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Comment Re:Since when? (Score 0) 83

No. CSE, NSA, GCHQ, NZ/AUS's agencies, all of 'em have explicit laws preventing them from operating internally.

From the Intelligence Services Act 1994 you will see that GCHQ's powers are quite well defined.

This involves giving advice and assistance "to any other organisation which is determined for the purposes of this section" - which includes MI5 (Security Service) as they are a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee. And the constraints are:

The functions referred to in subsection (1)(a) above shall be exercisable only—

(a)in the interests of national security, with particular reference to the defence and foreign policies of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom; or

(b)in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom in relation to the actions or intentions of persons outside the British Islands; or

(c)in support of the prevention or detection of serious crime.

Although their powers to activate a warrant under section 3(2)(c) may not relate to property in the British Islands, that doesn't mean that they cannot work with, and provide assitance to the Security Service (MI5) under section 3(2)(a). Do note that only 3(2)(c) [and 1(2)(c), which is identical except in reference to SIS instead of GCHQ] is excluded for GCHQ to use as justification for a warrant to snoop on property within the UK.

Just because people don't like the idea or that they find it unpalatable, that doesn't make it less true.

-- Pete.

Comment Since when? (Score 2) 83

The OP states that GCHQ is, "purported by officials to be focused on foreign intelligence and counterterrorism". Since when?

My understanding has always been that there are 3 main "legs" to British Intelligence:

  • MI5 for internal security within the country
  • SIS (aka MI6) for international security outside the country
  • GCHQ for providing communication intelligence and security towards both of the above, and for advice on protecting key national infrastructure (via CESG)

In this context, GCHQ should have always been providing internal communications intelligence for MI5, I'm not sure why this should be news to anyone?

-- Pete.

Comment Damn, I trusted them (Score 5, Insightful) 145

Sourceforge was always my go-to place for trusted original non-screwed files, and now I check the list of projects owned by sf-editor1, 2, and 3 and I see a lot of projects that I have used in the past.

Sometimes (particularly for older projects) it is very difficult to find a home-page or source that I can trust...and now it just became a lot harder.

-- Pete.

Comment Re:Negotiating when desperate (Score 1) 583

Some years ago when I was between contracts as a freelance contractor, I had an agent call me about a job that sounded interesting in a location that was a little more than inconvenient. He offered me a position dead on my field of excellence, and piqued my interest...until the rate came in. He was offering between 1/3 and 1/2 of my typical daily rate, I think I practically laughed in his face. From there he resorted to pleading that I accept something close to the rate, and that I'd "be doing them a huge favour" if I could work at that rate. I think maybe he misunderstood why I work, and how "doing people a favour" who I have never met, is not exactly high on my list of motivations.

I think he also tried the, "but this is better than you receive with no contract at all" line...that went down just as badly for him.

Some people will do anything just to try and find expertise on the cheap, and if you have the skills, it is your imperitive to know what those skills are worth.

-- Pete.

Comment Re:Simple (Score 4, Interesting) 610

All those fucking cards and coupons in my inventory and no option to just delete them

Sell the cards (they'll typically only get you a few cents, but it adds up and it gets them out of your account), trade the coupons with your friends for coupons that actually interest you (a friend had a 90% off coupon for a game this weekend that semi-interested me). The coupon gave me a game for 70 cents, and my card sales paid for that.

-- Pete.

Comment Re:As a Change Manager... (Score 1) 294

What matters? The data.

Sure - and we take our data very seriously - really, I doubt we'd last long as a telco if we didn't. But the underlying fact is that the data needs systems, your data sits in databases, that in turn reside on servers - hopefully virtual servers that can be moved around to minimise downtime and impact, but still systems at the end of the day.

The new way of thinking is certainly going to be more data orientated in the future, and for sure, there are still a lot of improvements to be done, but there is certainly no lack of focus in that area of the business already - in fact any company that has a data warehousing team to take care of the long term broad reporting needs of the business is already well aware of the importance of data.

In the future there'll be more focus on data (security) protection in the world of IT - we're already mostly past the days where people are only just starting to think about the implications of data loss and data mining for information though. There is a lot of work that can be done in controlling data access, and ensuring that all data has the appropriate levels of protection, and that it is managed in the correct way, I agree with you 100% there.

-- Pete.

Comment As a Change Manager... (Score 5, Insightful) 294

I work in Change Management for a major telco, I chair the IT CAB, and I oversee server and client patching (amongst many other changes!). When we patch clients, we are patching up to around 30,000 real and virtual desktops - when we patch servers, they also number in the thousands.

There is no way we would allow a sysadmin to patch anything at any time without some level of oversight, an individual admin has no oversight on other patches, hardware interventions, application releases, network upgrades, business campaigns, etc that may be happening on our environment at any given moment (this isn't their job to be keeping track of all of that info). For server and client patching is as light as possible, but we still maintain a close oversight.

