* Posts by Frumious Bandersnatch

1918 posts • joined 8 Nov 2007

Clucking hell! Farcical free-range egg standard pecked apart by app

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Or maybe the teens just like Angry Birds?

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Intel literally decimates workforce: 12,000 will be axed, CFO shifts to sales

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: "literally" "decimates"

From Wikipedia (not a sterling source, natch): "The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth"." So I think "literally" is OK, it being literally one tenth (give or take) who will get the (OK, figurative) axe.

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Canny Canadian PM schools snarky hack on quantum computing

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Re: Check this out for a cool explanation

I had it exactly right because I prefaced the phrase

OK, I misinterpreted, but the emphasis you used (on "information" rather than "doesn't") suggested to me that somehow "information" (as opposed to something tangible like a photon or whatever) was something that could be transmitted without breaking the speed limit. Your use of the word "seems" ("I know not 'seems' ...") further muddied the waters for me.

So anyway, not "it seems that instantaneous information transfer doesn't violate relativity", but "relativity doesn't allow for instantaneous information transfer". All cleared up.

Still, one other niggle: "it gives a method for instantaneous cooperation at a distance" is similarly open to misinterpretation. The "spooky action at a distance" is uncorrelated until after both parties have compared notes. This "cooperation" you're talking about takes time and is definitely not instantaneous.

(with the obvious caveat that "If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics" surely applies equally to both of us)

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Check this out for a cool explanation

allowing -information- to be transferred between the points instantaneously

Pedant alert: quantum communications doesn't allow instantaneous information transfer. You almost had it right because you go on to say that the parties have to compare notes afterwards. There's no information transfer until they compare notes and the information contained in them is still subject to classical limits on how fast it can be transmitted (no FTL, no violating relativity).

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Admin fishes dirty office chat from mistyped-email bin and then ...?

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: first rule of email admin

Probably the second rule is something like "even though I have no interest in reading your mail, each and every host it goes through does have the capability of reading it: assume that I'm the exception among these admins and if you want privacy, encrypt the mail or don't use email at all".

Not using email at all would have been the smart thing to do in this case, since the recipient metadata is still in the clear. But then, the sender probably wasn't the sharpest tool in the box and no amount of explaining would have led him to do the sensible thing.

Best course for this admin would have been to refuse to scan the emails in the first place. Or only set up filtering with the policy that all misaddressed mail will go directly to a public (office-wide) noticeboard. Either that, or refuse to look at the content and base redirections solely on the To: field. I prefer the more dramatic option, though.

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South Korea to upgrade national stereo defence system for US$16m

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Holmes

missing a trick

I assume that propaganda on both sides is a bit repetitive in the literal sense of being on a continuous loop. If you get a good clean recording, invert the phase and then pump that out on your own system, you can get some degree of noise cancellation in selected spots. Of course, when broadcast out over a wide area, some spots will get destructive interference (cancelling out what you don't want heard) while others will have constructive interference (making it louder).

The other interesting thing about this is that one appropriate response to the use of this tech (assuming both sides rush to use it) would be simply to turn off your own speakers. Then you save electricity and the other guy ends up broadcasting both signals with perfect fidelity.

Might not be a perfect idea, but at least some "deaf spots" could help shield your guys against the opposing propaganda.

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Linux command line mistake 'nukes web boss'S biz'

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bang or

Can't recall accidentally typing something like this, but I've certainly borked things up a bit by using the shell history feature "!something" to re-run a previous command only to either have a typo that called up another command instead, or brought back a nasty command that I'd forgotten was in the history. Tab completion is also another great labour-saving device that brings its own problems.

The times I've accidentally done 'tar cf *" to make a tar file, accidentally clobbering the first file? More than once. Plus dd mishaps, obviously, especially on machines where enumeration of devices (sd?, mmcblk?) is essentially random after a reboot.

/measure twice, cut once

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FOUR Avatar sequels

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Re: insert title here.

Avatar = Pocahontas

I always thought it was "Smurfahontas"

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Russian boffins want to nuke asteroids

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all well and good

ach cad faoi na smidiríní?

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Dropping 1,000 cats from 32km: How practical is that?

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Curiously enough,

the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was "Oh no, not again."

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'Just give me any old date and I'll make it work' ... said the VB script to the coder

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Re: Effing 'Merikans

Japanese also do mm/dd/yyyy.

[Citation needed]

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Western Digital spins up a USB disk just for the Raspberry Pi

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Re: designed to slurp less power..

What do you mean, a new angle? atan(1) * 4 has been around since at least Pythagoras.

