* Posts by Michael Shaw

52 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Sep 2007


IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?

Michael Shaw

Recruitment nightmare

Think of it from the side of the recruitment agent. Their job is not to find YOU a job, but to find THE candidate that their paying customer WILL recruit. Quite often they will be limited by how many CV's their customer is willing to accept. e.g "Send us your best 5 candidates..." and they will be in competition with other recruitment agents.

In that environment, where there are candidates with the paper certificates, and those without them, and their customer has asked for people which that qualification, then its a brave recruitment agent to go with experience over paper.

Now as someone recruiting, I know with developers certificates are usually a warning flag. Someone does courses when they are struggling to find a job. Good programmers don't struggle to find a job....

Hundreds of folks ready to sue Bitcoin exchange MtGox

Michael Shaw

They have assets....

The solicitors are suing because there are assets. There may be more liabilities than assets, which means that its impossible for everyone to get all of their money back... but what is at stake is how much will they get back.

The only thing for certain, is for the solicitors involved, they will get 100% paid, cause when the money runs out, they stop working.

KC engineer 'exposed unencrypted spreadsheet with phone numbers, user IDs, PASSWORDS'

Michael Shaw

Confused BT support engineer

I remember a couple of years ago needing support from BT configure their brain dead business router to allow me to set up my static IP addresses correctly. It really confused the support engineer that the password for the router was not the one on their records. He was having me double check the serial number on the router and all sorts.

Amazon workers in Delaware reject trade union membership

Michael Shaw

Us as IT workers are in a very privileged position. In general, we don't fear losing our jobs, we just get another one. We don't fear low pay, we just move to a better paid one. We don't fear working in dangerous working conditions. Our only real problem is the long hours and unpaid overtime that exists in some areas of the industry.

For many workers, there often is no alternative employer for their industry. (e.g. fire fighters, nurses, police) Their pay is set by fear that if they ask for more, they will be made redundant. How else can big companies have generated such huge cash piles during this recession, but froze their staff salaries in the mean time.

Wells Fargo gathers bank 'n' gov bigwigs to discuss Bitcoin 'rules'

Michael Shaw

bitcoins are useful....

Bitcoins have some great utility as a means of exchange of value. They are hard to forge, they are trivial to exchange. They can be exchanged over great distances without any third party needed to authorise and sanction that transaction. They are completely transparently traceable. What they are not because of their volatility, is a reliable store of value.

Brits are world's most wired drivers, says fleet tracker CEO

Michael Shaw

Its not pot holes

I'm convinced that Sheffield's roads are not in a poor state of repair, its that the local council has innovated with Braille road signs embedded in the tarmac to assist our local MP on his rounds. For those that don't know, Sheffield currently has two infamous MP's. Nick Clegg, who betrayed most of his electorate in his heavily student populated constituency by pairing up with his Tory overlords and increasing tuition fees for university. The other one, David Blind-git, who's only saving grace is that his guide dog has on occasion walked him into lamp posts. We keep hoping, but its not knocked any sense into him yet!

London Underground cleaners to refuse fingerprint clock-on

Michael Shaw

Its kind of pointless really

The typical false negative rate is around 5% for these devices, where you are comparing a scan against a single specific finger print (the best case scenario), so on a typical day, they will have 15 people unable to sign in anyway. There is no way that such an unreliable system can be considered essential (or even a security enhancement), as best, just an incompetent manager detector <-- identifying the bozo who signed off on such a system believing it to be a good idea.

Wall Street traders charged with stealing company code via email

Michael Shaw

what crime have they committed?

One has to wonder what criminal act they have committed?

Copying the program? That's civil copyright breach. Not criminal.

Running the program to guide their investments? I'd find it hard pushed to call that obtaining money by deception.

I can see plenty of civil law stuff that they could be in breach of, such as employment contracts, duty of confidentiality etc.

But where is the criminal act?

British spooks seize tech from Snowden journo's boyfriend at airport

Michael Shaw

How do we prevent the continual and increasing creep of a police state? Politicians seem to have a vested interest in bringing it on.

Prankster 'Superhero' takes on robot traffic warden AND WINS

Michael Shaw

winning in court

If, and i do really mean if in the very rare times a private parking company actually takes you to court, you do not have anything to worry about. I know, because its happened to me.

