* Posts by Frumious Bandersnatch

1384 posts • joined 8 Nov 2007

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SUPERVOLCANIC MAGMA reservoir found BUBBLING under Yellowstone

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Bah!

By which time there's no-one left to notice.

Stupid "scientists".

Yeah, let's go and burn down the observatory so this kind of thing never happens again.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Time to develop a good exit strategy

Folks, we NEED to develop spaceflight and space habitats. Planets are just too dangerous to live on.

and

Or failing that, how about a bunch of virgins waiting for you.

Me, I'm leaning towards mine-shafts right now...

But ah with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten females to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way back to the present gross national product within say, twenty years."

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Geothermal energy?

Unless I'm mistaken, there isn't much sewage available in the Yellowstone area

Have you forgotten how to finish the bears + woods = ? equation?

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The huge flaw in Moore’s Law? It's NOT a law after all

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Spelling Police

re cat vs concat, I learned many years ago that the Unix 'cat' command was short for 'catenate' which is an obscure and/or archaic variant of 'concatenate'. Personally, I have no problem with 'catenate' as a synonym for 'concatenate' (and yes, either is probably what the OP meant instead of 'conflate').

/said in an isn't-it-interesting-that-the-thread-talks-about-both-catenation-and-proper-use-of-hyphens* kind of way

(*no doubt that's a proper word in German, but let's not get distracted)

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Spelling Police

I think it's a mistake rather than language drift. I could take a two-year sabbatical, and the hyphen is acceptable (and normal) usage there, but I'd be back to work two years later (no hyphen).

edit: I didn't see the later post by J.G.Harston that makes the same point, but uses grammar-type words.

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Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

Frumious Bandersnatch
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I don't get these programmes any more

In my day they'd have a segment that you were supposed to record using your tape recorder. You could then (theoretically at least) put the tape in your computer's tape recorder and load the program. It might have even displayed pictures on the screen--video over radio, if you will.

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Dev gives HBO free math tips to nail Game of Thrones pirate leakers

Frumious Bandersnatch
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LaTeX

If you want to see the equations, try the online LaTeX previewer here. Much easier to read when it's rendered, though I tried and have no idea what he's trying to say.

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Nuclear waste spill: How a pro-organic push sparked $240m blunder

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Fast Integral Reactor.

I'm quite suprised no-one has thought of storing nuclear waste on the moon.

That didn't work out so well in 'Space 1999'.

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Atmel stoops to an 'all-time low' in Internet of Things battle

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Transducer supply

I was thinking something similar when someone above mentioned radiators. They may be the lowest-power chips yet, but I guess we're not going to see these powered by thermopiles especially if they're an active part of a thermostat system.

The other thought that struck me was the ROTM angle. It's a little bit frightening that they now have the capability of running in "sleeper cell" mode for decades, just biding their time waiting ... waiting ...

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It's the FALKLANDS SYNDROME! Fukushima MELTDOWN to cause '10,000 Chernobyls' in South Atlantic

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Playmobil reconstruction

Or it didn't happen.

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Encryption is the REAL threat – Head Europlod

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: de Boise principle

I don't know this de Boise of whom you speak, but it was Cardinal Richelieu who said

If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.

Could mass surveillance possibly have any unintended consequences? Nah, surely not...

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Blame the tech companies?

What an utterly idiotic thing to say. We don't need tech companies at all to use encryption. Pretty much all the algorithms are publicly available and there are lots of free, open source implementations. Using encryption isn't hard for even beginner programmers thanks to these two points. For example, here's a really short Perl script (not mine; his) to do RSA:

#!/usr/bin/perl

# RSA Encryption example by Phil Massyn (www.massyn.net)

# July 10th 2013

use strict;

use bignum;

use Math::Prime::Util ':all';