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When asked 'What's a .CNT file?' there's a polite way to answer

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Re: Her Majesties Armed Forces

@AC - "the finest and noblest of Her Majesties Armed Forces"

That would be the Royal Navy, mate.

Surely that should be she majesties armed forces? I guess that "the queens' English" is foreign to you.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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To quote a famous meme

I don't know how famous this is, or how meme-ey, but I always liked the idea of pitting the Microsoft support line against Psychic Friends Network. Spoiler: it's a wash on results, but PFN gives better customer service.

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Firemen free chap's todger from four-ring chokehold

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Re: Oh, why not?

bar stools on one of his yachts clothed in sperm whale foreskin.

The penis bone of some aquatic mammals (yes, they have "bones", literally) have all sorts of uses. Seems they make good knife handles since they won't get too slippery if you're using it to butcher an animal.

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Re: Oh dear sir,

Idiots who self inflict

So if someone is distracted while crossing the road and gets run over, it's their own fault and so shouldn't get treatment? Maybe we should resinstitute the Spanish Inquisition to take over triage duties then, eh?

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It's 2016 and a font file can own your computer

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Septic Fónt$

VGA fonts were set by a call to the BIOS (*). I have a collection of them somewhere. I'm pretty sure that some games used custom fonts to display graphics even though they were still in text mode. Can't think of one for sure, but I think that the Kroz series of games might have used this trick.

* http://www.ctyme.com/intr/rb-0143.htm

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: How did this ever become a problem in the first place?

But fonts? A bunch of vectors? I just don't get why they have to be so dangerous 30 years later! XML, for instance, can describe similar data without needing admin privs

But XML everywhere makes things slow, especially if you insist on it being well-formed, which the specs say it should be. Thus we have binary file formats with "nasty" things like fields indicating how many bytes are in some section of the file or data fields compressed with zlib or similar. Most of the kinds of errors arising from using these are down to insufficient checks on such fields to make sure that they make sense.

Besides the performance problem, XML isn't a panacea. It can work well for some structured data, but it essentially follows a strictly hierarchical model. There isn't any standard way to model interdependencies between one section of the XML file and another, so it's still possible to get errors where something is essentially declared in one part of the file, but never properly instantiated in another, leading to NULL dereference problems (similar to one mentioned in the article, leading to a crash) if the proper checks aren't included. XML schemas also aren't immune to designers embedding "field length" fields, either (in one way or another; compressed strings often implicitly use this feature).

Finally, I don't think your point about privileges is appropriate here, since neither the article or the vulnerability report mention it. The gist here is that if you can install a bad font file on a server then it can pass that to clients that connect. The bugs have nothing to do with admin rights as such.

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Head transplant candidate sells souvenirs to fund operation

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"I will fear no evil" 1970

Also:

  • The Brain that Wouldn't Die (1962)
  • The Man with Two Brains (1983)
  • Futurama (heads in jars)
  • Frankenhooker (1990)
  • Any Frankenstein film

Probably more. They're the ones I remember.

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Forget Tiger Woods – here's Cyber Woods: Robot golfer hits hole-in-one during tournament

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Eldrick?

Never knew that was Tiger's real name. Leaves me wondering if his parents were fans of H. P. Lovecraft (fond of words like "Eldritch") or maybe Sapphire and Steel (characters called Eldred and Rothwyn in one "assignment", though Steel points out that they're hopelessly anachronistic cover names). Tiger's too old for the S&S idea to work, though.

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That's cute, Germany – China shows the world how fusion is done

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Re: @paul I Wonder....

Hate to nitpick (actually when I'm right love to nitpick) but iron will fuse quite happily with enough energy and pressure

Oh, the cobalty.

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Winning Underhand C Contest code silently tricks nuke inspectors

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"most innocent looking snippet of code that in fact plants a virus"

Well, it's not a virus, but a fork bomb is generally very short. You could obfuscate it by writing the loop condition so that it looks like it's supposed to just run once if there's no error, but is actually designed to always loop infinitely (like the third example in the recent article here).

It's hard to disguise all bits of a virus since you need to include file I/O and that's going to look suspicious in many bits of code. Still, there are some things you could try...

1. companion viruses

It seems that these are still possible. Make a hidden .COM file corresponding to an existing .EXE or whatever. The .COM is executed when both extensions are present. Alternatively, get the user to set %PATHEXT (tell them it's needed for your program to work due to filename conflicts)

2. Unicode

If the compiler accepts Unicode characters, use the fact that some characters look the same even though they're different code points. Put an innocuous version of a routine in an obvious place at the top of a file and hide the malicious version (that's actually called) somewhere more out of the way.

