* Posts by ThinkingMonkey

65 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Feb 2020


Meta spends $181M to get out of lease at vacant London offices


Losing sleep

over the fact that the owners of premium office space used to gouging the life out of businesses for their office space now have empty, un-rentable real estate all over the place. I hope they recover soon and can get back to their $20 million per month rentals. I was the victim of that but at a smaller scale when my landlord used to ask me how my (IT-related) business was going. "Great!" I always said. Big mistake. In two years, he raised the rent 4 times. It was for a 2-year lease with "rent adjustments" every 6 months in the contract. Those adjustments were never in my favor, naturally. I finally moved and the place has been sitting empty ever since. Oddly, many people seem to have never heard of the "Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg" idiom.

Washington plans to block Chinese access to AI cloud services


Re: AI Involuntary training exploitation

Meanwhile, DARPA/CIA/NSA/5-Eyes are searching for ways to commit espionage to exfiltrate Chinese technology. It's all just a big, never-ending game.

JP Morgan accidentally deletes evidence in multi-million record retention screwup


Just a "good" business decision, perhaps?

Maybe there was a meeting where it was decided that paying $4 million in fines now was a much cheaper deal than tens of millions lost in lawsuits or even greater fines later?

Finally, ransomware victims are refusing to pay up


Novelty (not) of stolen data being exposed

I'd venture that since there's very little personal data about us that hasn't been exposed already, companies aren't as afraid of that as they once were. Thus, the refusal to pay a ransom is a decision that's much easier to make now.

What was once "Release all our customer's data on the dark web!!?? OH MY GOD! NO!!" is now "Go ahead. We'll pay a piddling fine to regulators and move on."

Direct lithium extraction technique for greener batteries gains traction


Ahh..that rarest of creatures: The Desert Farmer.

Rivals aren't convinced by Microsoft's one-click default browser change


Surely an easier way...

Not defending Microsoft in any way, just remarking on something that was mentioned in the article: Instead of drilling down and down through Settings to find file types and what programs open those file type extensions (which the next MS update will change back anyway), I've always found it vastly easier to make a fake text file on the Desktop with the desired file extension (say "test.html"), right-click on it, select Open With, Select Another App, select my desired app, and make sure there's a checkmark in "Always use this app...". Maybe I'm missing something but that's how I've always set default programs in Windows, in cases where more than one program is installed that can potentially open the same file type. (Notepad, Notepad++, Word, and LibreOffice Writer for .txt files, for example)

Yes, the point of the article was that non-techy users may not be very aware of how to change defaults using ANY method but I'd just like to throw my caveman-style method out there so anyone interested that hasn't done it that way may give it a try.

US distrust of Huawei linked in part to malicious software update in 2012


Re: Smellycat @Alpine_Hermit

Perhaps it was indeed a misunderstanding. But you did call them a "propaganda outfit" and that El Reg would "sully" themselves by using them as a source.


:...which the company denied..."

If someone has a copy of the code in the update, either the malicious code is there or it's not. I'm thinking it probably is or the claims being made wouldn't be made. So instead of "we deny that" maybe Huawei could instead say "We admit the malicious code is there, but we didn't put it there." Which could potentially be true. I mistrust U.S 3-letter agencies in the strongest terms. The formerly illustrious FBI has become one long-running joke and they are far from the worst.

Dutch nuclear authority bans anti-5G pendants that could hurt their owners via – you guessed it – radiation


Simple solution...

Buy an iPhone 12. Expensive, but what price health, I ask. I have one and it appears to ward off 5G signals very effectively. T-Mobile told me I should get 5G practically everywhere but I've only ever seen the tiny "5G" icon on the upper right of the screen like twice in the last 6 months despite traveling around quite a bit. So my body should be just about as "5G-free" as your basic caveman.

The Filth Filter is part of the chipset, honest. Goes between the TPM and SEP. No, really


A little nervous sometimes...

I don't remember the exact wording of the law but in my state you are absolutely required to report any "illegal" content found on a user's system. (I use "illegal" in quotes since I'm not a lawyer and "sketchy" and "illegal", while clear in most cases is not always so crystal clear). If it is later found by somebody else and reported and it's found out that it was in my shop, I'll be answering some very difficult questions.