OPC took me to court for an unpaid parking ticket issued at watford underground station and lost in sheffield magistrates court because:

1. they failed to establish any legal basis for them to be entitled to the money. (they tried several approaches, but could not provide a satisfactory explanation of why i owed them the money*)

2. They failed to establish any legal basis for them to offer parking at the site. Their contract with the land owner was for parking enforcement only.

3. They failed to convince the magistrate that the signs provided clarity that the area was not part of the pay and display car park, referring to 'permits' on the 14th line of text (the smallest text on the sign) and by not including the word "resident" it left open the fact that i had a permit, issued by the pay and display machine.

4. They failed to convince the magistrate that the non-existent markings between the pay-and-display car park and the residents only parking would alert a reasonably careful driver, that they had entered a completely separate car park, that did not offer pay and display parking.

I was awarded £125 costs.

* They tried to use the "pre-estimate of damages" approach initially, but were unable to provide a any basis for estimation of damages, never mind that they could prove predated when I parked thereor when they put the sign up. They then attempted to use the "it was an offer to allow parking without a permit, on payment", but the sign both forbid parking there without a permit, but the magistrate also agreed with me that no one would willingly choose to enter into parking there for £140, making such a contractual offer unenforceable. Their final plea to the magistrate was that the debt came about because i did not pay the parking ticket, and that they didn't understand the law well enough to be able to explain in legal terms how parking penalty tickets are legal. The magistrate in her summing up was very clear. In the absence of damage, or financial loss, such charges can only be considered penalties, and as such are not collect-able through the courts.

Virgin on London Underground Wi-Fi: O2's company, Three's a crowd

Michael Shaw

Think of the children....

Imagine what the news of the world headlines would have been if they discovered that pedophiles could have shared their photos using free wifi completely anonymously?

3 weeks later, legislation would require a credit card payment and a passport number to access wifi, or 10 years in prison.

Canadian man: I solved WWII WAR HERO pigeon code!

Michael Shaw

What is the most likely clear text?

Is it

(a) a genuine military message, and the back story truely stands up.


(b) a recruitment drive at GCHQ.

Based on what I don't know, I'd choose (b).

Apple files disappearing-feature iPhone patent

Michael Shaw

what is patentable

It is patentable to take existing patented designs and patterns and combine them in a new way. Some companies make their money that way.

The problem is, the patent office does not face a financial penalty for granting trivial patents, its society that suffers for patents on trivial and obvious things, so there is no incentive for patent offices to search for prior art, and the "not obvious to someone skilled in the area" becomes translated as "this patent officer had not thought of it before"

I have had ideas of mine patented by companies employing me, and will at somepoint file patents of my own. patents (and patent insurance policies) are weapons for a software company, which on occasion are there to be used. Based on the way the international level is changing, this is going to be increasingly important for european companies to avoid US competitors obliterating them should US filed patents become enforceable in europe.

Big Blue beats off rivals to push out first LTO-6 tape drive

Michael Shaw

4 hours 20 min

at full speed, 4 hours 20 min.

But, the real question is, what SAN / backup server setup would you need to actually achieve that rate and still maintain service?

EU, US edge closer to mega-transatlantic patent system

Michael Shaw

And what about existing patents?

Does this mean the existing US patents will be valid in Europe?

Grab your L-plates, flying cars of sci-fi dreams have landed

Michael Shaw

Re: Power requirements

Sorry, you are wrong. Gliders do not fall out of the sky in the same way as a lead weight.

The maths behind it is vector based, taking into account weight, lift, drag and thrust. Paramotors (large parachute, pilot and a propeller) fly through the sky using a 50cc motor.

Virgin Media's latest throttling rules

Michael Shaw

This is why I moved away from Virgin

Most nights I'm a light user. Perhaps 1 or two nights a month, I need to download an MSDN ISO.

In otherwords, on Virgin, when I need the bandwidth, they caped me and the rest of the time, I'm paying for everyone elses useage. At least on BT I can down load 4gb ISO image and still have enough of the evening left to do useful work.