On the Wednesday following the second Tuesday of each month (for example), I sit down with the Windows server guys and the Windows client guys, and we review their proposals to patch - usually we have a fairly rapid timescale that we can meet to ensure that the patches are deployed (including pilot testing, etc to catch any issues before everyone's desktop is broken!), sometimes there are other major interventions that overlap, and then we need to make prioritisation decisions and decide which has priority. We have made similar agreements with the Linux teams, where they have a special process to patch, and we have close oversight on Unix patches, as upgrading these servers with a reboot can be a very big deal.

The last thing you want is an application version release of a critical ordering application happening at the same time as a system software patch, and then to have an issue afterwards - is it the application version, is it the systems patch, was there some conflict with the activties being performed at the same time? Troubleshooting gets more difficult, teams point fingers at eachother, and the whole time the business is screaming blue murder.

Of course in an Incident situation there is more flexibility to get things fixed fast, and with security issues I am keen to break open the S-CAB process to expedite a rapid approval flow to ensure that security holes are fixed as fast as possible - of course most changes are encouraged to follow the rules though, the change calendar is published, and everyone knows when the "standard" slots for deployment are, and if most people manage to schedule their changes within those windows, then it minimises potential conflict for everyone.

Change management are not your enemy, they are your friend - once you register your change with them, they have your back, they will guard from other interventions clashing with you, will stop you from inadvertently upsetting the business, and will decrease change related Incidents. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and Change Management need to find the right process for the right type of change - we cannot have a full in depth investigation into every configuration change, every patch, every bug-fix, every new server to be provisioned. A good Change Management team will guide changes to the appropriate flow, and grease the wheels for certain types of interventions - it seems that the CAB mentioned in the summary are still finding their feet a little, and I am sure they will evolve over time as they start to understand which changes are high risk, and which can be allowed to pass with a lighter touch.

-- Pete.

Comment Re:police arive within 'minutes' (Score 1) 894

Change 'hobby' to 'social drinking'. How about we take this logic and apply it to alcohol (as it relates to deaths due to drunk driving)? Any takers? If not, why not?

Well, although the UK haven't taken the extreme measure of banning alcohol, the penalties for driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol are quite severe. The minimum penalty is a 1 year driving ban for a first offence (3 years ban if previously convicted within 10 years) and a fine of 125% of relevant weekly income (maximum £5,000), rising to a maximum of 5 years driving ban, and 6 months imprisionment (just for the driving offence, not taking into account any penalties for any other crimes committed at the time).

-- Pete.

Comment Re: Yea (Score 3, Interesting) 218

I do my part, as a European I actively boycott travel to the USA. There have been several opportunities for both myself and others to take trips to the USA, and I have proposed and worked with alternative plans every time. It's not a lot, but it's what I can do.

As long as the USA has insane paranoid immigration policies and the TSA I will not travel there, and neither will my immediate family. (I did go to Miami many years ago for a conference, but that was back when things were still sensible)

"Visa Waiver" my ass, that's just a visa-lite. If I need to apply to enter, they can forget it. The last countries I needed to request a visa to enter were Mauritania, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and as far as I could tell that was just a glorified way of squeezing extra cash out of visitors - and at least they didn't demand fingerprints and invasive grilling by border-guards. Mauritania border guards just wanted a small cash donation, and the others were happy with a ballpoint pen, an apple (he actually wanted sweets, but all we had was fruit) and an empty fuel-canister.

-- Pete.

Comment Re:4 years (Score 1) 682

(yes, in our household we still use wooden blocks and other toys that don't come in fancy packaging, and yes our kids can pretend that just about anything is phone, or a car, or a plane)

That's kids for you - my 1 yo daughter recently grabbed a pack of toothbrushes from the shopping trolley as we went around the supermarket, and started babbling into it as if it were a cellphone.

-- Pete.

Oh, and where the hell is the "per post" checkbox to indicate not to use the Karma Bonus? I know it used to exist, and some of my posts just aren't worthy of the +1. I don't want to turn it off on all my posts, but it's nice to sometimes preemptively mod myself down to 1.

Comment Re:Uhm, nope. (Score 1) 156

And if you buy AppleCare you not only get Apple warranty for three years instead of one, but free phone support on top of that.

I live in Belgium, and my first year warranty came up on Monday this week for my MacBookPro Retina. I came very close to buying AppleCare, but I baulked at the cost at the last moment (340 Euro). With this new ruling, I'm glad I gave it a miss, if it only gives me 1 additional year of coverage, and free support calls that I won't use anyway...

Having said that, I've had quite a bad run with AppleCare, I bought it for my first MacBookPro, which was then stolen 1 week after I activated the AppleCare - AppleCare doesn't help much for a stolen laptop... I then didn't buy it for my replacement MacBookPro, which developed a fault (pink areas on the screen that should be white) after about 2 years and 360 days...doh.

-- Pete.

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