Saturday, May 30, 2020

Setting My Teeth on Edge

I don't usually use Edge, the web browser supplied as part of Windows 10. Tonight, driven by some devil-may-care sense of adventure, I thought I'd have a look. No sooner had it loaded than it wanted me to update it. I had assumed I already had the latest version, given that Windows 10 has recently updated, but no matter. I clicked to update it.

I wonder what language this message is in


I carried on regardless (us Ruislip Commuters laugh in the face of danger, you know) and was rewarded with the next helpful missive


Soon after this the installation completed. Edge opened and asked me if I wished to import my settings from my normal browser, Firefox. I assented. It pretended to be doing something but did nothing at all. None of my bookmarks were imported.

I did a basic web search to see if others had this problem and found someone with the same issue back in January. Naturally the Microsoft professional who responded was unaware that there was a problem, looked into it, confirmed it and then said it was all a total surprise to everyone at Redmond (including those who presumably wrote and "tested" the import procedure) and why do not an export of the bookmarks out of Firefox to a html file and then import to Edge. Yes, indeed. Just as we used to do this sort of thing 20 years ago.

It's exactly the same as if I were to call up my garage
"Hi, my car is not starting, the computer is showing a couple of error messages"
"Oh yes sir, we get a lot of those. Funny things, these computers, aren't they? Now then, have you got your starter handle handy, plus two strong lads to give you a push start?"

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Nothing to See Here

During the covid-19 lockdown we have been urged (and required) to stay at home and avoid any unnecessary travel. It has emerged that the Prime Minister's advisor Dominic Cummings, closely associated with the strategy, himself travelled from London to be with his family in Durham. There has been much speculation about his position but Boris has stood behind his chum and, far from expressing regret that the Government appears to say one thing but do another, has instead told us all to forget all about it.

BBC News

This is a splendid way to deal with matters of public concern. If only men of such spirit had been around in the past then history would have been so much tidier and certain news stories would have been reported rather differently ...

-&-&-&-&-&

King shrugs off brutal murder claim
Knights exonerated - "They did nothing wrong" says Henry

A defiant King Henry II last night continued to back the men who had, on his orders, hacked to death popular Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket. Relaxing after a hunt and quaffing a tankard of finest Bordeaux wine, the monarch quipped
"He was getting past it to be Archbishop anyway, let's all look forward to Christmas and stop worrying".
Asked if he should be doing penance, His Majesty said "I am the law, God guides me, what on earth is all the fuss about?
    -&-&-&-&-&

    French army annihilated in Russia
    Emperor Napoleon flees back to France

    "I simply don't see this as a problem" the Emperor was reported as saying as he returned to his luxury apartments in the Tuileries "Yes, a few men died. Alright, a few hundred thousand. But what is that against my personal safety? Surely we can move on now, it's not as if their families are of the slightest account after all"



    -&-&-&-&- 

    Nixon re-elected for historic 3rd term
    Huge majority backs "Hero of Watergate"

    A triumphant Richard Nixon returned to the White House after securing a landslide in the 1976 Presidential election. 
    "I told the people it was time to put Watergate behind us" he said to the world's media gathered in the Rose Garden "I said time and time again that I knew nothing about any bugging or conspiracy to pervert justice and you know, if you tell the American people something enough times, it gets so they come to believe it. I'm gonna keep on running and come the 1980 election I know that I'll be the right man for the job"





    Sunday, May 24, 2020

    Ringing the Changes

    Skimming gently through the BBC news web site this pleasant Sunday morning, I noticed the following snippet. Before I clicked to see what the story was about, I became stuck on what this headline is intended to mean. See what you think.


    BBC

    The possibilities include:
    • A lost ring was returned to a woman but sadly she was then swept away in a flood
    • A lost ring was returned to a woman but was then swept away in a flood and so lost again
    • The ring magically returned itself to its owner after her flood trauma
    • After a ring was lost to a woman in a flood, it was found and returned by the finder.

    I'm afraid that the last of these options is the basis for the story.


    -&-&-&-&-


    Readers!: Can you find any more ways of explaining the story behind the headline? Send in your entries to the usual address, marked "Utter waste of time competition".

    The Editor's decision will be final, but irrelevant, as there is no prize for the best entry, nor will we be publishing it in this column or anywhere else; in fact it is unlikely we will even read the entries but it's always nice to have something for the cat to shred.

    Thursday, May 21, 2020

    Hey. good-lookin'

    Is this the least flattering picture of a well known figure in social media ever published? Here is how the BBC chose to depict the founder of Facebook in a story published today:

    If you clicked on the link the following, much more conventional, portrait is employed to illustrate the story:

    Pic: BBC
    When I first saw the top picture I thought it was a image from a computer game, the sort where you play a detective about to interview a serial killer, or maybe the bit where an innocuous citizen changes before your eyes into a zombie. Or maybe the plant behind him would sprout teeth and take a healthy bite out of that pasty face.

    -&-&-&-&

    Game publishers! If you would like further information on any of these great ideas, get in touch via the usual address. I've got loads more, if you're interested.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2020

    Let's Hack

    This ad has appeared a number of times when I have a look at Facebook (I only go there for its superb coverage of aardvark breeding farms in Delft) and I'm beginning to become a little bothered by it.




    No, not the 'Learn to be a Professional Musician in Three Minutes', risible though that is. It is, of course, the unreal juxtaposition of the words "ethical" and "hacking", coupled with the proposition that, for a small outlay of cash, you too can be ethically hacking away with the best of them in no time.

    Ethical does not necessarily mean virtuous, it simply refers to having a consistent set of core beliefs that govern one's actions, but I had a look at the details of the course (purely from detached scientific motives, naturally) and it clearly is being used to mean good, upright and legal.

    Hacking admits of no such ambiguity. Hacking means unauthorised entry to the technical systems (almost invariable the computer systems in this context). Hacking is illegal. This is not a grey area. It is not lawful to hack.

    Consequently there is no such thing as ethical hacking, any more than there is ethical burglary or commendable GBH. If you access someone else's systems without permission you have broken the law. It doesn't matter what your motives are, any more than you can say "Yeah, I chucked that half-brick through the jeweller's window but I just wanted to see if it was brick-proof. Sadly, it wasn't." 1.

    Now there are one or two special exemptions to this rule. There are organisations, and individuals, who probe for weaknesses in systems so that they can bring these to the attention of the systems designers. I don't know what procedures they have to prevent abuse, but what is very clear is that if you fork out your £12.99 or whatever to learn "ethical" hacking over the internet, then there are not going to be any checks or balances on your subsequent roams into cyberspace. I looked in vain for the terms and conditions that required a criminal records check, or that you register your hacking activities with some responsible third party.

    What next from these people, I wonder. Here are some possibilities that I hope never see the light of day:
    • Hit and Run Like a Pro
    • Learn Snitching the Easy Way
    • Five Simple Ways to Dump Toxic Chemicals. With the add-on, for just another £10.99, And How to Blame it all on your Neighbour
    • My Knuckleduster Technique - Don't Delay, Get Thumping Someone, Today!
    • See It, Nick It - a Shoplifter's Tale
    • Principled Grand Larceny in Western Europe




    Footnote:
    1. Well, yes, you can say it but what I mean is, it won't stand up in court and the beak will probably give you an extra three months for being a prat.