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Tech Talk with Which? Computing

Welcome to our tech talk area! This is your place to discuss all things tech, get updates on Which? Computing, and discuss the latest goings on with our Computing editor, Kate Bevan.

Hello, world. Welcome to my tech talk area on Which? Conversation.

It’s been six months now since I took over the editorship of Which? Computing, and one thing I’m particularly keen to do is find ways to meet, chat with and learn from Which? members and our community.

I want to be able to be a bit more nimble about reacting to, commenting on and explaining what’s going on in the wider tech news world, and so we thought that opening up this space would be a great way to do that.

A tech space for everyone

This space is as much for you as it is for me. I’m not only keen to share with you what we’re working on in Which? Computing, but I very much want to hear what you’re doing with your technology; what you’re thinking about technology-focused news, and what you’re considering building, buying and tinkering with.

I’ll be posting here in the comments on a wide range of topics. Next week, for example, is Google’s annual event at which they launch their latest consumer devices. Sadly, I won’t be going to New York for that, but I will be at the London event, and I’m planning to report on that as it happens.

I’ll also be letting you know what we’re up to with planning the Computing magazine; I’ll be sharing news stories and – hopefully – helping those of you outside of the tech bubble make sense of everything that’s going on.

But most of all I’m here for the community. It’s a conversation, not a broadcast, and I hope you’ll be joining in and helping to shape it. I’m really looking forward to it.

From the Convo team

This tech-focused area of Which? Conversation is the first of its kind from a Which? editor.

Much like the Lobby, it was born out of an idea from our community – we’ve been asked for a more tech-focused discussion area in the past, and this can act as just that. This area isn’t only for Kate’s updates, but for you all to discuss the latest tech news, reviews and issues you’re interested in.

Kate will continue to write separate Which? Conversations for the ‘big’ tech stories, which we’ll also link to here for reference.

09/10/2018 All the latest from Google’s annual hardware launch

02/10/2018 Was your Facebook account accessed by attackers?

29/09/2018 A brief history of tech: what got you into computing?

16/08/2018 Do we really spend too much time on our phones?

Otherwise, for all things general tech chat and questions for Kate, feel free to get inolved!


To ensure the Computing Corner remains a healthy and friendly place for you all to share your thoughts and musings, all of our Community Guidelines apply.


Business Insider-Hackers looking to gain access to a computer can use bundles of emoji to sneak in extra files. While that might sound bizarre, it’s actually part of a common hacker tactic.
That is exactly what happened with the recent iWorm bug, which spread to more than 17,000 Mac computers. It was reported that the virus spread through fake Adobe Photoshop downloads uploaded to popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.
When it comes to emoji, we are used to installing and downloading new bundles of colourful graphics. Whether through a new iOS release, updated Facebook stickers, or a bundle of faces for a chat program, everyone from parents to young children knows to click a download button and install emoji. And if programs have security breaches, that’s exactly how hackers can access computers.

DerekP says:
17 December 2018

Duncan – that only shows there’s a _potential_ threat.

It fails to show that the threat has ever been realised or exploited from the code needed to handles emojis.

I have sore fingers-sore eyes and I am tired from all the replies I have answered on broadband but what makes me really “sore ” is all my engineering replies to posters are miles out of sequence making it a total loss both to my time and the poster asking for help .
I posted here as this convo has to do with digital/software/ electronics –
Am I wasting my time ?

Replies out of sequence are a consequence of how you respond. If you respond at the top level – i.e. in the left-most position on the screen, then your responses will be posted only after all the sub-thread replies have appeared, thus pushing your response further and further ‘down’. To ensure you keep your response close to the original comment to which you’re responding, you have to post it as close as possible to the question but always – always – in an inset: i.e. the sub-thread.

Of course, eliminating the sub-thread completely would be a good idea…

Thank you for your reply Ian but I always post directly under the poster I am replying to, it just gets moved down making it a folly to reply to a poster.

Ah, but if that post is an originating post – i.e. not a sub-thread – then your reply will get moved down unless you use the ‘reply’ button on the original post. If you simply use the ‘Join the Debate’ box at the bottom then your reply becomes an originating post.

There’s one other aspect: even if you use the ‘reply’ button on the post concerned your reply can appear lower down if there has been a number of replies made – say in a short time on a hot topic – and these haven’t shown up in the ‘All Recent Activity’ listings, which they don’t until you refresh it.

Best to abolish the sub-thread system completely, IMV.

DerekP says:
22 December 2018

…and it is possible to cite the post that you are replying to, via a link:


or via quoted text.

I do always click on the posters reply button Ian but I still do not appreciate being moved down when giving engineering/technical answers and somebody comes along with a quip and mine gets moved down sometimes several places.
Not at all happy about this I am used to professional tech websites putting the replies directly after the posters question even if there are several technical answers.
Here its a–I agree with you post not helping the poster except emotionally gets put above me -sadly lacking in professionalism.

DerekP says:
22 December 2018

Duncan that will occur if you reply to anything other than a top level comment.

Obviously missing some Which ? politics here Derek could you elaborate –please ? – “top level comment ” -sounds like a government statement in reply to a question from the Floor of the House regulated by the Speaker.
For my simple mind take it step by step.

DerekP says:
22 December 2018

Sorry Duncan, I was presuming that you were an old hand at Which? Conversation.

To post a top level comment – post in the box below “Join the debate”

To post a reply to any comment, click the Reply button in the comment and type into the box that then appears.

All Replies are listed, in order of posting, below their parent top level comments.

Hence, as already noted in posts above, Replies to Replies are not necessarily listed immediately below the Reply being Replied to.

When a topic is ‘hot’ or flooded, of course, while you’re mentally composing a reply, several other replies might have been submitted, but won’t appear in the index listings so you won’t know they’re there, and your reply will appear to be immediately below the comment to which you’ve replied. One way to check that is to refresh the page in the browser after posting. If your reply then suddenly jumps down three or four posts, it’s because they were posted before yours, but didn’t appear so, until you refreshed the page.

It’s an absurdly convoluted system to try to explain – less so to use – but a consequence both of sub-threading and flood topics. We could eliminate the former but not the latter.

