nav search
Data Centre Software Security DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes

* Posts by RobHib

641 posts • joined 17 May 2013


Huawei Mate 20 Pro: If you can stomach the nagware and price, it may be Droid of the Year


I would never own another Huawei - FULL STOP!

I would never own another Huawei no matter how good it is!

In May this year Huawei withdrew the option of unlocking the boot loader from its smartphones. I now have a piece of Huawei junk that I cannot use.

I'm so annoyed that I'm thinking about making a YouTube video of me running over my brand new Huawei smartphone with a forklift. If nothing else, it would give me great satisfaction.

El Reg, you shouldn't encourage bastards like this with good reviews.

Fuck them!

That syncing feeling when you realise you may be telling Google more than you thought


Re: "yo FYI you're currently logged in to Gmail" - @ Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

Apart from the internet's greatest forte—that of increasing the entropy of spelling and grammar faster than any other mechanism known to humankind—I'm getting to the age where I just cannot fathom how we've gotten to the point where we've let these arrogant, usurping, corporate carpetbaggers who peddle privacy-leaking crapware overrun and commandeer our internet without a struggle. It simply defies me.

Are we so addicted to the electronic heroin these corporations peddle that we've actually lost true sense of reality; or is it that we've become so busy with the circus of modern-day life—or both—that we've simply become incapable of complaining any longer?

Given the actual damage and harm these bastards have done to us in recent years, we ought to be rioting in the streets.

In a race to 5G, Trump has stuck a ball-and-chain on America's leg


Re: Experts - @ Florida1920

"Do you understand the differences between a cell phone and a microwave ‎‎oven? If not, I'm glad you're not making dinner.

I couldn't let this question pass without comment. …And the answer: yes, over ‎‎three orders of magnitude in power levels between them I'd reckon. It's the ‎‎key point here. ‎

‎1. Non-ionising RF/EMR power does affect living tissue through ‎‎‎'primarily' heating effects. I say 'primarily' because whilst there's ‎‎conjecture about the existence of other effects on health being caused by very ‎‎low power EMR, there's still precious little agreement among experts as to ‎‎whether they actually exist even after many years of research (let alone not having ‎‎discovered and or quantified their modus operandi).‎

‎2. At the low power levels of cell phones, health effects are demonstrably ‎‎negligible. Why? Well, we've had radio communication and RF devices since ‎‎the beginning of the 20th C. and we've no demonstrable evidence of people ‎‎dropping dead because of the increase in background EMR. If effects are there ‎‎then they're pretty close to noise/background levels.‎

‎3. The definition of 'low power' and the amount of time one is exposed ‎‎thereto—i.e.: what's deemed to be a safe level of cumulative exposure—is ‎‎debatable. Exposure guidelines exist for both ionising and non-ionising ‎‎radiation; these vary by circumstance. The matter is comparatively clear-cut ‎‎with ionising radiation, it's why nuclear workers wear dosimeters and why ‎‎we've a unit of measurement of radiation as it pertains to its effect on health—‎‎the sievert. With non-ionising radiation, the matter is less clear for reasons I ‎‎explain below.‎

‎4. With both non-ionising and ionising radiation the level of one's exposure ‎‎always matters, the more one is exposed the more likely one will experience ill ‎‎effects. Despite decades of research, it is still unknown whether there's any ‎‎threshold level below which non-ionising radiation is completely safe. The ‎‎matter is much more poignant with ionising radiation as none of us can escape ‎‎the natural background level of ionising radiation that's caused by cosmic rays, ‎‎etc. ‎

‎5. Essentially, there are four parameters when determining EMR exposure ‎‎levels: power, frequency, length of exposure and concentration across an area ‎‎of tissue (and or within a given volume of it). The higher the EMR frequency ‎‎the more dangerous the radiation as the effective Energy (Joules) of each ‎‎quanta increases with frequency according to E=hv where h is ‎‎Planck's const. and v is frequency. This is why radio waves can become ‎‎ionising radiation if their frequency is increased high enough—it's why say AM ‎‎radio waves are not ionising and gamma radiation is.‎

‎6. The 2.45 GHz EMR from microwave ovens, whilst non-ionising, is more ‎‎dangerous than is say that of AM radio broadcasting (≈0.5—1.6 MHz). Whilst ‎‎individual quanta at microwave frequencies have more energy than those of ‎‎AM radio, the main reason for the danger is that their shorter wavelength ‎‎makes it easier for them to be concentrated onto a small area of tissue. It's ‎‎why I was once instructed never to look into a microwave waveguide even if ‎‎the power was only a fraction of a watt as the eye is extremely susceptible to ‎‎such heating injuries [same with lasers]. One would never consider an ‎AM ‎radio transmitter of say only one watt to be similarly dangerous (in ‎practice, ‎EMR from an AM TX is not as dangerous as the effectively equivalent ‎amount ‎of microwave radiation).‎

‎7. That said, cell phones work at the lower end of the microwave spectrum, ‎‎which is some three orders of magnitude higher in frequency to AM broadcasting and ‎‎thus we need to consider this fact. As a reminder, I would point out that my ‎‎occupational exposure to high EMR radiation that I mentioned in my earlier ‎‎post above was some 2/2.5 orders of magnitude higher in frequency than ‎‎AM—exposure that's had no known or observable effect on me or my co-‎‎workers even after a span of decades.‎

‎8. None of this stuff is new; we've known from at least WW-II that if power ‎‎levels are sufficiently high then the heating effects of microwaves are ‎‎dangerous. This became evident after military personnel found that they could ‎‎warm themselves by standing in front of RADAR antennae that radiated peak ‎‎pulse powers of between 10 and 50 kW or even higher and suffered the ‎‎consequences (internal burning, etc.). Similarly, there are stories of people ‎‎being accidentally locked in tank circuit rooms/enclosures of HF broadcasting ‎‎transmitters and essentially being 'melted' by RF.‎

In summary, these horror stories involve EMR power levels that are orders of ‎‎magnitude higher than any cell phone is capable of producing and thus are ‎‎essentially irrelevant here. As I see it, if the matter of the health effects of ‎‎minuscule amounts of non-ionising EMR cannot be resolved to the satisfaction ‎‎of sufficient numbers within a reasonable timeframe then perhaps we should ‎‎put signs on phones warning of potential dangers. It's just possible this might ‎‎even spawn additional health benefits—by reducing the number of phone ‎‎addicts—an addiction that seemingly afflicts a majority of users. ;-)‎

Alternatively, we just ignore the entire hullabaloo over virtually nothing and ‎‎eventually it'll die a natural death (in the same way that when passenger trains ‎‎became common in the 19th C. some thought that the human body ‎‎couldn't travel at such high speeds without injury, and later when cars were ‎‎first introduced and were only licensed to travel on roads if a man walked ‎‎before them with a flag)! ‎


Re: Experts

Right, the trouble is we give oxygen to these nutters by actually publicising them. It'd better to just ignore them completely, as no amount of evidence will change a zealot's cemented-on views.

