* Posts by Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

300 posts • joined 21 Oct 2019


Silicon Valley Scrooges sidestep debt to society through tax avoidance to the tune of $100bn

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Profits?

If you look at our governing party's donors, Big Tech is not sponsoring them. Their biggest donors are all global money-laundering operations, headed by Russian and other ex-Soviet regions and the Middle East. See Private Eye for a lot on the man who owns them (an Israeli, but one who has had fraudulent business closed by the courts in his own country).

From memory, the only other bigger donors are hedge funds benefiting from brexit volatility and British-dependent tax havens. Not big tech.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change


But this is a lie, since the original article talked about tax rates on profits

By whose definition?

I don't know if it applies in this case, but very often tax advocacy pressure groups arrive at 'profit' figures by calculations that are a whole lot more bogus than the tax-avoidance the companies themselves use.

Anyway, it's for governments to set the rules, and for people and companies acting within those rules to avoid over-paying. If a big company is breaking the rules, they should be prosecuted - and that's a threat that tends to keep businesses in order where there's anything (like real-life profits) to lose. If they're not breaking the rules, then it's not them who are wrong, it's the rules and/or the critics.

Den Automation raised millions to 'reinvent' the light switch. Now it's lights out for startup

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

EFF warns of 'one-way mirror' of web surveillance by tech giants – led by Google

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: tracker tax

No one would accept ...

I take it you don't have a mobile phone? Never drive a car? Always pay cash? And wear tinfoil when out and about?

Hang on, you're posting right here on social media. Whoops!

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: why it works

Or alternatively, because it's what we expect.

I was brought up in the Cold War era, and as a child enjoyed thrillers. The protagonists would routinely find their offices, hotel rooms, etc bugged, or be followed, by the villains, and sometimes vice versa (yes, the goodies did it too). So while I knew that I wasn't such a high-value target that some evil spy would be watching and listening, I never had any expectation of privacy.

Surely that kind of thing is very widespread (especially if we include those for whom God sees everything/Santa knows if you've been good/etc), and it makes anonymised (or at least identity-agnostic) tracking for non-threatening purposes like advertising look entirely benign in comparison!

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
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Re: "The problem is complex"

Upvote for the seed of a really interesting idea.

The question, as ever, is "how?"

Russian FaceApp selfie-slurper poses 'potential counterintelligence threat', FBI warns

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Who does this threaten?

Am I bothered if the Russians get my mugshot? Nope. I don't do selfies, but they can grab a passport photo from some publicly-available places. Or if I travel to Russia, they'll surely scan it (and likely me) at the border, just as other countries do. And they have neither motive nor legal power to do me harm.

More worrisome, UK spooks, who do have legal power to make my life hell. Or US spooks, whose boots TPTB in the UK would happily lick if they wished me harm. But I don't lose sleep over them either (though I may let it influence me on the margins).

Nope, if this (presumed hypothetical) risk threatens anyone, it's not me, the private citizen of a Western country. But it might be someone else who sees it as their prerogative to gather all my data.

Now ordinarily I wouldn't let that worry me too much either. But if they're so paranoid about it that they see it falling outside their own jurisdiction as a threat, perhaps that's the time to start worrying!

BBC tells Conservative Party to remove edited Facebook ad featuring its reporters

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Who Is The Boss

This morning's news on BBC radio, facebook have taken it down over copyright. So I was, erm, wrong.

This morning's commentary on that news: facebook were asked to take it down not over copyright but over misrepresentation and fake news. So I was, erm, right.

The more disreputable elements of the Tories[1] now crying unfair over being singled out. If this gets taken down over copyright - as opposed to fake news - then why doesn't every other use of BBC material get taken down for the same reason? Technically they would appear to be right, at least while facebook hold on to that copyright story.

[1] Not a tautology. They may all be thoroughly disreputable since the Stalinist purge of the moderates, but some are still more disreputable than others.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Who Is The Boss

Fair use is about copyright: what/how much of someone else's material you can quote/reuse.

AIUI this case is not about copyright, it's about misrepresentation. Fair use is not a relevant concept.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

I'm not one of the downvotes (only just read the article), but the simple explanation of Farage is he's a media personality.

Back in the days before anyone took him seriously, he got more BBC airtime than any (other) politician, even media-loving then-prime-minister Blair. And for the first decade or so, Farage's airtime was uncritical - lacking the probing questions journos ask of serious politicians. That's where he got his momentum from. And still has much of it, even since the journos started treating him like a real politician and asking the questions he doesn't want to answer.