Anyway, I was sweating bullets when a very nice grandfather-ly man I knew brought in one of his laptops to be fixed with some problem or another. When I started to back up his photos before re-installing the OS, I ran across about 100 explicit photos (time-stamped from about a week before) of a cute teen that I thought looked about 15. I recognized her as K***, his granddaughter.

After pacing the floor for about 30 minutes and wiping the sweat from my brow and trying to decide which law enforcement, exactly, I was supposed to call, I decided to call him instead.

"Hey man, how's it going? Listen, I have what may seem like an odd question. How old is K***?"

"She's 19", he said.

I said "You mean K***? Or the sister?"

He said "No, K*** is 19."

Amazingly he never asked me why I wanted to know. Perhaps he knew. I say that because she was a notorious "wild child". So I thanked him and went about my business fixing his computer. The really amazing part of the whole thing, to this day, is that the girl had those photos on her grandfather's computer. She had them in a folder in "My Photos" named "Special" as if that encypted them so ol' Grandpa couldn't get a peek. The absolute nerve of that girl.

Texas cops sue Tesla claiming 'systematic fraud' in Autopilot after Model X ploughed into two parked police cars


Re: Not fair

I don't know what state you're in but in mine, an individual officer can indeed be sued. The reason you mostly hear of a party suing the city, county, or state is the exact same reason as in this article where they didn't bother to sue the driver: the larger entity has the ability to pay more in the case of a lost suit. I know of at least one local case recently where a lady was injured and sued the police officers and firefighters who were present, as well as the city.

Where's the boss? Ah right, thorough deep-dive audit. On the boardroom table. Gotcha



Off topic and I apologize, but "please do not mention my name" instantly brought back a memory of me saying those exact words. A certain city councilman in our city did not live inside the city limits. This is strictly forbidden. It was up to the mayor and other councilmen to suspend the offending one until such time as he did move inside the city limits or resign. I researched all this with our state officials who said it was my duty to report it to the city clerk, who in turn was duty-bound to inform all the council except the offending one, they would discuss the matter then officially inform him during the next council meeting.

My "please do not mention my name" went completely ignored as she informed nobody BUT the offending councilman who immediately walked straight up to my brother, a councilman, and said "I DO live in the city limits! I don't know where you're getting this crap!" and stormed off.

Politics being what they are, my brother later resigned himself and during the next election cycle, the "illegal" councilman ran for, and won, the mayor's seat.

P.S. He did NOT live in the city limits. Still doesn't. He uses his mother's address, who does, but he, his wife, and kids live in a house no less than 10 miles from the city limits.

Big Tech has a big problem with Florida passing a law that protects politicians from web moderation


All well and good, but...

The critics are keen to say that the new law causes racist, sexist, hate speech, etc. to be posted without limitation but the root of the problem here was and is these platforms censoring posts that may not be any of the things listed, only posts that do not keep with that particular platforms ideology. Print newspapers have always done this e.g "Letters to the Editor" will not be printed in the paper if the paper chooses not to but these digital platforms are not just refusing to publicize articles they disagree with, they are removing posts from areas where the general public is allowed to post almost anything without restriction. Only when someone started noticing exactly what it was that they were removing, namely things they personally didn't like, did it become an issue.

NASA's Perseverance rover in brick form: China set vs unofficial Lego fan design


Re: No, sorry.

""My instructions," he said, "are somewhat unique..." Then they are not unique. Unique is never qualified."

Perhaps a little nitpicky. I believe "somewhat" in this case was a verbal idiosyncrasy the guy used rather than his choice of an adjective to describe exactly to what degree his instructions are unique.

If no other instructions describe in detail and technical aspect the way he does, his are indeed textbook unique. I vote that we give the guy a break on his description of his instructions. The point of the story was his designs and excellent documentation, after all.

Apple, forced to rate product repair potential in France, gives itself modest marks


I imagine printing word-for-word a prepared statement in the form of an email would also be acceptable. Joking aside, even though I've noticed in my later years that most inexplicable policies can be traced to money one way or the other, I haven't been able to figure out why, exactly, that Apple and Google refuse to answer questions.

Is it simply because said questions are asking why they're being a dick about this or that? All they have to do is give a "politician" answer, aka no answer at all even after much talking, to at least try to give the illusion that they care. As it is, they don't appear to give F-all whether people like them or not.

