Questions of legality: googly, genetic and Vulcan

The serious and the silly

Letters There was some serious news this week, but before we get to that, we must return to the stunning, nay, shocking news that Vista has been further delayed. By 18,000 years:

One for the time-capsule, then. Of course, it might be just what the post-apocalyptic mutant inheritor of the earth needs, since it will probably take that long to get the planet's ecosystem and industrial development back on track. Better add a zero to be on the safe side...


Now, this may seem like a setback but if you look at the price point and keep inflation over 18000 years in mind, Vista is probably going to be cheaper than a single flake of breakfast cereal at that time.

I would be hard pressed to find a piece of high tech that can compete with the unbelievable bargain that Microsoft Vista is going to be at the time it is -finally- going to be released.

Who was complaining again about the exorbitant pricing schemes that Microsoft used to tie up its OEM partners? The only way Microsoft could manage to screw up this public relations windfall is to adjust the price of this bargain for inflation. Then it will probably be more expensive than a hospital wing for a single seat license. Surely they're smarter than that.

Way to go, Microsoft! This voucher is going down in history to my descendents. I want them to reap the full benefit of what the past has to offer. Who said we're not looking out for future generations. Once again Microsoft is paving the way to a better world.


Finally a deadline Redmond might meet! -T

Maybe by then the average PC will be able to run the overpriced piece of beast vomit.


Next up, that actual news we mentioned. This week the Nuffield Council on Bioethics announced an investigation into plans to store us all digitally on a big computer under Downing Street:

It seems that the only realistic way to fight these databases is to make a public one available, with just fingerprint data on it, none of which would be linked to any personal details. Why? Well, if one can go online and get a high-resolution fingerprint to make a mask out of, it makes any government-owned fingerprint data absolutely useless for identification purposes - since plausible deniability goes from zero to infinity. Fingerprints cannot be used to identify suspects anymore, since they can no longer be relied upon as a form of identification.

It's like what's currently happening with car number plate cloning. Soon, the number plate will become very unreliable as a form of car identification - as the criminals will clone genuine plates, making identification meaningless.   Obviously this will have an impact on solving real crimes - but if the alternative is to have no privacy, I'd rather have unorganised criminals in charge than an organised criminal government intent on stripping us of any privacy we have. Blair and Company need to realise that there are real consequences to pursuing projects like this, with blatant disregard for public opinion.


Most of the time, I really don't see what all the fuss is about. Let's put it another way with a trusty example.

How about if one of your loved ones was raped or attacked or something. Police managed to get plenty of DNA evidence from the crime scene, but it doesn't match anyone on their database. This is despite the person from whom it was from having been tried before regarding violent assaults, but being acquitted and subsequently having his DNA details removed from the Police database.

As a result, despite a lengthy investigation, Police never manage to catch the guy and you have to live with knowing that the person who attacked your loved one has never been brought to justice. Something which could have been avoided if his details had been kept.

I am an honest civilian and I have nothing to hide. I don't mind if the police have my DNA and fingerprint details. If it helps to prove that I didn't commit crimes and helps to quickly convict those that did, I'm all in favour of it.

The problem I find these days is that nobody is happy. Bung CCTV cameras up and record DNA and fingerprint details and oh god! It's a huge big brother nanny state. Do away with that so that people have much more anonymity, watch crime go up as criminals stand higher chances of not being caught, then the same people start complaining that the Police and the Government aren't doing a good enough job of keeping them safe.

Ultimately, there has to be a trade-off. If by having biometric details of more people it helps to quickly and accurately convict criminals and if this results in saved police time and lower crime rates, I think that's worth it.

Or do you disagree?


We'll have to agree to disagree. See how disagreeable, sorry, agreeable we are?

We've also been discovering that IT workers are like fine wines. Or at least this is what we are told. Improving with age. Perhaps, but they don't mellow much:

Your article "mature IT workers are valuable" rang a bell when it was drawn to my attention. Perhaps I'd been making too much noise about mature workers, I dunno. Anyway, at 50+ I abandoned graphic design, did 2 Masters degrees (count them and unusual for a creative), a research paper on Web designers in NZ and became involved in online marketing, moving into quasi IT from left field.

I can now at the ripe old of 66 tell the 'younger generation' that the Web sites that they've produced are useless as regards online marketing purposes. And prove it. Not that that skill gets me anywhere, because MY generation and earlier assumes that I MUST be talking through a hole in my hat. And that the monthly analyses I do are in reality just an advanced version of reading the tealeaves and nothing to do with the real world of marketing.

