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* Posts by Lotaresco

1088 posts • joined 24 Sep 2007

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UK.gov went ahead with under-planned, under-funded IT upgrade? Sounds about right

Lotaresco
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Alien

Re: Alien Agilities .... Remote Virtualised AI Facilities with SMARTR Utilities

Can someone reboot amanfromMars1 again? It seems to have a corrupted database.

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Home Office opens AWS cash firehose a little wider with police IT deal

Lotaresco
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The announcement doesn't say what people think it says

The announcement refers specifically to the Public services provided by the police. That is, it refers to material that will be OFFICIAL as far as the GSC is concerned. It will be all the tedious garbage about meeting your PCSO, bicycle security stamping, public event policing, traffic, accidents and crime statistics, newsletters and puff pieces about what a wonderful chap the ACC is. It will not be a repository for criminal records, case work, forensic data etc.

Although I haven't worked on this delivery I have seen some of the other stuff heading to AWS and it's largely non-contentious. I hear from "people who know" that AWS is offering a better security model than other providers and the contracts are regarded as less painful than those of other providers. Also it's much cheaper than G-Cloud offerings.

Yes, we need scrutiny of how our money is being spent, but the HO seems to be being responsible, this time around.

Besides, a new DC costs around £25 million does anyone seriously think that an SME will build one of those? SME's just get to provide services to big integrators and in this case there seems more opportunity to work supplying services to/via AWS than expecting on of the big suppliers to let SMEs supply capability via their services. It also offers the real possibility of remote working, something that is very hard to do at present for any government IT. Although even there, attitudes are changing.

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SuperProf gets schooled after assigning weak passwords to tutors

Lotaresco
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Headmaster

Re: How do they send out the new "secure" passwords?

"I admire your security principles but that's how 99.9% of password resets that are not links are sent. Let's not be too anal eh?"

That, with respect, is the old "Eat shit, 17 Quadrillion flies can't be wrong." argument rehashed. There are many more ways of distributing a password than sending them unencrypted in email. I haven't seen the emails in question, but I suspect these were not one-shot passwords based on the content in the article.

I'll even place odds that they did not use the sensible challenge/response approach of password + text message to your phone for a verification code then require password be changed on first use. Because anyone clueless enough to use your name as part of password is not going to use one-shot passwords either.

Anyway, I'm a Security Architect. Being anal about security is what I do.

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Lotaresco
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How do they send out the new "secure" passwords?

My guess is that they send them unencrypted in an email. Because that's what happened to me when the company that I used for domain name registration and email sold its business to a new supplier.

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London's Gatwick Airport flies back to the future as screens fail

Lotaresco
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Re: "no redundancy in the internet link"

"maybe look up the gate information on Gatwick's website? "

Have you tried to do that? Good luck trying it. If you're lucky you'll get departure gate information in time to watch your flight depart. If it's working as usual you will get the information 24 hours later.

I have the Gatwick app. It's never told me a gate number before the flight has departed.

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Lotaresco
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Re: "no redundancy in the internet link"

"The question for me is why there was no local cache? It would have grown stale over time"

It's an Arrivals and Departures system. The data grows stale in no more than a couple of minutes. A local cache doesn't really help. What is needed is resilient comms and that is standard provision for systems like this. There should be no SPOFs in a real time system.

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Lotaresco
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"Because oddly enough it doubles the cabling costs and that wouldn't do."

It really doesn't double the cabling costs. Pulling a multi-pair cable is a sensible precaution and if it is combined with the appropriate type of switch failover to an alternative pair is seamless. The switch will even notify that a pair has failed so that action can be taken by the SOA. The only difference in price is the cost of cable + switches which is minimal because labour is the big spend.

This is, quite frankly, poor practice on Vodafone's part.

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Prenda lawyer pleads guilty to moneyshot honeypot scheme

Lotaresco
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Re: One of the 98% that give the 2% a bad name

"As in the UK, if the court decides that the bankruptcy was to avoid a court judgement, then it merely exacerbates the penalties."

If only that were true in the UK. Note that in the ACS:Law debacle the SRA accepted Crossley's declaration that he was "bankrupt" at face value and did not question him continuing to live in a home and driving expensive cars bought with the cash that rolled in from his "copyright infringement" activities. Despite there being a body of evidence that showed that all the participants in the "copyright infringement" actions were closely linked and that porn had been seeded to torrents to entrap punters, the SRA took a generous view of Crossley and fined him less than half the purchase cost of one of his Bentleys.

