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* Posts by SImon Hobson

1447 posts • joined 9 Sep 2006

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With WPA3, Wi-Fi will be secure this time, really, wireless bods promise

SImon Hobson
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Blocking another network with de-auth packets is illegal both in the UK and USA - there have been fines for it.

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Supremes asked to mull legality of Silicon Valley privacy 'slush funds'

SImon Hobson
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Re: Eh?

How can A sue B, and win, resulting in B paying damages to C?

Indeed, WTF !

As I read it, it sounds like something that was intended for a situation where the court awards a payout to a class of people and the cash is put into trust to be paid out to the class of plaintiffs - so far, so good. Of course, where "class of persons" runs to hundred, thousands, ... then some won't come forward to collect - and that means there will be some money left in the kitty when the trustees decide that they've paid out to everyone they can.

So this rule allows that residual small amount can be given to charity. Which when used for it's original purpose seems perfectly sensible.

What's happened here though is that they're obviously taking the urine - paying out only to the named plaintiffs (to shut them up), paying out a token (null) amount to everyone else, and then declaring the rest as this "small residual amount" and giving it to "charity". Totally taking the urine.

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Open-source civil war: Olive branch offered in trademark spat... with live grenade attached

SImon Hobson
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Re: The most disturbing thing...

I have worked in places where there were two Simons in the same department

How about a small company (couple of dozen people in total) with 3 Simons, 3 Mikes, 2 Steves, 2 Adams. Caused a fair bit of confusion at times !

Tried to make a 12 Days of Christmas out of that lot but couldn't manage it - other than finishing with "and a PHB in the corner office".

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FBI tells Jo(e) Sixpack to become an expert in IoT security

SImon Hobson
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Re: 'Don't use a router provided by an ISP'

... Wireshark will allow you to pull the ISP account username and password from a router ...

How do you use wireshark on a DSL connection ? It might well work where the ISP presents the interface as an ethernet port or provides a separate modem - but it won't help with an all-in-one router where the sniffing would have to be on the xDSL connection.

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Pickaxe chops cable, KOs UKFast data centre

SImon Hobson
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Re: DR Testing Failure

but the UPS is connected to the server so when battery level = x it shuts down safely

I bet it isn't in any large datacentre - with tens of thousands of servers it's just going to be a big hassle and create problems of it's own (false alarms causing shutdowns). Instead, they work on the basis of having UPSs sized to cover the gap till the gennys start up - and gennys to take over before the batteries run out. In principle, there should never be a need for low UPS battery to shut down the servers. Apart from these loss of mains events, most other faults won't give you any warning before the server loses power.

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Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

SImon Hobson
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A chemistry lecturer I know used to wander around the hall whilst mixing up black powder in a mortar and pestle. Cue nervous students trying not to be near him.

One of my teachers many years ago recalled how he "cured" a student of being over inquisitive and always fiddling with stuff. He deliberately left a pestle and mortar on a side bench with something unstable in it. Needless to say, when the over inquisitive student came in for the next lesson, he couldn't resist giving it a bit of a grind ...

Mind you, we found that most of the cupboards in our form room (a physics lab) weren't locked - oh what fun we had with the Wimshurst machine. Could get some real sparks off that one ! Then one day someone said "what happens if you put a polo mint between the balls ?", so we tried it - put a polo mint in the gap, held by the balls which were adjusted to grip it and wound it up. There was the usual crack as it sparked - and we could find no trace of polo mint, no bits, no dust, we had no idea what happened to it.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: "Cut the red wire..."

You might wish to have a safe method of disarming the bomb in case your own aircraft has to land again without using it

No, because if you have a method of disarming it - then so does your enemy. And from watching varuous documentaries on TV, it's clear that the Germans did booby trap the detonators in the stuff they dropped on the UK. So we had to develop various methods of disarming the bombs without triggering them - one of which was to physically cut a hole in the bomb and take the explosives out (IIRC it was steamed out and then shovelled up off the floor or something like that).

If you have armed the bombs and then can't drop them on the target (or any secondary target) - you simply ditch them in the sea on the way home. I believe a heck of a lot of UK bombs were dropped in a specified zone in the Channel - and there was a theory that Glenn Miller was killed when his plane was hit by a bomb being dumped after an aborted raid, but it seems that theory has since been debunked.

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Ofcom just told BT to up its game on fibre investment

SImon Hobson
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Re: Wind Turbines & Fibre

I have been told that windturbines ... have a fibre connection for control use.