3. Deliberately smash the stack

If the program looks like it should legitimately be using XOR on strings (like in a random number generator, encryption routine or similar) then introduce a bug that overwrites the call stack and executes a bit of machine code that's already embedded in the code (in obfuscated form, requiring the xor to decrypt it).

4. Other

It's a lot easier to introduce deliberate bugs that can be exploited later (by specially-crafted input) than it is to hide a complex program inside another.

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Google to pump free gigabit Fiber into homes of hard-up families

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Re: Time to Move?

**ALWAYS fair better**

That would be "fare".

(sorry... must be something to do with all the other spelling corrections above)

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When customers try to be programmers: 'I want this CHANGED TO A ZERO ASAP'

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1st story makes no sense

Did the guy requesting the change have multiple personality disorder or something? Personality #1 deduces that personality #2 will take over at some point and writes the comment to achieve some sort of victory over him? Did the guy wanting the change realise his mistake later and then travelled back in time to insert the comment when he was working for the original company?

Also, since each customer has his own version of the code, how does changing it for that customer affect the company writing the code? Surely even if they use the program themselves, they don't run a customer-customised version of it in house?

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: C considered harmful

Are you complaining that someone forgot to put in 'case' or that enums start from zero?

In the first case, there are only around 30 or so reserved keywords in C. There are only two types of conditional statement (unless you count for/while). My point is that C is a pretty tiny language and if you use it for any amount of time you just know that switch and case go together. Why does it have to be 'case X:' and not just 'X:"? Because the latter is reserved as the syntax for defining a label so that you can jump ('goto') to a point later (and, yes, you can mix cases and regular labels--look up Zed's Device as a variant of Duff's Device). C is so small that you're expected to be able to make these kinds of distinction and always have them in your head.

In the second case, you can assign a constant value to one of the enumerated names and get var1=1, var2=2 and so on. But I don't really think you're complaining about that.

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NOTHING trumps extra pizza on IT projects. Not even more people

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Re: DevOps

re: gibbons

Maybe the guy who illustrated 'Watchmen'?

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Little warning: Deleting the wrong files may brick your Linux PC

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Sounds Really Clever?

"Write" always implies "delete"

Actually, not quite. Being able to write to (an existing) file just depends on the file permissions. Being able to delete depends on both the file permissions (*) and the permissions in the containing directory. If I 'chmod -w' the directory but the file has regular rw permissions then I can write to the file, but I can't delete it.

(*) actually, it's only the rm command that will prevent me from deleting a file with no write permissions, but this is only a convention used by that particular tool. If I were to use unlink instead (either the system call or the command-line tool) setting the file to read-only would not stop the file from being deleted.

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Random ideas sought to improve cryptography

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Re: Way back when

use a random number generator to choose which part of PI to use

But then it fails another test of an RNG that's suitable for crypto uses: it'll be susceptible to timing attacks, assuming that you have to calculate the chosen bits on demand.

Of course, if you have enough disk space (we're talking Terabytes), you can pre-calculate the digits (and somehow make sure that seek times don't allow for a more subtle timing attack), but then it fails the practicality test.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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re: That tells you that they are distributed rather than random though.

Yup. A "heat map" like this can only show you very pathological cases where the RNG is really skewed. Even then, the mind is great at picking up patterns that may or may not be there, so you could be looking at a map and thinking that it looks "unrandom" but really is still within the statistical bounds for what is random.

You're better off doing a chi-squared test if you just want to check that the generated numbers are well distributed. As Adam 1 said, though, this won't help if the number stream has some sort of discernible correlation between terms. Chi-squared is pretty crude, but it's a good sanity check.

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Reg readers battle to claim 'my silicon's older than yours' crown

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Agree with Model M keyboards.

I've been running my Model M system for a comparable length of time. I've changed a few components here and there (like CPU, RAM, disks and external case and screen) but otherwise it's still the same system.

(and of course, I'm using it to write this)

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Facebook tells Belgian government its use of English invalidates privacy case

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Mr. Cochran has the floor

...ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!

Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record Social Media company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberatin' and conjugatin' the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.

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I love you. I will kill you! I want to make love to you: The evolution of AI in pop culture

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"The author who coined the terms robotics and positronics"

Check the etymology of "robot". It was Karel Čapek's brother, not Asimov who coined it.

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You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

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re: Using = instead of ==

I usually reverse the order of conditional tests as a matter of defensive style. Instead of:

if (variable == const_value)

I usually write

if (const_value == variable)

If const_value is actually a constant (like 1 or "some string") then mistyping == as = should throw a compiler error ("attempt to modify something that isn't an l-value" or similar).