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Lotaresco
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The Prisoner of Prenda?

I'm surprised El Reg didn't got for this headline.

I'm also pleased to see the way this has gone. Contrast this with ACS:Law and the vile Andrew Crossley who leaves a mucus trail behind him wherever he goes. ACS:Law was running a similar scam with evidence from leaked emails that the "copyright holder" claiming infringement of rights was closely linked to ACS:Law and that torrent sites had been seeded with porn that was not selling at all in the market. So of course the trackers were compromised from the beginning.

What's the reaction of Solicitors' Regulation Authority? They found he was guilty of "acting in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public places in him or in the legal profession" and "using his position as a solicitor to take unfair advantage of the recipients of the letters for his own benefit". The consequence was... a mild slap on the wrist. Crossley pleads bankruptcy, gets to keep his mansion and the cars he boasted about in leaked internal emails, and suffers not at all because he's still able to practice.

The UK really needs to tighten the noose on its professions, lawyers in particular.

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ZX Spectrum reboot scandal biz gets £35k legal costs delayed

Lotaresco
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Stinking barrel of fish

It became obvious that there was something extremely fishy about RCL last year when, having crashed out of Indiegogo they decided to try to raise money directly via Facebook. Many of the people replying to that "offer" were unaware of the history of RCL and were incredulous when warned that all was not as it seemed. Several declared loudly that they either wanted a console so badly that they would take the risk or that they thought that the warnings were from "trolls" setting out to blacken the names of the noble directors.

I wonder how much dosh they raised through that route?

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Capita strikes again: Bug in UK-wide school info management system risks huge data breach

Lotaresco
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Re: Kit check

"I was rather hoping we'd go to the Windchester instead?"

What, *The* Winchester?

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What's in a name? For Cambridge Analytica, about a quid apparently

Lotaresco
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Headmaster

Re: Data Controller

The position is explained well here:

A link helps when posting URLs.

High Court confirms the position of liquidators under the Data Protection Act 1998.

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Boffins want to stop Network Time Protocol's time-travelling exploits

Lotaresco
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Re: Simply fit all computers with sundials.

You're under-thinking this. As John Taylor observed, if you are designing something to do a job, it is better to have it doing two things rather than one. Hence in this case, the sundial, excellent as it may be, is second fiddle to a Sumerian Water Clock. We can use the Water Clock for processor cooling as well as a time signal.

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UK Home Office sheds 70 staff on delayed 4G upgrade to Emergency Services Network

Lotaresco
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Airwave

It seems typical that just as we got to the point that the emergency services had knocked the bugs out of Airwave that the decision is taken to pull the rug from under the system. Yes it had problems, most of which were due to piss-poor user training. There were people issued with Airwave terminals who didn't even know what the orange button was for, for example. There was also budgetary/contract stupidity that meant the original plan to have a 3g SIM in every handheld terminal so that users could make phone calls as well as receive/transmit via the network was stillborn.

AFAICT there was no awareness among the people negotiating the 4g contract about how Airwave was used. The need for presence, status and position to be transmitted to a control room seemed to be overlooked. As one MP said, 4g sounds great until you're alone in a dark alley facing up to a couple of thugs with knives.

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Capita admits it won't make money on botched NHS England contract

Lotaresco
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Linux is great, but one has to be rather naïve to think that Linux is "free as in beer". There are cost savings to be had, but the majority of work irrespective of OS is hands-on work that has to be paid for. That's the same in both cases and can be rather more that the cost of implementation of Windows for Linux because Linux takes a bit more work than Windows to configure. Before the Linux weenies, and I'm one of them, have a meltdown, yes, yes, I know but sadly it's true. Windows works mostly in "chimp mode" where people poke large friendly buttons like at McDonalds to get something up and running. Linux admins and installers need to be both smarter and more savvy. That has cost and availability issues.

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Lotaresco
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As I said five months ago

It takes spectacular talent to be in the position that Capita is (was?) and not be coining money hand over fist. They are in the privileged position of being a monopoly supplier to government. Their income is guaranteed and gold plated. They are helped along by a "sympathetic" approach from government ministers who, if one is charitable, one must assume have an eye on becoming a Capita shareholder/director just as soon as they can wriggle free from government.