BTW, years ago, I used to work on top of TV/FM towers whilst they were broadcasting. The near field RF voltage gradient was sufficiently high that my digital watch's LCD used to go black and the RF would burn holes in my jeans at the knees when I wrapped myself around the tower pole (I could see arcs from my knees to the pole—the RF burned but didn't shock). Digital multimeters wouldn't work as the RF rendered them useless, the only electrical instrument that would was an analog meter—an AVO-8—which used a copper oxide rectifier whose frequency response cut off a little above audio frequencies. Judge for yourself whether non-ionising radiation addles or scrambles the brain. Could a scrambled brain actually write these words?

[Now, please don't start an argument over RF and its heating effects, those of us in the RF game are all aware of cases where people have come to grief due to long exposure to extreme levels of RF, trouble is there's so few of them that we usually can't even cite references.]

Developer goes rogue, shoots four colleagues at ERP code maker


Re: A gun is involved in every single mass shooting.

Privacy issue: yuh can tell from the down-votes who the Americans are!

Australia's Snooper's Charter: Experts react, and it ain't pretty


@ Neon Teepee‎ - Re: Still Puzzled!

All this legalisation will do is to catch amateurs and fools (not to mention inconvenience ‎lawful users, further subvert democracy etc.). Perhaps this is the Government's main aim. ‎There's also little doubt that this legislation is meant to intimidate the citizenry.‎

Serious players, criminals, terrorists, etc., will simply revert to computer-generated one-time ‎password/key systems where neither Alice nor Bob have the passwords and messages are ‎destroyed after sending/receipt (i.e.: plaintext never saved anywhere).

Alice and Bob will ‎have effectively reverted to what happens in older POTS communications; therein the only ‎information that is recoverable at the conclusion of transmission exists in the minds of the participants.‎

This ought to be damn obvious to everyone – even legislators.‎

Intel AMT security locks bypassed on corp laptops – fresh research

Thumb Up

@ conscience - Re: Staggering

1. AMT, as implemented, was always a bad idea. As with UEFI, it has more to do with reclaiming control over a user's PC than any security measure—security is always the 'justifiable' excuse to take control away from the user. What Intel, Microsoft et al primarily want is to make the PC more proprietary and they have been doing so for years.

2. "I'm starting to wonder if there is anything they bothered to design correctly?"

You're correct. Look at Intel's record, it goes back decades. Now, we've not only Intel's AMT stuff-up but also the other big news that of the monumental problem of the 'Meltdown' and 'Spectre' chip bugs.

3. However, long before these fuck-ups there was the Pentium bug—remember that? What's fundamentally important to remember about the design flaw in the Pentium chip is that the very nature of the bug itself was the result of substandard and irresponsible engineering design—one that any first year engineering student could easily have pointed out.

The Pentium bug was in the ANSI/IEEE floating point standard subsection (the once 8087 IEEE math chip). Essentially, in order to speed up the chip Intel did the unthinkable, instead of implementing proper algorithms to do floating point mathematics as per the 8087, Intel took a shortcut and in part used a lookup table which was inherently prone to errors—and naturally calculation errors manifested themselves.

Whenever I think of this error I wince. It says much about Intel's deign philosophy which essentially put profits over data integrity. If Intel were prepared to commit such a cardinal design sin in the name of profit then we should be prepared to expect anything from the company.

US government: We can jail you indefinitely for not decrypting your data


@ A.C. - Re: The USA – OK, and there's another point.

The unforeseen issues that have arisen from the act of one just looking/possession only are both very vexing and troublesome as there's great potential for genuinely innocent people to be hurt and or have their reputations irrevocably tarnished.

As the law stands such images are 'dynamite' in their own right; irrespective of reason anyone in possession of them is in serious trouble. Say Bob has a falling-out with Alice and seeks revenge by planting some on her PC; although eventually proved innocent she will have had a lot of explaining to do–not to mention her great angst, and the stench of the incident will never fully leave her reputation.

Obviously we have a duty of care to kids and we must protect them in every way we can, nevertheless as it now stands the law appears an overly blunt instrument–it somehow seems to be incomplete.

I certainly don't have an answer to the problem but it seems to me that 'weaponizing' an image in law is both unsophisticated and potentially dangerous.

Australian oppn. leader wants to do something about Bitcoin, because terrorism and crypto



"...fuckwittery <...>, even by our standards."

Amen! [...and again and again.]

It's so depressing I despair.


Whose fault is that?

"The whole Australian government is a joke when it comes to technology understanding..."

Whose fault is that? We vote these miserable accounting/lawyer non-techie cretin-types into parliament. We get what we deserve! [Unfortunately!]


Re: leftish-of-centre

"If you ever hear of anyone starting a Labour Party in Australia, please let me know because I'd love to join."

Right, I once thought there was a "Labour Party" in Oz in the days of the very effective anti-Vietnam War demonstrations but I was very wrong. From at least the Chifley Labor Government of 1945 onward The Australian Labor Party hasn't been able to organise its way out of a wet paper bag on the deck of a sinking ship without a fight.

HMS Windows XP: Britain's newest warship running Swiss Cheese OS



A lot of heat over very little. As was demonstrated with the WannaCry, XP played a negligible role. And who said these XP systems are on-line anyway (I know of many XP machines still in service that aren't)?

The open source community is nasty and that's just the docs


@Oh Homer - Re: Meanwhile...

"So which is better: abuse that is subject to public accountability, or abuse that goes unchecked forever?"

Probably the former but it's a moot point because all too often ordinary users do not get the software that they actually want from either camp—from the users' perspective, software is almost always a compromised kludge which doesn't really work the way they want to. For them, the real issue is minimising the 'kludge' factor—thus users use whatever best fits even though they're not happy.

Long ago, I concluded the principle reason that users are unhappy with the software they use is that the majority of client-side software developers principally write for themselves rather than for users and it's so whether or not they are writing open or proprietary software (but the effect is much more pronounced with open software). (There's excellent long-established evidence for this which intrinsically arises from current software engineering methodology that I won't discuss here as we'll get sidetracked into debates that are not winnable by either side.)

Whenever I've put this proposition previously developers usually retort the only solution is for me to write my own software. True enough, but it is usually not feasible for one person to say develop tailor-made versions of Windows, MS Office, LibreOffice, Photoshop or Gimp—all of which have significant operational peculiarities that the developers have refused to alter but which many users would change in a flash if they had the means to do so.

From my experience, developers of open software are usually much more reluctant than commercial developers to cater for user's needs (probably because there's no pecuniary reward involved).

Let me give you some examples without being too ground down in specifics, I'll begin with OpenOffice/LibreOffice. You'd think that the developers of this product would go overboard to propagate it as widely as possible but their actions have never indicated that this is so.

Given that the majority of users around the world use MS Office, you'd think that OO/LibO developers would take very special care to make it as easy as is possible for MS Office users to switch over but this is certainly not the case, nor has it ever been so. I'll only give one example here but there are dozens more I could raise. Over its many years of development, OO/LibO developers have never even bothered to replicate the common MSO shortcuts into OO/LibO despite a clear demand for such compatibility. Why ever not? You'd think that even if they had an utter aversion to using any idea tainted by Microsoft that it wouldn't actually stop them from providing the MS shortcuts as an option/switch for the convenience of MSO users (nevertheless, it's a fact).

