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NSA To Scientists: We Won't Tell You What We've Told You; That's Classified

cardpuncher Re:Propaganda (106 comments)

While I think you meant "rein in", you have accidentally uncovered a bigger truth:

Presidents *do* want to "reign" and the worst activities of the NSA conspire with them in that aspiration because it's mutually advantageous to both parties.

about two weeks ago

National Security Letter Issuance Likely Headed To Supreme Court

cardpuncher Re:DOJ Oaths (112 comments)

>Didn't these guys have to take an oath to defend the Constitution?

I'm always amazed how Americans treat the Constitution like some kind of sacred text and then argue constantly about angels and pinheads.

If you're looking to distinguish between right and wrong, a religiously fundamental obsession with scripture is going to get you nowhere - it's better suited to defending the indefensible.

Even if some bewigged and berobed supreme priest deems it constitutional, it's still wrong - and that's what matters.

about two weeks ago

London Unveils New Driverless Subway Trains

cardpuncher Re:I've been wondering why this took so long (127 comments)

The Victoria Line has had automated train operation since it opened in 1968. All the driver does is push a button at each station to close the doors.

It's not really a matter of technology.

There is a safety issue in that there are no escape routes other than the unilluminated and electrified track meaning you'd need some on-board staff member to ensure that people could be safely evacuated in the event of an emergency.

about two weeks ago

Will Apple Lose Siri's Core Tech To Samsung?

cardpuncher Tech Companies have become warring fiefdoms (161 comments)

Actually, nothing has changed.

The BUNCH vs IBM, Amdahl vs IBM, LANManager vs Netware, Word vs WordPerfect, Excel vs Lotus 1-2-3... The first big anti-trust case in IT was against IBM in 1969.

It may be seem different to anyone who arrived on the scene at a point in time when tech took its first Internet turn and there was enough virtual turf in cyberspace for everyone to have a piece of the action. However, most of those claims are now staked, so this is merely a return to business as usual.

about three weeks ago

UK Government Tax Disc Renewal Website Buckles Under Pressure

cardpuncher No alternative system is available ? (145 comments)

How about using the telephone, or calling in at your local Post Office? Both alternative systems and both available.

about three weeks ago

Scotland's Independence Vote Could Shake Up Industry

cardpuncher Re:Not going to be as rosy as the YES! campaign sa (494 comments)

>Scotland can now refuse (to honor all debts contracted in their names),,,

Indeed it could. And the rest of the UK could in retaliation destroy bridges, roads and other publicly-funded assets to an equivalent value if it wished and impose an excise duty on all Scottish exports to collect the interest.

Both would be equally senseless and neither will happen.

about a month ago

The IPv4 Internet Hiccups

cardpuncher Not really to do with "BGP" or "IPv4" as such... (248 comments)

This isn't really to do with BGP or IPv4 as such, it's an inherent problem in the way "The Internet" regards addresses.

You might be able to get some efficiencies in IPv6 by incorporating formerly-unrelated address allocations under a single prefix. But that doesn't solve the problem of a continuously growing network, increasingly complex (and commercially controversial) peering arrangements, the fact that IPv6 addresses are actually larger and the fact that you're going to have to support IPv4 anyway in parallel with any IPv6 transition (I don't personally believe it will ever happen, but that's a different story).

You could, however, get rather more efficiency in core routing tables if network addresses only had a very transient existence and were related to the source/destination route to be employed (eg: look up a domain name, do some route pre-computation, allocate some addressing tokens that make sense to the routers on the path, recalculate the route periodically or in response to packet loss). That's not IPv6, though. IPv6 has the same order of dependence on every router knowing about every destination network as IPv4 does (give or take the slightly greater prefixing efficiency).

TL;DR - The Internet is getting bigger. Buy more kit.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About the Sorry State of FOSS Documentation?

cardpuncher Re:Yes! (430 comments)

I suppose it's inevitable that people who are writing code for their own interest, and not because they're being paid to do it, will spend their time doing the things that they find most rewarding - and documentation is never going to be high on the list. However, I do suspect the motives of some people who make their code publicly available - it's not about demonstrating how clever you are, it's about sharing the solution to a problem.

And there is definitely an element of the FOSS community that wants to preserve the mystique of the brotherhood - they rail against the iniquities or proprietary software yet behave as if they were members of a medieval crafts guild. That's the only reason why anyone would refuse to spend a fraction of the time they would otherwise spend patronising the uninitiated writing a simple explanation.

about 3 months ago

Dutch Court Says Government Can Receive Bulk Data from NSA

cardpuncher Re:Just wow. (109 comments)

In 2004, the Court of Appeal in England ruled that it was OK to admit evidence obtained under torture into English trials, provided that the torture had been carried out elsewhere. David Blunkett, the Home Secretary at the time said:

"We unreservedly condemn the use of torture and have worked hard with our international partners to eradicate this practice. However, it would be irresponsible not to take appropriate account of any information which could help protect national security and public safety"

The Appeal Court ruling was finally overturned by the House of Lords the following year.