As an IT contractor I've seen the Capita coalface where they move in and tell the existing contractors to either take a massive, and I mean massive, pay cut, get opted in to IR35 and be handed a complete crock or leave. I looked at the offer and left. I later found out that although payments to contractors had halved the charge to government had increased. Money for nothing.

When one has a client that will collude in increasing profitability how can one lose?

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Um, excuse me. Do you have clearance to patch that MRI scanner?

Lotaresco
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Re: Why do people make this so complicated

"Leave the network as is, change the router at the edge and enact a policy of no device gets internet access without explicit consent."

Perimeter-only security like that is from the last century and has been superseded because it's not effective.

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Lotaresco
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Re: Anoher obvious solution

"is to keep personal data off the devices in the first place."

Yes, because there's no way that you need to be able to link an MRI scan or a clinical chemistry record to the patient that the results refer to. <rolls eyes>

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Lotaresco
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Re: obvious solution ...

"... don't connect your damn hospital's internal system to the damn internet!"

It's a problem that has been solved elsewhere. There are several approaches to transmitting data from inherently insecure systems to secure systems and for managing internet connectivity. However the work involved is rarely considered when purchasing Medical systems, SCADA systems etc. The people controlling finance usually consider security as "something that gets in the way and costs money". Real PHB stuff.

Diagnostic equipment and patient records should be on separate (v)LANs to the user/public/internet systems and each other. There should be a controlled gateway which enforces separation and antique systems that don't get patched should be regarded as being as much of a threat as the Internet.

I think this report seems to be looking at it the wrong way round, indicating that someone thinks that medical systems should be frequently patched/updated. Yes that's one way of doing things but it's not as good a solution as the above and it causes the regulatory headaches mentioned in the article.

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What's up with that ZX Spectrum reboot? Still no console

Lotaresco
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Re: Really?

ITYM:

"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius."

-- Arthur Conan Doyle

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Lotaresco
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I don't think I dreamed it

But it is surreal enough to be a dream. I'm reasonably sure that earlier this month RCL were attempting to raise more cash from punters outside of Indiegogo, via Facebook. I looked at the offer, sniggered and promptly forgot about it. However a week later I saw people stating that they would be pledging cash support against the promise of receiving discounted Vega+ consoles.

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Apple MacBook butterfly keyboards 'defective', 'prone to fail' – lawsuit

Lotaresco
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Oh Ye Of Little Faith!

Apple solved this problem years ago with the MacBook Wheel. The MacBook Wheel lets consumers accomplish everyday tasks like typing with just a few dozen spins and clicks of a wheel.

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UK Ministry of Justice knocks down towers, brings IT BACK in-house

Lotaresco
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I fear this will not go well

MoJ had to outsource because there were no in-house skills suitable for the delivery that they wanted (needed?). The sort of thing they want to do - secure VTC, secure voice, roaming "secure"[1] end user devices, and plug in access to IT services across the entire Criminal Justice estate is bread and butter for commercial organisations and requires a skill mix not present in the Civil Service to implement.

This is a limited form of "taking back control" and is probably what should have been done from the beginning but it does not address the public sector skills shortages in both technical skills and project management for complex technical programmes. I've moved between commercial and government work quite often over the years and I find that the public sector is always behind in terms of how it manages work. Some of the blame lies at the feet of the CS hierarchical structure, some at the ludicrous policy of preferring arts graduates for all roles, some at the feet of individuals who are unable to stand up to nonsense from either their superiors or systems integrators.

This will only be sorted when a technical education is recognised as essential for delivery of technical programmes and when programme management are empowered to make decisions and reject stupid ideas.

[1] FSVO "secure".

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NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

Lotaresco
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Re: Jupiter's magnetic fields

"for most astronomers a 'metal' is anything with atomic number greater than 2. E.g. nitrogen, chlorine, etc."

If that is the case then astronomers need to head back to school and learn some chemistry. Metals are electron donors which can share valence electrons between other metallic atoms in a mobile electron cloud which is why they can conduct electricity. Neither nitrogen nor chlorine is a metal.

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Lotaresco
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Boffin

Re: Jupiter's magnetic fields

"Earth's>molten iron-rich core>moon"

The moon isn't important in this, it's just earth's metallic core that matters.

"What's causing Jupiter's?"

A metallic core. Hydrogen is a metal.

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Javid's in, Rudd's out: UK Home Sec quits over immigration targets scandal

Lotaresco
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Re: So who's Javid?

"How much of an authoritarian whackjob is he compared to Amber "Hashtags" Rudd?"

