* Posts by Dave Bell

2138 posts • joined 14 Sep 2007

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Dave Bell

Re: And what about the people ...

I have a quite old smartphone, finally decided to replace the battery, which has made a big difference. But it's Android. At least Google have promised their app will work on it. Even with a brand new, stock, battery, I'm not sure it could run the NHS app all day. I'm a little bit puzzled by the current jargon. The labels for the different power states seem to have changed. Most of the time I carry it, the screen is off, it's waiting at its lowest power setting for a call because it is, you know, a phone. That's what phones do.

I'm wondering what these brilliant programmers are doing with their phones when they're gallivanting around. Hunting Pokemon?

What happens when the maintainer of a JS library downloaded 26m times a week goes to prison for killing someone with a motorbike? Core-js just found out

Dave Bell

I am a little surprised that nobody seems to have mentioned the current pandemic as, at least, an immediate threat. Any of us could be in ICU within a few days, dead within a week.

Could this apparent apathy kill OpenSource as a tool? Who would trust it ever again?

Long-term Linux Mint: 19.3 release unchains the Gimp, adds HiDPI, is kind to your older, less-beefy kit

Dave Bell

HDMI problems may be more to do with the graphics hardware drivers. I don't have problems with my nVidia card, using the nVidia drivers rather than open source. It's an option on install. I use an old TV and output sound though the TV speakers. I had sound problems with Mint 19.2, occasional loss of settings, wasn't a big job to recover. It's maybe too early to say whether Mint 19.3 has fixed it.

LibreOffice 6.4 nearly done as open-source office software project prepares for 10th anniversary

Dave Bell

Different use cases.

I know of one use-case which still needs the MS Word part of MS Office. Book publishers strongly prefer it for the to-and-fro data exchange of the editing process because of the excellent change tracking. I don't know just what survived from around twenty years ago that could be an alternative, but MS seems to have an effective monopoly.

There are certainly better programs for writing the book in the first place, but that is a different sort of problem. I have also seem MS Word produce some pretty horrible output files, it turned out some bloated HTML, and that suggests to me a potential weakness of any do-everything program. They can work, but they don't have to work well.

Remember the big IBM 360 mainframe rescue job? For now, Brexit has ballsed it up – big iron restorers

Dave Bell

It seems a pretty fair comment. Up until last Friday the Brexit date was fixed to Halloween. The French Ambassador, on St Crispin's Day, seemed to be why we didn't get a definite date fixed until Monday. Operation Brock was still being set up at the weekend, to use the M20 to park-up HGVs facing border delays.

Anyone who doesn't think hauliers were worried is crazy.

Dave Bell

Re: Seriously?

This is the UK. Anything over 3.5 tonnes gross can be tricky, and I was excluded from that for medical reasons. Above 7.5 tonnes gross and you definitely need the special licence.

Between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes an ordinary driving test before 1997 gave you the necessary C1 rating.

When you figure in the insurance and the regular training requirement, I doubt it would be practical.

Will someone think of the taxpayer? UK.gov needs to stop burning billions on shoddy procurement, says Reform

Dave Bell

It looks like the Civil Service is full of problems.

This looks like an echo of Jim Hacker's "Department of Administrative Affairs", which functioned as an excuse for that TV show to mock anything.

We can at least hold a General Election, if we have an incompetent government. There seems to be little we can do about a Civil Service that fails.

Inside the 1TB ImageNet data set used to train the world's AI: Naked kids, drunken frat parties, porno stars, and more

Dave Bell

Shouldn't we be learning too?

Obvious problem: some of those images sound to be illegal to possess, in the UK and, very likely, in the USA. The details of the law do differ.

But some of the legal-but-questionable images might be more useful for testing, rather than training. From the description of the system, I can see how some images could easily fit multiple labels. Is it so hard to imagine a picture of a pretty girl, wearing a bikini and riding a bicycle.

Maybe this set of images should be retired (not lost) and a new, better organised, set made for training

Well, well, well. Fancy that. UK.gov shelves planned pr0n block

Dave Bell

Re: No. Parenting is not about relying on devices.

Be careful, folks. Any time somebody brings up a 5-year-old child, I hesitate about everything they say. There's nothing wrong I can see in this instance, but too many forget existing laws on age limits. It started with the USA's Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 which set a minimum age of 13. It's not a total ban on kids under that age, but parental consent is required. So it's a part of the terms and conditions for social media sites.

Is age-13 the right age for that? It's not blatantly wrong.

