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top

UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity

ledow Re:Completely infeasible (231 comments)

Worse,

In the UK there is no compulsory identification. My brother does not have a single identification document. No driving license, no passport, no "ID card" (we've never really issued them since WW2 except for a brief, abandoned, experiment*). He has a normal life.

So, what are you going to use for ID? National Insurance Number? It's meaningless and doesn't correspond to much. It's not even CLOSE to the American SSN, and you can freely give it away without fear.

Driving license number? Some people don't drive.
Passport number? Some people don't have a passport at all, and may never have had one.

Then, you're into pseudo-ID that isn't definitive and isn't legally required.

The UK is one of the few countries in the world where it's perfectly legal to NOT CARRY ANY ID WHATSOEVER. If you're ever challenged by police, they can ask you to prove who you are but that "proof", because of the "no ID card" thing, can be as low as someone recognising you. Precisely because there is no single definitive means of identification.

So, in that atmosphere, how any single website would ever be able to "authenticate" your ID, I have no idea. Banks generally require two forms of ID to open a bank account, which can include things like bills addressed to you, and a wage slip. Neither are actually proof of ID, but you can get a bank account with them.

My brother ran into no more trouble than usual getting a bank account. He has no definitive form of ID in existence. How does that translate to a non-anonymous Internet?

*We had a voluntary ID card scheme a couple of years ago. It was completely abandoned and all the people that paid for the cards wasted their money and never got a refund. The cards are useless and now not accepted as proof of ID, despite a hugely complicated sign-up process. I can just imagine the response to "another" ID card fiasco....

yesterday
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Crytek USA Collapses, Sells Game IP To Other Developers

ledow Re:Not Getting Paid (112 comments)

It was common in the 80's with software houses, looks like people don't learn.

Sure, I'm willing to help out a company I work for that is struggling - that's only sensible self-preservation. But if you miss a single payment, and generally people are paid a month in arrears at least - then it means that I've worked a month "for free" already. If you didn't bother to notify me, I'm out the door straight away and will take you to court for that unpaid month.

If you came and said "We can't pay you this month", I'd want to be privy to the expense accounts and financial arrangements that make it impossible to pay me. If you don't want to share those with me, I'm out of the door - and will assume it's because you've creamed off and are trying to not pay me, so will still sue.

If you share those with me, and I believe that money is coming soon, there's a small possibility - in a firm that I really love and trust - that I might continue for that one month. And then that's it.

Sorry, but you're not asking a personal favour, you're not being a friend, you're not helping me at all by forcibly stopping me paying my household bills for a month. I wouldn't ask that of my closest friend or family. For a company I work for? I'm out of there.

Someone, somewhere, will be a willing scapegoat - no doubt - especially if you promise them shares, an executive title, etc. even if it's only going to last a month before they are up before a court explaining why they're the one holding the hot potato.

A company that cannot pay salary is dead in the water. It will probably never recover. And an employee working for that company is stupid to think otherwise.

Maybe, if it was a family business, and a close member of family ran it, and I was privy to all the information, and I genuinely believed there could be no doubt about the money arriving, and I've been kept in the loop at all points, and it doesn't go on more than one month. Anything else? Bye...

yesterday
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Student Uses Oculus Rift and Kinect To Create Body Swap Illusion

ledow Re:Fatsos (87 comments)

"Fat? No, I'm efficient!"

Though I agree in sentiment, there's still the case that if you don't eat more than X weight of food, you can't put on more than X amount of weight.

The ones who are happy being fat, fine. The ones who are trying to lose weight and can't because of their "hunger"... that's the problem. Because it's hardly ever a celery that they pig out on, but chocolate and other high-fat foods.

It's still down, in the end, to a question of willpower. If you want to slim, you'll allow yourself to feel a little more hungry and - at the same time - find ways to cure the hunger that don't involve fat.

Your gut is just as adaptable as any other part of you - it can learn, given time. And though I don't want to trivialise the effort of losing weight, especially if you have medical conditions or even just suffer from the inherent medical conditions of being overweight (such as it being more difficult on your joints to exercise), there's still a willpower game at play here.

I'm sure there are people who struggle 24 hours a day against hunger and lose. And I'm sure there are a hundred times as many who win for as long as they want to and then give up. And I'm sure there are a hundred times as many again who say they are trying, and don't even bother.