Similarly with Linux: you'd think one of the very highest priorities for Linux developers would be to make Linux as completely user friendly for Windows users as was humanly possible. For instance, to integrate Wine completely and seamlessly into Linux to ensure its compatibility with Win-32/64 APIs was almost total. However, this has been far from the case, in fact many Linux developers are actually quite hostile to such proposals (seemingly mainly from an ideological standpoint).

The consequence of developer hostility towards the actual needs of users is particularly obvious in the Linux case. The two prime examples are (a) The City of Munich potentially turning its back on Linux despite the City's considerable efforts to embrace free software, and (b) Google's development of Android—look at how that more 'human' form of Linux overtook the world when its traditional developers were completely bypassed.

On the evidence, it's just not possible to arrive at any other conclusion than the fact that most developers of (especially) open software develop primarily for themselves and that they consider it a major imposition to be forced to do otherwise. I have no obvious solution for this, for after all they're the ones pulling the strings, as they're providing their time for free.

As I see it, probably the only long term solution will be to change the programming paradigm, especially those aspects of it that relate to the way users actually interact with software. Perhaps we need new more flexible development tools that would automatically allow for users to say change certain software features—especially those that pertain to human interaction, GUI features, etc.—whether or not the programmer programs in such flexibility.

UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election


Re: Irony-o-meter exploded!

"Indeed, and only a mere couple of weeks since a major malware outbreak based on leaked vulnerabilities amassed by security agencies showed that said agencies clearly can't be trusted to securely safeguard any back doors that they might demand."

Strange isn't it that all this extra surveillance capability hasn't manifested in fewer "WannaCry"-like viruses or the capture of the ratbags behind them.

It would be very informative to see a graph plot of 'results' versus 'degree/amount of mass surveillance' over time/recent years. If such a graph actually exists then I'd reckon it'd be classified Top Secret—as it would show that governments have wasted millions of taxpayers' money to little effect.

Oh, BTW, it seems to me that democratic government would be much more democratic if the nameless government bureaucrats who propose these anti-democratic schemes were actually named (i.e.: by force of law, their name, rank and serial number so to speak had to be attached to all related documents, both secret and public).

These anonymous power-mongers have been getting away with 'democratic murder' for far too long.


@Graham Cobb - Re: UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election.

"When I was child, younger than the innocent victims here, I used to be very scared of an imminent nuclear attack from the USSR. My parents didn't tell me not to worry, they explained why we had to stand up against the threat: to protect the same freedoms that they had stood up for in WW2."

I can only concur with you completely. I also grew up in that Cold War era and your experience is identical to mine.

I am terribly scared of the continuing march towards authoritarianism by so-called Western democratic governments. A few years ago, the trend was just alarming but now it has become very frightening—and like the frog in the ever-warming water—most of the population seem not to be aware of its implications nor what is ultimately at stake—a fact of which opportunistic governments have taken ruthless advantage.

Moreover, these disingenuous governments have never put forward truly substantive evidence or reasons for their increasingly authoritarian actions—instead they hide truth and facts behind walls of secrecy; nor have they ever engaged in any proper discourse with the public over these issues—the most they can muster is FUD, Fear Uncertainty and Doubt, and opportunistic pronouncements (as here, as a consequence of the terrible Manchester tragedy).

Whilst the present zeitgeist and today's politics are different, the effective undercurrent of what is now happening is not very different to what happened in Germany in 1933 or in the latter Cold War East German Stasi era.

To date, governments have not yet needed to resort to jackboots in the streets as they did in Germany some 80 years ago; instead, they've now adopted more sophisticated PR and psychological tactics to gain control over the citizenry. And if or when these methods fail they then act unilaterally, as they know the citizenry won't react as it's essentially in a state of somnolence and passivity. The widespread use of mass surveillance, ever-increasing online censorship and the moves towards the banning of encryption by governments is essentially not that different to what happened in the Nazi book-burning era—in the end it amounts to the same thing, that of smothering freedoms through intimidation. Seems we've forgotten "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance".

People, even if still allowed, have or are becoming frightened to access various forms of online information for fear of being 'marked' or put on some secret government list about which they've no right of reply or ability to question—these are the very essence of the tactics used by the Abwehr, Gestapo, Stasi and KGB to control the population. As it is, I'm now forever mindful about what I do online and I find myself self-censoring searches that most people would have considered completely innocuous a decade ago.

In this new political climate if trends continue as they have been doing over the past decade, then I would not be surprised to see books that were part of the curriculum at my university, which I once had to study, such as Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Rousseau's Social Contract, etc. being banned from the internet, as they're now deemed too subversive for citizens to access freely without being monitored by The State.

If we were able bring WWII veterans back to witness what is happening nowadays then they would be utterly appalled to see the very ethics, moral values and freedoms they fought and died for being subverted and just cast aside by unscrupulous and morally corrupt governments for effectively no other reason than for them to gain even more power.

This is a terrible state of affairs.

Why Microsoft's Windows game plan makes us WannaCry


Re: It is the apps tied to ActiveX that cause the problems [and more important matters].

"That article tells Microsoft to do the work for free because they had money... It sounds like a disconnection between academic and commercial environment."

1. That's not the way I read it. Rather, my take on it is that Microsoft has made such vast sums of money simply because it opted out of its social responsibility to develop good code in the first instance (on evidence, a very deliberate decision on its part)—and that it took this course of action because it was NOT compelled by any law to ensure that its software products worked properly and securely before they were released. Certainly early on, the only things that mattered to Microsoft were its rush to market and maximizing its market share, security was hardly even on its horizon.

2. You have not addressed the other very real issues [useability difficulties, etc.] as to why users do not upgrade. (Presumably, as an Anonymous Coward, you are a software writer or developer and these points have hit a raw nerve.) These issues are very real concerns for many users and they need to be addressed by not only Microsoft but also the software industry as a whole.

3. As far as end users are concerned, the software industry suffers from very serious problems—major systemic issues that not only hinder software development per se but also ensure that software is much less secure than it ought to be. Specifically:

(a) The industry obfuscates its dirty linen behind the fact that source code is compiled (i.e.: remains hidden from users and security personnel alike). Thus, as source code cannot be analysed by third parties, design errors, bugs and security faults escape independent scrutiny to the perennial disadvantage of end users.

(b) The laws of most—probably all—countries militate against fixing these problems in any truly effective way and have done so for many decades. The lack of software 'fitness for purpose' laws essentially force end users to use software 'as-is' without any guarantee that faulty, buggy and insecure software will ever be fixed by vendors—this is especially relevant where software has been licensed for monetary profit (as in most other parts of the free market warranty laws, etc., actually apply).

Moreover, this already inexcusable situation is aided and abetted by mad, lopsided and very unfair copyright law—the DMCA for instance—where it even stops users and or independent investigators from investigating bugs and security faults (at risk of their liberty and freedom).