Don't believe everything you have been told ! Newer ones may well have, as pointed out a large part of the cost of installation will be the same for copper or fibre. But I know (from having worked very briefly on trying to diagnose a comms problem for a client at my last job) that in one local windfarm there's an old Hayes 2400bps modem hooked up to a phone line. And the machine side of that is hooked up to a copper serial cable between the 5 windmills.

From the practical PoV, to put a copper line in will almost certainly have only needed a cable from the nearest joint box - probably half a mile at most - while fibre would have been a whole run all the way back to the exchange which is a good few miles (much of which won't be in ducts or even on poles - there's a lot of direct buried steel wire armoured phone cable out in the sticks).

There is indeed a requirement for connectivity to the windfarm, and to each windmill in it - the speed doesn't actually have to be that fast. How it's delivered will depend on a whole list of factors.

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Ofcom proposes ways to stop BT undercutting broadband rivals

SImon Hobson
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You do realise that in practice, there isn't all that much of the network that was built with public money ? And what was publicly funded was SOLD to BT's shareholders on privatisation (whether the price was right is a different discussion).

The network as it is now is a very different beast from what was flogged off 3 decades ago. Yes they had a head start in that there was an existing networks of ducts, poles etc - but that's been expanded a lot since then.

There really isn't a viable model for competing "last mile" networks. You don't have two different companies digging up your street to offer electricity, or gas, or water, or drainage - that would just be madness. Not to mention, if taken to extreme, you'd have a choice of two (or more) different road networks to get to your house !

That's the reason we don't (for the majority of us) have such end connection competition. It's costs thousands of pounds per mile to dig up roads to lay a network of ducts. You have to put that infrastructure in place before you can connect a single customer. And then you have to persuade enough customers to switch to your service to repay all those costs (and loan interest). Meanwhile, your upper price on the service is more or less set by BT who have the economy of scale from having a network that's been built of many decades.

When you look around, you tend to see that alternative networks fall into about 3 categories :

1) There's Virgin Media with it's cable network which stands no chance of being extended into lots of low density areas. But that wasn't built by VM, it was bought for pennies in the pound from the liquidators of the many cable companies that started up, incurred the cost of building out the network, but just couldn't get enough return to pay back their loans and investors.

2) There's small specialists that service places BT won't - often on a "if X sign up now, we'll come and service you".

3) And there's "community projects" like B4RN which rely a lot of donated labour (ie volunteers) and favourable treatment from landowners to keep the install costs down to something affordable. Something like that project doesn't work in even small urban areas as the costs go up very considerably when the network has to go into public roads rather than (mostly) under someone's field.

It's notable that B4RN found a number of cases where they announced a plan to extend coverage to somewhere BT had refused to service - only to find BT "suddenly finding that it was now economic" and would service that area as a spoiling tactic. Other altnets have also reported the same problem.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Ofcom is broken and out of touch with reality

make it more atractive for new entrants to fibre up the low density and rural areas

I doubt it. Those areas would still cost as much to fibre up, but the new entrant would face TWO additional dicincentives to do it :

1) Their pricing would have to be lower to be competitive as expectations would be lowered by lower prices in some areas. So less scope for recovering their investment from profits.

2) They would almost certainly get fewer customers in the "lower cost BT areas". So less customers to pay into the profits that would have to be used to cross-subsidise those low density and rural areas.

I do think that perhaps we'd have had a different outcome if "good" areas were all paired with "bad" areas and cable companies had been licenced on the basis that they could only have (and keep) a licence in the "good" areas if they also services the "bad" area paired with it - as in, you want to service (eg) Mayfair with it's wealthy (on average) residents who are most likely to take your service, well you have to also service this outlying Scottish island or remote bit of Cumbria. Chances are that the end result could be that the cable companies went bust even quicker than they did and the "bad" areas would still have not got cabled up - but it's interesting to conjecture how things might have panned out.

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Foil snack food bags make a decent Faraday cage, judge finds

SImon Hobson
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Re: He could have easily avoided being caught

what's to stop them from finding a hidden closet and sleeping all day

Story told by a mate who's been a sparky for many years, mostly on contract work for various large outfits. On one site there was a nice corner in the substation that was warm - but most importantly, impossible for the boss to find you without you hearing him coming first. I forget some of the details, but IIRC there was something about a paging system (aka Tannoy in the same way that vacuum cleaner are often called "hoovers") and being able to hear the announcements and call whoever wanted to speak to them using the phone conveniently located in the room - this was long before phone systems that told anyone the number that was calling !

