* Posts by Frumious Bandersnatch

1404 posts • joined 8 Nov 2007

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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Hipsters ahoy! Top Ten BOARD games for festive family fun

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Hmm

How about some other suggestions via el reg users themselves?

Not a board game, but the Grass card game is fun.

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Why the chemistry between Hollywood, physics and maths is so hot right now

Frumious Bandersnatch
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needs moar science?

Film makers and script writers (especially in Hollywood) mostly seem to have no idea at all about the science behind the films they're making. Sometimes, though very rarely, I do see something where they get the science mostly right. I can only really think of three films that stand out because the science part is believable and actually adds to the enjoyment...

Proof (2005). OK, more about maths than science, but the premise is totally believable as is how they figure out who wrote the proof in the end. Also, the rant about jojoba oil and how hair is dead raised a chuckle.

The Arrival (1996). Charlie Sheen plays a SETI action hero in this alien invasion conspiracy film. Best science bit is where he builds a telescope array out of "borrowed" TV satellite dishes. Just when you're thinking it can't work because they're pointing the wrong way, you see him taking control and steering them all. Hooray for making radio interferometry a plot device.

Primer (2004). All the science and engineering talk is slightly gobbledegook, but at least it has the ring of authenticity about it. As for the actual time travel, it gets my thumbs up because apparently the only slightly possible way we might have of making it work is to go back to the time and place where we built or turned on the first time travel device (but we can't go back any further). There was one glaring mistake, but I can let it slide because the film worked as a whole. The error was when they were removing the two 12v batteries. Going from 24v and removing one 12v battery gives 0v, not 12v, because the batteries were in series. Schoolboy error!

Honourable mentions:

Virtual Nightmare (2000). A made-for-TV virtual reality film. In most such films, the VR is just a convenient McGuffin or excuse to indulge in special effects (eg, Matrix, Lawnmower Man). Watching this has aspects of an Asimov or PKD short story, along with reminders of They Live, Stepford Wives among others. Thumbs up because the rationale for the virtual world pretty much works, unlike, say, the Matrix's terrible "humans as batteries" premise. I just happened to see this on TV one day, and I think that it deserves to be better known.

Limitless (2011). Like the previous one, this is more sci-fi than real science. I'll even let it off for oft-repeated lie that "we only use x percent of our brain". Gets a mention because I like the kind of sci-fi where the advanced technology has clear downsides and isn't just a panacea (eg, like in most of Star Trek).

Pi (1998). Again, more sci-fi (and maybe supernatural) than science, but I'm giving it a mention due to the fact that the protagonist is at least trying to follow scientific methods. Not sure whether the auto-trepanation at the end is more phrenology than neuro-science, but it's satisfyingly in keeping with the science vs mysticism debate running through the rest of the film.

I know that film-making has a large dose of make-believe (even biographical stuff or things "based on real events"). It's part of the implied contract when we sit down to watch something. Based on the above (maybe—feel free to disagree) I think that it is possible to tell a good story and not offend the critical, scientific mind too much. There's probably won't be that much food for thought in this film, but maybe enough that it'll be worth watching as a historical/science-based flick rather than a straight romance/drama. It's worth remembering what Hawking himself said about A Brief History of Time, that (paraphrasing) each formula included would halve the readership. He ended up with no formulas at all (<pedant>apart from that one</pedant>), so we probably shouldn't expect that much hard science from the film either.

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Kepler's STILL GOT IT! Space telescope spots SUPER-EARTH 180 light years away

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Alien

re: That's a damn good picture they took.

True. I can even see my house.

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Sony Pictures hack is Hollywood's 'Snowden moment' say infosec bods

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: @Rabbit80 - Unfortunately not news ...

for a limited time

But 'cp /bin/bash /some/user/.randomapp/randomfile followed by 'chmod 04755 !$' hardly takes any time and the effects can last indefinitely unless detected...

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V. R. R. Stob's magnificent saga A Game Of Dog-and-Bones

Frumious Bandersnatch
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foreshadowing

Heh... on reading "Maeiouster" in the first paragraph, my first thought was "that's an awful lot of vowels". The buildup to the extremely bad pun ("disemvowling") at the end was very well wrought.