Furthermore, recently we've seen the truly detrimental effects that have resulted from the absence of appropriate software law that would require commercial software source code to be opened up to scrutiny by third parties in order to protect users against shonky and dishonest software developers; for example, the outrageous Volkswagen emissions scandal. In a democracy (or for that matter any civilised society), the fact that such laws do not already exist is nothing short of being outrageous. How many people have to die because of faulty software produced by shonky developers before legislators will act?

(c) The lack of adequate and satisfactory law to regulate and govern both the quality and security of software has seriously hindered the technological development of software industry over many years; in fact, its lack thereof has effectively stopped it from becoming a proper engineering discipline/profession (as, for instance, chemical engineering is). For—as past decades have shown—without any such law or regulation, the industry—whose self-discipline has been demonstrated on myriads of occasions to be as rare as hens' teeth—has little or no incentive to improve itself; the only effective incentive being the default one—that of monetary profit (hence the huge and obscene profits made by companies such as Microsoft, Google etc.).

When there are precious few if any constraints on an industry's actions (as in a world full of insects without any spiders), bad behaviour runs amok exponentially.

With respect to the last bullet point, (c), before calling me a nark or going into flaming mode, I'd suggest that I'm far from being alone in this assessment. I refer you to the following article: Software's Chronic Crisis, W. Wayt Gibbs, Scientific American, September 1994, p 86., which is aptly prefaced by the comment: "Despite 50 years of progress, the software industry remains years-perhaps decades-short of the mature engineering discipline needed to meet the demands of an information-age society."

Here is the PDF version and this is a HTML one.

One must consider this SciAm article was written close to 23 years ago—that's nearly a quarter century ago, which is utterly eons in computer time. Also, now consider the many security issues that currently surround the WannaCry/WannaCrypt virus (and the various implications that arise there from), thus—as far as the end user is concerned—one is left with very little choice other than to question whether any practical (i.e.: effective) progress has been made in computer science since the time that article was written.

With the plethora of evidence that's available and able to indict the industry on this account, there's precious little doubt that any reasonable person, even after applying the tiniest modicum of logic, could conclude other than that W. Wayt Gibbs was spot on target all those many years ago.

It's a tragedy the software industry has made so few really relevant improvements over these intervening years.


Re: It is the apps tied to ActiveX that cause the problems

"I feel sorry for anyone running a milling machine or centrifuge which is controlled by XP, otherwise in perfect condition."

1. A short while ago I visited a factory and saw a precision 5-axis milling machine worth about $400,000, it was still running Windows 2000. With that in mind I asked the factory manager how long it would be until they upgraded the Windows software to the latest version. His answer was "2025, the machine was purchased in 2000 and has an expected life of 25 years and the manufacturer provides no Windows upgrades—we expect W2K to be still on the machine at the end of its service life"

Like it or not, the fact is that XP and even earlier Windows will be around for a long while yet, we have to live with that fact!

2. The best article I've read to date on WannaCry is the New York Times one on the 13th by Zeynep Tufekci, associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina:

She hits the nail on the head as to why many do not upgrade/patch their systems, here's a short list of her reasons (read her article for the rest):

* Unlike other manufacturers, software vendors are NOT responsible for manufacturing defects in their software products—like others, the law needs to make them so.

* To get security updates, users have to upgrade to later OSes that often include features that are often unwanted (GUI changes etc.) and they are often very reluctant to do that, quote:

"Further, upgrades almost always bring unwanted features. When I was finally forced to upgrade my Outlook mail program, it took me months to get used to the new color scheme and spacing somebody in Seattle had decided was the new look. There was no option to keep things as is. Users hate this, and often are rightfully reluctant to upgrade. But they are often unaware that these unwanted features come bundled with a security update."

* In the case of Windows 10, users have had to sacrifice their privacy for a more secure system. This is not a palatable or acceptable option for many.

It's time we all stopped whingeing about XP and started complaining about the many other real causes of the 'patches problem'.


Half! a! billion! Yahoo! email! accounts! raided! by! 'state! hackers!'


Re: phew! — It depends.

Google accounts:

1. It depends on where you are on this planet, different rules, different places.

2. Don't create an account on a machine that already has an account or one where you have tried and failed previously.

3. If Google is already chasing you for a phone number, use another machine and IP address.

4. It's often best to use a new/clean machine every time.

5. If you are at the point that Google wants a phone number do not attempt to use the same email address that you attempted to use earlier, always do things anew.

6. After getting the phone number problem, also I found leaving it for a few days then using a colleague's machine (whose ISP and IP are different) together with a completely different/new username then it worked OK.

Windows Mobile users suffer backup super-slurp as Redmond forgets Wi-Fi switch


Ha Ha Ha, He He He...

...And now for the long-awaited class action law suit.

We've all suffered hangovers, but Qualcomm's right now is something epic


Users taking revenge, perhaps?

Couldn't happen to a nicer mob. One day, Qualcomm will eventually realize all its troubles were caused through its abandonment of Eudora. Disgruntled users are now taking revenge.

Feds slap boss with further charges


Does the notional citizen care anymore? I doubt it.

Who damn-well cares anymore except the Feds? This isn't the 1950s.

Whether it's p0rn or any other private matter, I'm mightily pissed off at the hordes of petty little bureaucrats who are making decisions–more often than not based on their own warped prejudices–only to cause unjustified misfortune to others.

The very bureaucrats who initiate such action should simultaneously be exposed along with the accusation. If bureaucrats couldn't hide behind the bureaucracy then much of this vexatious crap would soon disappear.

Backblaze big data restore. Get this: it involves disk drives

Thumb Up

Backblaze has attitude!

Backblaze has attitude, and it's one that I find very likable.

It regularly publishes its disk reliability stats together with drive failures and it does so by brand type–something that Google never did when it published its document on the mechanisms underlying disk failures. It regularly updates its stats and makes them available in the public arena, and now how could anyone not like its return policy on its backup offer?

Thumbs up.

Why does herbal cough syrup work so well? It may be full of morphine


@Pompous Git - Re: Codeine

These days, over-the-counter* Lomotil (aka Co-phenotrope) does the same, it works wonders for the trots and fast, it has come to my aid on multiple occasions, especially when traveling. Lomotil has been around for many years and contains a cleaver combination of the reasonably powerful opiate diphenoxylate (the active ingredient) and a small amount of atropine.

Diphenoxylate, like laudanum/morphine and other opiates, works very effectively in slowing the intestines/stopping diarrhea but it's still an opiate, thus addictive. To overcome the problem of addiction (or being used as a substitute for morphine/heroin addicts), a precise amount atropine is added to the diphenoxylate. Taken in the correct dose, the Lomotil works wonders, but when it's taken in excess the atropine kicks in making the patient quite ill with nausea and tachycardia. Essentially, the addict cannot consume enough diphenoxylate for a 'high' before the atropine puts him out of action. This cleaver trick means ordinary non-addicted people aren't too inconvenienced when they need it.