One day someone got caught out. They answered a page and informed the boss that they were in a certain part of the site - only to have the boss walk in through the door brandishing one of the new fangled cordless phones that were just appearing.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: tags?

Have any naughty boys tried wrapping their ankle tags in crisp packets yet?

You may find some of these posts of interest.

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Uber hack: EU data protection bods launch taskforce

SImon Hobson
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Re: Typical backass governments

Downvote from me as we have some very strict privacy/date protection laws in the EU. Coming into force in a few months will be stronger rules under the EU GDPR. The US authorities might not GAS about privacy or fairness, but don't lump all countries in with them.

It will be "interesting" to follow this, and I strongly suspect Uber will find that the EU is "not as friendly" to their slapdash practices as their home country.

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Unfit to plead before a US court? You may face 'indefinite detention'

SImon Hobson
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Re: The arrogance ..

I've read that sentence five times now, and still don't understand it myself

Yes, it's a corker isn't it. I've read it, and re-read it, and ... and I think that what it says is :

The medical experts can't state with 100% confidence that he will get worse, therefore you should not read their reports as saying that he will get worse.

The implication then being that as you are no longer reading the medical reports as saying that he will get worse, you should assume that he won't and ship him off for torture anyway.

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Why does no one want to invest in full fibre broadband, wails UK.gov

SImon Hobson
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Re: Gubmint investment

It's too important to leave in commercial hands. A world run entirely by business is not one in which I want to live.

I'm guessing you're too young to remember what Post Office Telephones were like. Just like the trains, when run by the government they were crap by today's standards. For all the faults in the current setup, it's far far better than before privatisation.

Yup, there's nothing so bad that government intervention (or ownership) can't make it worse !

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Bureaucracy

So is keeping the VOA happy and paying the appropriate rates on lit fibre

Isn't a big part of the problem that the VOA wants to charge rates as if all parts of the infrastructure are fully utilised ? So if you need (say) 6 fibre cores now, but expect to need more in the mid term, you blow in a (say) 20 core - you only light up 6 cores, but pay rates on all 20. At my last job, we had people coming to us asking for options when their ISP told them "Sorry chaps, they've just changed the rates rules so we can't afford to keep you connected and are shutting down the network".

IIRC, in one case, there were something like 5 radio towers involved to service one customer at the end - but they were being told to pay rates as if each of those towers was fully utilised for dozen or even hundreds of customers. AIUI, BT/BTOR aren't taxed in the same way and have a financial advantage of competitors from this difference.

So there's the government asking why there's a problem, when for years people have been telling them that their own policies are part of the problem.

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Surveillance Capitalism thinks it won, but there's still time to unplug it

SImon Hobson
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Re: Uh, "provides ... to any app that wants to measure your emotional reactions"?

You don't have to use any Google products, and can thus avoid their tracking. You don't have to use Facebook, and can avoid sharing your deep dark secrets with the world.

And that sums up a big part of the problem - you have demonstrated that you don't realise how bad it's got.

You think that Google and Facebook don't have a profile on you ? Think again.

You can be very sure that both of them do whether you have ever visited any of their own sites. Unless you have been incredibly lucky to have never ever visited any website with Google or Facebook tracking code on it (disguised as things like analytics) then they do have a profile on you. And can you be 100% certain that no-one has given Facebook your contact details - they shouldn't without you permission, but so many see no problem complying with the nagging to "just upload your contacts so we can join them to your circle of friends".

I suggest you lookup Max Schrems. Facebook were found guilty of illegally building profiles of people who had not consented - but they have not stopped doing that. We're just waiting for Privacy Shield Figleaf to get the same treatment that Safe Harbour did when it was shown to be worthless. US law is fundamentally incompatible with EU privacy law, it's just that there are too many commercial interests for it to be dealt with ... yet.

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Dark fibre arts: Ofcom is determined to open up BT's network

SImon Hobson
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... want to be able to leech off BT's investment

Surely you mean rent some of that investment ? It's not like they are saying BT has to provide it free, anyone wanting to use it will have to pay a market rate (however that ends up being determined) for it.

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Digital minister: We're still talking to BT about sorting crap broadband

SImon Hobson
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... and doesn't produce large tax revenues ...

Are you aware that a number of alt-nets closed down due to being taxed differently to BT[OR] ?