# == key generation

my $p = random_strong_prime(256);

my $q = random_strong_prime(256);

my $n = $p * $q;

my $phi = ($p - 1) * ($q - 1);

my $e = 257; # need to figure out how to calculate it

my $x = $e ** 1;

my $d = $x->bmodinv($phi);

# == encryption

my $message = "hello world";

my $m = (join ( '', map (sprintf ("%03d",ord), split (//,$message)) )) + 1 - 1;

my $c = $m->bmodpow($e,$n);

# == decryption

my $M = $c->bmodpow($d,$n);

print join ('', map(sprintf("%s",chr), ($M =~ /\d{3}/g))) . "\n";

Complaining that the tech companies are the problem is just ass-backwards. The reason that they are implementing end-to-end encryption is that their customers (ie, us) are demanding it. One of the main reasons we are demanding it is as a direct result of the kinds of revelations (not just from Snowden) about mass surveillance. We demand the right to privacy, but if we're not being listened to, then it's our choice to use encryption and the tech companies are just responding to that.

What a tool...

(sorry about the way that < and > got messed up in the above; that's the fault of the comment entry system)

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Microsoft update mayhem delays German basketball game, costs team dear

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Linux

Agree on the Linux comments, but you could still probably get stuck waiting for a disk check ("this disk has gone too long without being checked"...). Probably won't take 15 minutes, especially on a laptop, but it goes to show that Linux isn't totally immune from "randomly" locking you out of the machine for several minutes at boot time.

Kind of off-topic: kexec support in Linux kernel is cool, particularly on machines with very slow BIOS startup (eg, my old Dell PowerEdge)

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Smart meters are a ‘costly mistake’ that'll add BILLIONS to bills

Frumious Bandersnatch
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This could rapidly become "convert an edited photo of their current mechanical meter into a meaningless number" and "cost customers tens of pounds rather than hundreds".

When I read this part of the article I immediately thought of something like SecurID. Have the display present both the units-used counter and some cryptographically-generated hash or time signature (like a HMAC involving the current time, the value of the counter and the serial number of the meter). Of course, once the meter is in people's hands, you're bound to find someone who has the skill needed to hack the device (eg, to find the secret serial number) but the vast majority of people won't.

I agree with the people who suggested the smartphone app idea. Done right it would be vastly better (and more secure) than "smart" meters that need to be networked.

Without wanting to blow my own trumpet (too much), I'm sure I could knock up a proof of concept for this in an afternoon with a Raspberry Pi, a small screen and a mobile phone. Just use QR code libraries on the Pi and phone and you've got a fault-tolerant reader (QR includes error correction) that can automatically send an SMS reading to wherever. Of course, this is probably way too easy. I'd have to massively over-engineer it for the government to have any interest in it.

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Belgium to the rescue as UK consumers freeze after BST blunder

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Daylight Saving Time moaners

Consider yourself lucky you're not living in China, where they've got just one time zone despite the country spanning five (geographical) time zones.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Timestamps

in the hour where the "clocks change" as you could get either 2 or 0[*] time-crossing occurrences depending on the direction of the change

Some systems can be configured to change the time gradually (eg, if the `date` program has a -a option on some *nix systems, or using the adjtime(3) system call), but changing the apparent rate at which time changes introduces different problems. On the whole, changing it gradually probably breaks fewer assumptions that people might make in their code but I would guess that this Nest problem would still manifest either way.

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Layla enjoys a Sanskrit makeover: Clapton set to become one of several Gods

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Govinda

So if this is a hit, it'll only be the second one in Sanskrit. As Wikipedia has it, the Kula Shaker version is "unique in being the only British Top Ten hit to be sung entirely in Sanskrit."

(so I guess that also means that Sanskrit isn't just a written language, to answer Identity's post above)

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Noobs can pwn world's most popular BIOSes in two minutes

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: This wouldn't be (much of) a problem...

The problem with UEFI is that it is _far_ to complex for the problem it needs to solve

Don't worry. We'll all be running systemd on top of it. That'll help manage the complexity.