BTW, Lomotil/diphenoxylate is much faster acting and of considerably shorter duration in its effect than that other anti-diarrhea drug loperamide (Imodium), 4-6h vs 24h. IMHO, Lomotil is a much better drug, Imodium takes far too long to kick in and often lasts much longer than necessary thus one ends up with constipation.

For years, when traveling to strange places, eating strange foods, diphenoxylate and the anti-nausea drug prochlorperazine; aka Stemetil, and the anti-tummy-bug drug metronidazole, aka Flagyl were and still are essential travel companions, in combination they often worked wonders.


* OTC depends where you live, sometimes it's script only, or script above a certain quantity,

No escape: Microsoft injects 'Get Windows 10' nagware into biz PCs

Thumb Up

@Chika - Right on!

You're right. VMs are the easiest way to ease out from one OS into another. I've XP running under VMs to use data created under legacy apps that have no upgrade path to Win 7 or anything else (i.e.: the old pgm won't work under any newer OS).

Also, there's a comfort zone associated with VMs, they're a bit like Linus' security blanket, yuh know you've something familiar with which to fallback upon either when you're in a hurry or a solution in the new OS isn't obvious immediately and or without effort.

Then eventually one day you suddenly realize the past is over/passé and transition finally complete after you've reinstall the new OS but have not bothered to reinstall the VM. Over recent years this has happened to me a few times.

Seems to me that with the advent of Win 10, those of us in the know should be both advocating VM solutions as well as helping others to make that transition.


Re: @Trevor_Pott - Re Microsoft privacy abuse, etc.

Jibbers has declined to grant my prayers, but I will keep trying.


You're lucky you've a plan that's set in operation with a cut-off date. I too have made substantial inroads into penguin-land.

Trouble is the vast majority don't have that luxury for many reasons, most of which we know already. Consider it this way: If Jibbers fails to deliver then there's the justice argument to fall back upon, in our system, transgressors either end up in the clink or are fined. Irrespective, Redmond shouldn't be allowed to escape.


@Trevor_Pott - Re Microsoft privacy abuse, etc.

I agree totally with your posts.

The question is what do we do about it? We've now reached the stage where the abuse of the Microsoft Monopoly is no longer just an annoyance or even a major inconvenience, what we are now seeing with Windows 10 is abuse that verges upon that of malware and virus writers.

Effectively, Microsoft is behaving like VW but we've no equivalent of environmental laws to protect us PC users. The next question is why not. Governments are forever getting in our way but never there when we actually need them!

There are millions of techies around the world who have been screaming about Microsoft's abuse of users for years but essentially they've done so in isolation, thus Microsoft just ignores them. We need to change this now! What we need is an organization with a well organized web site a la the EFF etc. whose sole purpose is to bring Microsoft's abuses to the fore and have them stopped, by force of law if necessary. As I see it, it should:

* Forcefully lobby governments to stop Microsoft abusing users, destroying their privacy etc., to seek much stronger consumer laws like the ones that are now protecting VW owners. Again, why are VW owners protected by laws and PC owners not? (Here's a first-class instance where our laws have irregular granularity, they protect one section of the community and not others). This organization would also lobby governments for better or stronger online privacy laws as well as strengthening monopoly and corporate abuse law.

* It should be a one-stop repository for what's wrong with Windows. Users would list by topic what they find wrong with various versions of Windows from basic design flaws, to serious feature omissions through to Microsoft privacy malware.

* The organization would highlight to governments, et al about Microsoft's bad behaviour, for instance that it has been spying on us uses in a serious way since XP. Here's just one specific example: users need to be told very explicitly that the Windows host file is completely useless for blocking certain Microsoft IP addresses, as Microsoft has hard-coded bypasses so Windows can always phone home irrespective of the user's wishes. Frankly, this is totally unacceptable. There ought to be widespread outrage over it; trouble is, few actually know about it. It needs widespread publicity.

* It should provide help and tips about how to minimize the damage Microsoft is causing. For example, the pros and cons about installing Microsoft updates through to providing info such as Microsoft server block lists and how to install them on external routers.

* Similarly, it would issue notification bulletins every time that Microsoft patched or updated Windows with code that spies on or otherwise breaches users' privacy.

[Remember, until recently manufacturers never knew when a customer used an appliance, it was always the user's prerogative to provide that advice, if ever. That's changed with online but customers were never asked about it beforehand. The fact that programs phone home has never been debated in the wider community, there needs to be wide public debate over the issue. Especially so with respect to operating systems. As I see it, we need laws to stop such abuse. To be truly effective they should both target corporations such as Microsoft and also those working for them–thus anyone coding spyware would know that he/she would be targeted automatically by the law for doing so.]

* The organization's website would welcome input from users, have a forum etc.

* Such an organization and its website would be structured in such a way that under no circumstances could Microsoft influence the organization's policy nor would it be able to change the contents of its website. It would be especially immune to Microsoft propaganda and lobbying.

So how do we begin such an undertaking? Are there any fledgling organizations/websites already out there with this objective that, with encouragement/force of numbers etc., could be developed into such an organization?

Any ideas, Trevor, anyone?


@ JeffyPoooh - Re: Microsoft claims it's doing this...

Until your scenario happens to some large corporate/govt. department etc. we're not going to see any change.

We need some large corporate or govt. to sue Microsoft for damages and succeed. It's only then governments will react with consumer protection laws to prevent such abuse. I'm surprised it's not happened yet.

Telstra costed fibre to the premises before it was Telstra


Yet another reminder of that tragic fuck-up by Oz governments–the sale of Telstra!

"Considering that Australia has since walked away from a plan to build a national FTTP network, it's easy to wish that the Hawke government had taken up the idea."

I and others have have been crowing about this for decades, in fact since the Telecom 2000 report in the late 1970s. Over 30 years ago, it was obvious even to Blind Freddy what was needed to properly deregulate telecommunications in Australia, yet no sensible scheme was never implemented by any Australian federal government.

Instead, successive Australian federal governments fucked up telecommunications deregulation big-time. It's hard to describe the conniving, the incompetence, the dishonesty and treachery that was involved with the deregulation and sell-off of Telstra. Ultimately, when all the facts eventually emerge and the ultimate costs known, the deregulation of Telstra will go down in history as essentially an act of treason against the Australian people. There's no other reasonable way of putting it.

Describing the Australian telecommunications deregulation and the Telstra sell-off as monkeys doing brain surgery would be a gross understatement, as that's just incompetence. It was a great deal more than that. The opportunistic and greedy Federal Government(s) in both Liberal and Labor incarnations set out with deliberate determination to screw every cent out the sale of Telstra whilst opportunists both within and outside Telstra aided and abetted the process. It cost the Australian public billions of dollars and also set back the introduction of Australia having a decent fibre backbone across country by decades. What happened is an utter disgrace, and we've been the laughing stock of the world ever since.