Ah ! Derek I never post in “join the debate ” just click the reply button –thanks !
Although I am good at technical issues when it comes to issues involving putting in a post I am very naive.

Thanks for that Ian as I said to Derek I am very naive at the “ins and outs ” of posting .

I’ve always argued that W?Cs uses a very outmoded and clunky threading model. But I suspect that’s the penalty for using blog software instead of a decent forum package.

DerekP says:
22 December 2018

Don’t worry Duncan it’s only software engineering 😉

Isnt Which ? using WordPress software Derek ?
Maybe they should look at-
https://www.hostinger.com/tutorials/best-forum-software –OR as Ian says they are using blog standard software ?
If he is right I will guess where they got it from -Blogging for—–5th edition

Just joking Which ? !!

They do use a configurable version of WordPress, Duncan, but the inherent limitations do, I think, make it unsuitable for a fully interactive forum.

One slight advantage from the deluge effect when Which? provokes thousands of its “supporters” to respond to an emotive topic is that most comments come in as originating posts [top level] and it is therefore often possible to reply directly following the comment. Of course, if the new comment has sparked a sub-flood of responses then you have to be quick to get in first and it will be a case of the first arrivals will show first on the screen irrespective of how competent they are or pertinent to the point at issue.

When new comments are arriving thick and fast and it is tempting to respond to them bear in mind that each reply takes time to compose and submit during which time the Conversation continues moving along at a pace and you cannot keep abreast of it. Sometimes it is better to just note some comments and return to them a day or so later when the activity has subdued. If there is still a need to submit a reply [the point might already have been covered by someone else] you can then reference the comment being replied to in one of the ways that have already been suggested.

I feel that many correspondents are not actually expecting an answer [despite the use of a question mark sometimes], have no interest in the Conversation after they have posted their point, haven’t read the preceding comments and explanations given, probably can’t find it again anyway, and their attention has moved to something else, so to the question – are we wasting our time? – I think the answer is probably YES, most of the time unfortunately. It’s a case of being selective, I suppose, and choosing those comments that really are engaged and deserve a helpful response. In my opinion most points raised by new comments on the broadband and mobile phone-type conversations have already been answered many times [which is possibly why most ‘regulars’ abstain from joining in as they have nothing new to contribute].

It is noticeable that Which? shows no particular interest in such Conversations either – it is just a harvesting process for dubious statistical purposes.

The modus operandi is predictable, too. Attention grabbing headline followed by carefully crafted suggestion that Which? has won / is fighting / is about to launch some sort of major offensive.

But then, that methodology is hardly restricted to Which?, is it?

As the UKs BT rips out Huawei,s 4G circuit boards and wont get its 5G on instructions from the government who got their instructions from the USA other companies supplying mobile service in the UK dont hold the same view .
O2 is to install Huawei,s 5G processing equipment and Three is doing the same .

Poll- do regulars think –
A- I am now leaving O2 & Three -nasty business this dont like those Chinese spying on me .
B- Its just America trying to push its own electronics in the big trade dispute with China .
If A- then post unrefutable concrete evidence they have planted bugs in their equipment as I have a US major company report where the boards were highly scrutinised by by their own $million technical test department and—– no bugs.

So are you saying BT was wrong to take the decision [even if after consultation with the government] to replace the Huawei apparatus in what it stated was in the interests of national and commercial security?

As someone whom gets constant updates with all Donald’s sanctions /wars /etc from Americans I know US policy inside out .
It hasn’t really changed its just Donald is more open and honest about it.
You know the trade war between China & America?
Well Donald says they are spying on the US military/etc and TM backed him up so both are removing/not buying Huawei hardware , it just so happens that Huawei is the biggest world player in that field and Donald also want US firms to repatriate to the USA.
What I am saying is that one US firm couldn’t find any spyware and–as far as I know BT has not made a statement showing any in its electronic network .
Given the digital resources BT has at its disposal that saying something .
Its more a precautionary move as BT,s network and “government services ” are interlinked if you know what I mean.

I am not disagreeing with you about the amount of US influence over any decision here to replace the Huawei apparatus, and I don’t for one minute believe the UK government didn’t play a part in it [because BT & Openreach carry all telecoms traffic for the police, military and security services as well as other vital communications services between government departments and their outstations] but I was wondering whether you thought that was a wrong decision. I think it was absolutely the right decision whether or not any traces of spyware have been detected. Huawei might be “the biggest world player in that field” but they are not necessarily the best supplier to use.

BT not saying that it has found any spyware in the Huawei system is not the same as saying there isn’t any. I would not expect the company to make any comment one way or the other.

By the way – you say you get “constant updates with all Donald’s sanctions /wars /etc” – first, how do you know you get all of them? And second, how do you know that some of what you get are not planted to see where and how they emerge?

Given the US President’s aberrational decisions this last week I don’t know how anyone, not even his closest aides, can say they “know US policy inside out”. Did you spot any of these recent events coming?

I have made a point of studying US politics /psychology/ thoughts /government policy/ etc over 20 years and world events/politics from the 60,s . I understand Americans as I am a bit of a nationalist myself and get on well with at least 10 or more US organisations even the right wing “America First ” as I am for Britain First.
I am, in communication with US intellectual websites /tech websites /left wing US websites / etc in other words I dont limit myself as I want an all encompassing picture.
Just announced on the international news John I am watching as I type –
The German government has announced that in conjunction with the USA/UK they are banning Huawei from critical installations .

I admire your attention to American intelligence, Duncan, but you have still not said whether you think the decision to stop using Huawei equipment is a good one.

One of the problems with studying one situation closely in one direction and in one dimension is that it is possible to miss other more important issues that appear from a different direction and have a different context. We can never be sure that we see or know everything relevant to a particular situation or that what we are seeing is coming from a trusted and reliable source.

Second paragraph John exactly the basis for fake news yet the majority of the UK public believe everything they read in newspapers.
When asked to go into detail even our own government procrastinates and makes it “secret ” .
I am waiting for the two captured Gatwick drone flyers to be named as “Russian agents ” because they access RT on the web.
In answer to your question John I think you know the answer in matters like this I am pro government thinking ,in other words I hold the same view as you.