It gets better, I received a phone call from an international firm offshore not so long ago (and known to be besotted with young people with Masters degrees and fresh out of college) asking me if I'd like to apply for a position in their new NZ office. (Yeah right). Anyway after 4 or 5 long and very enthusiastic phone calls with various people, (them, not me, I was just curious) and a test I was invited for an interview. An interview, I might add, for which I had to arrange accommodation and flights. No problem, maturity does have an edge when it comes to prioritizing.

It was a scramble, the taxi got lost, but I got there and remarked that I'd appeared to have passed the initiative test when I arrived. What they were expecting I think, was a 30 something, so the interviewer's body language was something else when I walked in. I was interviewed by none of the people with whom I'd spoken to on the phone for a start, and a young man who'd been with this illustrious monopoly for all of six (6) months. I KNEW I was dead in the water from the first desultory questions, not that I cared too much, just very surprised that such a large firm couldn't do the basic homework.

My son working in London can communicate better than that .

So there you go. Mature workers rule.


Dodgy ISP part 80,652,021 prompts amused commentary: 

FWIW, Fast24 havn't answerwed their phones, or emails, for the last 2 years (unless you're stupid enough to give them money).

I'm amazed they are still in business.   - Adam

It emerged this week that a hole in Windows' firewall has been overhyped. Or has it?

"need to attack from inside the same LAN"?

That's not a great deal of protection these days, considering how many LANs have insecured wireless access points open. This is a UDP-based, one-packet-kill exploit, and thanks to the magic of the subnet-directed broadcast address, one single packet making it into the LAN can take out every vulnerable machine at the same time.

So now, instead of sitting suspiciously in a parked car in the street outside a company's offices, tapping away on a laptop, a wardriver can just spend the afternoon cruising round town with a laptop broadcasting packets on the seat beside them, and knock-out the firewalls of every vulnerable firm in the area, then return home and raid their networks

from the WAN side at leisure.

cheers, DaveK

Windows, Vista, and patching. An unholy trio or something else?

I am no fan of Redmond, but the major security vendors have for too long simply tweaked their software for a new version of windows and cashed in on the "upgrades". I think the whole complaint is that they want their existing code to work with only minor adjustments, instead of having to rewrite the application. To actually have to write new code to support Vista would eat into the anti-virus cash cow.


Five months in chokey and five years home detention for the BitTorrent man. Copyright infringement is being taken very seriosuly in the US courts these days...

"There was all kinds of mean, nasty ugly-lookin' people on the bench there. There was mother rapers... father stabbers... father rapers... Father rapers! Sittin' right there on the bench next to me! "... and the biggest meanest guy, the meanest father raper of them all, came up to me on the bench and said 'KID ... what'd ye get?' "and I said 'I got five months and I had to apologise to George Lucas' "an' he said 'KID ... what're you in for?' "and I said '... facilitating copyright infringement' "an' they all moved away from me on the bench there, until I said 'and creating a nuisance' and they all moved back and we had a great time talking about crime, mother raping, father stabbing and all sorts of groovy things we were talking about on the bench there"

With apologies to Arlo Guthrie :)


Want an RFID chip on your credit card? No? Why on earth not?

Call me crazy, but:

1) How can anyone trust that they will even bother to leave out transmission of names this since they also didn't bother to use the encryption that they said they would?

2) Wouldn't actually encrypting the data (like they said they would) be a much better solution than simply leaving out the name?

I'm not going to use one of these buggers until I get my encryption, dammit! And maybe it's time everyone start wrapping their wallets, purses, and keychains in tinfoil. After all, there might be one of those new RFID passports in there too.


More on the doublespeakedly-named Freedom of Information Act, which, it seems, is getting sewn up tighter and tighter as each day passes:

£35million a year to respond to FOIA requests seems like a bargain to me. That's around 70p per person per year.

That's less than I contribute to the upkeep of the royal family. Now let me choose... Option A. A royal family from whom I derive no apparent benefit Option B. The maintenance of an important new check on the power of our government: that of having to explain themselves in public.

Ooh, tough choice.

The civil service always hated the FOIA, that's why it was watered down so much from original proposals before it finally got onto the statute books. It would seem that they and the Government (who have belatedly realised that transparency applies to them too) are trying to cripple it in time-honoured fashion: in committee.

Just a thought.


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