Then I am wary of the way the label "child" is thrown about. It does have specific legal meanings, and in that sort of context there isn't really a choice. But, in the UK, a 16-year-old can still lawfully marry, even though the law often labels them as a child. (Does that law need changing? We do seem to be saying somebody old enough to marry can't access porn.)

Is this a question about children or teenagers? "Teenager" isn't a great label, it includes people over age-18 and had its roots in a time when people could leave school and get a job at a much younger age, spending their money in ways the provoked paraoxysms of pearl clutching.

Margin mugs: A bank paid how much for a 2m Ethernet cable? WTF!

Dave Bell

Re: Not just business

There might be a quality difference between the two cables, but that is excessive...

The old rule of thumb was that the guy who sells you something bought it for about half the price, and has to pay all his costs from the difference. One of the things the wholesalers did was "breaking bulk". They'd buy a big consignment of something, and sell small packages to retailers.

A 10% margin is tight, but possible. It's what's left after all the costs. I am not sure if this source understands the difference between margin and mark-up, but it doesn't excuse some of the crazy purchasing decisions reported.

Incidentally, there are other cases where prices at the other end of the chain are used. One obvious instance is reporting the value of drugs seizures as "street value". When the stuff was hidden in that container intercepted at the border, nobody paid anything like that much.

Several months after the fact, CafePress finally acknowledges huge data theft to its customers

Dave Bell

There may be worse lurking.

I don't recall ever having an account there, but I got today's warning. It includes a mention of the dangers of using the same password with multiple accounts.

It's possible that it is one of those sites that lets you log in with a Twitter account, or Facebook, or Google. I am not inclined to go and check. It seems very obvious that, while there are advantages in tracking what people look at, and a cookie should be enough for that, they don't need a full account until somebody wants to buy something.

Twitter doesn't have payment data, but Google does. I'm not a Facebook user. The way that internet operations in the USA are sharing data is worrying. The way some of them refuse to accept connections from Europe suggests they's not even trying toi keep personal data safe and secure.

What can we do to be safe?

BOFH: What's the Gnasher? Why, it's our heavy-duty macerator sewage pump

Dave Bell

Re: Overhead sewers

I used to live in a village which was affected by one of those. The next village had the tiny processing site replaced by a couple of miles of pipe, running by the road over a couple of hills and connected to the local unpressurised system. Used a holding tank and a macerator pump, and when the pump started the holding tank couple be well ripe. We got the stench.

After three years, the solution was to extend the pressurised pipe direct to the local sewage works, another mile.

Two years ago, 123-Reg and NamesCo decided to register millions of .uk domains for customers without asking them. They just got the renewal reminders...

Dave Bell

Right now, it looks like various 123-Reg systems are not working.

Clutching at its Perl 6, developer community ponders language name with less baggage

Dave Bell

Re: @AC - "Want a simple, efficient and elegant programming language? C"

I use Linux, and it can be as good a desktoip OS as any other. But Linux still has different desk top implementations that are different enough to be awkward. An analogy: we have a standard user interface for the motor car, things like foot pedals and steering wheel. But writing a program for Linux is like refuelling a motor car. You have to care about how the engine works.

Dave Bell

Re: Why exactly is Perl any worse than Python?

I can see your point, but there's a lot of significant ignorance there. The "they"/"their" construction has been used for the same purpose for several hundred years, and it sidesteps the gender issues completely. I'll concede it might be still an SJW fix, but I am not sure I can find polite words to describe somebody pushing the "he"/"him" version.

There is a pattern I see, in many fields, where the loudest shouting comes from men who are not competent enough to compete with women. And you can mirror that, though there are far fewer women it can apply to. There is a bias, and it protects incompetent men

A challenger appears: Taiwanese devs' answer to Gemini PDA wraps a Raspberry Pi in a tablet

Dave Bell

I'm not sure that I'd bother with this, but a reasonable screen size, powered by a Raspberry Pi, and using Bluetooth for keyboard and Mouse could be a quite powerful machine. The Pi 4 with 4GB of RAM is a solid base.

What I would wait for is the ability to boot from a USB-attached SSD, which isn't a Pi 4 option yet. It's early days, several add-ons are appearing, and there are some very nice Pi 3 cases which would tempt me in a Pi 4 equivalent. All these things take time.

End of an era for ULA as the last Delta IV Medium rocket leaves launch pad

Dave Bell

Re: I could never

Up until 2000, the civil signal gave lower precision than the military signal. We farmers had to use differential GPS to get useful precision. The US Military could still force lower precision on anyone else. The military encryption was turned off during the First Gulf War because the soldiers wouldn't have had enough GPS receivers that could handle the encrypted signal. The people at the LAMMA show that year noticed...