Duncan: you have resolutely refused to answer the question directly. You always attempt to divert the course of the thread, you continually hint that there may be dark forces at work somewhere, you imply that you have special access to the US intelligence services, you suggest – often saying so directly – that the US dominates the UK’s political decision-making processes, yet when pressed you never, ever provide links to unassailable sources.

This Huawei issue is a prime example. Kate herself agreed Bloomberg might have got this completely wrong so it comes as no surprise to any of us. But what’s lacking are facts. You don’t know the facts in this story, and you don’t know for sure that no bugs were found (you can’t prove a negative).

But when John asked a simple and direct question “(are you saying BT was wrong to take the decision [even if after consultation with the government] to replace the Huawei apparatus in what it stated was in the interests of national and commercial security?)” you would not answer, instead preferring to hint at conspiracies, as usual.

You also make claims which have no basis whatsoever in reality: exactly the basis for fake news yet the majority of the UK public believe everything they read in newspapers. That’s certainly not my experience, and – I suspect – not John’s, nor Derek’s nor Wave’s nor Alpha’s…

Diverting yet again you mention the Gatwick couple being questioned and suggest strongly that they could / will be named as “Russian Agents” but we don’t even know that these are the couple who were responsible. And suggesting that in itself reveals you believe there are governmental conspiracies afoot to defame Russia, at the very least.

I really do believe it’s unhealthy to believe there are conspiracies taking place around us. There may well be some, but not – I suspect – on the scale you seem to believe. In my experience I find governments and people are largely too incompetent to mount decent conspiracies.

DerekP says:
23 December 2018

Ian, I certainly don’t believe everything in the papers. I have personal experience of being involved with what we now call fake news.

DerekP says:
23 December 2018

Further to the topic of BT and Huawei, the following links may be of interest:

From June 2013: bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22803510

From June 2018: bt.com/tech-gadgets/future-tech/bt-huawei-5g-mobile-technology-partnership-11364119667641

From Dec 2018: bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46453425

Ian – Duncan did eventually answer my question on 22 December when at the end of various other comments he wrote, somewhat indirectly, “In answer to your question John I think you know the answer in matters like this I am pro government thinking ,in other words I hold the same view as you.” [See comment – https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/which-computing-editor-tech-talk/#comment-1554826%5D
in which he was referring to my comment earlier that day where I wrote “I was wondering whether you thought that was a wrong decision. I think it was absolutely the right decision whether or not any traces of spyware have been detected. Huawei might be “the biggest world player in that field” but they are not necessarily the best supplier to use.” [See comment – https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/which-computing-editor-tech-talk/#comment-1554818%5D

Thanks, John; I had seen that but – as you said – it was very indirect and evasive. I simply wondered why “I agree” or “I don’t agree” didn’t appear.

Ian –You said I refuse to answer the question -eh !
I answered it –I said I agree with the government & John and BT in their avoidance of making use of Hauwei technical equipment .
What more do you want – it spelled out in blood ?

See ?? contrary to perceived “wisdom” by some I am not some “far left radical ” waiting for a Revolution although Macron by his anti-public actions is heading towards that in France.
Maybe a bit of radicalism might have more effect in this country to get some big companies and government to take notice of the public here.
Its obvious the DNA of the Normans didn’t last the length of time in this country otherwise bums would not be on seats but out in the streets.

Meh…not quite. I don’t need you to spell it out in blood, Duncan, but simply to answer the questions. You start with attention-grabbing comments, such as

As the UKs BT rips out Huawei,s 4G circuit boards and wont get its 5G on instructions from the government who got their instructions from the USA…

but you don’t directly address John’s question anywhere, as far as I can see, and you again make assertions which you fail to prove:

the government who got their instructions from the USA..

BT is “ripping out ” Huawei circuit boards it wasn’t some state secret they publicized it in technical journals which got to technical websites but yes Donald & Co started this off not BT .
A well promoted White House campaign against nearly all things Chinese ended up influencing HMG and therebye BT who you must know has US business headquarters as well as here .
Do you think BT is stupid ?—– keep Huawei–lose US business get many operation in the USA closed down ,they aren’t that daft now Germany is joining in as I posted yesterday .
Obviously you dont believe Reuters just one of many and Ian I can post technical ones if you want
“possibility it could “because— NOT –look world we have found Chinese spying chips in Huawei equipment .
Do you think for a second Donald wouldn’t have publicized it to the sky/universe if they had found any real concrete evidence ?
As John will tell you I posted a while back on Chinese mobile phones being barred from US military bases and the UK followed suite . Huawei and Chinese firm ZTE are both looking to lose markets

Guess what countries communication industry is set to benefit ?

Look at GE its slyly got hold of France,s nuclear power stations by buying the French designed and built turbines , now it can dictate what countries the USA “approve ” of who gets them now therebye losing France $Billions in overseas business -uproar in the industry there and the French unions ,all over French media.
See how its done ?
Even NS2 is being condemned by the USA even though Russian gas is superior to American and a third less the price–its all out economic war.

It seems this subject of Huawei is not going to go away .
I said some UK mobile companies are taking up offers of business from Huawei but this might change .
The UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has “expressed grave concerns ” about allowing them entry to the 5G market and Head of MI6 Alex Younger has said “there should be second thoughts about it ” .
The USA-Australia-New Zealand -Japan have banned them and the issue of America having calls go through their hardware is not sitting well with them -FBI Director Christopher Wray .

That didnt take MS long ,after buying into the LInux Organisation ( 12 % share ) they have the not wasted time in designing -WSL -Windows Subsystem for LInux .
No not exactly same as Virtual but a more direct design allowing Bash to be used alongside Windows .
Of course its their design so dont expect it to NOT phone home( all data on Windows systems are sent to Redmond ) and secondly they are in collaboration with Canonical ( Unbuntu ) so I made the right decision to remove the new version of Ubuntu from my PC as its gone even more commercial. See-
notice (I am glad to say ) it doesn’t include Arch LInux .
Even worse MS now own Github so I expect future problems especially as the original owners fear for its future –

Remember me saying years ago that MS Redmond had a meeting and decided the future was LInux and decided to “get into LInux”.
For those that dont know it was “kicking & screaming ” as it did it but future profit did the job.
Now MS can “play around ” with various LInux systems I am glad I moved to Arch.
Also notice MS Redmond is now the “world systems conglomerate ” just like Amazon is to E-commerce
they arent daft at Redmond as this future proofs them .-

Just been announced by my American friends that Google has won its battle to to allow non-consensual use of facial recognition technology allowing it to store biometric visual data for their own use -Google-Photos .