The principal fuck-up was the way Telstra was sold off COMPLETE WITH the cable and network infrastructure intact, this meant that the Australian people would pay dearly for their telecommunications in two ways:

1. Telstra maintaining its monopoly over the cable infrastructure meant that new competitors were at the mercy of Telstra when it came to their access to the cable network, Telstra overcharging was both unmerciful and unstoppable. (For infrastructural reasons latter pricing regulators were left with a legacy which could not be undone, even with their best efforts and intents their network price determinations were a joke compared to what they should have been.)

Naturally, Telstra's new competitors had to pass on Telstra's outrageous network access charges to their customers, the net effect was that there was no real competition. Effectively, competitors' users were loaded with an 'infrastructure' charge or loading that went straight to Telstra's coffers. Even if you were say an Opus customer Telstra copped heaps. So much for deregulation!

Moreover, the existing network infrastructure had already been paid for by millions of Australians over many decades–over a hundred years or so, now they were paying for it again–note Telstra wasn't just charging for maintenance it was undertaking mammoth price-gouging. (And it should be noted that since deregulation, Telstra has let the copper network run down and simply decay, it's only maintenance was and is crash-maintenance, it's done stuff-all maintenance ever since and fired/outsourced its once very professional line crews.)

2. To overcome the problem, Telstra's competitors such as Optus had to build alternative parallel networks. Again, this unnecessary duplication has cost the Australian people billions of extra dollars– costs that should have never been incurred. Everywhere one probes bells ring loudly, one can only conclude that Australian telecommunications competition is an outrageous bloody joke.

The reasons for why there's been no outrage, rioting in the streets over the deregulation of Australian telecommunications/Telstra sell-off scandal I can only attribute to the fact that Australians seem to have had too much disposable income over the past 30 or so years for them to bother complaining in any serious way. (I wonder what will happen when the mining boom is ultimately over and the remainder of our manufacturing is nuked and or sent off to China?)

As I've said in previous related posts, what we need is for some budding PhD student to put the whole shemozzle into the mix and ultimately work out what these unmitigated government fuck-ups have cost every Australian over the past 30+ years or so. Any potential candidates out there reading this then I'd suggest not only would you benefit from a PhD but also the kudos would be enormous.)

* We need to know how the original Telstra sell-offs complete with the intact cable infrastructure have contributed in real dollar terms to the cost of the current NBN fuck-up. That's to say the total cost of the current NBN compared to the sensible alternative which was that governments should have sold of Telstra sans the cable infrastructure and implemented a revenue-neutral National Cable Authority. (A revenue-neutral National Cable Authority where both government and competitors have shareholdings on a 51/49% basis would ensure 'net neutrality' pricing for all service providers including Telstra, it would also be efficient if properly legislated, as network service providers would have input into that efficiency.)

* We need to know exactly who the culprits were who initiated the original plans for the Telstra sell-offs (who did what, who authorized what etc. and did they ever benefit from the the Telstra sales in any way).

* Expanding on that: we need to know exactly who influenced respective governments. Who were the government insiders, Trojan horses and traitors who so fucked the Australian public?.

* We need to know exactly who benefited from the sale of Telstra–where did the money go and by how much. A cost benefit analysis of how governments spent the Telstra sale income versus what the Australian public have had to outlay in additional telecommunications charges since the sell-off as well as the ADDITIONAL monies unnecessarily spent and wasted on the NBN, which would not have been necessary to anywhere near the same extent had the government retained the cable infrastructure. (This is detailed stuff, a PhD would be well earned, methinks).

* We need to know exactly how lobbying influenced respective Australian governments and who the major players were.

* Ultimately, we need to determine (a) what the per capita losses were, i.e.: every Australian telecommunications user should be told in absolute dollar terms what the ultimate cost as been to him/her; and (b) we need a reasonable estimate of how much Australians are being overcharged currently as a consequence of these 30-year old fuck-ups.

Ultimately, this fuck-up has cost the Australian public billions and billions of dollars yet it's essentially slipped under the RADAR because of government obfuscation and propaganda. As both sides of politics–Tweedledum and Tweedledee–have their clammy little paws in the till, there's been no will politically to expose the dirty linen. 'Mum's the word' might be the realpolitik, but it shouldn't say that way.

BTW, I and others benefited significantly from the sale of Telstra but we should not have done so. Around the time of the sell-offs, I went to an auction of Telstra electronic equipment after Telstra's Tempe Research Laboratory (in Sydney) had been closed after having been deemed 'redundant' by Telstra's 'new' corporate management. I bought test and lab gear in excellent condition, some almost brand new, whose new price would have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for literally only a few hundred dollars, what I paid was only pocket money!

Equipment such as Tektronix spectrum analyzers, oscilloscopes, precision Fluke Kelvin–Varley divider and many other bits of instrumentation of similar calibre, most of it in full calibration, I picked up for almost free. From my stance as a techie, it was a wonderful and remarkable experience, nothing like that has ever happened to me before, it was like winning the lottery.

In principle, this was nothing other than 'legal theft' from the Australian people, what happened at Tempe was an utter disgrace. Even if we leave the equipment out of the equation, then the closure of the laboratory and loss of skilled engineering jobs was a loss to the Nation. Telstra could have sold the lab off as a working concern but it did not. You won't see accounts such as this in government propaganda about the Telstra sale. When it comes to an ultimate audit of costs of the Telstra sale then details such as this should be factored in. Remember, the sale of Telstra also had huge social implications, many skilled personnel were displaced and or ultimately made redundant. For the record, I wasn't one of them, I've never worked for Telstra.

How to build the next $1bn tech unicorn: Get into ransomware


What are the NSA, GCHQ doing about it? Answer: stuff-all!

It's about time the NSA, GCHQ etc. target this mob instead of us soft and easy targets.

We need to ask our political masters why these pack of bastards aren't also on the spooks top priority list.

We know they are not! Why, the ransomware is actually INCREASING isn't it?

PETA monkey selfie lawsuit threatens wildlife photography, warns snapper at heart of row


@ Fraggle850 - Re: "The facts and the law don't matter, it seems." - The Soln would be...

Methinks a dose of conscription would sort that PETA mob out–they'd taste the real world for once. Trouble is, the army rightfully wouldn't touch them with a 50' barge pole.

No wonder the US is ungovernable when people actually take time to listen to mad, quasi-religious, West-Coast sects such as PETA. Why the hell do we even give them press oxygen?

What the fuck next?

Australian cops rush to stop 2AM murder of … a spider


@ Oengus - Re: At last a reason to look at farcebook...

As I said in an earlier post, Mortein is nigh on useless, most sprays for various other purposes work better. ;-)


@DiViDeD - Re: Yeah but have you seen Australian spiders?

'Australia. Lovely place, but really wants you dead.'

Come on, it's not that bad. Trouble with you Brits is that you've been too spoiled–you've grown up in a land where things don't jump out and bite you–these days, even the fleas on your beloved rattus rattus are free of Yersinia pestis! (Most parts of the world have some nasties that want to rid humans from the planet but the UK's mostly escaped them.)

'This year we have the added excitement that the extension of the M2 motorway has disturbed hundreds of red bellied snakes whch have picked our street as their favoured refugee destination.'