Too hot to handle? Raspberry Pi 4 fans left wondering if kit should come with a heatsink

Dave Bell

Re: Heats always worth adding

This week is bad, for any computer.

I'm not sure how accurate the sensors/software are on my box, but it's running around 10℃ hotter than usual, and I am not planning to transcode any video files until things are cooler. Overnight temperaturs are forecast to be plenty high enough.

Doesn't matter whether it's global warning or a freak year, when it's this hot, computers have problems. In that, the Raspberry Pi 4 isn't really all that special. But, on tests I have seen reported, I think a fan is needed. A heatsink alone doesn't make much difference.

Queen Elizabeth has a soggy bottom: No, the £3.1bn aircraft carrier, what the hell did you think we meant?

Dave Bell

I'd just use a ratio, something such as 1:50 or 1:40, either of which is a pretty simple calculation. And, when I was at school, the tables printed on the backs of exercise books still had rods, poles, perches, and chains.

Two weeks after Microsoft warned of Windows RDP worms, a million internet-facing boxes still vulnerable

Dave Bell

So why Windows?

So why do people use Windows so much?

Part of it seems to be the difficulty of finding non-Windows apps which do the same job.

British Army down thousands of soldiers after outsourcing recruitment IT to Capita

Dave Bell

Re: German and French European Defence Force

That "4 Typhoons" story was a bit bogus. It was the number of aircraft on QRA, ready to fly at a moment's notice. It's definitely a low number, but if they sent off a plane to intercept a suspicious aircraft, the ground crews would be getting another ready, things such as fuel and weapons and having the pilot ready.

Still, it made a neat story for a certain sort of newspaper, that the RAF had more Spitfires able to fly than the Luftwaffe had Typhoons ready to fly.

Brit broadband download speeds are still below the global average, hoots Ofcom

Dave Bell

So they lied.

I recently switched to FTTC, same price and 5 times the speed.

What's described as "Unlimited Fibre" means no usage limits.

The maximum line speed they said was possible was about 130% of the maximum reported above from that ISP.

The Minimum Guaranteed Speed, a much-hailed return to honesty introduced a year ago, is about 130% of what I am getting.

There are web sites that report speed tests from near-neighbours. Results are pretty close to what I am getting, similar distances from the exchange and cabinet. Maybe those speedtests are from people who are getting poor performance, leading to a bias in those numbers. But I wonder just what Ofcom are measuring. And Honesty in broadband advertising and sales still seems thin on the ground.

I have to remind myself that I am paying the same price for 5 times the speed, which isn't bad, but so many things haven't changed. Part of the feel of an internet connection is down to ping times, and even with the emergence of caching on the cloud, the site in the USA which sends you the more local URL for a huge file has much the same ping time as when I was connecting to the same city with a dial-up modem.

Upgrading is worthwhile, but it isn't what the advertising suggests.

Nothing is.

Hams try to re-carve the amateur radio spectrum in fight over open or encoded transmissions

Dave Bell

Some of this argument seems to be skirting around the differences between encoding a message and encrypting it, and that's not quite as simple as it sounds, because the jargon can be confusing. "Codes and ciphers" covers two different sorts of cryptography, which is the area that provokes the complaints, but "code" doesn't have to be cryptography, and that has a distinct definition.

So, first the cryptography, the secret writing: codes deal with words and phrases, units of language. There were codes for business use for sending telegrams, which could put a whole phrase into a short string of letters, but anybody could buy a copy of the codebook. But "goods not according to contract specification" counted as one telegraphic word. And nobody would be reading it casually. Ciphers deal with arbitrary units, such as letters of the alphabet, usually single letters, sometimes pairs. The idea of a code still has a place, you might have a codename for a particular person, because looking for the known real name might help break a cipher but most stuff now is ciphers.

But Morse code (and a few others) isn't really anything to do with cryptography. And neither is ASCII or Unicode, they're all much the same thing, shifting a representation of words to another medium, taking alphabetical symbols and putting them in a mode machinery can handle. We talk about codecs with audio and video, and it's the part of the definitions that's the root. But DRM drags back in the secret writing part. And some things get messy.

Those old telegraphic codes, allowing the efficient sending of messages that can't be read by all and sundry, that shouldn't be a problem. They were allowing them during the World War because the censors and other monitors had the codebooks (and there was an interesting series of orders for tobacco sent from various English ports to a company in the Netherlands, which got noticed).