The basis of rates was changed, so the owners of any infrastructure paid rates on the notional value of the infrastructure IF IT WAS 100% UTILISED - vastly increasing their rates bill compared to what BT paid for any vaguely similar infrastructure. At my last job, we had a number of customers "cut off" when the alt-net they got their internet service through was shut down after this taxation change.

Some of them had real problems getting any alternative usable service - too far for decent ADSL, poor signal for 3G/4G.

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UK.gov 'could easily' flog 6m driver records to private firms this year

SImon Hobson
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Re: Get your ounce of flesh first

If you feel you must pay these robber barons, use the costly delay method.

Well in reality, there's not much scope for not paying them. SWMBO got caught when a local supermarket installed Parking Eye and she didn't see the signs (mounted high up, out of eyeline, in a place where a driver's concentration is on not hitting other cars, people, or the landscape !) The notice they sent was comprehensive: dates & times, photos in and out, all the required statutory information, etc, etc. They'll have had all the techniques you mention over the years, so they've developed a legally bulletproof notice.

As as previously mentioned, it's been all the way up to the supreme court, and three judges (London based, probably with significantly higher living standards than the average) decided that £85 was not "unreasonable" - hence any of these scumbags can charge £85 for such a breach of contract and it's all legal.

The best way to avoid having to pay is to take it up with the business owner. In this case, I emailed them and made it quite clear that neither myself nor any of my family would be spending any more of our money with them ever again - and as a result, they'd be losing far more than the parking "fine".

What was most annoying is that they'd been in the cafe (which is actually quite good - normally) for over an hour due to slow service.

Very quickly I got a reply back saying that the charge had been cancelled.

Mind you, I have had some ideas for how to screw around with them - knowing the angle/viewpoint of the cameras ...

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Does UK high street banks' crappy crypto actually matter?

SImon Hobson
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Re: Attitude of banks

Moral of the story - the system cannot be wrong. Except it can and you have to prove it.

A good example is Chip and PIN which the banks will happily tell you is 100% secure, except that it's been proven to be "rather less than 100%" secure !

https://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/?s=chip%2Band%2Bpin

NB - it's well worth subscribing to their RSS feed, They do some very interesting stuff !

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Ads watchdog tells Plusnet: There's no way unlimited business broadband costs £4.50

SImon Hobson
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Correct, Plusnet don't make you use their router - they are quite happy for you to use your own. Unlike some other providers who insist on you using their crippled and probably bug ridden carp, with remote config and updates hardcoded to on so they can change your settings whenever they like.

And in business, there are very often good technical reasons for not using the ISPs router - mainly to do with full access to firewalls, VPN support, etc, etc. At my last job, I'd say that more of our business customers used a router we provided than used an ISP provided one.

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EU court advised: Schrems is a consumer in Facebook case, but can't file class-action

SImon Hobson
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Re: Just give Facebook the Finger

Part of the problem is that you don't have to agree to anything at all for FarceBork to build a profile on you. Web pages with a FarceBork logo on them allow them to track your browsing, other uploading your information illegally*, people mentioning you in their posts, etc, etc all go towards building up a detailed profile of you and your activities.

And all without any consent whatsoever, and then exported outside of the EU without any legal protection.

So a big part of the case is about FarceBork basically sticking one digit up to EU data protection laws as a matter of basic operations.

* When they pester users to "just upload your contacts - it'll make things easier" without spelling out in big clear print and simple words that this is a criminal activity in the EU unless you get consent from every person who's details you upload.

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Activists launch legal challenge against NHS patient data-sharing deal

SImon Hobson
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When the entire population of a large continent, or at least all who are sick, illegally enter your country ...

You do realise that almost "the entire population" of our nearest continent are entitled to enter the UK legally ? Once further afield than that, then I suspect the numbers are actually not that high that it's worth the damage that this idea will do.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Re downvote

So, some opinion seems to be that these people arer here illegally, so they shouldn't be able to use public services. Well there's a certain logic in that, but in real terms, is it such a big problem ? Put another way, do the savings by "catching" these people outweigh the negatives - like making us look like selfish b***ards, cauing people to not get treatment for infectious illnesses, etc, etc, ...

Try this analogy ...

You are in charge of a shop, and you know that there is a certain level of shoplifting (aka theft). The people taking your stock are not entitled to it, and you are entitled to stop them. So far, so good. There's one way to significantly reduce the problem - you simply search every person leaving the door and check that they've a receipt for everything they have. Do you really want to trample over the civil liberties and privacy of all your honest customers to do that ? Or would you accept that a shop doing that would suffer some fairly significant downsides to doing that ?