Right?

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Telly chef Jamie Oliver in embarrassing infection double shocker

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Infection

Surprised to read it didn't come from the cock in cider.

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Tired of IoT hype? Internet of SLUGS and SPIDERS is the reality

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Use all resources available

<groans>Yes, and my fly is now a walk</groans>

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: "Better seals are being installed to keep the slugs out"

But what happens when they run out of slugs to eat?

Don't worry. It's NZ, not Oz. The seals are native and encouraging them to take up residence won't cause widespread unforeseen consequences.

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Get yourself connected: GrovePi+ Starter Kit

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Random musings

Then again there was at least one programming language that [allowed you] to specify any positive integer as the lower bound of an array.

#!/usr/bin/perl -wl

$[ = 4; # least-random number? or was that 2?

print $#foo;

("but don't do that")

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: argh!

they still don't even teach the fundamentals of AC theory either.

I blame that Thomas Edison chap. Electrocuting elephants? Who could stoop so low?

(probably the guys that kill them with LSD, if nobody minds me answering my own rhetorical question)

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Prawn cocktail offers hot new way to make solar cells

Frumious Bandersnatch
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So...

that's why flamingos are pink?

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Hoping for spy reforms? Jeb Bush, dangerously close to being the next US prez, backs the NSA

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Just like the Jews...

If you listen and believe everything a flaming bush tells you

I haven't said a word for eighteen years till he came along!

Actually, still not bothered.

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Mozilla's Flash-killer 'Shumway' appears in Firefox nightlies

Frumious Bandersnatch
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re: Scylla and Charybdis

Not a response to your post, AC, (though I agree), just a comment to say that this particular classical reference seems to be cropping up in the register quite a lot recently. Or maybe I've just got a case of Baader-Meinhof syndrome...

site:forums.theregister.co.uk scylla charybdis (151 hits)

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M0n0wall comes tumbling down as dev throws in the trowel

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Financial models matter

(2) Devise a EULA that completely absolves you from any responsibility for the egregious flaws in your software.

Everyone does that. Even (especially?) free software.

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They've finally solved it: Schrödinger's cat is both ALIVE AND DEAD

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Lao Tzu couldn't decide

If he was imagining himself as a cat or whether he was a cat imagining himself as Lao Tzu.

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Who's come to fix your broadband? It may be a Fed in disguise. Without a search warrant

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Very slippery slope...

are you going to stop a repairman that claims to have been sent by the hotel to your room?

If he's there to fix the porn, probably not.

If the feds had used that simple explanation they wouldn't have to learn any telco lingo at all.

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Japan's death threat hacker collared ... BY A CAT

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: COPS! In the US, the beat you to death. In the Japan, you must confess.

Standard operating procedure over there, I hear.

I don't know why you're getting downvotes, as what you say does seem to be accurate. From the Wikipedia page on the Japanese Criminal Justice system:

Confession in Japanese criminal investigation

Many Western human rights organizations alleged that the high conviction rate is due to rampant use of conviction solely based on confession. Confessions are often obtained after long periods of questioning by police as those arrested may be held for up to 23 days. This can, at times, take weeks during which time the suspect is in detention and can be prevented from contacting a lawyer or family.[3]

And here's a link to a BBC article on the same topic that also suggests reasons why people confess.

These were the two top links when I searched for "japanese police confessions", btw, not just links I cherry-picked to support the argument.

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Win! The Ultimate Cash 'n' Carrion Survival Kit

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Said with love...

All well and good but how the hell did you get the Delorean in there in the first place?

One piece at a time?

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Toshiba packs NUMERIC KEYPAD onto self-bricking USB drive

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Thanks, but ...

I think I'll stick to embedding powerful electromagnets in my door jamb, Cryptonomicon style...