The red-bellied black snake is really a pretty timid animal that usually moves away when you approach, and it's not very poisonous. It usually takes deliberate interference/provocation for it to bite you–concern yourself with those damn brown snakes and the death adders, browns can bite and sometimes you're not even aware of it–well anyway, not immediately!

BTW, years ago I was camping at Emmagen Creek in the Daintree rainforest near Cape Tribulation and was kneeling down brushing my teeth at the edge of the creek (using the creek as one would use a basin) when I became aware that a darkish-brown snake with mottled yellowish markings/stripes was drinking from creek only two feet to my right (I'm still not sure what type it was). It wasn't there when I kneeled down so it came up beside me, it didn't seem the slightest bit concerned at my presence. I kept still and it left eventually.

As they say, keep still and don't skedaddle (but it's damn hard to do I can assure you).


@ frank ly - Re: Eek! - Right, bloody useless stuff.

Almost, bloody useless stuff Mortein, it only contains synthetic pyrethrum. It's nigh on useless for any serious insect nuking and it breaks down within days especially so outside in the presence of UV light (but I discovered accidentally it does kill goldfish if you don't cover their tank properly when spraying).

And don't spray it on funnel-webs as all you'll do is rile them and they're more likely to attack (pyrethrum doesn't work well or quickly on spiders, it takes ages to work).

Gone are the days when you could buy decent insect-nuking chemicals such as Dichlorvos (an organophosphate). It really did work properly. It's now banned (this is what happens when you put real tool in the hands of fuckwits who don't know how to use them properly or safely).


@ glen waverley - Re: robhib - And funnel-webs

Ha, yeah I actually remember that. That was the ABC's Richard Morecroft if I recall correctly. An Oz media classic.


@ gr00001000 - Re: huntsman spiders - A slight exaggeration

6" - A slight exaggeration for a huntsman methinks, try half that!

It's not the huntsman that's a problem, rather it's the all-to-common White-tailed spider, they have no web or burrow so they wander everywhere.

Despite all the worry and crap about their dangers (which seems grossly exaggerated), their wandering habits in the middle of the night means they can wander into one's bed. These aggressive little buggers will then bite when you toss about–attempt to roll on them etc.

To my knowledge, I've not been bitten but occasionally I have found one in my bed (the disturbing worry is that one can be bitten whilst one's asleep).


@dan1980 - Re: Yeah but - - Reckon we should swap notes.

Only last week I lifted the toiled seat cover only to find a fully-grown huntsman spider perched right in the middle of the underside. For some reason they love bathrooms, perhaps it's the damp.

They love cars too, almost every summer I find at least one of them in the car (usually moving around whilst I'm driving).


@Les Mathew - Re: Yeah but - And funnel-webs make good pets!

Ah, what a lovely topic with which to scare all you British scaredy-kats!

First, let's see what we're talking about, here's a female redback: Latrodectus hasseltii and here's a male Sydney funnel-web spider in warning posture: Atrax robustus. If you check Wiki 'Australian funnel-web spider' both images and text you'll get some lovely photos, and the text has a rather graphic description of bites under 'Medical significance' and 'Symptoms'–not for the fainthearted.

Redbacks are rather boring but common (they're everywhere in my backyard, leave a bit of wood there and after a week or so, I'm bound to find a collection of them under it).

Atrax robustus (the Sydney funnel-web) is a far more exciting animal. As dan1980 says the funnel web is reasonably large (probably 2 to 3 times the size of a redback) and the males, whilst slightly smaller than the females, are particularly aggressive, especially so in the summer months during the mating season. This is when males go walkabout looking for females, in the process they can turn up in the most unexpected places (in a shoe of instance). Moreover, when it rains heavily they are often washed/flooded out of their funnel-web burrows and to escape the water they will end up in places such as laundries, under washing machines, in laundry baskets full of dirty clothes, and at the bottom of swimming pools (yes, they can survive under water for a long time, so one should always look at the bottom of the pool before swimming).

Funnel-webs make good, easy to manage pets!

Well, 'interesting' probably would be a better word. Whilst my place is loaded with redbacks, it's comparatively devoid of funnel-webs. As one place I worked, this was not so for one of my staff, his backyard had a ready supply of them so occasionally he'd bring a few male A. robustus to work and we'd set them up in a very large coffee jar on my desk complete with sufficient dirt and small rocks so they could make proper funnel-webs burrows (normally, there's only one per jar as we don't want any fighting). Periodically, we'd provided water and a good supply of live slaters (woodlice) and crickets for food, (they won't eat dead ones). Funnel-webs live quite happily in this environment for up to two years.

The exciting part–amusing visitors!

Coming in of a morning and switching on the lights seemed to disturb the spider, as I sat down at my desk it would often rear up against the glass poised in attack mode. To impress visitors, clients, reps etc. we'd stick the blunt (brown tip) end of a red Columbia Copperplate pencil through the air vents in the top of the jar and the spider would instantly attack it multiple times. It would puncture the pencil in various places and you could see small droplets of venom running down the outside (somewhere I still have one of the 'pockmarked' pencils covered at one end with hundreds of tiny punctures).

Brits, come over and I'll line you up a demo.

Close Encounters

When I was a kid of about 11 or so, one day I was catching frogs and one jumped under a rock so I reached under it to pull the frog out but instead I pulled out a large male Atrax robustus. Bloody miracle I wasn’t bitten–and it happened long before the antivenene became available–but that incident didn't scare me as much as when I was14 and stood on an Eastern Brown snake (one of the world's deadliest), that did nearly scare the hell out of me.

Another incident (which I was not present at that time but I knew those involved) occurred at a place where we often went abseiling. As it was summer, the group of four-five guys changed out of their jeans into shorts before descending down the cliff (leaving their jeans and other paraphernalia at the top of the cliff). Later when they changed back into their jeans, one guy was bitten on the knee–a male Atrax robustus having taken up residence in his pants.

As they were Sydneysiders, immediately they knew the culprit responsible and exactly what action to take. After tying a tourniquet on his leg, they rushed him to hospital and he was in intensive care within approximately 20 minutes. He suffered severe pulmonary oedema (frothing up blood from his lungs) and other symptoms including partial kidney failure, and for three days it was touch-and-go whether he live or not (but he did). Of course, that was in the days before the antivenene became available.

Welcome of Oz everyone!


Here's another good reference: Australian Museum

Final countdown – NSA says it really will end blanket phone spying on US citizens this Sunday

Big Brother



Sneaky Microsoft renamed its data slurper before sticking it back in Windows 10


@brainout - Re: GATES is in charge, he's to blame. Seriously.



@Pompus Git - Re: @JustaKOS - Why no outrage over Microsoft spying?

'..."We can't help you then." and hung up.

Yeah, I well remember that attitude. Also, I recall one of my staff left and went to work for IBM. He'd left us in jeans and T-shirt and some months later paid us a visit as a dapper-suited ponce sporting a flashy tie. He explained that dress code was often more important to IBM than the work.