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Untangling .NET Core: Open source for Windows, Mac, Linux

Frumious Bandersnatch
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re: Confucius says ?

Wise man never plays leap-frog with a unicorn?

I'm struggling to guess at the relevance of your comment, but maybe ...

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Nork-ribbing flick The Interview AXED: Sony caves under hack terror 'menace'

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Headmaster

Re: Much capitulation, such disappointment

or otherwise impune

It's "impugn". A bit of an oddball spelling and one of only a few words with "ugn" in it. My /usr/share/dict/words also lists "pugnacious", "repugnant" and "smugness", along with variants.

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30,000 people buy a box of BOVINE EXCREMENT

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: "...and maybe some beach-front property in Switzerland."

There are beaches in Switzerland.

This is a big part of the reason I read el Reg. Its commenters are quite nicely aligned to where I live on the pedant-curmudgeon spectrum.

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BOFH: Capo di tutti capi, bah. I'm having CHICKEN JALFREZI

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: this could be good to watch

deckchair and popcorn please !

Please do step this way into our newly-installed walk-in microwave oven. (The popping comes later)

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Boffins unearth the ultimate antique art - 500,000 years old

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: "Alright darlin, do you want to come back to my place to see my collection of sea shells?"

I'm using that one tonight, pure chat up gold!

Not as pithy as "does this rag smell like chloroform to you?", I'm afraid.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Duh! It's a star map

Nope... it's money. The writing clearly states "[1 A]ltarian Doll[ar]" (the text is clipped in the image). No wonder their currency collapsed.

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Norks: We might be aggressive but we didn't hack Sony!

Frumious Bandersnatch
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North Korea have computers?

Apparently there are quite a few computers there. There was a documentary on TV a while back that talked about (among other things) people smuggling in laptops and USB memory cards so the Norks can get news about what's happening in the world and get their fix of dubbed copies of things like Desperate Housewives. I think it was probably "Secret State of North Korea". Worth watching if you happen across the full documentary (link only has a short preview).

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Ten Linux freeware apps to feed your penguin

Frumious Bandersnatch
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firewall

Also have a look at Arno's iptables firewall if you want something that's simple to configure. You do need to edit a config file but most of the common configurations are supported and each of the options is clearly explained within the config file. It looks to be even simpler than this gufw program since you don't even need to know anything about how iptables works to use it.

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Sony Pictures struggles as staff details, salaries and films leaked

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Perception bias (TLDR version): "I'll see it when I believe it"

(I don't know what you think the relevance is, though)

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Orion: To Mars, the Moon and beyond... but first, a TEST FLIGHT through Van Allen belt

Frumious Bandersnatch
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reentry

Idly wondering why they need to land the full craft back on Earth when they return.

Why not build a "lander" craft (or escape pod) for getting the astronauts and other stuff that they might have collected back on the ground, while leaving the rest of the ship up there in some sort of stable orbit?

I was thinking of a spaceship shaped like a barbell (or juggling club) with most of the mass (fuel, shielding and so on) at one end and a much lighter escape vehicle at the other end. When it would get near enough to home, they could turn off the main engines and use thrusters designed to set the "dumbbell" rotating end over end. If they could make the main shaft strong enough to survive the centrifugal force (and torsional force) then by releasing the escape craft from one end at the right moment it would get a slingshot effect and reduce its overall approach velocity, potentially enough so that the lander wouldn't need such big heat shields or the need for complex aero-braking.

I guess that whether this could work would depend mostly on whether the whole assembly could spin fast enough for the velocity reduction to be worth it. There's also the issue of extra fuel required to overcome the rotational inertia, but that could be somewhat offset by shifting the centre of mass closer to the middle of the ship while it's en route (in effect losing some forward thrust and converting it into letting the front part fall back into a more central position). With more of the mass concentrated in the centre, the moment of inertia would be reduced so it would be easier to set up the spin. I guess that another problem is that the re-entry craft will still be spinning when it arrives, but maybe the aerodynamics of a spherical pod attached to a long strut would be enough to right the orientation so that it will lose its rotation in the atmosphere and always land pod side down (like a dandelion seed).