There's a history here, and there's nothing really new here. We use barcodes, but they're just another sort of partnumber, and for some things collectors will use the old telegraphic codewords, but what worries people is the secrecy aspect. What do they have to hide? And those video codecs, it's all too common that a software update with a new codec will break something else.

If you want something that works, is secrecy that good an idea?

UK code breakers drop Bombe, Enigma and Typex simulators onto the web for all to try

Dave Bell

Re: Explain like I'm five ..

The Americans were also relatively open about what they did to break the Japanese codes and ciphers, apparently fallout from the inquiry on why Pearl Harbor happened. It's described in "The Codebreakers", which was first published in 1967, before any Enigma revelations, and references to NSA/GCHQ collaboration were cut out. The book also didn't go into great detail about the methods used to crack the Japanese system. It mostly just revealed how much of the Japanese signal traffic was being read, and quickly enough that the Americans were reading the effective declaration of war before the Japanese Embassy in Washington.

Brit rocket wranglers get Reaction they wanted after rattling SABRE

Dave Bell

I'm pretty sure I was hearing about this idea in 1987.

Mini computer flingers go after a slice of the high street retail Pi

Dave Bell

Re: Mould breakers

Ah, yes, Pi Day.

Nobody really knows what the politicians will do, and so how Brexit will turn out. I am not sure that any tech company can launch anything in the UK before midsummer. Brexit adds too much risk.

Man drives 6,000 miles to prove Uncle Sam's cellphone coverage maps are wrong – and, boy, did he manage it

Dave Bell

We're all missing something.

It's hinted at at the end of the article, but we're missing the difference between population coverage and area coverage. Round here the are many 1km blocks with zero residents, and zero roads. You can check this with the OS coverage available through Bing Maps, a good example is the area north of Brigg. It likely still gets coverage, it has people working there, but nobody lives there. There are similarly empty grid squares on the Lincolnshire Wolds, which might not get good coverage because of the hills.

And internet coverage is not the same as voice coverage.

What a map such as this could be good for is suggesting areas with more people that are worth more checking. It depends what they call a main road for this survey, but the article suggests that they would only be the A-roads on a British map (and not all of them). I can see on my local maps that there are villages of over 1000 people, mostly in one grid square, which are 5 miles from any A-road. I don't know where the phone towers are, but five miles, line of sight. would be a possibility for one.

The population distribution is lumpy on a 1km grid. A map such as this one is only a first step. But it's people, not grid squares, that vote and use the internet.

Linux reaches the big five (point) oh

Dave Bell

It suddenly doesn't seem so crazy to suggest that HTML5 support can be included in this process so that we can have some confidence that an update to a web browser, or other program using video, has a consistent, mostly working, place to look. As it is, there are a whole bunch of different media codecs, all supposed to be doing the same thing, except when they don't.

What happens when a Royal Navy warship sees a NATO task force headed straight for it? A crash course in Morse

Dave Bell

The first time I watched "The Hunt For Red October" I was on a ferry to Rotterdam. Just enough motion of the ship that the differences in motion were disconcerting.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

Dave Bell

I am wondering how anyone could have spotting a drone flying around an airport at about 3am in December. It could be flying using GPS waypoints, so the operator doesn't need it to be showing a light, but just how are they detecting it? Radar? They're not stealthed but they're not a big target, and a lot of the aviation business relies on transponders for routine use. There will be some radar which uses the echo, has to be in case something goes wrong, and that sort of radar has been spoofed since the 1940s.

It seems possible that there is no drone, and something else is being detected, but, even if the plane doesn't crash, sucking something into a jet engine is expensive.

Is Google purposefully breaking Microsoft, Apple browsers on its websites? Some insiders are confident it is

Dave Bell

Re: Brittle software?

Opera runs on the Chromium engine now. So their website says, anyway, but some sources seem to use different names for the same thing.

Opera has some nice features, but I am very careful about backing up before I do a version upgrade, there have been some odd glitches.

Chrome/Chromium is appearing in a lot of places. One program I use manages to open three copies of a library called "Dullahan", just when you start it. For sundry other reasons, I am a bit wary. Security is as much a state of mind as a set of tools, and the best locks in the world are useless if you don't lock them.

I am still trying to figure out why an empty <div> is such a killer. The descriptions I have seen suggest something close to self-modifying code, and that feels rather scary. Some other Javascript doing something to put something unpredictable in that <div> block? Colour me red and run me up a flagpole, but that sounds like a pretty bad security risk. At best, it's like having to download those auto-playing advertising videos.