(What do you mean magnets don't work on flash memory? OK, it probably won't work on regular drives either)

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Smartphones merge into homogeneous mass as 'flagship fatigue' bites

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Flag-sized

with advanced hyperbolic LTE and phase array GPS that works on Titan and other small moons

As everyone knows, you should always save hyperbole until you really need it. In this case, I approve, though I suspect that the natural evolution you are looking for is bigger hands/pockets rather than "man purses".

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Ugly, incomplete, buggy: Windows 10 faces a sprint to the finish

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Headmaster

Re: looking for apps

they did something first\quickest\best.<br>...<br>try KDE\Gnome\Unity\Xfce\MATE\Cinnamon\Xmonad

Eh, your Dos/Windows fetish is showing. (slash =/= backslash)

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BOO! Grave remote-code exec flaw in GNU C Library TERRIFIES Linux

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Not Again

And then you start thinking about embedded crud with problematic glibc libraries

Embedded generally means you're not using glibc anyway. It'll probably have newlib instead, or maybe μClibc.

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Thailand: 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down'

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: It is

出る杭、not 出る釘。

Maybe they're both right? I just looked up the expression in Jim Breem's dictionary and I got kugi/nail (or spike), whereas Wikipedia's list of Japanese proverbs lists kui/stake. Might be an issue of the phrase "doing the rounds" (going out of one language and then being brought back in in a slightly different form). The different versions might be due to mishearing, perhaps (an example of an "egg-corn", maybe?)? I can imagine "kugi" sounding quite a lot like "kui". The hard "g" sound might not be very distinct with some speakers, with only a slight glottal or nasal sound to distinguish it? Anyway, I don't really know because I very rarely heard the expression in Japan and I don't remember whether it was kui or kugi, to be honest.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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hammering down sticky-out nails

More of a Japanese expression, innit? (出る釘は打たれる/でるくぎはうたれる). Next you'll probably be telling us that monkeys fall out of trees there (ie, Thailand).

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Hollywood vs hackers: Vulture cracks Tinseltown keyboard cornballs

Frumious Bandersnatch
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"Like IPv4 addresses where one or more octects is often greater than 255."

Shhh! We don't talk about the hidden IPv4 addresses!

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Magic USB sticks

Actually, the "magic USB stick" might be (unintentionally) more plausible than you give it credit for.

ISTR that there was a bug in the PlayStation 3's USB device driver that allowed a "malicious" USB device to overflow a buffer and execute arbitrary code, thus owning the machine. Lately, there's also been a similar hack for OS X, though it requires rebooting the machine with the hacked device plugged in. It's pretty easy these days to find small machines with a USB OTG port that can be programmed to act as any USB device to test for bugs on the target machine's USB device handling and if you find an exploit, you can probably find an even smaller (ie, thumb-drive sized) machine to deploy the hack on.

Of course, I did say that films including this plot device were only "unintentionally" plausible. Then they go and ruin it by "downloading" many terabytes of data onto a device that can't possibly hold that much data. Or any time that a sysadmin plugs an unknown device into their PC/laptop, when really they should know better (didn't the top boffin do that in Skyfall, too? Facepalm!).

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Microsoft cracks personalisation without prying

Frumious Bandersnatch
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The abstract is a bit thin on details

So how exactly is this supposed to work and how does it preserve privacy? Just saying "Bloom filters" is not a proper description.

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FBI fingering Norks for Sony hack: The TRUTH – by the NSA's spyboss

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Holmes

Re: How was this supposed to go?

~There is an evil cake

I'm pretty sure that the evil cake is a lie.

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Ukraine PM: Hacktivists? C'mon! Russian spies attacked Gov.DE

Frumious Bandersnatch
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"Norks taking the blame"?

I think you'll find that this has a subtly different meaning from "Norks being blamed for ..."

(and no, I couldn't be bothered with the corrections button)

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What an ACE-HOLE! This super-software will whip you at poker, hands down

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: So What?

think they may have called it the gambler's fallacy?