As for the part that remained in orbit, its rate of spin could be reduced simply by redistributing the mass again (letting it fly out from the centre) and then using thrusters set in a counter-rotating direction. Solar-powered ion thrusters would reduce spin slowly, but it should be enough since there'd probably be long periods of time between returning and wanting to use the craft again, so the time taken to wind down shouldn't matter too much. Or have any docking ship match the rotation like the Coriolis docking sequence in Elite. The whole thing could be recovered later and re-used, with a huge saving in fuel since it doesn't have to be relaunched from Earth.

Maybe these ideas are just pie in the sky. I blame playing too many computer games (Thrust, Elite) as a kid.

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Sick of the 'criminal' lies about pie? Lobby the government HERE

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Meh

[Pi's] full value has never been expressed...

Really? Then let me be the first:

Pi = 10 (in base Pi)

I can has Fields medal now?

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Headmaster

He could always switch to eating a different kind of food

Something cylindrical, with radius z and height a, say. When solving the problem of what volume of food to order, he'll also be reminded of what it's called.

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Under the Iron Sea: YES, tech and science could SAVE the planet

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: molluscs?

Slug baits tend to be iron phosphate

Thanks for the correction; I was too lazy to go and find the thing to check the ingredients. Interesting PDF, too.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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molluscs?

I've got some "organic" slug pellets whose active ingredient is iron sulphate. I think that it's supposed to work on them (ie, kill them) by doing something to their stomach/gut. Not sure what sort of concentration is needed, but depending on how much we need to dump overboard isn't it possible that there may be an unintended consequence of killing/harming the mollusc population in the area with all the resultant knock-on effects to the ecosystem that that might have? I know you said "desert zone" and all that, but most deserts are not devoid of life and it seems prudent to do research into what actually does live there before blanketing vast areas with something that could destroy unique ecosystems and species.

PS interesting to read that iron sulphate is a waste product. Those slug pellet manufacturers must be really minting it.

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By the Rivers of Babylon, where the Antikythera Mechanism laid down

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Headmaster

@myhandler

If you wanted to be dogmatic, you could argue that the correct word would be "mongrel" since it's of dubious pedigree.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: People back in the day...

were no dumber or intelligent than we are nowadays

In fact they might have been more intelligent in some ways. Plato bemoaned the invention of writing thusly:

For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.

Taking modern inventions like Twitter, Facebook and the like in this context, I think it's safe to say that our capacity for maintaining attention and being able to commit details (such as oral histories) to memory are probably much reduced from ancient times. Maybe we make up for it with larger areas of our brains that deal with mapping since we travel much more widely now, but we've got other inventions for that too, namely GPS and sat nav.

Maybe Idiocracy was right?

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Blade Runner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: The trouble with being a critic...

I've seen things...

Me too. TBH I'd be more excited to see Rutger Haeur or someone of his calibre than Harrison Ford. I think that I've read that he improvised/wrote the whole "I've seen things" soliloquy himself.

Note to director: you could do worse than include "The Ballad of Roy Batty" by Grumbling Fur in the soundtrack.

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Boffins find Jackie Chan's SUPERCOP is good for something

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: "If you don't understand why, it's not good science"

I'm not actually (formally at least) acquainted with either form of epistemology, as you put it, but I think I know what you mean in your first paragraph.

The problem I had with what was said was with the context. Assuming something like:

1. formulate hypothesis that PV with bumps is more efficient than a smooth one

2. design an experiment to test it, with a smooth control and various different patterns

3. do the experiment and make measurements

4. compare observations to expected results:

4A result support the hypothesis

4B observations that Blu-ray seems to have best efficiency

The context of the statement seems to be about the need to explain 4B with the implication that it's not good science if it's left unexplained. In reality, they just went "that's interesting" and proceeded to try and explain it. If they hadn't, but instead just published the data and results with a note about the interesting Blu-ray results, it wouldn't detract a whit from how good the science of the paper was. They followed up because it interested them (and probably because they wanted to be the first to publish a possible reason "why"). The "it wouldn't be good science if we didn't" argument is spurious in this particular context.

but the man wasn't trying to provide a formal definition of scientific epistemology, so perhaps you should relax a bit

Yes, you're right. It was a throwaway line, but it irked me that it was delivered as a fact about the scientific method. If it were literally true, then we'd end up saying that things like the observation of the Mpemba effect isn't good science because it didn't come with a "why."