Dubai assassins used email trojan to track Hamas victim

Michael Shaw

Israeli involvement

In the news reports I saw, the Israel involvement is assumed because of their known extended access to 15 of the identity documents that were duplicated - and they have a proven track record where they have duplicated European passports in the past.

Now, was the official response by European countries on this relatively mild because they lack absolute proof of Israeli involvement, or is it because they were complicit in the passport duplication?

Either way, turning up in Dubai on an Israeli passport is a sure way to be denied entry to the country, even if you are not a mossad agent.

No wonder CompSci grads are unemployed

Michael Shaw

Recruiting programmers

In my experience of recruiting programmers, around 90% of candidates at interview cannot implement a simple algorithm in code on a blackboard. For some, they just do not know the language, so cannot cope without inteli-sense. Some just do not understand how to create a basic algorithm and then translate it into code. That's candidates claiming 2-3 years experience. Graduates have other additional weaknesses, not just in coding skills. they will typically not have experienced using a debugger to step through code, they are unlikely to have used source control. Any knowledge of unit testing will be theoretical.

Then, when you do find a graduate that's worth employing, you will just be one of 10 job offers that they receive. Thankfully, the HSMP visa program meant we could import the developers, rather than outsource the development.

Over 100,000 stops-and-searches: zero terrorists

Michael Shaw

Abuse of police powers

Surely this report provides all the evidence needed to support the claim of "Abuse of police powers".

The law was debated in parliment on the basis that the powers could be brought in, as a draconion measure as a short term response to a specific threat in which the people involved were not identified.

Police have abused that power. This report proves it.

Microsoft assembles unlikely band of brothers against patent trolls

Michael Shaw

That was not why patents were invented....

Patents were invented because in the industrial revolution, the way to protect you invention was secrecy. That meant the knowledge of the invention died when the inventor died. Patents were introduced as a mechanism to grant a time limited monopoly for the inventor in exchange for full public disclosure of the invention.

Great idea. The problem is that the concept of "inventive step" has been so watered down that there is often no benefit to society.

Apple in 873-page legal claim to word 'Pod'

Michael Shaw

Registered trademarks

Remember, its not copyright, its not patent law, its trademark law at issue here.

The issue is how wide is the trademark protection for i-pod, a trademark that is used and is recognised around the world as Apple's music player. i-pod itself probably deserves protection.

But the real question is this: if you see a product with pod in its name, how likly are you to think its an apple product from the i-pod family?

Part of the issue is the bredth of the section that electronic prodcuts are part of in trademark law, and partly apple's desire to maximise their freedom for future movement, expecially considering how badly burnt Apple got over the apple trademark. The last settlement when apple bought the apple trademark from the Apple music label is confidential, (and alas wasnt revealed when they filed their accounts this time) but is reputed to be have been many times the millions paid at the previous settlement.

Nigerian man gets 12 years for $1.3m 419 scam

Michael Shaw

Follow up....

Well mr AC,

Your views on the victim are easy to have when you have already read the scam scenario on www.theregister.co.uk and you have not met a potential victim and heard their side of the story. Like me, you would have spotted this scenario for the scam that it was, and not need further evidence to dismis it as a scam.

However, in the real world, with real people, with some (but non technical) internet experience that was not the case. Talking afterwards at the school gate, only one of the other parents had heard of this scam scenario before, and most would have believed the story, and shipped the item. These are not "greedy" people, but normal people happy to receive a reasonably good price and believe that they are helping someone in need. (perhaps i did not make it clear that the £1500 was £1400 + £100 for UPS courier and insurance)

Email headers became important in this case, because i found myself in the position of urging Sarah to renage on a deal with someone who in her view has already paid the money for the item, needs it for an important wedding aniversary and by delaying she will be letting the buyer down - these are all important factors in the scam story. Me telling her that its a scam, gets translated into "theres some risk - but no proof that its a fraud", she has had emails from this person and believes them, and paypal, a trusted third party has confirmed the money is in international transit into her account.

Now showing her the headers on this very well presented email from paypal and being able to show her the internet server that actually first sent the email - that forced her to either accept that its a fake email and a fraud, or that paypal actually send their email from email servers other than *.paypal.com.

It was only at this point that the fraud was stopped.