Mind you, this isn't my only backroom source of IBM information, besides my work being a reasonably large customer of its PCs, some years beforehand I was trained on an IBM mainframe, so I was well acquainted how inflexible the company was back then.

No wonder the new nimble generation outwitted them.


@ a_yank_lurker - Re: @JustaKOS - Why no outrage over Microsoft spying?

'... by the dimmest of PHBs.' - Absolutely, I recall around that time being invited into a couple of board rooms in Silicon Valley and I was told some of the assumptions those companies had made and I couldn't quite believe how stupid they were. Needless to say, those companies are only memories these days.

Correct, OS/2 was a fiasco but the choice was limited, either the UNIX road, CP/M and or DOS or preemptive multitasking OS/2. At the time, if UNIX was out (for various reasons such as a business already using IBM's mainframes etc.) then OS/2 was often the best option.

Right too about the 20-year run, there's no doubt the stars all lined up for various reasons (there's already many books about it, the definitive ones still have to be written).

'Users seem to be more adaptable than Slurp expected...' Initially this wasn't the case (seems the pre-PC generation who actually managed to adapt to the PC were less inclined to relearn new ropes than the generation born to PCs who adapted with relish (few seemed to appreciate how quickly they would adapt, me included).


@elDog - Re: Services.msc


I think that syntax is correct but it's been a long time! OK, I've thrown my credentials down so I feel qualified to reply. :-)

Yeah, at the time I was using all the same stuff and it was pretty solid, software and hardware just worked as it was supposed to. Some manuals were often cryptic but once you got the hang of them they were accurate and comprehensive, Kildall's CP/M manuals are a case in point. On the other hand, the IBM PC tech manuals (which I still have) were a delight to use, even the hardware came with circuit diagrams and component layouts etc. (one could stick an oscilloscope onto an IC pin and actually figure out what was happening–shame we don't produce stuff in the same manner and with the same thoroughness these days). And if one had an Intel MDS/ICE–In Circuit Emulator complete with bond-out chip–then you could do pretty much anything (that's assuming one understood the implications of the .ASM extension which was pretty much mandatory in those days).

Nevertheless, it was far from a bed of roses: switch off UNIX machines without powering down and you'd likely have serious problems; the damn 8*3 file name limitations in CP/M; and the puny 1M address space of those toy 8085s etc. (even 80286 was a bitch) meant that the size of jobs that we could tackle was rather limited.

Trouble was, useability was an issue (Kildall seemed to have little regard for it), then when we thought things were getting a little better with OS/2, Gates came along and fragmented the market, not to mention made products much more proprietary.

Today, (at least for ITers etc.) things are in a bloody shambles, we might be told what services.msc actually is but we've not a clue (or no practical one anyway) about how services 'bolt' onto say the kernel, such is proprietary nature of MS products.

For the last 30 years or so these have been serious issues for IT as the average IT person either didn't have to skills or more likely the time to establish a research project to reverse-engineer such code. Of course, the consequences of this were serious, Windows was like a Swiss cheese, vulnerabilities everywhere, and the only truly knowledgeable people were often the hackers.

Gates might have built an empire but he's left a bloody disaster in his wake. It's been a damn tragedy really (as I've said elsewhere, one day history will inevitably come to that conclusion).


@JustaKOS - Re: Why no outrage over Microsoft spying?

Right, Microsoft has good-to-excellent PR with governments and corporates, most see it as a highly successful, profitable company (which it is). For most of the 30 years of Windows, Microsoft was an unchallenged monopoly and thus the majority of PC users were only familiar with its products (thus learning alternatives wasn't on the agenda–no one wanted to throw away his/her skills in MS products, so most were protective of MS when they heard criticism of it).

The result is that it's been almost impossible to explain to the general public Microsoft's sins in any comprehensible way (i.e.: there was no stomach for widespread reporting/news* on the subject). To make matters worse, ordinary users through to governments simply didn't and still don't understand the issues with sufficient depth which means that Microsoft's PR department had (and still has) little trouble brushing off criticism of serious issues such as security breaches, etc. onto perpetrators/hackers etc. MS comes out essentially lily-white, it's baddies that cause all the problems.

To top it off, the IT industry has never formed any cohesive policy on the issue (as many ITers also had a considerable 'investment' in/knowledge of Microsoft products–many rely on MS like sucker fish for their income–at times me included). Thus, the 'noise' always came from the 1% of PC users who used Linux, the small percentage of Apple users and the 'IT whingers' such as many of us here at El Reg–those of us bleeding from having been on MS's cutting edge. All up, this would have hardly amounted to 10% of the world's PC users, thus we could be (and were) ignored.

However, that MS nexus has been seriously broken in recent years by the phenomenal growth of Google/Android, the remarkable phoenix-like resurrection of Apple together with the major shift in software usage (smartphones etc.). Ten years ago, no one would have predicted what has happened. It's a phenomenal change.

Microsoft is now very vulnerable, so it's time to kick it screaming all the way into the professional world of real engineering (and it's going to be much easier than it would have been ten years ago).


* The IT media were (and still are) compliant, over the years there's been precious little effective criticism of MS or any in-depth analysis of the problems with MS software (mostly, criticism was of the indirect kind about patches, workarounds, etc.). Big IT publishers, such as ZDNet were particularly compliant and there were few exceptions El Reg being one of them (it's probably the reason these posts are often so critical of MS, as those of us in the know have had to gravitate here. ;-)

Thumb Up

@Shadow Systems - Re: @RobHib, re your reply to MST.

Thank you muchly, flattery will get you everywhere!

Now the keg's a wonderful idea ('tis a long while since I've had one all to myself), but methinks it better to share it with most posters here–so much the unanimity of opinion.

As a magnanimous gesture, perhaps we should also give a thimbleful to MST for getting us so riled.


Oh, and I've chucked in an upvote for good measure!


Re: Remember one thing

'However the next MS update will probably change the IP addresses.'

That's why we need some binary hacks to nuke these bypasses for once and for all.


@ Cincinnataroo - Re: Remember one thing

One of these posts refers to a site that points out that some MS DLLs can bypass the hosts file. (Not being a Win 10 user, I've just learned this. I'll definitely be checking this out in more detail.)


@ Sir Runcible Spoon - Re: Services.msc

Correct, and I'll bet history will eventually prove it.


@MatthewSt - Re: Clarifying : You're evading the main issues again.

You're evading the main issues again which is (a) that Microsoft has exchanged its traditional paid mode for a so-called 'free' update in exchange for 'stealing' users' data, and (b) that it's done so underhandedly and on the sly (i.e.: without users being fully aware of the ramifications/consequences).

Is this not obvious? (For detailed facts, read my post in reply to your first post!)

Investigatory Powers Tribunal scraps its first annual report


@Velv - Reading matter.

So it's just as easy to read with the lights on or off?

IT manager jailed for 5 years for attempting dark web gun buy


Is there a desperate shortage of IT managers?

Either there's a desperate shortage of IT managers or his firm pays peanuts.

Employing an idiotic monkey to do skilled work seems somewhat incongruous.


The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing