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* Posts by Nick Kew

1730 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Morrisons supermarket: We're taking payroll leak liability fight to UK Supreme Court

Nick Kew
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Precedent

Isn't there a potentially-troubling precedent here? One that looks a bit like a BoFH column, in which Simon Gets His Way by blackmail - threatening The Boss with a leak like this?

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Nick Kew
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So when a Morrisons employee crashes their car, the victims (or their family) will know where to turn for compensation? Even if the employee was under no pressure of work, no need to hurry?

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Nick Kew
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Re: I expect to be flamed

The corporation is responsible for the corporate culture and environment in which things happen. I would hope that would be considered relevant to the level of corporate blame and/or responsibility when bad things happen.

That's why employees have to go through all that tedious box-ticking training, on subjects ranging from Elfin Safety to Diversity Awareness. So when Dodgy Joe gets accused - rightly or wrongly - of harassing Dodgy Jo, the company has at least not been negligent in failing to educate him.

Bottom line that I expect Morrisons are trying to argue is that this was so far from acceptable within their corporate culture as to be totally distanced from them. That would be very different to an "everyone does it" culture that seems to have affected banking.

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SQLite creator crucified after code of conduct warns devs to love God, and not kill, commit adultery, steal, curse...

Nick Kew
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Re: Does it even define what it means by "God"?

Yeah, but calling God by the wrong name is the worst crime of all.

Hence Elijah's slaughter of all the followers of Baal. Somehow the bible translators failed to translate the word Baal, so it looks like a proper name. And thus the genocide becomes a work of The Lord, who is somehow not merely a translation of The Lord.

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Nick Kew
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Re: I have a code of conduct

I think one or two commentards may be missing the point. It is my code of conduct, not one I try to impose on others.

Speaking as someone who immediately upvoted your code of conduct and also enjoyed the first response lightheartedly contradicting you, I don't think you have too much to worry about.

But it's true, subtlety and irony can be lost here. I've had two posts saying the same thing on the same thread in a Reg group, one attracted lots of downvotes, the other lots of upvotes. Commentards[1] are fickle, and you play with their expectations at your peril.

[1] And moderators, which is worse - though a lot rarer here.

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Nick Kew
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Code of conduct in any online[1] community in our time:

- Nice idea. Or seems so.

- Nightmare in reality as it gets weaponised to enforce an Agenda, usually totalitarian.

Looks just like rather a lot of religious teachings.

I'm tempted to say Good On Him for calling out the nonsense, if it was indeed a reaction to (against) a modern form of repression.

BTW, we have a contrasting case of Larry Wall here. Some bits of God-bothering around Perl, but not so in-your-face as to be offensive or feel exclusive to a non-christian like me.

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Can't get pranked by your team if nobody in the world can log on

Nick Kew
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Re: GDPR...

A proximity system has its own issues,

Indeed, that sounds likely. Not that I have personal experience.

In the context of a column like this and its anecdotes, one of those issues is that most of the stories come from an entirely different era. Computers have had screen lock for as long as they've had screens[1], and inactivity-based logout for as long as I can remember, but any more sophisticated measure of proximity is surely an altogether different story.

[1] OK, that wouldn't've looked like modern screen lock, but clearing the screen then refusing any input that isn't an accepted unlock serves the same purpose.

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Nick Kew
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Headmaster

Re: CV update

For a post about avoiding grammar and spelling errors, that's quite a howler. Your apostrophes are both bogus (though you're missing a necessary one along with some punctuation in the second paragraph), and I'm a little bemused by the idea of music gardening. Did the interviewer's stoicism perhaps manifest in his or her overlooking your faults? Did another interviewer (whose existence I infer from your application of an adjective to the interviewer you explicitly mention) take a different view?

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London flatmate (Julian Assange) sues landlord (government of Ecuador) in human rights spat

Nick Kew
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Re: Asylum

Evidence please!

Assange is evidence.

Before dismissing that, note a couple of things:

  • I didn't claim (nor would I) anything about all asylum seekers. Or even any weaker quantification beyond a comparison with the general population.
  • Evidence and proof are of course very different things.

So yes, a sample of 1 can be evidence - and is easier to quote here than any more detailed or authoritative report containing stronger evidence. Just apply Bayes' Theorem using the sample we're discussing.

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Nick Kew
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Pint

I notice Unregistered has registered just this one comment in the whopping 24 hours they've been a member.

At a guess, it's a joke from someone familiar with Reg comments. Maybe a regular or a lurker. Or even someone deliberately feeding a line to that first reply :)

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Nick Kew
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Asylum

This looks somewhat analogous to Political Asylum in the UK and other Western countries.

Those who seek Political Asylum are disproportionately likely to be troublemakers, attention-seekers, or just plain crooks: after all, the silent majority don't incur the wrath even of pretty nasty governments, and persecution by more brutal organisations - like religious nuts - that aren't recognised governments doesn't qualify for asylum.

And some of them do sue countries that have given them asylum (and in Blighty get Legal Aid for it).

Compare some of the foreign criminals who argue Human Rights to avoid deportation, and one might argue Assange looks like a harmless also-ran by comparison.

Maybe Ecuador will eventually do to him what Blighty eventually did to Abu Hamza after all those years of legal battle? Then we can see if anyone cares about him enough to do more than go through the motions of arresting him for skipping bail.

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Nick Kew
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psychologically break him

Hmmm. I should've thought indefinite confinement would tend to do that. The embassy may not technically be prison, but his situation must rank with being confined to a cruise ship or spaceship for immediate hell, and without the prospect of release to keep a chap sane.

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Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Nick Kew
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Re: Trigger Happy

I once had an employer who insisted on keyboard click and disciplined me for turning the vile thing off. Something about standardisation of the office environment, and if I disable the click it must be a symptom of abusing or subverting the whole place.

And that was back in the era of VT100(ish) terminals, and big solid keyboards with *loud* synthetic beep for a click. YOUR WIFE IS A BIG HIPPO!!!

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Nick Kew
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Um, the Nokia ringtone pre-dates Dolby by a couple of centuries. Even the more famous Dolby who gave his name Dolby labs and to big chunks of audio history.

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Nick Kew
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Re: The title is too long.

Just be grateful we've left behind us the era when they'd have set light to their money and poisoned the air you were breathing.

We need the same treatment for electronic and recorded noises of all kinds in public places as we have for smokers. And then a bit more: deal with wide-area nuisances like amplified buskers and pubs with noise but no soundproofing.

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Arm cozies up to Intel for second time in a week – this time to borrow tools from Yocto Project for Mbed Linux

Nick Kew
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Now who's the soppy picture supposed to represent?

On a serious note, we know that Intel has had to adjust to the growth of ARM's world, but does any of this working with Intel look like a change of direction for ARM under softbank management? Or is it just regular industry movements that would look fairly inevitable under any management? Or is the change perhaps in a PR department enthusiastic about Reg stories?

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Emergency Services Network delays to cost public purse £1.1bn, Home Office reveals

Nick Kew
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Re: Incompetence

Hmm, isn't that just a question of funding? That is to say, non-government incompetents run out of money before they achieve the scale of government?

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Virgin Media? More like Virgin Meltdown: Brit broadband ISP falls over amid power drama

Nick Kew
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No signal at all since February

... and many months before that it was a sick joke, with frequent timeouts on web and mail, and 'phone unusable.

The difference between Virgin and BT is that when BT went titsup they delivered a next-day fix. For Virgin, a next-year fix is clearly too much to expect. Good thing I've got that 4G backup connection from a real provider.

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Scanning an Exchange server for a virus that spreads via email? What could go wrong?

Nick Kew
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Re: Sweet memories...

"Oh, I never read messages from IT, you're always just sending out warnings."

The boy who cried Wolf springs to mind.

Can't comment on your individual situation, but warnings are more effective if you pick your cases with some care to avoid overloading users with esoterica that'll only baffle them.

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Nick Kew
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Still baffled

... at how noone sued MS for damages at the time.

The means by which this email evaded detection in a simple and sensible email scanner was MS's deliberate breaking of MIME standards dating back to 1992. And the RFC even contains an informational section under the heading of security implications explaining exactly why what MS subsequently did would leave their users wide open to attack.

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Your RSS is grass: Mozilla euthanizes feed reader, Atom code in Firefox browser, claims it's old and unloved

Nick Kew
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Re: I've always liked RSS

RSS is still the best way to consume day-by-day data on the 'net. For a site like El Reg, we get the executive summary, then click on selected stories we want to read. I don't think I'd hang around here if there were no feed. Ditto other news sites. And all the blogs I follow are through RSS or Atom feeds, either directly or aggregated as Planets (which I follow using a Planet's feed).

The web browser does nicely for sites one visits proactively but not daily, and for interactive contents. Mailinglists serve for full two-way communication, with a much higher bar to subscription than a feed. Usenet does (or did) interactive comms best of all. RSS serves a niche that is none of those.

Fortunately these media still integrate: the RSS button in a webpage, and the feed reader launching a full Reg story in a browser. No need for Firefox's builtin stuff, which was always less-than optimal.

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Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

Nick Kew
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@Russell Chapman

Thanks for that explanation. Sounds like one of those words whose meaning evolves. Like "frogs" (from the Parisian coat of arms), or various others that would likely get me banned if posted here.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Starbucks

a daily <insert brand name> coffee

As far as I'm concerned, <insert brand name> coffee is something one has in the order of once or twice a month, when in town or when travelling. Are these people who drink the stuff every day real (and with money to burn) or mythical?

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Nick Kew
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Who needs an alias?

When I don't want to give someone my name (more-or-less any site that asks for it in circumstances where signing up seems an unnecessary hurdle), I'm just Not Me, and have an email address of not.me@not.here .

Noone cares if it's even remotely plausible.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Silly first name.

Spoken like a true sassanach!

Oy! That's enough anti-sassenach hate-speech. We're not all like that!

That french sexologist is clearly a canard. As is so much more of this Dabbling.

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Powerful forces, bodily fluids – it's all in a day's work

Nick Kew
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Re: Just the Usual...

Hmmm. For a busy office, this kind of thing must be routine. Surely there should be a healthy market for scanners and printers incorporating a metal detector that'll complain *before* potentially self-harming if fed a stash containing staples and paperclips?

Likewise sticky things that might feature in a stash.

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US may have by far the world's biggest military budget but it's not showing in security

Nick Kew
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Re: Not Again!

Was that the battlefleet that got eaten by a small dog?

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Nick Kew
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Alert

Big budget

Would that be a budget big enough to support an entire bug-ridden comms system as a decoy, while having an altogether different system sitting behind it in the shadows?

Age-old military tactic.

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Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

Nick Kew
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Coat

Nanny Ogg's space travels

Her favourite song captures the essence of this planet's defence against alien (e.g. human) interference.

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Google and Microsoft boffins playing nicely together to stop replay attacks in their tracks

Nick Kew
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Stop

'scuse me. We need a *groan* response that is neither thumbs up nor down but a nice big LART.

Damn, never having looked at the innards of OAuth, I'm surprised it uses tokens subject to replay attack in the first place.

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Which? That smart home camera? The one with the vulns? Really?

Nick Kew
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Re: Which ${subject-I-know-about} related reviews

Fixed your title for you. If your expertise lay elsewhere, you'd see similar issues with their reviews of something else.

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Nick Kew
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Re: common place

Indeed. Long, long ago I used to read Which? reports with lots of interest as a great source of information. Then I read one or two reports into subjects where I had some expertise, and saw a different side.