Yes, Sarah was a bit too trusting, but Mr AC, there are scams that you will fall for simply because of your confidence that you would spot it.

Michael Shaw

Another attack vendor is through ebay sales....

Whilst i have little sympathy for people falling for the you have won the lottery and help me get this inheritance out of Nigeria, there are some far more sophisticated scams out there.

As an example, Sarah, a friend of my wife tried selling an expensive watch on EBay. She knew that if she sold it to a shop she would get around £1000, and they would sell it on for around £1400. She put the auction on for two weeks, and after a couple of days, received an email from a buyer asking if they could buy it now, as their aniversay was in a few days time and waiting two weeks was too long.

They offered her £1500 for it, in exchange for her canceling the auction and selling it to her, When she cancelled the auction, she received an email from paypal notifying that £1500 would be in her paypal account in 2 working days. She also was emailed by the buyer asking her to post it as soon as she had confirmation that the money was on its way as the aniversay was in a few days.

I only found out about this going on, when my wife poped back to the house to get some masking tape to help Sarah parcel it up, and was in a hurry as the parcel had to go today, but its okay as she's sold it to an American on holiday in Nigeria.

lets just say that looking at the paypal email, the headers showed that this email did not come from paypal. However how many people know about email headers, and even, how easy is it to look at the raw email headers in most mail programs and webmail sites like hotmail.

Paul Allen's patent madness not worth single penny

Michael Shaw
Thumb Up

Patents prevent other people doing something...

All a patent does is to prevent someone else from doing the patented thing without your permision. You may not have the right to do it, as other people may hold patents that block you. Not inforcing a patent is grounds for it becoming invalid. Thats why small companies may be able to deal with patent infringment claim against them when there is prior art by asking for a free license rather than spending the money challenging it court.

Patents were created to stop knowledge being kept secret and being lost when the inventor died. If something is so nonobvious that no one else is likely to invent it in 20-30 years then perhaps its worth having the patent for society - but in the world of software, that seems very unlikely.

Citrix takes bare-metal hypervisor to PCs

Michael Shaw

Virtualisation - why I use it...

In my case there are two areas that i use virtualisation on a laptop. One situation is for experimental / research / untrusted stuff where i can run the task in its own OS, iosolate the risks from it disrupting my ability to work on other projects.

The second situation is for isolating project tool chains. having a VM machine for each customers environment mean that i can use the same tools as the customer without interfering with other customers work environments. I can also archive work environments so that when i get a support call 6 months later, i spend 15 minutes unzipping and powering up the work environment rather than a couple of days trying to cope with tool changes.

At the moment, i have to do this using vmware workstation, but a low level hypervisor has the advantage of preventing the host OS being used in an unmanaged way. With enough memory, I have found virtualisation to generally be good enough for me.

Fog of cyberwar: internet always favors the offense

Michael Shaw

surely bandwidth is king....

Actually, defence has the edge. If you reduce the bandwidth to zero, and lock the system in a safe, how can anyone attack you?

I have already seen the myth that attackers need one hole to be successful in the comments. Thats the case with eggshell networks. Thats why security should be layered, audited, validated, and above all, not trusted.

Want to know whats happening on your network, run wireshark. Seeing all the IPv6 routing and tunnelling traffic for the first time is a bit of an eye opener.

Sarah's Law review skewed by handpicked sample

Michael Shaw

How government thinks...

Several errors were highlighted, e.g. Inelegible searches that should not have been allowed, the police process was not thought out too well, etc... However the point of the trial was to identify these issues and to get them fixed. These issues are not show stoppers.

To stop the trial progressing would require something fundamental that cannot be easily fixed. e.g. large numbers of people disclosing the information they were given, multiple people murdered by vigilante attacks and even then, the actuall mechanism would still be a change of political will at the top, rather than the results of the trial itself.

Google, Facebook cop for preposterous patent potshot

Michael Shaw

Nail on head...

You have hit the nail on the head why this patent is invalid. There is no significant inventive step thats patentable.

Since so many people have, when faced with this same problem independently "invented" the same solution, then this patent is not enforcable. The Inventive requirement of patents is that the invention is not obvious to to someone who is skilled in the field.

Draconian new electoral laws for South Australia?

Michael Shaw

Surely theres a snag...