There are weight-loss TV programs where they "stalk" the contestants. They know they could be watched. They know they have cameras in their house. They know they have to cut down. But still they have midnight snacks and go shopping for high-calorie food (if it's not in the house, at least you have to expend more effort than normal to go get it if you have a craving!).

Not everyone is a lard-ass. But equally not every overweight person struggles against an unbeatable desire to eat only high-calorie food.

yesterday
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Is the App Store Broken?

ledow Re:How to fix the app-store (236 comments)

Don't see what the hell #4 is supposed to do, to be honest.

But the rest is easier solved with "don't allow in-app purchases".

yesterday
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Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink

ledow Re:Old news. (163 comments)

And so the article, and the quote in the summary, are just plain lying:

"The Silent Power PC is claimed to be the first high-end PC able to ditch noisy electric fans in favor of fully passive cooling."

2 days ago
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Quiet Cooling With a Copper Foam Heatsink

ledow Old news. (163 comments)

Bought a no-moving-parts power supply back in... oh, I don't know, 2003 or something. Sold as "cooled by heatpipes", pretty much the same principle - silent, no moving parts, passively cooled, no fans, huge surface areas.

They also did kits for the processor itself but I've also bought P2-era motherboards that were designed to be passively cooled too (same thing, huge heatsink, no fan).

So this is certainly not "the first" in the PC world (unless we're talking about "the first" to use some particular technology that just about replicates what I bought over 10 years ago). Not even close. In fact, it's over a decade out. And going outside the PC world, passively cooled chips are pretty common - you have a tablet or smartphone without a huge stonking fan, no?

The PSU is still working 10 years on if you'd like me to dig it out. I'm sure it wouldn't take much to butcher it to do the same job to the processor, especially if you can safely have it clock itself down to prevent heat being generated in the first place.

2 days ago
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Reglue: Opening Up the World To Deserving Kids With Linux Computers

ledow Re:Sigh. (88 comments)

Agreed, in principle, but we're still allowed opinions based on experience.

When I've worked in primary and secondary education, state and private, deprived areas and the exact opposite, it's hard to see where the advantage is at all. The above is not a post from ignorance, it's a post from someone deep inside IT inside education, who has had phone calls in my professional position from parents of deprived children begging for technical support (and they got a lot more than they hoped for, and it didn't cost them a bean).

I'm not claiming to know everything, but what I've seen shows an inherent flaw in the "let's give kids computers" charities - they are starting from entirely the wrong premise - that access to even the cheapest of hardware is why the children are having problems. It's not.

2 days ago
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Reglue: Opening Up the World To Deserving Kids With Linux Computers

ledow Sigh. (88 comments)

I work in schools.

I work in IT in schools.

I've only ever worked in IT in schools (or colleges, or tuition centres...).

School computers do not make better students. Home computers do not make better students. Personal computers do not make better students.

If anything, the opposite unless they are regulated... by a teacher... in a classroom... and they have the will to learn. Guess which are the magic factors and which aren't?

Sure, there are disadvantaged children that don't have an Internet connection, a PC, time on it, and can't fill in their homework that the school provides on its website. The number of them is VANISHINGLY small. And, usually, because of much bigger problems that have nothing to do with technology - i.e. the kinds of families that you would find had sold the PC the next week for money to buy something else. They are dozens of charities, government schemes and even schools that do this. It's not taken up en-masse unless you are giving SILLY amounts of money to it, and then it's taken up to save them paying a bill that you could have just paid for them twice over.

And then, when I was a kid 15-20 years ago, I didn't have much access to a PC either. I came out near the top of my school. In IT. It wasn't a burden. In fact, my teachers fretted about my wasting so much time on the computers when they did come in.

Let's get this straight - giving an old recycled PC that someone was throwing out to a kid does not give them anything. I can't give this stuff away, when I throw out dozens of desktops a year, for a reason: you can run old stuff on it, if you're careful. So instead of "no PC", they have "slow PC full of junk that either can't run or is ancient". They're better off with no PC. Sticking it onto the Internet is, again, just a recipe for disaster. Now all that rich online content, tied into the school's cloud systems, requiring all kinds of plugins... they still can't view as intended.

Sticking them on Linux isn't going to help either. I speak as someone who HAS deployed Linux machines in schools, is never without a Linux server somewhere, and has Linux at home. And Windows. And (spit) Macs. And I was an early backer of the Raspberry Pi project. All it means is they won't be able to read their homework in a format that the teacher can send or send their homework in a format that the teacher can read. I *know* that you and *I* can do that, but this are disadvantaged kids with no PC skills stuck on an unfamiliar system that few people can help them with.