Personally, I'm on the side of thinking that it's worth the marginal increase in cost to avoid the downsides of screwing with things like patient confidentiality.

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Self-driving bus in crash just 2 hours after entering public service

SImon Hobson
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Every car I have even owned has been a manual ... and I can say with certainty that I can do a hill start without rolling backwards AT ALL.. ... You really need to consider swapping your car.

I was thinking that there's probably nothing wrong with the car that can't be solved by installing a competent driver.

But sadly, many drivers seem to believe a hill start requires some sort of black art worthy of being taught at Hogwarts.

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Openreach: Comms providers 'welcome' our full-fibre 'ambition'

SImon Hobson
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Re: Has anyone considered...

Given the requirement to have a telephone service that works during a power failure "completely" looks like a non - starter.

Actually that problem was solved many years ago. BT ran trails in a couple of villages where they completely removed copper and went all fibre. As far as telephony went, users really didn't notice anything other than a slightly larger NTE that needed a mains supply - but it had it's own battery to run a POTS phone for a day or two in the absence of power. The technology for making telephony all digital to the user premises has been around for a long time (c.f. ISDN-2) and effectively it's moving the digital-analogue conversion from a rack of cards in the exchange to a small NTE in the user premises.

It was claimed at the time (by BT) that an all-fibre network would be more reliable and cheaper to maintain. I wonder how long it took them to bury that fact when it didn't suit their needs !

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Mozilla devs discuss ditching Dutch CA, because cryptowars

SImon Hobson
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Re: Advancing our civilization into less a democratic state...

The will of 37% of the electorate should be ...

So you are arguing instead that the 34.7% who voted to remain should have a larger say ? Ie, the classic argument by the losing side that the 27.8% who didn't vote would all actually have voted for the losing side. Put another way, sore losers are usually quick to abuse any stats they can to try and "prove" that they have been wronged.

It's more valid to suggest that those who didn't vote didn't care enough to express an opinion, or were simply happy to go with the majority result. Thus, up to 65.3% of the electorate wanted to leave - but not all of them got out and voted.

But since no-one can accurately know the opinions of all those who didn't express it, we have the tried and tested method of looking at the opinions of those who did - the highest turnout for an election/referendum in living history IIRC. Of those that did vote, a very clear majority wanted to leave.

If you have any complaint, and believe that the result should have been different with those missing votes - then your complaint should be against those who didn't get out and vote the way you wanted.

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Knock, knock? Oh, no one there? No problem, Amazon will let itself in via your IoT smart lock

SImon Hobson
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FAIL

Re: But if they steal anything are they not going to be on camera?

... they are going to be on camera (as that is part of the Amazon Key system)

Lets see, video stored on Amazon's systems, video allegedly shows Amazon employee (or contractor) up to no good, customer claim is going to cost Amazon money. Hmm, so absolutely no incentive for the video to be found to have failed at just the right moment so there's no evidence to backup the claim !

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Boss visited the night shift and found a car in the data centre

SImon Hobson
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... required a regular oil refill. That was messy

I'll see your oil fill, and raise you ... a (IIRC) Ricoh duplicator that had a fault which meant that it couldn't automatically unload it's masters.

For those who have never seen such a device, it looks just like a photocopier - in theory, walk up, put your original on top, press the copy button, out comes a copy. But, this uses a sort of thin paper with plastic coating to make a master which then does the copy with ink - real ink, in paste form. Once the master is made, you can then rattle off hundreds or thousands of copies very cheaply compared to a photocopier. The one we had would do 130 copies/minute which was way way faster than any of the photocopiers we had as well - but fun when the output tray wasn't quite set up right :-)

With this machine, it was supposed to be able to remove the inky master from the drum and deposit it in a waste hopper when you made a new one. But as mentioned, this machine had a fault, so if you didn't manually remove the master first (a clean operation, as part of it never got inked) it would simply shred it and wrap bits of horrible inky paper/plastic round the mechanism.

No matter how many times I explained this to certain people, they would never accept it - and somehow it was my fault, and my responsibility to clean it out. Oh no, those dainty (well some of them were at least) ladies couldn't possibly get their hands dirty doing such a messy job.

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SImon Hobson
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Our server room was great for drying wet coats. Swing out a cable management arm from one of the servers as a coat hook, dry in no time thanks to the steady stream of warm air.

No that's not the reason I no longer work there !