However, given the enthusiasm of the original judges and the Home Secretary of the time and the ever increasing use of the "because terrorism" excuse, I'm not sure that there would be similar hope of justice prevailing in the future. It's not just privacy on the line.

about 3 months ago

Experiment Shows People Exposed To East German Socialism Cheat More

cardpuncher Re:Correlation is not causation (619 comments)

Indeed. Look in awe as the honest citizens of Greece and Italy pay their taxes without demur.

about 3 months ago

Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

cardpuncher Re:more leisure time for humans! (530 comments)

I think you'll find that the concept of "country" and "citizen", insofar as it applies to people and not capital, is what got us to this point.

about 4 months ago

Google and Facebook Can Be Legally Intercepted, Says UK Spy Boss

cardpuncher Re:So, why pay UK taxes? (104 comments)

>You should not be allowed to just arbitrarily decide which countries laws apply

It's a long-established principle that you should be able to decide, as part of a contract, how disputes relating to the contract should be resolved. That includes things like alternative dispute resolution (arbitration, clerical courts, spinning a bottle...) as well as a national jurisdiction.

However, this only applies to the two parties.

You can't arbitrarily decide how a third party (such as the government of the country in which the contract is effectively executed) should treat you. Google, Apple, et al, can shift their earnings around the globe because of international accounting regulations to which governments, including that of the UK, have subscribed. Partly, they did that because they hoped that by competing with each other to offer favourable tax treatment, they could get international companies to relocate and make up in volume what they were losing in margin by dropping rates.

Surprise, surprise, small countries which get the greatest proportional benefit from headquartering multinationals are able to offer the lowest rates.

Blame your politicians, not the companies they are actually encouraging to behave in this way.

about 4 months ago

The Coming IT Nightmare of Unpatchable Systems

cardpuncher Re:This "nightmare" rigns a bell (240 comments)

Don't worry. IPv6 will solve the problem by ensuring those end-of-line internet-connected systems aren't internet-connected any more...

about 5 months ago

Declining LG's New Ad-friendly Privacy Policy Removes Features From Smart TVs

cardpuncher Does a manufacturer have the right? (221 comments)

No. Not in UK law, I'm pretty sure, though IANAL.

The Data Protection Act (DPA) means you have to be able to opt out of this kind of intrusive data harvesting and if the disabling of advertised functionality isn't covered by the Sale of Goods Act, it would seem that the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations would apply. The DPA applies to your relationship with the data processor (LG) while the functionality of the TV is the responsibility of the retailer.

The correct remedy would be to return the TV to the retailer and demand a refund or a "repair" and to go to the small claims court if they refuse. LG won't be happy when retailers start pushing back.

about 5 months ago

New Zealand Spy Agency To Vet Network Builds, Provider Staff

cardpuncher Re:Majority Rules (92 comments)

You could certainly argue this where the legislation, as in this case, has passed through a legislature.

The way this would play out in the UK (and appears to have happened in the US) is that you get invited to a meeting in a government office and some people whose exact role is not clear will explain how important they feel it is for you to co-operate in the interests of national security. They might hint at the unfortunate consequences of being unco-operative or of letting anyone know that the meeting has taken place. You then leave and do as you're told.

When the government's policies (and, indeed the laws) are secret, you can't blame the voters, because they don't get to find out what the government is actually doing, as opposed to what it says it's doing. There is an elected government and an unelected shadow government - which, by means of a similar process of nods and winks, makes sure that no-one who stands for election is a threat to them.

about 5 months ago

Nintendo Apologizes For Not Allowing Same-Sex Relationships In Life Sim Game

cardpuncher Look at it from a different perspective (384 comments)

These are just avatars in a game. Someone actively decided that certain rules would apply to their interactions - there was no necessity to impose any societal values on those interactions, players would simply have applied those values they felt appropriate for themselves. In other words, the developers decided to impose their own vision of societal norms when there was no real need to do so.

This is a very similar issue to the "emoji racism" campaign - someone actively designed the almost-exclusively-white characters, even though there was no functional or other requirement to exclude black faces. It almost certainly wasn't concious racism - they just failed to think beyond their limited personal experience and reflect the wider world.

That's a reasonable thing to call out.

about 5 months ago

London Black Cabs Threaten Chaos To Stop Uber

cardpuncher Re:Buggy whips (417 comments)

Actually, up until 1976 it was a legal requirement for taxi drivers to carry hay in case their horses got a bit peckish. It's an area in which regulations seem to change very slowly.

There's been a (decades-) long ongoing war between black-cab taxis (which you can hail on the street) and minicabs (private cars you book by phone) and this is merely another phase of that battle.

