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* Posts by John H Woods

1270 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

For your next privacy panic, look no further than vending machines

John H Woods
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"The problem is that technology is advancing far quicker than the laws governing it. Partly because of the speed of the developments, partly because of the slowness of bureaucracy but mostly I suspect because vested interests are far closer to the ears of our elected so-called representatives than the the electorate is."

The irony is that advancing technology like this is probably one of the few areas in which lawmakers need to be moderately active, as laws governing well established concepts like theft, assault and homicide have largely reached steady state. Yet they prefer to waste their time with endless tweaking -- or berating us about what we eat, drink or inhale.

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

John H Woods
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SMS Mobile phone for the hearing impaired.

Buy mobile phone; permanently divert all voice calls to answering service; switch answering service into 'holiday mode' (i.e. doesn't take messages) and change message to "thanks for calling me, but please send me a text instead".

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John H Woods
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Unhappy

Re: The females in the house have this request:

"self lowering toilet seat"

How about a device which detects when some barbarian is going to cover your entire bathroom with a fine mist of urine and reads them this message: "Do you think you're outdoors, seriously? Why are you lifting the seat, do you think it's ok to piss on the rim of the porcelain? If you're confident you won't, you won't need to lift the seat, will you?"

Honestly, if you think it's ok to piss standing up when you are in someone else's house, just try it in your own, turn off the lights, and go in there with a blacklight. Still feel happy about it? Toilet seats lift so you can clean them; that's all.

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Pirate Party runs aground in European Parliamentary elections

John H Woods
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In the UK ...

... democracy is a privilege afforded only to those who do not live in 'safe seat' constituencies.

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New XSS vuln hits eBay as rubbish passw0rds persist

John H Woods
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Re: Is it just me...

Indeed - the very first thing you learn when you start to understand cryptographic techniques is that you will never* be good enough to roll your own.

*obviously there's always a slim chance that you are a maths genius in their twenties, and maybe you will have a contribution to make in a decade or two

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Google: 'EVERYTHING at Google runs in a container'

John H Woods
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Re: Back to the Future?

^^ this is the paragraph that should have appeared at the front of the article :-) Thanks.

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IANA starts handing out recovered IPv4 addresses

John H Woods
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old but good...

xkcd:195

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Fanbois Apple-gasm as iPhone giant finally reveals WWDC lineup

John H Woods
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Re: You too can copywrite like a wanker...

POTW

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EBay, you keep using the word 'SECURITY'. I do not think it means what you think it means

John H Woods
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Just tried to change mine ...

... page not available due to high traffic (presumably of people changing their passwords)

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John H Woods
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Re: "eBay has reset everyone's passwords as a precaution"

me too. Is this an ebay.com vs ebay.co.uk difference?

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350 DBAs stare blankly when reminded super-users can pinch data

John H Woods
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Rouge DBA...

... I'm just loving that image

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Brits to vote: Which pressing scientific challenge should get £10m thrown at it?

John H Woods
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Re: A warning, not an incentive

This is my new stock response; many thanks.

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US giant NBC 'leaks' PRIVATE Amazon keys in Github Glenn gaffe

John H Woods
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Umm (2)

"... some poor project or IT guy just sent all of the keys to NBC’s servers to the wrong guy in one mistyped username"

Err, no. Those keys should never have been uploaded, unencrypted, in the first place, even if you know who all your GitHub users are; the mistake is a LOT bigger than mistyping a username.

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'Microsoft Research slides' show touch-enabled Office - report

John H Woods
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Re: I'm guessing whomever came up with this....

I agree. However, although I'm more a sort of open source guy than corporate by choice (though I have to be the opposite professionally) I feel compelled to point out that change-for-changes-sake is not purely corporate, otherwise we wouldn't have had the Gnome / Unity fiasco.

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'My house is on fire m8 lol' ... 911 texting tested in the US

John H Woods
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Yes ...

Poor Hannah Foster, for example ...