STOP GIVING THIS CRAP TO CHILDREN in the first world. Nothing is actually *better* - they then might have to come into school and do stuff like learn. And if the kid is that disadvantaged but able to learn, there are libraries, after-school clubs, lunchtime clubs, or they can negotiate after-hours access with their schools direct - which might just help those parents struggling to leave work in order to pick them up...

Sending this stuff to the third world doesn't help either. They have the same problems, and have to deal with too much junk.

On top of all that, unless you're online it's pointless. The Linux educational software is NOT educational software. It's some geek's idea of educational, conforms to no curriculum whatsoever and, if you're lucky, can be crowbarred to fulfill two or three curriculum requirements over the course of a year. And if you have to put these kids online to do what they need, THAT is the cost and the expense and the problem, not what device they happen to access it from (by the time you are then, any kind of thin-client would work, backed by their school).

Really, we need to find other ways to solve this problem, not just throw old computers at kids. It's not even as useful as throwing old library books at kids.

2 days ago
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EA Tests Subscription Access To Game Catalog

ledow The cycle (63 comments)

"You can buy our products individually"
"You can subscribe to all our products for one fee"
"You can buy our special title by subscribing and paying a premium for that one title"
"You can buy our products individually"

Sorry. I don't "subscribe". The value of it rarely lasts long enough to be of any value at all to me.

Magazines? They tend to repeat themselves after a year, then you realise that all the "new" stuff, you now know where to find out. (Did this for PC magazines, Linux magazines, Astronomy magazines, even New Scientist is ludicrously expensive for what it is).

Movies? You get all of the crap, nothing that you actually want. I did the test subscription to Amazon Prime Instant Video. 30 days of "free" movies. We watched 4. Stopped one within ten minutes. Spent HOURS looking through what they had. All the interesting ones were "not included" so you had to buy them anyway. The subscription didn't make it out of the trial period. Was the same back when video rental was the thing - the good movie that you'd been waiting for was unavailable or more expensive, all you could book out was the dross you'd seen a hundred times.

Games? I have Steam. But I don't have a single subscription game. There are even Steam games that I regularly plug money into for DLC and extras, and I have my own personal "monthly Steam allowance". To be honest, not one of the subscription games (or software) have I even looked at past the word "subscription". Nope, never played WoW either. Sorry, but I invest enough back into games I play (by running servers, helping out on the forums, bug-fixing, or buying DLC / extra copies for friends), I'm not paying every month "just because".

I tried OnLive, mostly to prove that it wasn't a sustainable business model to be honest. I played a full-price game on there for free, then went and bought it cheaper elsewhere. The technology worked but was nowhere near the claims they made. And the "lifetime" (3 years only) pass to the game cost more than my buying it outright on Steam.

I don't see any subscription as worthwhile. Once they have your first month of money, they can destroy the value of what you have overnight and you'll feel obliged to keep paying until renewal. It's just not worth it.

If you want to subscribe to EA games, stick some money in a tin every month. Then when EA only have the same crap as usual, you can go elsewhere, and when you have a month without playing, you're under no obligation, still have your money and can play twice as much next month.

2 days ago
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35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'

ledow Re:The Credit Report/Credit Score system is FAIL (559 comments)

So what's new?

If you don't need credit, they'll give it to you. If you do, they won't. It's the general rule of banking.

How else can you explain that NO credit history is seen as worse than a mediocre one? For years, banks ignored me precisely because I'd never taken out a loan, credit card, etc. It was only once I'd got one that they desperately tried to push more loans down my throat. Up until then, apparently, I'd been too much of an unknown to risk it.

Credit scoring, the entire premise, is flawed. It's based on the reputation of your previous credit, and bears little resemblance to reality - as you point out. And try taking out a credit card and then RELIGIOUSLY paying back the full amount every month for many years. They hate you for it. Your credit score is still basically zero.

Credit score is not a reputation or history-based score. It's purely arbitrary. There's even "traps" like "use this high-interest credit card that we will give to people with no credit history just so you can 'improve' your score". WTF?

Hence why, as much as humanly possible, I don't use credit. Pretty much, for the last five years, I have no credit "history" as such (no credit cards, no loans, no judgements etc.), earn twice what I used to, and have never had anything "bad" on my history.

Was still refused for a joint mortgage with my girlfriend, though. Weird, because I'd had a mortgage previously for 3/4's of the same amount, earning half as much, self-employed, never missed a payment, sold the house for profit and paid off the full loan + interest early.