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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WTF?

"If you don't understand why, it's not good science"

So repeatable observations are no good if you can't come up with a theory to explain them? Whatever happened to the idea of science being about observations trumping theories by falsifying them, among other things? Should we now throw our observations out if there are no theories available to explain them?

My ghast is truly flabbered.

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NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: motive

Surely not just PR? Anyone with whit enough to read the source code, isn't stupid enough to buy the PR angle.

Might I suggest that the time you're spending looking over the code is time that you're not spending noticing or complaining about the other stuff they're doing? I think that calling it "PR" is totally apt (though of course, PR is just what PR calls itself; they'd never call it "public manipulation", now would they?)

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: All bull.. naive people will believe this crap.

But are they justified?

And is that really an ice-cream van driving around outside your estate in the middle of November?

(thumbs up for the KLF reference)

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Nice PR move

But obviously what we'd all really prefer (besides stopping spying on us) would be for them to work with software makers on a full disclosure basis so that we can all enjoy more secure software. The pretence that you're not hoarding vulnerability info and using it to your own ends has long ago worn paper-thin.

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'Snoopers' Charter IS DEAD', Lib Dems claim as party waves through IP address-matching

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Static addresses

IPv6 will make it easier to identify individual machines too.

Not if you use the recommended protocol where the device randomly picks its own address. It's called (<clickety>) "stateless address assignment", apparently (SLAAC).

I had a longer reply here, but I deleted it. The short version is that you use rfc4941 to make each machine pick a random, time-limited address instead of basing it on its MAC address. For this sort of setup to work well, you need to have a /64 address space for each physical LAN you have. Most tunnel brokers only offer that as the default option, so you might need to ask for a larger address space if you need to segment your LANs (such as in my case where I separate gigabit from 100Mb segments).

I was ready to set up such a system (with a tunnel broker) until about 2 weeks of to-ing and fro-ing with my ISP's customer support finally ended up with them saying that they "couldn't" enable the two things that I needed on their side to get this to work. What two things? Bloody simple things, actually: respond to pings from the tunnel broker on their router and allow for forwarding of protocol 41 packets. I tried asking for someone higher up in the chain, but never got an answer. I have a dedicated server (with a single /64 IPv6 address range) out on the net, so I could set up a VPN on it and securely route one of my subnets out over it but in the end I decided it wasn't worth the hassle...

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BOFH: An UNHOLY MATCH forged amid the sweet smell of bullsh*t

Frumious Bandersnatch
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marriage? sacrilege!

But then where will the next generation of bastards come from? (thinking of the children ofc)

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The IT Crowd's internet in a box gets $240k of crowdcash for a cause

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Eh?

Presumably, some form of handshake takes place along the way so ...

My equally ill-informed speculation was the opposite of yours. Instead of 2-way comms, I assumed thay were using what's called a "Digital Fountain". The Wikipedia article is a little bit dry, so in summary the sender periodically sends out a packet of data with a header that tells the receiver "this packet is the XOR sum of blocks a [, b, [...]] of the file"*. The receiver will eventually have enough packets to reconstruct the file. Being able to decode the file is probabilistic, with the probability tending towards 1 the more random packets you receive.

This is different from traditional error-correcting codes in several ways, but the main thing is that the sender picks a random selection of blocks each time it sends a packet and just XORs them together (technically, it's "stateless" because it doesn't need to remember what packets it has already sent). So long as the receiver knows how to decode the packet header, any sufficiently higher number of received packets will be enough to recover the full file. So it doesn't matter if you've got shitty reception or can't keep up with the sender sending stuff too fast; you just have to wait a bit longer until you've got the magic number of packets.

This seems like it should be a natural application for "Digital Fountains" since it means that the satellite (sender) doesn't have to engage in any handshaking at all with receiving sites (just a secure uplink from the satellite owners) and the ground boxes don't need transmitters (at least not pointing skywards, anyway).

(*) in practice, the header just consists of a seed value for a random number generator. So long as both sides are using the same RNG and algorithms, they'll both agree on which file blocks are being XORed in any particular packet.

One more thing: there's a daemon available for *nix systems called "flamethrowerd" that does something similar on multicast networks, although it doesn't actually use fountain codes.

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