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Acer pair charged with insider trading for '$72k pre-results stock dump'

John H Woods
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Unhappy

Unless I missed something ...

... it looks even worse to me - by dumping $72,300 of stock just before it 'dived' 6.8%, they saved themselves less than $5000.

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LA air traffic meltdown: System simply 'RAN OUT OF MEMORY'

John H Woods
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Joke

Was it ...

... 65536 ft?

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94% of Brit tech bosses just can't get the staff these days, claims bank

John H Woods
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The problem:

"Worst of all, there is no standard, reputable way of evaluating the contribution each employee makes in the long term."

Only true if the employee's manager has no understanding of what is going on. This is such a common scenario that we almost take it for granted, but it doesn't have to be that way.

My first IT consultancy boss had it right - interview in the pub to determine whether candidate was good team material; take the CV on trust; be absolutely ruthless about insisting on success in trial period (that's when you realize if the CV is true); ongoing monitoring to determine who needs intervention (and of what kind) to keep them on or push them off.

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John H Woods
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Please tell me this is in W. Mids. If so, please tell me your postcode!

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Why two-player games > online gaming: See your pal's shock as you bag a last-second victory

John H Woods
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Timesplitters again ...

... and a vote for the innovative split/re-join on some of the Lego titles. But I've always thought that two player co-op is much more satisfying than playing 1 to 1 adversarial.

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Google's self-driving car breakthrough: Stop sign no longer a problem

John H Woods
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Joke

I for one ...

... would welcome Indian driving in the UK. They already drive on the left, don't they?

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Brit IT workers are so stressed that 'TWO-THIRDS' want to quit

John H Woods
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I love IT ...

... and I hate working in it. Reason: much of the decision making, whether buying, selling or managing, is done by people who hate IT.

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All men are part of a PURE GENETIC ELITE, says geno-science bloke

John H Woods
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I've got two ...

... and it was slightly weird finding out one is XYY whilst looking down a microscope in one's undergraduate Genetics class ...

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Selfies are so 2013. Get ready for DRONIES – the next hipster-cam-gasm

John H Woods
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Re: Belfie?

A bum-selfie. Don't Google it at work unless you have images switched off or work in an open-minded establishment.

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Ugh! This DUNKABLE wearable tech is REPELLENT

John H Woods
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Re: Waterproof kindle?

I find a resealable freezer bag perfect for waterproofing the nook when walking in the rain with the dogs. Resistive screen works fine through the polythene.

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Middle England's allotments become metric battlefield

John H Woods
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Re: Enter the metric pole?

I've always thought there should be a metric ounce and pound

1 oz = 25g

20 oz = 500g = 1lb

Unlike g and kg, which are useful for nought but salt and potatoes respectively, at least the imperial units were the right sort of magnitude for cooking.

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Slash tuition fees for STEM students, biz boss body begs UK.gov

John H Woods
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Re: And double the fees for anything ...

It is not as easy as you think to identify "useful" degrees

Proved by the fact that many people always pick "media degrees" as useless without looking at either how much those graduates can earn (useful to student); how big the UK media sector is (useful to UK) or how hard it is to offshore that kind of work (UK media graduates therefore useful to UK Business).

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Get out your Allen keys: Facebook's cooked up flat-pack bit barns

John H Woods
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The routing isn't so much forced as very strongly suggested, at least in all IKEA stores I have been in, in the UK and in Europe. Next time you go, when you get to the top of the stairs, try turning the opposite way to the main flow of people; you will find yourself in the restaurant almost immediately. There are similarly a set of shortcuts downstairs - look for doors that appear a bit official and fire door like but do not have any labels saying 'staff only'.

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Bugger the jetpack, where's my 21st-century Psion?

John H Woods
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Re: Chorded typing!

A microwriter style chorder, that fitted in a partly closed fist, with bluetooth and a single led would be perfect for matching with a smartphone or tablet.