HP loses attempt to deny colossal commission to star sales staffer


Almost happened to me but very far from the same scale...

A former boss (& owner) informed us one time that it was not fair for him to pay us the same even when business was slow. His idea was that our pay would be temporarily reduced at times.

Me being the senior technician, I was always expected to speak up as a "representative" at times like this which I didn't mind doing because I didn't particularly like the guy and I'm pretty sure he felt the same.

So I said, "Seems fair, but since the issue here is fairness, I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we will look forward to when business is better than usual since that will mean our pay will be increased above normal according to the same scale it was reduced."

He looked a little shocked then angry but didn't say anything. The pay reduction plan never got implemented. A wonder I never got fired but I didn't. I eventually quit after he insisted one time that we charge customers for work not performed.

Backers of Planet Computers' Astro Slide 5G phone furious after shock specs downgrade


Re: a lose keyboard is nothing like the same ergonomics

Indeed, but the loss would be less if the keyboard had been acting like a loser. Good riddance to it, I'd say.

Judge denies Parler an injunction to force AWS to host the antisocial network for internet outcasts


Fine line...

"Bile" though it may be, full of "hate and misinformation", that description also perfectly fits CNN and others for the last 4 years. I'm not defending Parler but only pointing out that different people like/will tolerate different things. I personally would not miss Twitter one bit if it were put out of business tomorrow, for example. I know many disagree. We have to be very careful cheering something being put out of business lest our "favorite pub" be next.

Watt's next for batteries? It'll be more of the same, not longer life, because physics and chemistry are hard


If life serves you lemons, make... power?

I have failed to see, in all this talk of electricity-producing items and chemistry, one mention of the tech that many of us learned about as wee lads. Naturally, I'm referring to sticking a copper and an aluminum pin into a lemon. I don't recall the amp/hours but I do know it works. For a mere 10 million, I could focus my attentions fiercely on this and produce something or another in the shape of a product. All failed experiments will be processed into lemonade and sold and so I promise to make the very best use of my capital. Interested investors just leave a tenner with the bartender of your choice and I'll go round collecting. Thank you.

Deloitte's 'Test your Hacker IQ' site fails itself after exposing database user name, password in config file



I worked at a company where, quite unexpectedly and completely unannounced, the owner decided to contract an "ergonomics" consultancy firm to observe, then provide advice, for improving our physical movements to conduct our jobs more efficiently. WTF? We couldn't have been more shocked if he had introduced a voodoo priestess.

So these numb-skulls who had no clue whatsoever about WHAT our jobs were much less whether we were physically moving about in the most efficient manner, milled around aimlessly for about a week, baffled the owner with bullshit, and claimed what I confidently assume was a princely sum for their expertise.

Whatever advice it was that they provided him with, it never made it back to us and everyone just proceeded as before. I have to admit it did make me wonder if I indeed was moving about as efficiently as possible though. At lunch, for example, I held my sandwich on both sides, with both hands IOW, while about to take a bite. Is that the most efficient use of handage? Or would one hand have sufficed? But note that I said "wondered", not "lost sleep over" :)

Let's... drawer a veil over why this laser printer would decide to stop working randomly


Re: Low IQ or low volition?

Same here. Any repeat printer problems, such as changing "Default Printer" in Windows 3 times a week and then telling me they didn't do that, a phenomenon that I do not understand to this day, (Does anybody know why users do that so much?), they would occasionally require a "prolonged servicing" on their nice printer while in the meantime using one from the supply closet that although it printed, its arrival in the office or cubicle reduced the property value of said office/cubicle by about 75%.

Needless to say, as all of you can attest, the tech problems started getting solved when possible by "teamwork", that is to say, they asked other users if they had any ideas about fixing a small problem instead of calling us. And of course, they did and it worked fine.


Re: Low IQ or low volition?

Sounds good in theory but I tried that "explaining what went wrong" thing many times with 0% success rate. About 0.03 seconds into my explanation the glazed eyes and facial expression silently said "You have performed your duty and you are now dismissed." I stopped trying to explain unless they asked. Even then, the facial expression usually signalled that they were sorry they asked.