Can AnarKID please report to thhe local court and pay your $5,000 fine, as we don't know where to send the warrant to...

iPad runs Windows, Nokia runs OSX

Michael Shaw

Clearly i am not a genius but...

How do you emulate 1K of ram with only 256 bytes of memory?

MPs frozen out of super-secret copyright talks

Michael Shaw
Dead Vulture

Civil, not Criminal

Currently in the UK, CD ripping is a civil offense. Sony can sue you for damages. Police cannot act because it is not a criminal offence.

ACLU challenges US laptop border searches

Michael Shaw

Airport Security and Imigration are different

What you describe is Airport security before you board.

When you arrive at your destination in a different country you face immigration controls. They are entitled to search anything and everything, including your internal body to determine where to allow you to enter the country.

The cause of concern here is that the US is not requiring their officials to have reason, or "probable cause" to seize items for further examination and then not return them despite them being completely legal.

Roboplane tech can deal with air-traffic control directly

Michael Shaw

ROI for Terorism increases massively

Considering Al Quaeda trained people to become pilots to pull off 9/11, image how much cheaper it is to train people to become air traffic controllers, and then, when they go "active" a pilot can only crash one plane (well perhaps two if they find a plane to crash into)

Imagine an rogue ATC orchistrating multiple mid air collisions.

Please shut up about the Mull of Kintyre Chinook crash

Michael Shaw

Missing the point completely

In civil court cases, the burdun of proof is "Balance of probability", in criminal court cases, the burdon of proof required is "Beyond reasonable doubt" and in military investigations where the person blamed for the accident died, the level of proof requred is "No doubt what so ever"

Are there doubts, even unlikely, unreasonable ones remaining? If so, then this is a miscarage of justice. That is why it remains an issue.

We need a Union Flag icon, because at least us British still understand the concept of justice.

UK air-traffic offers flying-car-style safety gizmo

Michael Shaw

Dangerous kit...

Many airspace boundries are "Flight Level" boundries that are based on hight above standard pressure. Depending on the pressure on the day the actual hight of these boundries can rise or fall 1000 feet. No GPS based kit can take this into account. Also hight readings in GPS are much less accuracte than x,y coordinates.

Now i could tell you the story of two hanglider pilots flying several thousand feet above devils dyke on the south downs, when a Boening 737 flew between them in uncontrolled airspace, but as neither of the two pilots involved had zeroed their altimeters to take off hight, they may have been just inside Class A airspace. Either way, they were close enough to see faces through the passenger windows, and to get a right kicking from the planes wake.

Strap-on jetwing birdman does an Icarus into Straits of Gibraltar

Michael Shaw

practicalities of free flight...

Hmmm, jet powered wing that flies at 150mph foot launching from a paragliding / hangliding site... Assuming that the pilot was capable of foot launching and avoiding the paragliders sitting in the ridge lift, (something which scares enough hanglider pilots) then boy would the wake turbulence bring a few paragliders out of the sky rather fast....

BTW, from memory, in level, constant flight the equation is: lift / drag = weight / thrust...

or, you need a weight /.thrust ratio equivilent to the lift/drag ratio for your wing to maintain level flight.

US immigration dodge is permanent

Michael Shaw

The photo system for mixed departure areas.

The photo issue mentioned earlier is in place at Getwick North terminal to avoid the following:

1. Passenger 1 in transit From foreign country A, flying onto foriegn country B.

2. Passenger 2 books a UK flight from Gatwick to Edinburgh.

If these passengers swap bording cards in the departures area, then passenger 1 could enter the UK without going through UK immigration. Comparing photos detects this.

Universities saving skint students still waiting for loans

Michael Shaw

Teaching programming on the job?

Designing a programming apprentiship to turn non programmers into basic, but commercially useful programmers within a few months,so they can continue their apprentiship to learn a broad range of skills within a few years sounds like a real challenge.

US boffins build, test working 2-qubit quantum processor

Michael Shaw

Does Heisenberg apply

The answer is only 79% acurate?

Does this mean that you can either know the answer, or you can know the accuracy of the answer, just not both at the same time?

MS, US take aim at data protection laws cyber trade barriers

Michael Shaw

When Hell (or Benidorm) freezes over...