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How a Facebook post by blabbermouth daughter cost her parents $80,000

John H Woods
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oops

oops, indiscrEET. Apologies, missed edit window.

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John H Woods
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You are currently the high bidder on ...

... 1x indiscrete immature daughter. Item location Florida. Buyer collects, preferably using unmarked van with blacked out windows. Your current bid is $75,000. The reserve has not yet been met.

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50,000 women knocked up by big data, wearable tech, crowds and cloud

John H Woods
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Re: 50,000 Ovia users have gotten pregnant!

Surprised they're not making more noise about 36% of persons shown in that piccie.

Ok, who's the 4th one?

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US Senator lobbies feds to BAN BITCOIN

John H Woods
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Re: But seriously folks ..

How can you ban a number ?

A DVD of child porn is also a number, albeit with a few billion digits.

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Steve Jobs statue: Ones and ohs and OH NOES – it's POINTING at us

John H Woods
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Truly awful ...

... if I were an artist I'd have gone for installation art - a sculpture of an iPhone, iPad and early Mac all with working screens displaying iconic footage (e.g. that famous turtleneck picture, the macbook air reveal, etc.)

I'm not a massive fruit fan, but I can only assume the artist hates Apple.

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John H Woods
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Re: Inspired by the classics

Thanks @EddieD. Now I know what a Herma is, and what apotropaic magic is. I'm sure I learn more from El Reg (usually commentards) than from any other forum.

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HP: We're so down wid da kidz! Look at... er, Smithers, what DO yoof look at these days?

John H Woods
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Re: Judging from what I hear from teens and twenties these days...

You'd be suprised. My kids (15 & 17) routinely spot minor typos on posters when we are out and about. In fact, I had the gotofail code open in an editor the other day and the eldest (whose closest brush with coding is having just started doing a bit of scripting in game mods) glanced over my shoulder in passing and asked if I'd made a mistake by writing 'goto fail' twice!

This is from a teenager whose ambition is to be a firefighter: I'm sure a large dose of FPS must be increasing their observational skills!

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Microsoft tries to re-invent GPS with cloudy offloads

John H Woods
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Re: More devices with geo-location?

Why would anyone with more than a few working brain cells would want this?

If I'm meeting up with my kids, for instance, its useful for us all to know where everybody is in real time: try meeting people in a post concert crowd, for instance.

I've used device GPS to find out where I left my phone several times, including once where I'd lost it in a field - might be useful for devices other than phones. I'm often curious as to the precise route I took somewhere, even if I wasn't using navigation at the time.

So much for convential GPS, but what about this? Wel, how about a low power consumption tracker embedded in valuable items? These could tell investigators, when recovered, where the objects have been. As such devices would be passive until then, they would be harder for the villains to detect and remove or disable.

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John H Woods
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Re: WiFi modem geolocation

to totally turn wifi off you have to disable the location features

Can be important, because if you are using wifi to assist geolocation, but drive around somewhere where there is "open" wifi - where you can connect without a password but then need to perform a landing page logon in order to get internet access, you can get problems - your phone may drop your mobile data connection to connect to a wifi network from which it can get no information.

I discovered this driving round a university town with my GPS app failing everytime I got near a campus; eventually I realised what was happening, and told my phone to ignore open wifi.

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Rise of the Machines: Robot challenges top German player at ping-pong

John H Woods
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Next --

Make the robot play with nunchucks, like "Bruce Lee" in this video

* fake footage created for a Nokia advert, but moderately impressive

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Apple Safari, Mail and more hit by SSL spying bug on OS X, fix 'soon'

John H Woods
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Re: Test-Driven Development

Actually I can understand the lack of a test case for this - as you'd have to write the exploit as the test.

What I can't understand is the following:

1) why the compiler, or code coverage tool, didn't flag the final check as unreachable code, or - if it did - why didn't anyone notice how important the unreachable code was?