Doubling down on a loser is called a martingale (strategy). In probability, the word has various specific meanings, but the term used does derive from the earlier meaning in gambling.

Actually, with infinite resources (and no limit on the bet), doubling down on loser always wins eventually.

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Saudi Arabia to flog man 1,000 times for insulting religion on Facebook

Frumious Bandersnatch
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so much more civilised

Come to ireland, where we have an anti-blasphemy law (IKYN).

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Want to have your server pwned? Easy: Run PHP

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: And the alternative is ?

Doesn't your argument give weight to the fact that what you just described is actually what most people want from a language? For me, that would be the definition of good.

LOL. Yes, kind of. I guess it is a good language overall, but it's not a patch on Perl, IMO. I just find PHP to be too verbose and boring to actually like it. I think that the original context was about being good for security, among other things, and as I said, Perl's -w and -T checks put it head and shoulders above the competition.

Mind you, maybe I'm a bit perverse in my (programming) tastes. I love constructs like Duff's Device and the Schwartzian Transform and have been known to use them when appropriate.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: And the alternative is ?

PHP is popular because it is good.

Nah, I don't think that it's because it's good, but because (IMO) it's relatively easy to write code in, has good documentation, the feature set is well-suited to the task of web programming and its syntax is easy for people to get to grips with (somewhat like Basic or Pascal). It also seems to be be the sort of language that appeals to managers in that the code is fairly easy to understand and maintain so you can treat programmers as a fungible resource.

The security problems tend to be more with the server than the code itself (at least historically), but as with any web programming language, developers still need to be aware of the basics of writing secure code in the first place. So no insecure "eval" statements or calls to external programs, always assume that user-supplied data is hostile and always use prepare/execute instead of naked SQL queries. I'm sure that there are other common security pitfalls, but I'd guess that the majority of them stem from those three points.

As for me, I much prefer Perl. I dislike the verbosity of PHP, but the main reason that I think that Perl is better is down to the -w and -T options. Perl is much better at helping you understand the unintended consequences or potential bugs in your code. Taint checking in particular makes it very hard for you to write insecure code, since it won't even let you run the thing if it detects that you're not sanitising your inputs correctly.

I've never used IIS or ActiveX, so I can't comment. I don't think that Java or Flash are even real competitors due to (a) needing browser plugins and (b) those plugins having a terrible history of insecurity.

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30 years ago today, the first commercial UK 'mobile' phone call was made

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Kenny Everett did a sketch, istr

He was mocking the size of these things years before Mr. Jolly.

I can't find a link, but ISTR it started off with a yuppie either buying or showing off his new mobile/satellite phone and going on about how small it was. It was actually pretty small, but then the reveal comes and we see that he has to lug around a small cart with either a huge battery or huge antenna.

Mind you, those shows were about 3-4 years before the 1985 date in the article, so maybe I'm misremembering...

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German minister fingered as hacker 'steals' her thumbprint from a PHOTO

Frumious Bandersnatch
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"but you'll need to speak German to appreciate it."

Why? Is it laced with specifically-Teutonic humour?

(automatic translation does exist and is quite good these days)

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Tor de farce: NSA fails to decrypt anonymised network

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Timing...

all this will do is slow down the network

Yes and no. If you delay packets by a random amount, then yes, the network slows down. If, on the other hand, you replace a FIFO scheduler with one that merely randomises the queue order, then throughput is maintained*. Slowing down the end-to-end routing of packets through the network like this will impact the users, though the network throughput is unaffected.

* a simple example scheme which has a 1/2 chance of delaying the head packet in the queue if it's the first time it's been seen, and a decreasing sequence of probabilities 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, etc. each subsequent time it's due to be sent will mean packets may wait in the queue indefinitely (with infinitesimal probability), but on average will take 2x as long to get through it (sum of infinite series 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + ...), not taking the probability of the replacement packet being sent into account...

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