Oh, and talking of blatant censorship, there's certainly precedent. UKIP's working-class predecessors the National Front and BNP never had airtime even when they had electoral success. The difference with UKIP is that an era of white immigration enabled them to detach their agenda from the "racist" label that had successfully marginalised earlier nationalists when the immigration they opposed was non-white.

Vote rigging, election fixing, ballot stuffing: Just another day in the life of a Register reader

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Too much time? Perhaps he'd spent the intervening years tutoring aspiring vote-fixers with good budgets, and by then was sitting back saying "job done". Or ... should we have a suggestions thread?

We've found it... the last shred of human decency in an IT director – all for a poxy Unix engineer

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Champagne

When I moved (about three months ago), the agent gave me a bottle of well-chilled prosecco along with the keys.

Quite apart from having lots to do, it was too early in the day for booze. I just put it in the corner of the kitchen before returning to my old house (where all my stuff still was for another week or so before the actual move). It's still there, awaiting an excuse to open it. On a couple of occasions I've had dinner guests and served them something better, such as regular wine suited to the dinner.

Maybe I should take it to the next bring-a-bottle event where I can offload it anonymously?

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
IT Angle

Pub o'clock?

You must be a lunchtime drinker. Or does the phrase mean something subtly different in .za?

(Looks to me like pubtime for east Asia and Oz timezones).

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Champagne

Let your missus wield it. Ditch the champagne for some real pain.

Go on, downvote me. I've never seen the point in champagne: there are so many drinks I'd rather have.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Burnout

This was a Unix person. So presumably someone who believes in always scripting a job? Yet here he didn't until after the incident had happened. Is that not utterly out of character?

Possible diagnosis: burnout. A Unix engineer who is a pale shadow of his former self. I know all about that - at first hand.

I'll raise a pint for rescuing the situation.

Why can't passport biometrics see through my cunning disguise?

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Habitual glasses wearer

If I get killed in such (or any other) circumstances, it really will have ceased to matter to me who identifies me or how much time&effort they put into it.

RuneScape bloke was wrongly sacked after reading veep's salary details on office printer

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Odd But

There seems to be pressure for openness coming from some of the forces of Political Correctness. They expect it to show a "gender pay gap", and help deal with it.

Could be interesting. I wouldn't care to anticipate the outcome, except to note there are sure to be lots of anomalies at the individual level, and it'll lead to lots of redefining of what counts as 'comparable' or 'equal value'.

RISC-V business: Tech foundation moving to Switzerland because of geopolitical concerns

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: So obvious, why doesn't everyone do it?

I've said before that I don't understand why so many open source projects are incorporated in the US.

Some years back I heard a conference presentation where MySQL addressed that question. Cultural reasons why the project had to have originated in Scandinavia, but also why it had had to move to the US for growth to happen. Events that led to a profitable buyout in the US.

I was only partially convinced by the presentation (was that WayForward Technologies' Reason speaking?), and I don't recollect details. But it kind-of fits with the US being home to so much.

Planets may lurk in harshest environments. Not that Novell NetWare server you can't unplug – black holes

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Seems intuitively reasonable. Lots of matter swirling around: some of it might look like planets.

But .. why "up to 10 times the mass of Earth"? That's not a giant: Jupiter is just next door and over 300 times the mass of Earth!

From July, you better be Putin these Kremlin-approved apps on gadgets sold in Russia

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: What is it with The Register and Apple Inc?

Hmmm, I think you've had a rather good answer. But downvotes just for asking seem a bit harsh!

Have an upvote for provoking Waseem's brilliant reply (which I already upvoted this morning).

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
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Re: What is it with The Register and Apple Inc?

Wow, I hadn't seen that story. Thanks for posting.

Bit of historic perspective on that story. I just listened to one of Trollope's Palliser novels dramatised on t'wireless yesterday. In which Lady Glencora describes the fearsome power she exercises over Ministers, MPs and other powerful people through their wives, by the threat of striking them off her invitations list. Clearly Apple's behaviour was well-known back in the mid 19th century!

I suppose in a sense we could trace it back at least two and a half millennia to Λυσιστράτη - though she was perhaps more grass-roots than in the position of established power of Apple or Glencora.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Back in the 1990s ...

Dilbert's D-chip. Wikipedia tells us those have been legally required in the US for twenty years.

And I didn't even mention DRM.

Taxi for Uber: Ride-hailing app giant stripped of licence to operate in London

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Means the picture is phoney even by Reg standards.

Shirley the idea that they're hailing a cab comes purely by association with the subject of the article?

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Boris bikes? Should in principle be quickest for many journeys.