I am shocked though what you cant se is a post of mine under moderation giving details of MS buying into LInux and buying up, Github and working in collaboration with Canonical.

This is the same type of thing I got when I was on an American Geek website helping posters when I complained about both and , because they got money from both for promoting the website I was booted off .
I did not think for a minute a British website purporting “High Standards ” would block my post .

Waiting to see if this post gets blocked ???
If it is then you cant now criticise or even inform people of the workings of big USA conglomerates .

It is possible, Duncan, that Which? wants to be first with this sort of news and to verify the source and consider the implications before publishing.

It could also be the case that Kate has requested the moderators to refer all such comments to her for clearance before posting them. I can understand why caution is advisable – and it’s not exactly urgent.

Thanks for the explanation John , the links I provided to back up my post are all official –
One direct from MS
One from wikipedia
One from wiki arch linux
They aren’t “fly by night ” dodgy websites .
although I put an adjective in relation to how MS accepted a change to their policy I have read their new US policy on the future of MS strategy worldwide in which a major boardroom meeting took place (some year or two ago ) and very reluctantly, as in the past, they heavily condemned Linux in public .
But they saw long term figures of their closed system doing very badly in relation to Linux type operating systems and decided to “invest ” in the Linux Foundation .
Not good news from my point of view but money changes everything .
If that offended anybody why then when I posted this originally a year or more ago nobody took it seriously ?
I have also seen the business figures that made the board accept the change .
Although MS commands approx 80% in PC,s worldwide when mobiles of all types are added in its only about 10 % to 15 % of the world market , they saw the future realistically as mobile computing is certainly the future for “the masses ” but not for me of course and others like me.
All I was doing was informing the British public who (mostly ) were not aware of what was going on in MS policy making . Of course MS itself wont promote that type of straight forward “advertising ” they want to present it as a “Microsoft innovation ” you get my meaning John ?
Me being a truthful person I just gave the straight forward facts to those on
this side of the “Pond ” .
They already have their “own ” version of Linux out now .
In any case most technical websites know all about this so it is public knowledge.

DerekP says:
2 January 2019

Duncan, your post with those links appears to be visible now – and seems to have been for a few days.

Having read the links, I think most of that news is much more relevant for web developers than for home PC users.

For that latter group, I think Windows will be their dominant PC OS for years to come, both at home and at work.

That said, I think mobile devices, e.g. using either Android or iOS, are already being used by many as their first port of call for internet access.

With regard to OSes for mobile devices, M$ really did miss that boat and are beginning to adapt Windows to co-exist alongside those Linux and Unix based platforms.

For example, the latest W10 upgrades enable much better interoperability with Android phones while the adoption of Google’s Chromium code into Edge will prevent Edge from becoming marginalised as a poorly functional browser.

As any kind of potential threat to consumers, I really cannot see M$ as public enemy No.1, simply because home users now have many diverse viable alternatives to using anything from M$ at home. Thinks aren’t quite the same in the workplace, but so what? It’s been a long time since any of my employers wanted me to handle “business documents” on any of my home computers.

Also, as most home computing now involves the use of internet based resources, I think it is much more important to be keeping an eye on how those services might abuse our privacy and our data.

I think your last sentence sums it up, Duncan. Those with an interest in this sort of news are already aware of it through their own channels.

There seems to be no point in continued speculation over why Which? has held up your comment but it will be wary of items of commercial sensitivity. I don’t think you should be so aggrieved over it; you have brought the matter to attention but have to leave it to editorial judgment over its presentation. I expect it will emerge in due course.

Hi all. No need for the speculation – it appears the post went to moderation because it contained multiple links. I didn’t see it originally as it was posted on a Sunday, must have missed it on the Monday, and Tuesday was a bank holiday. I was back in this morning, spotted and approved.

Sometimes it’s as simple as that 🙂

Derek even up to early this morning that post was “under moderation ” if you could see it maybe you could tell me what app GCHQ are using to detect it .
I say that as I have said I have a new logger with more hidden/secret detail and it showed me the actual line of script where it said -admin/admin (abbreviated ).

John I understand the public are only interested in using Windows 10 but have you noticed since I have been giving detailed replies many technical minded users have been posting here with technical issues .
“Advertising ” in the way of posting does work, in this case technology the heading of this section of Conversation .
I look on it as a positive which will encourage more posters who would otherwise not bother looking for technical replies on Which ?
Now I am sure Which ? advertising and strategy planners will give a big approval of that otherwise I am well off in my own summery of Which ? future strategy. More posters potentially more subscribers also with Which ? now getting good web “advertising ” it helps to expand the range of subjects that Which ? covers .
There is method in my “madness ” business wise.

Duncan – I appreciate that you give a lot of useful information to people who comment in this Tech-Talk Conversation. George has now clarified the mystery of your missing comment and it all seems very innocent to me with no suggestion of GCHQ interception [so far as we can tell . . . !].

This Conversation was specially created to give an outlet to those with more of a technical bent but luckily it still seems to remain accessible to people like me, and I hope it remains so. I happen to find Derek P’s contributions closer to my wavelength because, although I started using a PC about twenty years ago, I haven’t really got out of second gear and am well behind the curve on modern facilities. Derek is way ahead of me but hasn’t neglected the needs of those of us with a more basic approach. He also assists novice users in his community. My computer needs are simple although extensive, but I seem to have very few of the problems that many seek Which?’s advice on. I am quite happy with what comes in the box and have rarely been let down or been afraid of what might happen next.

You raise an interesting point about the connexion between activity here and subscriptions to Which? It would be good to have that confirmed. Do you also subscribe to Which? Computing by any chance? I don’t get it myself but, like the other Which? mags, I think it tries to present topics and solutions in ways that most people can relate to. Of course, there are those who avidly look forward to Geek Weekly and Nerd On-Line who regard Which? as far too dumb and distant so, as far as I am concerned, it is good that they also have their niche.

