777 Top Gun stunt

Tom Mason
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Where was the victory roll?

Sony strides onward with Walkman range

Tom Mason


I got an email from Sony connect today that they will stop using their own ATRAC music format and will be switching to WMA. Further, the CONNECT music store will be phased out. This is a major step for Sony, because previously (AFAIK) all Sony Walkman, walkman branded phones, and in car CD players devices would not support WMA format music.