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MH 370 search to resume as Malaysia makes deal with US oceanographic company

SImon Hobson
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Re: Landing spot?

IIRC the official term is "landing on water".

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GE goes with Apple: Not the Transformation you were looking for, Satya?

SImon Hobson
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Re: "OSX for PC"...

Apple officially tried that a number of years ago, and it very nearly killed them

Indeed. What they hoped the other manufacturers would do is compete in the gaps Apple didn't cover - providing a fuller range of hardware. What actually happened was the two of them basically started a race to the bottom to produce "beige boxes" cheaper and with no new features - significantly cheapening the brand.

At work we were buying these other brands - because they made the bean counters happy. Bluntly, the hardware just wasn't as good or reliable as Apple's was at the time.

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SImon Hobson
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PLC programming software; ... Siemens ...

Hmm, I distinctly recall programming their Logo when it was new - from my Mac. That must be 15-20 years ago now. For stuff that really is Windoze only, I run parallels.

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Survey: Tech workers are terrified they will be sacked for being too old

SImon Hobson
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Thumb Up

Re: Apollo

Blimey, I'd almost forgotten about my short time using those - and the fun you could have with crp and things like screen melt and push :D My first experience of a Unix(like) OS, and virtually transparent networking as a core part of the OS.

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Supreme Court to rule on whether US has right to data stored overseas

SImon Hobson
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The US employee wouldn't be breaking any US law if they complied but might be breaking US law if they refused.

And here is the nub.

In the Google case, Google employees in the USA did have access as they controlled the servers and the data was moved purely for Google's convenience.

This case is very different. Microsoft have thought this through in advance, and setup a system which (it is claimed*) means that employees of Microsoft USA do not have access to the servers run by a legally separate company in Ireland. So the situation wasn't so much MS saying "we won't provide the data", it's more a case of "we cannot provide this data".

At best, MS USA can instruct MS in Ireland to send the data over - but that will get a fat rasperry in response because MS in Ireland will obey the local law.

Where it would get interesting is that if the DoJ win this case, a court could issue warrants for all the MS Ireland employees who have refused to hand over the data - effectively preventing them from ever travelling to the USA, or to any country "friendly" to the USA, on penalty of arrest and imprisonment.

* I have certain doubts that this is the case given that AIUI some of the authentication stuff can or is routed via US based servers (and certainly could be as it uses a domain name controlled from the US). Given that authentication can be routed via the US, it's hard to ignore the possibility of that being subverted to allow access.

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Rattled toymaker VTech's data breach case exiting legal pram

SImon Hobson
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Re: As far as VTech is concerned it's all your fault.

Would a shop take it back after you've opened it, found the instruction book, gone online to register and only then find that you can't or won't agree to the T&Cs? I suspect not ...

They might try to refuse to take it back, but after losing in the Small Claims Court (more technically, Fast Track Service of the County Court) they would !

If using the device to it's full potential means accepting contract terms which we NOT made clear before purchase then you have the right to not accept those changed contract terms and void the contract. Basic contract law - unless the initial contract allows for unilateral redefinition of the contract (which would be struck down under the Unfair terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations) then the contract can only be varied with the consent of all parties. Having to sign up with an online service and accept T&Cs that weren't on the outside of the package you bought would be a change in the terms of the contract you entered with the retailer and thus you are not required to accept them.

It's just the same with shrink wrapped software. Unless the EULA is clearly visible before you open it, the retailer cannot refuse to accept a return because you don't accept the terms of the agreement.

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You may not have noticed, but 'superfast' broadband is available to 94% of Blighty

SImon Hobson
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Re: I assume Thinkbroadband are using the "can pay extra for fibre" definition of ("has access to"?

The truth is that people who want the fastest possible connection are in the minority.

In the same way that people wanting to pay for the fastest possible car are also in the minority ! After all, for many people, some small, low powered car that would struggle to hit 90 is more than adequate to go to the shops in town where the highest speed limit between home and shop sis 30 or perhaps 40 mph.

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Ghost in Musk's machines: Software bugs' autonomous joy ride

SImon Hobson
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Re: Airbus and autonomous cars

Air France flight 447 crashed into the sea because the pilots failed to "fly" the aircraft.

Not exactly.

They DID fly the aircraft, but due to a variety of factors flew it incorrectly. Somewhat oversimplifying ...