Ironically, my girlfriend (who's Italian, hadn't worked in the UK, had never owned a house, was refused a credit card for lack of history, and earns less than me) was approved for the entire mortgage on her own, so I just pay her half the mortgage and she's the one on their records. Oh, they offered to "put me on the paperwork" in a couple of years. This is despite the fact that in the UK, credit records (apart from bankruptcies and county-court judgements) are supposed to expire after 4 years.

Hell, they will CHARGE YOU to view your credit history, and in the UK you have to get your history from several large credit-history suppliers in order to make sure you have the full picture - some banks use one supplier, some use another, and their information can differ even though they are supposed to share it.

It's a scam. It's got nothing to do with risk, it's everything to do with maximum profit - and that means that you get a better "score" if you get into debt but don't quite go bankrupt.

2 days ago
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London Police Placing Anti-Piracy Warning Ads On Illegal Sites

ledow Re:Such good use of our taxes (159 comments)

Er... is there a UK tax on blank CD's and media?

I'm not sure there is.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Open Hardware/Software-Based Security Token?

ledow Re:Me too (110 comments)

1) You've confused American "schools" with British schools, where the pupils are children. I specifically mention primary and secondary - primary is up to age 10/11.

2) We still have tracing of what was accessed, it's still against school rules to allow someone access to your account. Their actions aren't your responsibility but may have been your fault.

3) Any "school" that expels a kid for losing their key and another kid doing stuff on their account, won't be a school over here for long.

4) No school will charge for a crime in such circumstances, unless a crime was committed, and then you have the "reasonable doubt" defence and legal requirements of proof.

If you think for a second that a teenager losing their access card is any different to them leaving the machine logged on for the microsecond it takes one of their "mates" to reach over and do something on their account, you're an idiot.

P.S. Been running IT in UK schools - state and private - for fifteen years, no complaints yet, and massive shortage of time to work for all the school who want me.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Open Hardware/Software-Based Security Token?

ledow Me too (110 comments)

I'd like something like this for a mixed Windows/Mac/Linux network but the costs are just prohibitive.

Yubikeys are $25 each for the hardware, and $45 PER USER. That's just ridiculous when you scale up, and there's an awful lot of manually faffing about to get to the point that it works.

To be honest, in my scenario (primary/secondary schools), I'm not looking for 2-factor as much as "I don't have to remember my password" login. If someone has the key, they have access (but only to another pupils account, which is nothing), and leave 2-factor as only a consideration for the staff (so then you could buy Yubi just for the staff, etc.). But anything software-licensed per-user is just ludicrously expensive when you start adding it up, on top of the "per-user" device costs to start with.

To be honest, I'd pay £10 each for a set of USB tokens that - when you press the button - just types in a username/password for you. Yubikey doesn't solve that problem on Windows, it just makes existing logins much more complicated (and, as pointed out in their manuals, when you get into mobile access they are useless anyway).

If someone could come up with a £10 USB keyboard-emulating device that types in a given string (I can code it so it presses tab / Return in all the right places, etc.), I'd probably buy it.

But on Windows, Yubikey is just too expensive for the software. I can't believe, given how little it does and how "third-party" it still feels after you've installed, that it costs that much to develop the Windows side of the software.

2 days ago
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$299 Android Gaming Tablet Reviewed

ledow Re:How's the Android emulation scene? (65 comments)

Well, unless someone sits and writes specific modules for each possible underlying instruction set, probably not.

Remember, Android is Java - sure, you CAN execute ARM (or in some hardware Intel) instructions - but those are always of the processor-specific modules. Go download the MoboPlayer app, which has specific modules to accelerate video for each type of device.

Can't see that happening for an emulator, especially when 99% of the time, the performance in Java would be fine anyway. Thus, you're really asking if someone is going to bother to write, say, an emulator for a cutting-edge device that a PC would struggle to emulate, plus specific ARM modules to make it run at feasible speeds. And the answer is probably no, especially when the market moves this fast.

2 days ago
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How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

ledow Re:When going into business with Friends (182 comments)

Going into business with friends or relatives is not a problem.

Just treat it like a business. When your cousin comes to work for you, you're under no different obligations as an employer than you would be if they weren't you cousin.

Similarly, business is something which people do for "profit". Whether than be salary, experience, shares, or literal profit - each person is there because they have something they want out of the business. As such, pretending that because they are family makes things different is idiotic.