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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SWAP

Obviously better written something like:

int times = (loop +7) >> 3; // number of loops, rounded up

unsigned offset = loop & 7; // remainder div 8

switch(offset) {

case 0: do { SWAP;

case 7: SWAP;

case 6: SWAP;

case 5: SWAP;

case 4: SWAP;

case 3: SWAP;

case 2: SWAP;

case 1: SWAP;

} while (--times > 0);

}

Much clearer, surely :)

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Back to the Future's DeLorean is coming back to the future

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Re: New company finance

Well, the Guardian's obit for the man doesn't paint too nice a picture, calling him a "world-class conman", among other details. Once someone dies, libel or defamation laws don't generally apply, it seems (though some places might have time-limited exceptions for an obituary, and don't try saying nasty things about Ataturk), so you can say whatever you like about them. Still, on the balance of probabilities, I doubt that the Graun made up this stuff out of whole cloth.

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US rapper slams Earth is Round conspiracy in Twitter marathon

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+1 for the Thomas Dolby reference. By coincidence, I'd just queued the album up a few moments before I got to the page with your comment on it.

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Virginia man charged in intriguing 'suspicious bacon' case

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Mmmmm

Unexplained Bacon.

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Bad luck, Ireland: DDoS attack disrupts isle's National Lottery

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obvious comment is obvious

Attacks on people who are bad at maths.

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Europe's satellite laser comms system set to shine

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naming

Since they seem to have reinvented Fidonet, I propose they call it "Laikanet" in honour of, you know ...

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IBM introduces fleecing-you-as-a-service for retailers

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Re: Watch out for bugs

two sites were selling a rare book

There's a similar story (in reverse) told about two groceries that were in competition with each other.

They got into a price war with one another. Shop A started selling bread for 1 credit. Shop B responds by selling at 0.95 credits. Goes on for a few rounds, and each time shop B is sure that shop A can't beat his price any more, the price goes down again.

Eventually one of them decides they're losing too much money on the war (selling too far below cost) and calls a truce. He asks the other guy: "how did you manage it? I couldn't buy bread for below X credits. How did you manage it?" The reply: "I was buying it at your shop"

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Apple's anti-malware Gatekeeper still useless: Security bloke reveals lingering holes

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gnasher, you didn't understand the vuln. Gatekeeper only verifies one blob (the vendor-provided bit) but if that blob depends on external libs, you can bundle up a valid, signed blob along with a malicious version of the external libs. Gatekeeper only validates the blob and when the application is run it calls the malicious libs and the machine is hacked.

You say it's not a problem, but it is. All I have to do is put a blog post saying that company XYZ has released a new version of the app and provide a link to a tainted bundle. Gatekeeper will tell you that the protected blob part is valid and you'll be none the wiser that something bad happened.

I'm not 100% sure about how the "bundling" happens, but in terms of an analogy, it seems to be like providing a signed RPM or DEB package on Linux, but only signing the files to be installed while allowing arbitrary, unsigned install scripts to be included, leading to ownage.

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The Bong Diaries, Pt.94: Bowie, Martha... and where's my knighthood?

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Re: Shirley

you mean Gary Numan?

And "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" was Eno and David Byrne.

So confusing. At least the pic of Bowie as Tesla (in The Prestige) is right.

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Optimus Prime goes under the hammer

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WTF?

Merkins say the darndest things

But how they decided (I presume) to call the thing in the first two photos a "tractor trailer" just boggles the mind. Not a tractor, not a trailer, so yeah, let's mash it up and call it a "tractor trailer".

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Australia considers mass herpes release for population control

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Close your eyes and make a wish

If you ever get malaria, blame a hippy.

I offer: resistance.

Maybe kills 99.9% of nasties, but it's the ones that it doesn't kill that will breed and pass on their genetic windfall..

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Close your eyes and make a wish

If you're trying to clear a small island of large animals, you can shoot them, basically unforseen horrific consequence-free.

I'm not sure about that. I know you're talking about a very narrow case, but common sense dictates that there will be two immediate knock-ons:

* species that were in direct competition for similar foodstuffs or territory will expand to fill the vacated niche(s)

* prey species will also undergo population growth if their primary predator is removed

You can also get various symbiotic relationships where something depends, directly or indirectly, on the presence or activities of some high-level predator.

Saying that eliminating one large animal species is "consequence-free" is very short-sighted and not at all right, IMO.