I'll happily syncronise data protection laws with the USA when i can go to my local magistrates court and get a warrant issued for the arrest and extradition of a CEO of a USA company for violating my reasonable expectactions of privacy.

...oh, and for that warrant to be executed in full...

Pirate Bay buyer admits doubts over deal

Michael Shaw
IT Angle

Monopoly money....

That explains why they were able to offer so much money for a dubious brand name. They never had the money in the first place!

On a serious note though, this "The Register" website is fantastic, i wonder if they would consider selling it to me for around £140m...

O2 finds new way to bind iPhone users

Michael Shaw

Visual voicemail is a great feature...

Visual voicemail is a great feature. It allows me to see whos left me a message when my phones battery has given up half way through the day.

I can see who and when, so the people i have spoken to since then, i can safely delete their voicemail in a couple of clicks without having to listen through all the irelevent voicemails.

Having said that, its a feature i use perhaps once a month. where as, an extra tenner a month would be usefull several times a month...

Royal Mail lawyers demand closure of postcode lookup site

Michael Shaw

Once upon a time...

Hang on a sec, i cna remember a campagn many years ago to get people to use postcodes on addresses. The slogan was "your not properly addressed without it".

Now, if they wish to claim intelectual property rights on the postcode, i have several questions to raise, when does the rights expire? and when are they going to issue every person in the world a license to use Postcode data so that we can legally put in an address on my contacts list in outlook and send them a letter?

Google Wave: Testers line up for the love-in

Michael Shaw

Missed the point

Most of the comments have missed the point about what Wave really is.

Yes, they have written some nice email / social site / groupware software however, the real inventive step is actually the messaging protocol

What they demonstrated is that you can collectively manage and update some arbitary XML in a completely peer to peer maner, with differnet security permisions on parts of the tree.

Now they may have demonstrated this using email and instant messaging, but they COULD have implemented ANY multi user distributed application. Google Wave has the potential to make it easy to implement large scale distributed applications

Packing heat gets you shot, say profs

Michael Shaw
Dead Vulture

surely the best strategy is

Do not go to philidelphia, as 6 people a day get shot dead. That sounds really dangerous.

Sony pulls plug on cabled power

Michael Shaw
Thumb Down

Fire, Fire...

This sounds like they are using induction, just like we did at A-level physics, where the volatage and current generated in the second coil depend on the ratio of coils that pass through the magnetic field.

Problems with this include having to prevent your next door neighbour stealing your power through the wall and problems with stray cables in the magnetic field and bits of iron being propelled aross the livingroom....

But assuming they find new laws of physics to solve these problems, its sounds interesting...

Linus calls Linux 'bloated and huge'

Michael Shaw
Dead Vulture

Re: faster CPU's / Write more efficient code

it used to be (20 years ago) that you paid developers to write fast efficient code, and developers spent time to make their code efficient and fast enough.

These days, its usually cheaper to buy faster / more hardware...

Orbital refuelling stations could rescue NASA Mars plans

Michael Shaw


If you put an object in space, so that it remains in the earths shadow, then its no longer orbiting the earth. Its orbiting the sun. Think back to A-level physics... a = v^2/r or a = rw^2

Since we need to have the same angular velocity as earth (to remain in earths shadow) you need to calculate the delta in orbit radius that allows the earths mass to provide the additional gravitational acceleration. This will define the point in space time that has the sun, earth and object in a stable line.

However, the maths to calculate its distance are not solvable in my head ( G = Msun/(r+d)^2 + Mearth / (d^2 where G = (r+d)w^2 however, it has to be further away from the earth than the moon is since the moon is in earth orbit.

Also, this point may not be in shade. The sun is not a point light source. As you move further away from the sun (and earth) you will get a point when the earth no longer looks larger than the earth. (think anular eclipses)

In short, does this spot exist? perhaps. Is it usefull for storing fuel so its in shade. Cirtainly not.

New banking code cracks down on out-of-date software

Michael Shaw

But the banks train people to fall for fraud...

The banks all seem to ring people up, out of the blue and ask for their password details to verify their identity, before they can tell you what the phone call is about.

Surely this is training someone to become a future victim of fraud.