Derek has said he could “see ” my moderated post earlier I was wondering how that was possible when its normally only the moderated post poster who can actually see this , my reply was in my “normal ” weird sense of humour.

I dont subscribe to Which Computing John but computing is only a modern version of electronics and I have been buying many ( now obsolete ) electronic magazines since the late 50,s .
Still being sold is Electronic World -ex- EW & WW – Elektor German magazine and others so I learned the basics from a young age and built equipment using digital chips later on although my first love is analogue electronics .

That some posters have actually replied to me and posted technically shows interest is being taken “from small acorns do large Oak trees grow ” ,
long term perseverance does pay off .
I did say I believe in Enterprise and capitalism with a small “c” didn’t I ?
Americans know how to promote and publicize things and unlike here the country has not installed the dogma of trying to suppress invention and home building of electronics still plenty of US electronic magazines there and huge interest.

I can’t even work out which post of yours was held up in moderation. Can you give the opening few words and the date so I can look for it?

30-12-2018 John-“that didn’t take MS long after buying into the Linux Organisation ——-

Thanks, Duncan. Strange, because that post has been visible for a few days now, as Derek reported. Perhaps the red links were withheld initially.

Read George,s post above where he admits it went into moderation because of multiple links and read the day he approved it John .
If you could see it before that then the Ghost of Christmas Past must have visited you because to me it was certainly faded and marked in red–under Moderation .
My logger had it marked as well under “admin” and even if I had lied I trust this particular app its good.

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Interesting to learn that John could see it too.

Perhaps Which?’s system flagged it for moderation – and flagged that up to Duncan, but then auto released it anyway, as W?C seems to do for a select few that are trusted to post complete links.

Given that low life scum such as me can get away with the unrestricted posting of partial links, Which? probably ought to review the inconsistencies in that position, along with their legal needs and duties as the publisher of W?C.

Sometimes it is possible to catch things before they get dragged off to the moderators.

Loved that, Derek: Given that low life scum such as me can get away with the unrestricted posting of partial links…

Perhaps we could start a new Low Life Scum topic? 🙂

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Here, all posters are equal but some are more equal than others 😉

Ah, you mean there are both Low-life and High-life scum? Verrry interesting, Meester Bond…

Long ago I removed MS from my PC and installed Linux but that hasn’t stopped a German anti-virus company keeping me on its books even though I cant install their anti-virus .
They have proved reliable over the years and I have developed a trust in them (not easy for me ) .
Well today I got an email from them inviting me to install a new app they developed —for free ,as its added to the browser not the system I am giving it a try .

It blocks bad websites and prevents phishing attacks that try to steal your passwords .
Now you will say to yourselves well there are others somewhat like it but controversially
it DOESN’T track you and they go into great technical detail how they do it, other “add on apps ” do track you.
It is available for both Chrome & Firefox (or in my case a version like Waterfox ) Chrome is now used by Yandex .
I haven’t named it as I dont want accused of advertising but I am sure the “cognisant ” can work it out and is available in both app stores already getting “rave reviews ” and “5 stars ” but I will give you the real facts after I use it for a while.
I already have the equivalent in both browsers but not the secrecy factor , I will watch for any differences .
Blocking HTTP websites automatically in both browsers for some time now I can vouch for as being
worth installing the app relating to it even though Linux has less problems normally I noticed things are smoother.

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Duncan – that sounds almost too good to be true.

Do you know why its German authors have released it as royalty free s/w and what’s in it for them?

Derek I have free blocking apps from Github and others are free as well .
Putting it on both app stores gives them publicity for their anti-virus which is chargeable .
On installation instead of the panel saying -this app tracks you round the web gathering your data it just said –this app tracks which website you want to go to ,which obviously it would need to do read-

Instead of sending each full website URL to a cloud server for matching, it only sends a
calculated hash value of the domain name of each newly visited site to our servers once and then receives a list of matching patterns that are applied locally on your computer. Those patterns are then kept for successive visits of pages on the same host/domain, which not only speeds up the matching significantly, but also means that *********** doesn’t know any of the details of your browsing activity.

What sounds like an attempt to square the circle, actually can be done. Almost all browser extensions that aim to block harmful websites send each visited website to cloud servers that match the exact URL/address with a large database of known bad sites. That comes with the advantage of being able to filter sites very thoroughly on the URL level (different from DNS- or host-based filtering such as available in ********** Surf Protection feature), but the big downside of that approach is that the creators of such extensions can basically see all the websites your visiting and track you throughout all your online activities.
Our development team proves that things can be done in a better, more privacy-conscious way. ********** Browser Security is a brand new extension, currently available for Chrome and Firefox, that not only blocks access to websites that distribute malware, but also prevents phishing attacks that try to steal your passwords

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Thanks Duncan – that’s interesting.

That’s from the web site of Emsisoft Browser Security, I see.

Looks very interesting. Sadly, not sure it works on Macs.

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Ian, thanks for the reveal. I guess it won’t work with them funny webkit based proprietary Apple browsers 😉

…but it ought to work with Chrome and Firefox, if those were to be installed on a Mac.

I went to the trouble of not advertising it Ian as Which ? doesn’t like advertising -I take it its “okay ” if you can post the commercial name ?

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Our community guidelines say:

“Please don’t promote your own business, either in your comments or in your profile. We don’t allow promotional content on Which? Conversation and so we will remove it when we see it.”

So I think it is OK for us consumers to talk about products that we use and like on here, but not for manufacturers or retailers to shamelessly promote their wares.

Quite. It’s always been that way, too. And I’m not advertising it, Duncan; I’m revealing so that others can comment objectively on the content. Such as whether it would work on a Mac…

duncan lucas says: 2 January 2019

have you noticed since I have been giving detailed replies many technical minded users have been posting here with technical issues

I did a quick analysis of posts and poster since this place started. I’m not sure it bears out your observation, Duncan:

Poster and number of posts:

Staff: 44
Derek: 42
Ian: 41
John: 18
Duncan: 43
Wavechange: 13
Larry: 3 (on Macs)
PT: 3 on email
Malcolm: 6
Alpha : 5
Wev: 2
Alison: 1
Vynor: 1

This place is great for those of us who enjoy getting down and dirty with the tech; of that there’s no doubt, but it does seem only to be interesting the regulars.