One pilot was a bit confused about the situation (IIRC the pitot tubes were iced over and they lost airspeed information) and held his stick back to "pull the nose up" and arrest what he thought was a dive. The other pilot identified that they were in fact in a stall and pushed his stick forward. Because the sticks aren't linked, he was unaware that his colleague still had the stick fully back - and because of this, he was unable to lower the nose and recover from the stall after which they could have levelled out and continued flying.

From memory, the design of the side control sticks (think in terms of having a control stick where the electric window switches are in most cars) and the fact that there is no cross linking (there's no mechanical feedback in either stick for what the other pilot is doing) came in for particular note in the accident report. In more traditional control designs, the primary controls are mechanically linked which means that both pilots have direct feedback of what the other pilot is doing.

Where they failed to fly the aircraft is in that loss of airspeed information shouldn't be a big deal - just set the engine power and attitude found from the charts in the manual and it'll fly level, that is part of basic flight training. What happened here was that the complexity of the systems isolated them from the basics, and that together with lack of practice at hand flying meant that they didn't grasp what was happening ... soon enough to fix it.

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SImon Hobson
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Aircraft avionics are an order of magnitude less complex? Even fly by wire stuff that's aerodynamically unstable like most stealth aircraft?

Yeah, I'd go with that. Even your inherently unstable airframe is fairly predictable and can be modelled in advance. Even full flight management where the pilot can line up on the runway, press the button, and do nothing but keep an eye on things till the nosewheel is bumping along the centreline lights at the destination is relatively simple.

This is all because in aviation there is inherent separation - as you crise along the airway, there won't be an artic pulling out of the sideroad and across in front of you. Air traffic control, and as a backup, TCAS, should take care of that. The business of making a car drive along a computed path at a given speed is almost trivial - the complexity is in determining what that path and speed should be in the presence of random other road users (doing random things) and furniture.

Just the process of seeing and correctly identifying another user (say a cyclist) is probably more complex than the entire system on a typical aviation system.

If you still maintain that autonomous driving software is an order of magnitude more complex, that's MORE reason not use to typical shitty 'write quickly, release quickly, fix bugs in the field' programming strategies, not less.

Now that I can agree with.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: Modularisation sounds a damned good idea

... and this is apparently the real cause of the Fukashima disaster, where multiple heavily redundant and different method, fail-safe SCADA controlled systems, suspiciously failed ...

Nothing suspicious about a system failing when a) doused with salt water which is inconveniently quite conductive, and b) deprived of power because the emergency generators have been submerged in salt water (which is as bad for the engines as it is for the electrics).

Even a system not doused in salt water will fail when it's local battery power expires, which won't be long if you are trying to run anything like pumps - those things that are quite important for moving coolant around in designs of that era.

One of the design features of the Westinghouse AP1000 design is the passive cooling which means you can flip the big OFF switch and walk away for a day or two while it cools down passively. After a day or two, the operator intervention required is to refill the emergency cooling water tank sat on top of the reactor. So had the Fukashima tsunami hit one of those, it's quite likely that the reactor would have been able to cool down without any containment breach - probably written off by internal damage, but nothing newsworthy to see.

IMO the Fukashima incident shows the safety margins built into even 40+ year old designs. Considering that all the cooling and power systems were effectively destroyed by a tidal wave of electrically conductive water, they didn't fare too badly.

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Legacy clearout? Not all at once, surely. Keeping tech up to snuff in an SMB

SImon Hobson
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The problem with outsourced email ...

... is that you get what the email provider wants you to get. Unfortunately, it seems to be almost universal for email providers to provide a system that's defective by design - in that it's designed to not reliably deliver your mail !

Why do I say that ? Well in a previous job I spent some effort getting "pre acceptance" scanning set up so that I could take an "accept it and deliver it or reject it outright" approach. Pretty well the whole world of large providers takes the approach of "accept stuff and then decide whether to deliver it". Obviously, they can't bounce stuff they don't deliver because that makes you part fo the spam problem - so you hit the "email disappears into the bit bucket" problem.

I know that right now, my previous employer is busy moving everyone off that server onto Office 365 - because "that's all they do". As already pointed out, you need to be careful taking advice from people with an interest in what you spend with who - there's a tendency to push what they make the most on, or are most familiar with, not always what's most appropriate for you !

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The award for worst ISP goes to... it starts with Talk and ends with Talk

SImon Hobson
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Re: I had BT Business Fibre...

Well that's interesting - and not a document that was findable when I was dealing with this. I can assure you that they were 110% adamant that you had to use their router - though I was at one point passed through to a techie who was able to provide the DSL login details. All they allowed was to put another router behind theirs and route some public IPs through to it.