Expired cert... Really? #O2down meltdown shows we should fear bungles and bugs more than hackers

Dave Bell

Re: Was this

I can see what you're getting at. The certificate system has a different purpose for this situation. It isn't about somebody such as me, downloading software from a myriad of possible suppliers, possibly via intermediaries, where the certificate is about blocking access to possible malware, now with such things as HTTPS. Secure delivery still needs attention, but once a genuine copy of the software is delivered and authorised for use, the supplier's action (or inaction) shouldn't be able to stop it working.

Yeah, I suppose contracts can set up something like software rental, and that's nothing new. But if you shut down your customer I am sure the lawyers would be interested in the procedures you followed.

Why millions of Brits' mobile phones were knackered on Thursday: An expired Ericsson software certificate

Dave Bell

But what was working?

I can confirm that SMS was failing, badly, over the O2 Network. I didn't sent many texts, but all were logged here as failed. One was delivered 20 times. Nothing critical for me, but annoying.

I didn't try voice. Was that they only thing working?

Laptop search unravels scheme to fake death for insurance cash

Dave Bell

Re: "nice prosumer Canon camera."

Yes, but somehow the plot had to be good enough to get a death certificate in Moldavia. There was either human corpse, or a hefty bribe.

Big data at sea: How the Royal Navy charts the world's oceans

Dave Bell

You've missed the mention of GPS problems affecting the underwater drones they have, meaning they can't get such precise data from a sub.

Sensor failure led to Soyuz launch failure, says Roscosmos

Dave Bell

I am a little bit unsure about just what the first stage and second stage are on the Soyuz. The basic design goes all the way back to the first Sputnik launch, which five units all firing together at launch: the four boosters and the core. When the boosters have burnt all their fuel they detach, leaving the core still burning.

The pictures show one of the four boosters having a bad separation.

If one control module failed, out of four, it all makes a lot on sense, if what I am thinking of as booster separation is what is been called first stage to second stage.

The D in Systemd stands for 'Dammmmit!' A nasty DHCPv6 packet can pwn a vulnerable Linux box

Dave Bell

Reporting weakness

OK, so I was able to check through the link you provided, which says "up to and including 239", but I had just installed a systemd update and when you said there was already a fix written, working it's way through the distro update systems, all I had to do was check my log.

Linux Mint makes it easy.

But why didn't you say something such as "reported to affect systemd versions up to and including 239" and then give the link to the CVE? That failure looks like rather careless journalism.

Congrats from 123-Reg! You can now pay us an extra £6 or £12 a year for basically nothing

Dave Bell

I wonder who I should report this to as theft and criminal deception. Action Fraud don't inspire confidence, from the way they handle spam emails. Anyone else?

Is this cuttlefish really all that cosmic? Ubuntu 18.10 arrives with extra spit, polish, 4.18 kernel

Dave Bell

One of the reasons I like Mint is that they are willing to experiment with the UI, but they are able to support a cluster of different shells and keep them available in parallel. They might not all be released on the same day, and I doubt that's a good idea anyway, but it is one of the things that makes it more than an Ubuntu clone.

Dave Bell

Re: Go Gnome

I've seen this. A pop-up asks for a response, you type in text, hit return, and for some crazy reason the program responds as if you clicked on a different button that is hidden behind the pop-up. It's the sort of thing that makes you wonder if programmers are human, or some monster which will be revealed in the next episode of Doctor Who.

Dave Bell
Linux

Re: "the system has a more modern and 'flatter' look"

The UI, on any operating system, is something people are reluctant to change. We still have, with slight differences elements that have been here since Windows on MS-DOS. Look at how minimise/maximise/close has and hasn't changed.

I have seen ideas for UI changes which might be improvements, but the struggle to overcome all those decades of habit made them more like failures.

Russian rocket goes BOOM again – this time with a crew on it

Dave Bell

Re: You can't just be like "it's a lovely morning time to...

Some things Kerbal Space Program does very well, but it has simplifications that build up errors. You learn the basics of changing orbit and rendezvous, the stuff that Buzz Aldrin wrote the book on, but I'd still rather have him at the controls.

What could be more embarrassing for a Russian spy: Their info splashed online – or that they drive a Lada?