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Ian – thanks, I think those are interesting data.

That said, the drawback is the above data only show the involvements of active posters and not the benefits (if any) of these posts to lurkers.

If anything, and perhaps with rose tinted recollections, Which? Tech Daily used to be more active as a forum for tech enquiries and discussions. I think we certainly had some productive discussions there about the demise of XP, the rise of W8 and W10 (and their teething troubles) and whether or not ordinary mortals should be attempting Linux installations, e.g. to replace XP (or even other Windows versions).

I certainly have replied to many more “one off ” posters and if you check deeper Ian I have actually asked them to become regulars but a lot of them work in the tech business and say they haven’t the time to constantly post -even pleading with them !
I can but try and tech answers will eventually draw more posters here who would otherwise give this website a miss .
Which ? advertising can understand that if I am not mistaken, as a long term strategy ,I certainly can and I am stupid.
Only 43 posts Ian -somehow I dont think so ??? I could do that in 2 days .

Well, you’re welcome to check, Duncan. Although why you’re taking this so personally I can’t imagine.

This page, for example, doesn’t have anyone other than the regulars posting on it and in total on this topic we’ve only had nine ‘one off’ posts and they were from a total of three, non-regular posters.

Now, you might well have dealt with technical queries in other places, but all I’m saying is that this topic wasn’t one of them.

DerekP says: Today 10:56

Ian – thanks, I think those are interesting data…the above data only show the involvements of active posters and not the benefits (if any) of these posts to lurkers.

Yep, I agree and in one sense that’s the issue that bedevils all forums. People might well get the answers they want from simply looking, and we don’t know how many of those are out there.

Posting in any public forum takes confidence, especially when asking questions, as there are those on forums who delight in belittling those who ask simplistic questions, or – conversely – who delight in displaying their technical expertise and make no concessions to the newcomer. Been there and seen that. I think that’s why stopping outright poor behaviour on a forum is important, if that forum is to grow.

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Ian, I agree with your comments here.

It would be great to see W?C breaking away from the typical behaviour of most forums, e.g. where about 10 regulars are responsible for about 90% of all posts. (I haven’t attempted an exact analysis of W?C, so these are made up numbers, based on judgement.)

To help achieve this, I think we all need to follow the community guidelines as fully as we can, i.e. by trying to remain polite and courteous, even when we passionately disagree with what others are posting.

We should encourage people to post information on these Convos in the hope that they will help those who read them. I hope that Which? will use the valuable material that is provided appropriately in their publications to help a wider audience.

IAN SAYS- there are those who delight in belittling those who ask simplistic questions – does that refer to ME ?
Second make no concessions to newcomers -again does that refer to ME ?
Just how much of this so called Technology section of Which ? actuality refers to Technology ?
I have put this many times and never got an answer.
If it does NOT refer to Technology then remove the heading and rename it “interesting facts and stories ” as it isn’t right to confuse the public .
I realize the political dogma nowadays hates Engineering and loves cooking .
I know nothing about cooking so you will notice I dont or hardly comment on it and I certainly dont criticize the fact because I dont “understand it ” that would be out and out bias.

DerekP says:
3 January 2019

Duncan, I think Ian’s observations were general observations about all forums. I don’t think he was specifically referring to you. As you may have noticed, some of us on here don’t beat about the bush when it becomes pertinent to question or challenge some of your posts.

I’m going to step in here because there’s no need for this to go any further. From what I can see some observations have been made about forums in general – there haven’t been any direct accusations aimed at anyone here – I don’t want to see an argument arise.

This Tech Talk section is indeed about technology; from new hardware releases (phones etc) to software and broadband. That all comes under tech, and that’s what’s been discussed here, with Kate contributing with live posts from events and updates on what she’s up to with the Computing magazine.

Which? Conversation is very inclusive and encourages discussion from everyone of all ability levels/understanding when it comes to tech – whether it’s high-level engineering or a basic question about MS Paint, we want everyone to feel welcome.

I’d like to see contributors addressing the topic, and the comments made by others rather than the commenters themselves being criticised and personal disagreements arising. I watched with despair at the way some exchanges developed in November and December, a couple requiring the intervention of the moderators. It made me wonder how many potential contributors might be put off bothering in case they were subjected to the same treatment.

Human nature is to react to adverse comment or criticism. Should we expect the moderators to remove all personal criticism by editing posts, or deleting them, when such negativity slips through, deliberately or inadvertently?

Maybe when such problems arise the aggrieved party should use the reporting button (“other”) instead of reacting in public to allow the moderator to email some advice?

Thanks for that George I already have an email from Which ? saying I can post in a technical sense .

To clarify and put your mind at rest, Duncan, I can confirm I was commenting on (and lamenting about) the dismissive attitudes than many encounter in forums in general. It was not aimed at you. As Derek notes, when there’s an issue we tend to address it directly in here; beating about any bush is hardly the preferred style.

For instance, when you say “I realize the political dogma nowadays hates Engineering and loves cooking” I disagree profoundly and would invite you to submit any evidence whatsoever that would substantiate such a claim. I’ve never encountered anyone in here who’s been even mildly averse to reading technical explanations.

Actually, thinking about that a little more, I believe there is a cultural and social resistance to people having their English corrected which doesn’t seem to have a mirror in technical or scientific corrections.

Does that include colonic or semi-colonic irrigation or just a way to avoid a syn-tax.?

I have more info on the new Emsisoft app I installed ,it now comes up in my Logger and true to their word the persistent cookie relating to it was deleted ,not only that is an unusual type –
cf_use_ob which on checking up is classed as an “unknown ” type in other words its not a normal cookie which would tie into their working definition of the app.
Still testing it out hasn’t come up with a blocked page —yet but I do have blockers for DNS/malware servers etc , doesn’t seem to slow the browser down.
My only problem is Yandex is nearly as bad as Google for gathering info but it goes east instead of west. Its a closed system so cant regulate it like Waterfox .

DerekP says:
6 January 2019

As part of my continuing interest in finding ways of making PC’s easier to use for “entry level” users, I am now trying out Endless OS.