Basically, a lot of what's there is "how happy are the owners with a product"? That leaves a situation where owners of a cheap product take the view "yeah, it's fine, does the job, I'm satisfied", whereas those who take a serious interest in a subject and buy top-end gear remain sensitive to its flaws.

The importance attached to security would seem still to be something that depends heavily on ones perspective, so IT practitioners differ radically from Joe Public. Some journos are working on that divide, but I guess they still have a way to go.

Has anyone (here) studied the actual vulnerabilities under discussion, and where they fall on a scale of hypothetical to easily exploitable by a stranger?

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Oracle? On my server? I must have been hacked! *Penny drops* Oh sh-

Nick Kew
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Re: bleh...

Hehe.

I remember setting up a cron job before working on firewall rules. Cron job would run hourly and reset port $ssh to the state before I started a session. I don't recollect ever needing it, but it made the job less scary.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Early days of easy/cheap connectivity

The Sun (or otherBigName) with the expensive contract would be for users needing that reliable very-high uptime. For the rest of us, Linux or *BSD on commodity hardware has made more sense since about the mid-90s.

The difficulty back then was that the choice was between an expensive package like yours and something slapdash like the host in the story. It's only really this century we've seen the rise of cheaper hosts who also make it their business to know their arse from their elbow.

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Nick Kew
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Re: 128K of ISDN

28.8? Luxury! My first modem was 1200 baud down, 75 baud up (enough for me, but not for a touch typist). And it got much worse from there when I had to switch from prestel to one of those new-fangled ISPs.

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Nick Kew
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Those days of hosting

I think my first hosts (of a physical server, once I'd upgraded from a vhost on shared hosting) themselves had about 128k ISDN connectivity. It seemed quite fast back then.

One day my server just vanished from the 'net. Turned out the host had gone bust, and my kit, like theirs, was in limbo at the mercy of liquidators. Until my colleague who knows about such things got in his car and physically rescued it.

Ah, the Good Old Days!

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Boffin: Dump hardware number generators for encryption and instead look within

Nick Kew
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Re: Ultimate Source of Entropy!

So not amanfrommars then....

... demonstrating that you can identify patterns (thus proving that entropy isn't suitable for an RNG) without anything so ambitious as guessing the actual poster.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Very platform dependant

Citation required.

Seriously, I'd be interested in anything reputable that purports to be an auditable test. I'd've thought it was one of those problems where you can prove a negative but only speculate on a positive.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Why would you avoid using the HWRNG?

I read it not as "avoid using the HW", but rather "avoid relying on the HW". Subtle difference.

Of course for the purposes of a test run for an academic paper or even a back-of-envelope calculation ("Just tested it" comment above), results that avoid it altogether play an obvious role. For real life, you take all sources you can get!

The main issue with any proposed approach is the difficulty measuring entropy from a RNG. No matter how good your test and attack tools are, they could be missing a weakness someone else has cracked. Debian-vs-OpenSSL history kind-of demonstrates there's a genuinely hard problem.

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UK pins 'reckless campaign of cyber attacks' on Russian military intelligence

Nick Kew
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Re: Invading Crimea?

Crimea has been Russian for centuries.

And voted 97% to become Russian (again) in the 2014 referendum. That was of course after the second time their elected president in Kiev had been ousted at the instigation of the West, and with the experience of the country having been a total basketcase under the previous western-facing government.

Perhaps we should also recollect that Kiev was historic Russian capital before either Moscow or St Petersburg. There's a lot of history to this.

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Nick Kew
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Re: I've no sympathy with the Putin dictatorship

@DavCrav

On the subject of Afghanistan, I recommend reading "Caravans", by John Michener. Set in Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of WW2.

Published in the early 1960s, so no question of hindsight about the Soviet invasion or what's happened since. But still seems to anticipate a lot of it.

The word "Taliban" isn't used, but their presence and influence is strong and clear. Though at that time, they hadn't been armed and internationalised.

Educated Western-facing Afghans feature peripherally, and have an interesting message for the protagonist (who is a junior US diplomat): these [taliban] are a problem that must be sorted. Please come and sort them, because if you don't then the Soviets will.