Once upon a time I tried[1] to figure out how to take one out. Couldn't see any lights on them: do I need to bring my own? And it wasn't entirely clear how to pay. Nor what happens if I get one out and it turns out to have a problem.

[1] OK, not very hard. It was dark and cold at the time, and in reality I'd left just enough time to walk.

Beware the trainee with time on his hands and an Acorn manual on his desk

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: I was the guy who lobbied long and hard ...

Talk ceased to be intrusive as soon as it could be confined to a window, which could then be attended to at my convenience. So about 30 years ago. But maybe that relies on the talker not being the boss-from-hell - I never had a talk-happy boss.

As for SMS, where's the problem? So long as you turn off any silly noises that notify you of them at moments not of your choosing.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

ISTR it was as recently as the mid-90s that "xhost +" ceased to be a default, or that "cat fart.wav >> remote:/dev/audio" required privileges.

Surely playing sillybuggers around the network is a rite-of-passage for students, bored hacks, and the like.

Even today you can have a bit of fun. For example, type an RTL language (and charset) into IRC and spread confusion!

?זה יעבוד כאן

کیا یہ یہاں کام کرے گا؟

OK, no it won't work here.

You'll never get Huawei with this, FCC tells US telcos: Buy Chinese kit and you won't see another dime from us

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Too much damage to the innocent.

Not to mention uncomfortably close-to-home while the threat of brexit remains.

Microsoft finds Huawei to get Chinese biz back on its sales ledger: US permits Redmond software supply line

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Grownups in the room

Here we see the ones behaving rationally are Microsoft, Huawei, and (quote) also had a rare public statement from President Xi Jinping.

With of course most of the rest of Industry not explicitly mentioned in the article.

That code that could never run? Well, guess what. Now Windows thinks it's Batman

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: INP Error - System Halted

Many years ago, I was negotiating my departure from a company, while also working on preparing a system for them to demo at an important expo.

I added an easter egg to that. Would only activate on the date() of the expo, and would display an embarrassing message. Took it out when our negotiation reached a satisfactory outcome.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Haven't we all?

I've even put it into error messages. "*** BUG xxxxx: this cannot happen". True at the time of coding it; not necessarily true in the face of future modifications.

It's useful, too. One case in a big open-source project came back to a user forum with a user who happily had a good attitude to it all. As anticipated, an update had indeed happened that created a new code path. From memory, that was an error-handling function, that handled every plausible case in a case switch, so when someone introduced a new error code it was handled by reporting the BUG.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Gac.

Oy! That's my byline.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Cyrano...

Do you have a preposterously big nose? Did you go on to woo a fair maid you loved - on behalf of a friend?

Bad news: 'Unblockable' web trackers emerge. Good news: Firefox with uBlock Origin can stop it. Chrome, not so much

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

will make absolutely no difference to the scheme described in the article.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

DNS delegation

Should surprise noone.

Like so many things abused by advertisers and marketers (not least the WWW itself), DNS delegation has been widely used by techies for many years for entirely legitimate purposes. In fact DNS delegation is older than the WWW - though back then aliases were (by convention, at least) CNAME records, rather than very-slightly-naughty duplicated A records that proliferated from the mid-1990s with the rise of Virtual Domains.

A similar story can be found in email headers, if you look up the quaint distinction between "From" and "Sender" headers, when we trusted that they wouldn't be abused, and forging them was a student prank.

Close the windows, it's coming through the walls: Copper Cthulu invades Dabbsy's living room

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Dishcloths do that. Leave them rinsed and reasonably wholesome somewhere sensible, and the next day they're swimming in mucky water of uncertain origin.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: On the other hand...

I'm having no "smart" tech in my house whatsoever.

I wouldn't be without my smart technology.

Like the machine where I just put my dirty washing in, press a start button, and it comes out clean. Or the one that cleans my floors for similar effort. Or even the one I use for reading El Reg.

UK tax collectors warn contractors about being ripped-off – and not by HMRC for a change

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Like (I would expect) others here, I get a variety of notifications of my tax rebate. Some of them from authorities to whom never paid tax in the first place: most commonly the US IRS.

Separately, I also get a genuine tax rebate from HMRC most years: the biggest have been in the £10k ballpark - which is more than I earn in a less-good year! Those just arrive automatically in my bank account, without any need for a claim beyond filling out my self-assessment.

Talking of which, I need to do that. Haven't hurried this year's tax return, 'cos the rebate will be peanuts - as in ballpark £10 without the k.