Endless OS is a very interesting version of Linux, it is certainly not just “Yet Another Linux Distro”.

In terms of its look and feel, it is much more like Android or Chrome OS or Cloud Ready than a typical Windows or Linux system. That said, it also provides easy access to many “proper” apps, e.g. LibreOffice. In many ways its overall approach seems to be quite close to Apple’s operating systems. However, I don’t have much actual usage experience of those, so I wouldn’t like to say for sure.

In common with Android, Chrome OS and Cloud Ready, the Endless OS is maintained and updated regularly (and automatically) by its publisher, Endless. So that removes this chore from users, but relies on trusting Endless to do a good enough job. Endless also comes pre-configured to use internet services like Facebook, YouTube, Gmail, WhatsApp (etc.) so it would be a good choice for those who like to use such services. [At the other end of the Linux scale, anyone who wants to exercise complete “control freakery” over their PC should probably seek out one of the FSF approved 100% open source GNU/Linux versions, e.g. Hyperbola, PureOS or Trisquel, to name but three.]

Installation was easily carried out onto one of my test laptops, an old HP dv6000. Making the bootable installation media needed for that was straightforward on one of my other Linux PC’s, but not exactly a beginner task. I had to read, follow and trust the instructions on the Endless website, but they did work perfectly. Endless themselves actually sell a range of mini desktop PC’s that come pre-loaded with their OS, but I don’t know if these are sold in the UK.

Overall, Endless OS looks like an interesting compromise between the simplicity and ease of use of Chrome OS and the excessive power and complexity of any full functional PC operating system.

It is now the third webpage on which it was marked in a URL HTTPS but when clicking on it it was blocked by -HTTPS Everywhere , one was Linux Mint, as MITM attacks spring from HTTP I think posters should watch out .

As regards Endless OS you have generally got it right Derek-
It is an “introductory OS ” limited programming is available and root is read only and I quote from a software developers website – “on older laptops the distribution will appear quite slow and heavy “.
For a deeper investigation by that developer click on –

As you say Derek it looks quite good for what you recommend it for except for as is said on the website old laptops where a very light LInux distro would be quicker.

DerekP says:
6 January 2019

Duncan – thanks. I read those reviews too before going to the effort of downloading and installing Endloss OS. Aside of the reviews that were obvious adverts for it, I thought most of the other reviews were fair and honest.

As regards speed, it is actually OK on my ~10 year old (ex-Vista) AMD Turion 64×2 HP. Whilst I would expect the likes of Puppy or antiX to be noticeably faster on such machines, that would only be achieved at the expense of extreme nerdiness, so I think that’s a good trade-off here.

When you get to ~15 year old PC’s, speed really does begin to matter, especially with single core CPU’s. My oldest working machine is now a VAIO PGC-7G1M and that actually works fine with the 32-bit version of MX. My Presario 2100 has finally been passed to a new owner, so she can play Tweenies videos and some nice Pepper Pig games on it.

My spare PC passed into “computer heaven” , a very old Dell Pen. 4 I am having a look around now to find as slightly later PC .
I am at present completely addicted to Manjaro LInux ,its just the openness to do just about whatever you want to it without MS Win 10 appearance to say- no you cant do that and Pacman with AUR is great .
I am up to version -18.0.2 now and the rolling releases from a UK server are great , it never forces you to install anything block what you want and magically if you install new apps eventually it updates them too even got ClamTK to work and manually install updates no problem .
Its hard to criticise it , the Emsisoft browser security blocker is still there but so far nothing has happened yet .
If I get another second hand PC Manjaro is definitely going on it ,what a relief and relaxation instead of continuous fighting with MS telling me what I can and cant do. Its still No.1 in the LInux distro website ,by the way one US website said PC,s were making a return ,one said its thanks to the Endless OS .

DerekP says:
7 January 2019

I noticed Manjaro was now at No. 1 on Distrowatch, with MX at No. 2 and Mint at No. 3.

I’m surprised that both of those are scoring higher than Mint, which is very good overall. I still prefer MX, because it boots faster on old machines.

I also noticed that those Distrowatch scores need to be taken with a pinch of salt – e.g. both antiX and ReactOS score about the same. From bitter experience I know that ReactOS is useless if you actually need a working OS, whereas antiX is fully functional, very minimal and very fast, but a bit lacking in creature comforts.

LM has gone down in many peoples eyes because its “gone commercial ” Derek it uses Ubuntu repositories which is Canonical run who now work in league with MS for more profit.
I found using both commercialism intruded on my programming and “phoning home ” . While that wont bother the general public it bothers people like me and I can assure you I am not alone.
Mark Shuttleworth -South African entrepreneur markets commercial support involving Ubuntu apps etc.
Arch is minimalist and you control it much more than most –
Who owns ya baby ? with apologies to “Kojak ” .

DerekP says:
7 January 2019

Thanks Duncan.

I think pretty much everything you say about Manjaro also holds good for MX, antiX and LMDE, as those are Debian based.

I had to start laughing at this but the latest “hack news ” is that hot tubs have been hacked .
I know, all sort of thoughts crossed my mind but then again I dont have a normal sense of humour.

According to Pen Test Partners ( yes I have heard of them ) Buckinhamshire based, hot tubs can be hacked using a simple app as there isn’t any authentication in place -26,000 of those “rogue ” tubs giving out their location .
Any one in the world is vulnerable -the Balboa Water Group -(CEO -Sylvester Stallone ? ) is currently improving the 1000 UK ones .
Maybe not as bad as the Samsung fridge which puts your Gmail login credentials at risk .
Can you imagine a 50,s repro- SF film entitled -Revenge of the Domestic Appliances with a “John Wayne ” clone -saving the life of the cornered cook pulling out his 6 gun and “drilling ” the equipment dead or Rambo 25 -Stallone coming out of retirement with walking stick /wheelchair mounted rocket launcher and mowing down those anti American “terrorists”?
Only it wouldn’t be “First Blood ” it would be First Refrigerant .

I suppose hacking into an occupied hot tub and surprising the users could be some form of juvenile fun, but how would the perpetrators be aware of the results of their interference? Turning up the hot water jets or emptying the tank might be amusing if you were present to witness it but otherwise I don’t see it having much mileage. Or have I missed something?