Dave Bell

The Spy Game is changing

Some of this may be things that used to work, which fail badly with new methods being applied since the Cold War. Consider things such as biometric data on modern passports, which is hard to fake. And we have fingerprint sensors on some of our phones. Some Russian Spies, in the old days, managed to use more than one identity, and not every one can have been identified. We're reaching a point where the document isn't use-once, it's the human.

One thing we know is that here in the UK, we were very good at catching enemy agents and persuading them to work for us. And that depended on being very careful about revealing what we knew. It's possibly why some things were not reported to the politicians. So, through a lot of hard work, we identified two Russian agents. We stood a good chance of being able to spot them crossing a border, whatever documents they used, and that could have given away something else.

What is going on?

Civil rights group Liberty walks out on British cops' database consultation

Dave Bell

Well, they would say that, wouldn't they.

I can see why the project exists. The existing system is horribly old. And transferring the old data to a new system is certainly an opportunity to deal with some of the retention problems. Though I have to wonder if there was ever the information in the database to identify the records that should be deleted.

But, really, does anyone expect either side in this argument to be saying anything different to what they are doing?

Heart-stopping predictions from AI doctors could save lives

Dave Bell

Yes, it can. It can be a symptom of several different heart problems. One of the reasons why the NHS really wants you to call them from breathing diiffculty.

Dave Bell

Re: Correlation does not imply causation

The difference is pretty small, and I am not sure that, in the last few years, GP Home Visits are so good an indicator. My brother is currently in hospital after the GP surgery sent an Ambulance, and that felt like one of a range of options they had, from "come to see us" upwards. And can there be a difference between the almost routine and the urgent cases? (I'm thinking of the elderly with limited mobility.)

Did your report over-simplify?

It's a net neutrality whodunnit: Boffins devise way to detect who's throttling transit

Dave Bell

Why do I feel smarter than a journalist this morning?

This whole story is riddled with misconceptions, and where it isn't, it;s all rather obvious anyway. It's essentially automating traceroute and ping and saying that when the RTT and packet loss jumps, the problem is between the last good node and the first bad one.

I was doing that over dial-up internet through Demon in the last century.

This isn't rocket science. And Kerbal Space Program feels more realistic than this article.

Brit Railcard buyers face lengthy, unexplained delays. Sound familiar?

Dave Bell

Everything is getting worse.

The actual trains aren't working all that well either. And the numerous websites telling you about delays don't seem to be working at all. I was watching arrivals at my local station, and the system doesn't seem to know whether a train is late until it leaves the previous station.

Which is odd because the signalling system has to know where the trains are, and has to know which train is which or a train will go down the wrong line.

Buses, you don't even get that sort of detail. Monday, the bus which eventually turned up had a sheet of paper with the service number taped up in the windscreen. And, for one dreadful moment in the middle of nowhere it seemed as though the gearbox had failed.

We still have a local bus company which isn't Stagecoach, and their bus was making odd noises too.

Google risks mega-fine in EU over location 'stalking'

Dave Bell

That is one of the critical distinctions.

Recent experience of GDPR-rated consents and settings suggests that internet companies are each allowing hundreds of advertising companies to see my data, and I see nothing to distinguish Google on this. Nobody seems to anonymise the data.

It's not like old-time advertising on TV, when viewing figures were obtained by recording a sample audience, and you had some idea of what sort of audience watched a particular programme, but nothing specific. It seemed to work. The commercial TV companies made good profits. And, if you're old enough, a phrase such as "Ridley Scott's Hovis ad" still conjures up an image.

The stuff bad enough to remember was for the local companies, the static card with the voice-over for one of the local department stores that vanished into BHS or House of Fraser. Or perhaps, in the cinema, the Pearl & Dean advert for the restaurant so good that the chef ate there himself. And we seem to be getting that level of advertising over the internet, without even getting as good a localisation as Pearl & Dean gave you. The restaurant where the chef ate was at least in the same town as the cinema.

Google doesn't seem able to manage that, at times they can't even get the right country.

Hi-de-Hack! Redcoats red-faced as Butlin's holiday camp admits data breach hit 34,000

Dave Bell

Butlins has changed since the Hi-Di-Hi era, much smaller than it was and includes hotels on the sites. But just what happened? I'd distinguish between phishing and malware. 34,000 sets of booking details sounds way too big to be the result of a phishing attack pretending to be the local council. A fake email from a local council could be a vector for malware, but how plausible was the email? The scale looks like one site, so it hangs together, but I wonder how robust the system is.

Local councils could plausibly mail out regular information, such as event lists, which somebody might almost automatically open, but why would such stuff get close to the bookings database? Maybe something was sent to customers, but what?

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