Interesting background to what subsequently happened. The only thing he really failed to anticipate is that when the Soviets went in, the West would respond by weaponising the real loonies.

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Where can I hide this mic? I know, shove it down my urethra

Nick Kew
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Storage capacities were measured in gigabytes - albeit not large numbers of GB unless $$$ - when USB first emerged.

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Brit mobe operator O2 asks cut-off customers: Have you tried turning it on and off again?

Nick Kew
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Not that many rebooting at once. Only those actually affected, presumably!

I'm an O2 customer, and never noticed any hiatus. My only change yesterday was to put it in "airport" mode in the evening for an event where a call would've been unwelcome.

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UK space comes to an 'understanding' with Australia as Brexit looms

Nick Kew
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Angel

The last satnav constellation anyone will need

'Cos under aussie law, there'll be a backdoor to the encryption. So those countries that don't already control a constellation can just tap into it.

If it ever happens. And works ...

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Nick Kew
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Re: does the landlord refund you all the money you gave to pay the rent?

Within the limits of that analogy, wouldn't it be more like not being refunded for the new bathroom you fitted?

In the UK, a tenant doesn't get any recognition for improvements to a house or flat. Though a tenant might get charged for any alterations. And improving a place means means it's worth more, so expect the rent to rise. Even if you have a landlord who would naturally play fair, they'll have to have the strength to stand up to the agent who recommends the higher rent for the improvements.

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What do Zuck, Sergey, @Jack and Bezos have in common? They don't want encryption broken

Nick Kew
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Facepalm

EPARSE

Lizzy O'Shea of Digital Rights Watch is acting as Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet,

Erm, I'm getting cognitive dissonance there. You've introduced the "Alliance for a Safe and Secure Internet" as having a lot of big and important members behind it (oo-er, missus), now you imply she's one woman.

I can correct that in various ways, with meanings that are similar but not identical:

" ... is acting for ... " (the minimal correction in letters changed)

" ... is acting as spokesman for ... " (as above, more specific capacity)

" ... is speaking for ... " (limiting the occasion too)

" ... acts for ... " (generalises the context),

" ... speaks on behalf of ... " (generalise context, specifies capacity)

etc.

Who is proofreading as El Reg?

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Send up a satellite to zap space junk if you want Earth's orbit to be clean, say boffins

Nick Kew
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Re: It all seems a bit far fetched, to me

Similar thoughts crossed my mind.

For this to work as described would surely call for military-grade precision beaming. Could that be a clue as to anyone's motivation?

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Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

Nick Kew
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Happy medium

I think I strike a happy medium there. I'll take the 'phone and sometimes use the maps, but I've never considered letting it tell me directions.

Back in the Good Old Days I used to go out deliberately without map and compass in any non-clear weather in my local stomping ground of the time[1] for a fleeting illusion of wilderness.

[1] One of the best times was when that stomping ground was the Peak District: Kinder was a favourite place to get lost in the swirling mists. Sadly far too small an area to get genuinely away from things.

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Nick Kew
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Re: Tea with milk

My biggest bugbear: I had to give up drinking tea on First Great Western. Which, due to where I live, means most of my train travel. For the exact same reason of the atrocity they now give you in the name of tea. I once asked about the cup of water and teabag before rejecting it, and they told me something entirely implausible about that general-purpose scapegoat Elfin Safety.

As for coffee ...

I spent quite a few years in Italy, so I grew accustomed to good coffee. That left me in the position where, when in a third country, my English tastes meant I found the tea foul, and my Italian tastes did the same for the coffee. Not a nice situation. Though thankfully that has improved quite a lot this century.

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Swedish ISP spanked for sexist 'distracted boyfriend' advert for developer jobs

Nick Kew
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Re: I advise everybody to use the photo in their next advert

We all know what Bahnhof means in German. But not in Swedish: their word is spelt (though not quite pronounced) the same as the English.

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