I think the evidence about Javis is that these days he's very keen on deporting all those horrible EU citizens from the UK ASAP. He also proposes that the UK should throw open it's borders to let in as many nice, cheap Indian citizens who know something about IT so that the government can escape from having to pay huge contractor wages. Some of these contractors earn more than the Prime Minister you know!

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Lotaresco
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Re: Hitting those notorious targets of illegal immigrants

"So, that means the H.O knows how many (illegal) immigrants it has actually allowed to enter the country."

No it doesn't. The setting of targets by ministers is unrelated to the ability of the civil servants to do the job and certainly takes no account of the possibility that any given department can meet those targets. A target is just something plucked from the air and then used as a stick to beat senior civil servants who do what they have always done, cascade the misery downwards until the problem becomes one for some under-educated under-achiever in some miserable, dank office hundreds of miles from London.

In the case of Home Office targets it will work like this, the Minister sets a target for removal of "immigrants" from the UK. The Minister hopes that this will mean that thousands of people who entered the country illegally will be removed. However the Minister is also careful not to specify that the "immigrants" are proved to be in the country illegally, they leave the definition of an illegal immigrant up to the department.

The department has not a chance of getting this right. It has no data to turn to that will tell it who entered the country illegally because they entered the country illegally and didn't fill in a form saying that they were illegal. It would be far too difficult to go looking for these people, so the department does not bother. What they do is to trawl through all the nice people who in all innocence engage with authority. People applying for a passport, driving licence, NHS treatment, pensioners etc. Then the department demands impossible levels of proof before accepting that someone is legally resident. They refuse to accept documents such as decades of tax payments, school records, mortgage, utility bills etc as proff of residence. They refuse to accept legally issued birth certificates unless, say, the person has the original signed-in-blood birth certificate issued at the moment of birth and handed to someone else who lost it. If they can't comply throw them on an aeroplane to some place they have never seen before then forget about the problem. It's just another step towards that 12,500 a year target.

It's always far easier to use bureaucracy to make life miserable for decent people than it is to find people who have actual criminal intent. There's not even an attempt to find out what the contribution of an individual to the UK is. So we end up throwing out doctors, nurses, teachers, grandmothers, kindergarten assistants (etc.) and letting the drug dealers, pimps and ladies of negotiable value stay.

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Amazon, LG Electronics turned my vape into an exploding bomb, says burned bloke in lawsuit

Lotaresco
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Re: Batteries in the pocket, eh?

"the most common underestimation made in the design sector of any product is the ingenuity of idiots."

It has been this way probably for as long as Hom. sap. have existed. Two notable SciFi works pointed to this, Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1951 in his novella "The Marching Morons" that described a near future society in which the few "intellectuals" are working themselves to death to stop the morons from harming themselves. H Beam Piper's "Day of the Moron" covers the same ground but from the point of view of a nuclear power station operated by people who will push buttons "just to see what happens". Also written in 1951 which makes me a suspect that some editor sent out a request for stories on a theme. The latter book was prophetic given that it was written 35 years before Chernobyl.

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Car-crash television: 'Excuse me ma'am, do you speak English?' 'Yes I do,' replies AMD's CEO

Lotaresco
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Re: F1 is a Car Crash

"I didn't realize people knew this much about people who drive around in circles"

You're thinking of NASCAR. HTH.

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Lotaresco
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Re: F1 is a Car Crash

"I go back to Sterling Moss"

Was he Stirling's more expensive older brother?

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Lotaresco
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Re: F1 is a Car Crash

"the most exiting was the pit stop"

Well, duh. The only place they can exit in normal circumstances is the pits.

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NASA's TESS mission in distress, Mars Express restart is a success

Lotaresco
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Gimp

That has to score some sort of record...

... for fastest, most OTT, fanbhoi knee jerk. First world problems or what?

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British government to ink deal for yet another immigration database

Lotaresco
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This will fail...

... for the same reasons that it has failed in the past. The Civil Service can't write requirements. They don't even understand the concept. So what happens is that they get the suppliers to write the requirements themselves with some contractual stipulation about "Chinese Walls". This is flawed because it assumes that the supplier's staff will have sufficiently broad knowledge to be able to write an inclusive set of requirements that leads to selection of an optimum design, build, service and support from the supplier. However every supplier, even with good intentions, only favours or understands what they do now. They can only choose from their own menu.

It gets worse when the Civil Service get involved with design reviews and their "new" ideas. When you get the likes of GDS screaming "Agile" and setting up some naïve process which isn't Agile because the government can't do Agile but they put some fairy-dust sprinkling of Agile in place then continue with their old design review boards and four month review periods. Then every decision needs to be signed off by a Minister who doesn't even understand what they are looking at because a PPE degree doesn't cover anything about IT, more delay, more cost, more flighty last-minute design changes.

Still we can fix it now by buying a cloud solution <rolls eyes>.

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Facebook admits it does track non-users, for their own good

Lotaresco
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"I'm going to stick with 'cause they are all greedy a-holes who use possible sales as merely permission to be data fetishists."

Good call.

It's so broken that, for example, staying at a hotel in Central France because the road was blocked with snow ahead sees me deluged with adverts to return to the same hotel. It's not going to happen guys, it was a distress purchase. I buy, say a DIY item like a drill, I get besieged with advertising for drills. I'm not a site manager, one drill should last me the rest of my life.

It doesn't even work for things I buy often. I'm working on a project where I need several mini PCs. I buy a handful from suppliers to test, I find one I like. I'm now receiving adverts from every single manufacturer tested for their mini PCs. But, the type I want is no longer in stock. So I'm getting ads for stuff I would never buy. So what happens? Yes, I add the names of the advertisers to my list of "Organisations that I will never do business with." Way to go, guys.

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Google's not-Linux OS documentation cracks box open at last

Lotaresco
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What's that you say Johnny?

No Fuschia, No Fuschia, No Fuschia for me

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Scotland: Get tae f**k on 10Mbps Broadband USO

Lotaresco
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10Mbps?

So less than half the rate that we (in a part of England that's so rural that you have to drive 9 miles to find a petrol station) get from ADSL? What is the actual point?

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UK rocket-botherers rattle SABRE, snaffle big bucks

Lotaresco
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Re: That's good, but...

" Mullard, Ferranti, Marconi and ICL should not have been squashed into the ground"

Mulllard - the investors sold all their shares to Philips in 1927

Marconi - merged with BAe

Ferranti - collapsed after an enormous management cock up of buying a pig in a poke

ICL - sold off to Fujitsu by a government too bone idle to work out what else to do with the company

Only ICL was "squashed into the ground" in that list.

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Furious gunwoman opens fire at YouTube HQ, three people shot

Lotaresco
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Re: Of all places

"What has to happen for people to stop wanting to kill one another?"

Relinquishing US citizenship seems to be one of the things that helps. Being 12th in the world for gun deaths and first in the world for gun ownership (more guns than people) isn't a great start in the "wanting to kill each other" stakes. It's also not gun ownership of itself that's leading to the appalling record in the USA. Norway, for example has one gun for every three people but has a firearm homicide rate (per 100,000) that is just 6% that of the USA. So the real factors in firearm homicide seem to be guns + murrican.

Interestingly most of the top 12 places in firearms deaths are taken by countries in the Americas/Caribbean. The only exception being Swaziland. Y'all need to calm (the fsck) down.

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Lotaresco
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"If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns."

And the police, the armed services... and indeed anyone with a legal purpose for gun ownership.

If you're going to blart what you think is a truism, it's a good idea to make sure that it's not a falsism.

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Lotaresco
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Flame

Hopes and prayers

Well that should work just as well as it has to-date.

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2001 set the standard for the next 50 years of hard (and some soft) sci-fi

Lotaresco
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Attention span

There are three SF movies that I can think of that demand a greater attention span than that exhibited by the average twitchy gamer. 2001, Solaris (the original) and Stalker. All of them are worth watching but require full attention. All three of them have been described to me as "dull, boring" by people born later than the 1960s.

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Here's the list of Chinese kit facing extra US import tariffs: Hard disk drives, optic fiber, PCB making equipment, etc

Lotaresco
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Re: Hats off!

"Don't forget to narrow it down to only those machines used in making hats out of felt."

Can I get felt here?

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Lotaresco
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Re: @ Tom 38 You don't get it...

"Trump is an interesting character."

In the same sense that Toxoplasmosis is an interesting disease, yes.

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Yes, Emergency Service Network will be late and cost more - UK perm sec

Lotaresco
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"When TETRA / Airwave rolled out well over a decade ago police forces gained a significant increase in communications capability."

It was indeed a long way over a decade ago - I worked on the next phase of roll out supplying Airwave for Fire and HA use, ending up with control rooms being commissioned in 2006. the police had been using it for some time before that.

The two problems that I recall were that few of the users liked it, mostly because end user training was dreadful. I once showed someone how to use a handset, including the emergency button and how to change to a different talk group. He said the five minute chat taught him more than the approved training course. The second problem being cost, to the extent that instead of being used as designed at as combination TETRA terminal and GSM phone the users ended up festooned with multiple mobiles and the Airwave terminal. This was because a separate phone cost a lot less than putting a SIM in an Airwave terminal.

However having got to the point where users can (just about) use it and the control rooms have more or less got around to integrating it with GIS and C2 systems throwing it out seems the worst option.

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Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, off you go: Snout of UK space forcibly removed from EU satellite trough

Lotaresco
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"We used to have one. Google blue streak. Cancelled by the usual short sighted politicians who thought sucking up to the USA was a better idea."

Blue Streak continued to fly up until 1972, as the first stage of Europa which was, a bit of usual national politicking aside, pretty much the Farnborough designed Black Prince built by a European consortium. That work lead to Ariane. Effectively, as ever, when faced with relatively modest costs the UK government bailed out before the payback point. A story that can be seen to happen over and over again.

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Lotaresco
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Re: The Swiss are in it

"I got a distinct impression the reason we ended up with a referendum is that "our representatives in Parliament" didn't do their jobs over several decades..."

Much of the "problem" has been caused by weak-kneed UK politicians (i.e. all of them) who didn't want to be responsible for enacting unpopular legislation. So they hatched a cunning plan of lobbying Brussels to get their unpopular legislation issued as an EU wide directive. Then they could shrug and say "Oh deary me, look it's the EU wot dunnit, not us." Even though the directives were drafted by UK civil servants then passed to the EU for rubber stamping.

After forty-odd years of using that particular wheeze they got bitten in the bum by it because the electorate were convinced that everything horrible in their lives was done by Brussels.

The bit that the MPs haven't worked out yet is that now they will have to implement ultra-austerity because there is no money, there will be no trade to create money and UK manufacturing such as it is will decline. We can't sell our services to new markets because the biggest new markets (Asia Pacific including China, the USA, South America, India) don't want our services. So more belt tightening on its way and now they won't be able to blame Brussels so it will be obvious that the pain is being caused by UK government. Enjoy.

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BOOM! Cambridge Analytica explodes following extraordinary TV expose

Lotaresco
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Re: Collapse of Facebook

"other social networks exist"

Yes, we could, for example, create a social network of peer-to-peer servers with no one organisation in charge of everything. It would be supported and standards policed by the users providing a demonstration of practical anarchy. Individuals would be permitted anonymous access and no one would have to state their demographic data to get access. We could call it by a name that reflects this user-centric view of social networking, say "Usenet". That's rather catchy.

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Lotaresco
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Re: Popcorn

"Under UK law, if you can prove material damage caused by spoken word, then you can sue."

Also untrue, there are things that can be said which are slander even if no material damage occurs.

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Lotaresco
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Re: Popcorn

"Don't think so. You can sue for libel, you can't sue for slander."

Slander has been assimilated into the law of libel. Hence there is no specific law of slander. Both libel and slander are now referred to collectively as "defamation". However it is possible and reasonable to sue for slander. It's certainly untrue to claim that "you can't sue for slander". There are specific instances of slander:

  • Words imputing a crime punishable with imprisonment;
  • Words imputing certain diseases [1];
  • Words disparaging a person in his office, calling or profession.

for which it is possible to sue for slander without any proof of damage.

[1] Mostly diseases of the nether bits.

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Ugh, of course Germany trounces Blighty for cyber security salaries

Lotaresco
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Re: Switzerland

I agree, many things are cheaper in Switzerland. Fuel for a vehicle, for example - you should see the queues from Italy to fill up at the co-op petrol station at Vacallo. Restaurants are a good price compared to the UK, you couldn't get a meal for one person for £28 at most UK restaurants this side of McDonalds, let alone a "simple meal" for three.

The bad things with Switzerland are that, scenery apart, it's more than a bit boring and as was identified above, racism is rife. Racism runs deep, from the petty racism of cheating on small change and muttering insults under one's breath to the institutional racism that is expressed particularly at anyone Turkish or even anyone from the non-German speaking cantons.

I lived and worked there for several years and ended up living in Italy which is more expensive, lower paid but at least it's a happier place than po-faced Switzerland.

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