Though TBH, we more or less gave up nagging them to fix it a few months ago as we'd already taken the decision to use another provider, and this was only being left "active" as they'd promised not to discontinue another service (leased line on a legacy network they were getting rid of) until it was up and running. Once we'd migrated everything off the other service the plan was to tell them where to stick it.

Dreadful to deal with, and not even a way to get through to business support - we had to phone residential support and get transferred.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: common factor

Yes, OpenRetch are a common factor here. BUT ISPs have a menu of options to choose from - most notably they can ay different amounts for the connection depending on the SLA. Basically, you can have a cheaper connection if you are prepared to wait more days for repairs - so guess why the cheaper ISPs have worse stats on repairs.

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SImon Hobson
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Re: I had BT Business Fibre...

... a colleague mentioned Vodafone business fibre ... I made the switch

Where I used to work the boss decided to get one of their lines ... last year. As of a few weeks ago they still hadn't made it work ! It was a really simple problem - BT OpenReach misrouted the line as the office building is fed from two different cabinets. All Vodamoan had to do was to correctly cancel the FTTC and re-order it, they were supposed to have done that in January, and NINE MONTHS later they still couldn't fix it.

We got another line from another ISP. BTOR did the same misrouting, and even with that and another problem, it was up and running in a couple of weeks.

Plus, Vodamoan insist on you using their absolutely crap router - it's in the contract terms. The router really is crap and seems to be aimed at the dimmest of consumer users - it certainly isn't of any use to many businesses. And they won't set reverse DNS on a single IP (or the static PPPoE link IP) - you have to pay extra for multiple fixed IPs if you need to set reverse DNS (eg to run a mail server).

Based on my experience - don't consider Vodamoan as a business provider, or better than StalkStalk.

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Brit broke anti-terror law by refusing to cough up passwords to cops

SImon Hobson
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Re: Defeating Draconian laws

Arrange for the password to be held by a third party ...

But how do you prove that you do not have/know the password yourself ? That's the problem, the only defence is that you don't have it, and that's something that is not provable - the prosecution don't have to prove that you do have it.

So yes, the absurdity of the law goes as far as you being found guilty because you can't prove that you don't know something which you don't know.

Hence, when this absurdity of a law came out, there were suggestions about emailing (or otherwise getting it onto their computer) an encrypted file to someone (any politician who voted for it would be a good start) and then tipping off the police that they had something to hide.

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London Mayor backs talks with Uber after head honcho's apology

SImon Hobson
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Perhaps the complaint is that Uber aren't too fussed about the drivers and only ask them to self-certify that they've got a private hire licence ?

Wasn't one of the longstanding complaints that while PH drivers need a PH licence and appropriate insurance, many hadn't bothered and Uber didn't appear to care ?

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Google sued by Gab over Play Store booting

SImon Hobson
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Re: Is Marc SERIOUS?

Trusted? Please tell me Marc, Just how may apps has Google pulled this year ...

We know that, but to the average punter, they are told by Google that "Play Store is the only safe place, use any other store and you are inviting the four horsemen onto your phone" - so the average punter will not consider any other source.

Actually that needs a correction, because the average punter doesn't even know that other sources are possible - if it isn't in Google's store then it doesn't exist. Only well above average punters actually realise there are alternative sources.

On that basis, I'd say that the suit has merit IF they can show that they weren't in violation of any T&Cs.

Analogies to "it's my party ..." etc are not really valid. It's more like one company owning just about every venue in a city/state/country and arbitrarily refusing bookings from an act that competes with one of it's regulars. Even that analogy is a bit weak.

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HSBC biz banking crypto: The case of the vanishing green padlock and... what domain are we on again?

SImon Hobson
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Re: To be fair to HSBC.

Try reading CAREFULLY.

Would have HAD (past tense) a Chinese passport at some point, when becoming a naturalised UK citizen the person would only have a UK passport.

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Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report

SImon Hobson
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Re: Benefits - *cough* 1972 *cough*

But this Brexit vote was carried by a minority of the population who wanted to leave.

But en even smaller minority voted to remain.

For those that didn't vote, then the only sensible interpretation is that those people wanted to go with the majority - if they didn't want that interpretation then they should have voted. Put another way, less than 35% (roughly 1/3) of the voting population voted to remain - vs the roughy 2/3 who either voted to leave or "voted" (by abstaining) to go with the majority.

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