They know when its not in use and that’s supposed to help burglars.

DerekP says:
8 January 2019

Sorry, I must have missed the Which? review of smart IoT hot tubs….

I believe it’s all part of a new scam. The hack sends details of the water cleanliness, the numbers using the tub and their proximity to each other to a third party, who then threatens to release details to your social circles. Imagine the shame when the vicar learns the organist was sharing your hot tub, or when Mrs Prendergast-Huffley discovers you’re not quite as sterile-clean as she thought. And as for sharing the tub with your poodle…

We had Mrs Baddely-Warne and the Rector round for Fireworks and Therapy in our hot tub on New Year’s Eve. Now one of our loofahs is missing.

But the fireworks were…good?

DerekP says:
8 January 2019

… sounds like another pressing 1st world problem.

Derek -Just installed -EtherApe cant run it from the desktop blocked completely but got it running by sudoing it as root.
Two displays info in text in the Terminal (nice colours ! ) and a separate box window which is constantly active – it shows all IP,s -all domains -HTTPS- etc etc .
Shows my BT Hub +my PC with constantly changing directional coloured connection lines to all point on the web . I am posting this using Yandex and you would be amazed at all the connection points sending data back to Yandex ,also servers used -IP addresses and more reminds me of a world hacking network app for back tracing point of origin used by our security .
Shows IPv6 as well + number of nodes .
I would still rather have -Glasswire but they arent starting doing the software for Linux yet but MAC is now in operation.
Just found out my English on Which ? is being translated into Russian even though I have not installed a translation app.

You will like this (or maybe not ) when I change webpages in Which? an enormous broad red “searchlight” appears connecting me via Amazon servers -I wont post the data . Got to laugh even amending my post makes it appear.
This is great another laugh Which ? tried to show an advert and Adblock Plus blocked it -this is interesting !

There doesn’t see to be a reliable and trustworthy equivalent for the Mac, sadly. And by its very nature it’s going to make calls out, which is something about which I’ve learnt to be wary.

I was surprised when you said that Ian but you are right , I had a look at Cisco Packet Tracer but installing and running it on Mac is a bit of a palaver .
Have a look at-
https://www.geekdashboard.com/cisco-packet-tracer-download/ and-
Apple,s own forum (good security better than Which ?)-

DerekP says:
9 January 2019

I’m also wary about having to run anything as root…

PS – Good to hear some Russian speakers are monitoring Which? (But don’t all their best spies speak best Oxbridge English, like wot I do?)

This could be very useful for those of us currently pondering how to make our sites HTTPs:


“Houston we have a problem here ” US spacecraft to ground base.
Well actually a big problem -GitHub aren’t too happy about DIY certificates but I refer to one of the most prestige for highly qualified software engineers -Stack Exchange –
I will quote a part and then provide a URL –

A self signed certificate provides encryption like a normal certificate. But it does not provide the usual identification. But proper identification is essential for HTTPS, because otherwise impersonation of a server and man in the middle attacks are possible, which in effect make the encryption useless.

You can provide a proper identification with a self-signed certificate too by giving everybody who likes to connect to your site the up-front the essential information which certificate should be expected, i.e. by giving the certificate itself or the fingerprint. Of course you must give this in a secure way (i.e. not in-band during the connection). You should also somehow make sure that the other one actually compares the certificate it gets to the expected one instead of just simply clicking through it. This works if only a very few people will visit the site but will not scale with more visitors.

Another problem with certificates not issued by a public CA is when SSL interception is done. This is often the place in companies but also several antivirus products do it. In this case sites using a certificate which cannot be verified will often simply be blocked by the SSL interception and one would need to explicitly add exceptions.
but I am open to debate , I read in detail about this sort of thing a while ago and a whole lot of technical issues not told to the public caused caution to be raised by various engineers.

Then read a more public orientated comment on SSL –
and notice –
The clever bit is that the attack didn’t need to touch the encrypted SSL traffic at all, simply exploit the fact that users almost never call https directly, instead accessing that by calling a conventional http web page first. That fact makes it possible to monitor and map the traffic between the browser and website before the SSL is set up securely, putting itself between the two so that neither site is aware that anything is amiss.

Nobody answered me when I posted a few days ago that HTTPS Everywhere showed up websites marked as HTTPS to really being HTTP –that’s why its a boon to surfers who are constantly on the web like me – dont hesitate -INSTALL IT !!

I have now been comparing Waterfox & Yandex using EtherApe . I have already removed some “phone homes” in Waterfox relating to Google Site Checker ( I have my own one ) and others in -about:config but cannot in Yandex as its a closed system .
The difference is enormous Waterfox has few contacts whereas Yandex is as bad as Google Chrome ,its like an explosion of connections at least 10 connections even an “unknown one ” whereas Waterfox only has the minimum to operate.
As its in real time I can even watch BT Mail checking in to my email client as well as connected to Arch LInux .org . This is more interesting than watching TV ,as I had a few warnings in the Terminal to install a couple of technical apps to make it operate better I did thanks to a great Pacman .
eno1 being the network cable connection to the network card shows that with no internet use very little is outgoing just multicast and a couple of others ,can you imagine the difference in Windows ? The screen would be a blur of connections .

@katebevan or anyone else……….

I want about a 10″ notebook, laptop or tablet, something that will fit into a bag.

I am not looking for cheap but….., it is not going to be used that much, so I can’t justify spending silly money on it, but there is no point in getting too low a spec if I end up swearing at it.

What do I want it to do:
Internet browsing.
Read and display word and excel docs. Editing would be a bonus, could be other software like Libreoffice.
Image editing.
Easy to use keyboard.
Photo editing and display
Not to bothered about syncing.
Skype a bonus.
Camera a bonus.

Any suggestions? Or what should I be looking out for/avoiding?

DerekP says:
21 February 2019

Hi all,

From where I’m sitting, £800 plus “small and dinky” spells “MacBook 12in”.

Currently I have two small PC’s that I carry round with me when doing my computer buddy work – and I was recently advising a family member about buying a new “up to £600″ laptop.

For web