2) why it wasn't noticed on visual inspection - even with the apparent failure of correct indentation (which should have been automatic), surely it's reasonably clear there's a duplicated line?

3) why the programmer chose to write the code in this way? I'm not a programmer any more, as apparently I'm 'too expensive' and am now only allowed to 'create' using MS-Office products --- but this stuff is rubbish, who writes it? For a start, the 'fail' label is simply misleading as this code is concerned with resource release. There's at least three ways of writing this method in a more elegant way. I might have used non-evaluating conjunctions or nested if statements, but I can guarantee that whatever I did the return code would never have been set to success before all the conditions had been met. In fact even using reasonable logging in this code would almost have forced the author to write it in the correct way as each failure condition would have to be tested:

if ((err = SSLHashSHA1.update(&hashCtx, &signedParams)) != 0)

would probably have to be something like

err = SSLHashSHA1.update(&hashCtx, &signedParams

if(err != 0) { logger.log("failed at signed parameter check"); goto fail}

In other words, the principle failure here is conflation of the test with the assignment. We do not have to hand-optimize code anymore. I don't know why programmers even try to do it: the most important thing is correctness, then comprehensibility. Everything else, compactness, hell, even performance, comes a very long way behind those two attributes.

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Terrifying photo special: 'Electric Cannon' anal orgasmo-probe in use ... on a BULL

John H Woods
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Re: Anyone Else

... almost - I just came straight to the comments!

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Muslim clerics issue fatwa banning the devout from Mars One 'suicide' mission

John H Woods
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But if we could send a religious nutter to Mars ...

... surely we could send them all?

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Seagate's LaCie touts a 25TB (not a typo) box o' disks for your DESK

John H Woods
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@John Tserkezis

I almost agree. But not, for god's sake, RAID5! Disks are cheaper than chips, and data can be anything up to priceless. RAID5 should be forbidden for any arrays other than those using legacy-sized disks. Even RAID6 is verging on silly these days.

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John H Woods
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Re: 25TB at RAID5? ...

Did I really misread this, or has the article been amended - I'm sure I read RAID5 in the list. RAID0 is suicidal, and RAID1 can't be used with an odd number of disks, unless you are hotsparing one I suppose, but that seems silly. I'd probably run it five disks in JBOD/RAIDZ3 although I think I'd be tempted to choose 2,3 or 4TB drives.

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John H Woods
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25TB at RAID5? ...

Selecting this option should result in the BIOS displaying a dialog calling you a moron and phoning home to arrange for collection by the vendor.

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Snowden journo boyf grill under anti-terror law was legal, says UK court

John H Woods
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Re: That's not actually possible...

You do have rights, which come from a lot of different places - case law statute, the EU. But you don't have a single document - a constitution - a bill of rights - which lists all of your individual rights from start to finish.

This seems to say:

(1) a constitution is a bill of rights (in a single document)

(2) the UK doesn't have a bill of rights (in a single document)

(3) therefore the UK doesn't have a constitution.

The problem is that premise 1 is false. The equation of a constitution with a single document comprising a bill of rights is entirely your own invention. Although such a document might correctly be called 'a constitution' you haven't demonstrated that the only thing that can be called a constitution is such a document.

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D-Wave wooing universities down under

John H Woods
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Annealing vs Quantum

Disclaimer: I used to know a bit about optimization, but I'm certainly no expert in quantum computing ...

Hasn't simulated annealing been an effective approach to non-linear optimization problems such as the TSP for decades? A true quantum computer, as I understand it, would be able to deliver *the* optimum TSP solution, as every single solution is represented in the quantum superposition of states and only the best solution 'survives' to become the answer.

I'd like to see the output of several brute force TSP solutions (I believe the record is about 85.9k cities - pdf - so a bunch of 10k tests is within the realms of possibility) compared to the D-Wave output for the same. If the D-Wave machine just produces very good results, rather than the actual best results, isn't it just annealing in hardware?

Or am I talking out of my hat?

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