The friend who says to his friends that he hired "Sorry, mate, it's not working out" is still a friend, but he's protecting his interest in the business. A friend that doesn't understand that is not a friend. And though there might be "favours" and shortcuts and digging people out of holes, those favours are as shortlived in the business world as they are in the personal world - and abuse of them by a friend means that they aren't a friend.

Speaking as someone who has in the past hired my own brother (and will do so again soon), and who my father found me work for occasionally with good friends of theirs, it's still "just business". They're not giving charity - if they were, they'd give charity as a friend.

If you go into business with a friend or relative, treat them like anyone else. Get a contract, get them to sign it, talk to them about what's happening, don't just assume they will always do what you want even when it's not in their interest. Don't rely on even a friend's goodwill to get you through.

You wouldn't take money from a friend just because they offered it. Equally you wouldn't run up a debt for your friend just because they "normally pay" or whatever. Talk to people. And get anything business-critical in writing.

Some guy you know coming to work for you for a few days can go wrong enough - don't think when you're talking multi-million dollar businesses and official share certificates that you don't need to make things official too.

2 days ago
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Free Copy of the Sims 2 Contains SecuROM

ledow DRM (230 comments)

In this day and age, I don't really care.

I prefer Steam because, generally, programs don't put more DRM on than the default Steam stuff (which is non-intrusive, as far as I'm concerned).

Origin, I can't stand the poorly-designed program that once downloaded something like 40Gb and took nearly a day to install one game, because every update was applied sequentially and every update updated every file, sometimes 9Gb per update.

But the end-point DRM on the game? You either care what that is and Google it, or you don't. That it's on a "free" game or not, who cares? And Securom is a damn sight better than shite like Games for Windows Live.

I can't say I've ever seen a machine "messed up" by Securom, certainly not one that can't be fixed by removing it (tricky though that may be).

As far as I'm concerned, the average bit of freeware comes with crap worse than Securom bundled nowadays. Hell, have you tried stopping Google Update services being created every time you install Chrome or Google Earth? It's a nightmare that DOES affect things.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Resources On Programming For Palm OS 5?

ledow Don't. (170 comments)

Take a look at some Palm code.

If the hideous restrictions and limits there don't put you off, then find out what they recommend to compile.

Flashy IDE's probably aren't going to be easy to find, there weren't many around in the first place and the majority of stuff I know is just command-line compilers which can plug into any IDE (if you're brave enough).

All I remember of Palm coding was having to break C files into tiny parts, jam them together and hope the individual object files never went over a certain size because the linker had to play all kinds of tricks to load them.

Take a look at something like this:

http://www.chiark.greenend.org...

The base code of which is generally easy to port (Simon Tatham's PORTABLE Puzzle Collection). That Palm version is quite a pain to compile even with the right tools.

3 days ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

ledow Because (547 comments)

In Britain the DVLA are looking at their policies.

Drivers who have had eye surgery are generally marked as never requiring corrective lenses. But the DVLA have found numerous instances of drivers eyesight falling below minimum standards after laser eye surgery.

This laser eye surgery is not, in all people at least, permanent.

Obviously, in the DVLA's case, their answer is "We don't care... if you're below minimum standard - whatever the reason - you need to report it to us and wear some kind of corrective lens until you can prove otherwise". Which is sensible.

As a glasses wearer all my life, my eyes have stabilised. But laser-eye surgery is not only vastly oversold by marketers posing as doctors, but also not permanent. I could spend several thousand pounds and risk my eyesight (no surgery is without risk) in order to get out of a habit I've been in for the last 20 years that doesn't actually affect my life often at all (my prescription is unchanged for 10+ years, I've had the same three sets of glasses - including sunglasses - for 10+ years, I rarely break things like that, and the microsecond it takes to put them on in the morning and take them off at night is negligible).

That's why.

about a week ago
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Firefox 33 Integrates Cisco's OpenH264

ledow Re:Trusting a binary from Cisco (194 comments)

But with access to the source code, it's easily possible to verify that the binary supplied corresponds to the source.

That's how we know that TrueCrypt has no "binary" backdoors - we just try different combinations of compiling, noting the differences, until we find the one that Cisco used. If we never find the exact combination, the differences between a "known good" compile of the original source and the final binary make the amount of code to blind-check almost negligible in comparison.

It's when people DON'T provide source that you should be suspicious, or when you can't get close to their source providing their binary.

about a week ago

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