NSA: We've learned our lesson after foreign spies used one of our crypto backdoors – but we can't say how exactly


"Huawei, to Hades with thine evil spying ways! If there's any spying to be done on U.S. citizens, we'll be doing it, thank you." - NSA

Snowden was right: US court deems NSA bulk phone-call snooping illegal, possibly unconstitutional, and probably pointless anyway


Re: What is the point of the court ruling ?

"they know the current administration won't do anything about it." Perhaps, but this article is about the NSA's shenanigans from 7 years ago, well before the current administration.

Hootsuite melts ICE deal after staff revolt: CEO vows not to divide biz like agents divided families at the US border


Re: Snowflakes

And I downvoted you for downvoting someone for using a term you don't like. And also, probably, for using the term "Right Wing Neo-Nazi".


Re: Sympathy for the devils

Yes, but once you remove the political anger from this argument, what's left is a matter of employees telling employers what they will and won't do. I'm not a tyrant but if I instruct my employees, that's the way it will be done. My employees are an extension of me. They are there to do things because I can't divide myself into a hundred parts to do it myself. I hired them to help me, not have a discourse between each other over whether to follow my directions or not. If my ethics and morals don't match yours, you're perfectly free to quit and start your own company where you may do as you please.

Typical '80s IT: Good idea leads to additional duties, without extra training or pay, and a nuked payroll system


Does "just-barely-out-of-the-80's" count?

The worst nightmare I ever ran into regarding backups was one which I had not been responsible for doing (which covers 98% of backup problems, I imagine, as to which you good fellows can attest).

I got dispatched to the home office of a restaurant chain here in the Southeast with complaints of "It won't work and we tried everything." I was suspicious that I was walking into a huge mess just from talking to the lady for 2 minutes on the phone but my boss had every confidence that I could dispatch with their problem in no time at all.

So I arrive. Their "server" was an aged 486 (which, admittedly, was perfectly capable of being a server back then) stuck under the lady's desk upstairs and their "backups" were done "automatically" by the system via writing to a DVD drive. All the quote marks indicate things that were not that they were named, naturally.

The problems: They told me it ran Windows something-or-another but it was Unix, it was crashed so hard the logs were not readable (HDD had only tipped 96% over, not dead as in really dead yet) so I had no idea where to even start with a fix, and thinking maybe this backup, which was run "every day" she told me, could help me with at least a start, after replacing the drive

They were re-writeable, there was 7 of them, rotated daily. I pulled the DVDs and put them one at a time in my laptop's drive and each was _completely_ blank. So I had to be the bearer of that most horrible news "Your data is not only gone, it's gone for good." Some other local tech vendor had charged them a princely sum for this useless "backup system".

Bright side, the owner, who had shown up during all this placed the blame 100% on them and not me (I was shocked at that part) and even though they didn't use us for their IT needs later, we did handle her and her husband's systems at home which paid better than that nightmare at the home office ever would have.

Digital pregnancy testing sticks turn out to have very analogue internals when it comes to getting results


Re: "Surly we can come up with a similar device with replaceable strips?"

Actually, all the magic happens on the glucose meter strip. Contrary to popular belief, blood gets nowhere within 100 miles (okay, 1/4") of the inside of the meter. I'm just noting that. I realize that you didn't say that it did. The meter itself just does a little computing and displays what the strip told it to say. Namely that the blood, which traveled by capillary action to a certain spot on the strip and reacted with an enzyme called glucose oxidase, produced gluconic acid. This is measured between two electric terminals (still on the strip) and that info sent to the meter which then determines the number to display to you, hopefully between 100-140 (used to be 90-120). - A fellow finger-sticker since 1990 :)

The Wrath of Amazon: JEDI wars rage on after US Department of Defense affirms Microsoft contract


Is that really your bottom dollar?

If Amazon could afford to provide their unmatched, spectacular service that is (at least) like, 11,000 times better than Microsoft's for "tens of millions of dollars less", why didn't they bid that the first go-round? It reminds me of those street vendors that ask 100 quid for a t-shirt, you say "I only have 2 quid." and he says "Okay, sold."

Mate, it's the '90s. You don't need to be reachable every minute of every hour. Your operating system can't cope


Re: Now that's a title

In the military, in addition to having the most massive case of "If we can't make an acronym out of its name, we're not having it." you've ever seen, there's also the "It is required to have a "cool" name." syndrome.