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Stephen Hawking reckons he's cracked the black hole paradox

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Re: Other ways to preserve information

I'm giving you a thumbs up, AustinTX. Not because I think you're right, but because I don't believe you should be penalised for showing some imagination. It would have been nice if your downvoters explained the flaw in your reasoning (something to do with future light cones, I'd guess) but they've decided to ridicule you instead.

Personally, I don't know enough about physics to know which theories about information loss in black holes make sense and which don't, but it still doesn't stop me thinking about it. I don't think that white holes can work (we've never seen them), but what about the idea of black holes being a source of dark energy/dark matter? I think you'd need a few things:

* for the event horizon (or internal structure close to it) not to be smooth, but to encode information about things that have fallen in

* for that state to be updated over the life of the black hole

* for there to be some correlation between the Hawking radiation that's emitted and the things that fell into the hole in the first place

I don't understand how gravity works, so I don't know if information could be preserved using it alone. It probably wouldn't work because various conservation laws would be broken.

So my thinking, which is probably just as invalid as yours, is along the lines of:

* information encoded near the event horizon acts like a diffraction grating

* information spread out holographically across a large expanse of normal space/time

* spacetime around event horizon probably has to have a fractal structure

* underlying field equations have to go from using complex numbers to quaternions

* non-commutativity of quaternions never becomes an issue for normal matter in normal space, but adds a "twist" near singularity

* virtual particles travelling through "q-space" show up as dark energy/dark matter

* "twists" between normal matter/energy and dark matter/energy only happen near singularities

My idea is that as paired particles are created near the event horizon, one of them travels through normal Euclidean space, while the other goes through this "q-space". To preserve various censorship principles, anything travelling through the q-space would have to teleport to a point so far away, in space and time, that it shouldn't be possible to correlate inputs to outputs without taking infinite time. Eventually, though, all virtual particles will meet up with their twins again. It's just that they have to take different routes, through q-space and/or dark energy matter forms in the interim.

With all we don't know about the Universe, from dark matter to inflation, maybe someone more clever than me could come up with the maths to unify everything in a quaternion basis...

(downvotes expected :)

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BBC risks wrath of android rights activists with Robot Wars reboot

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apex predators

Not sure how "fresh" they could make this given that, apart from minor tweaks, the top predator slots have all been established at this stage. So despite some technological advances (or at least more people coming at this via Arduino and Pi rather than RC), the metagame is still going to be like it was before: wedge vs spinning disk vs puncturing/smashing/crushing.

Maybe one thing that could be done would be to have "power-ups" like in Wipeout. The first to roll over a lit power-up tile would get some sort of bonus weapon like:

* releasing a bowling ball

* giving partial control over a house bot

* pistons or conveyor belts

* temporarily jamming another player's controller

* raising sunken bollards

* activating ramps or platforms

* etc

Basically if evolution of the bots has slowed/stopped then maybe evolving the arena is the way to go.

Another way to go might be to vary the games so that it's not all about destroying the other bots. You could have rounds based on stuff like a slalom course, circuit racing, robot football and maybe some autonomous challenges (no RC). Take out the destructive element, though, and it's less Robot Wars and more something like Scrapheap Challenge or The Great Egg Race. Hardly likely to appeal to purists.

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200 experts line up to tell governments to get stuffed over encryption

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A Cross Tick!

When enterprise solutions hawk onanism-uncovering lifetime data.

Always less legal under standard ethics. Save that eejit gangs

and narco organisations generally reveal aught per habitual Yank

network-overlord wanking?

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David Bowie: Musician, actor... tech admirer

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Re: Moo, moo, electric moo...

But it's saddening that in this world where so much is ripped off, processed and repeated ad nauseum that another original is now lost to us.

Sounds kind of like Bowie's music, apart from the "repeated ad nauseam" part. Before the downvotes, I mean that in the sense that "good artists copy, great artists steal". Bowie was famous for "stealing" all kinds of musical influences (and non-musical, like Brian Gysin's "cut-up" technique) and making something unique and new out of it.

A case in point: it only struck me only a few months ago that Bowie had actually done a drum n' bass (-inspired) album: Earthling. In retrospect it should have been obvious, but despite many listenings I'd never pigeon-holed it into any particular style or genre---it was just pure Bowie.

Definitely a great artist, with an amazing legacy. RIP.

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T-Mobile US boss John Legere calls bulls*** on video throttling claims

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Headmaster

Re: When Unlimited != Unlimited

Before someone insults me ...

Not at all. Gets up my nose, too. Phrasal verbs need to be verb + space + preposition, not these franken-verbs. I will not "setup" your computer or tell you how to "login" (or any of numerous other abominations that "computer" folk seem to think are OK).

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