There is a genuine issue of ensuring standards (for example, disabled accessibility to vehicles), but these are things taxi drivers have historically resisted themselves. As taxi drivers tend to be one man bands in London their earnings are also somewhat opaque and I'm sure they're not only concerned about competition, but also about a growing expectation that your journey can be recorded by a third party llike Uber whose records might be available to the tax authorities.

about 6 months ago

Sony Warns Demand For Blu-Ray Diminishing Faster Than Expected

cardpuncher Re:Screwed the Pooch (477 comments)

I did buy a Blu Ray player, because it was being heavily discounted and had streaming built in (and, more importantly for me, it was at the time the cheapest way to add BBC iPlayer to my TV). I've never bought a Blu Ray disc - the cheap ones seem to be forgettable Hollywood potboilers and the films I might want to watch I already have on (ripped) DVDs and I don't personally see the value in reacquiring them for the modest increase in quality that's possible in the averagely-sized living room. In fact, I've barely used the disc drawer. And I'm hardly "younger people"...

about 6 months ago

Why Microsoft Shouldn't Patch the XP Internet Explorer Flaw

cardpuncher Re:Microsoft Has These Patches (345 comments)

Additionally, a chunk of those end users who still have XP machines and obey the call to replace them are going to go out and buy iPads or Android tablets because they'll do the job well enough and be a lot less trouble. You'd think Microsoft would have an interest in keeping people on planet Windows until they're ready for their next fix.

about 6 months ago

One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983

cardpuncher Re:Huh? (230 comments)

>terminals and PCs w(h)ere common in 1983

No they weren't.

The IBM PC was introduced in 1981. You couldn't do much with it, certainly not much related to mainframe programming. They were very expensive for what they did. Minicomputers existed, but they also didn't cross over mainframe territory.

People with heavy data processing requirements were mostly using DOS/VSE on S/370 and 4300 mainframes. No timesharing in DOS. It was still extremely common in industry to have people sitting with coding forms that were then passed to data preparation teams for punching. I've sat with teams painstakingly writing DOS JCL onto coding sheets.

If you were a larger user that could justify the investment in MVS, you could potentially use the Time Sharing Option, an interactive environment with a reputation for being cumbersome and inefficient - you'd only extend the "luxury "of using it to a comparatively few select people.

Computer time was also extremely expensive. Cambridge University wrote their own version of timesharing ( for their (early) S/370 in order to support a larger number of users and time on it was still so restricted that usage was "priced" to reflect demand at different times of day and CS students would either have to work at 3am or make extensive use of cards or other offline data entry to get their projects completed within the allocated budget.

Whereas there were minicomputers and early personal computers around, they were scarcely to be seen in what was still the predominant environment of the computer industry - the (IBM) mainframe shop.

Actually, the British government tended to prefer homegrown procurement and more of its staff were likely to be working with George 3 (, which had a far better interactive environment than IBM offered.

about 6 months ago



UK Plans Secret Trials

cardpuncher cardpuncher writes  |  about 5 months ago

cardpuncher (713057) writes "According to the BBC , the UK is planning its first entirely secret trial in which the defendants are unnamed, all "evidence" will be heard behind closed doors and reporting will banned. Media organisations, who were not originally permitted even to report the existence of an order barring them from reporting the trial, are appealing against the banning order."
Link to Original Source

Metropolitan police drag feet on terror detention complaints

cardpuncher cardpuncher writes  |  about a year ago

cardpuncher (713057) writes "At the end of a week in which oversight of the securocracy has been a prominent issue, Britain's Independent newspaper reports that London's Metropolitan Police Service has consistently refused to investigate complaints over border detentions such as that suffered by David Miranda, despite allegations of ethnic profiling and quota-filling. Although the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) used its powers to force belated investigations to take place, the Met is apparently refusing to hand over the results to the IPCC, resulting in the IPCC having to threaten the police with court action."

Heathrow closed by "Dreamliner Fire"

cardpuncher cardpuncher writes  |  about a year ago

cardpuncher (713057) writes "The BBC reports the closure of London's Heathrow airport allegedly as a result of an "internal" fire on an Ethiopian 787 "Dreamliner" aircraft. The incident follows closely on the 787's re-introduction to service on April 27th after modifications to its battery system."

British government to grant warrant-free trawl of communications data

cardpuncher cardpuncher writes  |  more than 2 years ago

cardpuncher (713057) writes "Having opposed the previous government's attempts to introduce mass surveillance of Internet communications, the Conservatives are planning to introduce the very same policy they previously described as a "culture of surveillance which goes far beyond counter terrorism and serious crime". So no surprises there.

The plan is essentially to allow stored communication data to be trawled without the inconvenience of needing a warrant or even any reasonable suspicion.

More information from the BBC:"

Link to Original Source


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