I thought the same thing you did when I read the "combat computer technician" until I remembered that I had, many years ago, been an illustrious member of a "combat cargo" unit.

"What kind of highly trained black-ops, special-ops fellow are you anyway?", you say? We carried the big frozen boxes of food from the huge freezers below decks to the smaller cook's freezers up in the mess hall and also toted big boxes of mail from the helicopters that landed on the ships to the ship's mailroom. Real "combat cargo" type stuff, you know. I hope I don't get charged with revealing confidential military secrets now....

exiting the room walking backwards. Slowly.

Firefox maker Mozilla axes a quarter of its workforce, blames coronavirus, vows to 'develop new revenue streams'


Hard to believe...

Mozilla had 1,000 employees? Doing what? I've been a die-hard Firefox user pretty well since Day One but have been a little disillusioned with some of the "improvements" lately ("magnifying" address bar, anyone?) and a whole, whole lot disillusioned by them dropping Thunderbird. Yes, they certainly did. Phrase it however you want such as their excuse that "We are going to disentangle the technical infrastructure." but that's like saying "You're not fired, but you can't work here." Anyhow, what have the other 998 employees been doing lately?

Legal complaint lodged with UK data watchdog over claims coronavirus Test and Trace programme flouts GDPR


Re: Conspiracy time?

"They [Apple] really don’t want your personal data so they don’t have to waste their time handing it to the FBI."

Maybe Apple doesn't particularly WANT your data but they do hand it to the FBI.

Small excerpts from their "Legal Process Guidelines" PDF:

1) "Apple will provide content in response to a search warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause."

2) "Apple has a centralized process for receiving, tracking, processing, and responding to legitimate legal requests from government, law enforcement, and private parties..."

3) etc.

BoJo buckles: UK govt to cut Huawei 5G kit use 'to zero by 2023' after pressure from Tory MPs, Uncle Sam


We shall not suffer our citizenry to be spied upon!

The U.S. has some huge balls to accuse somebody of spying 2 days after the articles were printed outlining the move by the government to allow FBI surveillance of web users data (presumably via ISPs) and without warrants. Add to that the actions of the illustrious NSA, who has people pulling their laptops apart and looking with magnifying glasses to see if any suspicious-looking chips are present and we have a populace who's so used to being spied on, they don't give one rat whether Huawei joins in.

Tales from the crypt-oh: Nvidia accused of concealing $1bn in coin-mining GPU sales as gaming revenue


You win some, you lose some.

The investors "gambled", lost, and now want their money back. Wouldn't we all love to be able to sue Las Vegas for our money back? Bad example, perhaps, but still. The only way for that way of thinking (If I win at handsome odds, I want the money. If I suffer a loss or at least not gain what I thought I would, I want my money back.) to be 100% fair would be that if the investors, upon investing in a later-wildly-successful venture, were only paid back what they invested, with perhaps some pittance of interest.

Now there's nothing stopping the PATRIOT Act allowing the FBI to slurp web-browsing histories without a warrant


Re: Please... can some TLA

Will someone PLEASE dox Trump's tax records before these people's heads literally explode? You know how he gets the opposition to want something they never even realized they wanted? By saying he's not going to reveal it.


Re: VPN?

You lump together child porn and beheading videos? Though I'm nobody's judge, you seem to really hate videos of beheadings. They're horrific, yes, but child porn level horrific?

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer


When customer descriptions go high and right...

About 25 years ago the computer repair shop where I worked would be very busy after thunderstorms. Lightning running in on electrical wires, phone lines, etc. Using the decidedly unscientific yet highly accurate "sniff test" (simply smelling near the power supply fan), it was pretty easy to tell if a computer's woes were due to being burned by what I call a "power surge".

A day or two after one such storm a lady brought her desktop computer in, I gave it the "test" and told her it was at least a burned power supply, possibly much more. In many cases, the "surge" didn't go inward past the power supply, though. Surprisingly, she said that was not possible. I said what do you mean it's not possible. She said it couldn't have gotten "power surged" during a storm.

I asked her what gave her that idea. She replied that it was because the computer was "underground". I was dumbfounded. I asked her what "underground" meant and she said "It's in the basement". When I pointed out that it STILL had to be plugged into the wall and power could STILL run in on the lines, despite being "under ground" she got a little red-faced and said "Just fix it.". So I replaced the power supply, tested it, it worked fine and everyone was happy.