You wanted flying cars and colony worlds. Instead, IKEA furniture-building-ish AI robots

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Labelling the connectors

Yep, the first part definitely takes the longest. You gradually[1] get into the Ikea mindset and understand WTF they're on about. It's kind-of learning a language in miniature.

[1] or perhaps instantly if you're a bright twelve-year-old with intellect unclouded by age.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

They already have technology for that. It's called a website. It even comes supplied with some nice design tools to check that what you're buying will all fit together and do the job.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Furniture assembly is a complex task

I just a couple of weeks ago assembled my first Ikea furniture. An epic four-segment wardrobe, 275cm (9 foot) width, with lots of interior parts. 33 packages in the delivery.

It was truly a pleasure to find myself working with flat-pack furniture that was genuinely well-made. No having to force things because the alignment is a millimetre out, as I've been accustomed to with flat-pack in the past. Just stuff that fits where it's supposed to.

And it works. Not to mention looking much better than any wardrobe I've had (and I'm not generally a fan of any 'modern' looks).

Orange is the new green: Nigeria scammer bags $1m while operating behind bars

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Picture posed by model ...

Yes of course that's a stock picture posed by a model: isn't that true of pretty-much every Reg article? So why spell it out for this one in particular?

I'm impressed that Nigeria locks its fraudster up for 24 years: in Blighty if he greased the right palms he'd be at large and possibly on track for the Honours list. But less impressed at the lack of security at his prison.

IBM, Microsoft and Linux Foundation link arms to fight patent trolls with 'multimillion' scheme

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Millions for us, pennies for defense?

Reads to me like part of the budget buys patents so they don't fall into the hands of someone evil who will abuse them. Is there a problem with that?

It might raise questions over how such patents are selected and valued, but in the absence of a specific instance under discussion, that feels like angels on pinheads.

Email! HUH! Yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing...

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Timeline

I think my first sight of them taking steps towards something non-evil after that period was some folks I encountered at ApacheCon in Dublin, 2006. Since then they've taken more steps.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: 20 Years Ago

I was in Italy, where noone could be arsed with the Y2K fuss. Nothing happened there either.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change


Marketing list, spam ... that means no earlier than late '90s. By which time, surely Windows had long-since beaten NotWindows into an old relic?

Around the turn of the century, I had an office, with a NotWindows man just downstairs (let's call him Fred, for that was not his name). He serviced a set of regular clients, many of whom were just beginning to discover email. And they wanted email paper trails (sometimes literally on paper) that NotWindows couldn't provide.

So for several of Fred's clients, I ended up setting up a Linux mailserver with a set of custom scripts to meet their needs.

This was of course the era when M$ was absolutely evil in a big way. I suspect, but don't know for certain, that Windows would've been no better than NotWindows for Fred's Clients' needs.

Iran kills the internet for its people's own good as riots grip the Middle Eastern nation

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

But ... but ... it wasn't called BP when they mounted that coup against the democratic government back in 1953 and installed a western-puppet despot.

That could be consigned to history and mostly-forgotten, if it wasn't for the West's much more recent oppression of them. Like sponsoring our (then-) regional henchman Saddam Hussain to attack them in his most brutal war, and like the US rejecting all attempts by Iranian governments (starting with Khatemi in the 1990s) to build bridges and normalise relations.

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: "80 per cent calmer"

I'd be delighted. Long overdue. Of course it should be offset against a reduction in some more evil tax: for example, the employment tax they call "national insurance" that falls heavily on both hardworking people and productive business.

Wasn't it 1973 we had a price hike of more than 100%?

Interpol: Strong encryption helps online predators. Build backdoors

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: What *do* they teach them in these schools?

It'll turn law enforcement into a magnet for pederasts.

Like other occupations involving children - think (historically at least) priests or schoolmasters.

Uncle Sam prepping order to extradite ex-Autonomy boss Mike Lynch from the UK

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Hypocracy

Interesting word you coined there, but how is "sub-government" relevant?

Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

Re: Consistency Is The Hobgoblin Of Small Minds

Isn't the UK case still ongoing? Though Reg reportage seems to have dried up these last couple of months (attention span of a ****)?

The UK case is a civil case, so not entirely comparable to what the 'merkins want. In terms of criminal cases, the UK is pretty-much a free-for-all for serious fraudsters provided you feed the system. Our so-called Serious Fraud Office is routinely out-lawyered by anyone with real money and 'Establishment' connections. And in case of any doubt, the Attorney General (our MP Geoffrey Cox) can block them indefinitely even prosecuting a case without giving any reason, as he's still doing in for example this case.



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