As Brit cyber-spies drop 'whitelist' and 'blacklist', tech boss says: If you’re thinking about getting in touch saying this is political correctness gone mad, don’t bother


Good thinking

And while we're at it, I propose the immediate cessation of referring to when the sun is out as "light" and when it is down as "dark". Negative connotations, and all that.

Australia to make Google and Facebook disclose ranking algorithms and pay for local content


Many newspapers may have shuttered but some are fine

Our two local newspapers, which cover 3 or 4 small towns and couple of medium sized cities, one of whom I favor and the other I do not, are flourishing.

Both have been around for at least 40 years and are doing as well as ever. They both have interesting, original content. About as many advertisements as any other actually-printed-on-paper newspapers.

There's a HUGE reason I think they are both still going strong: Neither have an online presence. No website for either. Not even classified sections. So needless to point out, there's no way Google or anyone else can scrape their content. And neither are large enough for said scrapers to bother scanning and OCR'ing the content to turn it digital.

So 2 key factors, I think; they have great content (more often than not, anyway) and are not susceptible to the problems mentioned in the article.

In case you need more proof the world's gone mad: Behold, Apple's $699 Mac Pro wheels


Re: These are wheely gweat!

User serviceable? For Apple products? Surely you jest, my good man.

Signal sends smoke, er, signal: If Congress cripples anonymous speech with EARN IT Act, we'll shut US ops


Land of the Free (emphasis on 'free')

But in the US we are free, dammit! Free, I tell you!

Australian state adds AI number plate readers to GPS tracking of corona-quarantine busters


in came the real name

Incorrect, good sir. It is China Virus but may also be referred to as Wuhan Virus. You are referring to its scientific name, a language < 0.1% of us speak. ;)

Watch out, everyone, here come the Coronavirus Cops, enjoying their little slice of power way too much


some parts of America are infinitely worse

Yes, world, come and join us in the U.S. where our freedoms are unparalleled. We're famous for it. Heck, all the warrant-less cell phone-tapping, e-mail searching, traffic camera snooping, Internet traffic capturing, etc. isn't all that bad, once you get used to it.

White House creates 'Team Telecom' to probe whether foreign telcos should be allowed near US networks


To make sure all our communications are secure...

Similarly to what I just posted on another article, the cynicism caused by (evidently) old age caused me to read "Its job will be to advise the FCC on the law enforcement and national security implications of foreign telecom companies..." as "...to ensure that no communications by the private citizens of this country could be or shall be spied upon by any agency whatsoever...except ours."

Something something DANE cook: Microsoft pledges to wrap its email systems in secure anti-snooping protocol


Re: Let me see if I understand this...

Agreed. I well know that part of my thought process is tainted by excessive cynicism due to my old age, however, I read "Office 365 will finally get DNSSEC-based protection *later this year*" as "As soon as we have been notified that U.S. spy agencies have well and properly cracked DNSSEC and DANE."

If you use Twitter with Firefox in a shared computer account, you may have slightly spilled some private data on that PC


Say it ain't so!

So people logging into the same computer with the same username and password can see each other's data? No way!

For the past five years, every FBI secret spy court request to snoop on Americans has sucked, says watchdog


However, they DO promise to do better in other areas

The never-ending demands from the FBI, and really the Justice Department in general, for companies to provide back-doors into any and all encryption "will be utilized ONLY when proper permission from judges has been sought and given." So there. They promise to really, really do it by the book this time. For anyone unfamiliar with the FBI's hate of encryption, Google for (several years ago) the FBI Director at the time having posters placed in Internet cafes suggesting that anyone seeing anyone else using Tor or encryption should immediately report it. Since criminals are usually the people using Tor and encryption apparently.

Personally, I was not put on this Earth to ease the jobs of law enforcement. I would never knowingly hinder it, obviously, so yes, I am 100% for every single terrorist act that's foiled but not at the expense of my own security and privacy. For example there will probably never come a time when instead of walking to my mailbox out by the road, I ask my neighbor to open it and read it to me over the telephone. "I don't have anything to hide, but I don't have anything I want to show you, either."